What is the Paleo/Primal Diet? Part 1: Grains

SO, this blog is all about the primal/paleo diet? Well, what exactly is it anyways? Do we just run around with a wooden club in leather Tarzan outfits climbing trees and killing wild squirrels and birds in our backyards? Maybe some people think of us like that, but I don’t even own a wooden club, let alone a leather tarzan outfit (those are reserved for sexual fetishes of “primals”). Simply put (although it is not always so simple), The Paleo diet consists of Delicious, fatty, nutritious grass-fed meats and free range poultry, Organic, sustainable, juicy, sweet, fruits and vegetables, and some crunchy nuts. All while excluding the big three: Grains (wheat,corn,etc), Legumes (beans,peanuts,soy etc.), and most Dairy (skim milk, processed cheeses, and all dairy if you have a lactose deficiency but we will talk about that later).

So over the next few posts we will be breaking down the big three; Grains, Legumes and Dairy:

Grains:

Start with a stalk of wheat. Without even mentioning the environmental effects  that the overgrowing of wheat and corn have placed on this planet (topsoil destruction, etc.), lets look at the nutritional side of our common understanding of wheat: a healthy piece of whole grain bread.

 

First off, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). Did you know that in most of the whole wheat bread YOU eat, you are also eating corn sugar? Just wondering.

Im betting some people out there like to count calories, so lets do just that:

70 calories or 28 grams ((but 150 cals in 2 slices? that makes total sense Sara Lee) of whole wheat bread gets you:

3 grams of protein

135 mg of sodium

No Vitamin A or C (important for eye sight, cell growth, wound healing, and oxidative stress reduction)

4% of the daily recommended amount of Iron,

6% of the daily recommended amount of calcium

2 grams of dietary fiber

While, in just 50 calories or 100 grams of tasty, delicious raw kale you get:

2 grams of protein

just 29 mg of sodium

206% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin A

134% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin C

6% of the daily recommended amount of iron

9% of the daily recommended amount of calcium

2 grams of dietary fiber

and plenty of other essential vitamins and minerals (including: vitamin k)

ALL in just 50 calories. Which leaves another 20 calories off of your plate. By the way, 100 grams of kale is quite a bit of kale.

In short, replacing any bread or grain from your meal plan with vegetables will always give you more bang for your buck. Or in this case more nutritional value (both micro ie:vitamins and minerals and macro nutrients ie: protein, carbs and fat)

“But Max, dont you need the carbohydrates and dietary fiber in whole wheat bread to survive?”

The simple answer is no.

 A common misconception and overall ignorance by average people is that fruits and vegetables do not have carbohydrates, they do. This diet is not a “no carbs diet” . Another misconception most people have is that our bodies run off of carbohydrates (glucose), they don’t, they run off of fat.

Mark Sisson says:

“In fact, when you consider how ridiculously small the body’s glycogen reservoirs are, you understand that it would have been impossible for us to survive as a species if glucose were truly the “preferred” fuel. The liver, the main back-up glycogen/glucose storage facility for the brain and other glucose-burning organs, can only store about 100 grams of glycogen. Less than a day’s worth. Your muscles can only hold another 350-500 grams, barely enough to run for 90 minutes at a reasonable clip, and that glycogen isn’t even available to provide fuel for the brain. Meanwhile, we have a virtually unlimited storage capacity for fat (like 100,000 grams or close to a million calories on some people). The reason glycogen storage wasn’t necessary is because, between our copious fat storage capability, easy access to fats as fuel, gluconeogenesisand ketones, we just didn’t need much. Evolution tends not to reward structures or functions that take up unnecessary space or waste energy.”

In fact any and all carbohydrates are digested through our bodies and turned into sugar.

“Carbohydrates are foods that turn to sugar inside the body. The carbohydrates that create the highest amount of sugar very quickly are called high glycemic and are sugar and carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, potato, and rice. Other foods such as vegetables (apart from potatoes), nuts and lentils turn to sugar very slowly and are called low glycemic”

That sugar then triggers a chemical in our bodies known as insulin. Which was used in the time of the caveman to store glycogen as extra energy when they needed to run away from predators. When you store too much glycogen and dont have to run from predators, you look like this:

…not ready for beach week.

