Movement is Key!

We started talking about movement last post.  I’d like to continue on that subject because, as mentioned, we have become way too sedentary for our health.  Even an hour or two of daily exercise can’t make up for the 8-10+ hours of static sitting that has become way too commonplace for most people!

With movement comes the stimulation of the musculature and various cellular processes throughout the body that keep all our systems functioning at a higher level.  We get more fuel to all of our cells, our pancreas does a better job of balancing out blood sugar levels, our brain gets fed the glucose it needs to function properly, our digestive system continues to work and our muscles get the blood they need to both flush out waste products plus bring new oxygen and nutrients to function properly.  And, as we talked last time, to assist with keeping full length in the muscles that tend to stay short after prolonged sitting.

The above is to just name a few of the many actions our body does when we keep moving as opposed to too much sitting.  Did you know that even getting up and moving your own body weight around for a few minutes will start your system moving again?  This is why it is ideal to walk around at breaks, work part of the time at a standing desk, use the steps rather than taking the elevator whenever you can and much more.  You get the picture.

Start getting creative as to how you can move around more even if you do have to be at your desk all day.  What about standing and doing squats while you are on a conference call?  This will get those glutes and quads working to increase metabolism and burn a few extra calories.  Need to read that paper?  Walk around your desk while you are reading it or do little lunges from side to side.  Perhaps do a little Tai Chi movement or two while you are reading something on your computer.  Don’t know Tai Chi?  Here is a video with some basic moves for you from  Jake Mace  Note side benefit:  This might just calm you down a bit at the same time!

Drink more water!   You will get the double benefit of rehydrating your system, which is most likely dehydrated, and it will make you get up and go to the bathroom more.  🙂  For more information on hydration, here is an article I wrote a while back about drinking water.

Of course none of this is meant to take the place of regular vigorous exercise but to help counter the negative effects of sitting too much.

Another benefit is every time you get up and sit back down, you are likely to sit in your chair more upright and out of that slumped position that seems to come so naturally when sitting for long periods of time.  You thought I forgot about the posture piece, didn’t you?  Nope.  Next time we will look at what often happens to the head and neck from sitting too long.

Meanwhile I hope this inspires you to move more and more throughout the day!

To your health,

Julie

 

STRESS – WEIGHT GAIN & MORE

Stress often contributes to weight gain through emotional eating and the production of hormones associated with weight gain. Excessive weight is associated with many unwelcome and avoidable health issues.

STRESS AS A NATURAL OCCURRENCE

Our bodies are designed to handle variations from diet, exercise, stress and weight.  It regularly produces various hormones for a period of time to take care of these situations.  All this is a normal cycle for the body.

STRESS & HORMONES

The challenge is when that stressor continues for a prolonged period of time.  This causes the body to overproduce hormones thus stressing the entire system; breaking down cells, tissues, and organs.

When our body undergoes a stress, the adrenal glands produce adrenaline aka epinephrine.  This hormone stimulates the heart muscle, alters the rate of blood flow, and raises basal metabolic rate.  This is known as the fight or flight syndrome.  Epinephrine also prompts the secretion of glucagon by the pancreas, causing the release of nutrients from storage.  The steroid hormone cortisol is also produced.  It enhances protein degradation, which raises amino acid levels in the blood so that they become available for conversion of glucose.  The two other hormones induced by stress, aldosterone and antidiuretic hormone both help to maintain blood volume.[1]

Epinephrine does not stick around very long in the body however, when stress is prolonged, cortisol does.  This hormone will affect the body in detrimental many ways.  [2]Excess cortisol will:

  • Decrease metabolism by inhibiting thyroid function
  • Depletes protein in the muscles, bones, connective tissue and skin which can cause fatigue, weakness, thinning of the bones, and bruising
  • Decreases the production of androgens and growth hormones which build muscles
  • Can cause insulin resistance[3]
  • Increase fat accumulation, especially in the belly
  • Increase appetite and carbohydrate cravings
  • Will cause depression, anxiety, and mood swings
  • Is cortisol related to abdominal obesity?
    “Yes. There is a link between high cortisol levels and storage of body fat, particularly “visceral” abdominal body fat (also known as intra-abdominal fat). Visceral fat is stored deeper in the abdominal cavity and around the internal organs, whereas “regular” fat is stored below the skin (known as subcutaneous fat). Visceral fat is particularly unhealthy because it is a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes.”[4]

The challenge with cortisol and weight is this.  First, when you are stressed you produce more cortisol which will lead to weight gain.  When you are overweight the adrenal glands produce more cortisol so it is a viscous cycle.

