The Day I Gave Up Chicken Meat. At Least Temporarily

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“Motherfucking coffee.

Email received from my wife Lisa on Tuesday, December 1st, 2015 at 10:28 AM

35273778 - two people talking while drinking coffee.

Copyright: imtmphoto / 123RF Stock Photo

That’s all it said. That’s all it needed to say. I knew Lisa was pissed. And was probably thiiiiis close to tossing her computer out the window.

I’ll be honest: when I read those two words I couldn’t help but chuckle. Of all the things to come back positive on her Pinnertest, we were both keeping our fingers crossed that coffee was going to be safe.

For one, Lisa loves coffee.1

And two, on my side of the fence (a non-coffee drinker), I bought her what’s equivalent to the Cadillac of Nespresso machines for Christmas a few years ago. If we come to find out coffee is on the “hit list,” does it just become an expensive paperweight, albeit one that makes delicious caffeinated beverages?

Alas, there it was, plain as day…coffee: a “Level 1” intolerance.

Lets Back Up a Bit

Without going into too many personal details, Lisa was having a conversation with a friend of ours (Eric Gahan of Iron Body Studios) last year on the topic of diet/nutrition and food intolerances. The two of them steered towards digestive and skin issues and how both believed some of the foods they ate may be playing a role in each.

The idea of food intolerances or elimination diets is nothing new in the industry. In fact, many books extolling the virtues of eliminating “this” (gluten, dairy) or “that” (meat, anything that’s delicious) have been written. And many “gurus” have been made (and made a lot of money) as a result.

41069134 - a gluten free breads on wood background

Copyright: xamnesiacx / 123RF Stock Photo

By and large, much of the dialogue you see in the mainstream media on food intolerance is sensationalistic and wishful thinking at best, and predatory at worst.

Many charlatans will prey on people’s fears on a particular food (0r category of food) and try to convince them that if they don’t eat or eliminate said food(s) they’ll lose weight2, get a six-pack, be able to deadlift a bulldozer, win the Boston Marathon, balance their checkbook, solve global warming, become a Navy SEAL, and/or have endless threesomes.

 

I’m a skeptic. And I’m right there eye-rolling with the best of them. Most of the time, anyways.

In fact, on the seemingly pseudoscience of it all I agree with much of what Mike Samuels had to say recently:

If you’ve been reading my messages for any time whatsoever, you’ll know my response to these will be – B.O.G.U.S.

On the whole, any tests you can buy off the Internet are kinda crappy.

BUT …

What I would say (and the point of this email) is that how you feel when you eat a certain food does matter. Bloated after a bagel? Maybe bread’s not your thing. Feel crappy following a big cheese-fest. Perhaps your guts don’t love dairy as much as you do.

It’s worth a try.

It doesn’t mean you have to ban anything, it just gives you the data to make an informed decision over what the best foods for you are.

Hard to argue with that.

However, sometimes people need a little nudge or some form of “expedited” information to help point them in the right direction. A starting point if you will.

And that’s where Eric and Lisa’s conversation from above led to her taking the Pinnertest.

The Pinner…What Now?

The Pinnertest:

Pinnertest Kit

From the website:

The Pinnertest makes use of the MicroARRAY – ELISA Method IgG (blood) test for determining permanent food intolerances.

It does NOT test for food allergies.

Food allergies can kill you.

Food intolerances, on the other hand, can lead to things such as indigestion, IBS, bloating, skin issues (acne), and even unexplained weight gain in rare cases.3

The latter – indigestion, skin issues – is what served as the impetus for Lisa taking the test. After listening to Eric speak about his experience and how the Pinnertest helped to “pin point” a few food(s) he never would have thought of as culprits, and after hearing all the success stories of many of his clients taking the test…she was in.

To remind you of the result:

“Motherfucking coffee.”

And there were other foods that popped up too, like green peppers for example. Which was amazing, because Lisa avoided green peppers since they always “disagreed” with her whenever she ate them.

She now had some proof to back up her inclinations.

