All Posts tagged meat

Low-carb vs low-fat diets

If you stick to low carbs or low fat – you will probably lose weight.  But going low-carb is healthier. Gary D. Foster, PhD, director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education and professor of Medicine and Public Health at Temple University and his team conducted a trial study on 307 people and followed their progress over two years. One group stuck to a low-carb diet; the other to a low-fat one. Most people in the study were about 45 years old and had a mean body mass index (BMI) of 36.1. The low-carb group had 153 people in it. They limited their carb intake to 20 grams a day and were allowed to eat as much fat and protein as they wanted to during the first 12 weeks of the study. Their carb intake was limited to mainly low-glycemic index vegetables. They were told to eat four to five small meals every few hours and use butter, mayonnaise, and vegetable oils instead of margarine. They were also told not to “do a low-fat version of the program as it will disrupt weight loss.” After 12 weeks, they were allowed to increase their carbs by five grams each day in the form of vegetables, fruit, and even whole grains. They were told to eat foods that were “rich in fat and protein.” The low-fat group was limited to 154 people. Their calories were limited to 1200-1500 each day for women and 1500-1800 for men. They kept their calories low and focused on cutting down on their fat. Both groups were given lifestyle guidance and encouraged to take up gentle exercise.

After two years both groups had lost about the same amount of weight. The papers have been keen to promote the fact that the average weight loss was about 15 pounds for both groups across the two years. Most papers have concluded that there’s no real difference between low-carb and low-fat diets.


Let’s dig deeper into the truth. Professor Foster was mainly interested in weight loss, which he called the “primary outcome” of his study. And those are the results that the press has seized upon. But he also recorded “secondary outcomes.” These measured risk factors for heart disease. And it’s these results which are crucial to your actual health. The bottom line is that low-fat diets are not better for your heart and overall health.

My low-carb patients see major reductions in diastolic blood pressure, reduced triglycerides and Very Low-Density Lipoproteins (VLDL). While LDL cholesterol is bad, VLDL is the really bad form of cholesterol.  “Low-carbers” get an  increase in HDL (HDL is the good form of cholesterol).

The papers also ignore the fact that high-protein, low-carb diets leave you with more muscle mass which is healthier even at the same weight. The low-carb group would no doubt wind up looking better because despite being the same weight… they’d have more muscle instead of fat. 

Go Primal Diet! I’m not talking Atkins here. The Atkins diet  allows unhealthy fats and protein. They also received some of their carbs from whole grains. Dozens of studies show that whole grain carbs are little better than simple grains. And while it’s true that fat and protein are a smarter option than grains and pasta… where you get your fat and protein from is vital to better health. If those “low-carbers” had followed the primal way of eating, they probably would have outstripped their low-fat counterparts in weight loss too.

 Quality protein comes from many sources. Animal protein is a great source of nutrients. But this is not the Atkins Diet. You should not be chowing down on bacon and sausage. Stay away from processed meats like deli and meatballs. Pick protein that is lean and healthy. That doesn’t mean picking chicken over beef. It means avoiding grain-fed meat. Just like us, the make-up of an animal is changed by what it eats. An animal raised on an artificial, grain-fed diet will produce meat that is harmful to us. The key to healthful cuts of meat is reading labels at the store. Look for the grass-fed label on red meat; and the free-range label on poultry. If you’re buying eggs, pick cage-free ones, and opt for wild salmon when buying fish.

Healthy Fat: The low carb group was told to use mayo and vegetable oil. That’s not the smartest way to select your fats. Fat plays an important role in most bodily functions. But there are good and bad fats. For example, Omega-3 fatty acids are essential. These fatty acids build strong hearts and protect against cardiovascular disease. Rich sources of Omega-3s are wild fish, avocado, walnuts, and olives. Other essential sources include cod liver oil, Sacha Inchi oil, and nuts. Saturated fats are also essential components of a healthy body. They boost immunity systems and help us absorb calcium. The healthiest sources of these fats in are in grass-fed beef, raw milk, and raw butter. So, when selecting fat, choose from these sources: Grass-fed beef, Free-range chicken,  Organic butter,  Olive oil,  Nuts, Eggs, Avocadoes, Cold water wild fish, Raw milk.

Avoid cereals – they represent bad carbs. Starchy white potatoes are also bad, despite coming from a natural source. Processed carbs tend to offer little nutrition: they are stripped of their vitamins and fiber. Worse… they are loaded with simple sugars and refined starches. It’s the sugar and starch that make carbs – processed or natural – really bad. That sugar or starch is what affects your body at the hormonal level. It spikes blood sugar and triggers the release of insulin – and later – leptin. It’s because of this hormonal response that whole grain bread is just as bad for weight gain as white bread.

