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The only way is up from here !

September 12, 2011
by

Hi Guys,

It’s been a while I know since my last post, but after 6 months of abusing my body and mind I felt that enough was enough and I need to start pulling myself out of the doldrums and start getting back to where I once was.

I won’t go into details of what’s been going on inside my head over this period because it’s a combination of factors, my weight being the biggest one. What took 18 months to lose, took 6 months to put back on, so I’m right back where I started.

I have been doing a lot of soul searching and reading a book titled The Paleo diet.  The information was given too me by John Williams who is a personal trainer and who has completed numerous Ironman events around the world. He swears by this eating plan, so I thought I better give it a go and stop making excuses.

The paleo diet is based on what our ancestors in the Paleolithic era ate. It is the natural diet that we have abandoned in the face of agriculture, animal husbandry, mass production, and fast food. The typical modern diet is the way it is (unhealthy) because of the way we make, prepare, and store food. The cheaper it is to do these things, the better, at least for the corporations that operate in the food and agricultural sectors.

Much of what we eat contains grain and/or corn. It makes perfect sense from an economic standpoint because grain and corn are ridiculously cheap to produce, are very easy to store, and can be used in numerous ways.  The problem is that while grain and corn are now dietary staples, it’s not what we used to eat back when we were “cavemen”, so to speak.

Humans evolved as hunter-gatherers, meaning we ate what we could easily kill or find. Grains, to us, are indigestible without having been properly prepared first. By going back to our original diet, which is what the paleo diet is trying to mimic, we can reap any number of health benefits.

One of the biggest advantages the paleo diet has over the conventional American diet is that the paleo diet puts us back in touch with the essentials of nutrition and well-being. Meat and vegetables are naturally filling because of the fats they contain, so when you eat according to the paleo lifestyle, you’ll be satiated quicker while eating less, leading to natural weight loss.

By comparison, losing weight on the typical modern diet is a matter of endlessly counting calories, zealously watching your weight, and starving in order to lose a couple of pounds here and there, only to regain the pounds you lost earlier because you couldn’t sustain the diet you were on. Most modern diets are by no means sustainable or pleasant to be on.

The benefits of the paleo diet go far beyond the cosmetic. The modern diet, designed around profitability and ROI, is full of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), trans fats, and other preservatives and stabilizers, all of which make food cheaper and longer lasting. You would not have found any of these things in our Paleolithic ancestors’ diets.

HFCS and trans fats are among the worst of the things that you’ll find in the modern diet. HFCS is nearly omnipresent in the modern diet and is used as a sweetener. Trans fats usually created through a process called hydrogenation, which adds hydrogen atoms to other types of fats. They became popular because they have a high melting point and because they increase the shelf life of food. Unfortunately, increased trans fat consumption can cause a wide variety of adverse health effects, coronary heart disease in particular.

The paleo diet, in comparison, has the proper levels of carbohydrates and healthy fats to maintain optimal health, as well as having incredible levels of vitamins and antioxidants that are largely absent from the over processed food that we are used to eating.

That said, the paleo diet takes effort and commitment. You’re going to have to say goodbye to comfort foods like crisps and sweets. But if you can do it, the paleo diet will help you lose weight, keep the weight off, and make you feel more energized.

The paleo diet is based around eating like our Paleolithic ancestors did. Basically, they ate what they could easily find, whether it was an animal or a plant. Here’s a quick rundown on what you should be eating on the paleo diet.

Meat

This is the central focus of the paleo diet because a good part of a caveman’s diet would have consisted of animals that hunting parties could easily find and kill. The definition of meat in the paleo world is pretty broad, and includes beef, pork, poultry, eggs, fish, and other seafood.

These should always be prepared without any kind of breading and the meat should be as unprocessed as possible, so most lunch meat is going to be out. Beyond that, you can prepare the meat however you like, and the meat should be the focus of each meal. Even if you eat nothing else at a meal, you should have your meat. Just be aware of what you cook it with and what you add to it – you could be adding carbs and bad fats to your food without knowing it.

