Grass-Fed Beef: Is It Worth It?

Scott Klasen, MS, CSCS, Co-Owner, Peak Performance Training

If you’ve taken a trip to the supermarket lately, there’s a good chance you’ve stumbled upon the grass-fed beef behind the meat counter.  What you probably also noticed was the price!  So the question ultimately becomes, is it worth it?  To help you better understand, the first thing you need to know is when a calf is born, it starts out eating grass.  It turns out that cows have a special internal organ (the rumen) that turns grass into an efficient source of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and other essential nutrients.  Grass is simply the healthiest food for the cow, which makes grass-fed beef a top choice for your health.

However, after 5-6 months, most cows are shipped to feedlots, where they are switched to a diet of corn, growth hormones, and antibiotics.  While this rich diet fattens the cow quickly, it eventually takes a serious toll on its health.  The corn is especially difficult on the cow’s stomach, often leading to life-threatening bloating.  It also triggers a severe type of animal heartburn called acidosis, which can lead to ulcers, liver disease, and a weakened immune system.  This is just one reason why low doses of antibiotics are mixed right into their daily feed.  Veterinarians say that a feedlot diet is so rich that it would kill the cow after about a year and a half, but on a diet of grass, cows thrive for 7 years or more!

Now I don’t know about you, but when it comes to my health, I’d sure feel better about eating the beef from a healthy animal the way nature intended!  Don’t take my word for it though.  Here are the top 10 reasons why you should consider the switch from grain-fed to grass-fed beef:

1.  Lower in total fat.  A serving of sirloin steak from a grass-fed steer has 100 fewer calories and nearly half the fat of a similar cut from a corn-fed steer.  So much so that the fat content is actually similar to that of skinless chicken.

 2.  Lower in saturated fat.  Research indicates that eating grass-fed beef can help lower total, LDL, and VLDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while increasing beneficial HDL cholesterol.

3.  Higher in Omega-3 fatty acids.  Grass-fed beef contains 4 times more Omega-3 fatty acids.  Yes, those Omega-3’s that we find in fish and are so good for the heart!

4.  The right balance of Omega-3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.  We are now starting to understand that the ratio of Omega-3 to Omega 6 fatty acids in our diets plays a crucial role in the prevention and treatment of coronary heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, autoimmune diseases, cancer, arthritis, and other inflammatory diseases.  Grass feeding increases the Omega-3 content by 60%, producing a much more favorable ratio.

5.  Higher levels of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA).  CLA has demonstrated significant health benefits in the human body, including the reduction of atherosclerosis and the onset of diabetes, along with the warding off of cancer.  CLA content in grass-fed beef is 2-3 times higher than that of grain-fed.

6.  1.5 times higher in dietary protein.  This may help lower blood pressure, aid in weight loss, and improve insulin sensitivity and glycemic control.

7.  3 times higher in Vitamin E.

8.  10 times higher in Vitamin A.

9.  Higher in B Vitamins and Riboflavin.

10.  Higher in the minerals Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium.

While the initial investment may seem high, there is no question that grass-fed beef is a superior product.  So if possible, consider spending a little more now and save a lot later.

 

Sources

http://www.tallgrassbeef.com/clemson_study.html

Joachim, D., & Davis, R.  (2004).  Fresh Choices.  Rodale.

 

 

Only One Body

Mike Boyle, Owner, Mike Boyle Strength & Conditioning

Imagine you are sixteen years old and your parents give you your first car. They also give you simple instructions. There is one small hitch, you only get one car, you can never get another. Never. No trade-ins, no trade-ups. Nothing.

Ask yourself how would you maintain that car? My guess is you would be meticulous. Frequent oil changes, proper fuel, etc. Now imagine if your parents also told you that none of the replacement parts for this car would ever work as well as the original parts. Not only that, the replacement parts would be expensive to install and cause you to have decreased use of your car for the rest of the car’s useful life. In other words, the car would continue to run, but not at the same speed and with the efficiency you were used to.

Wow, now would we ever put a lot of time and effort into maintenance if that were the case.

After reading the above example, ask yourself another question. Why is the human body different? Why do we act as if we don’t care about the one body we were given? Same deal. You only get one body. No returns or trade-ins. Sure, we can replace parts, but boy it’s a lot of work and it hurts. Besides, the stuff they put in never works as well as the original “factory” parts. The replacement knee or hip doesn’t give you the same feel and performance as the original part.

Think about it. One body. You determine the mileage. You set the maintenance plan. No refunds, no warranties, no do-overs.

How about this perspective? One of my clients is a very successful businessman. He often is asked to speak to various groups. One thing he tells every group is that you are going to spend time and money on your health. The truth is, the process can be a proactive one or a reactive one. Money spent on your health can take the form of a personal trainer, massage therapist and a gym membership, or it can be money spent on cardiologists, anesthesiologists, and plastic surgeons. Either way, you will spend money.

