Showing posts with label carbs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label carbs. Show all posts

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Hi David,

Just found your blog today and pretty much read the entire thing in one sitting. 

I'm trying to figure out carbohydrates in my diet. I've been pretty low carb for the past few years, but I'm beginning to feel that perhaps the evidence does point to consuming more carbs for performance, hormonal balance, etc. You seem to feel the same way. I wonder if you have any thoughts on a cyclical ketogenic diet? Such as eating very low carb and staying in ketosis during the week and then "carbing up" on Sunday. This seems to avoid elevated insulin levels for long periods of time while getting all of the benefits of giving your muscles a hit of glucose and helping your thyroid to function better on a somewhat regular basis. 

Do you have any thoughts on resistant starch carbs (seems to be all the rage on the paleo blogosphere currently)?

My other question is in regards to supplements: do you have a recommendation or list of supplements that you take? Also, Vitamin D3 - I try to avoid sun and wear sunscreen every day for anti-aging purposes and take vitamin D. It seems like you do not think this is a good idea and that it would be preferable to get sun daily? If so, how long do you think would be best? Also, antioxidants--do you supplement these (like taking resveratol and such)?

Erm, final question! Fasting and autophagy. Do you think IFing with BPC gives us enough time to get daily autophagy going? Would it be beneficial to not have the BPC to better induce autophagy? I've started doing a weekly 24 hour water fast for this reason, but maybe it's not necessary.

Ok, thanks if you've actually read through this long message! I think your take on nutrition is on the nose and clearly your in super awesome and healthy shape. Kudos!



Thanks for your excellent questions. Clearly you're very well read in the Paleo realm. I'm going to address your questions one by one.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice but I'm happy to share my thoughts with you. 

1. Carbohydrates

Let me start by reiterating that I believe the chronic excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates such as flour, sugar and corn syrup is at the root of much modern metabolic disease such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. 

I don't think that whole food sources of carbohydrate are necessarily "bad" for healthy people and there are many instances of very healthy populations with high longevity who have a carbohydrate-heavy diet from say, rice, corn or roots and tubers. 

Chris Masterjohn did some very interesting work on the prevalence of the amylase gene mutation in humans - an enzyme that helps break down starch. This suggests that we are certainly adapted to digesting rich sources of glucose - more so than other primates - and that increased copies of this gene seem to have an evolutionary benefit. 

And while there are certainly instances of some populations like the Inuit who would have been in ketosis for most of the year, I don’t think that being in a constant and perpetual state of ketosis is desirable or optimal - particularly for fertility and peak human performance. 

Having said that I think we should be fully fat adapted and be in ketosis periodically. The more fat adapted you become the easier it is to switch in and out of ketosis. Intermittent fasting and avoiding carbs and protein in the morning and eating more dietary fat and less carbs are excellent ways to become more fat adapted. If you aren't hungry between meals, don't crave carbs and don't wake up ravenous then that's a good sign you are fat adapted. 

If you aren't doing a lot of high intensity training, aren't looking to get pregnant and/or don't tolerate carbs well then I think a cyclic ketogenic diet could be an appropriate lifestyle for you, so long as you are doing a proper carb re-feed at least once or twice a week. 

Personally, my sweet spot for carbs is about 100-150g a day most days of the week with maybe one or two lower carb days and one or two higher carb days. 

As with most things I think it is important to mix it up. I don't really like the idea of setting a strict schedule for low carb days and high carb days but rather listening to your body and also your circumstances. If you happen to go to a Thai restaurant on a low carb day you want the flexibility to be able to eat some rice if you want, right? 

I know for me that going low carb for months on end screwed me up. Probably because I was doing CrossFit a lot and often having late nights. I started getting lethargic, grumpy and not sleeping well. 

Carbohydrate tolerance varies hugely among the population though. It is a very personal thing and can easily change over your lifetime depending on factors such as stress, sleep, activity levels, season, latitude, etc. 

Some people may eat 150g of carbs a day and develop type II diabetes because they just can't tolerate that amount of glucose over time. Other people could eat 300g a day and have perfect blood sugar control and low levels of inflammation. 

The only real way to tell is to get a glucometer and measure your fasting and post prandial blood glucose over a period of time and see how different amounts of carbohydrates from different sources affect you. I found that my blood sugar rarely goes above 110 even after eating white rice and ice cream, as long as I consume a fair amount of fat and fibre with the meal. So for me I think I can tolerate carbs fairly well. 

