Should You Rethink Your Carbs?

If you’ve been following health trends, you must have heard about carb restrictions. This ranges from not eating bread to obsessively counting your macros, trying not to go over the magic limit of 50g, where our body uses ketones instead of glucose for our daily functions.

It is also quite possible that you have become quite overwhelmed by the keto – that it makes you feel uncomfortable as it requires concrete changes in your diet.

Let me assure you that a low-fat diet does not in any way mean you have to »become keto«. Ketosis is only one side of a very large carb spectrum.

Low carb means consuming less than 150g of OH per day.

This is almost 900g of potatoes (uncooked), 500g of rice (uncooked), 250g of chickpeas or a whole kilo of oats.

As you can see, you can still eat your carbs quite freely at dinner or lunch.

The question now becomes – why should I limit carbohydrate intake?

Personally, I believe EVERYONE should check and adjust their carb intake. The real question is – by how much? The answer depends on gender, age, stress levels, our (in)activity, general health and of course our goals, so it is virtually impossible to tell the exact amount.

However, I believe it is worth considering a lower carbohydrate intake (50-100g / day) in the following cases.

1. If your goal is to lose weight.

Yes, it is true that we should be in a caloric deficit, but things are more complicated than that. If we only looked at how many calories a certain food has, we could assume that we should stuff ourselves mostly with carbs. But the fact is that carbs cause blood sugar to rise significantly, which is followed by a massive drop, which causes us to be hungry again after a very short period of time. In addition, it is very difficult to eat small portions or  the recommended portions of carbs, while protein and fat saturate us faster and keep us full for a much longer time. Because of that, we don’t need snacks, and as a result we eat less and let our body use stored fat for energy (pretty cool, huh?)

2. If you have a sedetary life style

If you are sitting most of the day, it is virtually impossible to burn through all the glucose your body receives from carbohydrates if they are your main source of energy. Only a limited amount can be stored in the body  (in liver and muscles), and whatever is left, is converted into fat. If you exercise a lot, you are emptying the storage in your muscles, but if you don’t really move, your body will keep on converting all those calories into body fat. Therefore, it is important to adjust the amount of carbs to your activity.

3. If you are often hangry between meals

Has anyone already mentioned to you (or did you notice yourself) that you are annoying or almost impossible unless you are “fed” regularly? Maybe your hands start to shake or you can’t think straight when there’s been more than a couple of hours since your last meal or snack. If you wish this to stop, if you want constant energy to be as productive and focused as possible, reduce the amount of carbs and exchange them for proteins and healthy fats.

4. If you consume too much sugar

Do you always have one hand in a cookie jar or are you constantly reaching for chocolate? Perhaps you just can’t resist bread, croissants, pasta or pizza. Too much sugar is a problem most of us have, and often don’t even realize how much of it we actually consume through the day. By simply reducing your carbohydrate intake, I assure you that you will be consuming far less sugary foods and replacing them with healthy, nutritious alternatives (you know – veggies😉).

5. If you notice that you are reaching for food when you are sad, stressed or bored

The last point is one of the biggest problem of our modern society. We are very busy and we feel isolated and so food has become our friend. Or perhaps there was a lack of food when we were younger and now we just don’t want to be without it. If you have noticed that you are reaching for food to console cheer yourself up or to calm down, this is a clear example of emotional eating. In majority of the cases we go for carbs, because they quickly give us that hit of dopamine (the happy hormone) we need to feel a little better at least at that moment. We often feel like we’re unable to resist – that we simply JUST CAN’T STOP. The main problem are carbohydrates, especially those that are heavily processed – flour, sugar, industrially produced food. Remove all three from your menu and you will take the first step in regaining control of your emotions and life.

These are just some of the biggest reasons why a low-carb diet is worth considering. But it is important that you deal with it in a way that is comfortable for YOU. Find a version of a low-carb menu or general guidelines that suits you and TEST TEST TEST! If you need help, I’m here for you – write me a message and together we can put together a plan for a healthy body and mind.
Have you noticed any positive changes when reducing your carbohydrate intake? Or has your body responded in a way you have not expected?  Share your experience in the comments below!
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Vitamin D: Don’t Forget About It In The Upcoming Months!

October is here and that means waving goodbye to sunny days and preparing ourselves for cold days. Hot tea and a blanket become our best friends. Since there isn’t enough of sunshine anymore, this means that we can quickly become deficient in one of the most essential vitamins in our body – vitamin D. If you wish to know more about WHY this vitamin in so crucial to our health and HOW to achieve the desired levels in your body, keep on reading.

