ketogenic and Paleo diets aid weight loss

Dietary fat has long been blamed for causing obesity, but experts now say high-fat, low carb diets such as the Paleo, Atkins and ketogenic plans beat low-fat diets for weight loss because eating fat can make you skinny.

“The medical establishment got it wrong,” cardiologist Dr. Dennis Goodman told Men’s Journal. “The belief system didn’t pan out.” According to a recent study from the National Institutes of Health, low carb, high-fat diets (LCHF) are significantly more effective for weight loss and preventing heart disease than low-fat diets.

Researchers at Tulane University tracked 148 obese men and women for one year. The subjects ranged in age from 22 to 75 and did not have heart disease or diabetes. The participants were divided into two groups: One group followed a low-carb, high-fat diet that limited their daily carbohydrate consumption to about 40 grams, or 28 percent of their daily calories.

The low-carb dieters consumed about 40 to 43 percent of their daily calories from fat. Their daily menu was similar to the Paleo, ketogenic and Atkins diets, and included eggs, butter, fish, chicken and some red meat and generous portions of healthy fats such as olive oil.

In contrast, the low-fat group consumed 40 to 55 percent of their daily calories from carbohydrates, and their fat intake was limited to less than 30 percent.

Low-Carb Dieters Lost Three Times More Weight Than Low-Fat Group

The results were stunning: The low carb dieters lost about 12 pounds, while the low-fat dieters lost only four pounds even though both groups consumed the same calories. What’s more, the low carbohydrate dieters lost more body fat and scored better than on a test that measured their chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke within the next 10 years.

Physician Dr. Lydia Bazzano, the lead study author, was stunned that a low-carb, high-fat diet could prevent heart disease better than a low fat diet, which has long been prescribed for heart patients.

These results aren’t surprising to Jeff Volek, a leading low-carb researcher and professor at Ohio State University. Volek said high-carb diets cause blood sugar spikes, which fuel inflammation. Inflammation is what causes weight gain, as well as diabetes and cancer.

In contrast, dietary fat has a negligible effect on blood sugar and insulin, which is why eating fat aids weight loss. More importantly, we don’t fuel inflammation, which leads to heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer, say experts.

While the idea of consuming more fat may sound shocking given the low-fat diet mantra that has dominated the standard American diet (SAD), Volek said we actually evolved to thrive on a low carb, high-fat diet. “For about 98 percent of human history, we’ve been eating low-carb,” Volek told me in an exclusive interview. “We evolved in a state of nutritional ketosis.”

Low carb diets accelerate weight loss by forcing the body to burn fat for fuel in a metabolic state called ketosis, explained obesity expert Dr. Eric Westman, co-author of Keto Clarity. Westman, who has helped hundreds of morbidly obese people lose thousands of pounds on the high-fat Atkins, Paleo and ketogenic diets, said there’s no evidence saturated fat causes heart disease.

“The evidence for that has really disintegrated,” said Dr. Westman, a bariatric surgeon and director of the Duke Lifestyle Medicine Clinic.

The American Heart Association now concedes that refined carbs such as sugar and flour are what cause weight gain and has backed off its longtime stance of recommending low-fat diets to prevent heart attacks. “We no longer think low-fat diets are the answer,” said Dr. Linda Van Horn of the AHA Nutrition Committee.

Many celebrities have hopped on the low-carb bandwagon. Kim Kardashian famously lost 56 pounds on a low-carb ketogenic Atkins diet that limited her daily carb intake to less than 60 grams. Similarly, Tim McGraw lost 40 pounds after adopting the Paleo diet, and is fitter than ever at age 47.

In addition to aiding weight loss, experts say the ketogenic and Paleo diets can prevent Alzheimer’s. Groundbreaking research also suggests the ketogenic diet prevents cancer and starves cancer cells. “The ketogenic diet is a single metabolic approach to a multitude of different diseases,” cancer scientist Dr. Thomas Seyfried of Boston College told me.

Samantha Chang

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

Paleo diet optimized for weight loss

Chomp, chomp. A new study has revealed that Neanderthals consumed meat and plants, supporting previous theories that their diets featured protein, reported Businessweek on Wednesday. And although there are similarities, the modern Paleo diethas been modified to boost weight loss and health, say experts.

