The Feast

The premise of my nutrition philosophy is quality, non-inflammatory foods in appropriate macros to fuel performance. Improved body composition is a resultant or secondary goal. I use the Paleo Diet as a foundation; it is predicated on eliminating harmful foods from the diet as well as putting an emphasis on real food instead of edible processed items. Improving food quality will drop body fat off of people, but the uber Paleo approach is low on carbs.

The obvious solution — and I am baffled as to why people don’t intuitively do this — is to eat more carbs. In Paleo for Lifters I use potatoes as a primary source of carbohydrates as they are not a gut irritant and few things sound more manly than “meat and potatoes”.

It’s pretty simple: meat and potatoes, vegetables, fruit, and lots of quality fat. You can lift and train hard on this eating method. You can improve your health metrics like blood lipid profiles and blood pressure on this diet. Sometimes, you can even feast on this diet.

What is a feast? 

A feast is an event in a man’s life when he consumes a significant amount of food. Feasts are inherently at least 1.5 pounds of food; anything less is merely a meal. Feasts are memorable because of their sheer quantity, taste, or complexity. A feast should be so special, you can look back at it and say, “Remember that feast?” Everyone around you will stare with an unfocused gaze and nod their heads, “Yeah, I remember…”
Below is a modest feast.

Is food quality a concern? 

It depends. In Paleo for Lifters I give specific instructions to different population types. Are you fat and need to lose it? Are you skinny and need to gain muscle? Are you low body fat but could gain some weight? These scenarios will dictate the feast.

It’s entirely possible to have a Paleo for Lifters feast. Grill a few pounds of steak, a few rack of ribs, or a pork loin (or all three), throw in some taters with butter and go to town. But usually those feasts aren’t as fun.

If you’re concerned with health or body fat, then tighten your feast’s shot group. If you just want to have a sit down with the boys and feast your god damn eyes out, then make it official: have a feast.

How to feast? 

Feasts can be impromptu or planned, yet they need to be at least 1.5 pounds of food, preferably more. The only necessary ingredient for a feast is meat; a feast without meat is no different than your front lawn. You wouldn’t eat your lawn for half an hour, would you?

Make conditions as perfect as possible. Cook or grill it your favorite way. Get your favorite sauces, spices, or beverage. Ideally you should make it a group event. Men who feast in groups are happier, have higher T levels, and have bigger biceps.

You have two approaches to the feast: The Crush Method or The Marathon Method.

SSlam1988WarriorThe Crush Method – This is when you sit down, stare at your food for a fleeting, poetic moment, and then feast in the same manner that the Ultimate Warrior shakes the ropes. If you’re going for pure volume or you’re really hungry, this method is ideal.

My friend Jeremy (owner of CrossFit Annandale) has a Brazilian Mastiff who weighs at least 165 pounds. His name is Cane, and he “crushes” on a regular basis. Cane knows no other method. Jeremy gives him three or four chicken thighs, and Cane crushes. He snaps the bones and nearly swallows the chicken hole. We can all learn from Cane’s crushing ability.

The Marathon MethodChoose this method when in a large gathering. Barbecues, weddings, or reunions aren’t necessarily the time and place for The Crush Method. Instead, stay uncomfortably full throughout a day. Sample everything. Eat as many animals as possible (preferably already dead and cooked). Be merry. And if someone looks at you questionably, look at the women around you and shout, “OUR DIET STARTS TOMORROW! AM I RIGHT, GIRLS?”

The Meat Sweats

At some point in your feasting, you may notice a phenomenon known as “the meat sweats”. In the absence of dysfunctional kidneys, don’t let this deter you. It’s merely your body’s excited way of saying, “Yes! You’re doing it! Keep going!”

One of the guy’s I’ve trained returned home from a special operations selection. After several weeks of limited food intake, he had a hankering for a feast. He went to Krystal’s and ordered — and feasted upon — 24 Krystal burgers. He reported meat sweats so significant, it was dripping off his nose during the feast.

24 Krystal burgers may sound disgusting — because it is — but it’s an impressive feast.

And that, my friends, is what this is all about. Do something impressive. Do something memorable. Have a feast.