ADDITIONAL AFFECTS FROM STRESS

Free radical production

THE NEGATIVE ROLE OF CERTAIN FOODS & DRINKS

Food can play an important role in both exacerbating the problem and relieving the problem.

The following list will cause the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline and cortisol.  Over the long term this will eventually exhaust the adrenals:

  • Caffeine, especially beyond one or two cups a day on a regular basis will actually act like long term stress in the body
  • Chocolate in excess as it will act as a stimulant
  • Soda will affect blood sugar levels as well increase production of stress hormones
  • Heavy alcohol consumption will cause the adrenals to overreact
  • Refined foods and sugar will affect insulin production and consequently blood sugar spikes and falls
  • Refined foods will deplete the body of essential vitamins and minerals thus stressing the entire system
  • Refined salt is chemically cleaned and devoid of all minerals and will increase blood pressure
  • Can create a more acid pH in the body, which allows for disease to develop

THE ROLE OF HEALTHY FOODS

The following is a list of vitamins and minerals that will support the body during stressful times and therefore should be included in your daily meals:

  • B Complex is necessary for the production of all neurotransmitters including Seratonin, which is a calming neurotransmitter, and it is vital for the functioning of the adrenal glands. Foods high in the B vitamins include:  dark leafy green vegetables, wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, most grains
  • Vitamin C is depleted with prolonged bouts of stress and is also required for normal functioning of the adrenal glands. Sources include:  fruits especially citrus and berries, tomatoes and green vegetables
  • Vitamin A is an antioxidant thus maintaining the health of the cells. Foods rich in A include:  milk, eggs, butter, and fruit
  • Vitamin E is also an antioxidant. Foods rich in E include:  nuts, germ oils and green leafy vegetables
  • Minerals, especially magnesium which relaxes muscles. Sources of magnesium include:  leafy green vegetables, beans and legumes, vegetables, seaweed, nuts (almonds, cashews and filberts especially) and seeds (especially sesame)
  • Omega 3 fatty acids have a positive effect on moods. Sources include:  salmon, tuna, sardines, flax seed oil, pumpkin oil, dark green vegetables
  • Night shade vegetables as they have an expansive effect and therefore might be beneficial for someone tense from work, stress or activity which takes great concentration.[5] Nightshade include;  all peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant

WHAT YOUR DIET SHOULD INCLUDE

  1. Salmon
  2. Eggs
  3. Lots of leafy and dark green vegetables
  4. Night shade vegetables, if you can handle them
  5. Almonds, cashews, filberts and sesame seeds
  6. Beans and legumes
  7. Citrus fruits and berries

OTHER THINGS TO LOOK AT TO REDUCE THE AFFECTS OF STRESS

EXERCISE

  • Moderate levels are best with a duration lasting less than one hour
  • Critical to maintain optimal cortisol levels and hormone balance
  • Helps handle stress by improving cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems
  • Improves insulin resistance (studies have shown that as little as 3 weeks of regular exercise can lessen insulin resistance[6])

LAUGHTER

  • Using a similar protocol, the current research found that the same anticipation of laughter also reduced the levels of three stress hormones. Cortisol (termed “the stress hormone”), epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and dopac, a dopamine catabolite (brain chemical which helps produce epinephrine), were reduced 39, 70 and 38 percent, respectively (statistically significant compared to the control group).  Chronically released high stress hormone levels can weaken the immune system. [7]

MEDITATION

  • The study, done in China, randomly assigned college undergraduate students to 40-person experimental or control groups. The experimental group received five days of meditation training using a technique called the integrative body-mind training (IBMT). The control group got five days of relaxation training. Before and after training both groups took tests involving attention and reaction to mental stress.
  • The experimental group showed greater improvement than the control in an attention test designed to measure the subjects’ abilities to resolve conflict among stimuli. Stress was induced by mental arithmetic. Both groups initially showed elevated release of the stress hormone cortisol following the math task, but after training the experimental group showed less cortisol release, indicating a greater improvement stress regulation. The experimental group also showed lower levels of anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue than was the case in the control group.
  • “This study improves the prospect for examining brain mechanisms involved in the changes in attention and self-regulation that occur following meditation training,” said co-author Michael I. Posner, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Oregon. “The study took only five days, so it was possible to randomly assign the subjects and do a thorough before-and-after analysis of the training effects.”[8]