Why Is It Important?

Vitamin D is an essential hormone that regulates cell growth and prevents the formation of many diseases. It is synthesised on the skin when it is exposed to the sun, and is then metabolised and activated in the liver and kidneys.

It plays a central role in the metabolism of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, improves absorption of key nutrients such as vitamins A and C and strengthens the immune, cardiac and neurological functions and expression of genes.

Vitamin D affects about 200 genes (we have about 24,000 genes), affects the hormone levels (especially those connected to our positive thinking – beta endorphins an serotonin). Growth and regeneration are regulated primarily by affecting the very important P53 gene that controls hundreds of millions of daily events occurring in our cells – its role is, for example, informing cells when problems arise, and instructing them to make the necessary changes. It is also involved in apoptosis – the natural self-destruction of redundant or damaged cells before they become malignant. If vitamin D is deficient, the activity of the P53 gene will decrease or the gene will just turn off, which increases the risk of developing cancer significantly.

A recent study has shown that vitamin D reduces inflammation in the body and can be very critical in controlling autoimmune diseases; because it controls the growth of cells, it is crucial in healing.

Scientists have shown that people with excess weight are usually vitamin D deficient, and at least one study has shown that increased intake of vitamin D has reduced the percentage of body fat.

Low levels of vitamin D have been convincingly associated with an increase in asthmatic attacks in children and adults.

Another interesting finding is, that it activates areas in the brain that are responsible for our biorhythm.

A recent study also showed that vitamin D deficiency is the main cause of other health problems, such as depression, muscle pain and joint pain.

The Best Way To Reach Desired Levels

The easiest way to synthesise Vitamin D is by exposing ourselves to sun light.  15 – 20 minutes of sunbathing daily (when we are in short sleeves and short trousers) is enough to satisfy daily needs. Of course, the exact time depends on the color of our skin – the brighter we are, the shorter the sunshine exposure should be. If you are wondering when the sun is strong enough, the answer is –  when our skin changes colour after being exposed to it.

What About Skin Cancer?

Many people become nervous when I propose that they should be exposed to the sun for a short time without protection. But did you know that for every diagnosis of skin cancer, there are 55 diagnoses associated with vitamin D deficiency? Research at the University of California has shown that by simply increasing the consumption of vitamin D, it would be possible to prevent more than 600,000 annual cases of breast cancer and colon cancer around the world.

Alternative Sources of Vitamin D

We can get some of it from food – most abundant sources are salmon, tuna, eggs, liver, mushrooms and eggs. However, to reach the desired levels, aforementioned food should be consumed daily, and it is also important how this food is grown and obtained. Commercial foods have minimal levels of vitamin D. Due to various factors and the fact that most of us don’t feel like having salmon and liver on a daily basis, it makes sense to consider vitamin D in the form of supplements.

It’s therefore a great idea to supplement vitamin D in the form of capsules or sprays in fall and winter. When deciding which ones to take, check the labels in the back for any unnecessary additives – we definitely don’t need magnesium stearate, which helps to prevent the capsules from clinging to each other, but it also causes gastrointestinal problems or maltodextrin, or other sweeteners. Because Vitamin D is fat soluble, it’s wonderful if you can find some additional fat in your capsule – make sure it is high quality, like extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil – some manufacturers add cheap low quality oils,  make sure to avoid those.

How Much Do We Need?

I recommend that you consume 2 000 IU daily. This figure represents the minimum levels you should maintain. It is very difficult to over-supplement vitamin (but not impossible), so do not worry, even if you take a bit more than I suggested.

Because vitamin D can be stored in the skin, you don’t need to consume it daily – just take higher doses once a week.

For precise values, I propose that the level of vitamin D be tested by your doctor. Based on results, you can determine the optimal amount you should be taking  (your vitamin D level should definitely not be lower than 30 ng / ml) and you can retest again in a few months to compare the levels.

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Start Living Healthy With No Fuss

Living healthy became SUPER COMPLICATED. There are so many different guidelines, so many different styles, so many different rules. That is why so many of us are wondering – rightfully so – ask – is what I’m doing REALLY? healthy? Is this TRULY good for me?

Answer Honestly - Does Living Healthy Seem Simple To You?

If your answer is NO, then this post is for you! It is meant for anyone who wants to improve their health, but doesn’t know where to start or suffers a massive headache just thinking about it.
The truth is, not all of us has the time read through all the literature. Or we just don’t feel like it. And why should we? You know how to drive a car, but you do not need to know EVERYTHING about how it works, right?? Yes, it is great if you have some extra knowledge – for example, you how to change a tire, or what that light that suddenly started blinking away like crazy means, but if you don’t know, no big deal – we call for assistance and they will take care of your problem for you.

