Coke and Paleo

Coca-Cola is hoping to woo dieters with a wacky new advertisement. In it, happy exercisers show how much “fun” they’re having burning off the 140 calories in a can of Coke, reported the Atlantic on Friday.

But even as food companies package up 100-calorie bags of cookies and carefully labeled cans of soda, experts are saying that advising dieters to count calories in order to lose weight is an exercise in futility. Dr. David Ludwig, a professor at Harvard Medical School, revealed the results of his own research: “Very few people can lose weight over the long term with low-calorie diets.”

So what does he advise for those who want to win at weight loss? Steer clear of refined carbohydrates and follow a Paleo-style low carb diet of unprocessed foods.

“Eating too much refined carbohydrate has, by this theory, raised insulin levels and programmed our fat cells to suck in and store too many calories,” said Ludwig. In contrast, Paleo diets emphasize avoidance of processed products and sugar, both of which dominate in the Standard American Diet(SAD). Eat unprocessed food, avoid sugar and you’ll be healthier while slimming down, agree Ludwig and other experts.

And even though they might not concur on precisely what foods to avoid, what they all agree corresponds to Michael Pollan’s advice. Author of “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto,” he steers clear of complicated calculations and pompous pronouncements. ““Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food,” he sums up.

An increasing number of nutrition gurus are highlighting low carb high fat (LCHF) ketogenic diets and Paleo plans as the way to go for health and weight loss.

“My research associates have published papers demonstrating not only that a Paleo diet provides all the nutrients for health, but that the Paleo diet is, calorie for calorie, the most nutritious way one can eat,” Robb Wolf, author of “The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet,” told me in an exclusive interview.

He feels that the Paleo diet success “is merely shining a light on the systemic failure of our current systems.” The use of food as medicine has not dented the traditional medical world, says Robb. As a result, most healthcare experts have failed ” miserably at preventing chronic, degenerative disease. I’m proud of the work I and many other people have done in this area, but I’m also appalled that this is at all a controversial topic.”

And Robb concurs that to say counting calories works better than a low-carb Paleo plan of unprocessed, sugar-free, grain-free foods is absurd. “A cupcake is apparently equal to an apple. Can that possibly be correct? I certainly do not think so,” he states.

In a recent survey conducted by Everyday Health and MedPage Today, 900 medical professionals cast their votes for the best diets. The survey included doctors, registered dietitians, nurse practitioners and clinicians. Among the best: Low carb diets.

High on the list of approved plans, the South Beach Diet is detailed in books, such as “The South Beach Diet Supercharged: Faster Weight Loss and Better Health for Life.” The survey noted that it emphasizes a heart-healthy approach to weight loss while controlling hunger. The company reports that you can lose eight to 13 pounds in the first two weeks and emphasizes unprocessed foods in their natural state.

The third most popular diet in the survey, the DASH diet, also focuses on avoiding processed foods while boosting weight loss. It’s also documented in a book: “The Dash Diet Weight Loss Solution: 2 Weeks to Drop Pounds, Boost Metabolism, and Get Healthy.”

Celebrity physician Dr. Mehmet Oz recently featured the DASH diet on his talk show. He noted that health experts from US News & World Report repeatedly rank it as number one because of its “nutritional completeness, safety, ability to prevent or control diabetes, and role in supporting heart health.”

Before you ask the Magic 8-Ball to tell you which diet to follow, we recommend focusing on plans that avoid counting calories and emphasize unprocessed Paleo-style food groups of protein, healthy fats and vegetables. And take a moment to pity the calorie, as Dr. William Lagakos suggests in his detailed examination of why calorie-counting fails, and what does work, in “The poor, misunderstood calorie: calories proper.”

Food Is Not An Engineering Problem


John Durant is author of “The Paleo Manifesto”, a book that makes a case for an evolutionary-based approach to health.

Durant’s book touches on topics as varied as Biblical hygiene and how astronauts sleep in space, but to boil it down to its key thesis, he argues that we should be living (and eating) more similarly to our primitive human ancestors.

Durant was glad to share his thoughts on the food replacement product Soylent with us – in short, he’s unimpressed.

“Soylent’s success is a sad commentary on where we are as a society with respect to food,” he said. “It’s hubristic to think that humans can engineer something better than millions of years of evolution. Food is not just an engineering problem.”

