Smoked Foods and Paleo, Toss It In The Fire?

How does smoked food tie into the paleo diet?

The paleo diet allows for many different cooking methods, steaming, boiling, frying (in good fats of course), roasting and open flame cooking. There are many ways to cook food so that it is safe to eat and delicious. However, smoking food always seems to get a bad rap. Is it because its name associates itself with burning? Perhaps the burning of food? 

I don’t think so…

Smoking certain foods can actually benefit their nutritional profiles. Take for example salmon. Provided the temperature of the smoke and its associated heat is below 95 degrees Celcius, it appears as though the Omega-3’s found in our favoured fishy friends actually become more stable, and because of that I’m assuming more bio-available, too. I’m not sure how our cavemen ancestors discovered smoking food, but it is historically one of the oldest methods of preserving foods.

paleo-smoked-food
Modern cave smoked salmon…

I think that much like that old saying “It’s not that the wind is blowing, it’s what the wind is blowing” applies to smoking food as well. Most mass produced smoked foods, such as smoked salmon, are probably smoked with whatever is available to burn. Saw dust is a common smoking fuel source, presumably because it’s cheap and burns well. What you really want though is a wood source that is as pure as possible and that won’t alter the flavour of the fish past what will already change as a result of the actual smoking. Sounds tricky, but in reality all this requires is some wood which is easy enough to burn so that it smokes, but not full of pesticides and that sort of thing.

Our ancestors, and in this instance Native American Indians used to expose meat and fish to smoke and the air at the same time. This basically dried out the meat and preserved it for future eating slightly. Strictly speaking, meat “cooked” in this way actually doesn’t cook at all, as heat levels are actually pretty low. Smoke has an effect on foods where it “coats” its surface with antioxidant containing phenolic compounds. These phenolics help prevent meat going rancid and also enhance its nutritional value somewhat.

Quite smart, our ancestors were. That is of course assuming that our common cavemen ancestors were indeed smoking foods. Regardless, it is a huge part of many different cultures cuisine and is simple, resource efficient and necessary for survival in certain situations, such as surviving winter or a drought.

How to ensure smoked foods are as paleo as possible

I’d recommend ensuring that if you do buy smoked foods that they are smoked using real wood and not synthetic or other methods. I’m sure there are some really horrible chemical methods that are used to smoke large amounts of foodstuff, and that is scary.

Keep well!

Andrew

Mastering The 30-Day Challenge

What is a 30-day challenge?

A 30 day challenge is a challenge you create and push yourself to conquer. For  example, sugar free February could be one. All you have to do is not eat sugar (within reason) for a 30-day period. These challenges can be created simply by focusing on areas in your life which you currently don’t have such a great hold on at the moment. Diet, lifestyle, even habits, all can be “treated” by building a 30 day challenge for them.

Personally, I’ve made great progress in my health and fitness by implementing a 30-day challenge for a particular “thing” I wanted to deal with. Sugar Free November last year resulted in me losing an easy 11lbs, as well as altering the way I taste foods which are sugary (such as fruit) and even the occasional piece of chocolate. Everything tastes different now. I began to notice just how sweet some foods actually are.

Why a 30-day challenge?

I think that the concept of the the 30-day challenge works because it isn’t tolerant of any failure, it is over a long enough duration that it could make permanent change without being too short to not make you aware of how important it could actually be for you. Thirty days is around one month, a sizeable chunk of time, but not too much to handle. It is amazing just what you can overcome or change in your life in 30 days (or less), and I think that at a core level the fun factor of the experiment is what really drives me.

I also believe that if a 30-day challenge is used for nutritional, health or dietary purposes, thirty days really is a good amount of time to track changes and to allow the body to actually change. Think about trying to promote a state of ketosis: You need to allow a certain amount of time after reducing your carbohydrate intake (to around 50-100 grams per day) to really reach a ketogenic state of all natural fat burning. The same can be said for my Sugar Free November 30-Day Challenge last year, I really only weighed myself at the end of the 30 days and sw that I had lost the weight I had. I am not overweight and the loss really surprised me. It was the first time in quite a while that I dropped down to below 90Kgs/198lbs. All from a simple 30-day challenge.