So this is what we’ll be doing today. I’ll be teaching you how to drive a car. The good news is that rules stay the same, no matter what brand is it – rules stay the same no matter what type of diet you follow. All experts and all doctors agree with them, so we can be sure that they are OK for us as well ;). 

We’ll talk about 5 GOLDEN RULES. Because we all agree on them, you’ve certainly heard all 5 of them. But it often happens that our heads get filled up with so many details that we forget about the main ones. The purpose of this article is therefore to remind you of the basic rules that will help you on your way to better health and will, if you follow them properly, undoubtedly improve your health and well-being.

1. Eat Plenty of Veggies

You’ve probably heard this one about 100 of times from your mom. Why? The more veggies you eat, the greater the diversity of nutrients and the greater the amount of nutrient intake. Veggies take care of sufficient fiber intake. It is also important to keep in mind that vegetables we get in supermarkets have a lot less nutrients than homegrown, therefore going for locally grown vegetables is a great plus.

2. Stay Away From Processed Vegetable Oils and Trans Fats

It is the most important rule of all. I don’t know why, but many of us don’t take it as seriously as we should. I’m CERTAIN that we ALL know that refined vegetable oil is NOT a good choice. Nevertheless, we probably ALL OF US have a bottle of such oil in our kitchen. Even if we do not use it every day, it’s there – you know, just in case.  Maybe we think a little here – a little there doesn’t hurt.

It is important to remember that you will find these unhealthy oils is in almost every pre-cooked pre-packaged food. So a little here a little there adds up quickly. 

I would like you to think about the following fact. There is a strong link between the consumption of processed vegetable oils and the rise in chronic diseases in the last 70 years.

One problem is the enormous amount of omega-6 fatty acids consumed with such oils. Although small amounts of omega-6 fat are necessary to our survival (that’s why they are called “essential”), most people consume MUCH more than they need, especially when comparing to the consumption to the ratio to omega-3 fatty acids .


Studies have linked the high consumption of omega 6 fatty acids with a wide range of health problems – certain forms of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory diseases, osteoporosis and autoimmune diseases.

Another problem is the fact that processed vegetable oils oxidise during the production itself. Oxidation is also caused by cooking, improper storage (in transparent bottles on the counter). The consumption of oxidised fats is irrefutably associated with cardiovascular diseases.

Think about this. 

And all we have to do is be a little more careful with our choices of cooking fats.

What about trans fat? These are fats, which are chemically processed in order to their aggregate state and become more stable, which is great for manufacturers – and they’re cheap to!!


Trans fats are associated with higher LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, and a higher number of inflammations in the body; some studies also suggest a higher risk for various types of cancer.

Do yourself a favour, do something good for your health and remove refined vegetable oils and margarine from the kitchen. Since vegetable oils are so sensitive and quickly oxidise, I suggest that you don’t use vegetable oils at all.

3. Stay Away From Sugar

I’m sure you’ve heard that sugar is like a drug for us? This is because it’s a very concentrated and quickly accessible source of energy, so it’s just IRRESISTIBLE. But let’s look beyond the usual argument – that sugar causes obesity. There are several other concerning problems.
Sugar causes excessive production of insulin, storage of excess fat, stimulates appetite, interferes with our sense of satiety, and hormones that influence the storage of fat, inhibits the functioning of our immune system and causes inflammation and oxidative damage to important cells and organs in our body.

4. Stay Away From Processed Foods

When we eat processed foods (such as chips, McDonald’s or snacks from vending machines), that usually means that we also consume some of the most harmful ingredients in modern dietary supplies. This includes refined grains, high fructose corn syrup, vegetable oils that cause cellular damage and oxidation, plenty of salt, additives and colours.


Refined grains: interfere with blood glucose control and the satiety signal, raise blood glucose and increase insulin, plus they often promote overeating. Grains also feed the wrong bacteria in the gut and have a negative effect on our immune system.


Unhealthy fats: processed foods usually contain cheap vegetable oils with lots of omega-6 fatty acids and are very prone to oxidation. They can damage the cardiovascular system and even increase the risk of cancer.


Excessive use of salt: salt is  wonderful thing in moderation. However, processed foods are usually excessively salted, leading to imbalance of micro-nutrients and may affect the regulation of fluids and functioning of the kidneys.


Additives and colours: these can cause many long-term and short-term health problems, including irritable bowel syndrome, cancer, and increased hyperactivity.

