Is Going “Gluten Free” Enough? (Part 1)

Posted on November 28, 2011


Since my last post, the gym is open and running! Now to continue filling it with people who want to get stronger, fitter, faster, better. If you’re someone who wants to learn from pros who know the best ways to get muscles turned on, fat burned off (and kept off), & who can teach you how to make fitness work for you no matter who you are, where you are, and how much time you have, then ProKine is where you want to be. 🙂

In addition to the busy-ness of the gym, I’m moving! And yes…getting threatened with stiff $ penalties if my apartment walls are not back to builder-white has been prioritized by me as greater than blogging. But I’m here now! So let’s get talking!

I was organizing the office last week, and while I was organizing the notebooks we have, one had the papers flipped so the back page was facing out. And on it had been written the first half of a day’s food journal – my food journal, actually. When I found that food journal, I read it and laughed while simultaneously shaking my head. “No wonder…” I thought. Here’s what my journal listed:

Bfast: Oats (steel cut) with berries and honey
Snack: Apple with almond butter, nuts (probably almonds or cashews)
Lunch: Caprese salad, asparagus
Snack: Gluten free crackers

Why do you think I laughed at this list & thought ‘no wonder?’…It looks like pretty decent food, right? I mean, it’s definitely not McD’s!

We’ll explore several variables that are ‘less than optimal’ with that food journal over a few blog posts (because you’ll glaze over if we do this all in 1 go) & it’s my hope that you’ll learn from my early mistakes & make more optimal choices for your meals and snacks.

So what’s wrong with that list of food? It’s just one big insulin-spiking roller coaster that contains very little protein or fat and a whole lotta carbs. It has approx. 34g of protein, 35g of fat and 100g of carbs. Remember I still had dinner to get through (where there would have been another grain + protein) to add to these totals. Compare that to today, when I don’t eat 100g of carbs in an entire day, I eat 2.5x that amount of fat, and eat 3.5x that amount of protein. And I’ve gotten significantly healthier since changing how I eat from that early food journal when I’d just gone gluten free.

Whether you’re on the Paleo bandwagon, the gluten free band wagon, or no wagon at all – one thing you simply must understand if you are to understand how food/lifestyle plays into health/wellness.

Inflammation is at the root of almost* all disease.

*the scientific theory does not allow for a definitive statement unless every variable has been proven/disproven. Since new diseases are still emerging, we cannot say all, but for the top killers of humans- heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even cancer – look to inflammation first.

Here are 2 ways to create inflammation in your body. (There are other ways, but we’ll leave those for another time)

1. Eat foods that spike your blood sugar, causing lots of insulin to be released into your blood stream.

2. Eat foods that contain pro-inflammatory compounds in them.

Let’s take apart #1: When you eat a food, it breaks down into smaller components as you digest it. Eat a food that breaks down as a simple sugar (carbs do this) & your body has to send out insulin to deal with the spike in blood sugar. Because, you see, you no live long time if you have sugar for blood.

You don’t eat many sweets you say, eh? How about your whole wheat bread (2 slices raise blood sugar more than 2 Tbsp table sugar), your rolled oats (because you already know those ‘instant’ oats are not as healthy)…sorry, same deal- blood sugar spike, your side of fruit along with your yogurt (sigh…sorry Charlie, fruit is full of fructose & most yogurts have 8g of sugar or more)…and all those cheery little gluten-free goodies like gluten free pasta/crackers/bread/cookies/etc.? oh this is so not good, those spike your blood sugar even more than the whole wheat bread. Total bummer right? Initially, I agreed…yes, bummer.

But when I looked at what those silly little gluten free foods were doing for my wellness and performance, I was willing to try something different. What wasn’t working for me? Well, at the time I wrote that food journal, I was gluten free, but I was unknowingly relying on sugar to keep me going all day. No, I wasn’t eating sweets at every turn. I was eating grains at breakfast daily, as a small part of lunch or afternoon snack (usually tortilla chips or GF crackers) and a few nights a week quinoa would show up on the dinner plate.

Grains break down as glucose in your blood stream. Whole9 says it well in their Grain Manifesto: “When too much blood sugar is present in the system, your body quickly runs out of places to store it as useful energy, and will store any excess as body fat.

In addition, when too much insulin is present in the system, the cells in your body become desensitized to the hormonal “message” insulin is trying to send. Since the message isn’t getting through, your pancreas is prompted to release even more insulin when your body doesn’t need it.

Finally, chronically high insulin levels lead to a condition in which your body has trouble releasing the energy already stored in your cells. This is a bad place to be. If (via a diet high in carbohydrates) this pattern continues, insulin levels continue to rise, fat stores continue to grow and the body becomes completely incapable of responding to its own directions.”

Does that make you re-think that pre/post-long run bagel or your gluten free crackers and cheese afternoon snack? *For the record: I’ve leaned out more since cutting the grains in my diet way, way down. No, it’s not hard, you just have to learn what you’re doing. Vegetables and potatoes provide ample carbs for the diet of even an active person.

I’m also not “hangry” anymore. Hangry: ‘hungry’ + ‘angry’ = “hangry” <–not a good thing for all parties involved. Hangry-ness happens when your blood sugar is plummeting after a previous skyrocket. Now, I get hungry, but it’s a deep, real hunger of needing nutrients – not a response I’m feeling from my ‘here & then gone’ simple carb snacks. I can go several hours without eating, and am not wrecked from it. I used to eat literally every 90mins some bite, snack or meal would go in my mouth because of the blood sugar roller coaster I was on.

We’ll get to method #2 for creating inflammation in the next post. We’ll look at how you can limit the amount of pro-inflammatory compounds you eat & find more optimal foods that will fuel your body better. Till then, take a good look at what you’re eating – maybe do a food journal for a few days, and see what types of foods you’re eating most. If it’s a carb-heavy diet, take a serious look at how that’s making you feel, look, and perform & consider how a change to your diet could improve on those things.