Author | DIAKADI Trainer Nate Miyaki
DIAKADI trainer, Nate Miyaki discusses the key lessons we can all learn from the Paleo Nutrition Plan getting increased attention internationally. In Part I of this two part article, Nate discusses the main nutritional concepts of the Paleo Diet. In Part II, Nate reviews the benefits of the Paleo Diet, but also reminds us why no one diet or nutritional plan fits everyone or holds all the answers. Most nutritional plans have elements to educate us and tips to consider. But ultimately any successful plan for individuals must be individualized to each person’s person goals, needs and their actual fitness state.
Part IA: Paleo Topics in a Nutshell
"If it doesn't swim, run, or fly, or isn't green and grow in the ground, don't eat it." That's a quote from famous strength coach Charles Poliquin. Or maybe you've heard the late, great Jack Lalanne's simple dietary prescription: "If man made it, don't eat it."
Cumulatively, that pretty much sums up the practical application side of Caveman Eating.
My nutritional approach has been accurately described as a Paleo/Caveman-meets-Sports Nutrition hybrid. So I figured we'd start with the Paleo side of that coin first.
As seen above, the practical application strategy is simple, but I do think it’s a worthy endeavor to dive a little deeper, and learn some of the details behind why the "eat what your ancestors ate" philosophy can be so effective. Otherwise, after a day of exposure to internet health blurbs and the infinite amount of misinformation spread via various mainstream channels, you'll be coming back asking, "But wait, aren't fruit juices, wheat breads, low-fat mayo, and cardboard, fiber-twig cereals good for you?" Sure, maybe if you are Tony the Tiger and are sponsored by Kellogg's.
PALEO TOPICS IN A NUTSHELL
1. Animal-Based Proteins are Superior to Grain or Vegetable-Based Proteins
Animal proteins are considered of higher quality than grain or vegetable proteins because all of the essential amino acids are present, they are present in higher qualities, and along with essential fatty acids, they are present in the proper proportions and ratios that mother-nature intended. That last point is the key.
They call them essential fatty acids and essential amino acids for a reason. If we weren't meant to eat animals, these essential nutrients wouldn't be so essential to normal metabolic and hormonal functioning. They'd be optional, and instead we would have essential cellulose and soy-paste requirements.
Just look at a 4oz piece of wild, sockeye salmon:
- 24g of protein including all essential amino acids
- 2g of saturated fat
- 5g of monounsaturated fat
- 1500mg of omega-3 fatty acids
- 425mg of omega-6 fatty acids
Dude, you can't beat nature.
Now, a diet with a lot of vegetables in it is healthy. I'm not that far off my rocker. But that does NOT make vegetarian diets the healthiest.
As vegetarians try to do the whole food-combining thing to make up for the essential nutrients they should just be getting from animal foods, they can end up with a diet that is a metabolic disaster: inadequate protein intake, incomplete amino acid profiles, essential fatty acid imbalances, too much sugar and refined flour, too many carbs combined with too much dietary fat, too many phytoestrogenic compounds from soy substitutes, digestive disorders and leaky gut syndrome from too many "anti-nutrients" (phytates and lectins)… I could go on forever.
I know most of you aren't pining to eat a vegetarian diet, but now you have a logical argument against the vegetarianism proponent who religiously swears vegetarian-based diets are the healthiest approach on the planet, and that eating meat will kill you.
Trust me; the Jolly Green Giant was jolly and a giant because he was sneaking some animal foods into his can of green beans.
2. Eliminate sugar/concentrated sources of fructose
While there are several worthy foods, I'd put the championship belt around concentrated sources of fructose as the worst compound in modern diets. If you did nothing other than cut out sugar and high fructose corn syrup from your diet, I'd bet you'd end up with a pretty decent physique.
But that crap is everywhere, and is in everything, and it is addicting! Why do you think so many nutritionists try to justify eating moderate amounts of sugar? They are addicted.
According to numerous studies, fructose is the main culprit in table sugar that causes insulin resistance -- FRUCTOSE y'all, NOT my poor glucose/starch compounds that get unfairly lumped into the same category via the "2010 All Carbs Are Evil Campaign". Here is one of those studies that compared a starch-based diet with sucrose/fructose-based diets:
Old-timers paper link: Thresher et al, Comparison of the effects of sucrose and fructose on insulin action and glucose tolerance. AJP- Regu Physiol October 2000 vol.279 no.4
In an article from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the metabolism of fructose was further investigated. The report indicated that fructose, compared with glucose, is preferentially metabolized to fat in your liver. In animal models, fructose produced the following responses: insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, high insulin levels, high triglycerides, and hypertension.
Now, we're not talking about the natural, tiny amounts of fructose found in whole fruit (3-5g in a 100g serving). We're talking about the concentrated doses found in refined table sugar (49g per 100g serving) and high fructose corn syrup (as high as 75g per 100g serving).
What was that caveman theme again? Oh yeah -- real, natural, whole, unprocessed foods are cool. Kick that refined crap to the curb.
3. Eliminate trans-fats
If fructose is the "Worst Modern Food Champ", then trans fats are the undisputed #1 contender. These compounds are essentially vegetable oils that have had a hydrogen molecule added to their chemical structure through a process called hydrogenation. This makes them more solid in structure and extends shelf life -- both great if you are processed, snack food manufacturer.
However, this chemical alteration is what makes them so problematic if you are a health-enthusiast. Because trans fats are basically unnatural, mutated fats, they raise total and bad cholesterol (LDL), elevate C-reactive protein, lower good cholesterol (HDL), and as such, are a major risk factor for coronary artery disease.
But forget heart attacks man, we just want to get our coveted six-packs right? Well, trans fats have been shown to inhibit glucose disposal, promote insulin resistance and induce abdominal obesity. Here's a study:
Old timer’s paper link: Kavanagh et al, Trans fat diet induces abdominal obesity and changes in insulin sensitivity in monkeys. Obesity 2007 Jul;15(7):1675-84.
So if you see trans fats or hydrogenated oils, do as Iron Maiden said to do, "Run to the hills, run for your lives."