YOGA[9]

  • Asana are the physical postures that help with muscle relaxation
  • Savasana is usually at the end of a class and it is a pose for complete relaxation
  • Pranayama breathing practice

BREATHING

  • Pranayama / Yogic techniques[10]
  • Paradoxical

IN CONCLUSION

Stress is naturally occurring in our daily lives and has positive benefits.  Long term stress however can play havoc on our system resulting in poor health and unnecessary diseases.  We all need to take a closer look at how to reduce or eliminate chronic stressors in order to have a longer healthier life.

I hope this information has given you some thoughts about changes you can make to reduce chronic stress!

 

In health,

Julie

[1] Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition, 7th Edition

[2] Hormone Balance, Scott Isaacs

[3] A reduced sensitivity to insulin in muscle, adipose, and liver cells, Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition, 7th Edition

[4] Tom Venuto is a certified personal trainer, natural bodybuilder and author of the #1 best selling diet e-book, “Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle

[5] Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford

[6] Per Hormone Balance, by Scott Isaacs

[7] The research is entitled Cortisol and Catecholamine Stress Hormone Decrease Is Associated with the Behavior of Perceptual Anticipation of Mirthful Laughter. It was conducted by Lee Berk with Stanley A. Tan, both of the Oak Crest Health Research Institute, Loma Linda, CA; and Dottie Berk, Loma Linda University Health Care, Loma Linda.

[8] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071008193437.htm

[9] Yoga can reduce cortisol levels, a finding which was documented in the October 2004 issue of the journal, Annals of Behavioral Science.

[10] http://www.kundaliniyoga.org/pranayam.html

Miraculous Magnesium

swiss chard 1.11.16

As I was harvesting some Swiss chard from my winter garden this morning, it reminded me of how often overlooked and yet valuable the mineral magnesium is.  I realize this isn’t something we think about on a regular basis yet it is not only an essential mineral in our diet but we often tend to be deficient in it.

Magnesium is such a major player in our health.  It is the single most important mineral for maintaining proper electrical balance and is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body.

It is estimated that 60%-80% of Americans aren’t getting enough magnesium in their diet due to lack of vegetables, poor food choices and farming practices.  Supplementation is definitely something to consider and yet the first step really should come from our diet.  Amongst the best sources of magnesium are leafy green vegetables, seeds, nuts and legumes.  Here are some of the top foods:

  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Cashews
  • Summer squash like zucchini or crookneck
  • Avocados
  • Black beans

As for the benefits of magnesium, there are plenty:

  • Creates and maintains bone health
    • 50%-60% of magnesium is stored in the bone and consequently plays a significant role in bone metabolism
    • Adequate magnesium in your diet improves bone mineral density
  • Enables energy production as it is a vital component in the production of ATP, a high energy molecule found in every cell
    • Low levels of magnesium can be one of the factors in low energy or fatigue
  • Maintains a healthy nervous system by working with calcium in forming an electrical current
    • Low levels can result in anxiety, irritability, agitation, insomnia and confusion
  • It is a vital nutrient in the prevention of chronic inflammation as it modulates cellular events involved in inflammation
    • Studies indicate that low levels of chronic inflammation are the cause of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and more
  • Enhances control of blood sugars
    • Magnesium is a co-factor in over 100 enzymes involved in controlling blood sugar and glucose metabolism

Magnesium is becoming more and more recognized as a vital macro nutrient that we just don’t get enough of.  Even medical researchers are recommending increasing the RDA to almost double current amounts.

To start you in the direction of adding magnesium to your diet, here is an easy and delicious salad that will give you lots of magnesium.  Quantities are not listed as they will vary based on the number of people enjoying this delicious salad.

Dressing:

  • 3 parts Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 part Champagne Vinegar or high quality, aged Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tsp or more Fish Sauce*
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Place above ingredients in a jar with fitted lid.  Shake thoroughly.

