Nutrition and Diet

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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).

Right

Right

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.

Wrong

Wrong

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.

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Showing 8 comments
  • Lydia
    Reply

    Just wanted you to know that I spent my last 10 minutes of work reading this. I actually learned something–so thanks for “nerding out.”

  • justin
    Reply

    this is very helpful. My eating habits are my weakness!!!

    I do have one question, what do you eat when you go fast food?

    I either get a double cheese burger and remove the bun or subway salad with extra meat. I am not sure about the cheeseburger and could you suggest anything else.

  • Jay
    Reply

    Hey Neal,
    Just seeing what you think on this matter. I’ve been doing the Paleo diet for a little over a week, and I sent this link to my friend who is a dietitian to see what she thought and this is what she said:

    “Most of what this says is pretty accurate regarding the insulin levels, etc. However, the one I don’t agree with is staying away from grains altogether. I agree that you should limit your intake of the simple carbs (white bread, pasta, rice, etc.); however, you should eat the whole-grain varieties of these foods (simply replace the white with the whole wheat). The majority of our calories should come from carbs (~50-60%) (carbs include starch (again eat the whole wheat kind), starchy vegetables, non-starchy vegetables, milk (I also think you should include skim milk if you like milk), and fruit); the next amount of our daily calories should be from fat (~30 % or less), and then the least amount from protein (~15-20%). This is the average recommendations for healthy adults (not talking about specific disease processes or bodybuilders).

    Think of carbohydrates as “protein-sparing” meaning if you do not consume enough of them then your body is going to start to breakdown your muscle mass for energy (what you don’t want)!!! “

  • Neal
    Reply

    Jay,
    This diet is very controversial. In my opinion no one should be eating grains. Grains are worthless and provide no nutritional value. Yes, whole grains are better than their simple processed counter part, but it’s the lesser of two evils. It’s like saying you should eat 10grams of sugar rather than 20grams of sugar; you’d be better off eating zero sugar. The dietician is right, grains are a source of energy, but so is fat. The paleo diet is not low fat; we consume about 30% of our calories from animal fat, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, avacado, and other good fats. We are transitioning our bodies to run off of fat rather than simple carbs. Note that on this diet we are consuming about 30-40% of our calories from carbs, but in the form of vegetables and fruit. It’s not a low-carb diet by any means, it’s a balanced diet consisting of GOOD carbs.
    Do you think mother nature messed up? She’s a pretty smart woman. If we were meant to eat grains and dairy we wouldn’t have people with Celiac Disease, people who are lactose intolerant, etc. We weren’t designed to eat grains and dairy and it’s not until we remove these things from our diets that we notice that we will look, feel, and perform better.
    You can listen to two sides argue all you want but I say YOU find out for yourself. Stick to the Paleo diet for a month and see how you look, feel, and perform. I don’t care what conventional wisdom says; if I can run faster, be stronger, look better, and feel better then I’m going to stick with what is working. Another good idea would be to follow the paleo diet for 3-4 months and then get a physical from the Doctor. See how your blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol, and other numbers compare to before.

  • Brandon S.
    Reply

    I have been doing the diet for about a week now. It is hard sometimes but I manage. I have had severe acid reflux issues and the past couple of days I have noticed that my reflux has subsided substantially. The food choices seem to be limited when you don’t eat at home a lot, but I think I am going to stick it out for at least a month and see how it’s all going.

  • Neal
    Reply

    That’s a good idea Brandon. Give it at least a month so you can have a good idea of just how much improvement you can see. Trying it for a week or two just isn’t enough.

  • Stutes
    Reply

    I have been about 80% Paleo for the last 45-60 days and I can honestly say that I have more energy throughout the day, perform better at CFB, feel overall healthier, have completely stopped taking prescription meds for acid reflux, and I have noticed a major change in body composition/fat loss. I am not worried about the science behind it….IT WORKS!!!

  • John
    Reply

    Nice Blog. I enjoy the handy facts you offer in your articles. Let me take a note of your weblog and look again here on a regular basis. I am quite confident I will discover a lots of new stuff in these articles! All the Best for future!

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