There are a million “diets” out there, and it is fair to say that there is very little agreement amongst diet gurus as to what is healthy for you and what will help you lose weight.
I started LCHF (“low carb, high fat”) on a whim after reading a discounted diet e-book in January 2011, entitled Neris & India’s Idiot Proof Diet and Cookbook.
I knew that any diet I tried would have to have simple rules, yet give me enough freedom to live my life without too many interruptions or inconveniences.
LCHF promised me that I could lose fat and improve my health by eating rich, satisfying foods. Best of all, I could stop counting calories. Bingo!
Thanks to LCHF, I lost a bucket load of weight in the first weeks of the diet, and have enjoyed slow, consistent weight loss since. Even more important than the weight loss, my doctor and I saw significant, measurable improvements in my lipid profile and fasting glucose numbers. You could say that I “bought the farm” when it comes to LCHF.
Still, I had some concerns about what I was eating. I was not immune to the common nutritional wisdom that prevails in this country, which, for so long, has demonized bacon, butter and other forms of saturated fat, and placed “healthy, whole grains” on a high, holy pedestal. These deep-seeded convictions really make an impression on a girl! I was also uncomfortable with the low carb faux foods that had found their way into my diet, including fake sugar and oddly processed starches.
What’s a girl to do? Research! I will spare you the details (you can check out my partial bibliography here), but suffice it to say that I have engrossed myself in the study of nutrition and metabolism as if my life depends on it. (Because, well, my life probably does depend on it).
One of the concepts I learned about was Ancestral Health. In particular, I read about Primal, Paleo and Evolutionary diet and fitness. These theories appealed to me because they somehow just make sense to me on some inner “aha!” level.
In short, the Paleo Diet mimics what our Paleolithic ancestors ate and how they exercised. There has been no evolution since Paleolithic times, and we are born physiologically identical to our Paleolithic ancestors. Their remains and other significant evidence show that they were vibrantly healthy, had large brains, well-developed musculature, and good teeth. Our ancestors ate meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds when they could get them.
Today’s take on “Paleo” differs from person to person. The basic rule of Paleo is that you eat unadulterated, whole food of the highest quality that you can find and afford. You do not eat grains of any kind, and no sugar (or other refined sweeteners) are eaten. Generally, Paleo avoids dairy. Paleo does not mean “low carb”, however, as it permits starchy and sweet fruits and vegetables. Many people who follow Paleo eat ample amounts of good quality fats, including high quality saturated fats like butter, coconut oil, and animal fat.
I consider my way of eating to be mostly Paleo AND definitely low carb. To me, this way of eating is both low carb and natural.
When I say “mostly” Paleo, I mean that: I eat unadulterated, whole foods 95% of the time; I enjoy locally sourced, organic produce and grass-fed, hormone free animal products as much as possible; but, I eat some dairy (in the form of cream and cheese… yum) and dark chocolate every single day. As a general rule, I follow the “80/20 principal” devised by Mark Sisson, the founder of the Primal Blueprint diet (basically, you need to be “good” at least 80% of the time).
In order to stay low carb, I am more restrictive than typical Paleos because I avoid sweet and starchy fruits and vegetables, so that I can stay within 20-40 grams of net carbohydrates per day.
Hey, you gotta follow your own path to health and well-being!
Here are some great resources if you are interested in learning more:
- Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats (Fallon and Enig)
- The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy (Sisson)
- The New Evolution Diet: What Our Paleolithic Ancestors Can Teach Us about Weight Loss, Fitness, and Aging (De Vany PhD., Arthur)