Salad:

  • Swiss chard, ribs removed
  • Kale, ribs removed
  • Parsley leaves
  • Spinach
  • Pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Red bell pepper, cut to desired shape
  • Zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • Dried apricots cut into long strips

Clean and tear into bite size pieces the first 4 greens and place in salad bowl.  Drizzle salad dressing on, mix and set aside for at least 30 minutes.  Note:  Since these leafy greens are a bit tougher than regular lettuce, this will allow them time to soften and get sweeter.

After 30 minutes add the balance of the ingredients and toss salad.  Serve and enjoy!

*Fish sauce is found in most markets in the Asian section and provides the dressing with umami, a savory taste.  You don’t need to use a lot.  It will have no ‘fish’ taste and yet will give the dressing a more rounded, pleasant taste.  Try it, you‘ll love it!

This is just one way to add some wonderful healthy food sources of magnesium into your daily routine.  Be creative and see how you can start adding more to make 2016 be even a healthier year!

In health,

Julie

 

 

 

Getting back to my passion

Life changes and along with it can come a change in type of work.  For me it took me away from a lifelong passion to educate people about health and healthy lifestyles.  I learned many things along the way including how much I value health and that it will always be a major factor in my life. I also learned that work is just work unless you have a true passion for what you are doing and consequently I am moving back towards my path of teaching.

It also taught me how stressful situations constantly challenge the innate desire to be healthy.  I am often stuck by the busy-ness of everyone’s life and the compromises of health that come with it – poor eating habits, less exercise, no quiet time, and more.

As I looked at my own life getting busier and busier, I found some things I refused to give up at any cost.  These choices have enabled me to keep feeling healthy even in the craziest of times.  There are several things that I refuse to give up for the sake of busy-ness.  In order, here are my top three priorities:

Always eat a healthy breakfast

For me this means cooking up a bunch of vegetables and having some form of protein be it eggs, chicken or fish.  It is actually super easy to do and requires little time.  I realize this seems like a horrible thought to many people but the advantage is huge!  Here are just a few benefits:

  1. Improved concentration and mental performance
  2. Stabilizing blood sugar levels resulting in less cravings and better food choices throughout the balance of the day
  3. Better physical conditioning
  4. A tendency to maintain weight easier or even assist with weight loss

Drink enough water

I am continually amazed at how few people actually consume water throughout the day.  Although we get some water from our foods, many things can take water away such as coffee, caffeinated tea, soda, exercise and dry climate.  Making sure you have enough is vital.  I feel that getting ½ my body weight in ounces daily is still best and consequently carry a 20+ ounce BPA free refillable bottle of water with me wherever I go, making sure to drink at least 3 full bottles per day.  Here are just a few benefits:

  1. Lubricating joints
  2. Metabolism of fats and maintaining muscle tone
  3. Aids in digestion and transportation of nutrients to the cells
  4. Maintains health of every cell in the body

Exercise

Stress is a major factor in life anymore and one of the best ways to reduce stress is through regular exercise.  I know when I get a healthy workout in at least 4-5 times per week I feel so much better!  The key is finding your rhythm and not compromising.  For me this means first thing in the morning as I know myself well enough that if I don’t get out and do it then, I will come up with every excuse under the sun as to why I can’t fit it in later that day.  The list of benefits is endless.  Here are a few key ones:

  1. Improves mood
  2. Boosts energy
  3. Controls weight
  4. Reduces chance for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases and many more!

As mentioned, these are the top three items that never get compromised regardless of my schedule.

What are your top three?

In health,

Julie

Spinach & Emmenthal (or Swiss) Frittata

With the coming of a new year, often we set new goals.  One that I would like to inspire you to set is eating a healthy breakfast.  Research shows that when we start our day with protein, rather than carbohydrates, it helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and aids in stopping the cravings. 

Typically a breakfast of cereal or toast means that you are getting fairly simple carbohydrates which break down quickly into sugar.  This sugar will affect insulin production and consequently you will start on the highs and lows of blood sugar.  In turn, this will cause you to want something sweet within a few hours of eating; hence the morning ‘donut’ break.  This of course starts you on a cycle that can last the entire day!

To avoid this, eat protein in the morning.  Protein not only will stabilize those blood sugar levels but will actually aid in increasing your metabolism.  A higher metabolism means you burn more calories!  How can you go wrong?

