Written by Dave Thomas
Thought long and hard about whether or not I wanted to write this one since food beliefs makes people almost as crazy as religion and there’s just no way to have a strong opinion about it without pissing people off. Say grass-fed meat is stupid and you might as well call your friend who follows Paleo a terrorist.
But, at the end of the day a few feathers need ruffling in the name of reason.
Today, some light will be shed a bit different perspective on nutrition advice since you can’t log on to Facebook or Twitter without seeing contradicting articles left and right. It’s the modern day food landscape in America. Something is good, and then it isn’t. Just like that. Because the internet said so.
Fish oil was awesome and now it kills you.
Low carb burns fat. Until it makes you store fat.
Fasting is a great tool for fat loss. If you wanna gain weight, that is.
Whole wheat was amazing weight loss food and now it’s a weight gaining food.
Fruit is good for you. Except the fructose in it will make you sick.
What’s right? Who is full of shit and what actually works? Does science change in one year? Are you trying to take my $19.95 or do you actually want to help me?
Like the cool kid in the class, once he achieves Alpha Male there crops up a faction that doesn’t like it, so they set out to find out every little bad thing about him that potentially could bring him down, point it out incessantly and spread it until that Alpha Male is brought down.
This is nutrition in America. Something goes from underground, to adopted, to popular, to criticized, to hated, to NEEEEEEXXXTTTT!!! in 24 fucking hours.
I’ll present to you three popular topics and show you just how easy it is to make a convincing case on both sides of it. The point here today is to encourage you to have your own brain, your own thoughts and make your own decision on what you think makes you healthy diet.
The Paleo Diet
Let’s start with the hottest topic of nutrition in fitness America right now and probably the most polarizing diet trend of all time in this country. People either love this thing or can’t say enough bad things about it.
Here’s Why You’re Smart for Doing It
First, the diet is ancestral and removes any man made food that simply was not around when our caveman ancestors were clunking around the earth avoiding mammoths and shit.
It’s an indisputable fact that modern day food in America was not around ten thousand years ago. McDonald’s indestructible patties, Twinkie’s and tofu burgers did not exist. Fact. All of the toxins, preservatives, byproducts and man made crap such as high fructose corn syrup did not enter the body of man back then, so just on that fact alone they were probably healthier than we are today.
So, if it didn’t walk on all fours, swim or come from Mother Earth then it ain’t making its way onto our dinner plate today based on these Paleolithic principles. This alone makes the Paleo diet pretty remarkable and convincing.
Further, it doesn’t just allow any ole’ meat, but it must be meat and fish representative of that era, as well. It must have dined on grass, algae and not have been stuffed into a feedlot. It must have been free in nature and allowed to be brought up on it’s own accord, not rapidly and prematurely stuffed fat by a commercial farmer who has to turn product faster for profit.
Lastly, no gluten or wheat. Modern science has proven gluten to be damaging on our gut which in turn disrupts our immune system, increases systematic inflammation and makes us more sickly.
Take these five reasons why gluten is dangerous from Paleo Diet Lifestyle.
- Gluten causes gut inflammation in at least 80% of the population and another 30% of the population develops antibodies against gluten proteins in the gut. Furthermore, 99% of the population has the genetic potential to develop antibodies against gluten. Antibodies acting in the gut can actually be good news, because when the body doesn’t react against gluten right away, gluten proteins can enter the blood stream more easily, especially if the gut is already leaky, and trigger immune reaction elsewhere in the body.
- Since gliadin, the main problem causing gluten protein, can be similar in structure to other proteins found in tissues of such organs as the thyroid or the pancreas, antibodies against gliadin can end up attacking those organs and ultimately cause autoimmune diseases like hypothyroidism and type 1 diabetes.