After finding evidence of metabolized plant products in fossilized feces, researchers have more knowledge about precisely what Neanderthals ate, said Ainara Sistiaga, the study’s lead author. And although meat appeared to provide them with most of their fuel, the plant poop proves that veggies “were ingested as part of the diet.”

However, when it comes to percentages, the Neanderthals consumed more meat than greens. That conclusion stems from the discovery that the samples contained high concentrations of broken-down cholesterol similar to modern humans, said Sistiaga.

The poop study provides a new slant, indicating that Neanderthals were omnivorous rather than carnivorous, reported Slate magazine on Wednesday. It’s also one of the most in-depth reports thus far, since other studies were based more on speculation.

Scientists also are intrigued by what happened after they discovered fire, estimated to be two million years ago. Researchers theorize that event resulted in a boost in meat intake. “They probably weren’t prepared for such a high meat intake,” speculates Sistiaga.

So how does this study compare with what modern Paleo dieters eat? They both are low carb diets, and both eliminate dairy and grain. However, Paleo gurus emphasize that caveman dieters can customize the plan to enhance their health.

In an exclusive interview, Robb Wolf, author of “The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet,” told me that many people don’t understand the caveman concept approach, which emphasizes quality over quantity. The “calories in, calories out” concept has failed to reverse the rising rates of obesity and its accompanying diseases such as cholesterol.

Insisting that humans need grains and dairy implies that “all food is equal,” says Robb. “The ‘everything in moderation crowd’ (which refers to mainstream medicine and dietetics) has had the last 50 years to preach this message and it has been a complete failure.”

And the Paleo diet today is not limited to meat and veggies. Robb’s research shows that the healthiest approach for dieters is to create a diet “built around fruits, veggies, lean meats, nuts and seeds.”

After numerous studies, Robb feels it is clear that a Paleo diet not only “provides all the nutrients for health, but that the Paleo diet is, calorie for calorie, the most nutritious way one can eat. This position that removing grains and dairy is inherently unhealthy is not based on science.”

Expanding on the omnivorous low carb diet approach, Robb notes that the use of resistant starch in modern Paleo diets highlights “the bigger topic of the human gut biome.” In contrast, consuming refined carbohydrates “appear to feed bacteria in the small intestine leading to a condition aptly named ‘small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.’ This bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine is now being linked to a remarkable number of health issues, from cardiovascular disease to autoimmunity.”

The recognition of the role of fiber has grown, and “it has only been recently that we have understood the mechanism to be that of feeding our beneficial gut flora. A Paleo diet built around fruits, veggies, roots, shoots, tubers nuts and seeds provides an enormous variety of fermentable carbohydrate to keep our gut bacteria healthy,” Robb added.

Taking the omnivorous concept one step further, Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet have created a modified Paleo diet that includes fish, meat, vegetables, fruit and what they call “safe starches.” The latter includes rice and potatoes, which they emphasize as key to health and weight loss. It’s all detailed in their book “Perfect Health Diet: Regain Health and Lose Weight by Eating the Way You Were Meant to Eat.”

As Robb notes, a significant body of science supports the theory that by avoiding foods toxic to humans, dieters can both shed pounds and avoid disease. The “Perfect Health Diet” avoids grains, legumes, refined sugars and processed oils.

Another advocate of resistant starch is blogger Richard Nikoley. Author of “Free The Animal: Lose Weight & Fat With The Paleo Diet,” he emphasizes that enhancing the traditional Paleo diet in this way can provide benefits ranging from improved sleep to a boost in weight loss.

CSU professor dishes on writing ‘The Paleo Diet’

CSU professor dishes on writing ‘The Paleo Diet’

Josie Sexton, FTC 12:16 a.m. MDT May 5, 2014
-FTC0505-ll-Paleo Diet01.JPG_20140502.jpg

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., a retired CSU professor who authored ‘The Paleo Diet,’ poses for a portrait in his office Friday in Fort Collins.(Photo: Erin Hull/The Coloradoan)

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., retired in December after 32 years as a professor at CSU, where he specialized in nutritional anthropology. He lives in south Fort Collins with his wife and youngest son, and from his home office, he works with his last graduate student at CSU and with a handful of scientists from around the world who have asked him to co-author their publications.

Cordain is still in high demand following his 2002 book “The Paleo Diet,” in which he recommended that modern humans eat like their Paleolithic ancestors, with meat and fish, fresh vegetables, fruit and nuts. That book’s publication spawned a devout following, three more books and a website that attracts 1 million visitors each month. Cordain has already sold more than 500,000 copies of his first four publications, and he is working on another cookbook, set to publish in 2015.