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30-day challenge rules

Yup, as with any challenge, there are going to be some governing rules. Luckily, there are few rules for a 30-day challenge:

  1. A 30-day challenge has zero tolerance for cheating or breaking the rules. If you do cheat or give in (eat a forbidden food) etc. you start from day 1 of the challenge again.
  2. Be realistic, but not in a way that is limiting. Be creative and bold about your challenge. Choose something that other’s may deem impossible.
  3. Be ruthless. If you are required to label read everything you eat, do so. If you are required to only turn left, make sure you plan your route to work in advance. (Just kidding about the last one, haha. That would be a crazy challenge!)

That’s it really. Remember that the goal here is not to just make it to 30-days, it is to overcome whatever it was that was an issue for you. That’s not to say that you should only make challenges for problems or issues in your life, I can see some great uses for 30-day challenges not born out of frustration or the need for remedy.

I’m going to be building a 30-Day Challenge Playbook soon, and it will aid you in identifying something which you could make into a challenge, how you can get through the sticky days and what you should focus on after you’ve completed a successful challenge.

 

Here’s to an awesome 2013!

Keep well everyone!

Andrew

Merry Christmas!

We Wish You A Merry Paleo Christmas!

So it’s almost Christmas day, and I bet you’ve been eating a whole array of foods and perhaps doing activities which are less than paleo. Come on, admit it, you’ve slipped a bit, we all have, myself included.

It’s a tough feat having to deal with foods which aren’t paleo that are available during the festive period.

“Would you like some mashed potatoes?”

“No thanks!”

“How about some stuffed turkey?”

“What is it stuffed with?”

“Bread and good stuff!”

“Err, no thanks!”

paleo-christmas
Not exactly paleo!

 

Your’s may have not gone exactly like that, but I’m sure you’ve experienced something similar. Personally, I’ve had to skip or persevere through a meal containing mayonnaise, rice, potatoes and cheese. As you may imagine, my stomach has not been happy.

On the up side however, I’ve been able to make heaps of guacamole and some huge salads. I like to think of these foods in this case as rather than normal foods, they are damage control remedies now. It may seem like a backwards way of eating, almost reminiscent of a “diet” plan or something like calorie counting or food block eating would recommend, and now that I’ve typed that out I guess many diets are like that. That is quite a realisation actually! Are “normal” diets really just damage control diets? Instead of actually treating the causes of problems associated with bad foods (read: non-paleo foods), these diets merely treat the symptoms of said problems. Not the greatest way of doing business I’m afraid.

It’s an interesting topic of discussion in fact; how paleo seems to go right back to the starting point and encourage a diet full of high nutritive value, easy to eat, delicious foods that the body knows exactly what to do with. I think that this is one of the biggest plus points of paleo and how it can positively and in some cases, revolutionise change someone’s life. It changed mine!

So if you’ve got any Christmas paleo stories, please feel free to share them.

Merry Christmas!

PS: I’ve decreased the price of my book for the festive season. If you haven’t checked it out. Please take a look at the sales page or our facebook page! And if you like what you see, grab yourself a discounted copy and like PaleoMunch! on facebook! 😀

Keep well,
Andrew

How Paleo Helps You Sleep

Paleo And Effective Sleep

Everyone knows the effects of a good or bad nights sleep. If you’ve ever had to survive a day with a low amount of sleep, you know that it takes a real beating on your body and your mind. Worse yet, these “sleep hangovers” seem to linger for days after an all nighter or a bad night’s sleep.

Bad sleep, sadly, isn’t always attributed to a late night. There are various factors which can influence how we sleep, and some of them are totally within your control and can be changed starting right now.

Light is your friend, but also your enemy…

It is important that you get your daily fix of light everyday. Ideally, this should be natural light, and that means only light from that big burning fireball in the sky. (Nice caveman reference there… haha) Realistically, this is near impossible, unless you live in a cave or live most of your life camping outdoors. Sadly, this isn’t a possible lifestyle for all of us, but it is ideal.

