In case you missed for forgot the first three parts, a quick refresher: Part 1 was about the relationship of good food to fitness. Part 2 talked about how to substitute industrial, processed food made of poor ingredients with more carefully processed foods with better ingredients. Part 3 described how to substitute individual food items with bad fats and bad carbs with better fats and carbs. (Go here for 1-3)
So, on to Part 4...
This TOJ is no food purist. A Twinkie or Big Whatever once in a while won't kill you. However, I do believe (and plenty of scientific evidence validates) that a good diet of mainly fruits and vegetables (often raw) and some lean, grass fed, organic meats or wild fish helps you train and perform better, stay healthier, and maybe live longer. This mix of foods is similar to the popular Paleo diet.
There are two reasons to eat large amounts of fruits and vegetables. The first is that these foods provide crucial phytochemicals, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Many should be eaten raw because they are more nutrient dense and easily digested (bioavailable).
The second is that consumption of fruits and vegetables help the body remain in a slightly alkaline state, which is its optimum state most of the time. However, intense exercise can induce metabolic acidosis in which the body becomes slightly acidic. It can also be caused by a diet with too much meat, dairy products, starches, and grains.
The problem with metabolic acidosis, especially for physically active TOJs, is that the body will attempt to restore its natural state of alkalinity by removing glutamine from muscle tissue causing muscle breakdown, and removing calcium from bones, weakening them. Fruits vegetables counter this by restoring alkalinity, not to mention replacing vital vitamins and minerals lost during exercise.
Raw fruits and vegetables support fast recovery because of their bioavailability. Raw does not mean you take them out of the grocery bag and start munching. With some preparation and seasoning, raw vegetables are tasty and satisfying. Try the recipe at the end of this blog!
Meat also is included as a TOJ food because intense exercise leads to muscle breakdown, and to build them back (which is how you build strength) requires amino acids from proteins.
Proteins are also available in vegetables, as any vegetarian or vegan will tell you. And there are some very successful athletes who do not eat meat. Herschel Walker, the former Heisman trophy winner and mixed martial arts fighter at age 48, trains and maintains his incredible strength on one meal a day -- a salad! Successful triathlete Brendan Brazier, author of The Thrive Diet, is a vegan.
However, meat provides protein density that is just not adequately available without eating, say, five bags of spinach. So I eat meat, mostly poultry, a few times a week. If you do lots of catabolic exercise like heavy weight lifting several days a week, you may need to eat more.
When you buy meat, go organic and grass fed. Avoid the hormones and antibiotics widely used in industrial agriculture. Avoid farm grown fish for the same reason. The cost difference is worth it. Studies have show that there's a higher incidence of cancer and heart disease in meat eaters; it's likely what they put into meat, not the meat itself, that's the culprit.
Cashew Cheeze Dip
3/4 cup raw cashews. soaked overnight
6 TBS. canola oil
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 TB tahini
1 tsp. sea salt
2 TB to 1/4 cup water
paprika to taste
1. Drain cashews. Place in food processor or high speed blender. Add oil, lemon juice, tahini, salt, and 2 TB water.
2. Process until smooth and creamy. This could take up to 5 minutes.
3. Sprinkle on paprika.
Use as a dip for veggies or spread on crackers. Refrigerate.
Here are some good resources:
Brazier - The Thrive Diet
Davis, Melina and Berry - Becoming Raw
Cordain and Friel - The Paleo Diet
Larsen - Vegetarian Sports Nutrition