Egg yolks were a +2

Coffee (at +1) was the biggest blow, however. There are varying “levels” of intolerance with the Pinnertest:

  • Level 1 (Low Reaction)
  • Level 2 (Moderate Reaction)
  • Level 3 (High Reaction)

Or, if I were in charge of naming them:

  • Aw, Man, This Kinda Sucks (Level 1)
  • No, Really, This Sucks Donkey Balls (Level 2)
  • Fuck (Level 3)

Per the recommendation of Pinnertest, Lisa omitted all of the above from her diet for three months. Even coffee. I don’t know how she did it, but she did. She was a champion, instead opting for lots and lots of tea (and long, mournful stares at the Nespresso machine).

Low and behold, friends and colleagues who hadn’t seen her for a few weeks started to comment on her skin and how much better it looked. She noticed the difference too. Stuff she had dealt with for much of her life had resolved.

After the three months was over she had her first shot of espresso. I wish I had filmed her reaction. It was on par with Frank the Tank from the movie Old School:

In the time since she’s experimented with varying degrees of coffee consumption and has figured out what’s “worth it” on her end. The Pinnertest helped make the decision making process and planning a little easier.

So, Tony, What’s the Deal With Chicken?

As you may have guessed after a bit of pressing from Lisa, I finally ended up taking the test myself.

Again, not to get too personal, I fart. I fart a lot.

Granted not nearly as much as when I was a bachelor living off of nothing but chicken breasts, Ramen noodles, and boxes of cereal…but, you know, I have my days…….;o)

In addition, I have been battling some dermatitis on my face for many years. Sporadically I’ll get red blotches and flaky skin on my face which, as you can imagine, makes the ladies go crazy.

Not!  (<— Sorry, Roman, for the exclamation point)

I still managed to snag this one, though:

Dinner at Lure

After some pining from Lisa (and the kindness of the people at Pinnertest to send me a complimentary kit), I was in too.

Here’s me watching the video of the How, What, and Why’s of the Pinnertest (FYI: It’s super easy):

Watching Pinnertest video

Here’s me signing the form:

Filling Out Pinnertest Form

Here’s me pricking my finger with a needle:

Pricking Finger

And here I am sending off my sample to get tested (and crossing my fingers that dairy was going to be safe. No cheese or ice-cream = rip shit city):

Sending Kit Off

Fast Forward Two Weeks…The Results

I got my results back (via email) two days ago. And as you probably guessed one of the foods that came back to avoid (a +2) was…chicken.

Chicken?

Yes, effing chicken.

What’s a meathead to do? Chicken is like, the thing, a food group in of itself. When it doubt eat chicken.

This is analogous to telling James Bond he’s intolerant to Vespers, or that E.T. is intolerant to Reese’s Pieces, or that a vegan is intolerant to, I don’t know, sawdust.

The rest of my results included:

+2 Reaction: chicken, shrimp, carrot.4
+1 Reaction: potato (<— dammit), grape.

[Thankfully things like dairy, red meat, wheat, and Adamantium were in the clear.]

I never would have guessed chicken (or any of the others for that matter), and as it happens the day I received my results I took this picture of my face. My beautiful, beautiful face:

Red Blotch

See those red blotches? They weren’t as profound the day prior. Guess what I had for dinner no less than twelve hours before?

Curry chicken.

Interesting.

So What Now?

I asked Georgie Fear, a Registered Dietitian I respect a ton and author of the book Lean Habits, to chime in. Here’s what she had to say:

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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  1. Up until a few months ago, each day typically began with a Nespresso (or three) prior to hightailing out the door to the gym. What’s more, whenever we travel together, part of the itinerary is to always stop by a local coffee shop or cafe to indulge in a little caffeine pick me up.

  2. Funnily enough, eliminating an entire food group (like carbohydrates) is a form of caloric control. It’s not so much the lack of carbohydrates that caused the weight loss, it’s the lack of excess calories. Meanwhile, said individual is programmed to think all carbohydrates are “bad” to the point where eating an apple becomes a strike against their moral compass. Eventually they break, revert back to old dietary habits, gain the weight back, and the vicious cycle continues until the next book comes out telling them to avoid all fat. Except donuts, because IIFYM yo.

  3. Although, admittedly, in my experience, “unexplained weight gain” almost always stems from people not being honest with themselves with calories in vs. calories out. It’s amazing how many people “forget” the four cookies they ate at work.

  4. I guess this means no more carrot cake for the foreseeable future. My life is over.

  5. Full Disclosure: I do receive compensation (and kitten kisses) when the code is used. It’s important to me to be up front about that.

