I worked with a great client a few years ago. A beautiful elderly gent named Max, who decided he and his wife needed to lose weight and they were going to go Paleo to do it.
The first week or so all went well. We went shopping together, the whole family joined in to clean non-paleo foods out of the pantry. He and his wife lost a few pounds. Around week three the weight loss stalled, sputtered and stopped. He called me in a panic. “Should I work out more?” “Should I eat less” like many people I work with when the Paleo approach hits a snag he ran back to what he knew about diet. “Eat Less, Move More” even though that old approach had gotten him to a place of 5o pounds overweight. I had him keep a rigorous food journal for a week, and a pattern jumped off the page at me.
Max and his wife were eating almost precisely what they had eaten before. Sandwiches for lunch, pasta with dinner, Pizza a couple of nights a week. The difference, it was all Paleo Analogs.
Almond flour bread for the sandwiches.
Smoothies with almond milk for breakfast.
Coconut flour Pizza.
Cassava flour pasta.
It can be difficult for people new to the lifestyle to “retool” and there are a host of products on the market that carry the Paleo label that really don’t have a place in our new lifestyle.
I met Max in his kitchen. I brought a bag of almonds and a Mortar & Pestle. I methodically ground down about 20 almonds into a fine powder. I had made about 3 or 4 tablespoons of Almond flour. It was easy to see that Max was eating A LOT of almonds disguised as Paleo Bread.
It takes between 90-100 almonds to make a cup of almond milk or a cup of almond flour.
If I ever recommended to a client that they eat about a hundred almonds for breakfast, they’d think I was crazy. But, I’ve worked with many people who happily use almond milk as a basis for a breakfast smoothie or use almond bread to make a Paleo sandwich. They just don’t realize that they’re supplementing their regular intake with highly concentrated food. It’s just too much food!
If I ask anyone between the ages of 9 and 90 if processed food is right for you, they will, almost universally say “absolutely not.” Turning an almond into milk or flour requires processing! Not to mention the preservatives and other additives that manufacturers of these products need to add to guarantee consistency and shelf life. Arguably, all food is processed at some level. Growing, picking, transporting, cooking and, yes, chewing are all processes. However, if you want to eat almonds, the most Paleo approach is to eat raw, whole almonds.
Changing the Form of food transforms the food.
Most folks know that fruit juices are not good weight loss foods but that whole fruits are not as bad.
The reason for this is that fruit in its whole form has fiber that offsets the effect of the sugars in the fruit.
Fiber lowers the glycemic index of a carbohydrate. It slows down the body’s absorption of the sugars in the food you eat. This avoids the dreaded “Insulin Spike’ that kicks that body into fat storage mode and out of ketosis (fat burning Mode).
Once you start “Processing” a carb-containing food, like nuts, you change that foods glycemic index.
Think about nuts. They are hard, solid lumps of protein, carbohydrate, fiber, and fat. Eaten in their natural form they are a challenge for the digestive system to break down. If you’ve ever known anyone with Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Diverticulitis, or any other disease that compromises digestion, they can’t eat nuts. When you eat whole nuts, the proteins and fats are extracted pretty easily but the fiber slows the digestion of the carbohydrates in the nut. In most cases, the fiber in nuts completely offsets the carb load.
Just like fruit, once you start “pre-digesting “nuts by grinding or liquefying them, the fiber and carbs are broken up. This makes the carbs in them more easily absorbed and raises the glycemic index.
Replacements for non-compliant foods maintain cravings
These phony foods keep you in a “Bread and Pasta” mindset. Folks who rely on Analogs never completely “Retool“ their lifestyle creating a shorter bridge back to foods you’re trying to avoid.
Stick to the Basics
When I first went Paleo about 9 years ago, I avoided this trap mostly because, at the time, there were no Paleo packaged foods. I ate salads, arugula, romaine, chard, dandelion with some kind of protein on it. Meat, fish, poultry. Breakfast was Bacon and Eggs. I lost 22 pounds in about 4 weeks.
As my culinary knowledge and ability have improved my diet has become more varied. But, I stick with the fundamental principles that I started with. My plate is 75% vegetable, 25% equal portions of protein and fat. The closer a food is to ONE ingredient the better it is for me. If a food comes in a package I’m probably better off not eating it.
Once I got Max and his wife off of the Phony Paleo foods and onto a more basic whole food approach the weight came flying off