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106: Meet the ‘Muscle Maven’ Who Thinks You Should Eat Organ Meat – with Ashleigh Van Houten

Functional Strength and Nutrient-Rich Diets are Her Passion

Ashleigh Van Houten grew up as the only girl in a household of brothers, which lead her to watch a lot of wrestling and Arnold Schwartzenegger movies as a kid. She also liked watching the world’s strongest man competitions. From an early age, Ashleigh found herself intrigued by displays of strength and seeing what the human body can do. 

She is also a natural communicator, so her decision to major in communications and public relations seemed like a good fit. However, soon after college, Ashleigh knew that working long hours in a stuffy office wearing a business suit was not what she wanted to do with her life. 

She feels fortunate to have turned her passions into a fitness career that focuses on strength training, nutrient-dense diets (including organ meats), and helping fitness companies with their branding.  

Along the way, Ashleigh became an author, speaker, podcast host, and self-proclaimed muscle nerd. She wrote a cookbook called It Takes Guts and is the host of the Muscle Maven Radio podcast

She is a longtime contributor to Paleo Magazine. Ashleigh is also a consultant in the fitness industry, helping others build their brand and communicate their messages to the world. She has also worked with notable figures like legendary Canadian bodybuilder and life optimization guru Ben Pakulski and thyroid health expert Elle Russ.

In her downtime, Ashleigh is a nationally ranked natural figure competitor and dabbles in powerlifting, arm wrestling, and BJJ. However, her biggest hobby is trying to convince people to eat organ meat. 

In this podcast, we cover: 

  • Why you should eat organ meats, including animal hearts, livers, and other organs most people won’t touch
  • Her journey from a corporate cubicle to owning her own fitness business
  • What’s the difference between eating a kidney, a heart, or a liver?
  • The science behind eating organ meats
  • What her book “It Takes Guts” is all about
  • Why you should do pull-ups

“What is the weirdest thing you have ever eaten?”

The consumption of organ meat may still be a “niche conversation,” but Ashleigh is determined to open people’s minds to the topic so more people can experience health benefits. She truly believes that if you give organ meats a try, you will see positive results. 

Ashleigh endured her share of “barf emojis” in the comments of her social media posts touting organ meats at first…but those reactions are declining as more studies and testimonies show how nutrient-rich these organ meats are for humans. 

So much potential nutrition is lost when we focus on only the “choicest cuts” of meat…liver, heart, tongue. Ashleigh recommends keeping an open mind (and open appetite) toward sustainably raised, ethically treated livestock. 

Her willingness to consume practically any organ meat was confirmed when Wade asked Ashleigh to share the weirdest thing she has ever eaten: her answer was blood. 

Animal blood is rich in protein, iron, and tons of additional vitamins. Blood can also serve as a thickener or flavor enricher. Ashleigh uses blood with an Italian recipe for a chocolate pudding that she says is delicious. 

Ashleigh’s Pull-Ups Program Promotes a Positive Self-Image (Particularly for Women) 

When it comes to strength training, Ashleigh is a pull-up promoter. She loves pull-ups and is on a mission to help more women discover that they can do pull-ups through her Jacked Back Pull-Up Program.

“When I learned how to do pull-ups and then progressed to weighted pull-ups, I felt so good about myself,” says Ashleigh. She explains how her experience with pull-ups how the path to real confidence isn’t so much in how you look–confidence comes through competency or mastering skills.  

Ashleigh then talks about how women have been taught not to consider the pull-up to be a good exercise option for them. Although women start with much less upper body muscle strength, they need someone to show them what’s possible. Ashleigh teaches her Jacked Back students the proper form for the pull-up, which opens up a whole new fitness adventure. Even men benefit from her Jacked Back pull-up program, as most guys have terrible form doing pull-ups. “

You cannot do exercises at the gym that are any more beneficial to your strength training than a nice, smooth pull-up. Ashleigh is ready to show how pull-ups can lead to a more muscular body and more self-confidence. 

You will enjoy the enthusiasm Ashleigh shares for organ meats and pull-ups. Women listeners will be inspired, and men can learn a lot as well. Be sure to listen to the podcast, where you will pick up tips on nutrient-dense diets, “less but better” meat-eating, bodybuilding, and muscle-building for women.  

Episode Resources: 

Ashleigh Van Houten | Primal Health Coaching

Book – It Takes Guts

Ashleigh on Instagram

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