Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Facts on Beef

As you have read in my Boilermaker 15k report, I was invited to join the NY Beef Council's booth to talk about how beef has helped me perform athletically in the ways that I have.

As I have always felt that it is more important what works for you specifically then what works for me I am loath to tell you what to eat, or in that case, how to exercise, what to wear, etc.  However, the world is filled with people NOT like me in that regard, who have no problem telling you the latest fad, food, stance, form, etc is the way to do things.  In fact, in response to a question someone recently posed to me on my facebook account about how I felt protein benefited me (one I would have happily answered privately but that wasn't the venue this person chose to address me) someone with an obvious agenda trying to point out all the ways that beef is bad for you.

OK, well it is one thing to state your preference.  It is another to say that perhaps certain things only work for certain people.  But it is another thing entirely to play with the facts.  While I will argue whether everyone is "entitled" to their own opinion, I vehemently agree with the latter portion of Daniel Patrick Moynihan's quote stating that we are not entitled to our "own set of facts."

So here are some facts for you about beef:

*Choosing lean meat as a source of high-quality protein can be a calorie-saver.

As people love charts, here is one for you.  Please note how many calories must be taken in by tofu, black beans, or peanut butter to match the protein in 3 ounces of lean beef.  In just 180 calories, you can get over half of the recommended protein needed for your daily allowance!  And who, besides tiny tiny humans, have just 3 ounces of lean beef?!

* Half the fat in beef is monounsaturated, the
same type of heart-healthy fat found in salmon and olive oil. In addition, one-third of the saturated fat in beef is stearic acid, which studies have shown has a neutral or cholesterol lowering effect.

*Lean meats contain heme iron, which is much more easily absorbed by the body than nonheme iron found in plant foods. Heme iron is an important dietary component for promoting cognitive health, including memory, ability to learn and reasoning.

These are just a few of many facts that anyone who wishes to disagree with me on the benefits of beef cannot ignore.  Beef is very low in calories, not nearly as "fatty" as it is portrayed and contains iron more readily absorbed than that in most plants.  Now believe me, there is no perfect food out there and I do not claim that beef is that food.  I just simply know that I perform well when I have beef in my diet as compared to when I do not.  And science, not just me being a freak, backs up this correlation.

Are there other foods out there which may work best for you? Yep!  And I most assuredly hope you find them.  But if in looking around, you dismiss the benefits of beef, you do so at your own risk. 

But what do I know?  I just learned a lot of these facts at the Mississippi Blues Marathon this past January while talking to some guy named Bill (or something), who won some rinky-dink races in Boston and New York like 30 years ago. Four times. Each.



ilovesteaks said...

I don't think I need to tell you what I think about eating beef for protein. :)

Evan S said...

Very nice article Dane.

I think a reason that beef has gotten a bad rap from the fitness community is how it has been marketed and consumed.

A 3-ounce serving of lean beef is indeed a healthy and delicious choice. But how often is that the option we see on restaurant menus or on sale at the supermarket? Consumers are instead enticed by rib-eye steaks (not lean) and 16 ounce porterhouses.

In the same way we should understand that 3 ounces of grilled chicken is a better option than a KFC Extra Crispy Bucket, we should understand that beef is good when eaten in moderation without a lot of added fat.

Here's hoping that people start eating stir-fried beef and rice/noodles as a pre-race meal!

Andrew Opala said...

Good info. Moooo

Daren Williams said...

Thanks for sharing you secret, Dane! We hear so much about carbo-loading but not so much about the importance of quality proteins like beef. Did you know tenderloin is not only the most tender cut of beef but also one of the leanest?

crystal.cattle said...

Awesome post. It's no secret that I love beef. I raise it to, but sometimes it is easier to communicate this from a runners perspective. Definitely, going to share this with some friends. Thanks.

Alysia said...

Such an informative post. As a health conscious I believe this post is a must read. Thanks for sharing.
-- Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward. ~Soren Kierkegaad
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Dane said...

No, Emil, we don't!

Excellent points, Evan. Thank you for sharing!

Excellent addition, Andrew. ha!

I think keeping secrets is bad, Daren.

If those friends have any questions, Crystal, please have them email me!

Alysia, without a doubt health conscious people need to have all the information.

Matt said...

Hi Dane! I am in complete agreement with the main idea of your post, that beef can be a vital part of a healthy diet, but I have to point out one thing.

I think it is rather disingenuous to say that "beef is very low in calories," while implying that foods such as black beans are high in calories. That is only true when comparing beef to other foods as a protein source (as you have done). If you compared beef to black beans as a source of dietary fiber, beef would be infinitely higher in calories. This is because you can get 100% of your daily dietary fiber in ~600 calories of black beans, while a steak contains zero dietary fiber. The fact of the matter is that protein and carbohydrates are about equal in terms of calories per gram (4 Cal/g, to be specific), but because protein sources tend to be more dense (g/oz) than carb sources, you obtain more calories from 3 oz of beef (180) than 3 oz of black beans (77).

Dane said...

Matt, I don't know who you are but if you know me, you would know I imply nothing. I zero amount of me being disingenuous by pointing out the simple facts that I said and the charts show.