Here are seven good carbs you can count on: Berries, Pears, Peaches, Tomatoes, Spinach, Collards Green, beans

Enjoy! Join me in my Paleo-practic journey.


Paleo Diet!

A new Harvard study discussed at a recent American Heart Association (AHA) convention reviewed 20 studies and gave the AHA crowd these two key results:

1) High intake of processed meat that’s been cured and/or loaded with preservatives (hot dogs, lunch meat, bacon, sausage) increases risk of heart disease and diabetes.

2) Any level of intake of unprocessed red meat does NOT increase heart disease or diabetes risk. 

Go PALEO Diet!


Paleolithic diet and its implications in rheumatoid arthritis

On his DVD How to Treat Multiple Sclerosis with Diet, Dr. Cordain thoroughly explains the dietary mechanisms of autoimmunity in MS which are almost the same for all autoimmune diseases, including RA. These include: increased intestinal permeability, increased passage of luminal antigens into peripheral circulation, molecular mimicry and genetic susceptibility (genes encoding for the HLA system), among other factors.

In recent years, new substances have been discovered which might be responsible for increased intestinal permeability – namely saponins – found in legumes, potatoes, soya, quinoa, amaranth, alfalfa sprouts or tomatoes. If you’ve seen Dr. Cordain’s scientific paper entitled “Modulation of immune function by dietary lectins in rheumatoid arthritis”, I am sure you are aware of the role lectins play in autoimmunity.

Adjuvants are used by immunologists in order to boost the immune system and induce immune response. It turns out that certain foods possess bioactive compounds that have adjuvant-like activity. This is the case for tomatoes or quillaja (a foaming agent used in beers and soft drinks).

Gliadin is a prolamine found in wheat which has been shown to increase intestinal permeability, and hence the risk of suffering from an autoimmune disease. While several clinical trials conducted have shown promising results, unfortunately they have used a gluten-free diet or vegan diet instead of a whole paleolithic diet, which is probably superior.

In the vegan diets, authors often claim that the benefits cited might be due to the lack of meat, but what if the positive effects relie on the lack of diary proteins and gluten. Meat has historically been seen as the “bad guy” of inflammation, but the data to support that notion is not sufficiently compelling.

Listed below are some references that may be helpful.


  1. Modulation of immune function by dietary lectins in rheumatoid arthritis. Cordain L, Toohey L, Smith MJ, Hickey MS. Brit J Nutr 2000, 83:207-217.
  2. Gluten-free vegan diet induces decreased LDL and oxidized LDL levels and raised atheroprotective natural antibodies against phosphorylcholine in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized study. Elkan AC, Sjöberg B, Kolsrud B, Ringertz B, Hafström I, Frostegård J. Arthritis Res Ther. 2008;10(2):R34. Epub 2008 Mar 18.
  3. A vegan diet free of gluten improves the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis: the effects on arthritis correlate with a reduction in antibodies to food antigens. Hafström I, Ringertz B, Spångberg A, von Zweigbergk L, Brannemark S, Nylander I, Rönnelid J, Laasonen L, Klareskog L. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2001 Oct;40(10):1175-9.

Paleo diet & grass fed beef

There is no link between red meat and coronary heart disease. Period. Fats found in red meat are necessary for your body to absorb critical fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. 

Harvard researchers published a study in the journal “Circulation” that analyzed 20 studies that compared health outcomes of people who eat red meat and processed meat. Red meat intake was not associated with either heart disease or type 2 diabetes. 

The researchers confirmed that processed meat is junk, it’s the culprit –  hot dogs, bacon, sausage,  lunch meats. These types of meat are the dangerous ones.

The Harvard team reports a 42 percent higher risk of heart disease linked to consistent eating of processed meat, and nearly 20 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes. 

Saturated fat and cholesterol content were the same in unprocessed red meat and processed meat. The dangers in the processed meat are mostly due to chemical preservatives and high sodium levels. 

Grass fed beef:  California State University researchers reviewed research that compared grass-fed beef with grain-fed beef, and they found higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A and E, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in grass-fed. In fact, CLA levels were twice as high–CLA helps manage blood sugar and insulin levels, while also reducing risks of cancer, osteoporosis, and atherosclerosis.

Grass-fed beef is also far less likely to contain the antibiotics and hormones typically found in commercial meat. I know grass-fed beef is more expensive but it really is the best way to go.