As I get older, I’m finding out there’s less and less room for error in how I eat… and my tolerance for animal fat has shrunk.
I’ve eaten red meat my whole life, starting when I was young when my dad would take us to Sizzler on many a Sunday evening. This is back when they had sawdust on the floor, so you know I’m talking old school!
My favorite meal was always a hamburger with lots of ketchup, cut in half; or a big plate of spaghetti with meat sauce at Mike’s Pizza, my favorite local Italian restaurant in town. By the way, my mother was Italian too, so I ate a ton of spaghetti, rigatoni, pizza, and American dishes too.
My appetite was legendary, and I suppose you could say, it still is (though I admit I’ve lost a step or two).
The Florida Trip
Up until recently, I was still eating cheeseburgers fairly regularly. That was before the Florida trip…
We took a weekend trip to the Gulf Coast in August, and on the way I was eating big chunks of salami and cheese in the car (you know, for testosterone!). And while we were there, we stopped two days in a row at Whataburger. I remembered this fast food place with fondness from the time we “discovered” it in the heart of Texas when my family took a three-day road trip there from Southern California to see my sister’s newborn son.
The recent Florida trip was also ridiculously hot and humid, which I hear is pretty much a given down there in the Summer. I know I didn’t drink enough water.
So soon after we got home I passed a kidney stone—no, saying “passed” a kidney stone doesn’t do it justice—I survived a kidney stone! That was the third time, if I’m counting right. The stone indicated a uric acid origin (from meat).
And more recently, I felt a strong pain in my lower abdominal area, right side (appendix), after waking up in the morning following a high-saturated fat evening meal.
Clearly I’ve arrived in new territory, and the wake up call has arrived too.
So I’ve really begun to ponder the effect of animal fat on my digestive system.
I went back and looked at my Cronometer entries for about a month’s period, and saw that I was routinely eating over the recommended limit for saturated fat in a day—sometimes double or more!
Now I understand that not all saturated fat is animal fat, and I will distinguish even further to say that when I speak of the animal fat that I believe is causing me issues, I’m speaking more of meat that of milk products, or eggs.
Digesting Animal Fat
As I said, I’ve been a big fan of meat. I know it contains nutrients that are powerful, and that you don’t get in fowl or fish. But I also know that there can be a great amount of fat on that meat! In fact, one reason I may have liked hamburgers so much, is that my dad used to like steak, but when I ate it and tried to digest any fat, it just would not go down. I’m still like that with meat.
What I’ve been coming to in a hurry, is that I have a very low threshold for animal (meat) fat consumption—I cannot eat much of it at all. I’m beginning to replace some of this fat with monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), such as that which comes from avocados, olives, nuts, seeds, etc.
The jury’s still out for me regarding milk fat and egg yolk. The small amount of recent personal research I’m getting back on that is that it may be okay. It’s hard to tell because I traditionally have reactions against dairy, though at the same time I tend to crave it!
Due to inflammation in my shoulder from a slow-healing injury (not exactly rare among strength athletes), I am carefully watching everything I eat to see if it is a net positive or negative. What I’m doing right now is reducing my animal fat while replacing it with vegetarian sources, and at the same time keeping my protein up, because I know that protein (or the amino acids that make it up) is helping to restore injured tissue.
And of the fat that I am replacing, I am eating a higher percentage of omega-3 fat, which is contained in food like salmon, walnuts, and chia seeds. These omega fats are reported to help reduce inflammation. I tried adding red wine to that mix, but find that I just don’t wake up as refreshed after consuming red wine the evening before.
So far, I AM finding reduced inflammation from this protocol, and will let you know how it goes from this point onward. Promising, for sure.
If you’d like to see me ruminate about this topic, just check out my recent video on this same topic.
Digestion and Older People
Let me know if you are dealing with digestion issues, and what your age range is. I know that older people tend to lose enzymes, and organs do not always work as efficiently as when they (we!) were young.
I do have to say that the aches and pains of advancing age—while kind of a pain themselves (!)—are interesting in that they are teaching me so much about how my body works, and what is the most efficient and effective food or protocol to handle a particular challenge.
It’s one thing to look at studies, which is great, and which so many health and fitness professionals and “regular folks” read too, but it’ s another thing to actually see and feel issues working in your own body!
Anyway, I’d appreciate your input on this.
And if you’d like me to help you navigate through perhaps being a bit older, weaker, or “broken down” as you train—to minimize negative issues, or better yet, to overcome some of these issues, then contact me or consider letting me coach you to success.
If you want to read a great introduction to gaining the “Greek Physique”—all for less than your cup of morning Espresso—then check out my just-updated eBook.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
To your Health and Fitness,
Patrick Rooney is the Founder of OldSchoolUs.com. Its focus is natural health and independent living. Patrick is the author of GREEK PHYSIQUE: The Simple, Satisfying Way to Sculpt Your Body—Even if You’re Old, Weak, or Broken Down; and is also the creator of Greek Yoga™ and the Greek Yoga for Beginners video. He offers health and fitness consulting in-person in Middle Tennessee and worldwide via phone, Zoom, and Skype. To reach Patrick, email him at [email protected].