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Is Bread the Devil?

by Marissa on March 5, 2012

I’m back from Long Beach and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s Mega Conference.

It was so hard to leave this.

But I got to come back to this.

So no complaints there!

The question of the day: Is bread the devil?

It depends on who you ask: Mark Sisson or Paul Pitchford.

Mark Sisson

I’m usually not a big advocate for cutting food groups out of the diet. The only food groups I’ve ever been able to completely eliminate from mine are meat (for ethical reasons) and dairy (for allergic reasons). So when I first heard about the Primal Blueprint, or Paleo diet , which is getting lots of airtime in health and nutrition circles, I was skeptical. Cutting carbohydrates completely? Even whole grains? Not so fast. I mean, what about my beloved quinoa?

Mark Sisson made a good case for The Primal Blueprint and from the looks of him, it works.

Mark Sisson, Mark's Daily Apple

He almost had me convinced.

The Primal Blueprint is a way of eating that aligns food intake with gene expectations (i.e. the way primates ate) and the goals of burning fat, building muscle, increasing energy, improving strength and getting sick less often.

Sounds good to me!

But what does it entail? Basically, a diet that consists of healthy proteins and fat. No grains. None. No sugar, no industrial seed oils  and no eating schedules either. Fruit is fine for athletes or at a maintenance level but not for rapid weight loss.

Why no grains? In the Paleo world, grains are totally unnecessary as a source of fiber or energy and the body is re-programmed to burn fat efficiently by getting insulin under control to become what Sisson referred to as “a fat-burning beast.”

The basic meal strategies are:

  • Eat when you’re hungry
  • Fat leads, then protein, followed by unlimited vegetables
  • Snacks to the rescue
  • Hydrate by thirst
  • Intermittent fasting

What to expect when going primal?

  • Re-directed energy pathways
  • Steady loss of body fat
  • Decrease in actual hunger levels
  • Improvement in blood glucose markers
  • Decrease in inflammatory markers
  • Improvement in lipid markers
  • Decrease in the need for medications

Paul Pitchford

Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods

But Paul Pitchford thinks different. He says that low carb diets can cause a weakening of the immune system, brain function and regeneration. He believes in a diet that is 20 percent grains, preferably sprouted.

Personally, the jury is still out for me. Could I go full Paleo? It’s hard to say. I enjoy whole grains and find they help with my energy but I try not to overdo them.  And if I’m being really vigilant, I avoid wheat and gluten since I don’t digest it well.

What do you think? Whole grains or no grains?





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