Eating organic isn’t cheap – especially when you eat as much as you need to in order to gain and maintain muscle mass. The mere thought of buying organic meats and veggies is enough to send many fitness enthusiasts headed for the hills to harvest their own before coughing up that kind of money!
But with all of the recent awareness over genetically modified foods, pesticides, preservatives and other chemical additives, shouldn’t more attention be paid to what we put in our bodies? After all, being fit is also about being healthy. The average fitness enthusiast consumes between 1-2g of protein per pound of bodyweight each day. With that, they are also consuming a prolific amount of potential byproducts that could be causing inflammation and decreasing nutrient absorption, among other side effects. This may not be a concern for the average person, but for the fitness-conscious among us, it can be a game-changer.
Just like when building your physique, the same principle applies to the foods you consume – you want quality over quantity. In fact, the bioavailability of nutrients in organic foods is allegedly higher than those that are GMO, processed, or generally raised in poor quality. The old saying, “you are what you eat,” applies to every ingredient you put in your body. If you’re consuming chicken that has been raised off of a predominantly soy-based diet, then consequently you are consuming soy.
Lately there has much more awareness regarding the unhealthy aspects of farm-raised fish. Sure, it is a cheaper alternative to wild-caught. But it’s cheaper for a reason – do you really want to put those extra chemicals and antibiotics in your body?
A good starting platform for someone on a budget that is looking to introduce some healthier, more “down-to-earth” ingredients into their diets would be to re-allocate their calories to come from less expensive foods that are organic.
For example, try switching your carbohydrate source from sweet potatoes to organic white rice – which is often less expensive. You can also experiment to see if you can get away with eating less of a protein source if it is organic or responsibly raised (a.k.a. free range or grass-fed) while still maintaining strength and muscle mass. Despite what some may say, it’s not about making a full switch to organic and never turning back. It is purely about reducing the cumulative build-up and inflammatory response over the long haul. Even replacing some of your foods with organic options can make a tremendous difference in how you feel and how you respond to the nutrients that you consume.
TOP ORGANIC PICKS
Organic Free Range Chicken Thighs
Perfect for those eating a higher-fat diet. Since antibiotics from NON-organic meat sources tend to be stored in the fat tissue, higher fat cuts of meat are more important to be sourced organically.
Not only does organic broccoli have less (or no) genetically modified ingredients, it tastes better, too. Organic broccoli has a full-bodied flavor that tastes like it has substance, unlike some of the bland, mass produced relatives.
Organic Red Potatoes:
Red Potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates for fitness enthusiasts because of their ease of digestion and relatively quick absorption of glycogen. Potatoes are so mass-produced that generally speaking, they are one of the top modified foods. Making the switch to organic red potatoes is not an expensive one, and is well worth the couple extra bucks per week.
Organic Coconut Oil
As coconut oil becomes more popular in the mainstream, there are more and more companies producing coconut oil products that have fillers and less pure variations of coconut oil. This is such a crucial and healthy fat to consume, that I highly recommend buying organic virgin coconut oil. The refined coconut oil contains chemicals that are used in the process of refining the core of the coconut rather than freshly squeezing the meat of the coconut for oil. Extra chemicals = BAD.
Cage Free, Organic Eggs
First and foremost, purchasing eggs from happy chickens is just morally and ethically better. But when you get down to the physiology of it, consuming eggs from a chicken that is stressed out, living in a crammed environment, and ultimately pumped full of antibiotics to keep them from getting sick is not a healthy route to go. Sure, you may pay $1 more per dozen, but the taste is so much better and the amount of healthy omega-3 fatty-acids in the free range eggs is exponentially better.
There are so many more organic choices that you can make. But once again, go one step at a time. It’s not the cheapest transition to make, but when you value it from the angle that your healthcare costs will be lower in the long run, perhaps it is worth it!