The Coloradoan sat down with Cordain in his Fort Collins home, where he showed us a few of the most recent scientific papers on the topic, as well as his own research … and even the contents of his refrigerator.

In his basement “man cave,” Cordain keeps 25 years of research on his caveman diet, all of it still in paper boxes following retirement. In the corner of the den is a large freezer filled with cuts of bison, deer, elk, blue grouse and pheasant and their organs — liver and tongue. Meat is one of the staples of the paleo diet Cordain writes about and practices at home.

Coloradoan: What else does paleo entail?

Cordain: What we’re trying to do is to mimic the food groups that our ancestors ate: fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, nuts.

If you were to go back here to Colorado 200 years ago, everybody ate in a similar manner. … They didn’t have cereal grains, they didn’t have any refined sugars, and they had no processed foods. When you think about that, 70 percent of the calories in a typical U.S. diet come from four foods that hunter-gatherers never ate: refined sugars, refined grains, refined vegetable oil and dairy products.

Coloradoan: Essentially, processed foods. But what about legumes?

Cordain: Legumes are not part of (the paleo diet), and the reason for that is because legumes are inedible unless they’re cooked. We simply can’t assimilate the starch, because it has to be broken down … also legumes have considerable toxic components, for instance raw red kidney beans will make you very, very ill.

Coloradoan: How do celiac disease and gluten intolerance play into paleo?

Cordain: Now, we’re looking at a relative epidemic of people who don’t do well with wheat and gluten-containing grains. So why is that? Because we simply as a species have not had sufficient time evolutionarily to adapt to a non-traditional food. … I think it lends support to the idea that we don’t have a (nutritional) wheat requirement. When you look at wheat or any grain and compare it to fresh fruits or vegetables or fish, it comes out almost at the bottom in the 13 vitamins and minerals that are most lacking in the U.S. diet. Why would you want to deliberately eat a food that dilutes the vitamin and mineral content of your diet?

Coloradoan: (Cordain initially read about paleo nutrition in an article published by Dr. Boyd Eaton in the New England Journal of Medicine.) What was so novel about Eaton’s concept?

Cordain: He wrote that in 1985, and I got around to reading it in ’87, and I thought, this is just about the best idea I’ve seen on diet and health. (Before paleo), what we had thought about what was healthy eating came from humans, so “experts” who knew what we should and should not be eating … that’s where the information had always come from. And humans are fallible.

(The paleo) diet is based on our genes, and so the concept that Boyd had brought up is that if you go backward in time, it’s kind of like peeling an onion, you get to a point where everything we eat now and consider normal didn’t exist. And if you can appreciate it on an evolutionary timescale, 10,000 years ago seems to be historically remote, but it’s only about 300 human generations ago. Once you go back 10,000 years, everybody on the planet was a hunter-gatherer and had been for 2.5 million years. Even though my name is associated with it, I didn’t invent this diet. What we did was simply uncover what was pre-existing.

Coloradoan: You didn’t set out to create a diet craze. What did you consider the paleo diet?

Cordain: A lifetime program of healthy eating to reduce your risk of chronic disease.

That’s one reason why it’s gained so much traction, is that it works. I think it’s the 21st-century version of what we now believe to be one of the healthiest ways to eat. Back in the ’70s and ’80s when I was growing up, we thought it was a vegan/vegetarian diet. And I think there will never be agreement on what people should and should not eat … but this is an idea whose time has come, and we now have experimental confirmation.

More information




Bulletproof Coffee

‘Bulletproof Coffee’ Trend for Paleo Dieters

You can’t deny that you love the creaminess of butter, but do you love it enough to add it to your morning cup of coffee?