You need to self-experiment. Even without a glucometer you should be able to tell if you feel better introducing some more carbs into your diet. 

By the way I am not recommending you go crazy with white rice and ice cream! They certainly shouldn't be staples. 

2. Resistant Starch (RS)

This has definitely been a hot topic in the Paleo-sphere in the last 12 months. For those unfamiliar with resistant starch it is a type of starch that cannot be fully broken down by human digestion so it passes through into the large intestine to be digested by our gut microbes. 

There are four different types of resistant starch, three of these from whole food sources such as unripe bananas or cooked and cooled potatoes and rice. However, it is fairly difficult to get a substantial dose from real foods so typically a refined version of RS such as potato starch or plantain flour is used as a supplement. 

Even though the mechanism isn’t fully understood the anecdotal evidence is that RS improves glucose tolerance (stabilizes blood sugar), can lead to fat loss and other health benefits via an improvement in the state of your gut microbiome (2).

I've looked into it and experimented a bit with potato starch. I didn't notice any benefit and definitely had some issues with gas. Maybe I didn't stick to it long enough.

Even though it is one of the hottest topics in health at the moment our understanding of the gut microbiome remains in its infancy. 

RS has a lot of potential and seems to be helping a lot of people improve their health but it I see it as a very blunt, crude instrument. If RS feeds the good bacteria in our gut, doesn’t it also feed the bad bacteria? Couldn’t RS worsen symptoms for some people whose gut flora is out of whack - like those with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth? 

It is certainly an interesting area but my gut instinct (see what I did there?) is that it doesn't make sense to eat a refined food such as potato starch in order to get some short-cut benefit. It just doesn't gel well with me and I remain cautious while the evidence for it remains anecdotal at this stage. Many other Paleo professionals such as Dr Tery Wahls feel the same way - that we should focus on pro and probiotics from whole food sources. 

I don't see much harm in trying RS for yourself though, especially if you focus on the real food sources rather than the potato starch. 

3. Vitamin D3 and sun exposure

There is some research out there that sunscreen can be mildly toxic and you may be better off not using it and instead limiting sun exposure to build up a natural tolerance to the sun. But I am an Aussie and where I'm from going out in the summer sun without sunscreen is akin to stirring boiling bone broth with your bare hands - you're gonna get burnt. 

So I think wearing sunscreen on your face to prevent aging is probably a good idea, but I certainly wouldn't be afraid to get some smart sun exposure on your body where possible. You can check the UV on a weather app. Levels of 2-4 are a good time to get some sun without risk of getting burnt. When UV is 4-5 or higher you probably don't want to spend more than 20 minutes without sunscreen. 

In summer you may want to avoid the highest UV times of the day but in winter - assuming you’re from North America or Europe - you probably don't have to worry about sunscreen. I don't wear sunscreen most of the year in New York except for summer. 

In the midday summer sun 30 minutes of sun exposure will produce 10-20,000 IU of vitamin D in someone with pale skin (4). Someone with darker skin will produce less than that. 

Unless you are living in the tropics, and especially if you are darker skinned and living in North America or Europe then Vitamin D3 supplementation is probably a good idea. My vitamin D levels are quite low, which is very surprising considering how much time I spend in the sun. 

5,000 - 8,000 IU of supplemental vitamin D3 can be taken daily pretty safely until you get your Vitamin D levels to at least 35-50ng/mL. Make sure it's D3 and not D2 you are taking. 

4. Supplements

I don’t think it is wise to rely on supplements. Real food sources always trump supplements. The problem is that the supplement industry is a massive and hugely profitable business which is also grossly unregulated. This means there are a lot of snakes out there making false claims and producing very poor quality products. 

Many supplements don’t have solid science behind their proposed benefits and some even may be harmful. 

Having said that, I do take some supplements. In the US you can get some fairly decent supplements at low cost through Amazon. Because it is relatively cheap I am willing to spend a few dollars a month to take certain supplements even though I realize they may not offer a huge benefit. For example I take 10,000mg Biotin for my skin and hair, Milk Thistle for liver function and  Activated Charcoal for when I drink some beers or nasty food. 