Durant offers baby formula as a comparison: “Big industrial food conglomerates have been trying to mimic breast milk for 100 years and continue to fail at it. This is not to say that infant formula might not improve or that technology might come about where such a thing is actually possible, but it merits some caution about the latest synthesized miracle food.”

He readily acknowledges the commercial potential, saying, “Soylent doesn’t have to be as healthy as Whole Foods or as meaningful as a home-cooked meal. It only has to be better than the frozen quesadilla that it’s competing with on a daily basis.”

Durant’s words to those eager to adopt Soylent as their primary food source: “You’re free to do that, I’m not going to stop you. I see how it could be an improvement for lots of people, but many in the food movement are trying to change how we grow food and raise animals, moving us further away from understanding where our food comes from, not closer.”

Intermittent Fasting

One of the newest diet trends in the weight loss world is also one of the most ancient: Fasting. But in addition to helping with weight loss, intermittent fasting can also help reverse some diseases and even turn back the clock, based on new researchreported on Thursday.

The study revealed that by fasting two to four days, cancer patients and those with other conditions can benefit because the dietary intervention helps with stem cell regeneration of immune cells. Even the researchers were impressed with the results.

“We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system,” said Valter Longo, a gerontology professor in California. His team discovered that alternating fasting and feasting impacted blood cell counts.

Dr. Longo extrapolated that fasting also can help reverse aging because levels of IGF-1 declined. This growth factor hormone is linked to aging, cancer and tumor progression.

For those seeking to lose weight, fasting may help because it mimics that of our hunter-gatherer Paleo ancestors, says Dr. Joseph Mercola, author of “The No-Grain Diet.” Based on the newest studies, he extrapolated that the reduction in food intake models “the behaviors of our ancient ancestors to optimize health.”

Paleo diet guru Mark Sisson offers his own insights on intermittent fasting on his site. Author of “The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy,” he advocates the use of alternate approaches, including full-day fasts as well as missing meals.

Confirming this thesis, Dr. Krista Varady, author of “The Every-Other-Day Diet: The Diet That Lets You Eat All You Want (Half the Time) and Keep the Weight Off,” developed her own alternate-fasting approach when she began studying calorie restriction.

“I wanted to do a PhD in the area of calorie restriction and fasting,” she recalled of her initial studies. “I wanted to find out: do you really have to diet every single day to lose weight?”

After Dr. Varady discovered that most individuals could not restrict calories significantly for longer than a month or two, she decided to experiment with an alternate-day diet. On her plan, dieters eat 500 to 600 calories every other day and then eat what they want on the “feast” days.

But that’s not the only option. You can eat restricted calories two days a week, then feast five days in what’s become known as the 5:2 diet, detailed by Dr. Michael Mosley in “The FastDiet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting.”

He created a documentary for the BBC showing the benefits of the 5:2 approach – and that included putting himself on the diet as a guinea pig. After his health improved and weight dropped, Dr. Mosley become a believer.

The approach also is detailed in “The 5: 2 Fast Diet for Beginners: The Complete Book for Intermittent Fasting with Easy Recipes and Weight Loss.” And for those who want help figuring out what they can eat on the restricted calorie days, there are cookbooks such as “The Fast Diet Cookbook: Low-Calorie Fast Diet Recipes and Meal Plans for the 5:2 Diet and Intermittent Fasting.”

For those who don’t want to restrict calories so drastically, some experts advocate fasting “windows” that limit food intake on a daily basis. This approach is used in “The Mini-Fast Diet: Burn Fat Faster Than Ever with the Simple Science of Intermittent Fasting.”

Author Dr. Julian Whitaker advocates skipping breakfast and then limiting your food intake to lunch and dinner. As a result, he says you can achieve ketosis on a daily basis without the extreme hunger that some experience on traditional fasts.

Almond milk – Is it any good?

HOW many times have you gone to the office fridge to make a cuppa, and been overwhelmed by the number of milk options on offer?

The office fridge currently stocks seven varieties of milk — there’s full fat, no fat, low fat, rice milk, soy milk, organic almond milk and a dubious-looking product called ‘Almond Supreme’.

Our team has a wide range of dietary needs — including a vegan, a few vegetarians, several people who are lactose intolerant — and one reporter who has Fruit Loops for breakfast every day.

We have a few hipster foodies among us who are always keen to try out the latest food trend, and almond milk is the current flavour of the month.