- Gluten’s inflammatory effect in the gut causes intestinal cells to die prematurely and causes oxidation on those cells. This effect creates a leaky gut and a leaky gut can allow bacterial proteins and other toxic compounds to get in the blood stream, which can also lead to autoimmune attacks on the body. A leaky gut also means that food as not digested properly and nutrients are not absorbed fully, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
- Antibodies against gluten have also been shown to attack heart tissues and cause heart disease.
- Gluten has been strongly associated with cancer. It is potentially cancer causing, but at least cancer promoting.
This takes grains, wheat and all of its family out of the picture and allows for our body to enjoy digesting its most natural diet of meat, fruits, vegetables, nuts and some potatoes.
So, we have these grass and algae-fed animals making up a large portion of our diet, thus sky rocketing the amount of healthy CLA, omegas and fats into our diet. Next to it on our plates are a very generous portion of fresh vegetables for fiber and antioxidants, and possibly some mashed sweet potatoes depending on whether or not we have exercised.
All-natural. Not a single processed food?
Good luck to ya, haters.
Because of the fact that carbs are unintentionally restricted with a high meat, zero grain diet, our bodies will favorably kick over to body fat as fuel in the absence of glycogen surplus after a while. The result of this is an uninterrupted consumption of a protein and fat rich diet all while maintaining healthy blood cholesterol levels and a reduction in body fat.
In the absence of the typical American diet that is loaded with carbs, the Paleo diet regulates insulin levels extremely well. When insulin is regulated, we are more primed to burn body fat than we are too store it, so by nature of a lower carb approach and only consuming foods like sweet potatoes after a meal we systematically train our body to adapt to burning body fat and using dietary fat as fuel for our workouts.
Over time, our digestion and immune system become much improved, our sickly modern man nature goes away, our body leans out and our workouts get stronger.
The end result is essentially an upgraded version of yourself in every sense of the word.
The Paleo diet has been proven over and over again to create weight loss, reverse disease such as diabetes, improve health and create more chiseled athletes.
Here’s Why You’re An Asshole For Doing It
First off, grains existed and were gathered by our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
Those crazy bastards were crushing starch packed sorghum grasses and having a grand ole’ time by the campfire.
This notion of whether or not our ancestors ate grains is completely speculative. The reality is that at the end of the day, no one has a damn clue what these people ate and basing a diet off of it is largely conjecture, regardless of what it might do in the present.
Further, yes, low carb will work. For a while. Then it will completely reverse what it’s accomplished and cause you to store fat, and store it quickly the second you might stray from it. The reality is we need far more carbohydrates as active athletes than the Paleo diet allows. When you prolong periods of low carbohydrates in the diet, you essentially scramble the airwaves of proper hormone homeostasis as evidenced here by Krista Scott Dixon.
When you are calorie restricted LCD for longer than you should, your hormones, which are used to moving along your internal railway interchanging at predictable routes, are now without a conductor and are all over the place. Their previous positive functions become bad, “where they zigged they now zagged”, and your body is all of the sudden put a cease and desist on fat burning.
So why did this happen? Aren’t we supposed to be burning fat in the absence of dietary carbs?
At least for a while.
In a diet that contains a sane level of macronutrients, growth hormone is released in the correct doses, most notably in spikes during our sleep and in periods of heavy training.
In the right doses, growth hormone is a very anabolic pituitary hormone that works in our favor, promoting muscle growth and repair. It improves lean body mass, improves bone density, increases resting energy expenditure (burn more fat playing Call of Duty) and maintains a properly functioning thyroid.
Growth hormone also helps activate lipolysis with is the use of body fat as energy(5).
In most scenarios, growth hormone release is a most excellent thing.
However, in a macro or calorie deprived, cortisol filled body, which could be you if you are training hard five times per week and eating under 50g of carbs per day for longer than 30-60 days, GH fluctuates more unpredictably, has more untimely spikes and you end up with chronically elevated levels that cause lipogenesis, the creation of new fats.
