HuntingWilderness Fitness

Eating Game for Gains

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How often are you about to hop into the shower, but stop and look at yourself in the mirror and think, “If only I could lose ten to fifteen pounds before…”?

The answer to this problem just might be sitting in your freezer. No, it’s not ice cream (but how awesome would that be?). I am not about to advocate for a carnivore, paleo, Atkins, or keto diet; it’s truly simpler than that. Studies have shown that replacing a few bites of carbohydrates on your plate with lean proteins can help you burn fat and add muscle mass. That’s even better than ice cream in my book.

The weight loss benefits of eating more protein are undeniable. There are three key macronutrients you need to be aware of daily: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. If you want to lose weight, eating more protein in replacement of calories from carbohydrates and fats will have the added benefit of satiating your hunger for longer. A study I read even mentions that, “increasing protein intake from 15% to 30% of calories made overweight women eat 441 fewer calories each day without intentionally restricting anything.”

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If gaining muscle mass is your goal, adding more protein to your diet is critical. I reached out to my bodybuilding coach IFBB Pro Lauren Barton (Lions Lair Gym in Colorado Springs), about daily protein intake for both men and women, and her recommendation was the same for both, “You want to at least go with 1 gram per pound of body weight, but I recommend going at least 10 grams over.” Obviously, just eating protein isn’t going to be enough; you need to put in the work. By adding extra protein consumption to your weight training and exercise routine, you will build muscle mass.

Now, to the benefits of eating venison and yet another great reason to fill your freezer every deer season. Did you know that venison has more protein and fewer calories than all other forms of red meat per ounce? Also, venison has more iron than beef, is super rich in essential amino acids (the aminos your body needs to consume), and is loaded with B vitamins. Not to mention that venison harvested in the wild is about as organic, free-range, and all natural a red meat as you can get. In terms of fat, no other red meat even comes close to the leanness of venison. From WebMD, “A three-ounce cut of deer meat has 134 calories and 3 grams of fat. The same amount of beef has 259 calories and 18 grams of fat, while pork has 214 calories and 13 grams of fat.”

Six years ago, I was about three-hundred pounds at five foot and ten inches, and needless to say, I was on a terrible path. One of the ways I decided to slim down was to focus on good quality lean protein, and my primary source for this would be wild game (follow me on Instagram to track my journey: @huntingmuscle). I seesawed a bit over the years, but recently, I focused in on my fitness goals and wild game played a crucial part in my diet as I did so. Over the last year, I have dropped about thirty pounds and can finally see my abs again. I have had to put in a lot of work getting here, but it has been pleasurable eating more venison than at any other time of my life as part of my program. I will be participating in several bodybuilding competitions at the end of the year, and when I walk onto that stage, wild game (mostly venison but also wild boar) will have played an active part in my being there.

The evidence is abundantly clear that eating more venison as part of a healthy diet is a no-brainer. As a hunter, you have access to some of the most extraordinary protein nature can manufacture. If you are looking to lose weight and look your best, use your good fortune to achieve those goals.

A disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist, doctor, or medical specialist of any kind. I am a bodybuilder and hunter, and I am writing about what has worked for me and presenting readily available research. For dietary advice, you should always consult with your doctor.

JP Yampey

JP Yampey, also known as "Hunting Muscle" on social media, is a hunter and bodybuilder exploring the European hunting scene and game food culture. He spends his time in Stuttgart, Germany, and the Schwarzwald (Black Forest). When not in the forest or in the gym, he can be found cooking, doing great things with meat, traveling, writing code or science fiction.

One thought on “Eating Game for Gains

  • Craig Van Kirk

    I grew up eating wild game and grew to appreciate the tartare. It was only later that I also grew to appreciate the health benefits. Great article and very informative.


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