Friday, March 25, 2011

I’ve Joined A Cult

No I haven't joined the Moonies or The Tea Party. I've gone paleo.

First, let me say, this is a long article (for me) and contains a number of videos that The Facebook won’t show you.  So, if you’re reading this on The Facebook and want to see the whole thing, scroll to the bottom of the article and click on View Original Post.  Or you can just click here.

For those not familiar with what us hip, young kids are doing these days, paleo (actually Paleolithic diet) is a diet/lifestyle where one attempts to eat and exercise like our Paleolithic ancestors. Generally speaking that means not eating any sugars, grains or seed oils.  What it really means is eating lots of steak and bacon.

What was so great about Paleolithic man?  For the most part, he did not have diabetes or heart disease or any of a number of “maladies of civilization".  So, the theory goes, if we eat like him we can then reduce if not eliminate our chances of acquiring these maladies.

But this decision didn’t happen all at once.  My journey down this road to paleo all started about a year ago when I read this Slate article. Here are the important paragraphs to consider:


… scientists and policymakers made a grave miscalculation: They assumed that all LDL cholesterol is the same and that all of it is bad. A spate of recent research is now overturning this fallacy and raising major questions about the wisdom of avoiding fat, especially considering that the food Americans have been replacing fat with—processed carbohydrates—could be far worse for heart health.
This finding is particularly interesting in light of what Krauss had uncovered years earlier: Men who switch from a low-saturated-fat diet to one high in saturated fat experience an increase in total blood LDL cholesterol, as expected. But the change is mostly the result of a spike in the concentration of large LDL particles, not small. In other words, saturated fat consumption typically boosts the number of particles that Krauss has shown to be harmless.

If saturated fat doesn't adversely affect cardiovascular health, what does? Sorry, Nabisco: We should be giving a closer look to foods with a high glycemic index—a measure that reflects a food's influence on blood sugar levels, based on how quickly it is digested and absorbed. Typically, that means carbohydrates like cereal, bread, chips, and cookies.
The link between carbohydrates and heart disease is also supported by LDL particle data. In a 2008 study published in Nutrition Research, researchers reported that subjects who followed high-fat, low-carb diets for eight weeks experienced a 46 percent drop in blood concentrations of small LDL particles, while those who followed a high-carb, low-fat diet experienced a 36 percent spike in them. What's more, processed carbohydrates lower "good" HDL cholesterol, whereas saturated fat increases it.
And then I stumbled upon this lecture from Dr. Robert Lustig about the evils of sucrose and high fructose corn syrup.  Our bodies were never meant to process more than the little fructose we get from fruit.

And then Dr. Lustig started popping up on mainstream media.


I had virtually eliminated sodas from my diet for a couple of years.  But now I was going to try to get control of the sugar monster.  I stopped mindlessly having a carb as part of my dinner.  Although mashed potatoes or homemade bread had yet to be placed on the banned list.

Then in October, my occasional acquaintance, Vanessa, went paleo. She’s always trying new diets  and always eaten a very healthy diet (per today's media hype) - low fat, high carb in fiber and whole wheats, etc and she's skinny and hot so i turned off listening to her talk about food years ago*. It sounded ok and the more she talked of it the more I thought of incorporating some of it’s tennets into my diet.

And then, about a month ago, she informed me that she couldn’t use butter she could only use ghee because some paleo authorities think you shouldn’t have dairy.  Since I’m a man of science and not a man of faith (Lost reference) this made no sense to me.  Ghee is just the butter fat of butter, while butter also contains whey proteins.  There are no carbs in butter.  In fact the only difference between ghee and butter are whey proteins.  And she made whey protein shakes all the time.  So, because we both like to argue, we argue about it and then sent me some long lost article from Mark’s Daily Apple.  The science about whey seemed a bit dubious to me but I did start reading other articles on the site.  The more I read the more interested I became.  I found other paleo sites and read more and got even more interested.

I was hooked.

I then found other forms of media, like the documentary Fathead.  And while it’s not about paleo it certainly points towards a more paleo type of diet.



I’m on my fourth week and feel great.  I’ve lost a little weight, but not as much as hoped.  It’s tough to start a new lifestyle at the end of Winter League and during St. Pats.  But the most import thing is that I’m never hungry.  It’s amazing that once you get off the carb roller coaster how hunger is almost never an issue. 

So there you have it.  My big news of the year.  I guess I should have posted this on April 1 to try to get some of you to jump offsides thinking this is a joke.

If you’re interested in some of the science behind all this, I highly recommend Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health by Gary Taubes.

*Per her request, the original sentence “She’s always trying new diets, so I thought nothing of it.” was changed to this.

8 comments:

Wags said...

Who invited Steve? That dude's a c#nt. The point was, I'm not always trying new diets. I'm not one of those try this, try that, get suckered by the latest fad diet. But I was misled by science, found the light, and shared it with you. Next up: Cross fit. You'll have a membership before summer's over. Oh yeah. You will. You fought me on Paleo and now I can't get you to shut up about it.

I'm surprised I've taken this long to use this medium to argue with you.

Also, I had scrambled eggs, chicken, and bacon for breakfast, and today when i go to the store I'm gonna pick up some grass fed butter. I hope you're happy now.

magpie said...

Interestingly I've been considering going paleo for the last month or so. I'm not going to lie...I just learned how to make my own hummus. Finding it difficult to a) find time to cook and b) not eat things I think are delicious.

Maybe since 99% of everyone has gone Paleo it will be easier for me to try.

Steve said...

It takes about 12 minutes to cook a steak. I also buy roast beef and other cold cuts at Central Market to eat when I don't want to cook.

There are all sorts of ways to minimize the cooking time. We can chat tomorrow.

But seriously, what can be more delicious than a steak?

Pokey said...

Fathead certainly got my attention and I have checked out Taube's book from the library, but haven't started reading it yet. What sets off my BS detector on the whole paleo thing is this: I think eating lots of animal meat and fat was probably a rare thing for paleo man. A hunt was an awful lot of work, not to mention life-threatening. Most of the time, paleo man probably ate leaves, berries, nuts, or nothing. I'm all for eating non-processed food, and do my best to avoid food that comes in a box, but I don't think eating steak and eggs every day is even remotely like what paleo man was eating, except for a few days a couple times a year after a very successful hunt.

jtingermany said...

i'm a bit skeptical about all this, as humans have been cooking for 250,000 years or so -- plenty of time for evolution. Still, i will read up on it. You should check out this book, though:
http://www.amazon.com/Catching-Fire-Cooking-Made-Human/dp/B004MKLRWO/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1301232683&sr=1-1

Steve said...

Yes JT, but we've only been eating grains for 10,000 years -- not nearly enough time for evolution.

jtingermany said...

Well, yes, and no. a big part of digestion happens via bacteria in our stomachs, and those have had more than enough time to evolve accordingly.

i'll have to check out the book, but i'm firmly in the skeptical group, at least about the miracle results. now, if you were actually hunting & gathering your food, then it'd be easy to believe that a six pack is only a few wooly mammoth steaks away.

Steve said...

Read the book or at least watch the Lustig video. Fat doesn't make you fat. Insulin makes you fat which is driven by carbs; in particular fructose.