Worst yet, and more important than your pretty little exterior self, your thyroid begins to under function, and your thyroid is kinda important. It controls how the body uses energy, regulates your metabolism and manages proper sensitivity to other surrounding hormones. When it underperforms, other pituitary and adrenal glands begin working in overdrive to try and keep everything in homeostasis. When this becomes chronic, you can develop hypothyroidism which is a deficiency in the T3 and T4 thryroid hormones, damaging our ability to metabolize our food properly, among other bad things.
If your thyroid becomes uncalibrated it’s just a recipe for bad things from every direction.
Pair all of this with the intense and stressful act of challenging Interval Weight Training workouts (IWT) and this combination is an exploding bomb of fast fat gain as your growth hormone has sky rocketed in the wrong way, your stress cortisol is elevated and your metabolism is shot.
The triple whammy of go fuck yourself.
So now you are training hard and supposedly eating right, yet you are hanging onto body fat like a climber clinging to a cliff without a net.
Thanks, Paleo induced low carb!
Fish Oil has long been taken as one of the safest and most effective ways to get heart healthy omegas into your diet. It has been more recently popularized over the last few years, with nationwide sales exploding from where it was ten years ago. With this growth comes increased speculation and putting it under a microscope.
Here’s Why You’re Smart for Taking It
Fish oil is hands down one of the best substances you can put into your body. As a general society, we are woefully undernourished in the realm of omega-3s as a lot of modern science points to systematic inflammation as a very predictable precursor to disease.
Basically, it all boils down to omega profiles among other things. For the sake of simplicity, let’s focus on the two most popular omega’s. Omega-3 and Omega-6.
They exist to naturally counter balance each other. One promotes deflammation (omega-3), the other promotes inflammation (omega-6). Both of those are critical processes that we rely upon for survival but the problem is too much of any one of them is very detrimental for our health. We’ve evolved to need and thrive on both but Big Food makes it nearly impossible to keep them within the boundaries we need.
Science has shown the most ideal ratio of omegas needs to be in the range of 2:1 for Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio, however almost all commercially processed dairy, meat and other foods are jam packed with Omega-6s due to the diet the animals feed upon.
Commercial chicken and beef are raised in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) and they fatten up on diets exclusively made from corn and drugs (corn creates heavier animals faster, thus brings them to slaughter quicker and turns over profit at a greater rate then letting them fatten up on grass naturally).
The problem is that corn is naturally high in Omega-6′s which in turn results in beef and chicken that are loaded in 6′s. Over the years, this has skewed the average person to be closer to 20:1 ratio than 2:1 and puts our bodies in a constant state of inflammation since, remember, Omega-6′s promote inflammation.
“Omega 6’s are in almost everything we eat,” says Jeffrey Bost, PAC, clinical instructor in the department of neurosurgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and also co-author of Fish Oil: The Natural Anti-Inflammatory.. “Our diet has shifted away from fresh veggies and fish to foods high in omega-6s, such as crackers, cookies, and corn-fed beef.”(1)
Thanks, Big Food!
When you consider that a lot of modern research is linking inflammation to all of the nastiness that is heart disease, diabetes, childhood obesity and more, you start to understand that getting omega-3′s wherever we can get them is vital for our thriving and survival.
That’s where fish oil comes in. By supplementing wild caught fish oil we are able to return that out of whack 20:1 ratio and normalize it a bit. Get to a little bit more of a yin and a yang and not such a huge imbalance of deflammatory omega-6s.
Fish oil is great for our hearts, skin, nails, the circulatory system, that nasty thing called inflammation and has even been found to help depression and anxiety. It is an absolute must that we take it in order to fight off all of the crap we’ve collectively put into our food as a society.
Here’s Why You’re An Asshole for Taking It
Because it can increase our risk of prostate cancer.
At least so says this study by Bramsky, et al.
