Humans are predators. Due to this we should follow some dietary guidelines that are in tune with that theory. With years of supermarkets and easily accessed food we have forgotten our place in the food chain. This has led to a culture of grazers and scavenging. Our health has deteriorated because of this. The predator stalks it’s prey while it is hungry. They carefully choose the prey which will sustain themselves the best, even if that prey is the hardest to catch. When it is full, they stop eating. This is evident on film when we watch the lion hunting the antelope. As soon as they get a kill everyone stops since there is no longer any danger. They kill what they want to fill themselves up and then they stop eating and are no longer a threat. The lion does not graze. It finds high quality food, eats it and then moves on with other pursuits until it is once again hungry. Generally one major meal per day (eating until you are full, and continuing with more food if you become hungry after a few minutes of eating) while under eating throughout the rest of the day. For us we would eat a major meal (upwards of an entire days worth of food) at night and throughout the day fresh raw fruits/vegetables, fresh juices, smoothie, small easily digestible protein (especially after a workout) and tea, coffee and lots of water. Preferably as small amount throughout the day to help keep the hunger pangs away. We as humans must get in touch with this instinct for two reasons. Insulin regulation and detoxification.
Insulin Regulation: (Through proper food choices and timing of meals)
By Extending the amount of time between meals you will force your body to work more effectively. You will force your body to regulate blood sugar and it will allow you access to your fat stores because these are only available when your insulin levels are low.
“When you fast, insulin drops and the hormone glucagon increases, to ensure a steady supply of energy to the body. When glucagon dominates, most of the body’s energy is derived from glycogen reserves and fat stores. Also, the drop in insulin allows the growth hormone (GH) to peak. Elevation of GH increases the body’s capacity to rejuvenate, repair tissues, and burn fat.”
-From “The Warrior Diet” by Ori Hofmekler
Furthermore by choosing your diet wisely you will be choosing foods that are more nutritious, whole and have a lower glycemic load. This will allow you to take in more nutrients per calorie and also allow you to keep your insulin levels low. Through fat and protein intake you will have sustained energy throughout the day. If you are particularly active (such as 12 hour shifts as a paramedic) or have worked out then you should have easily digested protein and a small amount of carbs either throughout your workday or directly after your workout and then a small amount of carbs and more protein approx. an hour after your workout as well. I typically make a smoothie after a workout (raw eggs, leafy greens, chia seeds, flax seed always and then a mixture of fruits and vegetables that I have on hand plus protein powder) and then some sausage and greens an hour later. For my 12 hour shifts I make a large salad with meat (chicken or steak usually). Throughout the day you may eat raw green vegetables or fruits and freshly made juices or smoothies. A handful of nuts make a great snack. I typically make a smoothie on my non workout days without the protein or eggs and I’ll eat a fruit that is hanging around the house as well.
It is imperative to understand that insulin regulation is key, and that generally the culprits of increased blood sugar are refined carbohydrates and starchy vegetables. While vegetables are great sources of carbohydrates you should always eat them whole in order to receive the proper benefits of them. Often times people speak of removing carbs and they are typically referring to removing refined carbohydrates.
Gary Taubes states this from his book “Why We Get Fat.”
“In other words, the science itself makes clear that hormones, enzymes, and growth factors regulate our fat tissue, just as they do everything else in the human body, and that we do not get fat because we overeat; we get fat because the carbohydrates in our diet make us fat. The science tells us that obesity is ultimately the result of a hormonal imbalance, not a caloric one – specifically, the stimulation of insulin secretion caused by eating easily digestible, carbohydrate-rich foods: refined carbohydrates, including flour and cereal grains, starchy vegetables such as potatoes, and sugars, like sucrose (table sugar) and high fructose corn syrup. These carbohydrates literally make us fat, and by driving us to accumulate fat, they make us hungrier and they make us sedentary.”
It is clear that fat and protein should be a high portion of your diet and that easily digestable carbohydrates should be removed completely or eaten at a minimum. I always suggest eating high quality meats (grassfed, naturally raised), and organically raised vegetables that are in season. If you would like chocolate or sweets you may have some, just ensure that it is natural and in moderation. My belief is that if you make a conscious effort to eat well and are always trying to improve on your habits then you will be healthier than you have been. Also, my goal is to typically eat as well as I can and exercise between monday morning and friday afternoon. Then if something comes up on the weekend that I want to eat or do then I do not feel any guilt about it at all.
This information has been gleaned from my own personal reflections, my natural chef course, and the following books specifically. “The Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler and “Why We Get Fat” by Gary Taubes. I would highly suggest reading both if you would like further information.
The second part is Detoxification and we will get into that next week.