What about Carbs?

When I eat, I do not count calories and I do not count macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat). Strictly focusing on primal/paleo foods, I minimize carb intake while optimizing fat intake. When it comes to protein intake, Mark Sisson said, “Your appetite will guide you effectively to meet your protein requirements, just as your thirst does for hydration requirements.” This intuitive approach to eating feels just right to me. 

If one wants to lose weight, it is important to keep in mind that too many carbs will trigger a high insulin production and this will put one’s body into fat-storing mode. The Primal Blueprint Carbohydrate Curve highlights what may be the best daily carb intake, in most cases, whether we have a few pounds to lose or for “effortless weight maintenance.” So here’s the suggested carbohydrates’ consumption range:

0 to 50 Grams of Carbs Per Day  

So few carbs a day will put one in ketosis and usually allow for quick fat loss. This might be alright for a day or two (like when doing Intermittent Fasting), but it is definitively not recommended for long periods of time for the majority of people.

50 to 100 Grams of Carbs Per Day

This amount of carbs is the “weight loss sweet spot.” Insulin production is still fairly low, so the body will be able to tap into its fat stores and produce ketones. At the same time, it is alright to eat from the whole selection of primal nutrient-dense whole foods (meat, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, vegetables, and low-glycemic fruits).

100 to 150 Grams of Carbs Per Day

This amount of carbs is what works for most people for “effortless weight maintenance,” after reaching ideal body composition goals. I would say that this is when intuitive eating is king, provided there are no grains or processed foods eaten.

150 to 300 Grams of Carbs Per Day

Eating that many carbs each day will likely trigger “insidious weight gain” as insulin will have to be produced in greater quantities throughout the day. This amount of carbs can easily be reached when one eats grains and sugary snacks.

300 or More Grams of Carbs Per Day

So many carbs undoubtedly puts someone in a situation where measures have to be taken in order to head back in the right direction. Processed foods have to go!

In Summary

This carbohydrate curve is a nice help when we try to figure out what may be the next best step to reach optimal body composition. It takes time to be attuned to one’s body, especially after years of eating the Standard American Diet. But after switching to primal/paleo nutrient-dense foods, intuitive eating comes much more easily. See how your body responds to the changes you introduce. We are all unique individuals so you will have to decide for yourself what to eat depending on your daily activity levels. And of course, always consult your primary physician before starting anything new!

Until next time!

Reference

Sisson, Mark. The New Primal Blueprint : Reprogram Your Genes for Effortless Weight Loss, Vibrant Health, and Boundless Energy. Oxnard, Ca, Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2017, pp. 414–26, 448-50.

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Why counting calories is not needed

We’ve heard for years that we have to burn more calories than we take in in order to lose weight. This phrase is too insufficient of an explanation. This makes us think that it doesn’t matter whether those fewer calories come from nutrient-dense foods or from junk food. In Keto Answers, by Dr. Anthony Gustin and Chris Irvin, it is stated that, “[a]s nutrition journalist and author Gary Taubes explains, obesity is a disorder of fat accumulation rather than excess calorie consumption.” So if too many calories is not the main issue, then what is triggering this fat buildup?

Why consuming too many carbs may be what keeps you from losing weight

Not all calories consumed are going to be utilized by the body the same way. It is important to keep in mind that when a food triggers a high insulin (an energy storage hormone) response, this high insulin level in the bloodstream is going to prevent the body from burning fat or in other words from losing excess accumulated fat. Consuming high-glycemic foods on a regular basis will probably precipitate this fat-storage pattern. It is also important to keep in mind that we are all different individuals with different metabolisms and genetic predispositions, so we are not going to respond to the same foods consumed the same way. Even a single individual is going to handle various foods differently as the years and decades go by. We constantly have to adjust and see how our body is responding to the foods we eat.

What works for weight loss

What we want are calories from whole, nutrient-dense foods, not from processed foods. Healthy fats are what can keep us satiated for long periods of time (especially if we want to lose weight) as mentioned in the previous blog post: What are Ketones? As a side note, Dr. Mark Hyman wrote Eat Fat, Get Thin, which highlights how healthy fats are far from being our enemy when we want to lose weight and stay healthy.

In summary

Counting calories is really not a primary requirement for weight loss. In most cases (as we are now aware), it’s having high insulin levels that can prevent fat burning and appropriate hormone balance.

Reference

Gustin, Anthony, and Chris Irvin. Keto Answers : Simplifying Everything You Need to Know about the World’s Most Confusing Diet. Middletown, De, Four Pillar Health, 2019, pp. 96-98.

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As I have mentioned previously about the state of being in mild ketosis during the day, which implies the use of ketones, now might be a good time to further explain what the use of ketones to fuel our energy levels really means, as opposed to being traditional “sugar burners.” First, a couple of quick, simple definitions to help you understand this topic better:

Glucose = A type of sugar, main source of energy for most people

Insulin = A chemical excreted by the pancreas to transport sugar into the body’s tissues

Ketone bodies = A type of energy source produced in the liver as a by-product of fat metabolism

A traditional “sugar burner” is mostly fueled by the glucose provided from any carbs eaten. When we eat, the hormone insulin kicks in to dispose of the nutrients, which are now in the blood, and send them wherever they are needed. If we eat too many carbs (healthy or not), quickly after a spike of energy, we feel tired because (among other things) a lot of insulin has to be produced to dispose of this excess sugar. Ever wonder why you felt like taking a nap after that lunch you had? That’s the spike of insulin talking. If we are “sugar burners,” we have those ups and downs on a regular basis throughout the day.

Now if we start to consume more healthy fats throughout the day and limit our carb intake, we don’t have to deal with all those ups and downs that excess sugar and overproduction of insulin trigger. Isn’t it a nice thing not to feel like taking a nap after lunch, especially when we can’t? Healthy fats keep us more satiated for longer periods of time.

So we have the healthy fats that we consume and we have the ketone bodies, both to fuel our energy levels in a more linear fashion when we become fat-adapted. Eating healthy fats means consuming foods like avocados, olives, nut butters, certain oily fish,  grass-fed butter or ghee, coconut oil, MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) oils, extra-virgin olive oil, and avocado oil.

Ketones are a by-product of body fat that is tapped into if we fast or if we limit our carb intake to a bare minimum. If we are keto-adapted, we can use those ketones (we are in ketosis) but, if we are “sugar burners,” those ketones are close to useless. MCT oils are the only oils that also increase ketones in the body, such as the Brain Octane oil I blend in my coffee. MCT oils are processed right away by the liver, so a surge of energy can be felt pretty much immediately, especially if consuming C8 MCT oil. This is another way to increase ketones in the body and reach a state of mild ketosis without literally having to fast.

Being able to utilize ketones as fuel to power ourselves each day is an awesome tool at our disposition to better our lives.

References

“Ketosis Is the Mostest.” Head Strong: the Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster-in Just Two Weeks, by Dave Asprey, Harper Collins, 2017, pp. 98-105.

The Primal Blueprint: 21-Day Total Body Transformation, by Mark Sisson, Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2016.

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