Milk, Steroids and Saturated Fat…Oh My!

Carl Lanore, of Super Human Radio, recently interviewed a very well-spoken Dr. Brian Roy on the benefits of quaffing milk in conjunction with serious resistance training.  Now I’m a firm believer, because of what I’ve seen come of my own n=1 experimentation and by way of results that I’ve seen in others, that milk — especially the whole, raw and unpasteurized variety (cream and half -&-half too) — is one of the best and healthiest anabolic “supplements” you can get your hands on.  Ahh, but it’s forever that “healthy” tag that trips everyone up.

“Milk isn’t Paleo”, says the purist.  And what about gut irritation?  Lactose intolerance?  Jacked insulin levels?  And the list goes on…and on…

I won’t get into the biochemistry behind the pros and cons of raw, unpasteurized dairy consumption — quite frankly, there are many (and much) better and more qualified resources around than me for that kind of detailed information — Robb Wolf and Stephan Guyenet being two of the best — but I do study my ass off and learn from guys like Robb and Stephan, and I’m nothing if not fastidious in my empirical observations.  So that said, does milk work for helping one to gain solid muscle mass?  Yes indeed, in combination with smart training, it absolutely does the trick.  Is it necessarily “healthy”?  Well, that’s entirely an n=1 determination based on the old tolerance for potential risk/reward ratio that must first be filtered through the prism of your own n=1 goal set.

Let’s all remember that that the realm of Physical Culture there are few hard and fast rules, and and even fewer absolutes.  The path to your definition of optimum physical culture can only be defined by your goals and the circumstance in which you find yourself.  Physical Culture is a continuum, not a football game to be “won” or “lost” in overtime, or (God forbid!!) a political issue in which the two sides first wrangle to define the terms and definitions of the argument, then seek to sink, in totality, the other side’s platform.  Finding the truth here is never a consideration; winning the argument is all that matters.  Physical Culture is about situational, n=1, best-case compromises, not universal right and wrongs.  Physical Culture is about finding, and expressing, self-truth.

And this is the case too with steroid use, and saturated fat intake, just to pull a couple of other hot-button examples from the hat.  Are either of these substances particularly “healthy”?  Well, what are the circumstances under which the question is being considered?  What is the dose, the frequency, and for how long do we intend to ingest this amount?  And, more importantly, what would be the consequences of not ingesting these substances under a given circumstance?   Example: for a Tour de France rider, that steroid use may help in the between-stage recovery process, allowing him to complete the entire event in better overall health than had he not taken the drug.  Which then begs the question of whether or not the event itself is even “healthy”, to which the consensus is, overwhelmingly, that it is not.  Of course, even entering the event in the first place is a choice, as is the choice between playing “clean” or doping (and all the gray-area in-betweens).  My point here is that these questions are hardly cut-and-dry.  We choose our poisons because they are thrilling, and because they make us feel alive, and we do what we can to mitigate the resultant damage of those “thrills” because, well, we want to dance with that particular poison for as long as possible.  I’m quite sure that pushing my power clean numbers as high as possible back in the day was not necessarily a “healthy” thing to do, but the explosive strength I gained as a result (and the enhanced ability to absorb force), allowed me to compete on the football field against much bigger opponents without getting destroyed in the process.   “Health”, then, is situationally relative.  And of what relevance is pristine health if one is never to engage the world for fear of chipping away at that health?  Life as a zoo animal is no life for me; I’ll take the extreme engagement/best practice mitigation route myself, thanks.

And, oh yeah, we want to stay in the game of life for as long as possible too — but only if it’s a “healthful” long as possible.  We all want to end in that glorious leap over the cliff, not the slow, agonizing trudge into a shallow sea.

Oh, and by the way, here and here are a couple of the studies that Dr. Roy refers to in the above-mentioned interview with Carl.  Good stuff.  And yeah, if you want a boost to your weight gain efforts you can do a hell of a lot worse than whole, raw, unpasteurized milk.  I’m just sayin’.

On the workout front –

Got 135 lbs laying around?  A chin-up bar, dip rack, some blast-straps and maybe some small blocks of time on your hands?  One thought here: workouts of the impromptu variety.  Yeah, that’s about all I had time for this week — and that’s a good thing! Huh; a good thing?  You bet, as times like this prevent me from falling into the dreaded “bench on Monday” rut.  Yeah, even I can fall into a certain rut if I’m not careful, and super-busy times are prime rut breeding bordellos.

So here are a couple of those “undocumented”, spur-of-the-moment workouts that I performed this week; just an example of the kinds of things that I do (in the gym) in between my “documented” sessions.  Call it “play”, active recovery, or what-have-you.  Of course I still huck the ol fix around the ATX whenever the opportunity exists (and it exists often here!!).

Rounds of each of these “workouts” were just scattered throughout the day; sometimes back-to-back-to-back rounds, sometimes hours between rounds.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I go into these sessions with no pre-programming per se.  The creative spark is ignited by seeing a loaded bar/implement, then matching that load/implement to a movement that “I haven’t done in a while”.  Working out in this “free-verse” fashion is very, very liberating indeed.  Word association of the day: Anthony Kiedis is to the Gershwins, as Theory to Practice’s “impromptu” workouts are to linear periodization  🙂

(A1) power cleans x 10

(A2) bodyweight chins x 20

(A3) bodyweight dips x 30

Rest pause as necessary in later rounds

(A1) single-arm “cred” with an Oly bar at 95#

(A2) bodyweight chins x 20

(A3) bodyweight dips x 30

Rest pause as necessary in later rounds

(A1) power cleans x 10 (heavier weight here; lots of triples, doubles and singles mixed-in)

(A2) ab wheel roll-outs x 20

(A3) dragonflies x 10 (mostly negatives)

Rest pause as necessary in later rounds

Oh, and be sure to check out the most recent (and most awesome) workout/Paleo meal pairing from Efficient Exercise’s resident exercise sommelier…me!  What do duck confit and power cleans have in common?  Plenty, my friend…plenty!

In health,


8 responses to “Milk, Steroids and Saturated Fat…Oh My!

    • I’ve always called them “dragonflys”, though it seems the consensus is dragon flag. Call ’em whatever; they’re tough.

  1. “Which then begs the question of whether or not the event itself is even ‘healthy’, to which the consensus is, overwhelmingly, that it is not.”

    I feel that questions such as that are all too often ignored, to the detriment of aspiring athletes.

    • Agreed. Though I doubt dire warnings of the endeavor being potentially disastrous to one’s health would be paid much credence. I know that, in my “know all” youth, my ears would’ve been deaf to such babble.

      • What gets me about the likes of the TdF (and it is a spectacle I love to follow), is just how many people want to emulate these guys in their own training without being prepared to cross the same bridge that many of the riders cross in terms of the drug use. They want to conveniently ignore that bit.

        I guess the same thing is seen in the body building realm… people pick up the latest copy of M&F and try to train like the latest boof head juice monkey without making the same pharmaceutical investment.

        • Agreed; some definite and wide-spread cognitive dissonance when it comes to this issue. We want (and we emulate) — and overly compensate! — super-human athletes and performances, then we stone and/or castrate the poor bastards when they’re caught “cheating” (as if their peers aren’t doing the same).

  2. Great article, Keith! I incorporate grassfed butter a lot into my healthy Zero Carb WOE and it has made me healthier IMO to have the K2, A and D. I think grassfed dairy is healthy, but would avoid it otherwise.

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