Butter adds creaminess to coffee, but may not offer the health benefits ‘paleo’ dieters expect.
You butter your toast; you put milk in your coffee. Ever been curious about what these two would taste like together? “Bulletproof coffee” is a new trend that is gaining popularity within the “paleo” diet community, people who follow a caveman-type eating style containing mostly animal proteins and fats. The recipe for the drink calls for a couple of tablespoons of unsalted, grass-fed butter and a coconut-palm oil blend called medium chain triglycerides (MCT). This combination supposedly boosts energy, promotes weight loss, and increases brainpower. It also cuts out some of the bitter flavor from the coffee itself. One cup contains 100-200 calories, depending on the amount of butter added. Madelyn Fernstorm, diet and nutrition editor for NBC’s Today Show, says that the crazy-sounding combination is actually an ancient tradition in some parts of the world. Butter is, in fact, similar to cream, an ingredient in which many coffee drinkers indulge. Though it claims to help shed pounds, the recipe may promote weight gain if it is consumed daily, says Fernstorm. The idea that the drink will rev you up is probably psychosomatic; there is no proof that the body’s fast digestion of MCT (as opposed to other fats) is an energy booster. So, in the end, this butter-coffee potion may not be harmful for you to consume, but as Savannah Guthrie, Matt Lauer, and Natalie Morales can testify, the taste may deter you from letting it hinder your diet.

Your Answer

10 Things everyone can learn from the Paleo diet

I hate meat. I’ve been vegetarian all my life. I remember a few years ago at a Pizza Hut when they mistakenly brought out a “meat lovers” pizza instead of “veggie lovers” pizza. I think I threw up a few times that night.

So, naturally, when I learned out about the Paleo diet and its emphasis on bacon, bone broth and lamb legs, I was turned off. All I could picture was a burly caveman with a club in one hand and a hunk of meat in the other. (No thanks!)

But I also knew that although, I was plant-based, I was not always in the best of health. (Muffins and smoothies, anyone?) So I started to read about Paleo and realized I was learning a ton by just absorbing certain parts of the diet. Seriously, these 10 things changed the way I eat and move forever.

    1. Eat like your great (or great-great) grandparent.

While I had a hard time picturing myself as a cavewoman, I thought about my ancestors and the foods that they might have favored. Bottom line: throw away the “modern” convenient packaged foods. Literally, go into your pantry, fridge, office desk, or kitchen and throw away everything that comes in a package. If you’re nervous (like I was) just put it away for two weeks. If you still want it later, you’ll have it there.

2. Cut the sugar.

In the Paleolithic era, refined sugar was non-existent and anything really sweet was difficult to get. This one is the hardest for most people because our taste buds are used to constantly craving sweet.  And everyone has a different tolerance level—you may be able wean it entirely or you may use dried fruit or natural sweeteners like Stevia (not exactly Paleo) sparingly.

3. Try ditching dairy for 30 days.

Add it back after 30 days. If you don’t feel as good, keep it out of your diet. Dairy is one area where vegans and Paleo folks say about the same thing: it’s inflammatory (for many).

4. Try going off wheat for 30 days.

Same advice as above. For me, this was life-changing. I do have wheat in bread or pasta at restaurants once in a while and then, when I feel terrible, I realize why I stay off it 90% of the time.

5. Stop counting calories.

For example, a 100-calorie pack of cookies is still … cookies. If you focus on foodquality, and not quantity, it makes being healthy a hell of a lot more fun. Plus it works.

  6. You can’t out-exercise a bad diet.

When I was younger, I thought I could just exercise an extra hour and “burn off” the cookies. To my dismay, it doesn’t work that way. I strongly believe that it’s 80% about your diet and 20% about the exercise. The Paleo lifestyle has a strong emphasis on diet—that’s why people lose weight on it.

7. Don’t fear the fat.

I’m pretty sure that we didn’t have fat-free muffins in ancestral times. So what can you do? Start using more avocado and coconut in your meals. Healthy fat is filling and nutritious! The processed and trans-stuff are the problem.

8. Eat as many vegetables as possible.

So it turns out that in the Paleolithic era, people ate mostly plants.  And not surprisingly, plant-based folks agree! Eating greens several times a day is a point where all diets intersect.

9. Enjoy treats in moderation.

Think about it: in the Paleolithic era, when fruit ripened in one tree, they shared the fruit with everyone in the clan. Even just 50 years ago, desserts and other treats were not as commonplace as they are today. The point? Treat a treat like a “treat.” Friends’ birthday’s, farewells, baby showers or horrible days at work don’t ALL have to end with a slice of cake.

10. Move.

No, entry into the 2014 CrossFit games isn’t a prerequisite for following the Paleo diet. Whether it’s yoga, CrossFit, running or weight lifting, moving your body helps digestion, mood, and manages your weight. All day movement with burst of sprints is probably the MOST effective exercise out there but honestly it all works as long as you are doing something.