The supplements that I do think have value and that I take consistently are the following:

DHA and EPA (Fish oil)

I don’t always eat as much oily fish as I would like to so I supplement with 1000mg of DHA and 500mg of EPA on days that I don’t eat fish. I like this brand:


Due to soil degradation and our modern food system most people don’t get enough magnesium in their diet. I take about 300mg of Ionic magnesium citrate every night before bed. I use Natural Calm. I find that it noticeably improves my sleep.

Vitamin D3

I haven’t supplemented with Vitamin D3 before but now that I know that I have low Vitamin D levels and it is New York winter I am going to start supplementing 10,000 IU a day until I get my levels up and then I will probably stop supplementing until next winter.

Vitamin C

If I feel a cold coming along I will load up on 3,000 - 6,000mg of Vitamin C per day until I get over it. It is such a cheap supplement that even if it doesn’t do much I think it’s worth the placebo. Sometimes I’ll take 1,000mg a day just for maintenance.

Whey Protein

I have a really high quality unflavored whey protein in the cupboard that is 100% grass-fed whey and I use it in smoothies from time to time. BCAAs have many proven benefits and whey is scientifically backed as the best form of supplemental protein. If you are vegan hemp protein is probably the best substitute. Check out my Low Carb High Fat Paleo Super Smoothie.

You may also want to consider eating some seaweed for iodine and oysters for copper and zinc when possible. 

I do not take antioxidant supplements. I think antioxidants should come from food only. From what I’ve heard resveratrol is a waste of money. See the Kresser article below for his supplement recommendations.

5. Fasting and autophagy 

Autophagy, literally ‘self-eating’ is a cell process whereby excess junk and nasties are destroyed and cleared out. It’s like a spring clean of your cells or emptying the trash folder on your computer. It is a very important process for a variety of metabolic pathways and longevity. 

From what I understand autophagy is stimulated by fasting among other things such as sleep, sun exposure, exercise and possibly caffeine. I’ve heard from various sources that protein and carbohydrate consumption can inhibit autophagy but that fat doesn’t. Dave Asprey (the bulletproof coffee guy) says that BPC does not interfere with autophagy and may even boost it. I couldn’t find any science to back this up though. 

Either way I think fasting both with or without bulletproof coffee should still see some benefit from autophagy. 

I find intermittent fasting with bulletproof coffee to be far easier, more sustainable and better from a performance perspective. But, since my mantra is to mix things up I don’t have Bulletproof coffee every time I fast and I certainly don’t have Bulletproof coffee every day. 

I probably intermittent fast five days a week and may have bulletproof coffee on two or three of those days. On the other fast days I just have black coffee or coffee with a splash of heavy cream then workout and break my fast around 2-4pm. On days that I am hungry in the morning I eat breakfast. 

Doing a 24 hour water fast once a week is pretty hardcore. If it makes you happy do it but it’s probably not necessary. Brad Pilon from ‘Eat Stop Eat’ says there isn’t much reason to fast for more than 24 hours. Personally I find any longer than 18-20 hours and I’m fighting myself. 

Remember that the ultimate goal is to find a sustainable, healthy lifestyle that is easier to follow than not to follow. The goal is not perfection but gradual improvement. 

References and further reading:

Monday, May 19, 2014

Eat More Fat!

In my last post, 'Crappy Carbs can Kill', I explained that the chronic overconsumption of nutrient-poor refined carbohydrates is at the root of metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease and also a contributing factor to many other modern diseases. 

Well that was all a bit heavy, but the good news is that if you are willing to take control of your health it is relatively simple to eschew these crappy carbs and instead eat healthy real foods that our bodies have evolved to thrive on over millions of years. 

Eating a healthy, whole foods diet that is in line with our evolution enables us to live the healthy, happy and disease-free lives we are entitled to.  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

