Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Give Paleo a Chance

   Maybe Albert Einstein was right; time is relative. I swear the older I get the years seem to roll by so quick. Another year has rolled by and 2013 is straight ahead. I am not complaining though, life is good---for me it is all about the journey and not the destination. I enjoy my life daily with my family and take it day by day. My paleo journey is one and a half year old and I have not gotten sick of eggs and steaks yet. This past year I even perfected a technique for making a great steak at home. Thanks to my friend Andre for giving me a great tip on broiling and selecting good quality prime meat. The marbled fat inside the prime cut keeps the steak moist and juicy through the cooking process.

   With new year there are new year resolutions. The resolutions that most of us will only keep for few months and never turn them into life long habits. But this is the beauty of being human. We were design to strive all our life. This constant struggle opens up new possibilities as we strive and struggle in different life scenarios. With struggle comes pain....and there is pain of discipline and the pain of regret. The choice is ours. With political uncertainty in the country, fiscal cliff, and new health laws staring us in the face in 2013, we have no choice but to make sure we take care of ourselves. I am a firm believer that an ounce of prevention is far better than a pound of cure, and who knows if that pound of cure may even be available in the upcoming years. I thought it would be appropriate in this blog post to make an appeal to my friends and family to give paleo a serious chance in 2013, and get them on a path of good health. The remainder of this blogpost, I will take you through what I do on the daily bases. Be creative and do not be afraid to modify the plan to fit your lifestyle.

   The hardest and the most important element of the paleo diet is controlling what we shove down our mouths on the daily bases. The normal diet of pastas, cereals, and low-fat foods has to be eliminated from our daily lives. However, most people simply adopt a non-negotiable attitude when it comes to giving up the breads. The carbs from grains and simple sugars are what making us sick as a society. There are simply too many chronic diseases that are caused by the consumption of grains over a long period of time. Trust me on this one, by simply eliminating grain products from your diet you will start to feel better and the weight will come down quick. Please see my earlier blogposts on grains and you will see the havoc they cause in our bodies. The ubiquitous USDA food pyramid is totally wrong. Several helpings of cereals and breads recommended by the food pyramid is what makes you fat. We should be eating fresh vegetables, seasonal fruits, fresh meats, and healthy fats. When humans were evolving during the paleolithic era, these were the foods that were available to us. There were no Einstein Bagels, danishes, Cheerios, Corn Flakes, and whole wheat breads. We were all hunter gatherers by profession not farmers. Farming or the age of agriculture only started about 10,000 years ago. The hunter gatherers roamed about the land, hunted wild game and gathered wild plants for their sustenance. The hunter gatherers ate animal flesh, animal fat, bone marrow and animal organs. These nutritious and calorie dense foods made our stomachs smaller and made our brains larger. This is what paleo is all about. That is why the paleo diet is also called a stone age diet. However, we are not living in the stone age, but we live in the age of information and the age of the internet. The age where information is only couple of clicks away on Google. Then how are we to adopt a paleo life style in this modern age? We can simply start by giving up the breads. Believe me this simple change will make you feel better within a week. Here is my diet regimen:
  • For breakfast I usually eat 2-3 eggs. Some mornings I eat eggs cooked medium over easy. Some mornings, I add ground beef, onions, mushroom, bell peppers, zucchini  potatoes, or whatever is available in the refrigerator. If I am traveling, and eggs are not available then blueberries or other fresh fruit is enough for me. A cup of coffee black or with little bit of heavy cream is enough to get me through the morning. Sometimes, skipping a breakfast is not a problem. That whole idea that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is simply not true. We are driven by our blood sugar levels. The lower the blood sugar levels, the hungrier we feel and the need to nourish our bodies with food. Breakfast is usually the first meal after a long night hence, our blood sugar is naturally spent and we feel hungary. Generally, eating a good breakfast is a good idea. However, if you had a heavy fatty dinner, then the body might still have plenty of energy left over to keep you going until lunch time. The point is that skipping a meal will not kill you, but it may even do some good. By giving our bodies an intermittent hunger shock forces the cells to burn fat and eventually, the cells learn to burn fat as the source of energy and the dependence on the simple carbs goes away. The hunter gatherers most likely did not eat three square meals per day. The food was simply not available all the time, and they survived just fine. As a matter of fact, the hunter gatherers were lot more healthier than the modern humans.
  • For lunch, I consume a salad, with some meat, like chicken, fish, or shrimps. Many restaurants have a wide variety of salads that are loaded with fresh vegetables and meats. Avoid the soups, salad dressings, breads, and croutons. On the weekends, ninety nine percent of the time I skip lunch. I usually sleep in then my breakfast/lunch is around 10 in the morning. At that point there is no point to having a lunch. Once again skipping a meal here and there is not a problem. 
  • For dinner, I make a salad with lemon/olive oil vinaigrette. Every dinner meal consists of either, beef, lamb, chicken, or fish. I add sweet potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, or many other vegetables as a side. The vegetables are usually cooked in butter, coconut oil, or olive oil. There is no calorie counting. I eat until I am full. A cup of tea after a meal is all I need to complete my dinner. 
   I do not exercise like hitting the gym three to five nights per week. I enjoy the outdoors activities like hiking during the summer months and during the winter months light weights, leg squats, push ups, and few yoga stretches every night is the extent of my physical activity.  My real exercise is just going through the normal daily routine of ---just living. This type of physical activity matches our hunter gatherer ancestors' lifestyle. The hunter gatherers walked several miles per day in search of foods. Once they found food, they setup camps feasted and then slept a lot. The nomadic cycle began all over again once they began to search for food. Since, they ate meats, and plants they were not able to store food for an extended period of time, they had no choice but to move and continue their nomadic lifestyle. They did not go to 24 hours fitness gyms and did countless hours on the stair master to stay fit. They simply walked and did occasional sprinting chasing after a prey. Of course, the real secret was the absence of grains and simple carbs from their diet that never got them fat to begin with. There are numerous studies that suggest that excessive exercise can lead to injuries and may possibly leads us to eat more because we are expending more calories during exercise. The heart is one of the most over worked organ in the body. The heart muscle for our entire life span never stops and continues to contract and expand to produce the flow of blood in our veins. There is no further need to overwork this important muscle. This muscle is moving all the time and the day it stops--well, it doesn't matter then. Most fat burning exercises concentrate on achieving and maintaining a heart rate above a certain level to effectively burn fat. This type of excessive stressful exercises can actually damage the heart muscle. Trust me on this one just breathing sleeping, talking, smiling, thinking, eating---other words just living burns calories. Just living every day burns calories. That is why calories or energy is required to replenish our bodies in the form of food. There are many credible studies that suggest that having a good deep REM sleep burns about 1000 calories per eight hours. Heck just sitting around quietly burns about 900 calories per eight hours. Bottom line is that excessive exercise should not control and make up our daily lives.