Our exposure to light doesn’t need to be excessive, but it is required. Roughly 20 minutes of direct sunlight will not only produce a significant amount of vitamin d in the skin, but it will also make you feel good. I for one feel energised and recharged after a quick, 15-25 minute sunbath.

The flipside is that because we are so dependant on light as a species, needing it for vitamin d production and to light up objects for our eyes to see, we are particularly sensitive to it in a multitude of ways. What do you think is really happening when we lie in bed at night reading our smartphones? Our brains are hard wired to recognise light as a signal that day is upon us. When we show our brains light as we go to sleep we are basically telling them that instead of quietening down for the night, that they should wake up.

This obviously does not encourage effective, natural sleep patterns. And we probably repeat this bate and switch every night, forcing our brains to stay awake when all they want to do is drift off into dream land. The process which we are specifically affecting is our circadian rhythm. A circadian rhythm in living organisms refers to something which repeats itself every so many hours. In humans’ case, this is generally a 24 hour cycle. When we look at artificial lights when there is no sunlight around, we effectively screw up our natural, circadian rhythms.


Our meddling doesn’t stop with light, we fool it with food, too…

Eating is also a powerful way to train the body to stick to certain circadian rhythms as well. Studies have shown that animals use eating as an effective way of programming their wake and sleep cycles. There is a reason animals rise as early as they do to feed; it is often necessary to survival. Some animals, such as bush babies have evolved super sensitive eyes in order to deal with their feeding habits.

If you aren’t sleeping well night after night, perhaps you are fooling your body into thinking that the best time for feeding is late at night. Try to eat earlier more frequently and see if it makes a difference to your sleeping habits. Paleo sleep shouldn’t be stressful, it should be as natural as possible and effortless.

If you are supplementing for vitamin d, try and take it in the morning if you aren’t getting any sunlight exposure. The body is used to “seeing” vitamin d in its system in the morning as an indication of the break of dawn, and by supplementing at late hours, our bodies are confused, and so our sleep is affected later on.

If you want to pump iron, keep it for the morning…

Exercising in the morning helps with many a bodily function. For one, our testosterone levels are at their highest point in the day. Not to mention, if you workout in the morning you get a spike of feel good hormones pumping right into your veins. Who doesn’t want a natural pick me up?

I look forward to doing my one set to failure push-ups every morning, and it works really well at clearing and focusing my thoughts, never mind waking me up.

I’ve experimented with working out at night and while sometimes it is exactly what I feel like doing, my sleep definitely suffers. This is probably due to me messing up my sleep routine, where the increased body temperature associated with exercise puts my circadian cycle out of whack. Our paleo ancestors probably did most of their heavy lifting in the morning as well.

We aren’t getting enough sleep, paleo lifestyle or otherwise…

This may seem ridiculously obvious, but the less sleep you routinely get, the worse you are going to sleep overall. If you are routinely pushing the limits of your staying awake ability, you are going to be filling the “bad sleep” jar very quickly. The analogy of a piggy bank is actually quite an effective one. If you imagine that for each compromised night’s sleep you deposit one dollar into the piggy. Every time you get a good night of sleep you take one dollar out. That paints quite an effective picture of what it takes to maintain a healthy sleep cycle.

I think that if we focus on what it takes to wake us up, we might workout what it takes to allow us to sleep properly. Less light at night, workouts and feeding in the early morning, and making sure we act like our ancestors may have should afford us with health, effective and super restful nights.

Thanks for reading,

Try get an early night tonight.

Andrew

 

 

Guest Post: Why I Chose a Raw Food Diet

Why I Chose Raw Food Diet

Food is integral for living that is why it is one of our very basic needs. But what if food started to control you instead of the other way around? It’s hard to admit that I am one of those who were enslaved by food which really contributed to my then unhealthy lifestyle. For over a decade now I let my hunger pangs and food cravings rule over me. And this decade long ‘love affair’ with unhealthy food led me to become overweight to the point of being almost obese. I was very heavy back then and this really affected my life in all its aspects. I became more sedentary and had a hard time keeping up with regular exercise activity; even a leisurely walk would tire me so easily. And because of my excess ‘baggage’ (weight) I resorted to being introverted. There were a lot of times that I had to say no to parties and most social gatherings and what’s really harder to admit is that I am starting to lose my self-esteem and self-confidence.