“These anti-inflammatory omega-3s were associated with a 43 percent increased risk for prostate cancer overall, and a 71 percent increased risk in aggressive prostate cancer,” said study lead author Theodore Brasky, a research assistant professor at Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center in Columbus.(2)
According to Bramsky and his research team, they found that men eating the most fatty fish and taking the most fish oil supplements had an overall 43 percent increase in risk for all prostate cancer, compared with men eating the least fish or taking the fewest supplements. The risk for aggressive prostate cancer was 71 percent higher.(3)
So there you have it. Study shows that the once thought as miracle fish oil can actually be not only ineffective, but fuckin’ deadly.
What? Fruit? Why in God’s name is fruit on this list? Isn’t fruit just supposed to be universally good for you?
Let’s find out.
Here’s Why You’re Smart for Eating It
Fruit is nature’s most concentrated source of healthy antioxidants as berries are considered by many to be among nature’s perfect super foods. It is among the best source of Vitamin C, a very important antioxidant that fights free radical production in our bodies.
From Dr. Boyd Eaton.
Antioxidants are nature’s way of defending your cells against attack by these free radicals, thereby helping you resist aging and disease. If you don’t have adequate antioxidants to step in and combat free radicals, then oxidative stress tends to lead to accelerated tissue and organ damage. This is what makes antioxidants so crucial to your health.
It’s important to understand, though, that there are different types of antioxidants.
Antioxidants are often lumped together into one category in how they protect your cells from free radicals, but they are actually very different. For instance, certain antioxidants are water-soluble while others are fat-soluble. Why is this important? Because the interior of your cells and the fluid between them are composed mainly of water, whereas your cell membranes are made largely of fat.
Free radicals can strike both the interior of your cells and the cell membrane, so you need to be sure you’re consuming both water-soluble and fat-soluble antioxidants to protect you.(4)
Further, fruit contains no cholesterol, is rich in potassium to help maintain healthy blood pressure from diets typically heavy in sodium, is packed with gut friendly fiber, and is loaded with the red blood cell forming folic acid.
Here’s Why You’re An Asshole For Eating It
What you can get from fruit in the form of antioxidants, you can get from most vegetables in just the same amounts, all without the adverse sugary fructose.
What’s so bad about fructose?
Check out this list from Paleo Diet Lifestyle
- Fructose can only be metabolized by the liver and can’t be used for energy by your body’s cells. It’s therefore not only completely useless for the body, but is also a toxin in high enough amount because the job of the liver is to get rid of it, mainly by transforming it into fat and sending that fat to our fat cells.
- Excess fructose damages the liver and leads to insulin resistance in the liver as well as fatty liver disease. In fact, fructose has the same effects on the liver as alcohol (ethanol), which is already well known as a liver toxin.
- Fructose reacts with proteins and polyunsaturated fats in our bodies 7 times more than glucose. This reaction creates AGEs (Advanced glycation end-products), which are compounds that create oxidative damage in our cells and ultimately lead or contribute to inflammation and a host of chronic diseases.
- Fructose increases uric acid production, which, in excess, can cause gout, kidney stones and precipitate or aggravate hypertension.
- While most of your body’s cells can’t use fructose as a source of energy, the bacteria in your gut can and excess fructose can create gut flora imbalances, promote bacterial overgrowth and promote the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
- In part because of the damage done to the liver, chronic excess fructose causes dyslipidemia, which means that your blood lipid markers tend to shift towards numbers that indicate a risk for heart disease.
- Fructose rapidly causes leptin resistance. Leptin is an hormone that controls appetite and metabolism to maintain a normal weight. Leptin resistant people tend to gain fat and become obese really easily.
- Excess fructose alone can cause all the problems associated with the metabolic syndrome (diabetes, obesity, heart disease, …).
- Cancer cells thrive and proliferate very well with fructose as their energy source.
- Excess fructose also affects brain functioning, especially as it relates to appetite regulation. It has also been shown to impair memory in rats.
If you’re scoring at home that’s one article that says fruit antioxidant prevents cancer and another that says fruit fructose helps it thrive.
Further, from the aforementioned Dr. Boyd Eaton.