Another crucial reason why you should eliminate grains in your diet is because grains contain what are called “anti-nutrients“.

Anti nutrients are “substances to which we are all exposed through food and water that antagonize nutrients needed for health. Some anti nutrients bind to other nutrients, making them useless. Others tie up enzymes needed in digestion and other body functions. Some cause problems by creating a greater need for certain nutrients. Others cause nutrients to be excreted more rapidly from the body. In our world of high technology, the level of anti nutrients to which we are exposed is surprisingly high. Many of the anti nutrients have either a direct or indirect effect on immune function. Anything you can do to reduce exposure to anti nutrients will be helpful in preventing recurrent illness”

In other words, anti nutrients found in grains (gluten, lectin, phytates) attack essential nutrients that our bodies need, and turn them useless to our bodies, which in turn, make us sick.

While government created dietary recommendations seem to believe grains to be necessary, it is clear that they are not necessary for their nutritional value. In fact, they are even hurting our ability to digest essential vitamins and minerals that are trying to prevent us from getting sick. Not to mention, their high calorie and carbohydrate count that is making us fat. I know that on my college meal plan, I will certainly be leaving out grains.

Next Section–>>

Plus are the baked goods at your school really even that good? do you really have to have pasta/pizza? Leave a comment please.

About The Author

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Max is a passionate pursuer of integrative health. He has been drafted by a professional baseball team, worked in publishing scientific laboratories and spoken to groups of students on health and well-being. He is currently a biology major and philosophy minor at Denison University. Max spends his time reading, weightlifting, traveling and learning. Email Max at mungar810@gmail.com.

4 Responses

  1. rachel
    rachel June 5, 2012 at 8:14 pm | | Reply

    …Actually Max, I believe you do own a number of wooden clubs. Own Up.

  2. sammy
    sammy June 6, 2012 at 2:54 am | | Reply

    hey, so i know you guys get a lot of comments and probably wont get the time to read this… oh why not!!

    couple of questions about what you guys said about glycogen and insulin.

    “That sugar then triggers a chemical in our bodies known as insulin. Which was used in the time of the caveman to store glycogen as extra energy when they needed to run away from predators. When you store too much glycogen and dont have to run from predators, you look like this:”

    i dont believe some of what you stated in this paragraph is true. insulin is necessary to open glucose channels in cell membranes so they can use the glucose for energy for energy via glycolosis or can store the carbohydrates as glucose. glucagon is a hormone that has the opposite effect, and stimulates the metabolism of glycogen in liver/muscles, and increases glucose levels in the blood. both insulin and glucagon are essential hormones in regulating the body’s use of energy. glycogen, glucose, and the process of glycolosis are processes that are literally billions of years old (even some bacteria exhibit forms of glycolosis). it is an efficient process to metabolize the energy from food and is used as a short term energy supply, as you said. that picture you showed of the man getting ready for beach week is overstocked on fat, not glycogen. fat builds up around organs and in fat cells and is used as long term storage. the food industry has placed more fat in our diets than we have been able to adapt to which has led to problems such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, heart disease, etc. it is not becuase of glyocgen storage and insulin rather it is the fact that we are not able to effectively store the amount of fat we eat, and it deposits in our arteries! maybe i’m not understanding you correctly? but there is nothing wrong with insulin or glycogen in the least. it is one of the reason we are able to breath here today. one thing i really do agree with you though, is that bread has very little nutrition for its energy content. its been shown in numerous studies/experiments that a low caloric-high nutritional diet increases life span by a significant amount in flies, dogs, monkeys, and humans alike.

  3. Mike
    Mike June 10, 2012 at 3:21 am | | Reply

    I’ve been following the Paleo/Primal lifestyle for the past few months and have been seeing a great deal of success. Please read about my story and the method I followed here: http://mikeshonestreviews.com/paleoprimal-diet-review

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