Living this way for quite some time can really bring a toll on my body. I started complaining about muscle aches, joint pains and other sorts of pains. I even had difficulty standing up, can’t no longer play some rough house with the kids. Even the simple act of going down and up a flight of stairs in our home had become a tedious task. I spent countless unproductive hours in front of the TV munching my favorite large pack of chips with a few liters of soda- this was my usual daily routine. Instead of spending quality bonding moment with my kids I’d rather sit and pass the time stuffing myself with junk foods. No wonder that my blood pressure was on an all-time high so thus my sugar blood level. On one occasion that I have to visit my doctor he had prescribed me some meds for my high blood pressure and strongly advised me to eat sensibly and cut down on my calorie intake and have some regular light exercises to reduce my chances of developing a heart disease and diabetes. With history of diabetes in the family I am a most likely to acquire this debilitating disease and that really hit me so hard right on the face. I lost my grandmother from diabetes when I was a child and she was quite young to perish just like that. I love my family and I have to do something about my unhealthy lifestyle and start a new lease on life. And that led me to think to change my diet for the better as my start to living healthy.

I read in some health magazine about Raw Food Diet, and immediately had a eureka moment. I started researching more about it and realized that I had nothing to lose but more good to gain in trying out this ideal diet plan. Raw food diet is basically simple, easy to follow and most of all it will not starve you like most diets around. I started eating unprocessed food, dried and fresh vegetables and fruits, freshly squeezed juices, and what amazes me it satisfied my hunger as well as my taste buds. I began with a 5 day diet plan which was very perfect in eliminating all the accumulated toxins within my body through years of eating abusively. There were even delicious recipes that I easily prepared at home- meal planning was very easy.

raw food diet
Certain foods such as broccoli should be cooked before being eaten as they are notoriously difficult to eat in raw form…

Within my second day of following the 5 day Raw Food diet plan I immediately felt some improvements. I have slowly gained back my energy and begun to feel lighter with each passing day. In the duration of Raw food diet I started to get back to exercising and began to appreciate what it is to be healthy again. And after finishing this amazing Raw food diet I noticed a sudden weight loss in terms of inches off my tummy and waist and felt that I am doing only the right thing. Raw food diet literally saved my life and my relationship with my family and kids are a lot better than ever before. I now have the energy to enjoy life and I regularly incorporate this effective Raw food diet plan as part of my improved lifestyle. There were a lot of changes and as far I am concerned these changes are for the better.

Eating more raw foods is now part of my daily meals and I intend to keep it that way knowing that I have an edge on living healthy. And for those of you who are into unhealthy lifestyle you should give this diet a try and see effective results immediately. It is a commitment to myself and I am very happy about the results that I had achieved and I am looking forward to more fruitful years ahead.

Michelle is a writer for My Food, a specialist in the raw food diet among others.

Guest Post: Grass-Fed Beef and My Paleo Diet

Grass-Fed Beef and My Paleo Diet

Earlier this year I set out to modify the foods I ate to be in line with the Paleo Diet. After some research I found out that it should not have been too hard to change things up, all I had to do was cut as much carbohydrates out of my diet and start focusing on grass-fed beef that was pasture raised. Going beyond that, I had to round my diet out past grass-fed beef to include fish, organic vegetables, some fruit, mushrooms, roots and nuts.

I showed my wife a video on YouTube about the Paleolithic Diet so she’d better understand why I “wanted to eat like a caveman”. She was very supportive of my goal to loose weight (I was only 25 lb. overweight).

I asked my wife that the next time she went to the supermarket to buy pasture raised grass-fed beef, wild atlantic salmon, organic fruits and veggies and as many different nuts that she could find. We already were fungi enthusiasts so that was covered from the start.