Same goes for time. You can go to the gym or to the doctor’s office. It’s up to you. Either way, you will spend time. Some people say things like “I hate to work out”. Try sitting in the emergency room for a few hours and then get back to me. Working out may not seem so bad. Much like a car, a little preventative maintenance can go a long way. However, in so many ways the body is better than a car. With some good hard work you can turn back the odometer on the body. I wrote an article a while back (Strength Training- The Fountain of Youth) that discussed a study done by McMaster University which showed that muscle tissue of older subjects actually changed at the cellular level and looked more like the younger control subjects after strength training.

Do me a favor. Spend some time on preventative maintenance. It beats the heck out of the alternative. Just remember, you will spend both time and money.

Exercise Motivation In the Cold Weather

Don Schlenbecker, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, President, Peak Performance Training

It is pretty easy to get motivated when it’s breezy and 80 degrees out, but what about when we turn around and it’s 35 and rainy?

Many of us love the outdoor activities through spring, summer, and early fall.  We like to get out and walk and run with friends, play with the kids outside, and enjoy golfing or tennis.  But when the fall so abruptly ends and the leaves are lying half-frozen on the ground, it’s pretty easy to make the decision to do something else.  Not everyone is a gym-goer who makes a seamless transition into the confines of Commercial Club America, so what can we do to continue a healthy lifestyle of daily exercise?

At PPT we have been providing quality in-home personal training for the past 6 years. Many of our clients have minimal equipment, and a small amount of space, yet their workouts never seem to suffer in intensity or quality.  It is our job to make sure that we give each client the knowledge to be able to adapt to any surrounding and still get a great workout! So today I am going to give you a few tips that can help you achieve great results in the confines of your home.

Warm-Up: Whether you are working out for 20 minutes or 100 minutes, a quality warm- up is imperative. A general warm-up for 3-5 minutes should be used to increase your heart rate and increase the mobility through your joints.  Walk up and down the stairs, walk in place with high knees, jump rope (if you have the space), or even jog in place. Remember that you should always feel an increase in body temperature and hopefully a slight sweat after this warm-up.

Total Body Movements: To truly be the most efficient in caloric burning, you need to make sure that you are training movements and not muscles.  Movements that use the lower body, trunk, and upper body together require more oxygen to be pumped to your muscles, and in turn, burn many more calories than a basic single joint strength exercise.

Your Body is Resistance: Dumbbells and/or resistance bands/tubing are not a necessity. Your own bodyweight should be more than enough to result in a positive training effect for most movements. Adding some bands can be a nice complement, and open up some movements to help round out your workout.  Be sure to visit our Facebook page for weekly basic in-home movements!

Shorten/Eliminate Rest Periods:  By doing this, you can maintain an elevated heart rate and burn calories more efficiently.  Combine 3-4 movements in succession without rest, and take a short rest in between the groups.  Make sure you record your work/rest intervals for subsequent workouts.

168 Hours in a Week – Are you committed to doing the right things?

Don Schlenbecker, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, President, Peak Performance Training

I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t hear someone complaining about their lack of workout results.  Many people can’t seem to understand how it is possible to work out 4-5 days a week, and still not lose any weight. As your Health Corner fitness professional, let’s discuss the reasons why this happens, and what we can do to change this dilemma.

We live in a fast-paced, quick-fix world, where reality is sometimes shielded by the many “miracle” products or machines that so often cross our path.  Infomercials are loaded with products/machines that will tone your abs, tighten your bum, and shrink your waistline. They place well-toned models/celebrities alongside these products to show you exactly what will happen for only 3 payments of $39.99!  Reality, I think not.

There are plenty of factors that play a role in improving your fitness level and reaching your goals.  In future health corners we will discuss the ABC’s of Fitness: Accountability, Balance, and Commitment. Today let’s look at the importance of commitment away from your trainer, and outside the gym.

A truly committed exerciser maybe works out close to 10 hours per week.  On average, I would say that it’s a little closer to 3-5 hours a week.  Either way, the bottom line is that in the best case you are not working out 158 hours per week.

158 hours!!!  During this period of time, what you do is just as important as the 10 hours you spent working out.  Nutritionally we are always challenging our body, either by starving it, engorging it, or just filling it with the wrong things. Are we taking the elevator at work, or are we using the stairs?  Do we sit down in a chair all day, or do we take a nice walk at lunch? When we get home do we play with the kids, or the couch and remote? Are we giving our body the rest that it needs at night?

All of these questions and many more can easily be answered and changed to work for us rather than against us.  A well conditioned person is; accountable for his/her actions away from the gym, learns to balance work, play and rest; and is committed to making the correct choices.

