We’ve all been told to eat a diet that is full of variety. You hear this all the time from doctors, nutritionists, dietitians, your mom, your mom’s friend, Nancy…because Nancy’s life changed after she decided to eat more purple cauliflower. But here’s the thing, Nancy doesn’t know why the fuck she feels better, or if it’s a placebo effect, or if her choice is founded in science. Trust me, I asked her.
I like the concept of a eating an array of foods and as someone of baseline level intelligence, can understand the value behind it. Macronutrients are easy. Micronutrients – vitamins, minerals, and trace acids – are a little more tricky. Color is an easy way to ensure that we are superficially aware of our Boron, Taurine, or Carotenoid…or whatever…intake. At least we pretend to be.
Additionally, I have a one way ticket to #22JackedStreet and in case you’ve been living under a rock, or you are The Rock, you may have been too busy to hear about the new training protocol. The long and the short of it (or I guess I should say the thick and the thin of it), is to either gain or lose 10% of your body weight following a bodybuilder/Power Athlete hybrid program.
As I sit 13 weeks into the program, I have successfully lost a pound every week largely because of the changes I’ve made to my diet. Meticulously analyzing my nutrition prior to the start of the twenty-two weeks, I found the glaring hole in my diet – carbohydrates. This was a seemingly easy fix as I knew I could sweet potato-oatmeal-squash my way towards body builder domination. And that’s exactly what I did…for about 5 weeks…until I could no longer eat the same shit.
It was at this point that I was reminded of something that a good friend of PAHQ’s, Dr. Tom Incledon of Human Health Specialists, educated us on some years ago. ROYGBV. This is the concept of consuming plant sources (fruits and vegetables) from every part of the color spectrum. The catalyst being my palate and plate numbing boredom, I began to taste the rainbow with full faith in Dr. Tom’s recommendation. Sidenote: Dr. Tom’s lab works with thousands of professional athletes – specifically analyzing their blood work to find deficiencies (Macro, micro, etc). His job is to then optimize performance through specialized manipulation of those biomarkers through diet and supplementation.
Now, I must admit that initially, I blindly implemented this new approach to my carbohydrate sourcing because I knew I needed a change. My body was literally craving something, anything, different. It’s easy to fall into “what you know works” mindset, or to be lazy regarding unfamiliar food preparation. Eventually though, my curiosity and innate skepticism provoked me to ask, as it always seems to do, “Why?”.
And more importantly, how is this going to get me to my goals?
Pigment serves many different functions but we’ll narrow it down first to the biological world. Animal species use pigment for innumerable purposes including but not limited to camouflage, warning, mimicry, and attracting “potentials” – I’m talking about sex here, people. Plants, however, are a whole other…”animal”.
Here is what you need to know about how and why plants, including the fruits and vegetables that we consume, contain different colors:
- Plants contain different chemical compounds called pigments.
- Pigments reflect and absorb certain light wavelengths for photosynthesis. Kind of a big deal if you’re an autotroph, an organism that produces it’s own food.
- Depending on the pigment (or chemical compound), certain light wavelengths will be absorbed and others reflected resulting in different colors.
- Many fruits and vegetables come in an array of colors because of their attempts to use their pigment to absorb as much of the sun’s energy and wavelengths as possible.
Types of pigments found in fruits and vegetables:
- Chlorophylls: greens (ex/ leafy greens)
Money maker – Chlorophyllin
Prove it – Wound healing, weight reduction, cancer prevention
- Carotenoids: reds, oranges, yellows (ex/ carrots)
Money maker – Carotene & lycopene
Prove it – Cancer prevention, promoting eyesight, preventing chronic disease.
- Anthocyanins: bluish, red-blue (ex/ berries)
Money maker – Peonidin & Cyanidin
Prove it – Fights cancer, Heart Disease, and age related neurodegenerative disorders.
- Betalains: deep red (ex/ beets)
Money maker – Betanin
Prove it – Anti-inflammatory, detoxification
All of the above contain essential micronutrients such as:
- Vitamins: Vitamin B, Choline, Beta Carotene, Lutein, Lycopene
- Trace Minerals: Calcium, selenium, iron, potassium
- Organic Acids: Taurine, Choline, Citric acid
Dr. Tom provides the list below of ROYGBV foods to his professional athletes to emphasize variety. In any give week, you should be eating foods from every color in the chart and avoiding the temptation to fall into a routine.
The old adage “you are what you eat” may still hold true. Regardless of your performance goals, it’s safe to assume that our body’s ability to execute a variety of functions is dependent on the variety of chemical compounds we provide it. If you want your meat suit to recover from badass workouts and build muscle while simultaneously fighting disease, maintaining healthy circulation and neurological function, then you have to put in the nutrition work. Attack the ROYGBV model and you’ll find that the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow is actually filled with the health gainzz necessary to #EmpowerYourPerformance.
2 cups 1/4″ sliced carrots of various colors
1/2 medium red onion sliced thin
3 strips thick bacon chopped into 1/2″ chunks
1/2 tbsp dried thyme
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Smoked Salt (my favorite) or Truffled Salt to taste
1. Cook the bacon in a large caste iron skillet until browned but not crispy. Drain most of grease. (Save for later use if you choose.)
2. Add onions and carrots and continue to sautee on med-high heat until browning occurs.
3. Stir in thyme, pepper, and salt and place entire skillet in oven uncovered at 400 stirring occasionally until carrots are tender.
4. This dish is already so money, but if you’re looking for something to cut the fat, squeeze 1/2 lemon over dish. Feeling sexy? Top with a couple tablespoons of gorgonzola.
John Welbourn is CEO of Power Athlete and Fuse Move. He is also creator of the online training phenomena, Johnnie WOD. He is a 9 year veteran of the NFL. John was drafted with the 97th pick in 1999 NFL Draft and went on to be a starter for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2003, appearing in 3 NFC Championship games, and for starter for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-2007. In 2008, he played with the New England Patriots until an injury ended his season early with him retiring in 2009. Over the course of his career, John has started over 100 games and has 10 play-off appearances. He was a four year lettermen while playing football at the University of California at Berkeley. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Rhetoric in 1998. John has worked with the MLB, NFL, NHL, Olympic athletes and Military. He travels the world lecturing on performance and nutrition for Power Athlete. You can catch up with John as his personal blog on training, food and life, Talk To Me Johnnie and at Power Athlete.
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