5. Work Out Regularly

Everybody recommends more activity. The problem is that people love to exaggerate and instead of being moderately active, they spend a lot of time at the gym, working so hard that they can barely move for the rest of the week.

It is important that we know how to find that sweet spot between lying on the couch and daily 5 hour work outs at the gym.

AND THESE ARE THE 5 GOLDEN RULES!

no complications, no fuss. So if you want to make rapid changes without wondering, if what you’re doing is healthy, start with these five rules.

After a while, if you wish, you can dig deeper into the nutrition and figure out exactly the perfect way of eating for your body. 

When it comes to general guidelines, we are very similar to each, fine tuning of our health, however, is highly individual and requires some extra effort.

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How to make sure that you keep up with your plan and eat healthy?

When we decide to improve our diet, we often imagine ourselves cheerfully cooking, and enjoying fresh, healthy food that we have prepared for ourselves and our loved ones.  The problem is that often these ideas also remain in our heads, IF we’re not smart about it.

So how can you make your plans stick?

Three words. PLANNING. PLANNING. PLANNING. Many people say that planning is boring and that it limits us, we’re not so spontaneous anymore. I believe it’s quite the opposite. Planning meals is one of the most liberating tricks when we try to live healthier. Planning allows us to simply forget about food for that day or week and we don’t need to think about the next meal. There is no dilemma about what will be on the table on Friday afternoon, because we have already determined this at the beginning of the week, and we can focus our thoughts elsewhere and are thus much more productive throughout the day.

Therefore – NO EXCUSES. 

Dedicate a few hours in the end of the week for planning meals. For me this is Friday, since I like to do all my grocery shopping at the local market on a Saturday morning. If you buy everything you need for the coming week in one go, you get an extra bonus – you avoid the temptations in the form of freshly baked bread or delicious chocolate, plus you save a lot of time during the week – no need to go to the stores at all (two for the price of one, that’s an offer you TRULY can’t refuse 😉 )

You have NO IDEA what to cook?

First check your refrigerator and the freezer – do not be like my mom, who has endless amounts of food stored in three freezers and never uses them, because she simply never remembers it 😉. It’s very likely that at least one thing hidden in there is almost due, or  you might find a long forgotten peace of rabbit at the bottom of the freezer.


Then think about what is currently in the season – take advantage of the fact that there is still plenty of veggies to get before fall strikes!

Also, if you’re like me and like checking the mail from all your grocers, you can see if there’s anything that you like discounted in the next few days. Is there a recipe you’ve been thinking of testing? Great, why not this week?!

You can now begin creating the menu for the week. HOWEVER – be realistic / realistic. If you know that you eat out 3 times a week, do not plan to bring lunch to work or even plan to skip it. If you know that you REALLY don’t like fish, then don’t plan a huge tuna salad on a Monday night.

Realistically evaluate how your week will go – if you dine out, check the menu beforehand, and write in the menu what you will choose. If you’ll taking food to work, consider which meals will survive such a trip.

What about the upcoming week?

If you LOVE experimenting and searching through recipes, create a folder on your desktop and throw in anything you find that inspires you. This way, you will build your personal idea bank that will help you decided on meals for the coming week.
HOWEVER – where does it say that you need to keep on changing the mealy?? If you’re a simple & easy going person, just repeat the menu in the next week. A good solution might be to write a menu for 2 weeks and then repeat it just once. This way the food will be diverse enough, but you’ll have almost no work.

TRUST ME - planning of the menu is one of the greatest tricks that will help you keep the promises you have made to yourself. It's much less exhausting and time-consuming than it may seem at first - in fact, it's quite the contrary - it saves us a lot of time and energy.

How are you planning your weekly menu? If you have any extra tricks up your sleeve,  share them below! 

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In Order to Successfully Transform Your Body…

You already know everything about healthy food. In fact, just the other day I came across this picture:

Very simple. In fact, it’s overly simplified, but in its core, the statement is true – if we want to see  changes, we need to burn more than we ingest.

We also know that some type of exercise is a good idea – so that we don’t become all saggy and lay on our couch most of the day. There’s a voice inside our head that is telling us our usual route of apartment – car – office – car – apartment might not be enough.

However – nutrition and exercise are NOT the most important. Hmm…so what’s left? Sleep? Yes, most of us don’t sleep enough. Either because we work too much, or because it’s so hard to turn off the TV (yeah, happens to everyone.).

I’m not talking about that either.

My dear friends. IN ORDER TO SUCCESSFULLY TRANSFORM YOUR BODY…

YOU HAVE TO TRANSFORM YOUR MIND FIRST.