So, instead of organizing a big brawl pitting vegans against Paleos so we can figure out who “wins,” let’s just learn from each other and pluck some universal tips.  That way you can label yourself whatever you want or not label yourself at all.

Amy Shah

Post-menopausal women & paleo

The Paleo Diet ditches highly refined and processed foods, in favour of more whole, fresh foods. This, in turn, increases phytochemical, vitamin, mineral and fiber intake.

A new study published by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a Paleolithic Diet verses a high-fiber, low-fat diet significantly reduced more weight in post-menopausal women. Other studies have found that the Paleolithic way of eating shows more promise than a high-fiber, low-fat diet with glucose control for Type 2 diabetes.

The Paleo Diet excludes dairy, grains, legumes and, dare I say, chocolate and beer. The theory behind these exclusions stems from a focus on eating food only availability during the Paleolithic period. Excluded foods such as dairy, grains and legumes still are considered healthy with no strong research findings to show otherwise. If you kept these foods in your diet, try to eat them in their most natural state (such as whole grains).

The bottom line is that the Paleo Diet has a lot of upsides, but remember that everything can be good for you in moderation. Quinoa, a vitamin-rich grain, is still a power food in moderation, as is dark chocolate. Happiness lies in finding that balance by listening to your body’s cues.

Valerie Pampuch, Gundersen Health System

Insect protein: Meet the new caveman craze

Would you chirp to add this to your diet?

March 30, 2014

Paleo diets ranked as the most popular search term in 2013, and the caveman weight loss plan continues to attract fans. What’s new in 2014, however, may not appeal to everyone: Insects. Increasing the “ick” factor in the weight loss world, high protein bugs have become the hottest new Paleo diettrend, reported Outside magazine on March 28.

“People have been eating insects for eons,” said insect advocate and caveman diet guru John Durant, author of “The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health” (click for details).

He considers insects high on the list of excellent sources of protein, pointing out that they are whole foods and regular fare for the world’s hunter-gatherers.

“It checks all the boxes,” declared Durant.

And food companies are climbing on the crawly, creepy bandwagon to manufacture goodies made from insects.

“We combine the crickets with almond butter, a little bit of dried fruit, and a touch of honey,” said Gabi Lewis of Exo.

It doesn’t taste like crickets at all—whatever crickets taste like.

On their side: Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization spokespeople, who issued a report expanding on the potential of insects for nutrition, reported the New York Times recently.

Among the advantages posed for Paleo dieters who want to hop over to the cricket kingdom:

  • Scientists report that small grasshoppers contain enough protein to rank with lean ground beef.
  • Insects offer fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, selenium and zinc.

Before you get buggy trying to find these little caveman-approved crunchies, we investigated ourselves in the spirit of our hunter-gatherer ancestors.

Here’s what we found:

Future of food

“Dunch”, Chris Sanderson explains, is the future. It’s lunch … but a long, drunken lunch, that rolls into dinner. It’s how 40 and 50-somethings, no longer willing to stay up till the wee small hours, will kick up their heels. Along with iPad wine lists, boozy brunches and Paleo Diet menus, it’s one way restaurants might keep current in a competitive world.

The UK-based company that Sanderson co-founded, The Future Laboratory, is in the business of looking at how we live now, and projecting from that how we’ll spend our money in the years ahead.

At a recent food and drink forum in Australia he offered this take away menu:

● We’re getting older. So food will need to be stocked on lower shelves, with bigger lettering on tags, in single servings, and with medicinal qualities. By 2015, boomers will control more than half the global grocery spend. And Sanderson cites a figure of 77 per cent of boomers choosing food and drink to boost their health.

● But we don’t want to have less fun. The “SKI” generation (Spending the Kids’ Inheritance) are kicking up their heels like there’s no tomorrow (because they know, at their age, there mightn’t be one). Cashed up boomers and 40 and 50-somethings are living it up. Their catch-cries ”fomo” and ”yolo” (fear of missing out, you only live once) are giving rise to phenomena such as the “dunch” (long, drunken lunch) “which suits an ageing demographic. They’re quite happy to go home (drunk) at six in the evening, but don’t want to stay up until three in the morning”, Sanderson says. He adds baby boomers love food online, spending on experiences, and “if they buy a barbecue it’s going to be the most expensive in the range”.