The recipe I am giving you is a fantastic way to get that protein and fill you up; satiating yourself for hours. Not only that but it is so FAST and EASY that you have no excuse!  Once you try this, play around with a variety of combinations of vegetables (I’ll give you a few at the end of the recipe that I like).

Ingredients:

1 TBSP               Butter

2 Cups               Fresh Spinach, washed and chopped or sliced

¼ -1/2 Cup      Emmenthal or Swiss Cheese, grated

2                          Eggs

1-2 TBSP           Milk, ½ & ½ or water

Celtic Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions:

Turn on broiler.  In a small sauté pan that can be put in the oven, melt butter over medium high heat.  Meanwhile scramble eggs with milk, celtic salt and pepper.  Mix the cheese into the eggs.  Set aside.  Place spinach in the pan with the melted butter, stir and cover until the spinach wilts.  This will only take a minute or so.  Once the spinach is wilted, add the egg mixture and immediately place under the broiler.  Broil until the eggs are just starting to brown, about 2-3 minutes depending on your broiler.  Remove and eat!

Serves 1

As I mentioned earlier, there are many variations on this.  Here are a couple of my other favorites.  Instead of the spinach, try these:

Sauté minced shallot and shiitake mushrooms.  This will take a few extra minutes to cook but worth the time!

Sauté minced garlic and swiss chard.  You can add some fresh rosemary if you have it.  This is as fast as the spinach!

Use whatever cheese you have in the house for a variety.  I especially like fresh grated parmesan.

Agave Nectar Update

Agave Nectar

By Dan Butterfield

I received some interesting feedback from my article Agave-Health Food Fraud.  Some people were defensive or angry, others concerned or happy to be informed.  I stated that agave syrup was a chemically processed starch similar to the way high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is made.  A number of people reported that Madhava’s agave syrup was not chemically processed.  Perhaps not.  The real issue is fructose, and what happens when it enters the body.  There continues to be more studies coming out implicating HFCS in heart disease, liver disease, diabetes and obesity. 

A recent human study compared two groups of people, one consuming glucose, the other fructose.  While both groups gained 3 pounds of weight, the fructose group also had elevated LDL cholesterol and triglycerides and their extra weight was more abdominal fat than the glucose group.

When glucose is absorbed, it goes into the bloodstream, raising blood sugar and insulin to bring glucose to the cells for energy.  Excess glucose is converted to fat.  When fructose is absorbed, it goes directly to the liver and does not raise blood sugar levels.  It is touted as a low glycemic sweetener for this reason.

In the liver, fructose is converted to triglycerides for storage as fat through a process called glycosolation.  This causes glycation, or sugar damage to the liver and other tissues.  Glycation and oxidation are the two main ways that our bodies age.

Fructose is processed in the liver similar to the way alcohol is processed, creating some of the same side effects of chronic alcohol use, right down to the beer belly and can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Fructose also raises uric acid levels, a cause of gout and chronic inflammation.  It also leads to weight gain, abdominal obesity, decreased HDL, increased LDL, and elevated triglycerides.  It is similar to drinking alcohol without the buzz.  This creates insulin resistance first in the liver, then throughout the body.  Insulin resistance causes obesity, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimers and cancer.

While there are more and more studies on the negative effects of HFCS, there are no studies that I know of on agave syrup.  However, we do know the potential damage that fructose can cause.  HFCS is 45-55% fructose.  Agave syrup is 56-97% fructose, having almost twice the fructose as HFCS.

Nature may have made fructose fattening, rather than energy producing for good reason.  In temperate climates, almost all the fructose in the form of fruits ripen toward the end of the summer and fall, so that mammals that hibernate and humans and mammals that don’t, can increase their fat reserves to survive the winter.

Bottom Line: 

          –  Agave syrup, or nectar, is not a health food.

          –  It is not a safe sweetener.

          –  In small amounts occasionally, not daily, will likely do little harm.

          –  Companies that market agave pointedly note that

             overconsumption of any sugar is unhealthy.  So while they lay the

             blame on consumers for overconsumption of fructose, they

             continue to push agave syrup as safe.  Meanwhile,

             large amounts of agave are included in soft drinks, ice creams

             and other food products, and consumers are continually

             marketed that agave syrup is low glycemic, “gentle” or safe.

