CrossFit South Rockland

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Day 23... Paleo diet: Following the origin of nutrition?

Daily Record/Sunday News
Posted: 05/17/2011 05:23:33 PM EDT

Kim Jeter, who owns Jeter Wellness, makes her signature side salad, fresh tomato, half an avocado, zucchini, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and fresh basil. Jeter follows the paleo diet, a grain-free eating regimen that's high in animal protein and veggies. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS - PAUL KUEHNEL)

York, PA - Seth Duncan didn't like the way he felt when he ate grains.

He felt sluggish and always had cravings, even after eating a full meal. He was vegan for about two years, and although he ate enough protein, he said he wasn't getting enough nutrients.

At 5-feet-6-inches tall, Duncan weighed about 128 pounds, but said he had a higher body-fat percentage, about 15 percent.

In January, he abandoned his vegan diet and did a complete 180. Now, he follows the paleo diet, a regimen that's high in fat, animal protein and nutrient-dense vegetables. It includes some fruits and nuts, but no grains.

Bacon egg salad: spinach, carrots, radish, nitrate-preservative-free bacon, pasture free-range eggs, jicama and avocados with spicy mustard dressing, made with olive oil, raw apple cider vinegar and coconut milk. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS - PAUL KUEHNEL)

Supporters of the diet say it's designed after the way our ancestors ate in the Paleolithic period, from about 2 million years ago to 10,000 B.C. They argue that, at that time, humans hunted, gathered and didn't eat grains, and that we haven't yet evolved to do so.

"It just really made sense that the human body was surviving without grain," said Duncan, 24, of Dover. "Our bodies really haven't had time to adapt to pizza and rolls."

The diet has many variations, some more stringent than others. The paleo diet in its purest form does not allow salt, refined sugar, legumes, dairy or alcohol. Some versions encourage high fat intake, while others stick to leaner meats.

Duncan follows a strict version, eating all grass-fed beef and organ meat at least once a week.

"I have a cow tongue in my freezer right now," he said, adding that he might slow cook it for 10 to 12 hours until it almost falls apart.

On the day of this interview, Duncan said he ate sliced liver dipped in egg, coated in almond flour and fried in bacon grease for breakfast. He prefers to cook in saturated fat.

Duncan consumes about 3,000 calories a day and gets 65 to 70 percent of his calories from fat. He said he has more energy and is satiated longer because he eats more fat.

Spiraled zucchini spaghetti with venison burger sauce. Supporters of the paleo diet say it mirrors the way our earliest ancestors ate more than 2 million years ago, before the human body evolved to digest grain. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS - PAUL KUEHNEL)

When he was vegan, he consumed about 2,000 calories a day. Fifteen percent to 20 percent of his calories came from fat; 60 percent to 70 percent came from carbohydrates; and 10 percent to 15 percent came from protein.

The United States Department of Agriculture recommends people consume no more than 30 percent of their calories from fat.

But Duncan says he's not concerned with fat -- it's processed foods that cause people to gain weight that can later lead to diseases.

Cindy Ketterman, chief clinical dietician at York Hospital, agreed processed foods are partially to blame for diseases and weight gain. She said the paleo diet has its perks, such as eliminating refined sugar, salt and processed foods. However, she said nixing entire food groups isn't wise.

Steamed organic apple dessert: apple, sprinkled cinnamon, hazelnuts, flaked coconut and fresh blueberries. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS - PAUL KUEHNEL)

"(The paleo diet) eliminates some very major food types that do contribute a lot of nutrients to our diet," Ketterman said. "If you get more than 30 percent of your calories from fat, you have the whole heart disease issue."

She said the diet was first introduced in the 1970s and has increased and waned in popularity over the years. She said although it's assumed our ancestors ate a high-meat diet, we don't really know. Also, humans have evolved to live different, more sedentary lifestyles.

"We're not cavemen, anymore," Ketterman said.

