Two Nutritional Boogy Men to Watch Out For

Let’s look at a common thing found in hydration drinks – high fructose corn syrup . I read a great article a few years ago that everyone should check out regarding this prevalent carb source (I’ll link to it below). In a nutshell, just like trans fatty acids when man tries to introduce an unnatural food source into the food supply, hormonal havoc usually ensues.

It is also pretty ironic that high fructose corn syrup and grain fed beef became so prevalent around the same time that the obesity rate and chronic disease rate began to skyrocket.

This stuff is very prevalent in our food supply and despite the large amount of money spent by the food lobby trying to convince us that it is alright for us to ingest, it seems to do some bad things to our metabolism. It is very readily stored as fat compared to other carb sources, it actually can damage DNA and collagen and it is especially problematic for the 10-30% of the population that is already insulin resistant. All in all, I’ve made it a point to avoid the stuff.

Click here to read the original article on the effects of corn syrup.

The second thing I want to bring up is beef. Now, I love beef and I think that it is pretty obvious that we were meant to eat meat (we have canine teeth for a reason). The problem is, though, that the beef we eat to day is not the beef your grandparents ate. Few people realize it but grass fed vs. grain fed beef makes a HUGE impact on the nutritional profile of the end product.

Grass fed beef actually has the same fatty acid profile as salmon. That’s right, eating a burger made from grass fed beef is a lot like eating a piece of one the most healthy fish in the world. Grain fed beef, on the other hand, has a very messed up fatty acid profile. In fact, most of the health risks associated with red meat are not from red meat, per say, but from the screwed up fatty acid profiles brought on by mass produced grain fed beef.

Here is a great blog post from Mike Boyle on this for those of you that want to read some more on it. Click here to read the article on Grass vs. Grain Fed Beef.

It is also pretty ironic that high fructose corn syrup and grain fed beef became so prevalent around the same time that the obesity rate and chronic disease rate began to skyrocket. Big food is a lot like big tobacco was – lots of money being thrown out there to combat the mounting evidence that their products are actually killing people.

Anyways, hope this gives some of you some food for thought, so to speak. What you eat really does matter on more than one level. Spend a bit more on the food you eat and you’ll be much healthier for it in the long run.

-James Wilson-

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  1. Richard Chamley says:

    Hi James, don’t know if you’ve had similar documentaries in the US but the BBC over here made a series of very interesting programmes about the risks of ‘low fat’ diets, high fructose corn syrup and the like and the reasons they’ve become so prevalent

    Reply • August 1 at 11:58 am
  2. Constantine says:

    For the first time in my life, I have seen a person from the cycling industry talking openly about the rubbish we eat every day, well done James!!

    Reply • August 1 at 1:56 pm
  3. Heith says:

    “Wheat Belly” by: William Davis is a great read and I believe wheat should be added to this list. Wheat is another product that changed in the early 80’s to a hybrid,genetically modified product that is not the same as what our grandparents ate.

    Honestly that book has done more for my cycling than any other one thing.
    Quick story
    I’ve always wondered why no matter how much spinach, red meat, and b-complex vitamins I took, why I couldn’t get my o2 saturation above 95% in the mornings when I take my HR. I also wondered, how, no matter how much exercise I did, while eating very good for the most part. Why I couldn’t get to sub 13%BF.
    I read the book, cut out wheat and a few other grains. Within 2 weeks I dropped 7 pounds. I don’t believe it was fat but mostly retained water from inflammation along with fat. My O2 saturation slowly climbed to 99% over a 3 week period.

    Reply • August 1 at 2:26 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      The grain based diet is another thing to look out for. Some people have an allergic reaction to the stuff – particularly gluten – and getting away from refined carbs can make a dramatic physical impact. I’d assume you were one of those people given you reaction to cutting them out.

      The book The Omnivores Dilemma is a fascinating and scary look at the food policies in this country have been developed based on political wrangling and government subsidies of certain foods (namely corn) and not on what is healthy.

      Reply • August 2 at 10:46 am
  4. HundredDollar says:

    No Gatorade product that I know of contains HFCS. Only dextrose, or in the case of G2, sucrose (regular table sugar).

    Reply • August 1 at 3:44 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Noted, I changed my reference to it. To be honest this is a reprint of an article from a few years back and since I got into the habit of not drinking Gatorade because of the HFCS I never noticed they changed.

      Reply • August 2 at 10:46 am
      • HundredDollar says:

        I wonder when they changed this. I didn’t know they once had that as an ingredient.

        Reply • August 3 at 2:04 pm
  5. Joe says:

    Watch the Documentary “Forks over Knives”. By two doctors, one a prominent heart surgeon, the other raised on a diary farm.. both arriving at the same conclusion even though they did not know each other at the time. Very good. Drop what your are doing and go watch it. Yep, serious.

