Chapter 1: Food. Real Food.

Hi Friends, 

We believe food should be nourishing and enjoyable. It shouldn’t be a science project or an exercise in constraint. So you won’t find any overcomplicated macro breakdowns, food scales, or calorie counting. Instead, Nibbles is a collection of food philosophies we’ve adapted over the years. They’re our guiding principles – an attempt to share some of our nutritional wisdom broken down into sometimes cheeky, sometimes serious, always easy-to-follow nuggets. ¡Bon Appétit!

Here’s our goals:

  • We want to showcase some of our favorite foods and give you a framework to think about nutritional variety.
  • We want to highlight the importance of mindfulness in our relationship to food
  • We want to clarify the new science behind fasting and how planning can increase our joy around food.
  • We want to teach you what you don’t usually learn about protein.
  • We want to set the record straight about the importance of fat and why it tends to be over-vilified.
  • We want to teach you about the loveliness of vegetables, how they destroy free radicals, protect cells, maintain bone mass, and help you stay strong.

A quick word about pronouns:

Because these chapters have been co-authored, we usually use the plural “we” in reference to our collective thoughts. In the event that we’re speaking from an individual perspective, we’ve put our names in parenthesis and used “I” instead.

AND SO…initially, let’s talk about the foods we love.

Please don’t read this as a good-foods-list and assume anything not listed is bad or off-limits. Food has no moral implications. There are no “good foods” or “bad foods” and it does us a big service to step away from any framework or vocabulary that suggests otherwise (ie “I’m being good today” or “sinful chocolate cake”.) This is simply a list of foods we’ve grown to appreciate which make up the bulk of our nutrition.

(Rob) I’m a relatively simple creature, so I often think about food in terms of colors. Let’s start with fruits and vegetables:

Green

  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Collard Greens
  • Green Beans
  • Green Peppers
  • Avocado
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Arugula
  • Mixed Greens
  • Bok Choy
  • Cabbage
  • Collard Greens
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Green Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Honeydew melon
  • Lime
  • Swiss chard

Orange/yellow

  • Winter squash varieties (kobucha, butternut, sweet dumpling, acorn, spaghetti)
  • Summer squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Orange/yellow peppers
  • Carrots
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Mangos
  • Pineapple
  • Banana
  • Lemon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Tangelo
  • Papaya

Red/pink

  • Tomatoes
  • Red peppers
  • Radishes
  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Red cabbage
  • Red lettuce
  • Beets
  • Grapefruit
  • Dragonfruit
  • Passion fruit
  • Raspberries

White

  • Cauliflower
  • Onions
  • Leaks
  • Shallots
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Bean sprouts
  • Parsnips
  • Chives
  • Endive
  • Fennel
  • Onion
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnips
  • Water chestnuts

Other colors

  • Mushrooms
  • Blueberries
  • Eggplant

Beverages

  • H2O
  • Sparkling H2O (unflavored)
  • Coffee
  • Caffeinated Tea
  • Herbal Teas

** No caffeine after 3pm
**You can naturally flavor your water by adding fruit for natural “fruit infusion”

(Mel) I’m a dietitian, so while I too think in terms of colors, I also think about food in terms of nutritional categories.

Fats

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Extra virgin coconut oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Avocado
  • Avocado oil
  • Nut butter (100% all natural – no added sugar)
  • Grass fed butter
  • Ghee
  • Rendered fat via sustainably sourced animals
  • Proteins
  • Eggs
  • Poultry (chicken, turkey)
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Game meats (venison, elk, bison, antelope, boar)
  • Seafood (especially small cold water fish like herring and wild alaskan salmon)
  • Full fat greek yogurt
  • Sprouted Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Whey protein (post-workout only)

Starchy Carbohydrates

  • Oats
  • Dry cereals
  • Hot cereals
  • Rice (white, brown, wild, black)
  • Beans (chickpea, kidney, lentil, black bean, etc.)
  • Pasta (wheat based, bean based, rice or corn based)
  • Potatoes (white, sweet, etc.)
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Amaranth
  • 100% whole grain breads
  • Tortillas (corn or wheat)
  • Corn
  • Polenta
  • Peas
  • Plantains
  • Yucca

Non-Starchy Carbohydrates
(Color coded above)

Again, these aren’t the only foods we eat, they’re simply the foods we eat most often.