 

Chalk Talk #3 – A Word On Preparation

Some people want to be bigger. Some want less body fat. Everyone wants to be stronger. There’s a recurring theme with all of these goals: they can’t be accomplished by merely going to the gym. Performance, aesthetics, fitness, or health are all optimized by doing more than just a training session.

Today’s Chalk Talk briefly touches on the importance of preparation. How can you better prepare your nutrition? Training sessions? Mobility? Sleep? Relaxation? Post your answers to comments along with what you’ll do to improve.

When Eggs Grow Stale

I’ve noticed some guys complaining about how bland their eggs are. Our own Arin Canecchio and Chris Riley go through spurts when they find it difficult to wolf down six eggs in the morning. I’ve eaten at least three or four eggs every day for almost ten years. Since 2009 I’ve eaten at least five, and usually more than six with peaks of eight or nine. To the complaining gentlemen, I say, “You are a fool.” Dress your eggs up and they won’t let you down. Here’s how.

USE BACON

How could you forget? Nowadays I hate to talk about how great bacon is because all of the hipster pieces of shit tasted it after several months of anorexia nervosa and realized they were fucking missing something. Naturally they rallied together — the most ironic hipster-piece-of-shit thing to do since they allegedly want to lead an independent lifestyle — to make a bunch of shitty t-shirts and memes and never shut the fuck up about it. Yeah, we get it, bacon is fucking awesome; WELCOME TO 1776 AND 1861 WHERE BEARDED AMERICANS ATE BACON WAY BEFORE YOU FORGOT HOW MUCH YOU HATED YOUR PARENTS WHEN YOU TASTED IT ON YOUR FIRST DAY OF LIBERAL ARTS SCHOOL.

Let’s move on. If you clicked the Civil War link above, you would have seen that bacon grease was used to fry beef and corn meal. Confederate and Union soldiers didn’t carry around chickens or delicate eggs, but we’re going to use the same principle.

Hipsters weren't the first to eat bacon.

Hipsters weren’t the first to eat bacon.

SELECTING YOUR BACON

Do you like skinny hipsters? Ptsh, then why would you want skinny bacon? I know of over 900 studies about why thick bacon is better, and they are all single day case studies where I cooked it, ate it, and pat myself on the back for such a solid decision. Thick bacon will cook better, have a better consistency, and yield an appropriate amount of grease (discussed later). I shouldn’t have to say this, but the bacon I’m referring to is the United States variety; Canadian and Australian styles are good, but standard Second Amendment loving Americans will call that “ham”.

BACON TO EGG RATIO

You read that title and thought, “Holy SHIT, I’ve never even thought about this,” didn’t you? I’m here to show you the way. After over 900 studies, I’ve found that two pieces of thick bacon for every two or three eggs is optimal. If you’re bitching about how it’s not enough, then you don’t understand scrambled egg cuisine and can kindly leave. If you’re bitching about how it’s “too much”, then you’re probably a) a terrorist or b) one of the aforementioned hipsters who googled “bacon” looking for a sweet meme to send to your hipster friends so you can ironically fit in with a social crowd instead of doing some squats and curls before bed.

CUT DEM BACONS

No, don’t cut your bacon like a young Ray Lewis; take your pieces of stacked thick bacon and cut it in two to three centimeter segments (for you neanderthals, that’s about an inch). The layers of the bacon pieces will separate when you cook it in the pan.

Bacon thickness as well as cut segment length.

Bacon thickness as well as cut segment length.

FRY THE BACON

Not too hot, mind you. If the temperature is too high, then you’ll just sear the outside too quickly and potentially ruin the consistency. On a stove where “10″ is “High”, I’ll go to 7.5 at the highest. If you want the satisfying sizzle when you put the bacon in the pan, then warm the pan, but it’s not organic to this operation.

WHIP YOUR EGGS

While your bacon is frying, you can prepare your coffee (I prefer a press pot) and eggs. Crack your eggs into a bowl, and whip that shit with a fork. If you use a whisk, then you’re like my 5’3″ mom. If you have a pair of testicles, use a nice, heavy fork. I take a lot of pride in my egg whipping ability; I’m the best on both sides of the Mississippi. On New Year’s Day, I whipped two dozen eggs. Proof below, fuckers.

The technique is a circular wrist motion. You want to think about pulling the eggs off of the surface, break that surface tension, and then push them towards the bottom of the bowl without hitting your fork on the bottom. The business end of the fork has an elliptical motion and the key is pulling the egg off the surface. If you do this quick enough, it looks like you’re separating the layers of the egg and results in much fluffier scrambled eggs without using any cream or milk (which are traditionally used to fluff them up).

ASSESS BACON GREASE SITUATION

Notice what’s happening here; you’re frying the cut bacon in a pan prior to cooking eggs. That’s because you’re going to put your scrambled eggs into the pan with your bacon. This how you’ll change your retardedly bland breakfast into a heavenly romp through taste and time.

You want your bacon to be cooked, but you don’t want it to be charred or overly crispy. Ideally, if you’re a sensible human, you’d want your bacon to have a slight chewy texture instead of crunchy. You wouldn’t cook a steak like a giant buffalo chip (i.e. piece of cow shit), would you? That’s almost as bad as not eating steak.

This bacon is almost ready.

This bacon is almost ready.

Aside from the bacon “doneness” is the grease situation. Too much grease will result in sweaty eggs; their texture will be oily and you’ll feel like you’re eating the stool of someone with cholecystitis. As crazy as this sounds, too little bacon grease is better than too much. Get a jar and pour your excess bacon grease into it (you can use that grease on your baked vegetables later that evening). Knowing how much grease you need for a given amount of eggs is a learned skill, but if you tip your pan at a 45 degree angle (as if you were going to pour grease into the jar), you wouldn’t want your pieces of bacon submerged. The grease does serve a purpose, so don’t pour it all out; it coats your pan to prevent the eggs from sticking, which is a huge pet peeve of mine. The picture below shows the grease pouring technique and the amount of grease before and after pouring.

IMG_20140212_111831_197

POUR IN AND COOK THE EGGS

I’m quite surprised at how some people manage to fuck this part of the process up because it’s very easy. Your pan will be hot enough to make any amount of eggs within a couple of minutes. Pour the eggs over the bacon, make sure your bacon pieces are evenly distributed throughout, and continue to use your spatula to move the eggs off the bottom and sides of the pan.

Letting the eggs sit in the pan, as if you were making an omelette, results in an overcooked eggsterior (I couldn’t resist). If your eggs have a slight browning, that means you’re doing it wrong. If you like that, refer to the charred steak comment above. There’s probably some validity to an argument that would claim you’re denaturing some of the protein by overcooking it, but we’ll save that for another day. Just remember: move the eggs around and off of the pan by flipping the eggs constantly until they are light and fluffy. The fluffiness will be highly dependent on your whipping ability. I also like to use the edge of the spatula to break up the eggs so they aren’t in big clumps. This will improve the texture.

CONSUME AND ENJOY

This next part can make or break your egg eating experience. Some of you will be amazed at how much the bacon will improve your eggs, but if you’ve eaten them like this before you may need something more. I prefer condiments on my eggs, namely ketchup (without high fructose corn syrup in compliance with Paleo for Lifters). Ketchup works really well with white potato hash browns, which you can buy pre-cut up or make from scratch in grass-fed butter or coconut oil. I also like Chipotle Tabasco sauce, but that’s more so for fried eggs or scrambled eggs eaten with my Sweet Potato Hash recipe.

A dozen eggs yields enough for two.

A dozen eggs yields enough for two.

And there you have it. If you’re hating your egg eating experience, you need to cook them with your bacon. Food doesn’t have to be bland, so stop doing all this hipster-like complaining and dress your eggs up.

Hit Your Macros

Here’s a quick note amidst a busy week. I typically see hard training lifters or athletes breaking down when faced with a decision of what to eat. They’ll often pick an unhealthy choice because it tastes better. If you have to eat out during the week, then focus on hitting your macros instead of getting the tastiest item on the menu. 

Macronutrients are protein, carbs, and fat. You should have an understanding of how many you need to eat in a day. If you don’t have a clue, search the 70′s Big site history. If you want my comprehensive methodology, check out Paleo for Lifters. The premise is eating enough protein to maintain or build lean body mass (i.e. muscle), enough carbs to fuel your activity level, and enough fat to recover. There’s some discrepancy or ambiguity on how much of a given macro that a type of athlete will need, but I’ve covered that on the site and in the book.

In any case, hit your macros consistently. The chronic intake is more important than the daily timing, and actually  hitting the requirements is more important to recovery than it is to have a tasty, yet not as healthy meal. Does that mean you should pass on a brisket meal with a baked potato? No, but your goals will make that decision.

This doesn’t mean you should be eating bland meals, because “healthy” or “paleo-ish” meals can be very tasty if you use your brain and put some effort into them. We’ll talk more about this in the near future.

Train hard and get big.

Testosterone and PWO Nutrition

I recently had a conversation with someone about post workout nutrition which turned into me regaling them with my general nutrition philosophy which fell back onto the foundation of my training philosophy. Their question asked about timing of their post workout (PWO) and they were bothered by how I sort of shrugged off the need to worry about it.

“But I thought you were supposed to have x amount of protein and y amount of carbs within 45 minutes…and shit?”

That’s what popular muscle magazines or bodybuilding lore would tell us; the timing of meals is quintessential to progress and jackedness. But I say that the intricacies of the PWO nutrition is low on the priority list. Why would you care about the specifics of your protein shake when you don’t meet the required amount of protein each day, much less the minimum amount for your body weight? Oh and you’re eating about 100g more carbs than you need, eating shitty fats, not mobbing, and getting about 6 hours a sleep a night? And you want to worry about how many scoops of protein and molecularly dense carbs to swallow after training? Assuming you’re doing an appropriate systemically stressful strength training session to begin with?

If it sounds silly, it’s because it is. If you feel cheated, it’s because you have been.

Doug Young

Doug Young would never cheat you like dat.

Take a look at this short, quality article by Dr. Hartman (The 45-Minute Testosterone Myth). It turns out there really isn’t any research on the “do your workout in 45 minutes or your testosterone levels will drop”. Furthermore, there is discrepancy in the research that may show that protein and carb PWO shakes actually decrease testosterone levels! That sound you hear is your entire world-view burning to the ground.

Hartman goes on to say:

The short-term effects of testosterone to a single session of exercise are inconsequential to long-term performance. Long-term changes, or having testosterone elevated over a period of months and years, have been shown to lead to increased strength, power, hypertrophy, and performance. Short-term; those relationships do not exist. 

 

And this is my point entirely, whether we’re talking PWO nutrition, or nutritional and training philosophy, it’s not the precise decisions you make throughout the day, it’s the fact that you hit the minimum requirements on a regular basis. Timing your daily protein or meal intake pales in comparison to getting the appropriate calories in an optimal macronutrient (proteins, carbs, and fats) distribution on a regular basis.

The chronic effect of doing the simple things right is more important than doing the fancy things occasionally or randomly. 

Johnny Skeptic then says, “Well, if I have an optimal PWO meal on a regular basis, won’t it make up for some of my other slacking?” Even if the whole PWO meal was proven to be optimal — the research is meh — it’s better to get the macronutrients you need for the day than it is to specially time everything for your training session. For example, if you train after work and then go home, just eat a quality dinner and don’t worry about making the dinner match an arbitrary PWO requirement.

This is how a discussion on PWO nutrition circles back to general nutrition and training advice; make the simple stuff a habit. Get enough protein and fat to recover, get enough carbs to match your activity level, and get it through quality foods that limit systemic inflammation and help promote recovery (Paleo for Lifters can help you understand this). Worry about your general food intake before even considering supplementation; if you’re eating crap food then the supplements won’t matter anyway. Combine full body, systemically stressful compound movements in each training session a regular basis to get bigger and stronger — squat, press, deadlift, bench, row, and pull-ups. Keep the approach simple, yet consistent. Squatting 100 times over the next year will be more important than following three crazy squat programs sprinkled throughout your year.

Every training or nutrition lesson revolves back to a single, easy idea: the chronic effect of doing the simple stuff correctly is necessary before worrying about sexy or complicated ideas. All that free time you gain by not worrying over your training can now be spent on growing facial hair.