Unfortunately I’m not endorsed by Snickers (love a Snickers), nor have I managed to bag an interview with Mr. T. But I am here to talk about why I think nuts are an important food that us humans should be consuming.
Side note: I am well aware there are people out there who have life-threatening nut allergies. Obviously, for you, this article is completely irrelevant. I mean no offense by this, but if you can’t eat nuts, you can’t eat them. For those that can, hopefully I make some valid points as to why you should.
When writing about ‘The Warrior Diet’ I shared my experience around living off mainly a concoction of Greek yogurt and nuts during the day, Monday to Thursday. This is something which I have been doing since September and am still doing now.
This came predominately through reading about Ori Hofmekler and what he considered acceptable foods when following his eating pattern designed to mimic that of an ancient warrior. I won’t bang on any more about this, I’ve dedicated a whole article to it already, but I’m someone who has had periods of eating nuts fairly regularly, however never as consistently as I currently am and have been for the last 2/3 months.
Firstly I would like to explore the argument that all humans should be vegans. A regular argument of a vegan or vegan related documentaries which people love to take as fact despite all documentaries having an angle and using data which corresponds with that angle to make their point.
I do certainly believe the majority of a human’s diet should be plant-based. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that plants are definitely good for us. There are countless recipes out there to make amazingly tasty plant-based, plant-powered food and multiple places to eat out at (when the Government lets us) in a lot of areas these days so cutting back on animal products and eating more plants is definitely the easiest it’s ever been.
I however also don’t believe that meat is bad for humans either. I’m not convinced that animal products are deadly to humans (as claimed by many vegans). I believe that over-consumption of meat can definitely lead to health issues and obviously anything processed is just asking for trouble (again it doesn’t take a genius to understand that either), but I do believe that some meat is beneficial for a human body, especially around building muscle/sports performance and generally feeling good.
Another side note: These opinons of mine are entirely from a health standpoint, not an ethical one, so please bear that in mind. They are also MY OPINIONS. I’m allowed them.
Right, back to business. If we’re going to look at primal times (which these debates often do), vegans make the argument that humans lived solely off plants. There is even a claim that our teeth are not designed to cut through meat, even though they do. Now I don’t actually know this, because I wasn’t there, and neither were you if you disagree with me so just remember that, but I think humans would have killed animals when they could and ate their dead carcasses!
Whoever first realised putting some slabs of fire cooked, dead animal meat in-between bread, essentially creating a kebab is a legend in my eyes and I reckon he would have been the man of the village back then! Oh wait… they wouldn’t have had bread back then… whatever! Fire cooked meat still wins without question!
Anyway, the key point I made there was “when they could”. Meat would have been a luxury. Men certainly wouldn’t of hunted, or at least hunted successfully, every day. It could have been once or twice a week, maybe once or twice a month. Winter times, who knows? But they certainly wouldn’t have eaten meat every day or with every meal.
Let’s get even more realistic though… what grows in the winter? Not much does it! So therefore they wouldn’t have been eating fresh vegetables in the winter either, as they wouldn’t have been accessible all year round and they require a lot of effort and maintenance to grow (from an olericulture standpoint).
Something(s), however, primal beings would have eaten consistently, throughout the year, near enough every single day, are nuts and seeds that could be easily foraged from the ground. Fruit too as it grows naturally needing little help from humans but again, fresh fruit wouldn’t have grown all year round. I know nuts and seeds constitute to “plant-based” but with regards to the primal argument they are acquired differently to vegetables.
That means that a human’s diet would have consisted of primarily nuts and seeds, then fruits, then fresh vegetables and finally meat and fish. Fish possibly more than meat depending on where you lived and who had the biggest rod (bit of banter for ya). That sounds like a pretty great diet to me for overall health.
Anyway we’re talking about nuts today. Let’s take a look at some of the nutritional values nuts and seeds possess. Instead of ripping off someone else’s research online, I am going to use some of the information I get from the packets of nuts and seeds I’m currently eating as part of my daily diet. I have included general values as well some of the better nutritional benefits for that particular food:
*Almonds (probably the one I eat the most of daily):
Approximately 24 whole, unsalted almonds: Calories – 164, Fat – 14.2g – Sodium – 0mg, Carbohydrates – 6.1g, Fibre – 3.5g, Sugars – 1.2g, Protein – 6g, Vitamin E – 37% RDA, Calcium – 8% RDA, Iron – 6% RDA. Almonds are basically just straight up bosses!
*Brazil Nuts (I always include 6 – 8 Brazil Nuts):
Approximately 6 dried Brazil nuts: Calories – 187, Fat – 19g, Sodium – 0.9mg, Carbohydrates – 3.3g, Fibre – 2.1g, Sugars – 0.7g, Protein – 4g, Selenium – 1000% RDA, Potassium – 186.6mg, Magnesium – 26% RDA. You get more selenium (good for thyroid function, immune system, heart and brain health) in Brazil nuts than any other food by weight.
*Walnuts (I add a handful of these to my mix):
Approximately 7 whole or 14 halves of English walnuts: Calories – 183, Fat – 18g, Sodium – 0.6mg, Carbohydrates – 3.8g, Fibre – 1.9g, Sugars – 0.7g, Protein – 4.3g, Potassium – 125mg, Vitamin B6 – 10% RDA, Omega 3 – 2590mg, Omega 6 – 10870mg. The last 2 there are crazy values and fats we often lack in most Western diets!