Love & muscles,
Rob & Mel


Chapter 2: Some Thoughts on Fasting & Meal Frequency

Hi Friends, 

Meal timing is a tricky endeavor. For the longest time, the blanket suggestion from most nutrition folks used to be, “eat 3 square meals per day and two snacks in order to keep your metabolic fires stoked.” But then more primal eating protocols became popular and everyone, it seemed, started to experiment with more extreme meal timing.

So is fasting a simple way to manage calorie intake? Or is it an unnecessary, miserable, and extreme way to eat? Unfortunately, like so many other topics in nutrition science, the truth is…it depends.

Let’s discuss.

First of all, let’s redefine our idea of fasting. Technically speaking, we all fast. Fasting is simply a period of not eating. That’s why we call it “break-fast” – we’re breaking the fast of not eating while we sleep. While fasts can last days or weeks, a common and less extreme strategy is called “time restricted feeding.” You can think of it as a daily “mini fast.” An example of this would be the 16/8 protocol – which calls for an 8 hour eating window followed by a 16 hour fast, repeated daily. 

Is fasting something you should consider? Or asked another way, what meal frequency would make you the happiest and healthiest version of yourself?

Here’s where things start to get dicey because there is not one universal answer. Some people do well with fasting protocols. Some people do not. That means the choice to fast is going to require some self-exploration. (FYI – randomly skipping meals and then binging is not a good plan – it’s a haphazard and stressful relationship with food – which is not something we recommend.) 

Before we decide whether to fast or not, let’s talk about some science. Because we want you to understand a little bit more why it’s sometimes good for us NOT to eat.

What happens when we fast?

One of the biggest benefits of fasting is appetite control. The first thing we learn when we fast is that our body gets okay relatively quickly when we don’t eat. Ghrelin (the hunger hormone) is down regulated when we fast. It makes sense, when you think about it. Our body produces ghrelin to encourage us to eat, but let’s say a few hundred thousand years ago if food wasn’t available our body wasn’t going to sit around and be miserable. We’d have to go hunt or gather. And so hunger goes away quickly – usually within 15 minutes of the initial onset. 

Another benefit of fasting is increased autophagy. I know what you’re thinking: “Oh joy. Autophagy is my favorite.” No? What is autophagy? Autophagy is the process by which we disassemble and recycle cells in our body. Again, it makes sense that this would be upregulated when we fast. When food isn’t available for an extended period of time, our body starts to disassemble cells. But, in its infinite wisdom, the human body goes about this process in an orderly manner. Logically, it goes after the most unnecessary and dysfunctional cells first. And that makes fasting and autophagy a markedly good thing – the process by which we eliminate weak cells in our body to increase our overall awesomeness.

I’d (Rob) like to point out here that the literature doesn’t indicate autophagy from fasting to be any greater than autophagy from other forms of calorie restriction. So fasting isn’t some magical state. If there are other forms of calorie management that are easier or more enjoyable for you, those would absolutely be recommended.

What else? When we fast we also reduce our blood lipids, our blood glucose, our blood pressure, and our markers of inflammation and oxidative stress. In terms of body composition, fasting also helps regulate the window in which we consume food. A smaller window usually means we consume less energy, which leads to fat loss.

But it’s not all rainbows and fairy sprinkles. There are some downfalls: 

  • Lack of energy
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings 
  • Loss of focus 
  • Preoccupation with food

Here’s the tricky part. Some of these side effects are more pronounced in certain people than other (which is why this stuff takes some self-experimentation.) The side effects do tend to diminish as we get more accustomed to fasting, but for many the cost can still outweigh the benefits.  