  6. IMPORTANT: I would encourage you to seek out the the advice of a health professional – doctor or Registered Dietitian – to help you ascertain if it’s a good fit and/or to help you interpret the results.

  • Shannon Wheel

    Does this mean no carrot cake?!?!

    • TonyGentilcore

      I am sad.

      • Shannon Wheel

        That is devastating. I’ve been trying an elimination diet for my cat to determine if she has a chicken intolerance. Almost all cat food has chicken in it. At least you’re not a cat.

  • Bacchus44
  • Michelle

    I love this blog and I am so disappointed about the suggestion that Pinnertest could be useful. I mean, just take a quick look at the site an immediately you start seeing craziness (e.g. “unwanted {food} particles enter your blood stream”- are you kidding me? Take any grade school science?)! As far as these amazing results, give it time. The placebo effect is an incredibly powerful thing. Ugh, I just hate seeing people scammed and taken advantage of. Anyone who suspects a food intolerance should seek the guidance of an allergist, immunologist, or even an RD.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Michelle – sorry to disappoint you. I am on board with some of the verbiage on the site – even the backing of Dr. Oz. This is why I made sure to include some opinions on BOTH sides. Those against and for. It wasn’t all butterfly kisses and rainbows on my end.

      I can only speak for myself (and my wife) and the experience we’ve had (so far). Not to mention, I DID confer with RDs to get their opinion (see Georgie Fear, whom I KNOW knows her stuff).

      Who knows, a few weeks down the road I may write a “this is BS” post. But I didn’t see any harm in writing this and being as transparent as possible. I do hope you continue to read the site.

  • Candace

    Loved this article! I know chocolate gives me acne, abstained from that for several months, cleared up my skin. But I have a gut feeling that protein shakes make me gassy so maybe I will go get it checked out.

  • Well this came at a great time for me. I was just about to do a 1-month gluten-free experiment. I could definitely use some help figuring out my food intolerances!! I’m sorry for your loss (regarding the carrot cake).

  • I too am a bit disappointed, despite the attempt at balance, thjat you’re benefitting from a product that is effectively codswallop and to me there are several red flags (Dr Oz? I’d be happier if Santa Claus recommended it). It’s disturbing how expensive it is. It would be cheaper to keep a food diary alongside a diary of how you’re feeling . Most of them are not hard to spot – I cannot eat Quorn in any form as it makes me hugely gassy, bordering on uncomfortable. Food can have side effects and really its the extent of that effect that is important.

    • TonyGentilcore

      I think keeping a food diary is a splendid idea. And that’s something Mike Samuels suggested as well.

      Personally I never would have plucked (<– HA, see what I did there) chicken as a possible culprit. If the test helps some people expedite the process in figuring our a "problem" food, what harm is in that?

      And, not sure if Dr. Oz himself recommended Pinnertest; I think the clip on the website discusses food intolerances.

  • nickjaa

    Dude I have dermatitis too! Usually flares up when I’m not sleeping enough or eating veggies but sometimes it’ll flare and I’ll have no idea why. Maybe I should get one of these. Any ideas as to other common culprits?

    • TonyGentilcore

      That I am unable to answer. I’d seek out the help from an RD in your area if you can. There’s no way I could offer any concrete answers over the internet, especially with this sort of thing isn’t necessarily my area of expertise. Maybe he or she can help you pin point some other culprits. Have you kept a diary on sleep patterns and why types of veggies make you flare up?

      What I find fascinating about this test is that I know someone who had always had digestion issues, lots of pain. They took the test and come to find out they’re intolerant to vanilla. Vanilla? Come to find out their protein powder of choice was…you guessed vanilla. Who would ever think of that? They saw immediate relief once they switched flavors of protein.

  • bamb00k

    Hello, Tony. Sorry for the flood, but can i ask you? I started work with kettlebell, i do only kettlebell swing and kettlebell press (military, strict, not push-press). The next few days after workout i have upper trapezius tension, do you know why? I don’t have perfect posture btw. But not really elevated or depressed shoulders, maybe rounded.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Are you going overhead with your swings? If so, there’s your culprit. I for one am NOT a fan of American (overhead) swings.

      If you’re not going overhead, you may be “shrugging” more than you think. Maybe take video of you swinging and watch yourself to see if that’s what you’re doing. I’d be happy to take a look as well.

      • bamb00k

        Thanks for the answer! No, i’m not going overhead, i try to move the kettlebell only with the power of my hams and glutes.
        So don’t you think that trapezius tension can be from kettlebell press?

        • TonyGentilcore

          Oh, I absolutely think it can be from the press (I was just trying to ascertain what type of swing you are doing). To that end, I wouldn’t say that upper trap soreness is “bad” or “wrong” with the overhead press. Some coaches – like Mark Rippetoe – coach the overhead press with a slight shrug. In the early stages, though, with a strict press, I prefer to keep the shoulder blade packed (think: together and down) during the press. It teaches proper scapular mechanics. As you get stronger and more advanced – and are able to control ROM – you can play around with shrugging the weight.

          • bamb00k

            Tony, thank you for the answer so much. One more question, did you ever had experience with Anterior Pelvic Tilt? Is kettlebell swing good exercise for fixing it? There are so many information in the internet, but no really some progress proves from anyone.

          • TonyGentilcore

            Well, APT isn’t necessarily bad. It’s actually normal to have APT. Excessive APT may be a problem, and anything that promotes more PPT would help. So, yes, swings can be used to help build some glutes (which help to posteriorly tilt the pelvis).

  • Shane Mclean

    Regardless of peoples feelings on this subject, I love your honesty in this post Tony. Way to put yourself out there buddy.

  • MDBritt

    There is a discussion here with more links: http://dieteticdirections.com/food-sensitivity-tests-exposed/

    I had the test done and it told me that the foods I ate most frequently were forbidden – which is exactly Andrea D’Ambrosia’s point (she’s the author above). You will have an IgG response to foods you eat frequently – it is just a normal adaptation. So these tests have a huge problem with false positives. The thing that was

    • Derek Colvin

      Hey, just thought I’d throw my take in here…

      [Edit: Bear with me while I climb on the soapbox here a little, I can’t help it, this topic gets me fired up! Haha]

      It drives me nuts when people just dismiss something that’s not purely evidence-based without even considering it. When there are a mountain of anecdotes, a very large magnitudes of effect is or very trustworthy sources of those anecdotes, I believe it should at least be investigated further.

      The key thing that tends to be missed by people who are super wrapped up in evidence-based practice is that they just dismiss it saying the classic cliche:

      “The plural of anecdote is not data”.

      They’re absolutely right, the plural of anecdote is not data… but it should be HYPOTHESIS!

      I’m all for being skeptical of new fads and unproven tests, etc. but some people seem to go so far the other way that they’re closed to almost anything non-conventional. I’m glad to see that Tony (as someone I look up to) is able to walk that line between the two extremes!

      I actually just did an IgG test myself (nagging digestive issues) and as @MDBritt:disqus mentioned, it did in fact bring up a lot of frequently eaten foods…. So I’m not sure what that means (leaky gut is one theory I’ve heard), but aside from that and more interestingly/helpful is that the two highest (cow’s dairy and egg whites) are things I do not eat frequently or a lot of and those are the two that I 100% know cause issues just based on physical symptoms.

      I think it may be one of those situations where context is key. I had virtually every grain and most nuts come up high, so the way I’m approaching it for now is that if it’s something I eat frequently I’m giving the score less weight, vs. things that I eat infrequently that scored high I’m giving more weight.

      The IgG test may not be perfect, but from my own n=1 experiment and the mountain of anecdotal evidence I’ve seen and heard of from trusted sources, there is definitely SOMETHING there. It’s just about figuring out exactly what that is and figuring out how to eliminate the noise caused by the frequently eaten foods popping up. (Which may be as simple as using a ratio of frequency of eating relative to the score on the test.)

      – Derek

      • MDBritt

        I agree with your take: personal experience absolutely can and should form the foundations for further study. They do indeed produce a lot of good hypotheses for testing. The only time this gets to be a problem is when (as in vaccines and autism) an enormous amount of research is done that shows the hypothesis to be false and its advocates just ignore it. The interesting question is whether we’ll find additional (or alternative) factors that make the IgG test a useful step on the road to better tests. Nice comment, though. Thanks!

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