Where’s the Beef?

When she came back from the store, she had everything but the meat. I said “where’s the beef?” She told me that our local supermarket was utterly void of grass-fed beef. The only thing available as an alternative was organic beef. I know that organic beef is not the same as grass-fed. Maybe all organic meant was that the cattle ate organic grain and corn from a feedlot. I knew that is not what this diet was all about. We went online and found a ranch that sells grass-fed beef and ordered an assortment of premium steaks. My list of foods was then complete.

Even though my wife couldn’t commit to cutting pasta, milk, bread, pancakes etc from her diet, I did commit and the results were measurable. My commitment to the Paleo Diet was to stick with it for 3 months and see what happened. We ate grass-fed steak the first night and continued eating pasture raised grass-fed meats and wild fish every night after that, it was awesome.

The Results of my Paleo Diet

Not long after I started, I noticed an increased level of energy. I was not sluggish when I woke up in the morning and I was not tired by 5 pm in the evenings like I used to be. Even more than that, bloated belly (I looked pregnant) started to slim down within 1 month after starting. I had to cut new holes in my belt because I was too cheap to buy a new belt. I actually used my belt to chart my progress. By the end I had cut 3 holes in my belt within my 3 month commitment.

It has been 7 months since I first started the diet and I no longer consider it to be temporary. Eating grass-fed beef, wild fish, organic vegetables, nuts and avoiding carbs now feels normal. I do not miss donuts or spaghetti or even refined sugar one bit. I lost the flab and actually feel like I can build muscle faster when eating like a hunter. I would not go back to the old ways if someone paid me.

Richie Coffman is a writer who lives on the front range of Colorado and is also a big supporter of pasture raised grass-fed beef.

 

What Should My Paleo Water Intake Be?

What Is Correct Paleo Water Intake?

Before we get into some theory, take a moment and picture our cave dwelling ancestors making their way over to a new home, would they be carrying water bottles or require frequent drinks of water? Nope! Conventional wisdom tells us that we should aim to drink around eight glasses of water a day. This seems like a large amount, especially when you consider that it is about two litres worth, or one soda bottle. Almost nobody drinks that amount of water everyday, at least not comfortably. At large volumes of water consumption in fact, people have actually died. At 2 litres of water daily, you could potentially also run the risk of thinning out your reserves of electrolytes. In fact this is what contributes to being killed by water over-consumption. Our bodies are particularly adept at sourcing water, and most of our water comes from the foods we eat.So it appears then that once again, conventional wisdom has led us astray yet again. This ties back to why our ancestors wouldn’t have to have drank as much water as we perhaps once thought because of their diet. Obviously water would have been an important factor when deciding on where to live, but there wasn’t necessarily a need to make water immediately available like modern man.

paleo-water-intake
Our ancestors would have had to have probably settled for the odd cup-like leafe every now and then for water…

How much water to drink daily

Generally speaking, it is best to rely on your natural thirst mechanism as an indication on how much and how frequently you should drink water. I have noticed that because of the radical increase in my vegetable consumption my overall fluid water intake has decreased. Having said that though, I still keep a bottle of water on my desk and sip at it whenever I think about water. That is actually a pretty good gauge on when or not you should hydrate. If you think about water, drink some.

Unless you are exercising pretty strenuously, you don’t need to consume a hell of a lot of water. It is all relative to the amount of water you expel as sweat during exercise, and the subsequent thirst you feel afterwards or during said exercise. Remember that when starting to exercise after a period of inactivity it will feel as though you are thirsty as you adapt to the increased amount of air being taken into your lungs. Try not to overhydrate.

Perhaps a more accurate recommendation for daily water consumption would be to aim for around 1 litre or 4 glasses. This can come from a multitude of sources, as contrary to popular belief, beverages such as tea, coffee and alcohol (non sugary) don’t dehydrate you. While some drinks, such as coffee and other caffeinated drinks can be diuretic, meaning they make you want to urinate, the quantity you have to consume to make this a health hazard is out of reach of most people.