BIG NOTE: Women have a tendency to respond to fasting differently than men. This makes sense from a biological perspective. Lack of food is a much greater threat to the reproductive capability of women than it is to men (because we have to house a baby for 9 months.) Reproduction and metabolism are intimately connected and so women tend to have more severe physiological and hormonal responses to fasting. Big take home: If you have ovaries, TREAD LIGHTLY. You can experiment with fasting, but start with mild protocols and don’t expect to respond the same as your Y-chromosome carrying compadres.  

(Rob) I often use a 16/8 fasting protocol. My first meal of the day in usually around 1pm, and then I’m done eating at night around 9pm. This is an excellent protocol if you’re able to workout in the late morning, but not so convenient for early morning or evening sweaters. I also often use a “fat fast” – a generous serving of coconut oil or cream in my morning coffee in place of a meal – which is a modified fasting protocol that works well.

The success of various IF protocols proves that our body isn’t that delicate which is reassuring. Not eating for an extended period of time won’t “break” our metabolism…it isn’t a toy truck. That means self-experimentation is absolutely essential to creating a smart plan because there really isn’t a right answer. Meal timing simply comes down to preference and personal schedule. All of this is to say, we can fast, but we certainly don’t have to in order to find a nutrition protocol that is ideal.

Meal Frequency FAQ

Q: I’ve had some food issues in the past…would you still recommend fasting?

A: No. If you’ve ever been diagnosed with an eating disorder, have a history of disordered eating, or have a tendency to obsess over food, fasting isn’t ideal for you. Keep your nutritional timing balanced and consistent (every 3-4 hours.)

Q: If I fast, can I eat more junk food? 

A: You can eat “junk food” whenever you want. Also, we just usually call it food. 

Q: Any tips to make fasting more manageable?

A: Start slow. Like anything else we do on the reg, fasting gets easier with time. Get conformable with it before you take it a step further. So for example, if you workout after work, you might start by having your first meal at 10am for a week. Then 11am. Then noon. Then 1pm. You can train your hunger hormones like you can train anything else.

Q: I notice I’m way more hungry if I don’t sleep. What’s the story there?

A: Because a lot of our hunger hormones are balanced when we sleep, good sleep habits make all of this much easier. When we don’t sleep well, we don’t eat well. Said another way, when our sleep is messed up, lots of other things follow suit. 

We know there was a lot of information in this section. More of a meal than a nibble. But we want to provide authentic and meaningful information, so we had to go beyond the basics. We hope it’s helpful.

Love & muscles,
Rob & Mel


Chapter 3: Love Meat Tender, Love Meat True

Hi Friends,

Let’s start with some nutrition science: 

Protein is made up of amino acids. Unlike fat and carbs, these amino groups contain nitrogen which is essential for optimal health. These little soldiers are responsible for building muscle, building hormones (specifically the non-steroid hormones), building enzymes, building immune chemicals (immunoglobulins and antibodies), and building neurotransmitters in the brain. Lots of construction.

We have a relatively limited supply of amino acids in our body right now called the nitrogen pool and we’re constantly withdrawing from that pool to, you know, build stuff. 

Now our bodies are remarkable little creatures so we constantly break down these amino acids and restructure them into exactly what we need. The body has the ability to make 12 amino acids and so we’ve named these 12 non-essential amino acids (because we can make them.) But that leaves 8 amino acids that can only be supplied by the diet and are thus termed essential amino acids.

Bottom line…if we don’t consume enough essential amino acids, out body isn’t happy. And if we don’t consume enough total amino acids, our body isn’t happy. Both the type and the amount of protein in our diet is muy importante for a happy body.