WARNING: I am not a doctor or health practitioner. Just because I look good in Speedos does not mean you should take my advice or do what I do. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. Beware of people like me who take an N=1 experiment on themselves and get all preachy as if they have the answer… I'm looking at you, Tim Ferris. 
Being a huge fan of the Paleo diet and the amazing results I have seen (body composition, energy levels, overall health) in the four years I have been eating in this manner I thought I'd toy with this idea of Intermittent Fasting (IF). In this article I first explain a bit about IF and then go on to describe what happened to me when I tried it for six weeks last year. It ends with some thoughts on who may benefit from IF and who should probably stay clear. 
What, IF?
Basically, Intermittent Fasting is an eating pattern that alternates between periods of fasting and feeding. Ramadan is an example of IF (although you probably won't get smitten by Allah if you don't observe this type of IF strictly). IF may involve alternate-day fasting, fasting one or two full days a week, fasting every day for an arbitrary number of hours or any other combination. 
The form I chose to do it involved a 'condensed eating window' of four to eight hours a day, every day. Some would call this a 16:8 or 20:4 intermittent fast. The timing and ratio changed daily but effectively I was not eating anything from around 9pm at night until some time between 1pm to 5pm the next day depending on when I trained. 
I was training in the fasted state. And by training I mean heavy weight training often paired with metabolic conditioning (high intensity interval training ala CrossFit). In hindsight I think this was a mistake, but more on that later.
From when I broke fast after my workout I would eat as much and as often as I liked during that four to eight hour period until starting the next fast. Thereafter it was just water and black coffee in the mornings until my next feeding window. Not that crazy, really. (Is it?? I can be a bit crazy sometimes... Who said that?) It's important to note that I was also eating low-carb at the time. Probably between 50-100 gm of carbs a day, which is very low for my activity levels and size. 

Why the F would you do that?
Good question! Well, firstly I am an inquisitive person and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. IF has become very popular in the whole Paleo-sphere and there have been quite a few (animal) studies over the years suggesting that calorie restriction and/or intermittent fasting could really have some potential health and longevity benefits. 
For example, in multiple animal studies rats that were fasted (usually alternative days of no food) ended up living up to 50% longer than the 'eat whenever you want' control group. It seems like the mechanism was somehow related to fertility - in scarce times when the body doesn't have enough energy to reproduce it will delay the aging process in order to live long enough to reproduce. The fasting rats' telomeres - the ends of chromosomes that shorten as you age - degraded at a slower rate.
I later found out that the latest research was suggesting that this longevity effect is somewhat overstated and nowhere near as prominent in primates/humans. In particular, one primate study suggested that severe fasting (one week on/one week off) for your whole life may increase life span by up to seven years for a human. Hardly worth it for a life of misery in my opinion! The theory is that unlike rodents, large mammals with long gestation periods (like humans, elephants etc) require relatively less energy to rear their young than, say, mice, for whom rearing young requires a greater proportion of their total available energy. Thus the longevity effect of fasting is far less for humans than rats. 
The other, perhaps more enticing suggested benefit of IF for a body-conscious sucker such as myself is an overall improvement in body composition (maintain lean muscle, lose fat) that IF proponents push. Basically, by fasting large portions of the day your body will be in a ketogenic (fat burning) state for most of the day, which should enable stored body fat to be burned for fuel rather than all the readily available glucose from that big bowl of sugar-nothingness known as cereal and large glass of refined fructose (Orange Juice) us fat Westerners have been told constitutes a “healthy breakfast”. In a sense, IF should turn you into a 'fat burning beast' as Mark Sisson calls it. 
My experience with Intermittent Fasting
So you're wondering how not eating most of the time worked out for me?
The Good
I did IF consistently for about three months last year while living in London. After the first few days I actually found it easy to not eat in the mornings. I was drinking a lot of black brewed coffee and actually felt really mentally alert during the fasted period. Kind of like when I was a kid playing football or doing Athletics and you have that semi-nervous, super-alert feeling when you are about to run out on the field. This is probably a good indication that my sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) was dominating during the latter part of the fasted state and not giving my parasympathetic nervous system (rest and recover) enough field time.
Anyway the first few weeks I was performing well in the gym, and was really growing to like the feeling of not eating for hours on end. It is strangely addictive and definitely gives you a buzz. It makes sense to me that our Paleo ancestors often went very long periods with no food and would often have to hunt in the fasted state and so I guess there may have been some evolutionary pressure on the ability to ramp up alertness when we are very hungry. 
Also, It is quite liberating knowing that you don't have to think about preparing food or snacking every few hours. I think it can help with productivity too. Sometimes around midday I would get quite strong hunger pangs that lasted for about an hour but they would always pass and I would feel great again. As soon as I started training I would feel very energetic - "on the hunt" I guess you would say. 
I have no doubt that we as a people these days do not embrace hunger enough. Instant gratification, greed and relative prosperity have made being hungry a frowned upon and unnecessary condition. It's a shame. Furthermore, I find the natural/Primal hunger you feel during a fast or when in the ketotic state is subtle and tolerable. Contrast this to the modern hangry (hungry + angry) food craving cycle most Westerners face every couple of hours when their blood-sugar plummets shortly after consuming a sugary/grainy meal or snack. I think the 'six small meals a day' myth is defunct for the average person.