An important note about too much water consumption

The issue with water consumption is that if too much is consumed, there is a risk of washing out enough electrolytes to promote negative health conditions.  This is especially true if you are an athlete and drink large amounts of water after and during strenuous exercise without recovering salts and electrolytes. Remember that you lose a lot of salt when sweating, and this needs to be replenished in order to maintain health, and promote effective muscle action during exercise. The specific condition related to the over consumption of water after strenuous exercise is called hyponatremiaA more serious condition related to the over-consumption of water is cerebral edema, the swelling of the brain due to excessive amounts of fluid.

So you see, there is a balance, just as there is with everything when talking about nutrition. The idea that we need aroun 2 litres or eight glasses of water a day is to me, excessive and unnecessary. Follow your thirst and trust your body. It is built to survive, and will notify you of any distress it is feeling and instinctively you’ll have an idea of how to fix it.

paleo-water-intake

Water consumption and eating

The stomach requires there to be a specific level of acidity present to effectively break down proteins so that the rest of the digestive system can properly process food. This acidity usually needs to be in the pH 1-2 area, and you guessed it, too much water upsets this level. Too much water, or even a glass of water before eating can dilute stomach acid enough to allow certain proteins through the stomach without being sufficiently processed, creating problems later down the line. 

It is simple tricks like this that can mean the difference between someone being diagnosed with a food allergy, and is very simple to make into a habit. Try not to drink before or during a meal. This trick in optimising stomach pH also plays a role in destroying bacteria and protecting against foreign germs etc.

Conclusion

So to sum it all up, trust your body and your thirst mechanism. You don’t need 8 glasses a day to live a healthy, paleo existence, and you won’t fall over dead by drinking less either. In addition to the points I’ve made above, treat bottled water as a unnecessary accessory. For the most part, bottled water is just as clean as tap water, and it is also stored in plastic containers which can affect the taste of the water and contribute to pollution levels. If you are thirsty, drink tap water, it’s good!

Heres to good levels of hydration,

Keep well,
Andrew.

Guest Post: Top tips to eat well and stay primal

Top tips to eat well and stay primalhow to stay primal


If you’re training and want to make the most of it by accompanying your regime with a good, balanced diet, then read on for a few foodie facts that you may not have known about before.

Foods you should eat…

Animal products

Packed with proteins, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, animal products are the most nutritionally dense of all the food groups.

While vegetables are said to be packed with vitamins and minerals, animal products are actually a better source of nearly all but vitamin C – and they’re more digestible.

Seafood, wild fish, organic egg yolks and organ meats/bone broths from free range, grass-fed cows and sheep are the real super foods.

Saturated Fat

While it’s a contentious issue, it’s not actually been proven that saturated fat causes heart disease however – most fatty foods come packed with fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Just avoid processed oils, and eat only cuts of meat from good, organic sources.

Plant products

All parts – the leaves, stalks, roots and fruits – of plants are very good for you.

Fermented Foods

The number of bacteria cells in your gut outnumber your bodily cells by more than 10:1, and  with their genetic make-up also having a huge impact.

Research shows that the types of bacteria living inside you affect your susceptibility to communicable diseases, obesity, chronic degenerative disease, and your mental health.

So: avoid sugar and processed foods, and make your own fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kefir.

how-to-stay-primal

Foods to avoid…

Industrial seed/soybean/vegetable oils

Omega 6 fats, commonly found in nuts, seeds and legumes, are essential our health only in small quantities – this is because a) when processed they transform into carcinogenic oxidants, and b) they can cause depression, chronic inflammation, and hormone signalling/appetite regulation problems. These fats include:

Wheat/Soy products

As a natural defence mechanism against predators, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds contain phytates, which bind to the minerals in other foods, leading to diseases such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and tooth decay, for example.

They also contain lectins – plant proteins that can pass through the gut lining into the blood stream, causing an immune response that can itself cause chronic inflammation… Which is a major cause of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases – and auto-immune conditions (e.g. multiple-sclerosis, coeliac disease, arthritis, lupus etc.) in genetically predisposed individuals.