● We’re going to want to eat and drink healthy. Salt, sugar, fat and obesity are being “put under the same microscope” as drugs and alcohol. Big brands will hop on the bandwagon, Sanderson says, pointing to Japan’s Suntory, famous for whisky and spirits, buying British beverage-makers Lucozade and Ribena in September last year. Expect to see more lower-alcohol and lower-kilojoule drinks and restaurant menus “become as specific as the back of labels on products, and more transparent” when it comes to revealing fat, salt and kilojoule counts of dishes, Sanderson says.

● We want our food to make us well. This might very well explain why the big four Japanese convenience-food makers have joined forces with pharmacies. Food will have medicinal qualities.

● We’ll get nostalgic about our dinner. Post-recession, Sanderson cites a boom in sales of sticky sponge puddings in Britain. Comfort food will help us keep it together. Punch and ”lawn drinks” will make a return, as evidenced by the Punch Room at Ian Schrager’s London Edition hotel.

● There’ll be no more red wine with Coke. Discerning Chinese consumers are looking for “proof of quality when it comes to food and drink”. China’s emerging middle class will drive other demands too. Sanderson says: “They have an unquenchable thirst for premium alcoholic drinks.”

● Food will take over the locker room as well as the medicine cabinet. “Brands are reimagining food as sports and health supplements,” Sanderson says, as many of us take an aggressive line on diet and exercise, turning to things such as the 5:2 Diet (two days of virtual fasting); becoming vegan, alternating bingeing and purging, or taking to “caveman culture and the Paleo Diet”. We’ll see restaurants such M.O.B. in Paris, which does vegan fast food. And many of us will embrace fortified, synthetic and genetically modified foods that promise to enhance our performance.

● We’ll party like it’s 1999. The millennials (born circa 1980-2000) “are dominating the food and drink market”, Sanderson says. “They rank spending on food more highly than on electronics.” Really? They like eating more than their phones? Nearly half text about food, or use social media at the table when they eat out. They love craft beer, trying new cuisines, batch-produced drinks and conviviality when they eat out. The menu’s on an iPad? Even better.

● We’ll want to eat local. US snack food manufacturer Lays is identifying the field where their ingredients were grown, on every packet of chips, Sanderson says, predicting a “continued growth of localism”. “Companies will source more local ingredients and promote that,” he says.

● Franken-foods may be here to stay. The cronut may have started it, but culinary thrill-seekers will ensure hybrid snacks and cuisine mash-ups will follow in the footsteps of the ramen burger, the egg and bacon-filled breakfast doughnut, flavoured popcorn and foods such as Adriano Zumbo’s chouxmaca (half macaron, half choux puff). Super-savvy foodies seek ethnic fusion foods (Sanderson cites Cajun Italian), esoteric ingredients, and primitive experiences.

● Dumpster diving will be in. “More of us are questioning sell-by dates” Sanderson says, of a trend identified that sees more people looking to use ”waste” better. Dumpster diving will be acceptable, charities will work to redistribute unwanted food and businesses will cash in. Examples? The Espresso Mushroom company in England sells mushroom-growing kits that utilise coffee grounds, while Joost Bakker’s Silo in Melbourne’s CBD is aims to be a zero-waste cafe.

● We’ll want DIY food. We’ll tailor products as we want them, such as chocolate and muesli, with brands including Yoosli encouraging us.

● And we’ll all play with fire. Seeking more authentic, earthy food experiences will fuel grilling, flaming, smoking. Sanderson cites Swede Niklas Ekstedt, whose Stockholm restaurant eschews electricity for cooking over coals and fire.

● Tea will be the new coffee. Well, maybe we made that up, but Sanderson told his audience that cravings for no-alcohol and detox drinks would give the brew a boost. The influx of Asian cultures will drive new teahouses and a lust for rare teas. We might even see more hip, alcohol-free events or bars, such as London’s Redemption. Sanderson is also predicting a push-back against juices because of their high sugar levels.

● Hello, hipsters. Spirits will go all crafty, with inner-city distilleries using science to create interesting flavours.

● We’ll toss out wine tossers. Trying to woo younger, less interested drinkers to wine means it’s presented “in a way that puts consumers at ease and brings a new sense of informality”. Putting a list on iPads can deliver an 11 to 20 per cent increase in sales, Sanderson says. And sites such as Europe’s (motto: “wine that’s you”) will cater to this market.

