If you haven’t figured it out already, I really like sweets. Out of everything in that we have given up on this Primal journey, sweets have definitely been the hardest for me not to go running back to. Instead of diving into a thick, rich brownie or a springy, icing-topped cupcake, I have been trying to eat fruit after meals when I crave a dessert.
But, here’s the truth about fruit: while fruits provide a whole array of essential vitamins and minerals, and are certainly a better choice to curb a sweet craving than a cookie or ice cream, fruits also have a lot of carbohydrates and sugars that can sabotage weight loss and attempts to stay away from the “sugar crash.”
Because my ultimate goal in going Primal is to feel better, I want to get to the bottom of the fruit issue. So, for the next few days, I am going to be sharing my findings: which fruits are good, which are less good, how to know the difference, and maybe some yummy recipes thrown in for good measure.
Today, we are going to go back to the basics: Going Primal 101. [And for her next trick, Lesley is going to explain the entire nutritional basis of the Primal Blueprint Diet in a single paragraph.] The backbone of the Primal eating plan is to balance out insulin production. Unfortunately insulin is not something we were taught much about in high school health class, and because I don’t usually understand biology terms well, we will boil the insulin discussion down to a single (albeit gramatically incorrect) sentence: carbs drive insulin drives fat. When we intake carbohydrates, our bodies produce insulin as a response. Insulin is a hormone that acts as a key to your body’s cells, allowing nutrients into the cells or putting them away to be used as energy later. Intaking too many carbs will produce a high insulin response; insulin unlocks the cells until they are as full as they can get, and then it takes the carbs to be stored as fat. Whats worse, when your insulin is high, your body will not only store carbohydrates as fat, but also the fat that you eat as part of your diet.
So, what does that have to do with fruit? Bread and potatoes are not the only things that can be high in carbohydrates. Fruits can be very high in carbs, so eating too much fruit in one day can lead to the same feelings of fatigue as other high carb foods, while eating too much fruit in the long term can prevent weight loss.
Also, I should add here that this science backs up an eating plan based in evolutionary biology. Not only do carbs cause fatigue and weight gain, but Grok and his hunter/gatherer family would not have had unlimited access to the same high carb foods that we do today, and that includes fruits. Fruit would have been minimal in Grok’s diet, especially in comparison to vegetables and protein/fat found in meat.
Does anyone else’s brain hurt yet? Mine does.
Tomorrow: Good fruits and bad fruits, with pictures 🙂
(References: marksdailyapple.com; The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson)