Eating for Strength

WTF are Macronutrients? Pt. 2

If there was ever a "villain" among the macronutrients, dietary fat would probably be your first guess as to who it was. It's been blamed for everything from heart disease, to clogged arteries, to just plain making you fat. Drop your low fat dressing and toss out that bag of no fat cheesy poofs. Dietary fat is a necessary macronutrient (they all are to one extent or another) and is much, MUCH more beneficial than most people would have you think.

What is it?

Dietary fats encompass a range of compounds that are soluble (they dissolve) in organic solvents, but insoluble (they don't dissolve) in water. The most common fat that the everyday person would recognize is Olive Oil, Vegetable Oil, or any other oil used for cooking.

Generally, an "oil" is a fat that is a liquid at room temperature while a "fat" is something that is solid at room temperature. Using this classification system, the most recognizable form of fat that the everyday person sees would be animal fat (the fat on a steak, or in bacon).

The overarching term that includes both oils and fats is lipids. Other substances are classified as lipids, but that's more detail than we need to go into now.

Fats are also separated by their chemical structure. This is where the terms saturated, unsaturated, and polyunsaturated. In the most basic sense, a fat is some free fatty acids attached to a few glycerol molecule.

Carbon and hydrogen atoms are always a part of the chemical make up of fat. When the fatty acid is holding as many carbon atoms as it possibly can, it's called a saturated fat. If there is room for more carbon to attach, then it is an unsaturated fat. The term polyunsaturated fat just means that the fatty acid has two double bonds with a carbon chain instead of one, like an unsaturated fatty acid.

All of that last paragraph is more than you need to know (yet still wayyyyyy less information than is available) to be able to make healthy choices when it comes to your diet.

Where do you get it?

From animals or plants, just like the rest of the macronutrients. Below is only a cursory list of the best ways to get fat in your diet...

  • Meat (Beef, Duck, Pork, etc)
  • Avocados
  • Olive Oil
  • Ghee
  • Organic Butter
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Egg Yolks
  • Coconut Oil
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What Does it Do?

Fats provide energy to the body and make it possible for certain Vitamins (A, D, E, and K) to be dissolved and absorbed. Without a proper amount of fat you wouldn't be able to reap the benefits of these Vitamins and could end up suffering from problems seeing at night and lowered immune response (Vitamin A), muscle aches/weakness/twitching (Vitamin D), anemia and male infertility (Vitamin E), and stomach pain and calcium deposits in the arteries and body (Vitamin K).

Eat your fats and get your vitamins people.

Fat also plays a role in the production of sex hormones. The cholesterol (a waxy steroid of fat) you get when you ingest fatty acids does't go directly to your arteries to gum them up, like most people believe. It does, however, play a key role in the production of testosterone and the other sex hormones. With out a sufficient intake of fatty acids the production of testosterone is massively altered and way below the normal levels.

Eat your fats and stay vigorously full of testosterone people.

Lastly (for this article), fats provide energy to the body in the form of free fatty acids and glycerol. When digested, the free fatty acids are separated from their glycerol counterparts and can enter the bloodstream and muscle fibers. They are converted into energy in any one of a assortment of metabolic processes. The glycerol can be used for energy also, just after it gets converted to glucose by the liver. For each gram of fat you ingest you will get 9 calories worth of energy.

Many people (too many people actually) still have this weird belief that eating dietary fat will make you fat.

FALSE.

In most cases it is the exact opposite. At the end of this series (still have protein and carbohydrates to include at this point) I'll show you how to bring it all together.

But for now I can just let you know that, for every meal you eat, fat and carbohydrates should not be equal. This means that each meal should focus on one or the other (protein is always involved in every meal). So when you eat you should be able to look at your plate and think to yourself "this meal is all protein and fat" or "this meal is all protein and carbohydrates". You won't be able to completely focus on just those two macronutrients (meaning your P+C meal will have some fat in it, and your P+F meal will have some carbohydrates in it), but those two should make up the bulk of that meal.

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Why is it Important?

Dietary fat is important not because of the energy it provides to the body, but also because it established cell permeability (ie. allows nutrients and such to cross between cells), is a crucial part in the production of sex hormones (testosterone, estrogen, etc.), also because...and this is the best part here...it's effects on satiation.

Huh? WTF is satiation?

In the most basic sense, satiation is your bodys immediate reaction to food that you are eating.

Where dietary fat plays a part in this response is that the body sends the signal that you are full (satiation) and you will, hopefully, put down the fork.

This is where the old rule of "eat your meal over a time span of 30 minutes to give your body a chance to recognize you are full' came from.

When you eat a diet that is mostly carbohydrates, one of two things will happen to make you satiated...

  1. If these carbohydrates are processed (ie. shit in a box), you will eat wayyy more calories than you need or intended before you even feel slightly full. By the time you feel full you've just had 3,000 calories in a single sitting. Not exactly a recipe for fat loss or muscle gain.
  2. If these carbohydrates are unprocessed (veggies, potatoes, rice) you will push the satiation button by stomach volume alone. Meaning your stomach is literally filled. If you're deathly afraid of fat and take this approach you will have one hell of a time eating even the minimum amount of calories to see any results from your training.

Controversy...???

The opinions on dietary fat seem to ebb and flow every few years or when a study is published with titles like "Dietary Fat: Eat 1,000g/day To Live FOREVER!!1" or "Dietary Fat: Causes Ulcers, Cancer, and AIDS if Touched".

Simply, dietary fat is a necessary macronutrient and if you cut it out completely from your diet you WILL get sick and not be able to train or perform at an optimal level.

How to Use it Effectively...

The most effective way to make sure you're getting enough fat is to follow a Paleo based diet. Red meat, bacon, pork, fish, avocado, nuts, and olive oil are great sources and they all taste fantastical.

Now, you don't have to join the "Paleo Cult" and freak out anytime someone eats an oreo in front of you. But if you become familiar with the concepts and approach, you'll be on the right track.

(If you're new to Paleo, or even if you've been at it for a while, The Paleo Cookbook has proven to be a lifesaver when I'm looking to switch things up.)

All kinds of diets call for different ratios of macronutrients...so I'll toss in my recommendation. Personally, my diet is mostly fat and protein, so for those who are looking to stay lean easily and still be able to perform in the weight room or on the track/field, this is what I recommend.

Anywhere from 40%-50% of my daily calories come from fat. At the very least you should be getting 30% of you calories from fat.

Yolks, Ribeyes, Bacon/Cado

"Good" Foods vs. "Bad" Foods

In the last post we went over the basic concept of knowledge versus implementation. For those who missed it, you can either read it here, or just know that it's easier to know you have to do something than it is to actually do that something. Especially when it comes to switching out things that are sweet and tasty for things that are not as sweet or that you don't have a taste for yet.

But who in the hell decides what foods are "good" and which ones are "bad"? Only a few years ago eggs were the devil, fat was going to rape your dog, and pasta/bread were the angels descended from heaven to save the believers.

Well...today eggs are finally good for you (again), fat isn't as looked down upon by most, and a decent majority of people are realizing that their reliance on sandwiches and mac'n'cheese has made them round and soft like a dodgeball.

Even people who consider themselves "Paleo" can't agree on which foods are good and which are bad. Rice? Potatoes? Deli Meat? Berries and other fruit?

Ask any random people from the cult of Paleo and you're sure to get an even mix of "yays" and "nays".

Even if you go with the seemingly flawless question of "can I find this in the wild", you'll run into confusion. Example, corn...product of nature or product of man? It's found growing in fields all over my old stomping grounds of Upstate New York, but without a farmer to plant and care for it those fields would be completely void of corn. It's been drastically modified to the point that it will not grow naturally.

Now, what about bananas? Grown on some magical plantation below the equator, right? That's true, but not the ones you're used to seeing in your local grocer. Bananas, like corn, have been modified and changed by men to a degree that what we're used to eating is essentially and brand new type of fruit. If you want to know more about it, read "Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World."

So...I've showcased some problems, how about some solutions? Well, to start, we will never all agree on what is good and what is bad. Not even among fitness professionals. So don't freak the fuck out and try to make everyone get on the same page.

The first thing you can do is think for yourself. How anti-climatic, I know. There is no shortage of healthy food out there, it just takes some time and effort to cut through the bullshit and find the real thing. Just because a sign says it's healthy, or some random dude told you it's good for you does not mean it actually is. Take ownership of what you shove down your pie hole and make sure what you're eating is actually good for you.

The second thing you can do is to be patient. I know...I know...this is like the worst advice ever because it's not new or sexy or fun. But, be real with yourself, do you really think you can snap your fingers and know exactly what you should be eating?

No. It doesn't work like that.

It's called self-experimentation and it takes time. Try foods that are good, see which ones you won't have issues with eating all the time, and discard the ones that you can't see yourself learning to enjoy.

Side note on acquiring tastes - Growing up I hated apples, all vegetables, yogurt, grapefruit, oranges, and a few others. Now, I will gladly eat all of those. Once you get over the first phase of "this tastes like shit" and start feeling/seeing the long-term benefits, it's not hard to get used to liking things you used to despise.

Knowledge vs Implementation

Shot out of a canon! Which of these foods are good for?

  • Pop-tarts
  • Broccoli
  • Pudding
  • Chicken Breast
  • Oreos
  • Eggs
  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Pancakes
  • Potatoes
  • Muffins
  • Almonds
  • Spinach
  • Pasta
  • Cereal
  • Olive Oil
  • Steak
  • Soda
  • Water
  • Coffee

There are 20 foods on the list, how many of them did you get right? I'm willing to bet the majority. Just so we're all clear, here is how I break that list down.

Good

Broccoli, chicken breast, eggs, butter, potatoes, almonds, spinach, olive oil, steak, water, coffee.

Bad

Pop-tarts, pudding, Oreos, flour, pancakes, muffins, pasta, cereal, soda.

So why are people still eating like shit? You literally, and I actually mean LITERALLY, could ask anyone to take this quiz and they will get it more than 80% correct. A few things on there are still misunderstood by the public (whole eggs, real butter, pasta, and flour) and at least some people will have differing views on coffee.

But, on the whole, people KNOW what foods are considered healthy and what foods are generally un-healthy.

So why do people still eat like shit?

Because knowing something is easy. But implementing that something, especially if it's not new/fun/sexy/orgasmic, is harder than shoving a ping-pong ball up a woodpeckers ass.

The next post of this series will be posted on Wednesday. Between now and then I want you to make a list of everything you eat. Start two separate notes on your fancy pants smart phone, one labeled "Good" and the other labeled "Bad".

You have a two-part homework assignment. Part one, every time you eat or drink something I want you to ask yourself which list it belongs on, and then put it there. Don't over think it, go with your first thought.

Part two, share the foods you're the most unsure about and tell us what category you decided to put them in.

Share these in the comments so, as a family, we can all help each other out.

Cannon

Sweet BBQ Chicken

No intro this week because I'm feeling especially lazy. Which goes perfectly with this recipe. All it takes is 10 minutes of work on your part and you'll be eating like a king for a few days.

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First step...layer the bottom of the crockpot with bacon. As much as you prefer, though I think once you hit layer three the rendered fat in the final product might be a bit much. If you still want more bacon just bake it like you would normally then chop it up and put it in there.

See what I did there? I'm a damn problem solver. You're welcome bacon fiends.

On top of the bacon, and this is the secret ingredient, add a whole onion that's been chopped up. After cooking for 8-10 hours these taste so damn sweet and delicious it's almost criminal.

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Next, add the chicken boobs (also called breasts) and cover them in BBQ sauce. I usually aim to cover all of the chicken with BBQ sauce, but as you can see in the picture I failed. Next time I'll make sure to take an *updated* grocery list with me.

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When it's been 8-10 hours you're ready to eat. Just take something to stir it all together and you'll be good to go. The chicken should just fall apart and all of the extra liquid will get soaked up by the meat.

Chicken, bacon, onions, BBQ sauce, and a crockpot is definitely considered winning.

Testosterone in a Bowl

See that guy to the left? This is what he eats for every single meal. Then he washes it down with the blood of a freshly killed unicorn. After that it's some Ben and Jerry's for desert, because it makes him feel fancy.

Ok...some (all) of that might be a tad bit of an exageration. But, what is NOT an exageration, is the fact that you can increase the amount of testoserone by simply choosing to eat some certain foods.

This dish wasn't made specifically to increase testosterone, in fact I'm sure this dish has been around for freaking ever. But if you're as thick-headed as I am sometimes you probably never put two and two together.

What'll you need is some red meat, garlic, onions, butter, guacamole, and spices. Everything except the guacamole and the spices I chose have been observed causing an increase in testosterone. And that's not even saying that they don't, it's just saying that I haven't seen the research.

I don't measure things, so that's why there aren't any quantities below. Here is what I used...

Ground Sirloin

Diced Garlic

Diced Onion

Organic Butter

Guacamole

Cumin

Chipotle Chili Powder

Oregano

These links are a few of the choiceresources that I've come across. Of course, this is still all theory for the most part, especially the garlic and onions. But it's still fucking tasty...so why not eat it anyways?

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Start by sautéing the garlic and onions it a shit ton of organic butter. If you wanted to go with bacon grease here that'd be just as good, and probably a bit tastier too. It's all up to you...you sexy beast you.

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When the onions are about half way done you can toss the meat on top and then add copious amounts of your spices. If you wanted to add a bit of fat burning to this meal so crushed red pepper would work perfectly. Make sure that leave the meat alone so it can brown. I didn't think this step would make huge difference, but let me tell you it does....a lot. As long as you don't completely forget about it you won't burn it, so don't worry.

You could also use chicken or pork for this recipe, but they don't have the same testosterone boosting qualities as red meat. If you're afraid of that pink slime bullshit that some stores put into their ground meat you have two options...1) buy flank steaks (or other types of steak) and slice it up, or 2) buy ground meat that specifically says "ground sirloin" or "ground chuck".

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While the meat is finishing up cook some eggs. You're call on the method. I prefer scrambled because I'm too impatient to go for sunny side up. If you're skillet is non-stick, or you don't mind working to scrub the egg out of it, you can even cook it all in the same skillet. As a dude this method appeals to me because it's one less thing I have to clean.

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When it's all done throw it in a bowl and top with a crap load of guacamole. That's it!

Spicy Broccoli

Sriracha is one of the most wonderous tasting hot sauces out there. In fact, I'm confident that with the right mix of Sriracha, Franks Red Hot, and Old Bay Seasoning you could make anything edible. ANYTHING!

Anywho...I actually enjoy broccoli. One of my favorite meals is to steam a bag of broccoli and then squeeze the juice of a lemon on it. It's simple, it's tasty, and you can have it while traveling without too much hassle.

But a few weeks ago my girlfriend (who will be called Lady Alpha from here on out) made the most wonderous of wonderous dishes I have ever tasted. Enter Spicy Broccoli...

Food:

-Broccoli

-2 tablespoons Sriracha Chile Garlic Sauce (this stuff is hot, so play around with the amount)

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-1-2 tablespoons minced ginger

-1/4 cup Soy Sauce

-1/4 cup Olive Oil

Prep:

-Pre heat oven to 375

Mix everything but the broccoli in a bowl. The Sriracha and the garlic will sink to the bottom, so don't worry too much about making it a uniform texture.

Put the broccoli in a baking dish and then drizzle the sauce over it while stirring to keep the Sriracha/garlic bits from staying at the bottom. Shake the dish to coat as much of the broccoli as you can.

This won't make enough to completely cover all the broccoli, but that's ok. Once or twice while it's cooking just pull it out of the oven and give a good toss.

Bake for 20-30 minutes depending on how soft you like your broccoli. I like it still pretty hard, so 20-23 minutes is all I do.

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Fresh from the oven

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It doesn't look much different, but the taste is out of this world.

Featured Image from "The Oatmeal" aka "The Best Comic Ever"

Taco Chicken Thighs

My crockpot is my best friend. She cooks for me, she is easy to clean, and she is always ready to have meat put inside of her...

Ok, ok, enough pervert talk. I'm being for real though, if you don't have a crockpot you need to get on. How else can you make 4 days worth of lunch with only 10 minutes of real labor?

It's just a smart thing to do.For this week I was filing spicy, so I made up some taco seasoning (recipe came from here) and tossed it into the crockpot with some rice, chicken broth, and chicken thighs. Here is all I used..

-2 pounds chicken thighs

-1.25 cup rice

-1/3 cup chicken stock (was all I had left)

-2 tablespoons of the taco seasoning

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Everything cooked together. Makes cooking soooo much easier.

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8 hours later, mix it up and store it. Or just start eating it out of the crockpot...

Sweet Potato Hash

Have you noticed that I've been on a sweet potato kick lately?? Well if you haven't, it should be painfully obvious by now.

Since this is such a simple recipe I'm keeping this post short and sweet. Here is what you'll need...

Equipment:

-Skillet

-Grater

Food:

- 1 Sweet Potato, peeled

-As much garlic as you consider necessary. I went with about 2-3 cloves

-Olive oil/butter/bacon fat. Either one will do

-Salt/Pepper

To start, peel the potato and then grate the hell out of that bastard. If you have a food processor with a grater attachment I highly recommend that you use it. In the process of grating this potato I almost lost all the skin on my knuckles. Who knew that grating sweet potatoes would be so damn risky?

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In the skillet, start browning the garlic in your fat of choice. It should only take a few minutes on medium/high heat. Once you can smell the tastiness of the garlic toss the potatoes in there too.

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Now the most important part. Grind a whole bunch of black pepper and sea salt on to the potatoes. I like my pepper ground like Sterling Archer likes his sand....coarse.

Now let it cook. Don't stir it too much, you want the bottom to crisp up and almost stick together. About 5-7 minutes on medium is good depending on how many sweet potatoes you decided to cook.

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After 5-7 minutes you can stir it up a bit and then repeat. It won't take long for the bits of potato to actually cook, but if you want to get the tasty, crispy bits you have to let it sit for a little while.

Once it's as crispy as you want it, toss it in a bowl and eat as a side with some Paleo Kitchen Sink Slop topped with guacamole and lime.

Paleo Kitchen Sink Slop

If you've read more than a few of these "Fat Boy Friday" posts you've probably noticed that I'm a pretty lazy cook. More accurately I'm a lazy dish washer. My stance is why would I use multiple pans, pots, and dishes when I could just use one. If it made sense to cook and eat in the same dish you can bet your ass I'd be doing that.

Well, the recipes have been pretty crockpot heavy lately, so I figured why not switch it up a bit. It's still a one dish meal, but this one is so customizable that I could easily fill an enter year worth of Fat Boy Friday with variations.

To start off, just grab a skillet and your cooking fat of choice. I'll usually rotate between bacon fat, butter, and ghee depending on what I have lying around. Olive oil used to be a staple, but I've seen lately that butter and ghee have a much, much better effect on my body, so I've pretty much phased it out.

For this particular meal I went with ground sirloin, peppers, onions, and a few eggs. But, like I said, this is 100% customizable depending on your tastes, cravings, and what you have just lying around. Basically, pick a meat, pick some veggies, and add some eggs if you're feeling up to it.

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To start, melt the fat and then toss the veggies in. You're not looking to cook them all the way through just yet, so when the onions start to get translucent you're cleared to toss in the meat. It's going to be a bit different depending on the meat you use, but when I use beef I keep the heat right at medium.

This is the hard part...DO NOT KEEP STIRRING. You can stir every once in a while, but doing too much will keep everything from browning (read: tasting fucking tasty). Let it sit until the meat is about half way cooked, then you can stir it around to make sure it cooks evenly.

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Now that it's almost done, it's time to toss a few eggs on top. Again, stirring too much will mess with the end product, and even though it'll look similar it won't taste as good. Let this sit as is, until the eggs are only a minute or two from being done. Now you can mix and mash and stir all you want.

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Forgive the harsh lighting and the mess of cables in the background, I was starving and just wanted to eat. The meal only takes about 10 minutes total to cook and, like I've mentioned about million other times, is easy to adjust to fit whatever cravings your having or macros you need to meet.

If you already make something like this, drop your recipe and ingredients of choice in the comments below.

Skillet

Simple Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are heavenly. Seriously, they're really good. But, since I've eaten them I've never been able to cook them just right. Sometimes they're too squishy, sometimes I cut them completely un-even so half are burnt and the other half isn't cooked, or sometimes they taste like carrots. That last one always weirds me out a little...

After about 3 straight weeks of having sweet potatoes every...single...night, I think I got it.

Preheat your oven to 450-500 degrees. If you're only cooking one sweet potato 450 should be good, if you're doing two or more I'd suggest going straight to 500. Toss whatever baking dish/tray you're going to use in there too. I use an oven safe skillet so I can easily toss them every so often when they're cooking. A cast iron skillet would be perfect for this recipe.

Peel and cut the potato into 3/4 inch - 1 inch cubes. If you're impatient I'd go smaller so they cook faster.

Pull the skillet out of the oven and toss about a tablespoon of butter in it to melt. I use Kerrygold and it's tasty. Like, as in tasty enough to just eat the whole stick.

Let the butter melt and coat the entire skillet, then toss the cut up potatoes in there. Toss them around to coat with the melted butter and then put it all back in the oven for 10 minutes.

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After the 10 minutes are up, pull the thing out of the oven and push all the potatoes to one corner. This is where it gets complicated...so pay attention...

Grind a lot of black pepper and sea salt on to the potatoes. Toss them around some more, and then put back in the oven for 30-40 minutes. I like mine crispy, so 40 minutes is the minimum for me. Which leaves me plenty of time to make the rest of my meal.

In this case, burgers, eggs, guacamole, and sautéed peppers/onions. I could go into detail about this part too, but I'm too lazy to tell you how to cook burgers and eggs. You're all adults right? It's not too hard.

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Once it's all done...CONSUME!!!

Paleo Recipes
Paleo Recipes

See? Told you I liked mine crispy. The simplicity of the salt and pepper is the best seasoning for any type of potato if you ask me.

Here's a quick run down of the whole thing...

Ingredients:

1-2 Sweet Potatoes

1 Tbsp Butter

Salt and Pepper

Prep:

1) Pre-heat oven to 450-500 degrees with skillet in it.

2) Peel and cut sweet potato(es) into 1/2 or 3/4 inch cubes.

Cook:

1) Melt the butter in the pre-heated skillet.

2) Add the diced potatoes and toss to coat in butter.

3) Cook for 10 minutes, then season as you see fit.

4) Cook for another 30-40 minutes, until they get as crispy as you like them.

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