By now you have all heard our instructors and members tout the benefits of the Paleo Diet, you’ve seen the results in the weight loss, physique and performance found throughout CFW.  I’ve heard some chatter that Paleo just isn’t working for some people so I want to take some time to dispel a few commonly held misconceptions that I’ve heard floating around the gym.

The correct food pyramid

First, lets lay some groundwork, many Americans suffer from hyperinsulinemia, brought on mostly by a diet chronically high in carbohydrates and low in fats and proteins, mostly processed junk food you can get every day at the grocery store. Your body produces insulin when you ingest carbohydrates to remove carbs from the blood and convert them into glycogen for energy.  Over time, if the body is exposed to chronically high insulin levels, cells become resistant to the insulin and it takes more insulin to break down the same amount of carbohydrates. The Paleo diet minimizes insulin spikes by reducing the amount of carbohydrates you eat, highly processed or otherwise, and prevents hyperinsulinemia because there isn’t excess insulin floating around in the blood all the time.  I say that to say this: desserts are not paleo, they should not be a main part of your diet.  No matter how you label them, most desserts are still high carbohydrate foods that you want to stay away from.  Let’s take a look at a paleo dessert recipe” easily found on the internet.  The second recipe on the page for cookies calls for 1 1/4 CUP of honey and some dried fruit.  The honey alone has 349g of carbs! Add about 20-30 additional grams of carbs for the dried fruit and you are hitting around 375 carbs for an entire batch.  And the dedicated Paleo baker says: “But the cookies don’t have flour and honey is all natural isn’t it?”  Yes honey is natural, but it is still 100% sugar. For the amount of sugar found in a dessert like that, you’re better off not eating it, definitely don’t try to pass them off as Paleo, and don’t overeat on them or call them “healthy.”

Next, let’s dispel the myth that eating six meals throughout the day is better than eating three.  Calories are calories folks, to lose weight you need a net caloric intake less than caloric expenditure, it is highly unlikely that you will eat fewer calories on six meals as opposed to three or four.  For example, I believe T. has used this one before, if you eat 6 meals at 400 calories per meal that’s 2400 calories per day.  If you eat 3 meals at 700 calories per day that’s only 2100 calories per day.  Trust me when I say it is very difficult to make a 700 calorie meal if you are eating lean meats and veggies; on the other hand, 400 calories is quite easy to eat – that’s 5 eggs, or 3 eggs and a handful of almonds- not much food when you look at it on a plate. You probably don’t eat many meals fewer than 400 calories without being hungry soon after.

Calories do count folks, a man in Kansas lost weight eating only Little Debbies, keeping his calories consumed less than expended. I am by no means supporting that diet; I’m certain he is deficient in probably every vitamin and

has no muscle to speak of. I know crossfitters love  heavy cream in their coffee because “it’s paleo and full of fat.” True, sort of, but if you’re putting 3 ounces or more in a coffee once or twice per day, at 100 calories per ounce, that stuff adds up- don’t lose track of it.

If you are having trouble losing the weight you want to lose, take a look at your diet and be honest with yourself. Are you eating mostly what we advise, or are you daily eating desserts and breads wrapped in the Paleo guise to make yourself feel better about it?  It is quite possible to over-eat, even eating Paleo.  Instead of finding new and improved ways to cheat the system and make paleo desserts, paleo breads and paleo candy, stick to what works.  Eat lean meats, veggies (preferably green ones), fruits that end in -berry, nuts, seeds and good oils.  ZERO sugar and processed carbohydrates including bread, oats, honey, molasses and maple syrup. Think about the ingredients that you are adding to these so-called healthy treats.  Mixing together bananas, pineapples and other sugar-laden fruits is no better than eating a piece of cake. Paleo works because you eat a healthy combination of protein and fats.  You will get an ample supply of vitamins if you are eating good fruits and veggies. As always, if you have any questions please feel free to talk to myself, Josh or any of our trainers and we will be happy to answer them for you.


7 thoughts on “Sunday Musings

  1. Albert Steed says:

    Great post Tanner! I enjoy these posts as I continue to evolve on what I can cook and do with Paleo. I find myself starting to look at all these things that I can’t do as easily on Paleo and I started questioning was it worth it. For the more part I enjoy the foods the way they are with out having to try to mix in a “paleo” bread or dessert. Seeing these posts from you guys and other sites help drive home that the dessert is still a dessert no matter how you make it.