Vegetables

The basic guideline for plant matter on the paleo diet is that it should be able to be eaten raw. This isn’t to say that you can’t cook them, just that you should only eat things that you could conceivably have picked off the plant and put directly in your mouth.

This doesn’t generally include tubers like potatoes and sweet potatoes, and it definitely doesn’t include legumes and beans, which need to be cooked to be edible. Generally speaking, you’re going to want to stay in the green leafy vegetable area for most of your plant-based eating.

Fruits and Berries

You can and should be eating fruits on the paleo diet, but you do need to exhibit a little more caution in this area. The fruits we eat today have been bred to be extremely sweet and extremely large compared to what the average caveman would have been to find in nature. Because of this, it can be easy for some people to get too much fruit sugar.

Berries are a lot more paleo-friendly and can generally be eaten to your satisfaction. With fruits, you should probably stick to one portion for meal and consider it to be your dessert. Fruit juices don’t count and you should not be drinking any on the paleo diet.

 

Nuts

Nuts are definitely a paleo-friendly food, but there are a few caveats to keep in mind. First off, peanuts are legumes, and probably shouldn’t be eaten on the diet. Secondly, nuts are very calorie-dense and are available in a form that is much easier to eat than what our ancestors would have had available.

This means that is it is very easy to eat too many nuts, which can be a problem if you’re trying to lose weight on the paleo diet, so if you’re still carrying around some extra fat, you should probably try to limit your intake of nuts. If your weight is stable and you’re happy with it, munch away.

Eating like a caveman can be great for your health. This is the basic concept of the paleo diet, and at first it might seem a little counter-intuitive. Didn’t cavemen live short and unpleasant lives where being eaten by a saber-toothed tiger could be considered the easy way out?

The truth is that despite woolly mammoth related accidents and the odd plague knocking their life expectancy down, your average Paleolithic ancestor was actually in pretty good health. No one died from heart disease or cancer, and nobody was carrying around any extra weight.

The basic premise behind the paleo diet is that while our diets have changed a lot over the last ten thousand years, our genetics haven’t. We may eat a diet that is full of grains and sugar, but we still have the genes of a caveman who ate mostly meat and vegetables.

This disparity between what we evolved to eat and what we actually eat has led us to the diseases of civilization such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. If you remove the Neolithic agents from your diet, these diseases tend to go away.

The paleo diet owes a lot to the work of Vilhjalmur Stefansson, a Canadian anthropologist who lived and studied the Copper Inuit in Alaska. He found that the Inuit, whose native diets consisted entirely of meat (mostly fish), virtually never suffered from the diseases of civilization.

What he also noticed was that when the Inuit started adopting Western-style diets, they rapidly gained weight and began to suffer from heart disease and cancer. This fact was eventually noticed by other anthropologists and diet experts, who began looking at what modern hunter-gatherers were actually eating, which in turn lead to looking at what our ancestors ate.

This led to the theory that many of the common, chronic diseases that we accept as a normal part of growing older aren’t actually normal. The conclusion was that if we eliminated foods that our prehistoric ancestors wouldn’t have had available to them, then we could improve our health.

And what cavemen didn’t have was agriculture. They hunted for meat and they would have had easy access to vegetables that could be found where they grew. What they also didn’t have was the carbohydrate-heavy grains that agriculture gives us. The paleo diet throws all that out.

Basically, you can eat whatever you want, as long as you could conceivably have killed it or picked it. You can have as much meat, veggies, and fruits as you’d like, but you can’t have any grain products or anything that has to be processed to eat.

The purest form of the paleo diet is both strict and simple. It’s simple because you don’t have to count calories and measure portion or worry about how many carbs or how much fat you’re eating. It’s strict because it eliminates a whole swath of foods that are virtually omnipresent in the modern diet. The direct correlation between the modern diet and diseases of civilization is undeniable. That’s why going on the paleo diet could be a life-saving decision.

I am going to give this my best shot. I have got myself an exercise bike so I can do something in the evenings along with some core work. I may try and get out for a gentle jog once I have shed a few pounds and start feeling more confident in the way I look and feel.

That’s all for now, hope to see some of you very soon.

Jase

 

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