Complete protein sources:

  • Organic, free-range/cage-free eggs
  • Free-range/cage-free chicken
  • Grass fed beef
  • Turkey
  • Heritage Breed Pork
  • Bison
  • Venison
  • Bear
  • Snake
  • Anything gamey
  • Wild Alaskan Salmon
  • Cod
  • Roughy
  • Any wild fish
  • Full-fat Greek yogurt (plain)
  • Sprouted Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Protein supplements (post-workout only)

With the rise of factors farms and the polluting of our oceans, we need to be consciences of our animal protein sources. The healthier and happier the animal, the healthier and happier the meat. If you have access to a farmer’s market or farm-to-table restaurants, we suggest you take advantage. Save a horse, ride a cowboy sure. But also support your local farmers. As an added bonus, they’re generally incredibly wonderful people. 

We also use a service called Butcher Box, which delivers 100% grass-fed and grass-finished beef, organic free-range chicken, and heritage breed pork to your doorstep. You can tailor the box to fit your needs and it ends up more affordable than the meat we would get from the grocery store. You can get some free stuff by using this link: Butcher Box.

Okay. Let’s chat for a second about soy.

If you scan the media reports on the interwebz, you’re bound to come across scary claims that might lead you to believe EATING SOY WILL KILL YOU! 

You may have heard:

Soy will give you breast cancer.

Soy formula is dangerous to babies.

Genetically modified soy foods might genetically modify YOU.

Soy impairs thyroid function.

Soy prevents the absorption of minerals and interferes with digestion.

(Mel) I can assure you, I have reviewed an extensive amount of research. Based on the quality of evidence that exists today, here’s what you should know: 

First, you should be aware that the amount of soy used in many studies is much higher than what we normally consume. The average dose of soy used is equivalent to about one pound of tofu or three soy protein shakes a day. That’s a lot of soy – far more than we’d recommend. So when you read negative things about soy, remember that many of those claims are based on poorly designed studies that don’t apply to real-world consumption.

As a bit of an aside, nutrition science is filled with contradictions. Some studies show that kale contains natural pesticides. Other studies show that spinach is high in toxins. While pesticides and toxins are not on our recommended eating list, to make the leap that we shouldn’t eat kale or spinach is overreaching. You could apply this same logic to many of the anti-soy studies.   

One claim that does have some basis in fact is this: Fermented soy is BETTER than non-fermented soy.

That’s because soybeans (along with other beans, nuts, and seeds) contain compounds called phytates, which bind to minerals inside your body and contain some potentially harmful compounds.

Eastern cultures have traditionally consumed fermented soy. The fermentation process breaks down soy and makes it easier to digest. Fermentation also adds additional nutrients and probiotics (“good” bacteria) to soy. For these reasons, I prefer fermented soy foods, like miso, natto, tempeh, and sprouted tofu.

So, should you eat soy? YES — but with two very important considerations: 

1) Choose whole, real soy (as mentioned directly above.) One to two servings a day of any of these foods are fine.

2) Avoid processed soy. That includes soy protein isolate and concentrates, genetically engineered soy foods (typically made from Monsanto’s Roundup Soybeans), soy supplements, and soy junk foods like soy cheese, soy ice cream, soy oil, and soy burgers. These foods are heavily processed and often contain added ingredients that are not good for us. 

In truth, I’m eager to see more research on the effects of soy and our health. As nutrition science continues to explore these complexities, there’s no need to pass up this healthful and delicious food with literally thousands of years of evidence in support of its benefit.

So we know what KIND of protein to consumer, now the question is how much?

A excellent way to manage protein intake is to use your palm. For men, at each feeding, you should be consuming 1.5-2 palms of protein. For woman, at each feeding, you should be consuming 1-1.5 palms of protein. (A palm is the thickness and width of your actual palm.)

Protein FAQ

Q: I’m a vegetarian / vegan. Do you have any recommendations?

A: (Mel) This can be an emotional topic which I’m happy to discuss at length on a more personal level. For now, I’d like to stick to the nutrition science.