    After doing this for a while I really get why T said in my first nutrition class that if he is going to cheat he “eats a bag of oroes and passes out”. Good stuff. Thanks to you guys for the constant prodding. 🙂

  2. Mike Paleo says:

    Hi good post in the most part, though had to read the section on calories a few times to understand what you were saying. I find it unhelpful to speak about calories as this just confuses and shores up the age old problem of the calories in/out myth, this has never worked and will never work. A calorie is not a calorie as you know they are processed by the body in different ways dependant on their make up. This is why a low calorie diet can actually result in weight gain as well as long term health issues. Please stop talking about calories and concentrate on the Insulin response as this is a far more accurate tool when considering weight loss and optimal health.

  3. Whitney says:

    I agree with T that you do have to watch your calories if you are trying to lose weight even if you are strict paleo. It’s awesome that when you become a fat burner you can trust your hunger and satiety cues and follow them. And it’s true that most people can roll along mindlessly eating paleo without counting calories. But, even Robb Wolf talks about it in a recent podcast and it is a reality that you might have to count calories if you find yourself gaining weight. People at CFW and most people who eat paleo already flex mental acuity by admitting they have been duped by conventional wisdom in nutrition and training. You don’t have to try to protect people from confusion around here.

  4. t. says:

    @ mike…

    No doubt calories are processed differently and insulin is certainly more important. Then we can talk about how the diet affects Thyroid, Growth, HTP5, Seretonin, and therefore Cortisol and Estrogen and…, and…, and…. , and… , and…

    It’s easy to only worry with insulin. It’s a good start, and Tanner is all over that in the first paragraphs of his post. Believe me, 95% of our paleo preachings centers around insulin modulation.

    In this post, Tanner is addressing the folks that claim the paleo diet doesn’t work for them. They are the cheaters that do need to count up their calories and take true note of how much they are eating.

    I had a young lady who continued to gain lbs of fat while swearing she was eating strict paleo. With a little prodding, she told me she typically made paleo muffins (bran, banana, blueberry, cranberry, etc) on Sundays to have throughout the week. Each were made of all natural, PALEO, ingredients. The problem, they had 320 calories of paleo carbs each. They had very little fat and even less protein. Or any given day she ate three of them… 960 calories. That is half of my caloric intake each day and I weigh a bit over 200lbs.

    It didn’t stop there… our little paleo baker also made a paleo dessert each week. Yeah, b/c her muffins weren’t enough, she needed a paleo brownie too. She gained about 20lbs in a year eating this way. The whole time she said the paleo wasn’t working for her.

    So calories do matter. This is what Tanner’s post is addressing… the Paleo lies.

    To get all into details and nuances of diets and foods and their affect(s) on hormones we’d need a blog dedicated only to diet. I think there are plenty at this point, eh?

  5. Tanner says:

    Hey Mike, thanks for the input man. Tony is all over the purpose of this post. I know that we try not to count calories when thinking paleo, we look at the macronutrients and insulin response. The goal is to keep the insulin response down. In our nutrition classes we say “never eat a carb by itself.” It’s a good motto so we can balance the insulin response with the glucagon response by eating protein and fat. I wanted to address thermogenesis and eating multiple meals a little more in depth, but I couldn’t find any credible web sources to debunk that- mostly bodybuilding type articles, mostly flawed logic. Bottom line, calories sort of count. If you are eating 3000 paleo calories daily you will still gain weight, regardless of how “clean” the food is; “paleo cheats” up that calorie and carb count pretty quick.

  6. Nate Perry says:

    I’m still confused after following this site and reading others. When someone 1st explained paleo to me, the rules were”if it dosent grow out of the ground or run around the forest, don’t eat it” and that made sense to me. Then people say I can’t eat peanuts or beans Then they wanna punch me in the face for eating white potatos and pineapple. I don’t get it. I can’t eat oats because its a grain? It grows out of the ground and all I have to do is add hot water to eat it? That sound pretty natural. Am I all wrong on this?

  7. sara clark says:

    @nate: I get where youre coming from on that. I peevishly bug tanner about why its okay to load up on supplements (getting those minerals out of the ground or wherever they come from and into a pill can harldy be a natural process) and all the protein shakes/aminoe acids etc. But the paleo diet isnt maybe as simple or literal as it would seem. Tanner and tony and the rest of them try to take other things into accout, like that legumes are difficult to process and prone to producing allergies, as are wheat and dairy products. Mongolians milked horses for a long time without dying from it. It doesnt mean its optimal. No one is out to kill you if you eat an oat or have some non berry fruit. The idea is to explain what is optimal, why it is so, and let you decide what to do with the presented information. I, personally, do not usually eat paleo because im lazy. Im giving it a short for the next six weeks though, to see how I feel. But i dont think anyone will shoot me if i opt out at the end. 🙂

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