Kim Jeter, 54, of West York has incorporated paleo principles into her lifestyle for the past 12 years and said she consumes no more than 30 percent of her daily calories from fat. Jeter said fat intake depends on a person's age, sex and activity level.

She recently started a "30-day paleo blitz," during which she closely follows the diet. When she's more lax, she eats some grains, such as buckwheat, quinoa and brown rice.

Jeter said the diet helps prevent symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, disruptive sleep and weight gain.

"You have so much strength," said Jeter, a wellness and nutrition consultant for Jeter Wellness. "Your stomach is not bloated at all, and you feel full. The satisfaction is there."

She said that the paleo diet can result in weight loss and that it causes the body to restructure, releasing anything unnatural.

"Every cell in your body is constructed from what you put in your mouth," Jeter said.

Broiled wild-caught salmon, oregano, parsley, rosemary, baked sweet potato slices and steamed broccoli. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS - PAUL KUEHNEL)

Ketterman said the key to losing weight and maintaining it depends on calories in versus calories out.

"The benefit of a low-carb diet, it does jump-start that process," she said.

Without as many carbs, the body goes into an abnormal stage of metabolism called ketogenesis, during which the body's primary source of energy is fat.

"They see a lot of weight loss in the beginning," Ketterman said. "It will even out. That's when people get tired of it."

Rusty Mirasol, owner of CrossFit York in Springettsbury Township, said the majority of his 55 gym members follow paleo-inspired diets.

He said that, in terms of training, he feels like his body recovers faster when he eats a lot of protein and vegetables, and no grains.

Mirasol said CrossFit and paleo go hand in hand because each attracts an exclusive group of people. CrossFit is a strict and intense workout of compound-functional movements. The paleo diet requires just as much willpower and commitment.

"The culture lends itself to have the two together," said Mirasol, 37.

After Duncan started eating paleo, he changed his workout to include more natural-movement and full-body exercises. Since, he said, he gained muscle -- weighing 140 pounds -- and that his body composition feels more even. His body-fat percentage dropped to 10 percent.

"I gained muscle in places that I didn't know that I could," he said.; 771-2101

Paleo principles

--- The Paleo diet should be high in fat, moderate in animal protein and low to moderate in carbohydrates. Calorie counting is not encouraged, neither is portion control.

--- Eat unlimited amounts of saturated fats like coconut oil and butter or clarified butter.

--- Eat generous amounts of animal protein. This includes red meat, poultry, pork, eggs, organs, wild-caught fish and shellfish. Learn to cook with bones in the form of stocks and broths.

--- Eat good amounts of fresh or frozen vegetables either cooked or raw and served with fat. Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and yams are also great as a source of non-toxic carbohydrates.

--- Choose pasture-raised and grass-fed meat coming from a local, environmentally conscious farms.

--- Cut out all cereal grains and legumes from your diet.

--- Cut out all vegetable, hydrogenated and partly-hydrogenated oils including margarine, soybean oil, corn oil, crisco, peanut oil, canola oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil.

--- Eliminate sugar, soft drinks, all packaged products and juices.

--- Eliminate dairy products other than butter and heavy cream.

--- Eat when you're hungry and don't stress if you skip a meal or even two.

--- Don't over-exercise, keep your training sessions short and intense and do them only a few times per week. Take some extra time off if you feel tired. Consider short and intense sprinting sessions instead of very long cardio sessions.

--- Consider supplementing with vitamin D and probiotics. Levels of magnesium, iodine and vitamin K2 should also be optimized. Iodine can be obtained from seaweeds.


Cost of the paleo diet
Kim Jeter, a wellness and nutrition consultant, said it isn't more expensive to follow the paleo diet, and that she and her husband spend about $150 a week on groceries. She buys a lot of her meat in bulk. This year, she bought 35 chickens from a free-range farmer.

Seth Duncan, who's been following the diet since January, said his grocery bills have increased to from about $50 to $80 a week.

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