As we discovered in the last post on weight loss, you can choose to eat junk food which will amount to many calories and few nutrients, or you can do as the rest of the animal kingdom and our human ancestors; purposefully look for the foods which provide the most amount of nutrients per calorie as possible (nutrient density). So what foods are the polar opposite of the processed empty calories that we all do well to avoid?
The need for protein and fat is obvious given how amino acids and fatty acids compose the various tissues of our body. What modern paleo diet enthusiasts advocate is the same dietary wisdom that allowed our hunter-gatherer ancestors to evolve from tree-swinging primates; that is, easily assimilated cooked animal foods gave us the quick and easy access to essential proteins and fats that allowed our brains to develop disproportionately compared to the rest of the primate world. The technology of hunting and the harnessing of fire introduced a whole new range of nutrient density that allowed for our development into humans. It is for this reason that animal foods are primary in terms of nutrient density and should compose a significant portion (by calories) of the human diet. That being said, eating meat today is a veritable minefield and there are many valid reasons why people can’t properly digest or become toxic from eating animal foods; the details of this will have to wait for a future post.
The consumption of animal foods provides a large hit of high quality iron, zinc, B-vitamins, and all of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D3, E, & K2 which are difficult or impossible to obtain from plant foods. This is the reason why an Inuit (who’s primary source of calories is seal oil) does not die of rickets (severe vitamin D deficiency) despite the lack of sunlight from inhabiting the cold northern latitudes.
Animal foods accounts for nutrient-dense proteins and fats but what about carbohydrates? Carbs make up the majority of the American diet and the bottom of the alleged healthy food pyramid proposed by the government. The irony here is that carbohydrates are the only macronutrient category that a human being can live without. That’s right, there is absolutely nothing essential in carbohydrates that the human body can not get directly from proteins and fats or synthesize from them. This makes sense given our paleolithic hunter-gatherer roots where animal foods would compose the major source of calories, and in some cases, nearly all calories in certain climactic conditions such as still seen in the Inuit and Masai peoples.
It is not advisable nor healthy to completely eliminate carbohydrates from your diet however. The indigenous people who did so was out of necessity and environmental pressures. There is no good evidence to suggest that this in an ideal diet. Furthermore, there are a great many nutrients that can be found in the multitude of beautiful fruits and vegetables that Mother Earth provides. The one cohort of carbs that most people would do best to avoid is grains, especially modern wheat (read the book Wheat Belly to cut to the chase of this argument) which is notorious for destroying health and causing weight gain. Furthermore, refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup have no place in a healthy diet, let alone one adopted for weight loss.
Lowering total carbohydrates and selecting non-starchy vegetables as your primary source of carbs is the ideal strategy for weight loss. Adequate protein and an increase in healthy fats (butter, lard, coconut oil, olive oil) to make up for the decrease in carbs is the sure ticket to balance your metabolism, heal your body, and lose weight without dieting or doing overly-strenuous exercise to try to burn up calories. How precisely this works is a hormonal matter and is the topic for the next post on weight loss. Until then, get out the butter and put the bread down. Thanks for reading.