Four Out of Five Muscles Agree: Meat Good

Just got a funny text from my good friend Susanna - a wonderful woman who shares my love of nutrition and healthy, holistic living...

For a long time now she's been on a mostly raw, almost vegan diet and very happy with it. But when I visited her earlier this year and heard about her exciting Krav Maga classes, I asked her how she was getting through such a strenuous thing on kale salad and a handful of nuts.

I had her tell me what she usually ate on any given day and there was so little protein - I'd have passed out doing all that on an occasional egg and some walnuts. I told her she might want to add in some protein powder somewhere - something - give her body some amino acids to rebuild those tired muscles. She eventually did and I'm sure it helped.

I recently embarked upon my own experiment with vegetarianism and while I started out well and felt wonderful - at first - it didn't last. After about 6-8 weeks, I was constantly hungry, tired most of the time and felt like all my muscles were turning to fat. My mid-section seemed flabby and the bloating - jebus christmas, the bloating. It never went away.

Maybe over time my body might have adjusted, but I think it was really a matter of my body not being happy on a no-meat plan. It just doesn't work for me. Especially not when I'm running and lifting. A bowl of kale, beans and quinoa just isn't going to cut it. For someone else maybe, but not for me.

... So, the funny text... After two hours meeting with her new nutritionist, Susanna texts me, "You might want to start eating that burger again!" I told her I already had and was feeling *much* better as a result.

The thing I was always concerned about while on my vegetarian vacation was if I was getting the right amounts of amino acids, in the right proportions. While it might be true that you don't have to combine your legumes with your grains at the same time, what *is* critical is to get all the essential amino acids and in the right amounts every single day.

From the research I've done, if you don't get them in the right amounts and you're low on one or another, it can impede the process of building muscle. All have to be present in the right proportions for optimal functioning.

I need to keep digging to see if this information is even available, but no food labels tell you which amino acids they contain and in what amounts. There's no way to easily know how much cous cous (or rice, or pasta) equates to the amount of amino acids & their proportions, or how many cups of beans/legumes you need to make up the balance. Just going by the grams of protein isn't enough information.

All along, I listened to my body. It finally told me "You need to roast a damn chicken and roast it now." So I did. And it was fugging delicious. There are other days when my body tells me "You need a damn burger full of B vitamins and iron and you need it now." And I oblige.

The trick is to make sure I'm not eating a burger anytime soon before I run, for obvious reasons. On running days, I eat like I always have - vegetarian throughout the day, then the run, then the MEAT.

As I've always believed, no one plan or diet can work for all people. You have to listen closely to your own body and give it what it needs. And everything in moderation. Now I really want a burger.