Consuming plenty of raw, locally harvested, organic vegetables is one of the best ways to get the antioxidants your body needs, in levels that most closely replicate the Paleo diet. Juicing is a convenient way to increase your intake, especially if you eat the pulp.
Additionally, reducing your sugar and fructose intake will decrease your antioxidant stress so that you will need less, and the ones that you have will work better and last longer. So limit sugars, including fructose, and processed foods, and increaseyour intake of veggies to optimize your antioxidant intake.(4)
But…doesn’t the Paleo diet call for fruit? What does “some fruit” mean? Why is it vague? How am I supposed to know how much is too much? Is this pineapple going to fuck my liver?
Is this apple a day going to not only not keep the doctor away but is it going to make me have to see him?!?!?!?!?!!??!??!!??!!?!?!?
What Are We To Do?
By now, you probably are not pleased.
And that’s the entire point of this article.
If you let the clutter of the food airwaves do it, it will drive you insane, as just as easily as something can be written to prove something, so too can it be disproved by someone else.
To this point I have not shared a single opinion of my own, just simply used different well known publications to counter one another to illustrate how much contradictory “evidence” is out there and how you “must follow it.”
Clearly, I do have my opinions and I share them. But they are just that. Opinions and beliefs based on what I have tried and seen to work for me and a handful of others. That doesn’t make them fact. That doesn’t make them law and that doesn’t mean you have to follow them. I know that I’m not a doctor. I’ve never drawn someone’s blood and analyzed it. I’ve never treated a cancer patient. I’ve never been obese and had to reverse it.
To some degree food is like religion in this country. We have different sects and different beliefs and people believe in and defend them until they foam at the mouth. For some reason, the topic of food and diet makes people very defensive and out to prove that they are correct. At the end of the day, long-term food effects are to some degree just rolling the dice on science in which we believe which is why just as much as the person who goes out of their way to bash something like Paleo bothers me, so too does the person who scoffs at me for eating a fucking bagel.
As individuals, we don’t really know that something will prevent or make us sick. We don’t really know what the Paleo diet will do to us in twenty five years and we don’t really know whether fish oil actually works. I am amazed at the amount of rhetoric in the industry of people who are so damn certain of something and I think it’s leading us down a dangerous road of always buying into the next article we read. Fitness and nutrition ADD and the disease of recency.
Here’s what I think, and it ain’t nothing original. Just good ole common sense if you ask me.
- Focus on good, clean whole foods while minimizing the processed garbage and sugar laden foods.
- If you follow Paleo, awesome. Just stay sane with it and remember to provide your body adequate carbohydrates (anything below an average of 75-100g per day for long periods of time should be avoided) that match your level of activity.
- Eat fruit. Just not bowls and bowls of it. Consume more vegetables than fruit.
- If you have wondered about fasting in the morning, try it out and see if works for you.
- Take fish oil and eat salmon. It will not give you cancer but will most likely help you prevent it. That study supposedly linking it to prostate cancer by Bramsky, et al? Just as soon as it was released, it was debunked and contradicted by scientists all over the globe countless times over.
- It’s not about the amount of calories you eat, it’s the quality.
- If you want to, eat a cheeseburger. On a bun. With bacon. And extra mayo. Do it. Just don’t do it a lot.
- We don’t know if gluten is harmful, but personally, I can tell when I have eaten it.
- Oatmeal is probably not going to kill you.
- Sweet potatoes are and will always be excellent.
All of the opinions above could easily be deduced simply using common sense and your God given brain. There’s nothing too radical in those thoughts. But, when we read everything we see and interpret it as the gospel, we go back and forth and constantly yo yo until we can’t yo yo’s no mo and we’re left six kinds of crazy.
I suppose the moral of the story, along with the entire point of this article is to not simply follow something because you read it. Including this site. Take it all as suggestion based on empirical evidence, try it, and ultimately find out what works for you.
Who are you going to believe? Your body? Or a stranger you never met who may or may not look like this?
Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think, and if you liked it, please hit the SHARE button below.
Sources and References