   I do not take any vitamins or supplements. Most of the foods consumed in paleo diet contain numerous amount of vitamins and minerals. Just recently I started to take fish oil, and vitamin D supplements couple of times per week. The reason is that we simply do not get enough Omega 3 fats in our diet. A good fish oil supplement fills that void. If you are on paleo and consuming ample amount of fatty fish like wild salmon, then there is no need to take this supplement. Vitamin D is the second supplement I take couple of times per week. This fat soluble vitamin is usually synthesized by the body when exposed to sun light. But being indoors and working an office job there is simply not enough sun light exposure. I only take vitamin D supplement during the winter months. Don't waste your money on multivitamin pills. An egg, 6 ounces of liver, or a small piece of red meat contain plenty of vitamins and nutrients. Most fruits and vegetables contain plenty of water soluble vitamins.
   The food choices I make on the daily bases have kept my weight stable around 155 pounds. My last blood works showed an improvement in my overall cholesterol, and blood sugar level. Yes, my cholesterol improved after consuming nothing but cholesterol loaded foods. My story is not a month old but a year and half old. If paleo is harmful, then this prolonged diet regimen that I have subjected myself to should have harmed me by now. The fact is that I feel great and have more energy, my stomach issues, and joint pains have disappeared. This past year and half I did not get sick, not even a simple flu, this is in a house that is full of kids who usually bring flu from school. The fact is that we were designed to eat the paleo way. The Paleo imprint is in our DNA, our cells process and burn fat more efficiently than simple sugars. I'll continue to write this blog and will continue to report my progress so my friends can benefit from my experiences. Another appeal to all my friends and family to give paleo a serious consideration in 2013. Just try for a month by giving up the grains. Remember, there is nothing but pain...There is the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The choice is ours.

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