"Still, Joe Friel was skeptical when he and Cordain first began debating the Paleo diet in the 1990s.
A marathoner, cyclist, triathlete, endurance coach, and author, Friel had built his reputation on giving clients scientific support for his training programs. He had a deep belief in pasta power, and tried the Paleo diet himself only to shut up Cordain, his neighbor in Fort Collins, Colorado. The first two weeks on the diet, Friel felt like crap—‘the way I would in the old days when we carbo-depleted before a marathon,’ he told me one morning while finishing a long bike ride. But the third week he felt strong enough to increase his training by 50 percent. The fourth week, he increased it another 50 percent, and he's been a true believer in Paleo eating ever since."
Most of us use glucose (carbohydrates) as a primary energy source. Our brains, our muscles, thrive on carbohydrate consumption…or do they? Did you know that a whopping majority of our cells actually prefer to use fat (ketones) for energy? So, what’s the catch? Although fat is a BETTER source of fuel, it takes some adapting to fully reap the benefits of making the switch. We’re talking completely rewiring the way our metabolic circuitry runs- upregulating certain biochemical switches (enzymes) and downregulating others. Some of this happens quickly, but other aspects can take days to weeks. Initially, you’ll be sending your body the message that you are rebelling against it...cutting off its most prized, convenient energy source, ah! AT FIRST, you WILL crave sugar. You might experience fatigue, clouded thinking, even potentially miserable workouts, double ah! But stick it out like Joe and I and so many others have done. Give your mind and body the chance to experience the greatness of being a “fat-burner!” Ultimately your body thank you...those mood swings will vanish, those afternoon crashes will be a mere remnant of a past lifetime, and those God-awful sugar cravings will subside. What there’s more? Your body fat will shed and/or transform to muscle before your eyes, your lipid profile is likely to improve (I say it will, but I can’t make that claim for ALL individuals so this is me protecting myself), and your workouts will become more explosive than ever. Just give it a try...if you’re not completely satisfied with the way you look, feel, and or perform right now, then what do you have to lose?
the Atkins diet. Nor is it a must-be low carb diet. The paleo diet includes a wide variety of carbohydrates; in fact, ALL of those that grow and are natural, whole foods. You know, like sweet potatoes, veggies, fruits, etc. (NOT bread and pasta)! These carbs are the ones that are bursting with nutrients, the stuff that our metabolic machinery was designed to tolerate. HOWEVER, carbohydrates can be the most important factor
that affects weight loss/gain and overall health. Excessive carbohydrate intake gives life to several diseases, including metabolic syndrome (Syndrome X), obesity, and type 2 diabetes. Did you know that carbohydrates are the one macronutrient we do NOT even need to consume? And that majority of the cells that make up our bodies PREFER to use fat (ketone bodies) for energy??
For those of you who like to follow a set of guidelines, here is a rough establishment of carbohydrate intake “zones.” Keep in mind that carbs should be consumed primarily post-workout, when our metabolism is revved up and muscles are hungry for glucose, and as part of a well-balanced meal (i.e., with a sufficient amount of protein).
o 0-50 grams per day: Ketosis zone.
Congrats, your metabolism is converting/has converted over from the dark side. You are no longer dependent on carbohydrates for energy; instead, you are reaping the benefits of sustained, fat-derived energy. If done properly, this is a great way to initiate rapid weight loss.
o 50-100 grams per day: Slight work zone.
You are still restraining your carbohydrate intake to some extent, but also loosening the reigns and allowing yourself to indulge in those post-workout coconut waters and protein-fruit smoothies. This is the zone I consider ideal for long-term, everyday health, especially for a relatively active individual.
o 100-150 grams per day: Work hard, play hard zone.
Have you reached that I-never-thought-it’s-possible-only-dreamed-about body composition? Are your triglycerides finally below 100mg/dl? Great, now pat yourself on the pack and pound a sweet potato! Although this is personally a little high for myself, this range should not be problematic for most metabolically sound, active individuals, especially men. My tip is to reduce your fat intake as you increase your carbohydrate intake…so on days where you want to stuff your face with assorted fruit, sweet potatoes, Lara bars, yogurt, and wash it all down with wine, stick with leaner meats.
o Above 150 grams a day: Quick sand zone.
Unfortunately, both unhealthy and “healthy” eaters end up in this zone. Exhausted dieters crawl right into the quick sand simply by following the standard American diet (SAD) recommendations and filling up on grain products (e.g., breads, pastas, cereals). These poor people who are reducing fat intake and cutting calories- merely doing what they are told to be healthy- are still gaining weight. Hanging around in this zone will shift your body’s production of insulin into overdrive and set you up nicely…for fat storage and metabolic derangement. We all have bad days, but don’t spend more than that “bad day” in this zone. Don’t become a victim of the quick sand.