The Bad
While my performance was good in the gym for the first few weeks it kind of plateaued after that. I also seemed to lean out a couple of kilos in that initial period but by around week three or four I was back to my normal size/weight again. It started to become obvious that IF wasn't going to turn me into a freak that could walk around at 5% body fat with veins popping out of my abs and bench-pressing 200kg. Don't worry, I'm fully aware that these are unrealistic goals and I not particularly desirable! But I was hoping that this would be a kind of cheat to being super-ripped all the time while also being able to gorge, drink booze and eat a bit less clean than usual. Spoiler alert: It isn't… for me at least.
When you fast for 16-18 hours everyday and it finally comes time to eat, you overdo it. At least I certainly did. I'm always a big eater. I'd say I average 3000-4000 calories a day. I'm very active and I eat high quality whole foods and relatively low levels of carbohydrate so I can get away with an energy-dense diet. When you are trying to get in all your daily calories in just a few hours you really have to eat a lot. 
I am a bit of a fat-kid at heart so I kinda like gorging myself. I think many people would struggle to get enough calories in for the day in just 4-8 hours which is probably why IF is so often heralded as a great weight-loss tool. By default people fall into a substantial calorie deficit and the weight just comes off. But for me it just meant I was eating massive meals and grazing for the rest of the eating window. 
I would routinely eat a whole 100gm block of 85% cocoa dark chocolate in the evening, after already consuming a can of coconut cream, sometime a whole chicken (they are small in the UK) and copious amounts of vegetables, salads and fruit. Ironically, I think I was eating more than I used to eat when not doing IF. More troubling though, I was eating more of the energy-dense foods that I try to limit such as the dark chocolate, coconut cream and nuts. It makes sense that I was probably going to these foods to get the calories quickly and easily prednisone as my time frame for eating was restricted. (There are only so many salads and vegetables one has time to prep and eat in 5 hours). I didn't gain weight but I started to feel sluggish.

The Ugly
Around week 10 or 12 I started to feel pretty flat. I wasn't sleeping well, my performance was declining in the gym and I started to feel more anxious. It became clear that the honeymoon period had ended and my body wasn't so happy with this new normal. When I couldn't get to sleep at night I knew something was wrong. My body was under stress and not recovering as it should. 
My sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) was in overdrive. I knew it was probably a cortisol issue, adrenal fatigue, a slow-down in thyroid function or most likely a combination of the three. All of these physiological responses are very typical of type-A personalities (me) who push themselves too far, overtrain, under sleep, go too low-carb and are generally addicted to adventure, stress and stimulation… and caffeine!