For more information or to buy the report, go to

Leafy greens nutritional value comparison

Eat Even Healthier: Rotate Your Greens

You’re feeling pretty good about your leafy-greens intake; you throw a big bunch of kale in your morning smoothie and have a big baby-kale salad for dinner. While you get a thumbs-up for fitting greens into your diet twice a day, kale — while a superfood — isn’t the only green in the garden. Just as you should try to eat a variety of veggies, fruits, and whole grains, you should also widen your leafy-green horizon.

One way to do that is to rotate your greens. Instead of always putting spinach in your blender, throw in some kale or try beet greens. Romaine is great on a sandwich, but mix things up by trying arugula. And instead of always chomping on iceberg lettuce for dinner salad, enjoy baby kale or spinach on your sandwich or salad. Aside from beating taste-bud boredom (which is always a plus) you’ll also be increasing the variety of vitamins and minerals you get each day. Take a glance at the nutritional comparison below to see which greens offer what.

1 cup Calories Fibre (g) Vitamin A (IU) Iron (mg) Potassium (mg) Folate (mcg)
Your RDI (to compare) Around 2,000 25-30 2,333 18 4,200 400
Arugula 4 0 474 0.2 73.8 19.4
Beet Greens 8 1 2,404 1 290 5.7
Bibb Lettuce 7 1 1,822 0.7 131 40.1
Green-Leaf Lettuce 5 0 2,665 0.3 69.8 13.7
Iceberg Lettuce 10 1 361 0.3 102 21
Kale 33 1 10,302 1.1 299 19.4
Mesclun/Spring Mix 5 1 1,200 1.8 160 53
Red-Leaf Lettuce 4 0 2,098 0.3 52.4 10.1
Romaine 8 1 4,094 0.5 116 64
Spinach 7 0.7 2,813 0.8 167 58.2

Jenny Sugar

Unhealthy health foods

Our unhealthy obsession with healthy eating makes us susceptible to the trickery of diet foods. But any product that boasts being better than another should be questioned. Dave Shaw reveals some so-called ‘health’ foods that aren’t as healthy as they seem.

It pays to do your research before believing all the healthy claims that food makes. Photo / Thinkstock

Breakfast cereal
This is the most marketable product in the supermarket – that’s why they have an aisle all to themselves. Most cereals are made from the same ingredients – refined wheat and sugar – and will cause your blood sugars to spike. Just because they include the word ‘breakfast’ in their name, doesn’t mean they should be eaten in the morning (or at all).
Instead: Go with homemade muesli topped with Greek yoghurt, or cook up some some eggs with tomato and avo.

Tea drinks
Don’t get me wrong, tea is healthy, especially when you brew it yourself. However, the iced tea drinks purchased in bottles and cans are often extremely high in sugar, flavourings and additives.
Instead: Put the kettle on and make yourself a green tea. If it’s too hot for boiling water, let it cool naturally.

Low-fat, flavoured yoghurt
Yoghurt is a very nutritious source of protein and calcium. However, when the fat is removed to satisfy our desire for ‘lite’ products, food manufacturers throw in a heap of sugar or sweetener to make it sell.

This will cause more havoc in your body than the fat. Instead: Chose natural yoghurt and add your own fruits to flavour, or make your own.

Organic processed food
Ever bought organic chocolate and thought you were making a good choice? Unfortunately, many organic processed foods match their conventional counterparts in sugar and fat. However, this doesn’t mean all organic food is bad. If you’re eating wholefoods then you’re definitely on the right track. However, “organic” is a term flung around these days, so always check the nutrition label before making your choice.

Artificial sweeteners
If it’s sugar free but loaded with artificial sweetener then it’s not healthy. Diet soft drinks are a perfect example of this tricky sweetened switch. You can also buy calorie free artificial sweeteners in most supermarkets as a popular alternative to conventional sugar. The problem is, they tend to make us hungrier and eat more. There is also good evidence to suggest they help destroy our gut health.

Gluten free junk food
The gluten free craze is still upon us and food manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon to market their products. Yet, most processed, gluten free products are high in refined carbohydrate, sugar, processed fat and additives.
Instead: Pick foods that are naturally gluten free like animals and plants.