Sugar or High Fructose Corn Syrup

Refined sugar (50% fructose/50% glucose) and high fructose corn syrup (56% fructose/44% glucose) has almost replaced natural fruit sugars. Fructose can only be processed by the liver, so high intake puts incredible strain on it, leading to conditions such as diabetes, insulin resistance and fatty liver disease.

Fructose has also been shown to be the primary fuel for cancer cells, and that it is around 10 times more likely than glucose to form advanced glycation end products, which are thought to be one of the major factors in chronic ageing and age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cataracts, atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, arthritis  – and many more.

So there you have it – a list of foodie dos and don’ts that you can use as fuel for a successful diet and training regime.
This post was provided by Predator Nutrition.

Paleo Ketosis: What You Need To Know

Paleo and Ketosis

Right off the bat, paleo and low carbohydrate diets promote ketosis. What is ketosis?

Ketosis is a state in which the body turns itself away from using blood glucose as its primary source of energy. This occurs when the total available blood glucose in the body is below a certain threshold. While the specific amount of per specific measurement blood glucose is important, it is easier to understand ketosis and it’s bad cousin, ketoacidosis (toxic amounts of blood ketones) from a carbohydrate orientated focal point.

On typical moderate to high carbohydrate diets the body will rely on the food eaten for it’s blood glucose requirements. The body is taught through diet that for its glucose needs it should turn to the food we are eating due to the sheer abundance of carbohydrates in a normal western diet. This is problematic as the body then begins to expect that all of it’s energy needs shall be catered for by food eaten. Strictly speaking, this is not the preferred source of energy by the body. The body responds very well to the natural process of turning fatty acids into energy the body can use, also known as ketosis.

The origins of ketosis

Ketosis would have developed as part of a method and system for the body to stay alive when carbohydrate intake was below a certain point. Our bodies adapted to use ketones as an energy source in times of famine and low food condition. Imagine what it would have been like 10 000 years ago trekking across the vast continent of Africa. We would have had to have been able to burn reserve energy stores, fat, for long, sustainable periods of time. This is where the process of ketosis comes into play.

Why promoting a state of ketosis is desirable and safe

Firstly, ketosis is a natural process built into our bodies’ operations. We are naturally designed to be fat burners, and ketosis is simply the process through which fat is converted into usable energy for the body. Ketones can be used for almost every process which requires energy in the body, even fuel for the brain. As you may have accurately assumed, because ketosis uses body fat to create energy in the form of ketones, it is an effective fat loss technique which is safe, consistent and reliable.

This more constant state of energy production supports your body in whatever it does in a very stable and long-term fashion.

paleo-ketosis
This is the sort of fat burning action you want…

Paleo ketosis and weight loss

In addition to the obvious benefits of training the body to naturally burn excess fat reserves for most of its fuel requirements, ketosis smooths out the body’s insulin levels, blood glucose levels and in general promotes a simpler, healthier and more streamlined energy system for the body to use. The body becomes aware of the lack of carbohydrates and begins to auto pilot on ketone production. The process of converting from a sugar burner to a fat burner also promotes the up-regulation of fat burning metabolic actions inside the body, which in turn decreases, or deregulates the process of fat storage and fat creation.

Simply put, your ratio of fat storage to fat burning decreases, meaning you use more fat than you store. 

How to promote a state of paleo ketosis

Generally speaking, a diet of around 50-80 grams of carbohydrate intake will promote a state of ketosis. However, a diet of 100 to 150 grams of carbohydrates daily will promote and allow the body to turn on and off ketone generating actions at will, when carbohydrate intake dips below approximately 100 grams. It is important to not eat too little carbohydrates, as we still require an adequate amount to function effectively, though we need nowhere near what “authorities” may have led you to believe.

The cross over period from carbohydrate to ketone usage in the body will take a few weeks, and sometimes a month of two to complete. This is due to the body having to relearn where it should find its energy, as well as the needed time to activate the necessary genetic switches related to ketosis. During this period energy levels may vary and you may feel like you are in a “carbohydrate slump”, this is normal and will pass quicker than you may imagine.

