If You Were Thinking, You Wouldn’t Have Thought

TAGS: Matthew Brown, holistic health, strength gains, bodybuilding, supplements, Nutrition

If You Were Thinking, You Wouldn’t Have Thought

Holistic health. Why isn't this realm of information mentioned on here among powerlifters and bodybuilders? Is it because we care more about XXL shirts and waddling to the squat bar with stomach bloat than we do about our vitality and health? OK, you don't care about a six-pack and that's just dandy. Let's not discuss six-pack abs, only your health and vitality. Do you care about your health? I do. Surely more attention ought to be paid toward a holistic mindset and what our ancestors got through life on, not on what we can get away with eating from Taco Bell or how much peanut butter, oatmeal, and anabolic whey we can consume to “get bigger.”

I hear this statement quite often: If you're less than 200 lbs, you aren't a man.Wait, who says you aren't a man if you're under a certain weight? Hmm. I’d rather be a buck 75, bad ass, and “healthy” than a truffle shuffle 220 with a squat suit. Now, this isn’t about me but about you and what your body ought to function on.

Nonetheless, let’s get into this shrubbery. I remember talking to a co-worker of mine who is a figure competitor in her 50s. She's won several contests in her respective division. I asked her how she feels and how her energy levels are after eating chicken and broccoli and oatmeal and egg whites day after day. She said to me that she doesn’t think about it. She just does it. Now does she look lean as heck and phenomenal for her age? Hell yea. Is she healthy? Is being fit and being healthy synonymous? Ahh, the great debate begins.

Here’s what I’ve learned from lean people. Let’s say lean because I’m not sure exactly how to describe healthy. Yes, just to sound smart, I could say hormone optimization, clean digestion, mental clarity, a lean physique, yada, yada, yada. But what is health to you, my friend? What is acceptable to you as a human being? Ha! Maybe that’s the answer. You have to define what it is you value and what you want to look like, feel like, and be like on a daily basis. 

What I’ve learned from lean people:

  • They have resistance trained for many years and have some sort of athletic background. However, not all of them were athletes. Some actually worked very hard for what they have.
  • They eat clean. A meal is simple—sweet potatoes, eggs, and spinach for breakfast, or a fat, protein, and carbohydrate. Macronutrient ratios are manipulated from there based on energy expenditure and individual needs.
  • Breakfast is a staple and has plenty of protein, like real protein, not yogurt or vegan turkey balls. What is in that?
  • Dairy is ix-nay, at least with some people. Pasteurized dairy is a big no no. Read labels. That guerilla beast mode whey protein you're chugging down is shitty brother and isn't helping you with anything but bloat and joint pain.
  • Green tea is magical.
  • Vegetables with every meal is magical.
  • They eat protein consistently and drink water consistently.
  • Sugar is kept to a minimum.

Now, with the former being said to you, the rest of this article is going to branch off into several ramblings. Each is a completely random explosion of thought that I wrote down on paper.

To Paleo or to not Paleo?

I believe it was Steve Pulcinella who said, “Don’t Paleo diet all your muscle away.” Now let's not club each other with sweet potatoes and get our lamb skin undies in a bunch. If you look at the principles of a Paleolithic diet, it has people eating clean, eating plenty of protein, eating organic whenever possible, limiting fruit intake, having plenty of vegetables, and consuming good quality fats with a proper balance of omega 3:6 ratio. That can definitely be a winner, especially when we need a drastic makeover with the general population's food eating habits.

Dairy and wheat are basically ostracized from the diet. This is where choices need to be had with the “borderline” foods, as I guess you can call them. Yes, gluten can affect you negatively, but what makes gluten any worse than eating your sushi on Friday night? White rice, farm raised fish, and soy sauce is doing you more favors than a piece of toast for breakfast? Have you read pre-made sushi labels at Whole Foods? I’ll take a piece of toast, thank you. Point being, choose your battles. Just minimize the food that isn’t doing you favors.

There are people who are very lean who make dairy a staple in their diet. Granted, they may live in another country, and I’m sure their quality of dairy is much higher than ours (i.e. unpasteurized, raw, and grass fed). At least I’m assuming that's the case.

By the way, intermittent fasting is something to look into. How do you think our ancestors got by? Eating eight, pre-prepared meals in Tupperware every two hours? Ha! Childs play. How about they ate what they harvested seasonally and could hunt down, son. Don’t hate on Martin Berkhan and stop stealing his information. He is on to something and so the fitness industry has jumped on this. Boo. At least give credit to the creator.

All star dieter

It’s so easy to get caught up and try this weird combination of diets. Like a combination of the Paleo/intermittent fasting/warrior/bodybuilding/vegetarian/'I just want a slice of pizza today' diet. Am I talking to anybody here? Eighty percent of the time, eat good food. For the other 20 percent, let it slip a bit while still choosing the best of the worst!

Stay with something. Varying between nutrition protocols doesn't give you any internal or external feedback about what is actually working for you. Above all, pay attention to how you are reacting physically to foods. Energy, mental clarity, memory, mood, and digestion are key. Pay attention to those things. Hopscotch isn't a good idea if you're trying to gauge how effective your current nutrition is or has been.

Food allergies

No, not the ones that send you into anaphylactic shock. Foods that make you bloated, randomly sneeze, and have explosive diarrhea with a butt splash kind of allergy. There are some foods that are more suspect than others, so you can try an elimination diet with them. Which brings me to this next point, young lads...

If you don’t know you're allergic to something and you assume you are, such as gluten or dairy products, you're guessing. You need to get tested for these things. Elimination diets are one way to go, but it's extremely difficult to ascertain the culprit. It’s like a game of clue, except the clues are hard as heck to pinpoint intolerances. A good starting point to have your flags up is runny nose, gas, bloating, sneezing, and musculoskeletal pain when you react to food. Then again, you are typically combining foods at a meal, yes? So then try and have the food solo. See what happens.

Paul Chek has great information. He's an extremely bright man who tells it like it is. Here's something to go by when it comes to food and knowing what is best for your body:

“There isn't any such thing as good or bad to me; is your body capable of using that as a nutrition and food source in a positive way or is it actually creating problems like inflammation of the gut?…The instant you inflame any organ you also cause a reflex inhibition of the muscles that are on the same neurological channels. Anybody who is eating grains and is gluten intolerant is going to shut down their abdominal wall and leave themselves wide open to musculoskeletal problems that won’t go away…Again, is the food quality good, is it symbiotic with your body, and is it what you need? Those are the only questions that need to be asked.”

You really have to watch those foods that aren't sitting well with your body. It’s going to make leaning out toward summer much tougher because you're in constant inflammation of the gut, and less than optimal hormone production is occurring due to stress.

Cortisol and insulin regulation are often overlooked 

Coffee—not such a good decision when under a lot of stress. Caffeine elevates cortisol levels as well as accelerates your biological clock by stimulating the cells of the body. When you feel tired in the morning like you didn’t get enough sleep, this doesn't mean grab a cup of coffee. You more than likely would be better off having a couple glasses of water with some Celtic sea salt in the morning to aid your adrenal glands that are overworked from your three cups of coffee daily. Although coffee is one of the most powerful antioxidants known to man, it is probably most wise to use sparingly when your body is ready to accept it, not off a whim of habit.

Here’s something to scare you more about caffeine if you aren't in a good habit of drinking water regularly:

“Caffeine is naturally designed to cause stupefaction of the brain. Caffeine is used by a number of plants as a nerve warfare chemical against their predators. The coffee plant produces caffeine in its seeds to defend itself. Caffeine inhibits the nervous system and memory mechanisms in its predators in such a way that they lose their wits and their art of camouflage and become less alert and reactive, thus less able to protect themselves. They become much easier prey for their predators. That is why the coffee plant is plagued by far fewer bugs than most other plants during its growth period. Bugs know better than to eat it. But we humans consume the plant’s chemical poison as a pleasure-inducing beverage.”Dr. Batmanghelidj, MD

Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. After reading James Wilson’s book on adrenal fatigue, it becomes very apparent that stress in excess is a monster. Much of the stress I personally have had is from artificial light at night via my Macbook and iPhone. The light stimulates the pineal gland and tricks your body into thinking that it's daytime, not to mention it causes functional baby rolling in your sleep. So if you're having trouble sleeping at night, try turning the lights down and the iPhone off after 9:00 p.m.

Lift weights and find the balance

Just shut your mouth and squat heavy. OK, fine. In a more gentlemen like fashion, "Fine sir, it would fill me with glee had you reported yourself to be a man who actually lifted a barbell that is somewhat heavy.” Bro, whether it's playing around on gymnastic rings, doing handstands, swimming, lifting, or sprinting, it all has its time and place. Resistance training provides the metabolic boost we need to burn fat and allows our nutrition to be guided based on our physical demands. Choosing what is best for you based on the metabolic cost of the workout is the fun part. If you had a challenging workout with squats, a nice steak and potato meal might suffice. If your workout consisted of light movement like swimming, calisthenics, or Pilates, maybe a more vegetarian route would work. That was completely made up. Eat heavy when you work heavy.

Your poop is disrespectful

Personally, I believe that we all need to be cramming digestive enzymes and probiotics daily, simply because of the radioactive laced food nowadays. However, before I get into that and before you start glowing, how about mentioning a raw food diet? Food that is alive, raw, organic, and high in enzymes will enable you to regain your energy and allow you to poop. The reviving feeling of eating mainly organic and raw foods will help the gut and body heal itself. Once this “detox” process occurs, you will be able to have a much closer relationship with your body and be more in tune to what you need on a daily basis. You are what you eat and can assimilate. I rarely hear about assimilation let alone poop. If you have undigested food particles in your poop (indigestion, diarrhea, and so forth), there is something going on with your digestive processes whether it be enzymatic, detoxification, or maybe an HCL issue. Be your own guinea pig. In my personal experience, I've felt much better energy wise simply by switching to organic foods and instinctively listening to what my body wants on a daily basis. Thanks, Captain Obvious.


