During a recent interview on London Real, world-renowned strength coach Charles Poliquin—who has trained more than 800 Olympic athletes from 23 different sports and is commonly known as the most successful strength coach in history—said exactly this: Vegans have a lower IQ!
“And people who go vegan lower their IQs,” said the Strength Sensei.
Poliquin spoke those words when his interviewer admitted he was training for an Ironman on a 100 percent plant-based diet.
As a carnivore who finds veganism pretentious at times, I obviously want to believe Poliquin, who argued that meat isn’t bad for you: “It’s shit meat that’s bad for you,” he reiterated. In other words, factory-farmed meats, processed meats etc are what’s bad for our health. So stick to organic meets, or eat Buffalo and Elk like Poliquin!
Check out our recent blog about how to select healthier meats here (Medium rare, please).
Though Poliquin makes a fairly bold claim about vegans, I will be the first to admit his assertion wasn’t backed up with a lot of scientific evidence, although he did refer to two German studies that showed that people who go vegan have lower IQs.
I then did a quick search and came across another study from 2012 published in the Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. It found evidence that a vegetarian diet can lead to anxiety and other mental disorders. See the full study here: (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3466124/)
Poliquin also did provide some decent anecdotal evidence. In all the athletes he has trained over the years—thousands—he insisted he has never seen someone improve their athletic performance going vegan. Though this says nothing about IQ, it does suggest animal protein might be needed to optimize performance.
“Impossible,” he said of the potential for power athletes to improve their performance on a plant-based diet.
“If you’re a stockbroker, maybe you can go vegan,” he joked.
So even if Poliquin was just trying to be somewhat facetious and offend anyone who uses the hashtag #plantbased on the regular, it got me thinking about what kinds of foods ARE good for the brain. Here’s what I discovered.
Brain Food 101
It’s full of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are needed for brain performance. Omega 3 deficiency can lead to memory loss, so salmon might be a great way to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Research shows that avocados give your brain a boost because of their high levels of mono saturated fatty acids, which are needed to keep nerve cells in the brain healthy (Even the vegans will agree with that one!).
Another vegan-friendly food, nuts are believed to help protect against age-related cognitive decline. They also have Omega 3s.
- Spinach, broccoli (leafy greens in general, for the most part)
Various studies have shown that, like nuts, leafy greens help guard against cognitive deficits, especially as we age.
A 2012 study suggests berries like blueberries and strawberries also help combat against cognitive decline in ageing adults. This is likely due to their high concentration of flavanoids, an antioxidant known to help with memory.
See that full study here: Dietary intakes of berries and flavinoids inrelation to cognitive decline
And a Bonus One:
Red Wine (Praise the Lord!)
While there’s tons of both positive and negative science about alcohol, some research says that a key ingredient in red wine—resveratol—might be linked to longevity! Take this one with a grain of salt, though… Alternatively you can take the antioxidant without the alcohol via supplement too!
What do you think? Is Poliquin onto something?