Paleo ketosis symptoms

While these symptoms of ketosis are not unique to the paleo diet, the paleo diet can help to promote and control a healthy state of ketone production.

  • You can maintain a constant level of energy, without crankiness or changes in mood throughout the day without eating
  • Your fat gains will decrease, and in fact reverse due to the body using fat as its primary energy source
  • When exercising, you run cooler and generally sweat less due to the lower reliance on “hot” glycogen for muscle energy
  • You will not be dependant on glucose for energy, even though glucose is a preferred energy source
  • You can exercise without carbohydrate consumption

As you can see, there is really no sure fire way to determine whether or not you are a fat burner or are in a state of ketosis. The best bet would be for you to see if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above. If you do, then you are an efficient, fat burning human using ketosis as a natural way of fueling your body.

Thanks for reading, and all the best with your health!

Andrew

Grains And Inflammation

What is the relationship between grains and inflammation?

If you’ve read much of my blog and articles on the paleo diet, you’ve noticed that the evils of grains is a recurring topic. The reason for their evil is that they contribute to inflammation in the intestines. This state of inflammation is caused mainly by lectins and gluten. Two proteins which globule up and promote, in some cases, a chronic level of inflammation. This is bad because when this chronic level of inflammation is achieved the body operates at an alarmingly retarded level of efficiency.

Anti-nutrients are also part of grain’s arsenal. What are anti-nutrients exactly? They are, simply put, remnants of a plant’s natural chemical defence against animals eating them. This is bad for our human digestive processes, because some of these anti-nutrients die hard, even after they have been cooked.

Why do grains cause inflammation in the body?

Lectins, for example, are effective at making the intestines inflamed. Once consumed, they globule up in the intestines and bind to its walls. Lectins also cause leptin resistance, which is not favourable because it means that the body becomes less efficient and effective at processing fats in the body. They also contribute to a deterioration in the metabolic system, which ultimately means that the body gets less effective at staying alive. Not cool!

Gluten is another protein which is detrimental to the human body’s health. This is largely due to the response it promotes in the human body. When gluten is consumed, one of its key proteins gliadin is detected by the body and determined to be a threat. This promotes a antibody response. So, simply put, gluten is treated by your body as an invader trying to wreak havoc. It tries to destroy gluten. For the most part, it is this prolonged eating of gluten that promotes the most inflammation in the intestines. The body is sensitive to even small amounts of gluten, and think about it, most people eat gluten every single day, sometimes for every single meal. It is no wonder grains cause inflammation with a weapon such as gluten in it’s toolset.

Thirdly, as if you needed more evidence of gluten’s foul play, are phytates. which ultimately make nutrients unavailable to the body. This goes against the “common” knowledge that grains are rich in minerals and vitamins. That statement is redundant and untrue if the very food (grains) being promoted blocks the absorption of nutrients.

grains-and-inflammation
Ouch…

Why are grains so hostile?

Grains, or rather certain plants, have developed abilities to passively protect themselves from predators. This means that parts of the plant are either inedible, cause discomfort or worse, or are merely indigestible. For the latter, most fruits’ seeds are impossible to digest in humans, and so are passed through the body as waste. This means that ultimately, in the “natural world“, seeds are dispersed.

Unfortunately for us humans, we haven’t adapted to eating grains and their gluten, lectins and phytates. While animals such as certain birds, antelope and other mainly herbivorous animals are okay at digesting these compounds, for us humans the process is problematic and really something we shouldn’t be attempting.

How you can reduce inflammation

Basically, the easiest and most effective way of removing a source of inflammation in the body is well, to remove it. By stopping the consumption of gluten, you will stop the ingestion of gluten, phytates and those nasty lectins. The paleo lifestyle is particularly focused at a grain and gluten free diet as part of great health. Actioning paleo principles in your diet could be the simplest and most effective way for you to decrease inflammation.

To learn why grains are so bad for you in much more detail, consider buying my book on the paleo diet. In it, I tackle many, many issues just like inflammation causing grains and focus on simplifying paleo concepts into bite sized chunks. Check it out here.