We are so thankful to finally have some warmer weather! This also means that outdoor activities (yes that means the pool too.:)) are coming at us fast and furious. We have been bombarded with questions that revolve around losing weight, cutting carbs and whether going “Paleo” is a good thing. We thought we would address the basics of “eating Paleo” and you can determine if it’s right for you!
So by this point many of you have heard of “eating Paleo”, “The Paleolithic Diet” or some version thereof. What exactly are they referencing? Those that follow the protocol will say that during the Paleolithic period it has been shown that the diet then was primarily a wide variety of vegetables, fruit, nuts, roots and meat. This diet was high in fats and protein, and low in grain- and sugar-derived carbohydrates.
By comparison, the average person’s diet today is the complete opposite. The average person’s health is a glaring example of what happens when you adhere to a faulty diet. With diet’s that are high in sugar, grains and chemicals it’s no doubt as to why disease and obesity are at an all time high. As a society we are now suffering more chronic and debilitating diseases than ever before.
There is little doubt that our food choices play a major role in this development. At Organic Housewives we cannot stress enough that that eating large amounts of refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, cereal and bread not only lead to weight gain but poor health in general. Throw genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) into the picture along with insane amounts of artificial colorings, flavorings and preservatives into our foods and it’s no wonder why we face the challenges that we do.
One of our favorite writers and health experts is Mark Sisson. In a recent article he stated:
“If you want to live a better life and eat the best foods nature provided for health and fitness, then it’s time to ditch the old paradigms and climb on to the primal approach to eating better.”
What’s the proof?
Evidence shows that carbohydrate intake is the primary factor that determines your body’s fat ratio. Processed grains and sugars (particularly fructose) are the primary culprits behind our skyrocketing obesity and diabetes rates. If you would like to see in picture form how this process works, check out a previous post on “What Makes You Fat”.
Mark Sisson again states:
“It follows logically that if you can limit carb intake to a range of which is absolutely necessary (and even up to 50 grams a day over) and make the difference up with tasty fats and protein, you can literally reprogram your genes back to the evolutionary-based factory setting you had at birth – the setting that offered you the opportunity to start life as a truly efficient fat-burning organism and to continue to do so for the rest of your life as long as you send the right signals to your genes,”
How does low-carb work?
Despite the myth, overeating and weight gain is not the result of eating too many calories but rather getting your calories from the wrong sources. When you consume too many sugars and carbs, it’s like tipping that first domino and there is a chain of chemical reactions in your body that makes you hungry and craving sweets:
- Fructose is metabolized differently from glucose, with most of it being turned into fat.
- This rapidly leads to weight gain and abdominal obesity.
- High carb intake raises your insulin levels, which prevents fat from being released.
- Fructose further tricks your body into gaining weight by turning off your body’s appetite-control system. Fructose does not suppress ghrelin (the “hunger hormone”) and doesn’t stimulate leptin (the “satiety hormone”).
No amount of exercise can compensate for this physical damage because if you eat excessive fructose and grains—the primary ingredients NOT found in our ancestral diet—it will activate the programming which causes your body to become, and remain, fat.
How do we solve this?
Replace carbs with fat and protein.
Keep in mind that when we’re talking about harmful carbs, we’re referring to most grains and virtually all sugars, NOT vegetable carbs or lower fructose fruit carbs such as blueberries and strawberries.
Although all fruits contain fructose, the ones we want to avoid if we are trying to “trim down” are those that contain more than half of their sugar in the form of fructose, such as watermelon, apples, cherries, mango and pears. Dried fruits and fruit juices should also be limited or eliminated. However, most people can tolerate a limited number of servings of low-fructose fruits, such as blueberries, strawberries, kiwifruit and citrus fruits.
But I’m starving!
Remember that fat is far more satiating than carbs, so when you cut down on carbs and feel ravenous, this is a sign that you have not replaced them with sufficient amounts of healthy fat. Sources of healthy fats that you’ll want to add to your diet include:
- Oils such as avocado, coconut and olive.
- Ground flaxseed which will also give you a vegan source of Omega 3’s!
- Raw nuts such as almonds, pecans and walnuts
- Organic eggs
- Pasture finished meats
- Wild fish
- Naturally fatty fruits such as avocados, coconuts and olives
How do you know it’s working?
The evidence is quite clear that chronically raising your blood glucose through consumption of grains and sugars will increase your insulin resistance, which in turn will increase insulin and leptin resistance. Again to avoid this we need to lay off of the refined carbs and sugars and replace our diet with healthy fats to keep us feeling full and provide steady source of energy.
So if you are looking to trim down or just make some simple changes to eating healthier, you may want to consider the options above.
Enjoy time with your family and friends, great weather and trips to the farmer’s market!
Donna and Daniela