I was becoming mildly addicted to the buzz of the fasted state, but then obsessing over food more than usual. I had the gut feeling that this wasn't a sustainable or healthy endeavor for me. 
IF's and buts
I stopped IF and went back to a more normal routine, eating breakfast most days. I think my issue was probably with the fact that I was eating too low-carb, training too intensely and trying to do IF all at the same time. When you do intense CrossFit type workouts that are very glycogen (muscle glucose) dependent you really need enough carbs in your diet to replenish the glycogen stores nizagara or you will literally run out of gas and start to feel like crap and get all those symptoms I mentioned above (poor sleep, fatigue, anxiety, brain fog, etc). It seems obvious but sometimes you just have to learn for yourself, the hard way!
I've learned my lesson now and when I train intensely I make sure I get enough starchy carbs from things like sweet potato and occasionally white rice. This seems to be working really well for me right now and I'm looking, performing and feeling great - as Robb Wolf would say. (Love that little guy).
I still do the odd IF day now and again but would never do it for prolonged periods of time. It can be a good tool for some people, with the following caveats…
Who should definitely not use IF:
IF is probably not a good idea if you are: highly active or a professional athlete, a person prone to eating disorders, pregnant, highly stressed, partying a lot or working irregular night shifts, suffering adrenal fatigue, diabetic or otherwise metabolically deranged. 
People who could get away with IF a few days a week:
I AM NOT RECOMMENDING INTERMITTENT FASTING. However, if you are healthy, moderately active but not an athlete, sleep well, eat well but are a bit overweight and need a new simple strategy to lose some fat then this could be an option. If you are lean and want to try IF, ask yourself why? Make sure your motives are genuine. 
Take aways from my dabble with IF:
  • Hunger is good, natural and largely absent in our society
  • Don't do IF with low-carb and high intensity training. This is a recipe for disaster! 
  • Used wisely IF can work well for some people
  • I believe IF would work best as a random, sporadic practice rather than doing it every day for extended periods of time. Randomness breeds adaptability, resilience and robustness. 
  • If you choose to do IF I would highly recommend taking one or two days off a week.
  • Take everything I say with a big pinch of iodine-enriched salt as this is purely an N=1 experiment. We are all unique snowflakes who require unique lifestyle guidelines. 
12-month update:
About six months ago I began to do what Dave Asprey calls “Bulletproof Coffee Intermittent Fasting” (BPCIF) This involves the same 16:8 intermittent fast that I was doing except with the addition of consuming one ‘bulletproof coffee’ in the morning. Dave proposes that you get most of the benefits of IF (cell autophagy, insulin sensitivity, improved body composition etc) due to the fact that you are still fasting from carbohydrate and protein. However, the prednisone fat from the butter and MCT oil gives you the fuel necessary to get you through the morning and optimize brain function and performance. I personally find that BPCIF works very well for me. I do this most days of the week. I don’t think it is good to keep exactly the same routine when it comes to meal frequency and size. I try to mix it up to keep my body guessing. 
If you found this article interesting or helpful you can do me a HUGE favor by sharing it with your friends using this link for Facebook.

Thanks for reading. You might want to check out my post on Bulletproof Coffee next. 

Some links from sources I trust on IF and potential benefits and problems:
The mice study:  Hatori, Megumi (2012). 'Time Restricted Feeding Without Caloric Intake Prevents Metabolic Diseases in Mice Fed a High Fat Diet'. Journal of Cell Metabolism, June 9, 2012.
Image Source:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I often don't eat breakfast, instead going for some of Dave Asprey's "Bulletproof Coffee" - black coffee blended with grass-fed butter and MCT oil (concentrated medium chain triglycerides derived from coconut). This is both for performance (mental clarity) and for convenience. When I do have breakfast though I usually stay away from carbs at least until midday.

Carb Backloading
Avoiding carbs in the morning actually goes against the current mainstream thinking whereby people assume it is best to eat carbs in the morning when you are more insulin sensitive. While this is indeed true - you are more insulin sensitive in the morning and therefore will tolerate carbs better - this does not necessarily mean you should eat carbs in the morning.

As John Kiefer argues in 'Carb Backloading' and 'Carb Nite', which I'm really getting great results from now, you are better off not raising insulin at all in the first part of the day and rather extending the natural fat-burning (fasted) state after sleeping.

You can achieve this either by skipping breakfast, OR by eating mainly fat and some protein for breakfast, thereby keeping insulin levels low.

Insulin 101
To massively oversimplify, insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas to control blood sugar levels. Too much glucose in the blood is toxic to the body so insulin is released to facilitate the transfer of glucose out of the blood and into bodily tissues to either be used as fuel (for the brain, muscles and other cell functions), to top up glycogen reserves in the muscles and liver (for that CrossFit work out later on in the day), or to be converted into fat and stored in adipose tissue (a major bummer if you want to look good in a bikini/speedos).

When insulin is high it prevents these stored fatty acids being released from adipose tissue to be burned as fuel. Hence, if you want to burn fat then high insulin levels = bad. The whole (flawed but useful) Glycemic Index of food theory (i.e low GI foods are better than high GI foods) is based on keeping insulin low.

The most effective way to increase insulin sensitivity (and therefore reduce the amount of fat-storing insulin released by the pancreas) is through resistance training. This is perhaps THE major benefit of weight training and why EVERYONE should lift heavy weights occasionally. To elaborate on CarbNite, Kiefer recommends that you do resistance training in the late afternoon (4-7pm) to increase muscular insulin sensitivity, which usually decreases as the day goes on. Check out my twenty-minute bodyweight workout here.

