The ultimate guide to eating better meat (Part I – Buyer’s Guide)

Unless you are a vegetarian or a vegan, you probably get a lot of your usual macronutrients from meat, poultry or fish.  When non-vegetarians hear the word “protein” they usually think “meat” – and rightfully so: beef, for example, packs the largest protein content by volume, compared to other sources – about 26 grams of protein per 100 grams meat.  Lamb has a similar and sometimes even slightly higher protein content.  Compare this to protein content per 100g for the usual sources of vegetarian proteins – 16g for chia seeds, 12g for cottage cheese, 5g for kidney beans, 4g for quinoa, 2g for white rice, etc.  In fact, pretty much the only non-animal food that can compare to beef in terms of protein content is hemp seeds, with about the same percentage (25-26%), which, does, however contain high amounts (80%) of polyunsaturated fatty acids, with Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio of 3:1 (we’ve covered the importance of this ratio and the info on PUFAs in this article).

If you are an athlete or simply exercise regularly using resistance training, if you are a bodybuilder or someone recovering from surgery, if you are malnourished for whatever reason and trying to bring your weight back up – you will inevitably find yourself consuming meat.  Or so you should, given that maintaining a quality vegetarian diet without compromising your health is extremely hard and a lot of vegetarians fill in the space made by excluding meat with very questionable products.  But, the danger of vegetarianism and veganism will be a topic for future discussion.  On the contrary, today we will talk about meat.

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Does investing in tax-sheltered retirement accounts make sense?

Ahh, sweet retirement…  Many of us dream of that blessed day when we can finally escape the rat race and enjoy the freedom to travel, enjoy time with family and live life to the fullest, while collecting benefits from pension plans that we so diligently worked to regularly contribute – sometimes for 45 years or more.

But today I am going to give you a piece of some very uncommon advice – consider eliminating conventional tax-haven retirement savings accounts (RRSPs, IRAs, 401(k), etc) altogether.  Wait, what?!  But aren’t these considered the holy grail of saving for retirement and the best way to make sure you don’t end up eating cat food when you retire?  I have to admit – this is not for the faint at heart.  It requires careful analysis of your personal situation and a bit of bravery.  But remember, the goal of an Ultimate Alpha is to maximize returns.

My personal opinion is that with these retirement accounts you might be leaving a lot of money on the table (that is, if you don’t lose money in them).  This article will discuss the reasons why I am not a big fan of locking your money in a tax-deferred retirement savings plan.

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The hidden dangers of running and other cardio

Winter or summer, day or night, women or men – it seems that any time you peek out the window you see fitness enthusiasts running or jogging with their MP3 players on, hydration packs around their waists, reflective gear and total dedication on their faces.  Old or young – people are running towards a great goal – getting healthier and fitter.

Or are they?

The road to hell is said to be paved with good intentions.  For years, running was (and, unfortunately, still is) synonymous with fitness.  If you wanted to lose weight or commit to a healthier lifestyle – the first thing you did was grab a pair of running shoes and head outside.  You almost knew that to be fit you had to endure cold in winter and heat in summer, spend many hours each week waking up at five o’clock in the morning and slowly but surely trying to melt off those extra pounds.  The sense of achievement after running your first 1K, 5K, 10K (or simply thinking that, like in a famous Scotch ad, “someday you will”) felt great.

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Oils and fats that rule your life (and lethal dangers of making wrong choices)

In an endless quest to eat ”healthier” that started many decades ago, most people in the developed world have permanently moved to “light” plant oils, foregoing saturated animal fats.

But I bet if you ask the majority of people why they instinctively reach for “healthier” oils and feel guilty about indulging in, say, a little butter – they wouldn’t be able to answer clearly.  You might hear some cliché references to “artery-clogging cholesterol”, “Omega-6” or “Omega-3”, “heart-attack”, or even “obesity” sometimes, but you probably will not get any reliable answer.

Yet, a mere presence of fat in any food strikes horrors into people’s hearts who fear cardiovascular disease, strokes and extra weight.  The origins of these fears are long lost among misinterpretation, deliberate falsification and dissemination of data resembling a broken telephone game, with assumptions about fats snowballing and gaining momentum with unrelated and scientifically unverified hypotheses building layer upon layer.   The result of misinterpreted studies originating in 1950s, publicized by media and eagerly spread by agricultural companies, benefiting from a surge in plant oil sales, lobbying and continuing influence by crop growers on public health policies and general folklore has been so deeply ingrained into our minds and continuously regurgitated by glossy magazines that we often don’t question this any longer, just knowing that choosing plant oils over saturated fats is the right thing to do.  After all, this is what your doctor would recommend, after prescribing a statin drug in an attempt to lower your cholesterol.

But there are a few very important things missing from this picture – things that are not as widely known but that define, however, whether you play along with companies that want you to believe whatever benefits them financially or whether you finally take your health into your own hands and make the right choice. Decisions you make today can significantly impact your health and well-being – and it is extremely easy to make wrong ones, given how much you are nudged toward them.  This article will help you understand the consequences of such decisions.

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