I’ve been hyping up CrossFit on here for a while now but have yet to get into another area that is just as important as exercise when talking about overall health. What you eat.
So what should you be eating? Meats, vegetables, nuts & seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar. It’s that simple. This is called the Paleo diet. Eat 3-5 meals per day with snacks between meals. No bread, pasta, rice, grains, sugars, sodas, etc. We want to remove the bad carbs, which are high on the glycemic index, and replace them with good carbs, that are low on the glycemic index (mainly vegetables).
Now its time for me nerd out a little bit and explain why. It’s all about insulin and controlling it through diet.
All carbohydrates are basically sugar, whether it is table sugar or broccoli, and all cause an increase in insulin levels. Carbs that are high on the glycemic index (sugar, bread, pasta, rice, etc) cause a quick, large spike in insulin levels while carbs that are low on the glycemic index (spinach, bell peppers, broccoli, etc) cause insulin to be released at a slower rate over a longer period of time. Our goal is to have flat, balanced insulin levels throughout the day. These big spikes in insulin can over time lead to Hyperinsulinemia which is a huge factor in obesity, coronary heart disease, many cancers, and diabetes.
The cycle looks something like this. You eat a carbs which creates an insulin response to control the blood sugar. After years and years of high carb consumption those sugars become harder for your body to control so it takes more and more insulin to do the same work until you eventually get to a point where your pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to handle the sugar. This is adult onset diabetes. All of this excess insulin stimulates cholesterol production in the liver, it encourages the kidneys to retain salt, increases triglyceride production, increases the risk for high blood pressure, and sends a message to fat cells to store more sugar and fat. Now you can see why insulin (and diet) is the main factor that causes things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and heart disease.
Do you think anyone has gotten obese or sick from eating a diet consisting of meats, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruit? Probably not but I’m sure it’s possible if you somehow managed to eat 5,000 calories a day of this stuff. Try it out for a month and see how you feel, get a physical to see if your health has improved (blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, etc), see if you look better, and see if you perform better during physical activities. I can guarantee you that if you follow this strictly for a month you will see improvements in all of these areas.
What about grains? Grains are what they feed cows to fatten them up before slaughter. What makes you think they would have a different effect on humans? Avoid them.
What about oils? Olive oil and other high quality oils are great. Eat them. What about dairy? Dairy is sort of up in the air. Some people aren’t tolerant of dairy. Some people love it. Milk’s purpose is for baby mammals to get bigger. If you want to get bigger go ahead. I personally drink a lot of milk.
What about peanut butter? We recommend almond butter but peanut butter is ok if it’s the natural stuff; so no added oils or sugars.
What about oatmeal? While not terrible for you like bread and pasta, oatmeal is a grain and the human body isn’t designed to eat it. If you can’t cut it out then eat steel cut oats.
What about eggs? Yes, yes, and yes. I eat them daily. Don’t worry about the cholesterol when you’re on a diet like this. I could elaborate on this but just ask me if you’re wondering about the science behind why it’s not an issue.
Here’s a quick video that explains sums it all up. http://dallascrossfit.com/blog/paleo-diet-nutshell
So there you have it folks. Probably nothing you didn’t already know. Stick to this 90% of the time and you’re good to go. The other 10% of the time go nuts; one or two cheat meals per week won’t hurt so you can still have your pizza, lasagna, double cheeseburger, or whatever you like. As long as you’re eating right 90% of the time it won’t be a problem. Shoot me an email or leave a comment if you have any questions.