Err. What now?

 

Keep on reading – this is usually where we get it all wrong.

 

I will feel better when I exercise more, when I lose those 3 pounds when I have “a perfect week” (where are you perfectionist? 😉) – sounds familiar?

Humour me, and go through the following exercise – actually, there’s nothing funny about it – IT CAN LITERALLY CHANGE YOUR LIFE! You can thank me later 😉

 

Take the piece of paper (ACTUAL piece of paper, do not open WORD 😉) and split it into two parts. On the first part, write your feelings that you have about yourself. Do you like yourself? Do you feel you are always tired? Overworked? Write everything that comes to your mind.

 

On the other part write how you would feel if you had reached your goal. How do you feel as a healthy person? Full of energy? Confident? Happy?

 

Did you write it down? Great!

 

Now you have a choice to make. How do you want to feel? I think it’s a safe bet, you wish to feel like this new, improved version (ME 2.0).  Take the list you wrote about your new self and stick It to your bathroom mirror or take a photo of it and save it on your phone and MAKE SURE YOU READ IT EVERY DAY!

 

BECOME THE PERSON YOU WANT TO BE RIGHT NOW!

 

And that’s the secret. By THINKING and ACTING as a healthy person who enjoys movement, eating healthy foods that nourish your body and likes taking care of themselves in general, YOU BECOME THIS person.

You CANNOT do it the other way around – don’t wait, become a WINNER TODAY! Every morning check your list and put yourself in the shoes of this new version of yourself. AND I PROMISE YOU – you’ll get there! It might even be easier than you imagines!

 

What is your perfected, ideal self – your 2.0?? Send me a message on INSTAGRAM, let’s connect for support an motivation!

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What is Primal? – Part 2

Primal is not yet a very well-known term – it describes a lifestyle based on evolutionary knowledge, that is all about gene optimization. In my previous article, I presented you with a food pyramid and explained how to eat according to Primal principles (in case you don’t know what I’m talking about, check the article HERE), but today I’ll be talking about another, just as important topic – movement.

I have a very important message for you – working out will NOT help you lose weight!

That’s right, extra hours in the gym or 5 bonus miles on your daily run won’t help you trim your waist. On the contrary, chronic exercise, aimed at rapid weight loss (or any extreme result) can trigger an increased desire for quick energy (yeah, you guessed it, I’m talking about carbohydrates), inhibit fat metabolism, supresses our immune function, and puts our body in a stressful situation where it begins to break down our muscles. Not only that, chronic exercise affects the hormones that affect our fat storage – the body is trying to make sure it survives our next chronic session by storing its energy.

Isn’t that completely crazy?

Don’t put your sneakers away just yet – aerobic workout

Even though exercise won’t help you lose weight, this doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be a priority.

Easy, daily activity improves the functioning of our immune system, fat metabolism and the functioning of our brain. This doesn’t include only the so-called “planned exercise” (running, cycling, dancing, yoga, Pilates …), but also everyday life movement – cycling to the grocery store, walking the stairs, or strolling around the park. Don’t forget about the element of fun – do something you enjoy and invite your friends for a volleyball tournament or go swim in a nearby lake to cool down from these crazy temperatures.

Light exercise has a beneficial effect on our bones and joints, helps us regenerate from more intense workouts (more on this below), reduces the risk of injury

But what IS the right intensity?

Determining the maximum aerobic heart rate isn’t easy, and the formulas do not give us the exact value – there are many different opinions on how to make measure it, however Primal Blueprint is a supporter of the simple formula presented by dr. Phil Maffetone, who says that the maximum aerobic heart rate is calculated as follows:

Maximum Aerobic Heart Rate = 180 – Age

The formula was tested by thousands of athletes over decades and can be determined without complicated laboratory tests.

By the time we become more fit, the maximum rate will of course increase, but this does not mean that it is a good idea to exceed the calculated rate.

Formula adjustments

Subtract 10 if you are not completely healthy, recovering from a surgery or if you are taking medication regularly.

Subtract 5 if you have recently been injured (sports injuries), you catch a cold for more than 2x a year, you have allergies, asthma, you don’t train regularly, or have only recently started.

No adjustments: regular training (4x / week) for at least 2 years, without the aforementioned issues.

Add 5 if you are a professional athlete or you regularly participate in competitions.

Anaerobic Exercise - Your New Best Friend

Short, high-intensity exercise and occasional sprints have an anti-aging effect, as they improve the functioning of our organs, optimize our body composition, improve our well-being and cognitive functions, and generally help us develop a body that’s in top health.

