What is a Paleo diet?
It seems to be popular and there are lots of claims regarding health benefits. What should you believe?
There is a good deal of data supporting this eating/pantry profile.
The primary benefit is the reduction in systemic inflammation. This is a powerful argument for adopting this eating program. All disease states are amplified by inflammation. In addition the triglycerides are much lower. This is very beneficial. High blood sugar is implicated in high inflammation markers in the blood.
So what does a Paleo diet or pantry look like? What is excluded from this food profile?
Paleo excludes: Grains, Legumes, Starchy Vegetables, Soy, Dairy.
Why are these foods excluded? They all cause a sharp increase in blood sugar. The holy grail for reducing inflammation is to keep blood sugar levels low. This is harder than we may have thought. A significant reason is the physical addiction to the effect of high blood sugar.
Atkins/ketogenic excludes: Grains, Legumes, Starchy Vegetables
Research has shown that sugar can be as addictive as heroin. In addition, it can take up to 5 weeks to shift the body from using carbohydrates for energy to fats. This state is called becoming “fat adapted”. Fats contain twice as much energy per weight as protein or carbohydrates. They have more molecular bonds, which release more energy when they are broken. It also takes more work to break these molecular bonds and get the energy out. Oxygen is needed to help with the chemistry to break those fat bonds, so fitness is a factor in getting the energy out. Paradoxically the one thing that the unfit, over-fat individual needs is to drop fat and increase heart/lung efficiency.
For this reason it is important that we start where we are and move toward that goal of a healthy body composition profile and good fitness.
Who may suit this eating plan?
Typically Blood type O. I have used this profile for a 4 month period late last year. I am Type A blood and have found that rich foods would upset my gut. When I took the inflammatory foods out and left the fats and proteins with log GI vegetables I was surprised to find a very happy digestive system. What I concluded from this experience, is that it is the inflammation that causes the body to loose its capacity to digest fats and proteins.
What is a Ketogenic state?
Basically when we burn fats for energy the body produces ketones. The brain was thought to use only glucose for energy. Recent studies show that the body will convert fat into ketones to fuel the brain.
I sometimes wonder how various ideas gain traction or widespread acceptance. If the brain could only use carbohydrates/glucose for energy, then how do Eskimos live on seal meat and seal fat for much of the year?
It is clear that some will do better on a ketogenic eating plan than others. The liver converts the fat to ketones, so liver health is important for the efficiency of this process.
Here is a presentation that you may find interesting:
This presentation shows that the body is so clever and efficient. We are encouraged in this type of presentation to better understand the role of the right fuel for our bodies. The rewards of the right fuel are high, so it is worth making the effort to eat right for great health outcomes.
Hands On Superhealth-er, Helen, recently wrote about her experience with Keto eating.