This past Wednesday, I went out on a man-date with a good friend and client of mine to celebrate his recent promotion. Firstly, let me just say that I am in full favor of a weekly man-date.
As we’ve gotten older, the drive to go out to bars on weekends has kind of died down. Instead, I seem to find myself at more tame dinners with my boys during the week. Because we all have such busy schedules, it’s been harder to get together all at once, so we seem to be pairing off more and more often.
For some reason, this seems to draw some looks from other people at the restaurant.
What the hell? Can’t two young, exceptionally well dressed, exceptionally good looking guys with meticulously styled hair go out for a nice dinner without everyone assuming they’re getting naked together?
And for the record, seriously, I’m not gay. Just because a guy is neat, dresses in the latest fashions, takes care of his body, wears a lot of purple, hangs out mostly with other young good-looking guys, and has an impressive shoe collection, does that automatically make him a homosexual? I submit that it does not.
I mean, don’t get me wrong—some of my best friends are gay, and if I thought they didn’t want to sleep with me I’d be offended beyond words. Then again, I generally assume everyone wants to sleep with me. That assumption is one of the cornerstones of my worldview. It’s right up with the importance of Saturday morning cartoons and the sanctity of the 20-sided dice used for Dungeons & Dragons.
Anyway, like I was saying.
So there we are, two dudes sitting at a table having a very straight conversation about very straight topics, like football, fighting, and fitness. Although by “football” I mean soccer, by “fighting” I mean the argument I got in with my mom, and by “fitness” I mean the fact that I can’t get into the jeans I like because my ass is too big as a result of all my squatting.
Straightest conversation I’ve had this week.
As we’re talking–about business and fitness and all that–we wound up attracting the attention of two women at the table next to us. This was probably the result of our discussion about jeans. Or the references to my ass, which tends to get a lot of attention as it is. It’s quite nice, you see. Naturally, I decided to strike up a conversation with these two women, and in short order one of them referred to herself as “a classy broad.” Immediately, I knew she was cool.
Eventually, the waiter comes around to
salt my game take our order, and I proceed to ask for the largest steak on the menu, cooked as rare as possible. These two women, having recently learned that not only was I a “fitness dude” I was also getting ready for a photoshoot, were flabbergasted. Fully. Their gasts were totally flabbered.
So, one of these two women—not the cute one, by the way—says, “must be nice to be able to eat that without worrying about getting fat.”
I groaned inwardly, and had a 5-second debate in my own head about whether or not I felt like getting into this conversation. She didn’t seem like she was trying to be an ass; she just honestly believed that red meat was bad for your diet—a pretty common misconception. I decided to be a nice guy (and maybe show off a little for her cute friend), and drop a little knowledge.
When it comes to dieting, most people seem to think that for dinner, they pretty much have two choices: grilled chicken, or lean turkey. This is probably more a matter of habit and old school thought process than anything else.
Initially, I suppose people chose these meats because of the lower calorie content. With both of these fowl meats, the overall fat content is lower than with even lean cuts of red meat. Turkey is the leanest meat pound for pound, in fact.
The idea, I guess, is less fat eaten, less calories consumed. Good general dieting decision.
However, a lot of the newer dietary research has shown that the other white meat, the other other white meat, and the other other other white meat pale in comparison (oh you better believe that pun was intended) to its bloody red counterpart.
Of all protein sources, red meat stands out for a number of reasons. Some of these are well known.
Firstly, let us get back to the amount of fat; quite high, when compared to chicken and such. However, this is not necessarily bad.
While it is true that the caloric content is greater, higher fat concentration also slows rate of digestion; this not only fills you up faster, but keeps you full longer. Consider also the (relatively) high concentration of dietary creatine, of obvious benefit. Not to mention the satisfaction of tearing Zombie style into an extra rare steak.
Moreover, there are slightly less well known benefits of red meat, one of which is has to do with the increasingly popular fitness buzz-term EFAs.
That is, red meat is rich with an Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) known as arachidonic acid. This particular EFA is a building block for dienolic prostaglandins, a class of hormones with profound physiological effects: specifically, an increase protein turnover and synthesis.
Obviously, when I said that, this sweet woman (who must have the patience of a saint to have let me babble so long) stared at be blankly. Not taking the hint, I decided to carry on anyway; because I am socially awkward, albeit in a very knowledgeable way.
Of particular interest to weight lifters, studies have shown Prostaglandin concentrations to increase subsequent to resistance training; researchers believe that the eccentric component is the most important stimulus, as the stretch appears to free arachidonic acid from muscle cells for synthesis of prostaglandins.
In short, higher levels of prostaglandins will allow you to maintain and possibly build more muscle while dieting.
I finished with a flourish (spilling water on myself, that is) and smiled in what I hope was a helpful, un-smug manner. I hope.
She thought about it for a second, nodded and said, “but what about saturated fat, and heart attacks?”
Bollocks. I knew this was coming.
Undaunted, I continued to spit my stream of fitness minutia everywhere.
For one thing, less than half the fat in red meat is saturated fat. For another, not all saturated fat is bad. The problem with most saturated fats is that they have been shown to be linked to heart disease when consumed in higher quantities.
That said, the main saturate found in beef is stearic acid—a saturate consumption has been shown to decrease plasma and liver cholesterol by reducing intestinal cholesterol absorption. Also, stearic acid helps to prevent arterial clotting and the formation of fatty deposits within the arteries to fight off heart disease.
Still, this woman seemed unconvinced. And little old me, all out of science.
Finally, I just said this. You know what? Fine. Maybe you’re right. Maybe despite all my sciencey talk, red meat ain’t good for me. But you know what? I don’t care. I love red meat. I love it with my belly and my heart and my intestines and anything else it might cause damage to do.
Even if you told me that you could 100% GUARANTEE that eating red meat was going to take 10 years off my life, I wouldn’t stop.
Honestly, those years come off the back end, anyway. I don’t want those years. If I die at 82 instead of 92, but I get to spend the next 40 years eating steak, well, screw it, I’ll take that deal.
As a matter of fact, if you said to I HAD to live till the ripe old age of 105, in perfect health, and die blissfully in my sleep, but I could never eat meat again, I’d pass. That sounds truly miserable. I don’t want to live another 80 years without eating meat. It would make me all kinds of sad.
Well, as you can imagine, that got her attention—not in a good way. Both women left shortly thereafter.
My friend and I, now bereft of our erstwhile female companionship, continued our very straight meal, and ate our very rare steaks.
We talked of many things. Mostly feelings and fashion and fruity drinks.
But seriously. We’re straight. We just kinda like shopping.
Not as much as steak, though.