The ideal training lasts for a maximum of 30 minutes, it is intense, enjoyable and includes functional movements, which we also perform in our everyday life, during everyday tasks.

It is very important that we do not perform the trainings when we’re tired, but do it when we are rested and full of energy – so there is nothing wrong with skipping or rescheduling if we do not feel our best.

Sprinting = Your Secret Weapon

The great tools in your sports bag are sprints. Yes, SPRINTS! Occasional all-out, maximum effort work outs trigger a series of positive neuroendocrine, hormonal and genetic changes that affect the development of muscles, fat burning, increase our energy, and delay aging. Sprinting also increases insulin sensitivity, positively influences levels of testosterone and growth hormone, stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis, and increases the size of mitochondria (which, amongst other protects us from oxidative stress, the main indicator of aging), improves our cognition and increases mood by reducing inflammation and improving delivery of oxygen to the brain.

Primal recommends, that in order to harvest maximum benefits, we sprint once every 7 to 10 days. The sprint should last between 8 and 20 seconds, and there should be sufficient rest between the individual series (4-6 repetitions). Sprinting can also be performed on a stationary bike – in this case, one sprint should last up to 60s.

These are the Primal lifestyle recommendations, if we want a healthy and fit body. Below you can also see a Fitness pyramid, which captures everything I wrote about today. For all the additional questions send me a text via website or Instagram!

 

How are you going to take care of yourself today?

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What is Primal? – Part 1

I’m a Primal Health Coach and I promote Primal lifestyle – but I can imagine many of you now will scratch your heads and give me a funny look – “What the heck does Primal mean?!”. It’s ok, the word is not widely known, but you will see, as I go along, it is a very intuitive way of living – yes living. It is not only about food – although nutrition is very important – it emphasizes movement and mindset.

Because there is SO much to cover, I decided to focus on this post primarily on explaining where Primal ideas come from and explaining the nutritional part of it.

Mark Sisson – Founder of The Primal Lifestyle

(Source)

Now this name, I’m confident many of you have heard. He was a top-level marathon runner, who later in life turned his attention to developing a healthy lifestyle that supports our body and mind, without requiring hours and hours of hard exercise or eating tasteless food that does not satisfy our cravings. He believes being healthy should be a goal we’re chasing with excitement and enthusiasm, and not this annoying and difficult path that makes us beat ourselves up when we’re not perfect.

If you wish to get to know him better, I highly suggest you read this article.

Primal promotes optimal gene expression

When we say that “ah, it’s genetic”, we often think that it cannot be changed – for example, eye colour, hair colour, our height, personal characteristics, predisposition to alcoholism, heart disease, etc. We cannot influence these traits with our lifestyle.

We can, however, affect genes that are related to health and well-being, such as genes that influence muscle development, body fat storage, inflammation, and other aspects of general health. For example, even if you have a strong predisposition to being overweight or towards a certain illness, you may override these predispositions with a lifestyle that promotes the optimal gene expression.

Primal ideas are based on the knowledge we gained from studying evolution and life of our ancestors. We have learned how to achieve optimal gene expression – certain behaviour can literally “switch-on” or “switch-off” different genes in order to get the desired effect.

One of the most important findings is that our bodies LOOOVE fat, both from food or all the goodies we carry with us. This contrasts with modern guidelines that recommend carbohydrates to be the central part of our diet. A modern diet based on carbohydrates has created a dependence on carbohydrates as a source of energy, and for this we have sacrificed efficient fat metabolism.

Instead of exploiting our fat stores and other energy production mechanisms (stored glycogen, gluconeogenesis, or ketone production), high carb eating stimulates chronic over-production of insulin. If insulin is chronically elevated, other sources of energy are not available to us.

High carbohydrate diets cause inflammation, inhibit our immune system and cause hormonal imbalances, which increase the risk of heart disease and other serious illnesses.

The need for glucose can be easily satisfied with a moderate consumption of foods from the Primal-approved list (vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds), by the process of gluconeogenesis (amino acid conversion to glucose) and the production of ketones in the liver. (Ketones are a by-product of fat metabolism when consuming very few carbohydrates. The body uses them in the same way as glucose – they are a very efficient and clean internal source of energy, and therefore an excellent replacement for energy from carbohydrates.

Primal makes us more calorically efficient

Nowadays we often pose ourselves the wrong question – seeing all this delicious food around us, we wonder, “How to eat all this and still stay fit and healthy?” The correct question would be “How can the body be minimally burdened with food and function optimally?” Primal nutrition allows us to be calorically more efficient – so we can eat a small number of calories and our body works doesn’t get affected by it. This situation is much more desirable than, for example, accelerating metabolism – accelerating metabolism, which means accelerated cell division, increases the risk of cancer cells and reduces life expectancy.

