The “Paleo” diet has become popular because it’s based on the way our ancestors ate, but there’s no one diet that’s best for everyone as we’re all different. Some people need lots of animal protein while others do better on a plant-based diet. The key is to listen to your body and pay attention to how you feel.
There’s lots of conflicting advice out there, but one thing experts can agree on is we should all be eating whole “real” food. We weren’t designed to eat the way most of us do today, namely the Standard American Diet (SAD), which is high in processed grains, sugar, vegetable oils, and factory-farmed meat, eggs, and diary.
The days of counting calories are over, or if they’re not, they should be—it must be extremely time-consuming exhausting for those who do it. The thing is all calories aren’t the same as food is information for our cells and affects hormones differently. It’s not about calories in and out–you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, author of Eat Fat, Get Thin, it’s not how much you eat but the types of foods you eat that matters, and you need to eat fat to lose weight.
Fat is Good for You
In case you haven’t heard, fat is back. After decades of being told all saturated fat is bad for us and to ditch eggs, red meat, full-fat milk and butter, the tide has turned and we’re learning that it’s actually sugar that’s driving the heart disease and obesity epidemic.
It turns out the whole low-fat craze was based on faulty research decades ago that has since been debunked. It began in the 1950s after a scientist named Ancel Keys came out with a convincing claim that saturated fat caused heart disease. The food industry responded by turning out unhealthy low-fat snack foods loaded with sugar and trans fats from vegetable oils—both contribute to chronic inflammation in the body. Sugar (and refined carbohydrates that turn to sugar in the body) cause insulin levels to go up and make the body store fat, plus they cause cravings, whereas dietary fat doesn’t affect insulin and actually speeds up your metabolism.
Yes, fat has more calories than protein or carbohydrates, but it’s more satiating. When you reduce carbohydrates, you turn from burning glucose for energy to fat (from what you eat and stored body fat). Fat helps stabilize blood sugar and has many important functions, such as making cell membranes and hormones; our brains are made of mostly fat and prefer fat as a source of fuel.
You may be wondering how we were misled for so long and why word isn’t getting out faster. Unfortunately, public policy is slow to change and therefore many dieticians and medical doctors still believe saturated fat is the cause of heart disease and illness and are recommending low-fat diets. There is a small move towards change, though, as the U.S. government is poised to withdraw longstanding warnings about cholesterol.
The new advice is to cut back on, or preferably eliminate, grains and increase healthy fats. Not all fats are the same, of course. You want to avoid bad fats, such as the vegetable oils used in processed foods and most restaurants.
Examples of Healthy Fats:
Fatty fish like salmon
Extra virgin olive oil
Coconut or MCT oil
Nuts and seeds
My Philosophy on Food
Unfortunately, it often takes an illness diagnosis for many people to change the way they eat. Although I’ve always eaten “healthy,” I didn’t get strict about my diet until becoming sick from toxic mold (biotoxic illness). I’ve been on a low-carb/anti-candida type diet for a long time to avoid sugar, which can feed the mold. Around 2004 I started with The Maker’s Diet which emphasizes fermented foods, raw dairy, organic eggs, meats, and vegetables; and allows some grains and legumes, if properly prepared. It’s similar to the work of Dr. Weston Price, a famous dentist who traveled the world in the early 20th century to study the ancestral diets of native people.
Today I also follow the principles of the Bulletproof Diet™, which is a high-fat, medium protein, low carbohydrate diet (50-70% of calories come from healthy fats, up to 20% from protein, and the rest from vegetables). It’s designed to burn fat and control food cravings and emphasizes foods that raise energy and performance, while minimizing food toxins that have the opposite effect. It differs from Paleo diets because it’s adaptable and allows things like butter. This way of eating agrees with me as I rarely feel hungry and am at my ideal weight.
People are shocked when I tell them I put butter in my coffee, which is part of my Bulletproof Diet™ routine. It involves blending coffee, grass-fed butter and Bulletproof® Brain Octane™, a very refined MCT oil (medium chain triglycerides from coconut oil) that’s quickly converted into energy and is good for your brain. Because it’s blended in the blender, it’s frothy, not greasy or oily. Many people who practice intermittent fasting like to drink it instead of having breakfast as it keeps them full until lunch, but I don’t do it very often as most women over 40 need protein in the morning. I usually start the day with a grass-fed whey protein shake after going to the gym and have my coffee around 9:30 a.m. I usually add Bulletproof® Collagen Protein™ to my coffee too and sometimes add a pastured egg yolk, which makes it extra creamy and frothy.
If you’d like to learn how to make Bulletproof® Coffee, here’s a link.
There’s information everywhere about eating healthy and losing weight, but if it was easy, we’d all be doing it, right? That’s where coaches such as myself can help. The problem is it’s not that easy for people to suddenly start eating healthy, because sugar is addictive and habits are hard to change.
Many people are unaware of where the the bulk of the sugar they consume comes from, but it’s usually in what they’re drinking: fancy coffees, soda, juice, smoothies containing a lot of fruit, and of course alcohol (think of a glass of wine being like a candy bar). Sugar is also hidden in things that are marketed as healthy such as energy bars and yogurt. Be sure to look at the grams of sugar on the labels not just the ingredients which may sound “healthy.”
I like the word “detox” better than “diet” when it comes to weight loss. Toxicity is a reason many people have a hard time losing weight as toxins get stored in fat cells and mess with our hormones. When the weight starts coming off, toxins are released and can move into other parts of the body, so it’s a good idea to integrate some detoxing methods such as taking activated charcoal.
Around the beginning of the year, many health coaches and nutritionists launch cleanses and detoxes as it’s a time when people are motivated to do them. However, just like New Year’s resolutions, how realistic is it for people to stick to strict protocols that last three weeks or more? If you can stick with it, that’s great, but things always seem to get in the way and derail our efforts–I know because I signed up for one myself. I also don’t like the idea of depriving myself of protein and losing muscle. It’s easier to start out by taking small steps such as swapping out bad fats for healthy ones, cutting back on refined carbohydrates, switching from conventional meats to pastured, and adding more organic greens.
Coaches can help by educating and supporting people with their health and weight-loss goals. If you’re interested in learning more about coaching and how it can benefit you, click here to schedule a free 20-minute discovery call.