Many dietitians, myself included, have noticed not only macronutrient deficiencies in vegetarians, but also micronutrient deficiencies. They tend to be deficient in overall protein, creatine, zinc, magnesium, Vit-D, Omega-3’s, carnitine, glycine, taurine, and carnosine. These animal-derived nutrients contribute to strength, power, recovery, endurance, work capacity – pretty much everything athletic, so diligent supplementation is necessary.

(Rob) There also seems to be “something about meat” that leads to better athletic performance and an improved physique. Even when amino acids are presented in the same ratio AND quantity in a vegetarian diet as compared to an omnivores diet, our bodies are better at digesting and utilizing the meat to create the necessary amino acid derivatives. Kinda wild right? Bottom line. The more restricted your diet, the greater chance we’re not able to reach your athletic potential. Can you have success on a vegetarian/vegan diet? ABSOLUTELY. But I suggest you work with a registered dietitian who specializes in vegetarian/vegan plans.

Q: What about stuff like The China Study and Forks Over Knives that condemn meat as the source of all evil?

A: We don’t have to spend too much time dispelling their myth. Plenty of people have done that already (very effectively.) We will say, we get angry watching food documentary. Literally angry. The research they choose to present is heavily biased and looks at science through a straw. A half-truth can be just as dangerous as a lie. That said, NOT ALL MEAT IS CREATED EQUALLY. How we PRODUCE meat in this country continues to be a massive problem. Factory farming and animal cruelty are legitimate concerns and we have a responsibility to be mindful of this as consumers. Don’t underestimate your purchasing power as an agent for change.     

The research is clear – a higher protein diet is not only safe, but important for achieving ideal health, body comp, and performance. Most of the time our meal should be based around a high quality, complete source of protein.

Love & muscles,
Rob & Mel


Chapter 4: Mindful Eating

Hi Friends, 

Our world is constantly vying for our attention. Phones, computers, televisions, and advertisements ping and ding us throughout the day calling immediate attention to the emails we should send, the vacations we should take, the cars we should buy, and the food we should eat.  

Upon some deep investigation, this game isn’t a particularly enjoyable one for us. And so as a reaction to all the noise, we remain committed to turning the volume down on what is less important in our lives and turning the volume up on what is most important. This practice – called mindfulness – can have a positive impact on so many of our relationships, including our relationship with food. 

An introduction to mindful eating:

When it comes to food, mindful eating is not a diet. It’s a philosophy. It means being fully present at our meals. Choosing to eliminate distractions and tune into the tastes, smells, colors, and textures of our food. The goal is to expand our enjoyment of a meal and to celebrate the blessings of nourishing our body.

An example:

Karen’s had a long day (Karens, after all, are having a bit of a cultural moment so it’s understandable.) She crashes down on the couch with a bag of popcorn and flips on the television. A handful at a time and an episodes later, the bag of popcorn is empty. It wasn’t bad. It also wasn’t particularly enjoyable. It was almost on autopilot. 

Another option:

Karen has a bag of popcorn, but this time she sits down at the counter. No television. No computer. No phone. She fills up a small bowl and instead of grabbing a handful, she takes a single kernel. She can feel the texture and smiles at the fact that popcorn can be both rough and delicate at the same time. It’s almost like this little kernel of popcorn is a metaphor. Karen decides to eat the metaphor and is aware of the salty taste and the buttery flavor. She also find enjoyment in the fact that the kernels can dissolve in her mouth. The slightly burnt half kernels are her favorite part which she savors at the end. After the bowl of popcorn, Karen knows she could certainly choose to have more, but she also realizes that her craving is gone and she’d rather save the rest of the bag for later, which is exactly what she does. Karen has just practiced mindful eating.     

To reiterate – the goal of mindful eating is to expand our enjoyment of food. As far as goals are concerned, it’s a pretty good one. 

