Red Meat, Salt, Eggs, and Other Goodness
Destroying the dogma from the clueless age of Big Pharma
Written by: Joachim Bartoll, November, 2014 - previously published for online publication
Classic Muscle Newsletter, January 2016 (issue #16)
When I got into nutrition in the mid- and late 80’s, the low fat craze had just begun and it skyrocketed during the 90’s. Fat intake should be kept low, preferable around 10 % of total calories or even less. Cholesterol was evil and saturated fats were to blame. Eggs and red meat got a lot of negative press (to the extent that people even today are still afraid of egg yolks). Later on salt (sodium) got a bad rap for increasing blood pressure and causing hypertension. The really scary part? Most of this dogma is still prevalent today – and most doctors still believe in it!
If a middle aged guy goes to the doctor because of early signs of heart/cardiovascular disease, the doctor will 9 out of 10 times put him on dangerous and useless statin drugs. Then he’ll give the poor guy instructions to eat less fat and more fiber (as in oats, bread, etc.), eliminate eggs and to cut back on salt, and to stop drinking coffee.
That was what the medical community believed in the 90’s after being flooded with biased nutritional research and propaganda from food companies (especially the grain industry) and from Big Pharma who wanted to push their new money makers in cholesterol-lowering statins. And yes, it is still being practiced today.
Sadly, these recommendations will accomplish nothing. In many cases new problems will arise from these nonsensical nutritional instructions and from taking unnecessary and dangerous drugs. A win-win situation for Big Pharma, who’s business depends on keeping people sick and helpless.
The reason this guy is at risk of cardiovascular disease and a possible heart attack has nothing to do with cholesterol, salt, saturated fats or too much coffee. He’s developed heart disease because he’s been eating what society brainwashed him to eat. A lot of grains, bread, sugar, fast food, trans fats and other highly processed stuff.
Sure. Consuming less salt will lower your blood pressure – at least temporarily, but why is it elevated to begin with? Yep, avoiding coffee (caffeine) will keep your heart rate down, but why does it get high in the first place? And yeah, eating less saturated fat or taking a statin will lower your total cholesterol, but why is it elevated? And more importantly, are these recommendations really addressing the underlying causes of the problems?
Thanks to new and more independent research we now know that cholesterol levels are a horrible predictor of heart disease, and lowering your cholesterol can put you at a higher risk of other diseases (especially those of the brain), and ruining your testosterone production – kicking life quality and your energy levels out of the window.
Statins may lower cholesterol, but they do not prevent heart disease and they have a ton of serious side effects. Keep in mind that old research (still used in medicine books) is based on total cholesterol as they could not yet separate between HDL and LDL. High HDL cholesterol is beneficial to your health, and eating more saturated fat raises it! Triglycerides and small-dense (Type B) LDL cholesterol can be troublesome in high quantities and are thus better predictors of heart disease. The best way to lower LDL? Eat less high-carb and high-sugar foods.
And as mentioned earlier, saturated fats and cholesterol are needed for the production of testosterone. Red meat and eggs are ideal in the evening as testosterone production peaks during the early morning – so eat your eggs in the evening to make sure that your body has the building blocks (cholesterol) available.
And what about salt? Well, according to recent studies, only 10 % of hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure) is due to extreme consumption of salt, and in these cases it’s usually due to sodium chloride (table salt). The main reasons for high blood pressure are stress, obesity (diet rich in highly processed foods), alcohol, tobacco, and physical inactivity.
Sodium is actually extremely important for cell health, for optimum energy storage, athletic performance, recuperation, and your hydration levels (electrolyte metabolism). Estimating your sodium need is relatively easy. The rule of thumb is two grams of sodium for each liter of water replacement. 150-pound athletes (both male and female) who train at high intensity levels should drink at least two or three liters of water per day. 200-pound athletes should be drinking a minimum of three to four liters, and athletes over 225 pounds should drink a minimum of four to six liters.
Keep in mind that table salt is sodium chloride (NaCl; about 40% sodium, and 60% chloride). The chloride can cause problems for some people's metabolisms, and of course sodium (all kinds of salts) ends up taking the blame. Avoid the issue and use sea salt or Himalayan salt instead.
Since salt is so important for anyone who is physically active, one of the most simple changes with the greatest overall effect one can do is to start your day with a ¼ tsp. sea salt, and a shot of lime juice in a glass of water. I see more and more performance coaches recommend this to their elite athletes. Just put the juice of 1 freshly squeezed lemon or lime in a glass (or use a concentrate), which is about 1 tbsp of juice, add ¼ teaspoon of salt in it, and then add water to taste (a minimum of 200 ml.)
Please note: water retention from an increase in salt/sodium is temporary, and will dissipate as long as sodium and water intake remain high. You will then notice a higher volume of urinary output, more sweating, the appearance of a leaner, harder physique, and more pumped and full muscles in the gym.
And yeah, the fastest way to reverse most modern health problems is to lose body fat and get lean. And the best way to eliminate them forever is to eat healthy, natural and nutritious foods.