Using Food to Normalize Weight

By Dan Butterfield

This is not about a diet to lose weight, then go back to your regular diet.  This is about a relationship to food that we can be faithful to for life, that will keep us healthy and help maintain a normal weight.

What helps most to lose weight?  Diet or exercise?  Diet is the most important piece of the weight loss picture.  Exercise, while important for health, is less important for weight loss.  In other words, you can be inactive and lose weight.  But if you don’t have food working for you, it takes a lot of exercise to lose weight, and depending on how you exercise, it may actually cause you to lose more lean body mass than fat.  When we lose weight, we want that weight loss to be fat, not lean body mass.

Why are we fatter?  Not just Americans, but worldwide obesity is rampant.  There are a number of reasons; we eat too much; don’t exercise enough, our foods are denatured from industrial farming and food processing, our metabolisms are stressed and we’re too toxic to lose weight.

For now, I’m going to focus on one thing, the hormone insulin.  Our DNA, our anatomy, our physiology and our nutritional needs are virtually unchanged in the past 40,000 years.  If you compressed all of human history into one year, we’ve only been farming and eating grains for the past day.  We’ve only been eating vegetables oils for the past ten minutes.  We’ve not yet adapted to these foods.

Humans evolved in a carbohydrate poor environment.  The hormone insulin is designed to maximize the effects of the few carbohydrates that were available to enable us to survive.  Insulin helps us store excess energy as fat.  Now that we live in a carbohydrate rich environment, eating far more carbohydrates than were ever available to humans before, insulin still maximizes the effects of abundant carbs into abundant stored energy in the form of body fat.

There is only one teaspoon of sugar in our entire blood supply.  Our bodies maintain tight control over blood sugar, as a little too much or too little blood sugar and we will pass out and die.  So the pancreas secretes two hormones, insulin and glucagon, which have opposite effects, ideally balancing our blood sugar.

So when we have a breakfast of cornflakes with some sugar, two pieces of toast with jam, a big glass of orange juice and 3 cups of coffee or tea with a spoonful of sugar in each one, if those 20 teaspoons of sugar went right into our blood stream we’d drop into a diabetic coma then die.  But the pancreas secretes insulin to first carry glucose into any cells that need energy then converts any of the excess to storage as fat.

Most cells in our body have thousands of insulin receptors, in which a molecule of insulin is required to bring a molecule of glucose into the cell.  When there is a chronically high intake of carbohydrates, specifically sugars and starches, which turn into sugar very rapidly, insulin levels stay elevated, eventually causing insulin receptors to shut down, making it more difficult for the body to dispose of extra glucose.  This is called insulin resistance causing more bodyfat, and sooner or later high blood sugar, leading to diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other inflammatory disorders.

This is known as metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance.  Insulin resistance is one of the main reasons that as we age, it becomes more difficult to lose weight.  Our cell walls are damaged.  Out metabolisms are damaged.

So what do we do to repair our cell walls and our metabolism?  As Michael Pollan says “Eat real food.”  But more specifically, eat foods that don’t stimulate the secretion of insulin.

A low fat diet really means a high carbohydrate diet, an insulin stimulating diet, putting our metabolism into fat storage mode.  The low fat fad of the past 20-25 years has stimulated the tide of obesity and diabetes.

Dietary fat does not cause an insulin response.  Protein causes insulin release, but a corresponding release of glucagon, insulin’s partner, which tells the body to burn fat.  Sugars and starches however do cause insulin release, and no glucagon release.  Dietary fat does not make you fat.  Carbs do.  To heal our cell membranes, our metabolisms, our organs, our bodies and minds, we need to give them the foods that our bodies evolved on.  That means moving in the direction of our ancestral diets, sometimes called the Paleolithic diet or Paleo diet for short, for the time in human evolution when carbs were scarce, or infrequent, keeping in mind that our nutritional needs are unchanged in 40,000 years.

So what does a paleo breakfast look like? 

First of all, if you don’t eat breakfast, or mostly carbs, you end up eating yourself for breakfast, especially your muscles and bones – also called lean body mass.  We all wish that we’d burn bodyfat if we skip a meal, but what we burn is lean body mass.  And to make it worse, the next meal we have after a skipped meal, the body doubles the insulin release, increasing energy storage, because skipping meals, especially breakfast, tells the body that food is scarce, better store more fat.

