Killing Sacred Carb-Cows

The more I study the Paleo movement's negative view of carbohydrates, the more I think they're on to something important for any competitive athlete or average person, like this TOJ, just trying to stay fit.

When I first learned about the Paleo diet, I was skeptical because it sounded like unrealistic romantic yearnings for the days of yore when we ran half-naked across the African Savannah, free of commutes and 8-to-5 routines. However, it's backed up by sound biochemistry.

Here's the short-course on Paleo: While we think we're modern because we fly on airplanes and have cell phones, our bodies are, in fact, virtually identical to humans 100,000 years ago. For the vast amount of time that humans have existed, we were hunter-gatherers, eating wild meat and harvesting edible plants. Our physiology is adapted to these foods, because over a vast stretch of human existence, we co-evolved with them.

However, both the agricultural revolution that occurred 10,000 years ago, in which humans learned how to harvest grains and raise domesticated animals, and the industrial revolution, just 200 years ago, lead to radical changes from which we've never recovered. We eat too much, a exercise too little. Although life in many ways is more comfortable and safer, we may be less healthy and weaker as a result. Read Loren Cordain, Robb Wolf, or Arthur De Vany if you want to learn more of the details.

So here we are in 2011 with a growing percentage of our population who's obese, rising rates of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The Paleo movement challenges the entire food pyramid promulgated by our government. They especially target all carbohydrates, in particular grains like wheat and rice. Why? Because when they get in your body they all turn into glucose, which causes insulin resistance and turns to fat. For a TOJ, of special concern, is that carbs disrupt anabolic processes that build muscle.

The Paleo Diet is simple, yet very radical: eat mainly meat/fish and fresh fruit and vegetables. Period.

This is easier said than done because we've been conditioned by our culture to eat lots of refined carbohydrates. Fortified breakfast cereals. Baked potatoes (starch = glucose/sugar). Bagels. Donuts. The  white rice in the Chinese takeout. Whole wheat bread. Tortillas. Beer. Corn on the cob. Hamburger buns. Pizza dough. Carbs and fat are the cheap, basic ingredients of the huge fast food industry, and a multi-times a day habit for many of us in one form or another. Many of these carbs are associated with mother's good cooking, holidays, celebrations, having a good time.

In fact, refined carbs are so sacred in our traditions that for many people it is anti-American to let them go. And cutting carbs is a real challenge because carbs tap the same addictive dopamine-rewarded neural patjhways as cocaine.

No comments: