Athletes Looking To Meat As Performance Enhancer
CNBC Sports Business Reporter
On a group of small farms in Monticello, Mo., John Wood is doing his part to revolutionize how meat is marketed. He's specifically pitching his US Wellness Meats, from steaks to ground beef, to athletes.
You see, Wood is part of the minority that raises his cattle on grass, instead of the grain American ranchers have been feeding them since World War II. Because grass is low in starch and high in protein its packed with more nutrients, its higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and an increased amount of CLA, which actually is believed to help reduce body fat and aid in weight management.
His better beef pitch to athletes, trainers and teams is starting to catch on.
Wood started with the body builders like Jon Andersen and Jesse Marunde, who were competing in "Strongest Man" competitions. The two were eating three pounds of beef a day from Costco .
"I got them started and they told me their elbows and knees felt better," Wood said. Then came marathon runner Deena Kastor, who Wood said started to place orders. Sal Alosi, the former head and strength conditioning coach for the New York Jets, was next. In 2009, Alosi -- who is no longer with the team due to the now infamous tripping incident -- convinced the team to try Wood's products. By 2010, the Jets were having US Wellness Meats ship strip loins and ground beef to all the team's away games.
"Some teams are still feeding their athletes bar food," Wood said. "They have these guys making millions of dollars a year. If you don't make diet changes to help effect performance, you're a fool."
Dr. Keith Pyne, a peak performance specialist who works with elite athletes, is a fan of Wood's grass-fed beef.
"Especially in the last five years, athletes have begun to understand that their diet and what they put in their bodies can have an effect on their performance," said Pyne of SportsLab NYC. "Understanding the fat ratios in what they are eating and lowering their glycemic index are now on their mind."
Pyne says he works with an elite baseball player who told him he was in so much pain at the end of the season, he had to crawl to the bathroom. Pyne made some changes, including suggesting grass-fed beef.
"He made the change and I truly think it contributed to his feeling better at the end of the season."
Once the athletes themselves become converts, the word spreads quickly, Wood said. Jason Werth started converting his Phillies teammates before signed with the Washington Nationals this past season. Wood noticed the orders starting to come in.
Although the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), which represents ranchers and feedlots, has contended that grain-fed beef is as good as grass-fed beef, Wood says tests he has had done say the contrary. He says his grass-fed beef have more Omega-3's than salmon, a ratio he says you wouldn't find in grain-feed beef.
US Wellness Meats isn't only targeting athletes of course. Wood says his other markets are senior citizens, those facing health challenges and soccer moms looking to feed their family something better.
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