*Pumpkin Seeds (a recent addition with a surprisingly high protein content by weight):
Approximately 25g of pumpkin seeds: Calories – 145, Fat – 11g, Sodium – 0.01mg, Carbohydrates – 3.8g, Fibre – 1.3g, Protein – 6.1g, Zinc – 20% RDA. Zinc is essential for boosting immune system!
**RDA = Recommended Daily/Dietary Allowance based on a 2000 calories a day diet (more or less may be more suited to you depending on how many calories your body needs in line with your goals).
***I don’t personally count calories though.
****“They’re all really high in fat!” – If you still think fat is bad for you, you’re living a massive lie. Fat is extremely important for humans and the majority of fats found in nuts are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (the good type). High fat combined with high sugar though… BAD! Choose wisely.
There are other things I eat with this mix like goji berries and blueberries, I mix it all in Total 0% Greek Yogurt which is basically protein, with a bit of pure Canadian Maple syrup and cinnamon for taste. I sometimes add fresh fruit like figs, nothing is definite, it’s more about buying in some good choices and using what’s there.
I am not trying to come across as the healthiest guy in the world, but I do believe that eating in this way 4 days a week is far better for me than how I was eating and can only contribute more positively to my health the longer I continue it.
Reading all of the above is all well and good but I try not to make this blog about just throwing facts out and getting too scientific. Home Grown is about my experience. I’m not a nutritional scientist, a doctor of any sorts or even a bog standard PT. But I do have enough resources to find out things for myself, enough intelligence to understand what these things are telling me and enough common-sense to know that my own experience counts for far more than any documentary, journal or article ever could when it comes to anything regarding yours truly.
Since eating more nuts and seeds I’ve noticed some great changes to how I feel. Throughout the working week I mainly fast from awakening until 12pm. I have a black coffee and some sea moss tea first thing and then just drink water for the rest of the morning. I have found that this helps my concentration, I feel good digestively and when coupled with a morning run I honestly feel on cloud nine doing this.
I then eat my first meal of the day which is jam-packed with nuts, seeds and sometimes some blueberries/goji berries/fruit etc. This meal fills me up but a comfortable amount. I never feel over-full or bloated. I feel energised knowing that the healthy fats and nutritious vitamins/minerals found in what I’m eating will be deposited around my body to where they’re needed and work their magic.
I then stay feeling full until my evening meal. I really have no desire or temptation to snack anymore. If I do it’s a carrot and some hummus, something like that, but that isn’t everyday. As I say, Friday, Saturday and Sunday I’m not so strict and I feel that by Friday, after being disciplined for 4 days, I’m ready to enjoy a nice sandwich or stew, something seasonal, hearty and tasty for my first meal. I feel as though I deserve it. A Martin’s bakery Christmas stick goes down a bloody treat I tell you!
Now you might think that this isn’t a lot of food and if you’re training (gym or whatever) after work you wouldn’t have the energy to having only consumed what I have. I suppose it’s all down to personalised preferences and routines.
If I’m running I tend to run at about 5:30am, first thing or later at night. I prefer to feel more empty than full when running. If I’m lifting in the gym I would usually (when they’re open) go straight after work on a Wednesday at about 5pm. I only lift weights twice a week (see ‘Being a Man Parts 1 and 2’ for more information on that) and the other day I lift is a Saturday morning where I again either train fasted or have something small and nourishing like a banana.
On the Wednesday though I would have something like a peanut/almond nut butter sandwich and a banana half an hour to an hour before I go to the gym. I then feel fuelled correctly for an intense weight training session and trust me, I’m not gassing when I say, I train a lot harder than most people I see in there.
A huge factor for me regarding diet and eating patterns is how I feel digestively and right now I feel the best I ever have in that department. It could be to do with all the fibre, clean protein and fats that I’m getting from the nuts and seeds. It could be to do with the intermittent fasting. It is however probably a combination of all of the better choices I am currently making. Very rarely does one thing make a big difference. It’s usually a culmination of a few “good” things, done consistently for a decent period of time.
Shovelling lots of heavily digestable foods like sandwiches (bread), chicken and rice, starchy carbs or even too many pulses down your throat everyday can often lead to feeling bloated, sluggish, needing the toilet too much or not being able to go and often extremely tired! I used to really crash about 2pm every day for years and it’s simply because my body was fatigued from digesting the huge meal I would have put into my vessel at lunch. Not to mention the enormous breakfast, multiple protein shakes, bars and mid-morning snack like rice cakes smothered in peanut butter or cream cheese and mackerel that I thought I needed back then.
Seriously, if you’re over 30 and still knocking back 2 to 3 protein shakes a day because you think you need it to keep making muscle gains, have a long hard look at your life and how healthy you want to be in the next 10 years. That stuff is awful for you.
Now, I never crash in the afternoon. I feel alive and energetic and able to complete everything I need to do without needing to sit down or take a break. I don’t think I’m even eating less in terms of calories. I’m just eating more good stuff like nuts and seeds which fill me up. My evening meal is always a good meal packed full of everything from proteins to fats and carbs like Shepard’s pie, beef stew, roast chicken dinner, turkey mince and rice, chicken or steak stir fry, spaghetti bolognese… that sorta stuff!
But again, my words are worthless compared to your own experience. So if you feel any of this connects with you, give it a go for a few weeks and see how you get on. Get some nuts!