Some tips to begin practicing mindful eating:

  • Create a mindful environment. If there are foods you would like to spend more time with, keep them in view and convenient. If there are foods you’d like to spend less time with, put them out of view. It might seem like a small step, but research indicates that people tend to eat what is in their immediate reach.
  • Breathe and belly check for hunger and satiety before and throughout your feeding. Take a few deep breaths and relax the body. Check in. Are there sensations of physical hunger? How hungry are you? What are you hungry for? You might want food. You might be thirsty. You might want something entirely different than food. Listen to what your body is telling you.
  • Sit down. Avoid nibbling in front of the refrigerator or snacking in your car. Put food on a plate. You will enjoy food more and eat the right amount for you when you give eating your full attention.
  • Experiment with mindful bites. Smell. Taste. Notice and look at each spoonful. 
  • Turn off the TV, phone, and computer. Focus on the meal in front of you and the people you are sharing it with. 
  • Slow down. We understand our lives are moving at breakneck speeds, but being deliberate takes times. Our hunger and satiety cues are not instant and slowing down helps us reconnect with these signals. You can put down your fork or spoon between bites, pause and take a breath between bites, or chew your food more completely. 

By way of introduction, I like to incorporation what I call a “Mindful Meal”. Choose a time when you would normally eat a meal or snack. Set a timer for 20 minutes. Eliminate any distractions that would take away from this date you have with your meal of choice and use this time to bring full attention to the practice of mindful eating. 

Throughout the meal, notice how your hunger level moves toward feeling satisfied. Half-way through, stop and assess what you’re feeling. If you are hungry, continue to eat. But if you notice a sense of satisfaction, stop. Notice if it is difficult to stop at this point and inquire as to why. Give yourself permission to stop, even if there is some food left on the plate. Remind yourself that you can always have more later. 

What thoughts and emotions are present as you eat and as you decide to stop? What beliefs and stories do you tell yourself about food and eating? 

Try to be present for the last bite as fully as you were for the first. And if you eat more than enough, or feel too full, know that you have not blown it, but that you are simply now aware of this fullness. It takes time to learn new ways of eating. Every time you eat is a time to practice again.

What you’ll find is that physically nourishing foods will leave you feeling better. And certain foods will leave you feeling fuller sooner. If you’re really keen on exploring mindful eating with different foods, keep a food diary.

Ultimately mindful eating is about balance. We’re not suggesting that every single bite needs to be an existential experience, but we are suggesting that we’ve gotten so far away from being deliberate and conscious with food that we need to get back to a more healthy equilibrium. 

The main thing is to give it a try. Remember, the more you practice, the better you’ll get. You might be surprised how quickly you find yourself more in-tune with your body and more grateful for your food and that my friends is a beautiful thing. 

Love & muscles,
Rob & Mel


Chapter 5: Fat – The Good, the Bad, and the Artificial

Hi Friend, 

Fat serves many vital functions in the body:

  • Because cell membranes are composed of fat (a specific type called phosopholipids) your cells need dietary fat in order to function efficiently.  
  • Fatty acids also make up the myelin coating on neurons – making dietary fat essential for proper nervous system communication. 
  • Dietary fat helps you absorb and transport the fat soluble vitamins – A, D, E, and K – which all assist with a host of responsibilities.
  • Dietary fat also helps control hunger, provides satiety, and empties slowest from the stomach. Combined with a high-protein, high-fiber diet – you’ll voluntarily eat less and get more satisfaction from feedings, which is generally a benefit. 
  • Plus, let’s be real, it tastes great.

Even saturated fat is important and does not need to be avoided. Saturated fat gets a bad rap because in the presence of a high-carb, low-fiber diet with little-to-no exercise, saturated fat causes trouble. But like all dietary concerns, you’ve gotta look at the big picture. Move some of these chess pieces around and we’re reminded that saturated fat plays a vital role in sex hormone production, immune health, and snappy brain function.

