The Anabolic Quality of Food

Last year when I visited Brazil one thing had me puzzled: How could the people be so lean when a large amount of the food was either fried or loaded with sugar?

The answer I came up with at the time was that they either ate less or just played endless hours of soccer. This morning I stumbled upon another possible answer. The food quality was higher. Could it be possible that the nutritional quality of the recipe components in Brazil are higher than the food we get here in America?

Here is what strength coach Charles Poliquin wrote in Question of Strength: October about his experience eating in the Dominican Republic.

I realize how anabolic food is every time I go teach in the Dominican Republic. Last time I taught a Biosignature Modulation course in the DR, the students took my body fat Monday morning. I was at 8% and weighed 198 pounds.

Now, there’s no such thing as grain-fed in the DR; they can’t afford it, so cows eat grass. And if you eat a mango over there you have to eat it over a sink because it’s so juicy. The eggs too are far more anabolic. They’re orange and full of omega-3s, like all eggs naturally were thousands of years ago.

A DR avocado tastes like butter it’s so rich in nutrients. Eating avocados over here is like eating fiberglass once you’ve had a DR avocado.

Anyway, five days later, after eating only Dominican Republic foods, I weighed 209 at 6% body fat. My business partner came to finish the seminar, took one look at me and said, “What happened to you?!”

But when I work in the UK or Ireland, I lose muscle mass and put fat on almost inevitably, even though I try to eat as cleanly as possible. The quality of the food is just piss poor.

Coach Poliquin gained 11 pounds all while losing 2% body-fat in sunny Dominican Republic. It’s time to start planning a winter vacation. Any glitter gyms in Santo Domingo?

beef-short-ribs

beef short ribs

Legacy Comments

Nick

Well, that article explains the DR, but not sugar consumption in Brazil. Sugar is sugar, no? While I buy that an avocado might have better nutrients if grown properly, I cannot same the same for sugar cane. 🙂

And since when is grain fed bad? Wouldn’t cows get better nutrients from grain than from grass?

Anecdotes are all fine and dandy, but I fail to see how eating a few crappy farm raised chicken eggs can have such a dramatic effect.

MAS

It doesn’t explain the sugar, but it might explain the other components to their diet.

Cows fed grass yield dairy and meat that is higher in Omega-3s. The typical USA diet is low in Omega-3s and this leads to a host of diseases and possibly contributes to obesity.

Nick

Interesting. So, if is truly less expensive to feed livestock grass, and it produces better quality meat, why do we not do it here in the states?

MAS

I believe you can put more weight on a cow with corn than grass. Ryan recently read a book that I think covers this topic called Omnivores Dilemma.

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MAS

Critical MAS is the blog for Michael Allen Smith of Seattle, Washington. My interests include traditional food, fitness, economics, and web development.