Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Whole9 Virtual Workshop Experience!

Last week I saw on Whole9 that they would be piloting a new virtual workshop format, and would be selecting a handful of readers to participate in a free trial run.  Well, I am a major Melissa & Dallas fan, and they have quite a following, so imagine my delight when I saw that I had made the cut!  I submitted questions inquiring about their thoughts on cholesterol (and cholesterol meds), how much importance they place on organ meats, and about nutritional preparation for Tough Mudder (still toying with the idea of actually doing this).  There will be a future workshop focusing on endurance training, so my last question would be a better fit for when that event happens, but I got some great info on the other two, and also got a lot of good tidbits from the other participants' questions.

First off, I am pretty interested in cholesterol.  I remember the first time one of my friends told me that saturated fat intake and cholesterol was never proven to cause heart disease; I probably looked at her like she had eight heads.  Well, eventually I decided to stop believing things on the grounds they are repeated so much, everyone takes them as gospel.  The fact of the matter is, this whole idea is borne of a scientist cherry-picking data to suit his own pre-conceived notion, not good science.  These days, you can't watch TV for than half an hour without seeing a commercial for a cholesterol medication, showing some fit, active, middle-aged individual for whom "diet and exercise isn't enough."  Crestor is their final hope against certain death! Wellll, not necessarily.  There are millions of Americans on drugs to artificially lower their cholesterol, and there is much debate as to how effective these drugs are at preventing heart disease, especially in women.  Anyhoo, Dallas & Melissa's take was that high cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, but a symptom of inflammation (which is an accepted factor for heart disease), and we are better off concentrating our efforts on reducing inflammation by living a healthy lifestyle, rather than lowering cholesterol artificially.  Right on!

In other news, I was relieved to learn that the Whole9 folks are totally cool with my not eating liver, woohoo!  Grassfed offal can be a wonderful source of nutrients, but we don't need to worry about missing out on anything by sticking to muscle meats, of course along with various veggies.  I do have a grassfed beef liver in my freezer, and I WILL defrost and eat it one day, but I'm not going to sweat it after that.

There were some great questions from the other participants about stuff like gluten and protein powders for PWO nutrition.  One person reported that they were able to re-introduce gluten with no ill effects, and was wondering if that meant they could keep eating it.  Dallas explained that gluten can increase gut permeability and the damage can build up over time, even if an individual doesn't feel bad after eating it.  They categorized it as one of those things you should only eat if it's in the form of something really special and tasty.  I myself am gluten intolerant, so it's gotten pretty easy for me to resist temptation! 

As for protein powders, of course Melissa and Dallas recommend having real food after workouts, but they do recognize that life gets in the way, and sometimes a protein shake is in order.  They do not recommend whey protein though, which is a popular choice among paleo folk who shake it up.  Egg white protein is a superior choice because it doesn't elicit the inflammatory and insulin responses that dairy products do, and because it tastes like crap.  Yes, it is a better choice because it tastes like crap- protein shakes are convenience food, and you can't have your cake and eat it too (definitely don't eat cake after your workout!)For example, I have been having several whey protein shakes a week- chocolate flavored, and blended with delicious fruits and almond milk.  But, but, I go to a Crossfit affiliate 40 minutes away, and I'm just trying to get my post workout meal in as soon as possible!  Well, I'm going to suck it up and bring some real food to eat after my workouts- it really isn't that hard to make a big batch of mashed sweet potatoes & boiled eggs to eat over the course of the week.  And if I don't make the time make that happen, well, I'm not rewarding myself with a delicious chocolatey concoction.  Tough love!

So yeah, what a cool experience!  I'm really looking forward to signing up for future virtual workshops, and am so glad I had the chance to participate in the pilot.  I really like their style- they tell it like it is (but very nicely), and they make things easy to understand for us non-sciencey folk; if they hold a workshop on a topic that interests you, totally check it out!

Just fruit & coconut milk, I swear!


  1. It's an amazing feeling when you realize that all of the nutritional information that has been shoved down your throat for a lifetime is nothing but fallacies!! I feel better than I ever have now that I am able to begin understanding that the foods that I used to eat (since I was being told they were healthy) were causing tremendous inflammation that was making me live a sick and "fat" life... Thanks for the post.


  2. also... I need a recipe for the above drink!! It looks wonderful!