Ideally 1/3 of your fat is saturated (animal derived fats – like 100% all-natural butter), 1/3 is monounsaturated (olive oil, nuts, nut butter, avocado), and 1/3 is polyunsaturated (fish oil, salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, pumpkin and sunflower seeds). Polyunsaturated fats can be further divided into Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. These are both essential fatty acids (EFA’s.) That means we can’t make them – we need to get them from our diet. It’s almost silly how good Omega-3’s are for the body. And because the typical Western diet has a much larger proportion of Omega-6 fatty acids, fish oil (and small, cold water fish such as herring and Artic char) are indispensable. 

You can’t talk about the good without talking about the bad. Because a fat inclusive diet doesn’t mean fast food and Häagen-Dazs.   

A word about trans fats:

There are few foods we tell people NOT to eat and man made trans fatty acids are one of them. Trans fats are usually found in hydrogenated vegetable oils such as margarine and shortening. They’re also commonly used in donuts, french fries, packaged goods, and fast foods. Unfortunately, there is no intake at which there are no adverse effects. They increase the risk of coronary heart disease, they raise bad (LDL) cholesterol and lower the good kind (HDL). Basically, they cause inflammation and muck up your arteries. Trans fats are not good for us, even in small quantities, so we generally avoid them. 

As for overall fat intake, 2 thumbs of fat per meal for females and 3 thumbs of fat per meal for men is a nice starting guideline. 

Include extra virgin olive oil, nuts, avocados, fish oil/small cold water fish, butter, full-fat yogurt, and animal fat to a diet that should ideally be high in vegetables and moderate in meat. Minimize fast food, reduced fat products, and added sugars and the next time you take your fish oil, remind yourself why it’s so darn good for you.

That’s the skinny on fat. We love bad puns.

Love & muscles,
Rob & Mel


Chapter 6: The Magical Sprinkles of Health – Bioactive Phytochemicals

Hi Friends, 

Vegetables are magical. It’s true. They’re sprinkled with fairy dust and if you eat enough of them, this fairy dust will make you strong, lean, & resilient. Except scientist don’t like the term “fairy dust” so they call these sprinkles “bioactive phytochemicals.” Silly scientist. They always get this stuff wrong.

Your mother has been preaching “eat your vegetables” since you were a child. Turns out, she knew what she was talking about.  

Yes, vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals. But so do breakfast cereals, fortified breads, and many dairy products. So why are vegetables better than processed, artificial sources of vitamins and minerals?      

For one, vegetables are chock full of fiber, which fills you up without an additional calorie load. The vitamins and minerals in vegetables are also more bioavailable. That means our bodies are much better at digesting and utilizing them (“it’s not what you eat, it’s what you absorb.”) Vegetables are also packed with plant compounds called phytochemicals. These little soldiers are powerful anti-oxidants and have a strong influence on our hormones. They seem to suppress cancer development, protect our cell’s DNA, and stimulate enzymes that help our body fight disease. For optimal physiological function, we need to consume phytochemicals.

Fight cancer, destroy free radicals, protect cells, get useable vitamins and minerals, maintain bone mass, get strong, sign autographs. It’s hard to overemphasize the importance of vegetables. 

Veggie FAQ

Q: Any suggestions on how to keep vegetables interesting? 

100% grass-fed butter is a good start. With a little dash of sea salt. Put butter and sea salt on anything and it tastes good. Also, try not to get into the habit of limiting yourself to the same vegetables all the time. We go through seasonal phases: brussels sprouts + squash in the fall and winter get replaced by cucumber and tomato salads in the spring and summer. Peppers, green beans, zucchini, spinach. There are TONS of vegetables and even more ways to prep them. Get creative. 

Eat your vegetables (said in a mom voice.)

Love & muscles,
Rob & Mel


If you liked this, you’ll love The Fueling Club.

Check out Mel’s presentations on all things nutrition.

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Mark Johnson

Hi, good article and chuck full of interesting facts to help everyone make some good decisions. I am not a big meat eater mostly due to animal cruelty and the nastiness of factory farming animals so thanks for the reminder about the importance of having some meat in your diet…especially for those amino acids. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.