A "Muscle Head" Says About Organic Food
By Tom Venuto, Natural Bodybuilder
Last week I
was talking about nutrition with one of my workout buddies
and when I mentioned grass fed beef and "organic
food he asked, "Do you mean like what you get
at Whole Foods Market?"
I said, "Yes,
exactly... that's a natural food and organic supermarket."
He said, "Yeah well, that place costs so much, I
call it Whole Paycheck!"
I was rolling
on the floor laughing, but the truth is, organic food
really is expensive and so is grass fed beef and free
range chicken, so it's a valid question to ask, Is
it worth it?
the subject and doing some personal experiments with my
own diet, let me offer you my take on it from a bodybuilders
viewpoint. This is a perspective on organics you may not
have heard before.
at it this way - if you put the cheapest fuel in your
luxury car, how well is it going to run and how many miles
are you going to get out of it?
While I'm on
car analogies, health and fitness author and educator
Paul Chek once wrote about how ridiculous it is to watch
how many $75,000 + cars pull up to the Mcdonald's or Burger
King drive through window to buy $1.99 hamburgers.
I would say
that's a serious case of screwed up priorities, wouldn't
you? The driver has no problem shelling out the $1,100
monthly car payment, but it's too much to ask him to put
premium fuel into his own "bodily vehicle."
How can you
put ANY price tag on your body and your health? You can
buy another car, but you've only got one body.
Now, as for
the grass fed beef and organic foods question
For best results
in body composition improvement, which I define as burning
fat and or building muscle, (and I'll even go as far as
to say for optimal health as well), I am a believer in
including animal proteins, including lean meats.
I have no wish
to take up the vegetarian debate in this article. I respect
vegetarians and acknowledge that a healthy and lean body
can be developed with a vegetarian diet if it is done
properly, although it may be more challenging for strict
vegans to gain muscle for various reasons.
recommending animal protein as part of a healthy fat loss
and muscle building nutrition program, I do agree that
we all need to give some serious thought to what is in
our meat (and in the rest of our food).
say that meat is part of our evolutionary
diet and its the way we were intended to eat and
I wouldnt argue with that. But is the meat were
eating in todays modern society the same as what
was hunted and eaten many thousands of years ago by our
cave-man ancestors, or has some toxic stuff
found its way into our beef, poultry and fish that wasnt
I also think
we should consider what is *missing* from our commercially
grown food, that is supposed to be in there, that probably
used to be there in the past, but may not be today.
A lot of people
are not paying any attention to this... even people who
should know better. I admit it - I was oblivious to this
for a long time myself. Heres why:
I am not your
typical "health and wellness" or "weight
loss" expert. I am also competitive bodybuilder.
We bodybuilders are well known for eating very clean diets
with lots of lean protein and natural carbs, as well as
for looking like "the picture of health" with
our ripped abs and impressive muscularity.
We eat our
oatmeal and egg whites for breakfast, and proudly walk
around with our chicken breast, rice and broccoli or our
flank steak, yams and asparagus, and boast about how perfect
and clean our meals are and how our diets are already
clean and could not be improved.
But how many
bodybuilders or fitness enthusiasts are there - even serious,
dedicated and educated ones - who don't give a single
thought to the poisonous chemicals that might be lurking
in our supposedly "clean" food?
The Food and
Drug Administration lists more than 3,000 chemicals that
can be added to our food supply. One billion pounds of
pesticides and farming chemicals are used on our crops
on what source you quote, the average American consumes
as much as 150 pounds of chemicals and food additives
out there think that this is good for you?
If you had
a way to avoid all these chemicals and toxins, would you
at least explore it, even if it cost a little more?
topic is controversial and hotly debated, organic food
is gaining in popularity and seems to fit this bill.
on certified organic farms does not contain:
It is also
Beyond the "certified organic" label, grass
fed beef and free range chicken (and eggs), have other
Not only can there be tons of antibiotics, hormones, and
other chemicals in our meat, but also commercially raised
beef is fed grain or corn and yet that is not what the
animals were meant to eat.
- aside from sick, drugged animals - is a higher overall
fat, higher saturated fat and a screwed up ratio of omega
three to omega six fats, which is a very big problem today
- even when you think you're eating "clean."
Most people accept the idea that you are what you
eat, but they forget that the animals we eat are
what they ate!
Last but not
least, proponents of organic food suggest that the vitamin,
mineral and phytonutrient content of commercially grown
foods can be anywhere from a little bit low to virtually
So... if organic
and or grass fed beef and free range chicken can help
us avoid some of these problems and dangers, then I'm
all for it and the extra investment.
I started eating
grass fed beef almost exclusively (except for my occasional
restaurant steak), quite a few years ago, and I even mentioned
it in my book, Burn
the Fat, Feed The Muscle.
I can't say
I eat entirely organic. I eat a lot of it, but not 100%.
If I'm eating an apple or some blueberries, and it doesn't
happen to be organic, I dont freak out over it.
When you really study deeply into the subject of food
processing, industrial pollution and commercial farming,
it can almost scare you half to death, but I don't recommend
getting "alarmist" about it.
the people who live in fear of a disease who are most
likely to get it. I for one, am not going to live in a
plastic bubble to isolate myself from a toxic world
oh, wait... make that a ceramic bubble, plastics are really
bad for you.
aside, the fear of toxins can be taken to the point where
the fear itself is unhealthy, but the more I study this
subject - from a variety of sources and perspectives -
the more the organic argument does make sense to me.
built my career in fitness based on being a natural bodybuilder,
which means no steroids or performance enhancing drugs,
so why would I expose myself to other chemicals if I can
can't say I noticed any dramatic change in my physique
or in the way I feel at least not yet. I have always
eaten clean and I was a successful bodybuilder for many
years before I started eating more organic food and grass
feel confident about my decision to spend the extra money
on grass fed beef, free range chicken (and eggs), and
an increasing amount of organic food, knowing that I am
avoiding toxins and getting more of the nutritional value
I need to support my training and my health long term.
this is the type of nutritional lifestyle change that
can accrue benefits over time, even if you don't see an
One thing I
would suggest before you run out for organic fruits and
vegetables or grass fed beef and so on, is to consider
what kind of shape your diet and your lifestyle are in
right now. If your diet is currently such a total mess
that youre drinking a lot of alcohol, smoking, abusing
coffee and stimulants, not even eating ANY fruits and
vegetables to begin with...
And if your
idea of lean protein is the processed lunch meat you get
in your foot long sub at the local deli, then I think
it might be a little moot to worry about whether your
fruits and veggies are 100% certified organic or whether
your beef is grass fed. Just start cleaning up your diet
and establishing new healthy habits, one step at a time.
Focus on nutrition and lifestyle improvement, not perfection.
There are some
very strong opinions on this subject. I am aware of that,
and I'm not going to stand up on a pulpit and preach either
way. What I have done here is simply share what I have
found from my own research and what I decided to do in
my own personal health and bodybuilding regimen.
My advice to
everyone else is to become educated about what is really
in your food, including how it is raised or grown, and
to continuously seek ways to improve your nutrition above
the level its at now.
For more information
about the "natural bodybuilder's method" for
losing fat, building muscle and achieving peak health,
the Fat, Feed The Muscle
Tom Venuto is a lifetime
natural bodybuilder, an NSCA-certified personal
trainer (CPT), certified strength & conditioning
specialist (CSCS), and author of the #1 best-selling
the Fat, Feed The Muscle. Tom has
written hundreds of articles and has been featured
in print magazines such as IRONMAN, Australian IRONMAN,
Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development, Exercise
for Men and Mens Exercise, as well as on hundreds
of websites worldwide.
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Articles By Tom Venuto