The paleo movement (which is dairy-free) has encouraged many people to stop drinking cow’s milk and many cafes now offer almond milk, alongside rice and soy, as an alternative.

But is almond milk all it’s cracked up to be?

Don’t believe all the marketing hype, says senior nutritionist at Nutrition Australia Queensland, Aloysa Hourigan.

“Almond milk, like oat milk and rice milk has become very trendy,” Ms Hourigan said.

“There’s no doubt that it can provide some nutrition, but whether it’s better than normal milk is a whole other question.”

Ms Hourigan says cow’s milk is the most nutritious type of milk, which you can still drink if you’re lactose intolerant — just choose the lactose-free option. Almond milk doesn’t contain as much protein or calcium.

“You don’t need to drink nut milks or soy milk,” she said.

If you’re a vegan, or you really don’t want to consume dairy, soy milk is the “most nutritionally complete” option, with the highest protein content.

Almond milk can contain high levels of added sugar, so always read the ingredients label carefully, says Ms Hourigan.

“The ingredients should contain water, almonds and very little else. If sugar is listed high in the ingredients list, I’d be concerned about the amount of added sugar.

“In cow’s milk there’s sugar from the lactose, but there’s no added sugar.”

The Australian Dietary Guidelines encourage us to consume two serves of dairy a day.

“If you are dairy or lactose intolerant you want to find an alternate source of calcium-rich foods and look for those that give you the most nutritional value,” Ms Hourigan said.

Whole almonds are nutritional powerhouses — a complete protein, full of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. So it’s unsurprising many people believe almond milk has those same nutritional benefits.

But according to, that’s not true.

Journalist Tom Philpott compared the nutritional content of whole almonds and almond milk.

He found a single 28g serve of almonds contains 6g of protein (about an egg’s worth), 3g of fibre (a medium banana) and 12g of mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (half an avocado).

The same serving of almond milk offers just one gram each of protein and fibre, and 5g of fat.

So a handful of almonds contains as much protein as a 1L of almond milk.

The lesson? Drink cow’s milk if you can and stick to soy if you can’t.

Adapting Paleo diet to suit UAE living

HDaleSince switching to a paleo diet two years ago, the Abu Dhabi-based nutritionist Heather Dale says she’s lost 14 kilograms.

Now, she’ encouraging others to adopt the eating scheme through her new book, Paleo Nutrition, and a series of workshops in Abu Dhabi.

It’s based on the premise that our digestive systems have not evolved much in the 10,000 years or so since farming practices began. Hence, for health benefits, we should really be following a diet akin to that of our hunter-gather ancestors.

In essence, this consists of meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and berries. Off the menu are processed foods, grains, dairy products, sugar and caffeine.

One might fear that this sort of diet could mean a succession of bland, joyless meals, but Dale’s book is full of tasty, paleo-compliant recipes that she believes confounds this assumption.

It includes instructions on how to cook the likes of mustard-glazed chicken thighs and sweet potato pancakes. At her workshops, she teaches participants how to make these meals.

Most of all, she has the UAE grocery shopper in mind, and focuses on dishes that can be knocked up from the limited range of goods available in this country.

“There is a lot of paleo information available on the internet, but a lot of it was written in the West,” explains the 36-year-old from the US.

“People have said to me they find it very frustrating living here as often they cannot find ingredients for these online recipes. So I’ve really designed recipes we can make while living here.”

As well as helping with weight loss, Dale says that eating paleo will lead to other health improvements, such as reducing eczema, acne and arthritis.

“A decade ago, everyone thought a low-fat, restricted calorie diet was the solution. But in reality, it’s about balancing blood sugar levels and managing hormones. And the paleo diet does exactly this.”

Hugo Berger

Food trends affected by Paleo eaters

​NEW YORK – Move over, Irwin Stillman   and Robert Atkins — eating like a caveman is way more vogue.

The Bloomberg Protein Index, which tracks the prices of beef, beans, bacon and nine other protein sources, jumped 28% in five years through May and so far has increased 5% this year, “twice as fast as the gain for all food prices, as beef and pork got more expensive,” notes the news source.

With beef prices already high, consumers who are looking to add more protein to their diets by following the Paleolithic, or Paleo, diet, higher costs may “send them in search of cheaper alternatives,” writes Bloomberg, a reversal that may “hurt foodmakers such as Kraft Foods Group Inc. and restaurant chains like Taco Bell that are advertising more protein-heavy fare.”