The debate continues: Marg Vs Butter. Margarine was developed as a healthy alternative to butter, the problem is, it’s not. Marg used to be high in trans fats – the most harmful fat, now it tends to be full of processed vegetable oils and additives. Marketed as high in omega-6 fats, they’re often thought of as a healthy addition to our diet. The truth is, eating too much omega-6 is highly inflammatory – a risk factor for many chronic diseases.
Instead: Trust the cows and go with butter. Or avoid both.

It may be natural, but it’s insanely high in sugar. There’s no problem eating it in modest amounts, a teaspoon on your toast won’t kill you. But just like table sugar and refined grain, honey is a calorie dense food. It is also high in fructose, a type of sugar that only gets metabolised by your liver. Eating too much fructose will get turn into fat. Over time, this can help cause non-alcoholic fatty liver and all types of metabolic conditions.

Fruit Juice
A lot of people think juice is healthy because it comes from fruit. However, it’s a product that has strayed from its whole form. Many juices are a combination of water, sugar and some chemicals to make it taste like fruit. It’s sort of like fruit, but without all the good stuff – now it’s a fibre-less drink, with a sugar content similar to that of soft drink. And there’s no chewing required to prevent you from guzzling cup after cup.
Instead: Eat a piece of fruit.

Supplements supply a dense source of nutrients that are marketed to us as an essential addition to our diet. But for most people, they’re not. They are the anti-climax of nutrition science. If you’re getting everything you need through your diet, supplements are a waste of money. You’re better off buying real food rather than pills and potions.

Dave Shaw

Is bacon Paleo?

Bacon is pork of course, but, to comply with food regulations, both are treated with nitrites (and nitrates) to preserve the meat and prevent bacteria from forming. These chemicals break the Paleo ethos, not the meat itself. It is illegal in many countries to sell ‘raw’ meat (or milk for that matter), hence the elimination from a paleo diet on practicality grounds.


Food preservation initially relied on salt, fermentation, drying and canning. Before the age of refrigeration, these methods were used to keep foods from spoiling. Research about nitrates began in the 1920s, where it was found to effectively kill many strains of bacteria that other preservation methods missed.


Sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite are food additives commonly used in cured meat. Its main function is to inhibit clostridium botulinum bacteria from producing the toxin that causes botulism. Botulism is a life-threatening illness that results in paralysis and eventually death. Nitrate combined with salt is extremely effective at inhibiting the growth of clostridium botulinum. Sodium nitrate also contributes to the flavour and pink colour of cured meats.

Removing gluten from your kid’s diet?

If, after ingesting food containing gluten, your child exhibits symptoms of a gluten intolerance, it is a good idea to see its doctor and have a panel of tests performed which will confirm or exclude a diagnosis that might spell a gluten free lifestyle from thereon out.

In that case it’s not just “a good idea” it’s a medical necessity that, while impacting your child’s quality of life in some areas, will ensure it will not suffer from the consequences of its illness.

In all other cases, “gluten free” is not a good dietary choice.

Standard Response to All Gluten Question follows:

Gluten is the product of two grass proteins, glutenin and gliadin, who – combined with water – when experiencing shear or pressure form into a mesh that lends springiness to doughs and traps air for leavening.

On its own, it’s utterly, completely, and totally, harmless. It does not lead to weight gain and does not help you lose weight because even in high gluten concentrations it doesn’t comprise more than a trace of the whole. Furthermore, gluten is enriched in the amino acids glutamine and proline, which actually renders it biochemically difficult to digest. Gliadin peptides are resistant to degradation by gastric, pancreatic, and intestinal brush-border membrane proteases, and thus remain in the intestinal lumen after gluten ingestion.

In the ~1%[1] percent of Americans who have a light to severe allergy to gluten it will cause inflammation and malabsorption.

Gluten is vilified by some who just don’t like grains or want you to eat them. Again, there’s nothing wrong with eating grains, like everything else (from bacon to soy, from beef ribs to celery stalks) it’s the amount that can make a difference and hurt you or make you obese.

But the notion that a no-gluten diet is “a good idea” as a general practice is nonsense.

[1] Per a review article about Celiac in the New England Journal of Medicine….

For those interested in the genetics: Celiac disease doesn’t develop unless a person has alleles for HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8 proteins. Even so, studies in siblings and identical twins suggest that the contribution of HLA genes to the genetic component of Celiac disease is <50%, meaning that these genes are necessary, but not sufficient, to cause symptoms.

Jonas M Luster