A paleo breakfast is protein and fat abundant, carbohydrate poor.  Eggs, sausage, bacon, free range of course, or grass fed beef, bison or lamb.  Fresh fish for breakfast.  This is the most important meal to have protein.  Fat and protein will elevate our metabolism and keep insulin low and hunger at bay.  If you are hungry between meals, that means your insulin is elevated.  Fat and protein for breakfast gives us more long lasting energy and stable blood sugar the rest of the day.  When we have a carbohydrate breakfast, or no breakfast, our blood sugar is on a roller coaster all day, and we are trying to medicate it with coffee or sugar and other carbs.

We do want some carbohydrates at breakfast and every other meal as well.  We want low glycemic carbohydrates.  These are the above-ground vegetables.  Especially dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, chard, spinach and collards. 

What did I have for breakfast?  Two eggs, local pork sausage and kale, stir fried in coconut oil.   When we sit down to a paleomeal, our plate should be 3/4 produce, and 3/4 of that should be above ground vegetables, the rest root crops and fruits, but fruit must be restricted because of the sugar content, and most of our fruits should be berries.

The other 1/4 of our plate is protein, preferably animal protein such as grass fed meats, wild caught fish, and high omega 3 eggs.

How do we apportion our calories between fat, protein and carbs?  Just as this varied in the thousands of different paleo diets that human evolved on, depending where on the planet they lived, it will vary with each of us as well, depending on where we live and our individual needs.  But, if you need some numbers, 40-60% of our calories should come from fat, 20-35% from protein, and 10-20% from carbohydrates, as vegetables and fruit. 

This way of eating, reduces insulin secretion, and fat storage.  It encourages the body to use fat as fuel.

All of our foods should be nutrient dense.  That means more nutrients per calorie.  Above ground vegetables and animal and seafoods and fats are the most nutrient dense.  Brown rice? whole wheat? quinoa? Lots of calories as starches, few as protein or fat or other nutrients.

Here are some basic guidelines to use food to lose weight and maintain a normal weight:

Eat breakfast.  Eat protein for breakfast.  Eat three meals daily.  Have protein and fat at every meal.  Eat a high produce diet, mostly above ground vegetables.  Eat a low glycemic diet, avoiding sugars, starches and grains.  Don’t snack between meals.  If you are hungry between meals, you might not have had enough protein or fat, or you had carbs the previous meal, or as I said earlier, you are hungry because you are insulin resistant.  So if you become hungry between meals, first drink one or two glasses of water.  If you must eat between meals, make it protein and fat, such as a hard boiled egg, jerky, or nuts.  Avoid fruit juices and dried fruit as they are high in sugar.  And lastly, don’t eat before bed.

Let me make a few comments about fruit.  Fruit is high in sugar, especially fruit juice and dried fruits.  Fructose is readily converted to fat.  If you are trying to reach a normal weight, avoid fruit.  Keep it to one serving daily, and make that one fruit serving berries, especially blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.  These still have some sugar, but are more nutrient dense than other fruits.  So keep this formula in mind – fruits equal sugar which equals stored body fat.

Here’s another formula to keep in mind – starches equal sugar which equals stored bodyfat.  So, chips, crackers, pasta, breads, cookies and grains of all forms, including whole grains, all turn into sugar, much of which becomes stored bodyfat.  Every farmer knows that if you want to fatten an animal, give it grains.

Fat and protein produce the most satiety, the absence of hunger, we feel like we’ve had enough to eat.  Carbs do not produce satiety.  That’s why it’s so easy to eat that whole bag of chips or cookies.  They never truly satisfy.

For most people, it is easier to make dietary changes gradually.  Begin by removing processed and packaged foods.  Day by day, reduce sugars, starches, dried fruits, fruit juices and grains replace these things with leafy greens.  Slowly increase protein and healthy fats.  Above all, enjoy shopping, cooking and eating.

Dan Butterfield is a regular contributor to the Health and Nutrition Experts blog.  To learn more about Dan VISIT HIS WEBSITE.  

This lecture was also recorded with additional questions regarding Glycemic Index / Glycemic Load and questions for the vegetarian.  I am hoping the podcast will be up here soon!  Come back and check. 

For more information on the Glycemic Index, check out THIS SITE.