    James… I don’t believe humans are born to eat meat because of what you call “canines”. Humans are Herbivore’s.. not omnivores or carnivores. The secret is in looking at the intestines and how it processes food. the humans intestines are almost 30 feet, with millions of small ridges to absorb nutrients from plants. It is very similar to other plant eating animals. In contrast, a carnivore has very short smooth intestine, where the meat does not hang around long. Just think when you eat meat, it sits in your intestines rotting at 98 degrees for days 🙂 Yummy.

    An argument can be made that humans are “omnivores” and this will probably be the case in the future (thousands of years from now, if we are still around ? ) as humans are evolving… but not there yet. You are right about one thing.. the meat people are eating now is no way close to what people ate many, many years ago. No thanks.

    Reply • August 1 at 3:50 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      The only problem I see with that theory is that our brains would not have developed in the nutritional environment provided by a vegetarian diet. From what I understand about the evolutionary biology behind it the amount of calories needed to develop and support our greatest asset – our brains – was substantial and our early ancestors ate a lot of fatty fish as well as the brains and marrow of animals to fuel it.

      Given that I’d have to say that we are, indeed, omnivores. We may have leanings towards the herbivore side of things but I think, based on my understanding of the big picture, that we need and can handle meat. I’d also have to challenge the notion that meat just sits in the gut for days, that was something being talked about in the 80’s as a reason not to eat red meat and my understanding is that is not the case with most people.

      I do agree, though, that we should eat more like an herbivore and a carnivore. Meat shouldn’t be a huge part of your overall nutrition strategy but it does have a place.

      Reply • August 2 at 10:53 am
    • HundredDollar says:

      I gotta go with James on this one. There’s no argument that humans are omnivores. Well, there is an argument, but it usually involves extreme animal rights activists (they call us meat eaters “vivisectionists”!) or people who didn’t take high school biology.

      Reply • August 3 at 2:18 pm
  6. Mike Tuttle says:

    Joe is correct. Carnivores have a very short digestive system. When humans eat meat it actually putrefies (rots) rather than digests properly because it stays in the digestive tract for so long. Knowing this, I still eat meat but only grass-fed, pasture-raised, organic.

    About 80% of the wheat, corn and soy grown in the USA is GMO. Avoid any of those unless organically-grown. Wheat is ok if it has been sprouted, first. Ezekiel bread is a good choice.

    Fruit should always be eaten alone, on an empty stomach otherwise it ferments, which is not good. It digests in less than an hour which makes it an easy habit to get into.

    Ok, I’m getting off my soapbox, now. 🙂

    Reply • August 1 at 4:38 pm
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      While I agree with most of your recommendations check out my response to Joe about the carnivore thing, I’m not sure that is really the case.

      Reply • August 2 at 10:57 am
    • Matthew says:

      GMO wheat is not commercially available. Wheat has undergone the process of hybridization over the years (crossing one parent line with another) but the products used commercially have never had their genomes manually modified (GMO). This is a common misconception and the statement that 80% of wheat is GMO is incorrect.

      Reply • January 10 at 7:20 am
  7. Jon Laterveer says:

    Ok let’s not blame obesity on the food! We are doing things, actually not doing things people did years ago.

    Reply • August 1 at 6:47 pm
    • HundredDollar says:

      I agree. Sure. We have a lot of diabetes and obesity in this country, but is it because of what specific kinds of ingredients people eat, or is it because people just eat too damn much food, period, then go ahead and sit on their butt all day? I have a feeling that if, every day, at every meal, I swallowed two cups of pure sugar, I’d still get fat and contract diabetes. Even if that sugar is all natural, HFCS free, cane sugar grown on a sustainable farm using only natural hemp based tools and equipment, which regularly rotated their crops with grass fed cattle and daisies, I’d still have diabetes.

      Reply • August 3 at 2:42 pm
  8. James says:

    Humans Herbivore’s … really . we have been eating meat for thousands of years . our bodies get many good things from meat . yes processed food is not good for you , but that covers everything not just meat . we should be eating as much natural and balanced food as possible . You should be able to get evrything you need from the food you eat and not need to rely on vitamins and supplements in pill form . most food rots in some way in the body which is why you produce waste . So balanced diet meat poltery fish fruit veg nut and seeds . drink plenty of water and allow yourself some treats and your body will be fine

    Reply • August 2 at 2:14 am
  9. damien says:

    “Fruit should always be eaten alone, on an empty stomach otherwise it ferments, which is not good. It digests in less than an hour which makes it an easy habit to get into.”