I’m sure we have all heard someone say how losing weight changed their life.  I’m here saying that changing your life will help you lose the weight.

The Most Frequently Asked Question in the Life of a Fitness Professional

Scott Klasen, MS, CSCS, Co-Owner, Peak Performance Training

For over 8 years, I have been helping people look, feel, and perform better. Through the years there is one question that I’ve been asked more than any other and it is this very question that I would like to address today.  Have you guessed it yet?  I’m sure many of you already have, but even if you haven’t, there is a good chance you have thought about it at some point, perhaps even today!  Well, to end the suspense, what I have been asked by more people than you can ever imagine is “What do I need to do to lose weight?”

This question is then usually followed up by something such as, “I’ve tried everything, but nothing seems to work.”  I’ll leave this for another day.  When someone tells me they are interested in losing weight, what they are actually interested in is losing fat.  Seeing that I’m a fitness professional, it would be more than reasonable to assume I’d respond by saying, “physical activity and exercise.”  Now don’t get me wrong, exercise is absolutely essential when it comes to improving and maintaining your health, and so too with losing and maintaining a healthy weight.  However, if it’s immediate results you seek, STOP EATING SUGAR!

Eliminating excess sugar from your diet is the #1 thing you can do to start losing weight, and more importantly, losing fat. You need to trust me on this.  I can put you on the best training program in the world but this, by itself, (in most cases) cannot overcome a poor diet loaded with sugar. I see it time and time again. Those who eliminate or greatly reduce their sugar consumption, and with the addition of a sound training program, get tremendous results. Those that make average changes get average results, while those who make little or no changes in their sugar consumption wind up with, you guessed it…..little or no results.

Unfortunately, sugar is everywhere which can make this extremely difficult to do.  Even if you think you don’t eat that much sugar, if you eat a decent amount of processed and packaged foods, you are probably consuming too much.  In addition, if you eat foods made with white flour, the end result is the same as eating cookies or candy!  Besides making you fat, here are some other reasons to limit the amount of sugar you consume:

Sugar is addictive – Research has proven that eating sugar stimulates the same “pleasure center” in the brain as do illegal drugs, alcohol, and nicotine.  Here’s the chain of events when you eat refined sugar/fattening carbohydrates:

  1. You think about eating a meal containing carbohydrates.
  2. You begin secreting insulin.
  3. The insulin signals the fat cells to shut down the release of fatty acids and take up more fatty acids from the circulation.
  4. You start to get hungry, or hungrier.
  5. You begin eating.
  6. You secrete more insulin.
  7. The carbohydrates are digested and enter the circulation as glucose, causing blood sugar levels to rise.
  8. You secrete still more insulin.
  9. Fat from the diet is stored as triglycerides in the fat cells, as are some of the carbohydrates that are converted to fat in the liver.
  10. The fat cells get FATTER, and so do you.
  11. Fat stays in the fat cells until the insulin levels drop. It is this process that causes you to get fat and feel tired, irritable, jumpy, and mentally sluggish after eating sugar.

Sugar leads to type 2 diabetes – It is the above process that is currently contributing to the overwhelming rise in type 2 diabetes seen today.

Sugar grows cancer – As should be clear by now, sugar jacks up insulin levels.  Insulin stimulates cell growth. Unfortunately, cancer cells have 6-10 times the number of insulin receptors as do normal cells.  If extra insulin hits a preexisting cancer cell, it is essentially like pouring gasoline on a fire.  Cancers you might be at greater risk of because of sugar: Breast, pancreatic, colon, stomach, and endometrial cancer.

Sugar gives you wrinkles – In a process called glycation, eating sugar attacks collagen and elastin making them less elastic and more brittle until they break.  When your skin can’t snap back, that is when fine lines and wrinkles appear.  Collagen and elastin then start to mutate causing even more inflammation and damage…..and aging you!

Sugar destroys your immune system – Eating just a few teaspoons of sugar can cripple the capacity of certain white blood cells (neutrophils) to engulf and destroy bacteria. With suppressed neutrophils, you are vulnerable to developing colds, flu, infections, and even chronic fatigue syndrome.

As I mentioned earlier, sugar is cleverly hidden in many seemingly healthy foods ranging from cereals to yogurt.  Some of the worst offenders are often your favorite low- fat snacks (fat is removed and replaced with sugar).  Go ahead, take a look, you might be surprised at what you find.  Needless to say, this can make food shopping challenging at the very least and you will almost certainly become overwhelmed.

If you think you may be consuming too much sugar but are having trouble figuring out the good choices from the bad, just remember this – stay away from anything that is made with white flour or high fructose corn syrup and purchase and eat only foods that have 5 grams of sugar or less per serving on the food label, and you should be fine.

If you need additional advice on controlling your sugar intake and cravings, feel free to contact me and I’d be glad to help.