If you’re into diets, you’ve definitely heard of the Atkin’s Diet or the Paleo diet. Both are high protein based and has little to no carbohydrates. Main difference is that in the Atkin’s Diet, you can eat all sorts of meats (bacon or steak) and it does not matter whether they’re processed meats or not – just meat. Whereas for the Paleo Diet, the emphasis is about eating what our ancestors ate which is high in protein and vegetables, cutting out cultivated grains and carbohydrates.
Both of these popular diets seem to have science backing them up. For example, in the Atkin’s Diet, loading up on protein helps you lose weight and build muscles because it takes more energy to break down protein compared to carbohydrates, and muscles now have the amino acids to build more muscles when you exercise which further increases your metabolism rate. Thus, carbohydrates and starch start to get a bad rep for causing people to gain weight.
As for the concept behind the Paleo Diet, I think Christina Warner explains it well in the TEDx talk below. The title of her talk is “Debunking the Paleo Diet” and I urge you to watch it while keeping an open mind.
The key message that Warinner has is this – humans eat a variety of foods. Not just one type of meat or a few types of vegetables. Variety is key and it is best to eat fresh food although science has proven that certain preserved foods and drinks have beneficial qualities such as probiotics (think sauerkraut, kombucha, miso and kimchi) that aid our digestive system.
Which brings me to the next TEDx talk by Dr John McDougall. Now here is a physician with over 20 years of medical experience, having treated all sorts of patients. When it came down to observing the correlation between food and disease, he too started looking back into the diets of what our forefathers ate.
His conclusion was that most of our ancestors (not going that far back into the Palaeolithic period) ate a large proportion of starch – rice, potatoes and corn. Instead, it is probably a diet high in meat and fats which are causing the population to become unhealthier. He went so far as to say that the food that humans were born to eat, is starch.
What we think is this: don’t follow diet fads blindly; be adventurous with your food and have a variety; carbohydrates aren’t evil so go ahead and enjoy that slice of bread or that bowl of noodles; remember to load up on vegetables (again, eat all sorts of them). The human stomach is meant for omnivorous activity, so eat what you love and maintain balance.