The theory goes that post workout you can get away with eating significant amounts of carbs and will actually increase muscular growth due to this spiking of insulin. Interestingly, Kiefer points out that insulin causes ALL body tissue to grow - both muscle and fat - and so this essential hormone can act as both friend and foe.

At times it may actually be beneficial to spike insulin after weight training to get the muscles to grow, while at other times (i.e. when insulin sensitivity is low/insulin resistance is high) it would be counterproductive to raise insulin too much as this will cause adipose (fat) tissue to grow. Diabetics are insulin resistant all the time which is why it is so difficult for them to lose weight. This is why resistance training coupled with a low carb or even ketogenic diet seems to be the best way to treat diabetes (Patel, 2012).

Eat fat to burn fat
For the above reasons I strongly advise against eating too many carbs in the morning if your goal is to burn fat. Raising insulin early in the morning by eating high carb, especially with low fat and low protein, is just setting you up for blood-sugar crashes and fat storage throughout the day.

The irony is that this is exactly what the Standard American Diet is telling you to eat - cereal or "healthy whole grains" like a whole-wheat bagel or Cheerios with skim milk and a glass of juice! HORRIFIC for your metabolism and a sure-fire way to feel like shit all day and gain weight. Even "slow-release" oatmeal or muesli, contrary to popular belief, is not a healthy breakfast option. I'm not saying you have to eat bacon and eggs every day but I am saying don't eat bagels, cereal, low-fat yoghurt and fruit juice for breakfast! 

Bloody Oats!
I know a lot of you 'healthy' types love your oats, nuts, muesli, fruit and yoghurt in the morning (I was addicted to this breakfast for years!) Maybe you don't like the idea of eating bacon and eggs in the mornings, girls. But let me ask you to just try this for a week: cut the grains, fruit and other carbs in the morning and instead have something low carb, high fat. 

If the thought of bacon and eggs grosses you out how about a couple of hard boiled eggs and a handful of nuts, or if you can handle it maybe even some leftover meat or fish from the night before and half an avocado? I guarantee you will feel better, with lasting energy until lunchtime and without your typical 11am food cravings for sweet things. Just try it.

How About Green Smoothies?
I really believe that being strict on the zero carbs before midday is the best way to maximize fat burning, however, some people are obsessed with their green smoothies and that is totally fine.

If you insist on drinking your breakfast and are not interested in bulletproof coffee, I think a very low carb, high fibre, moderate protein and fat (green) smoothie could be fairly benign in the morning. Just leave out the high fructose fruit such as apple, pear, mango, pineapple or orange and instead throw in a few frozen berries if absolutely necessary - enabling you to keep net sugars to about 5 grams or less.

It is essential to include some fat in any green smoothie to enable absorption of the FAT SOLUBLE vitamins A, D, E and K. MCT oil, coconut oil, raw (pastured) egg yolks and avocado are a great source. I also would be careful of overdoing raw kale and raw spinach such a high load of oxalic acid can be problematic to some people. It's always better to lightly cook your greens and eat them with grass-fed butter to maximize their nutrition.

PS - Apparently the average American used to eat 5 eggs a day in the 1950s and look how slim they were compared to Americans today (Gundry, 2012).

PPS - I swear by this brand of MCT oil which I use in my Bulletproof Coffee and post-workout smoothies:

Related Articles:

How To Build Muscle, Honestly and Healthily

My Ideal Paleo Eating Day

The Big Three Weight Loss Myths: # 1 - Calories In, Calories Out


Asprey, Dave. 'The Bulletproof Executive', [Accessed 07 April 2013]

Gundry, Steven, MD. 'High Fat Diets: Good vs. Bad', Ask the Low-Carb Experts Podcast Episode 35, Jan 15th 2013,

Kiefer, John. 'Dangerously Hardcore', [Accessed 07 April 2013]

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Ideal Paleo Eating Day

Typical Brekky: Eggs, Sautéed Kale, Cherry Tomatoes and Prosciutto.

It's all good and well to talk Paleo and Primal and 'no grain' this and 'no dairy' that and 'low Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratios' and blah blah blah. But if the whole concept of Paleo or 'evolutionary eating' is foreign to you it can be difficult to conceptualise what a Paleo diet would actually look like on a day-to-day basis.