Only buy quality supplements and that of which your body needs. Be extremely careful with brands that have way too many ingredients in them. I remember drinking a pre-made "recovery” workout shake. Literally within ten minutes, I felt like I had the flu and was nauseous. Something like the latter isn't what you want in your body. It will tear you up. Even high quality grass fed whey protein can be silly if your body doesn’t tolerate dairy well, or more specifically, has difficulty breaking the lactose down in the milk. Nonetheless, it's better than cramming a cheaper filler protein into your mouth.

Because I’m not citing anything in this article and it is completely unprofessional, I will say this about the following supplements—in my pubescent experience within this field, the following “does something.” Each can have its benefits if timed and placed properly.

  • BCAAs (branch chain amino acids)—good pre/during/post
  • L-glutamine—gut health, immune system aid
  • Green tea—fat burner
  • Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng) —recovery from exercise, whatever the Russians used it for
  • Cod liver oil—anti-inflammatory, blood sugar regulation, central nervous system awesomeness
  • Coconut oil—hormonal balance, thyroid supporter, blood sugar regulation




  • Cellular metabolism
  • Neurotransmission
  • Joint health
  • Energy
  • Weight loss

Signs of dehydration:

  • Depression
  • Arthritis
  • Low back pain
  • Anginal pain (heart)
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure

You’re a fluid ball. Drink more of this wonderful substance. Add some limes and Celtic sea salt in for liver health, as an adrenal aid, and to promote the proper balance of water exchange in and out of your cells. Stop drinking Pellegrino’s, alcohol, and Crystal Light! Ha. Carry around a gallon with you or a 1.5 liter bottle and just keep drinking it. It’s really that easy.


That’s all the ramblings for now. Use common sense as much as possible and listen to your body. This is the true battle—figuring out when your health is optimal and when it isn't. Staying the course when it is, leaving your path when it isn't. There are much smarter people than me who post research based articles on their blogs or online. That isn't what this article was for. If you're reading this and say, "Hey, that’s not true" or "He stole this information from somebody!" well, yea, of course I stole it, silly goose! Read more than you watch television. That’s how you learn what’s best for you. You try what has been taught or read by your eyeballs and then you regurgitate it and share it with others if it's accurate. The people I've listened to and tried their recommendations have been dead on. They each have great information that can help further your health. Nutrition is like a wave. Ride that which suits your body for the length of time you want for as long as it is enjoyable.

How did guys like Eugene Sandow and George Hackenschmidt accomplish feats of strength like they did and look like they did? Did they look up research studies and follow the science of the day to gain their physique? Probably not back then. However, with communication and our ability to understand the body being exponentially more now, it's wise to seek out the information that interests you the most, if you're willing to experiment with it on yourself.

Yourself—the best guinea pig out there.

This quote will serve most of you well as a foundation. Get back your health and stop listening to skinnies:

“Jesus once said, ‘Love—then do as you will.’ We would expropriate that motto and modify it. ‘Eat organic—then eat what you want when you want.’ So much of modern nutrition is caught up in meaningless minutia like what percent of fat to carb to protein should we consume? How many calories? What about meal timing? How about meal composition? How about lite and low fat? Is fat evil? Are carbs good? Are carbs bad? High protein? Low protein? When to eat? How much should we eat?

This is meaningless rearranging of the contents of the conventional nutritional box. We need to step outside the box of nutritional orthodoxy. In our primitive, simplistic world, the quality of the nutrient is paramount and held above all other nutritional concepts and considerations.

Food quantity, meal timing, food selections—these are all important factors but secondary to eating organic. We humans are genetically encoded with primordial hardwiring. For 900,000 years, men everywhere ate seasonally appropriate, organic foods. Refined carbs, grains, agriculture, alcohol, and trans fats all lay tens of thousands of years in the future.

As humans, we are preprogrammed to engage in maximally taxing exercise and eating copious amounts of nutrient dense organic food. Train the body, feed the body, rest the body, and grow the body stronger and more powerful while dissolving stored body fat. In our optimal primal state, we use fat and body fat as a source of energy for locomotion. Organic food is the fuel on which the human body was designed to run on.”

Lazy resource citing

  • Your Body’s Many Cries For Water by Dr. Batmanghelidj, MD
  • Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price
  • The Power of Four by Paula Owens
  • Adrenal Fatigue: 21st Century Stress Syndrome by Dr. James Wilson
  • How to Eat, Move, and Be Healthy by Paul Chek
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