30 Day Challenge: Meal Plan – Day 23 & Why Eating Fat Helps you Lose Fat

Posted on May 24, 2011

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It’s a freaky thought, I know, the carb-loving world we live in – hey! even the USDA says go carb-crazy & eat upwards of 250-300g of carbs per day. Does anyone realize how impossible that is if you’re eating a diet rich in fruits & vegetables and minus the grains that are so inflammatory & un-healthful to your body? We’ve been coached by Conventional Wisdom to think fat is the enemy & carbs are our friend. Some RDs will justify this by saying, “a diet balanced in protein, carbs, and fat is healthier than any diet that no-no’s one entire macronutrient category.”

True, eating exclusively protein or only carbs will eventually kill you. But it’s the ratio of each nutrient that Conventional Wisdom has got all wrong. Mark Sisson wrote an awesome article on “the carb paradigm” that C.W. is stuck in – I’ve summarized it below, and linked to the full article here. It is WELL WORTH your time to read the entire article – that is – IF you want to better understand how the food you intake is affecting your health.

Why Fat won’t make you Fat

Look at our biology, it’s right there. It was predominantly fats, ketones and the minimal infusion of glucose via gluconeogenesis that got us here. Dietary carbs were insignificant. In fact, when you consider how ridiculously small the body’s glycogen reservoirs are, you understand that it would have been impossible for us to survive as a species if glucose were truly the “preferred” fuel. Glycogen is the liver-stored form of glucose, which comes from eating carbs. The liver, the main back-up glycogen/glucose storage facility for the brain and other glucose-burning organs, can only store about 100 grams of glycogen. Less than a day’s worth. Your muscles can only hold another 350-500 grams, barely enough to run for 90 minutes at a reasonable clip, and that glycogen isn’t even available to provide fuel for the brain.

That is, you were designed to run on fat for fuel. The problem comes in when you buy into C.W. & force your body to alter it’s own genes to deal with the diet relying on carbs. Your genes are not something you’re stuck with from mom & pops – they are able to altered & changed based on how you live your life – & when you eat a diet heavy in carbs, you down-regulate the genes your body uses to burn fat for fuel. Down-regulating or up-regulating your genes, at its simplest, means that of all the things your genes manage, they will move to the front of the line the gene receptors that are being regularly used & will downgrade the gene receptors that are being used less.

Look at babies to see this in full play. Babies have the enzymes early on to digest protein & fat. They do not even acquire the enzyme to breakdown carbs until their 28th month…makes you wonder why so many cereal companies want babies eating their stuff as a ‘first food.’ The Weston A. Price Foundation (a leader in human nutrition ) published a comprehensive article on nourishment for a growing baby.

Since most of us have down-regulated our gene for fat-as-fuel-burning, it will take following a new way of eating for a period of time for the body to begin using fat as a primary fuel source again. Getting regular intervals of carbs won’t do it. Don’t misunderstand! Carbs need to be in your diet, but unless you’re an athlete, you’ll get plenty from eating veggies & a little fruit – if an athlete, adding a few starches like potatoes will boost you to an optimal level for performance. The problem is – getting there. I can attest to this, if you’re used to having a carb based day, limiting your carbs to those from veggies & some fruits is very different. But in time, it will get there. The decision you have to make is if you want to do the work to turn your body into a fat-burning machine (PS – its not hours of cardio that gets you there either) or do you want to live in the inflamed world of grain-based carbs?

This is a HUGE topic, so we’ll cover more on it in future posts, but all questions, comments, & I-don’t-get-it’s are welcome! On to my meals from yesterday.

Pre-Workout: handful grapes (like natures’ energy chews!)

Breakfast: 2 chicken sausages + last of the leftover guac + 1/2 cup cooked spinach, from frozen (Have you noticed how often the word ‘leftover’ is in my meal plans?? Do the work once and have your future meals already complete!)

Snack: a couple grapes & a couple nuts  (on the run, I don’t usually eat grapes…high fructose and all…but we bought a bag over the weekend when it was HOT, talk about refreshing!)

Lunch: 2 Shrimp Skewers + grilled asparagus + banana and almond butter (I was lucky enough to be home to throw this on the grill at lunch. Even if you’re not going to be home for lunch, cook the whole amount as dinner one night, and pack it up for lunch the next day)

Snack: celery sticks spread with almond butter & dried cranberries on top + few deli turkey slices + handful nuts (felt like having something different, had some leftover dried cranberries, thought, ‘why not?’ – felt like a kid eating these, yum!)

Dinner: RIDICULOUSLY GOOD Almond Chicken + swiss chard (recipe will be posted later today…you’ll want to make this tonight)

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