By reprogramming our genes to become more efficient in using fats and ketones as sources of energy, we reduce our attachment to carbohydrate consumption – we are no longer in the fight-or-flight state when food is not nearby and there is no need for our body to use extreme measures, such as converting lean muscle tissue into glucose.

WOW, Primal sounds AWESOME! So what do I eat?

Now that I’ve got you on your side (I do, right?) and you are completely excited, it’s time for me to introduce the rules of the game.

Primal lifestyle does not promote a rigorous plan, where person anxiously counts how much fat, protein or carbohydrates he/she consumed. Instead, we follow three simple rules:

  1. Consuming less than 150g carbohydrates per day (this would mean, for example, 2 large roasted potatoes or 3.5kg of roasted zucchinis) – how much OH we consume depends on our goals and our physical activity.
  2. Moderate consumption of proteins – enough that the muscles in the body are preserved
  3. Consume enough fat to feel satisfied.

Source: Mark’s Daily Apple

The Primal Blueprint Pyramid

The nutritional pyramid shows that the Primal diet is based primarily on a variety of vegetables -along with protein and HEALTHY fats, it represents a perfect meal for our body.

There are, however, a few things we have to address in the “moderation foods” section

FRUIT – include it, if you are more active, try to consume local and seasonal fruits, that are the most nutritious (berries certainly take the first place)

DAIRY PRODUCTS – full-fat products (especially if they are produced locally) – are excellent foods that benefit our health, IF we see that they are well tolerated by our bodies.

CARBOHYDRATES – Limit them according to your activity. A special note here – I added the category of legumes – research has shown, that legumes are not as bad as they were first portrayed and when preparing them properly (and if we notice no negative effects on our body), there is no reason why you could not make them a part of your diet – especially, if you REALLY miss that peanut butter or hummus. Another stop is rice – not only wild rice, also white rice can be a part of your plate. Unlike other grains, it does not include gluten, therefore doesn’t harm our gastrointestinal tract and with proper preparation techniques it can even be an excellent source of prebiotics (read more about it HERE).

DARK CHOCOLATE – you’ve probably came across at least one article describing chocolate as extremely healthy. And it is – in moderate amounts and with high enough cocoa content – at least 75%, and even better, 85%.

In the case of supplements, I would like to point out that these are tools that only help us achieve optimal health and not substitutes for fresh foods.

The pyramid above shows which foods are ideal sources – but of course, we all don’t have the option to enjoy organically grown, local foods, so just do your best!

Primal/LCHF/Paleo – what’s the difference?

 

Primal

LCHF

Paleo

Basic foods

Vegetables + protein + fat

Vegetables + protein + fat

Vegetables + protein + fat

Starchy food

Yes – amounts depend on our daily activity

No

Yes

Dairy products

Yes – full fat, preferably local if tolerated by the body

Yes

No

Grains

Rice – in moderate amounts and in combination with enough activity

No

No

Fruit

Yes

Berries, avocado, citruses

Yes

Sweeteners

Yes (excluding artificial sweeteners and sugar), very small amounts

Yes – only zero calories sweeteners

Yes (excluding artificial sweeteners)

Legumes

Yes, if tolerated by the body

No

No

 

Lifestyle (Nutrition + movement + mindset)

Diet

Diet

The main difference that I want to point out is that Primal is a lifestyle that also includes other aspects that influence optimal health, while LCHF and Paleo are diets only. Are they interested what Primal has to say about movement and mindset? Do not miss the next post!

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Resistant Starch

It is becoming increasingly clearer that health begins in our gut. In the past few years, many studies have link unbalanced intestinal flora to being overweight, chronic inflammatory bowel disease (Chron’s disease and Ulcerative colitis) and depression.

What is the connections between resistant starch and my gut?

Resistant starch is excellent “food” for our bacteria – it belongs to one of the three categories of prebiotics. Prebiotics are carbohydrates that our body cannot digest, therefore they reach the colon untouched and feed our bacteria (the good ones, of course 😉). Not bad, ihuh?

In addition to resistant starch, we know two other types of prebiotics:

  • non-starchy polysaccharides (inulin and fructooligosaccharides)
  • soluble fiber

All three categories retain different types of bacteria, but more and more studies have shown that resistant starch has unique properties.

The name resistant starch means exactly that – it is literally “resistant” to digestion, as it arrives in the colon intact, nor does it cause blood glucose uptake, and when consumed, the body does not absorb many calories.

There are four types of resistant starch:

  1. Type 1: Starch is physically inaccessible, bound inside the fibrous cell wall of the plant (cereals, seeds, legumes)
  2. Type 2: Starch with high amylose content, which is not digestible in the raw state. Cooking these foods causes changes in starch and makes it digestible (potatoes, green (unripe) bananas, plantains)
  3. Type 3: A type of resistant starch that forms when cooking and cooling foods of type 1 and 2. These foods can then be reheated to low temperatures (less than 54 degrees Celsius), thereby retaining the useful properties of resistant starch. Heating to higher temperatures will turn the starch into a form that is digestible for us, instead of “feeding” it to gut bacteria. (cooked and chilled rice, potatoes or chilled, properly prepared (soaked) legumes.)
  4. Type 4: Synthetic form of resistant starch

How resistant starch affects health

Our intestines are home to many different types of bacteria (good and bad). Their number and diversity have a significant impact on our health and well-being.

 

Resistant starch stimulates good bacteria and thus helps to create a healthy balance; with its help, good bacteria produce short chains of fatty acids through the fermentation process – the most important ones are acetate, butyrate and propionate. Especially important is the butyrate because of its favourable effects on the colon.

Butyrate is a preferred source of energy for cells in the colonic mucosa and plays an important role in increasing metabolism, reducing inflammation and improving stress management.

Resistant starch affects the production of butyrate much more intensely than other prebiotics.

Resistant starch helps lower blood glucose and improves insulin sensitivity

Insulin resistance and chronically elevated blood glucose levels are associated with a variety of chronic diseases, including metabolic syndrome.

Several studies have shown that resistant starch can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood glucose levels per portion; In one study, consumption of 15 and 30 grams per resistant starch revealed improved insulin sensitivity in obese men, which is the same as the improvement expected in weight loss, which is approximately 10% of body weight.

How to include resistant starch to our menus

Unripe bananas, plantains, tapioca and cooked-chilled-reheated rice or potatoes are all excellent sources of resistant starch (say yes to a nice cold potato salad in summer 😉). If you stick to a low-fat diet, incorporate only the necessary amount of resistant starch – a tablespoon of tapioca flour to thicken the soup, pudding or a smoothie will be more than sufficient to feed your lovely tribe of gut bacteria.

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Are You an Abstainer or a Moderator?

We’ve all heard that saying “Everything in moderation”. It’s not necessary to completely give up our favourite (usually unhealthy) food, occasional slip ups never hurt anyone.

Well, this has never worked for me. No way I can moderate through my favourite cake – NO WAY! And when it was over and the whole freaking tray was empty, I got upset and angry at myself. AFTERWARDS that moderation tip made sense again.

It seems like Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, has the answers. She believes that there are two types of people – one that operates better with moderation and one that works better if they just avoid the darn thing (Hello!). For me, it is definitely easier to just look away. I’m not going to eat it. Period. Let’s go do something else.

Being moderate has aaalwaaaays been too painful and stressful. I was stressed out hours in advance, trying to figure out how will I eat only 3 cookies. Trying to visualize how easy and effortless will it be. And that those three cookies will be awesome, but that will be enough, and I won’t need any more. Pff, what an illusion. Of course, I ate everything in the end. So now I just cross them off my menu and let them sit in the cupboard. Surprisingly, that bothers me a lot less!

Since I’ve been using this tactic, I have heard my fair share of comments that extremes are never healthy and that just a little taste of that delicious treat won’t hurt. Many just don’t want to understand that for me, it’s sooo much harder to be moderate. And it goes the other way too. Think of people, who are trying to ditch their sugar cravings. My suggestion would be – “Hey, just stop eating sweets. You’ll be cranky the first few days, but then you’ll be fine. What’s the big deal?”

We are not all the same, so we cannot follow the same rules. Figure out for yourself, which team are you in and do what’s best for you.

So, if you’re an abstainer, it is very difficult not to finish what you’ve started – you’ll put a lot more on your plate than just that tiny little piece, while deciding to skip the treat entirely will be a lot easier.

The moderators work better with the 80/20 rule and get extremely unhappy and nervous if you tell them a complete and definite NO.

What to do now?

Figuring out who we are, puts a lot of weight off our shoulders. We can stop making ourselves crazy, by trying to figure out why we can’t do the moderate thing as easily as perhaps our best (thin) friend. Accepting ourselves for who we are and acting accordingly is the best thing we can do for ourselves.

So, which one are you?

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