Muscle, Muscle Man…

December 21, 2009

I have come to the conclusion that there is a very peculiar irony existing around “building muscle mass,” as my nineteen year old brother calls it.

scary, eh?

I began to think about this topic this afternoon when my brother walked in from having “lifted,” and was drinking a low calorie, carbonated, juice drink.  Later this evening, when deciding on what he should have for dinner, he informed me that he was staying away from “carbs” and preferred the mexican style, ground chicken (that my mom makes, by throwing a prepackaged seasoning mix, in with the chicken) to the Kamut pasta that we have in the pantry.

What is intriguing to me about “lifting”, is the reason for wanting to build “muscle mass” in the first place.  Is it not because we want to look strong and toned?  And we must want to look and be strong for a reason, because it is more than likely that the sole purpose in trying to tone up is not because we want to lift heavy boxes.

Historically, looking and being strong is associated with power and being able to offer protection for oneself, family and spouse… I am sure this “hunter-gatherer” approach still applies, but from what I gather from a google search, we want to build muscle because:

  • It provides a lean body mass
  • Excess calories are burnt and body metabolism increases when you start building muscles
  • The bone mineral density is increased, which makes the bones leaner and stronger
  • Blood sugar levels are controlled and risks of high or low blood pressure are reduced
  • Psychological stress is alleviated
  • Etc. etc.

Please do not get me wrong– exercise is wonderful for the reasons listed above, in addition to ridding our bodies of toxins (i.e. sweating), and increasing oxygen and blood flow to all of the vital organs… but basically… it sounds like one would want to build muscle mass to look, feel and be healthy (and thus, attractive).  Right?

yep. I can see why men like to be fit… it sure does not bother me!!!
Of course!! Because when we look at someone who is overweight or not toned, and compare them to someone that is toned and muscular, our brain automatically assigns the term “unhealthy” to the “unfit” person and “healthy” and “more attractive”, to the “fit” person.

However, using my brother as an example, and having heard, on more than one occasion, personal trainers and body builders forgo carbohydrates and wholesome foods for lower calorie, lower carb and higher protein, artificial and processed foods… I think we may have lost the appropriate definition of health.

We want to exude health but we are willing to make unhealthy decisions in order to get there.

(I, for one, was a victim of this way of thinking, as I wanted to be thin, and thus correlated my definition of health with the word, skinny).

What is unfortunate about this present day notion of health (and fortunate about this changeable situation), is that, if we are to choose real foods, and eat in proper combinations (see “My Philosophy”), a naturally toned body would be much easier to obtain. Additionally, we would not have to worry about our caloric intake, metabolism, blood sugar levels or weight gain.

Problem solved:  We can be and healthy AND look healthy.

Just to prove my point, I googled a popular protein bar and this is the ingredients it provided me with:

INGREDIENTS: brand name protein blend* (non GMO soy protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, calcium caseinate, hydrolyzed whey protein concentrate), high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, yogurt coating [sugar, fractionated palm kernel oil, nonfat dry milk, yogurt powder (cultured whey protein concentrate, cultured skim milk and yogurt culture), soy lecithin, salt, natural flavor], Dutch processed cocoa, cookie pieces (wheat flour, cane juice crystals, canola oil, Dutch processed cocoa, salt, sodium bicarbonate), canola oil, natural peanut butter, guar gum, oat fiber, non GMO soy fiber, beet fiber, and natural flavor.VITAMIN & MINERAL BLEND: Dicalcium phosphate, magnesium oxide, ascorbic acid, d-alpha-tocopheryl acetate, ferrous fumarate, niacinamide, calcium pantothenate, vitamin A palmitate, zinc oxide, copper gluconate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, thiamin hydrochloride, folic acid, biotin, potassium iodide, and cyanocobalamin.
Contains: peanuts, milk, soy and wheat. May contain: eggs and nuts. Plain and simple, our body understands real, wholesome foods.  This one protein bar may provide us with 20 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat… but what on earth is all that stuff in it?!

On the other hand, if we were to juice 10 cups of kale, (which is not a lot, as kale is extremely curly), we would be able to drink less than one cup of pure kale juice and nourish our bodies with 20 grams of protein and an exorbitant amount of nutrients that our body easily comprehends.

yum. one cup of protein powder + one cup of ____. Been there, done that.

So the next time you sit down to a gym-tastic meal, or snag a protein shake, or bar as you head to the gym… ask yourself what nourishment it is providing your body.  And no.  I am not talking about the sugar to protein to fat, ratio.  I am talking about the ingredients.

If you want to strengthen your body, build lean muscle, and maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle… use real ingredients.

What do you eat before you work out, or to build muscle?

5 thoughts on “Muscle, Muscle Man…

  1. This is a great article. So many men are confused about what is healthy and what is not. Very smartly written.. i would also love to interview you on purefoodlife, and would love to do an interview for you on coconuts haha.

  2. Pingback: 12 “Health” Foods that Really Aren’t Healthy « Diary of a Nutritionist

  3. So a serving size of 130g of kale produces 2 g of protein and 354% DV of vitamin a. In order to get to 20 grams of protein, you would be ingesting 3540% of vitamin A…is that healthy?

  4. Pingback: Healthy Thirst Quencher: Coconut Water– the natural “ade” « Diary of a Nutritionist

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