Why eat a grain free diet? Why might grains be bad?
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Well, there are tons of good reasons. But, here are just the most compelling reasons to stop or limit eating grains, breads, rice, etc....
A major issue for dieters is that grains are calorie dense. There's around 70 - 100 calories in a regular slice of bread - the same as in a whole mound of asparagus.
Refined grain products contain a lot of energy, making it easy to overeat them. And for you to start putting on fat.
The next time you buy a box of pasta, check how much one serving is. Half a cup? A third of a cup? Not a lot.
Then compare that serving size to how much you make for yourself to eat. And I bet you'll be unpleasantly surprised ;-)
There's a ton of calories in what you usually eat!! And if you look at large bagels, bread slices, and other grain products, you'll see how easy it is to eat a ton - even when you think you're not eating a lot.
Eating a grain free diet is a good way to avoid getting fat. So, don't eat grains – or limit your intake of them.
Humans have been in our basic form anatomically as Homo Sapiens for around the last 200,000 years. And we've only been eating grains since, really, the agricultural revolution about 10,000 years ago.
So we've only been eating grains for only about 5% of our evolutionary history. And we haven't gotten the hang of fully digesting them just yet.
They were great thousands of years ago, when we needed an easy way to grow large amounts of food for everybody. But since most of us have moved beyond subsistence farming and living off of stale bread, we can eat more the way we were evolutionarily designed to eat.
Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers. We ate fatty meats (Yum! Lots of energy there!), fruits, nuts, fish, tubers, and berries. A no grain diet.
Physiologically, we haven't evolved the capacity to fully metabolize grains even in the modern day. So, the best solution is to cut them out of your diet altogether.
This argument may sound familiar if you're heard of the primal diet, Paleolithic nutrition or the 'Paleolithic Diet', and the Neanderthal diet. This is because these diets advocate eating a grain free diet for the same reason - your body works best on a grain free diet.
Grains and grain products are virtually pure carbohydrates. And carbohydrates are the primary dietary substance which that causes insulin production.
So when you eat pasta, a large bagel, or bread, your body releases insulin. Which, in turn, makes it much easier for you to put on fat.
Insulin's primary purpose is to get sugar out of the blood stream. Insulin stores sugar in (1) your muscles, or (if you haven't been exercising) (2) your fat stores. And most people just store the extra carbohydrate energy as fat.
The extra insulin helps you put on fat, and helps accelerate diseases like Type II diabetes, which happen when you body's insulin regulation of blood sugar breaks down. So, that's another reason to eat a grain free diet.
In addition to causing insulin production, grain products have another drawback. They release their sugar into the bloodstream quickly, meaning they have a high glycemic index - causing your body to release more insulin at one once.
Vegetable, and many fruit, sources of carbohydrates release their sugar into the blood stream slowly, giving them a low glycemic index. Grain products, especially white bread and white rice, become sugar very quickly.
Grains’ high glycemic index puts another strain on your body's insulin. And is another cause of insulin-regulation related diseases, like obesity and Type II diabetes.
Solution? Again, eat a grain fee diet!
Refined grains have all the good stuff 'refined' out of them. They just become easily digestible sugar, without helping you get any of the other nutrients that your body needs.
This is less of a problem in modern times, since most commercial breads are fortified with minerals. And whole-grain products have slightly more fiber than their more refined cousins…
But the best thing for you to do is just eat fruits and vegetables on a grain free diet. You'll get all that good stuff naturally, without relying on someone in a factory to re-inject stuff into your bread to make it healthier.
Grains increase the level of inflammation throughout your body. How? Why, though Omega 6 acids of course!!
OK, that deserves some explanation. Omega 3 fatty acids are the 'good' fatty acids that are getting a lot of press these days, and they occur in high amounts in fish oil. Omega 6 fatty acids are the 'bad' fatty acids that we in the Western world are eating too much of.
Omega 6 (and 9) fatty acids in the body are converted into prostaglandin and leukotrienes, which cause systemic inflammation in your body. And this is just generally bad for you, weakening your body - and making other sources of inflammation worse.
Interestingly enough, this effect is so pronounced that even cows and other animals that are fed on grain have higher levels of Omega 6 fatty acids in their bodies. Thus, to be really healthy and cut as much of the Omega 6's out of your diet you should eat 100% grass-fed beef, raised on a completely natural grain free diet.
Or you could simply not eat red meat, but I could never do that - it tastes too good ;-)
Glutens are protein composites that occurs in wheat and other species of grains. And your body doesn't always know what to do with them.
Only a relatively small number of people in the U.S. have gluten-intolerance, somewhere between 0.5% and 1%. However, just because your immune system is more robust than that of the gluten intolerant folks, that is no reason to put extra strain on your body.
Glutens can damage herbivores' guts, which can be very bad. And while there are many people without celiac disease (and other gluten intolerance diseases) who can eat gluten, it's still a good reason to eat a grain free diet. Why abuse your body if you don't have to?
Grains contain a group of plant proteins called lectins. And lectins, among other things, have been linked with leptin resistance in the body.
This is impotent because the hormone leptin is in charge of regulating your overall appetite and your body fat's natural 'settling point.' Thus, causing leptin resistance will increase your appetite over time and slowly increase your body's natural body fat level - and you will get fatter. Eating a grain free diet won't bollix up your leptin.
Carbohydrates don't cause you to get as 'full' as protein and fats do. So, you tend to eat more of them at meals.
One of the reasons low carbohydrate diets like the Atkins diet work is because protein and fats make you feel full. Thus, if all you're eating is steak with guacamole, you will tend to eat less (and stay full longer) than if you ate carbohydrates.
Of course, this isn't true for everyone. But it is common enough that eliminating or limiting grains would be good for you, since they are calorie dense as it is. It's just too easy to overeat them and put on fat.
Finally, you don't need grains. For that matter, you don't needcarbohydrates in your diet, though they make exercise and activity a great deal more fun.
But the carbohydrates that you get from grains can be gotten from delicious fruits and vegetables instead. It's perfectly possible to eat a grain free diet without feeling like you're giving up anything, and even without most other people knowing that you've changed your diet.
And eating a grain free diet has so many benefits. Or rather, you avoid so many of the pitfalls and health hazards associated with eating grains. Try eliminating or limiting grains from your diet and pay attention to how your body changes for the better.
I minimize my grain intake. I'm not gluten intolerant, and I'm pretty darn healthy - and I like some grain products. But usually I eat lots of fluffy green things and fruits, cause I like them and they keep me looking good.
But when I go out to eat at a good Japanese, Thai, or Chinese place I indulge. And I loved my chocolate multi-layer birthday cake this year.
So, moderation in all things... Including moderation ;-)
Oh, and be sure to sign up for the e-zine Starting Strong to get monthly strength training, exercise, and diet tips e-mailed to you - and access to the free e-book Train Smart, Eat Smart: Exercise Nutrition Hacks!
Eating A Grain Free Diet? 11 Reasons Why You Should!
1. McGuff, Doug, and John R. Little. 2009. Body By Science Question And Answer Book. [S. l.]: D. McGuff. Pp. 186-7.
2. De Vany, Arthur. 2011. The New Evolution Diet: What Our Paleolithic Ancestors Can Teach Us About Weight Loss, Fitness, And Aging. Emmaus, Pa: Rodale. Pp. 46.
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