“For people who wanted to add protein just because it’s healthy, if they start to get sticker shock, they might pull back a little bit,” Darren Seifer, an analyst at NPD Group, told Bloomberg, noting that consumers may substitute beef for cheaper options such as chicken.

Bloomberg notes that pork prices are climbing due to reduced supplies (a virus has killed as many as 8 million hogs) and beef prices are up after years of drought. Prices for eggs and dairy products are also increasing alongside export demand.

Higher meat costs make it “a challenge to do more with protein today,” said Panera Bread Co. COO Scott Davis, who came up with the chain’s protein-rich egg-and-ham breakfast sandwich while dabbling in the Paleo diet, notes Bloomberg.

Foodmakers are also jumping on the high-protein bandwagon. Kraft’s Oscar Mayer introduced P3 Portable Protein Packs with meat, cheese and nuts earlier this year. Marketing Vice President Joe Fragnito told Bloomberg that the company experimented with other high-protein foods such as salads, but most people think of meat, cheese and nuts as “the original sources of protein.”

Kellogg Co. is also planning to introduce new products that point out the protein value of milk and cereals. “Consumers are seeking protein,” said CEO John Bryant. “We’re talking about the benefits of protein that comes with cereal and milk, which is very much on track with the consumer today.”

Paleo Camping

Summer vacation time is here, and many people are going camping over the next few weeks. Whether you’re tent camping or “glamping” in a fully functional motor home or cabin, meal planning is one of the top priorities. Not many people want to wait until the tent stakes are secure to figure out what to throw on the fire or grill. For those on specific diets or meal plans, planning ahead is crucial.

If you follow the paleo lifestyle, you know that camping is the epitome of paleo. Our hunter-gather ancestors hunted the food, gathered the food, then cooked it over a fire – and then slept outside or in the cave or another shelter. Today, eating whole food over a fire is as close to returning to our roots as it gets. But whenever we’re trying something new with our diets and a social situation arises, the first instinct is to find ways to make your new diet fit a different mold. I felt a little silly last year when I searched for paleo meals for camping. What I was really searching for was the tried-and-true cooking methods over an open fire or grill using the foods I already eat.

So what are some easy and effective ways to make your next camping trip a cooking success? You need proper tools and great food.

[Read: Food for Thought: Can the Paleo Diet Heal Mental Disorders?]

Camping Tools

This is not an exhaustive list, and it greatly depends on your level of camping. Primitive campers will need to bring all their equipment, so they’ll need to be selective in their meal planning. For basic camping, you need three things:

Heat source: Decide if you’ll be using wood, charcoal or both. If you’re camping in state or federal parks, check your amenities list to see if they have a grill separate from the fire or the one that swings over an open pit.
All-purpose cookware: I love a large cast-iron skillet or dutch oven. If you like soups, an additional large stock pot with a lid is great to have. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s suitable for high heat.
Campfire and grill utensils: A long pair of tongs, a spatula and a long spoon will handle most cooking needs.
[Read: The Paleo Perspective: Is Fossil ‘Fuel’ the Solution to Our Obesity Epidemic?]

Camping Meals

To organize your meals, think about the method of campfire cooking. Here are four to consider:

Soups: Soups are an easy and very versatile method of campfire cooking. You can start with a protein and add any vegetables and broth. Chili is a very common camp meal.
Stir-fry: This is basically soup without broth. Using the large skillet, start with some protein and then add vegetables, sweet potatoes and seasoning. Common skillet suppers include sausage with potatoes, peppers, vegetables, or ground beef with squash, zucchini, onions and peppers. Shrimp cooks quickly, so add them after you’ve cooked your vegetables, stirring until pink and done.
Grill: For the grill, nothing beats a great steak, pork chop, burger or fish. Add skewers of vegetables, or make veggie steam packets.
Steam: Steaming vegetables inside aluminum foil packets can take some trial and error. The good news: Checking that something is done is easy. I highly suggest using heavy-duty foil to make your packets. Add vegetables, seasoning and a small amount of water and butter. You can also make meat and veggie packets. The cooking times depends greatly on distance from heat and the temperature of your heat source. Potatoes and other dense starches take a long time, so I suggest cutting them smaller than your other vegetables so they’re done around the same time.
[Read: Bachelor Pad Kitchen Must-Haves.]