    that sounds like a myth and an incorrect statement to me. it takes weeks, not hours to ferment something with the correct pH which I doubt the body provides. food decomposes in the gut but that’s not the same as rotting or fermenting. it’s a natural part of the process and supposed to happen. either way, fermentation is a good thing. it’s a great natural preservative and provides good bacteria that the body needs (wild fermented veggies, soy, kraut and bevies (!!) have been around for millions of years – check out S.Katz-The Art of Fermentation)

    look at our biological design and it proves we are omnivores. it means we are CAPABLE of eating almost anything, but it doesn’t mean we always should. we overeat sugar and meat (see Forks over Knives) because that is the food that has been made most easily available. FoK even compares meat consumption of various groups and does not prove there is anything inherently wrong in meat, just shows there is a problem when there is too much of it.
    The key is to eat a balanced, natural diet. The problem is that we have been so skewed by money, advertising, politics and misconstrued cultural ideals that we no longer do so.

    Reply • August 3 at 9:02 pm
  10. Eric says:

    Hey James,

    What are your thoughts on the Paleo Diet for mountain bikers? I just read the books The Paleo Diet by Robb Wolf and The Paleo Diet for Athletes. Both books make great arguments for the Paleo diet. I am particular drawn to the benefits in weight loss and reduced inflammation. Have you ever trained anybody that followed the Paleo diet?


    Reply • February 20 at 6:34 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Paleo works well for some people but if you don’t have the allergies they talk about – and not many people really have them that bad – then any sensible diet that asks you to cut back on the refined carbs and eat more natural foods will work. The details are used to sell the diet but if you look at the principles they are similar to any successful diet. The important thing to to be consistent with it, that will get you further than the specific diet you use.

      Reply • February 20 at 10:13 am
  11. Aaron says:

    There’s a great documentary called King Corn that highlights the evolution of corn in our food supply.
    It’s fascinating and scary to see how pervasive it is.
    2 friends buy an acre of land, farm it with corn, and take you on a great learning journey.

    Reply • January 10 at 12:09 pm
  12. Julie says:

    There is a whole laundry list of traits humans don’t have that carnivores do have, not just the long intestinal tract, but we have far less acid stomachs, less jaw power, and James, I’d like to see you rip through a deer hide with your canine teeth! 🙂

    Reply • January 10 at 5:23 pm
  13. Ned says:

    Ok let’s take a look at the whole picture here. A cow, that we can all agree only eats vegetation, large flat-ish teeth and several “stomachs” and long intestinal tract because it takes longer to process vegetation into useable nutrition. Carnivores on the other hand have sharp teeth and a single stomach with a fairly short/ simple digestive tract because their food source is very nutritionally dense and takes less processing for them to turn into useable nutrition. Primates and monkeys, which we evolved from I don’t care what your sunday school teacher says, are omnivores. They have canines, bigger than ours in most cases, and also large flat teeth at the back for grinding. They also have a single stomach with a fairly long intestinal tract. This allows them to efficiently process whatever food source they can attain. If you look at the broad range of habitats that primates and humans have been able to adapt to it only makes sense that we’ve evolved in such a way to allow us to exploit whatever resources are available. People that live in very tropical areas tend to eat more fruits/ veggies and smaller “meat” sources because it’s what’s there. People that live in areas where year round vegetation isn’t available have adapted to live on an almost entirely meat/ fish diet through those periods that they can’t easily acquire fresh fruit/ vegetables. The reason we don’t have huge canines like pure carnivores is because we learned to use our hands with tools in them making large canines unnecessary. The use of tools allowed us to more easily take large game and expend less energy and time processing food which gave us more free time to develop other aspects of what makes us humans today. Yes we typically eat more meat than we should for the energy expenditures required for most of us to live day to day. But it is a valuable part of our diet and something we do require to survive as a species. If you’re concerned about where your meat comes from and how it’s treated there’s really only one way to know for sure, go hunt it yourself! By harvesting our own meat, just like growing your own veggies, we have a better understanding of where they came from and appreciate it more when it comes dinner time.

    Reply • January 10 at 6:54 pm
  14. dave says:

    good info as always , accurate & on target

    Reply • January 11 at 12:32 pm
  15. Andrew Brooks says:

    I’m a vegetarian and have been for many years, giving up meat because I couldn’t get locally sourced meat. Being a vegetarian forces you into actually looking at what you eat, finding good sources of plant protein was really difficult when I first gave up meat, it’s so much easier now.
    I try to stay clear of these so called sports drinks and supplements, only consuming them if I’d misjudged the amount of fuel I’d require on a ride.

    Reply • January 18 at 9:24 am
    • bikejames bikejames says:

      Thanks for sharing, appreciate the insights.

      Reply • January 21 at 4:03 pm

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