Cooking Tips

Use common ingredients across several meals, and rely on seasoning and spices for versatility. The reason for this is food storage and waste.
Pick foods that are easy to travel and prepare. Peppers, onions, summer squash and zucchini can be used in many meals – they work well with most protein sources and cooking methods. You can skewer, grill, steam or put them in soups. They don’t have to be refrigerated and can be stored easily.
Cook once, eat twice. If you’re camping long-term, think of food as food, not breakfast-lunch-dinner. That big pot of soup the night before can be used again for breakfast and re-heated over the morning fire. If you’re grilling burgers, brats or dogs, make enough for two meals. Reheating food over a smaller fire is easier than making a large cooking fire or adding charcoal to the grill.
Determine how you’ll store cooked and uncooked leftovers Heavy-duty aluminum foil can store both if it’s tightly sealed. Plastic stackable bowls or zip bags are also great storage ideas.
Season, spice and herbs. The smallest change in flavor can have a big impact on camp meals. Basil, rosemary, dill, and thyme can be used in four different meals with similar ingredients – and have four very different tastes. Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you have to rely on tasteless food or just foods in a can. Paleo cooking is using whole food with no additives such as sugar, gluten, soy or MSG. Depend on your own spices and herbs to make delicious meals that taste like real food.
Don’t get too caught up in “is this paleo?” Cook and eat whole food that you can identify, and enjoy your time outdoors.

Katrina Plyler

Where Modern Gastronomy and Paleo Dining Meet

Remember those dark days when simply having a gluten-free-friendly restaurant was considered a major breakthrough? Yrmis Barroeta and Bobby Chang want to take healthy eating and catering to those with dietary restrictions to the next level. To that end, Mission Heirloom, their new Berkeley-based food business, promises not only to be gluten-free, but also grain- and soy-free — with a little bit of molecular gastronomy mixed in for good measure.

This fall, Barroeta and Chang will open Mission Heirloom Garden Cafe in North Berkeley, at 2085 Vine Street, the former home of the Vegi Food Chinese vegetarian restaurant.

The cafe will be loosely aligned with the Paleolithic diet, whose premise is that humans haven’t evolved to properly digest any foods that our Paleolithic ancestors didn’t eat — namely, grains and legumes. (Barroeta and Chang credit the diet for curing a variety of health problems since they adopted it five years ago.) A quick scan of the company’s website and Facebook page reveals that many of the foods the founders consider to be “above board” are fairly standard among sustainable-food types: Everything they serve is organic and GMO-free, and the company’s head-to-tail approach to meat is designed to maximize nutrition and minimize waste.

Other stipulations are more controversial — for instance, the idea that cooking with olive oil is inherently dangerous or that umami, the so-called “fifth taste,” so beloved by modern chefs, should be avoided as much as possible. And, of course, the merits of the paleo diet itself are the subject of some debate in the medical community.

Barroeta said she’s never considered herself much of a foodie, so she and Chang hired Christian Phernetton, a chef with a background in molecular gastronomy. According to Barroeta, there’s a spirit of playfulness and scientific rigor to the Mission Heirloom kitchen: He uses beets and carrots to simulate the flavor of tomatoes, which the diet forbids, and serves lamb meatballs with romanesco that’s prepared to resemble a grain-free tabouleh. He makes precise calculations to determine the exact proportion of liver that ought to be added to a meatball to achieve the ideal amino acid levels. And the food is undeniably gorgeous, each plate a kaleidoscope’s view of vivid colors.

The cafe itself won’t have much cooking equipment beyond a hot plate, so the food will be prepped and cooked at a commissary kitchen in West Berkeley, with dish components stored in individual jars. The idea, Barroeta said, is to allow diners to customize their meal according to their individual food sensitivities.

Mission Heirloom will be a casual, order-at-the-counter type of place, with most of the seating located in a 2,000-square-foot outdoor garden. In addition, to the weekly selection of gluten-free and grain-free dishes, the cafe will also serve Intelligentsia coffee and offer an option for “bulletproof coffee,” the latest beverage fad among paleo practitioners and CrossFit zealots: brewed coffee that gets blended with grass-fed butter until it’s thick and frothy — “like the creamiest latte ever,” Barroeta said.

Construction on the space is underway, and Barroeta said she’s hoping the cafe will open by the first week of September. In the meantime, Mission Heirloom is taking a limited number of online orders for pickup Tuesday through Friday at its West Berkeley kitchen commissary.

Luke Tsai