How Eating Healthy Can Be Unhealthy
Is it really possible for a Healthy Diet to be Unhealthy?
It is my belief that the best diet is one that you enjoy. That doesn’t mean that you should go to Taco Bell for breakfast, KFC for lunch, and McDonalds for dinner. The goal is to have the healthiest possible diet that is sustainable as well as enjoyable, while taking into account your personal preferences.
Research shows that the health benefits of eating healthy foods can be largely negated in the presence of stress. This is due to the functioning of our bodies major "stress hormone", cortisol. Cortisol is known as the "fight or flight" hormone and can actually alter what our bodies do to the nutrients that we consume. For example, excessive cortisol can actually contribute to fat storage instead of fat burning. Excessive cortisol causes a biological process known as gluconeogenesis to occur.
Gluconeogenesis converts amino acids into glucose in the bloodstream in response to excess levels of cortisol. Gluconeogenesis can either convert ingested protein (amino acids) into glucose or convert amino acids from our own muscle tissue into glucose to use for immediate survival purposes . This process was used as a survival mechanism in our hunter-gatherer days. When our ancestors activated their cortisol response (fight or flight) due to a life threatening event, protein converted into glucose in order to supply the extremities and brain with the immediate fuel they needed to escape danger or fight off an attack.
Stressing about diet is counterproductive, regardless of how "healthy" the food is. If we are unhappy with the food we are eating, we can be activating our cortisol response and converting our protein or muscle tissue into glucose. When this conversion into glucose occurs, our pancreas releases insulin in order to keep our blood sugar stable. Excessive reliance on our insulin production actually causes an increase in cortisol. Do you see the vicious cycle taking place?
Cortisol constantly up = gluconeogenesis = Insulin constantly relied on = cortisol constantly up
The insulin that is produced due to excess cortisol can cause your body to store whatever calories you consume as fat instead of burning them for energy. In the presence of insulin, nutrients become locked into fat cells and unable to be "burned off" by the body. This means that no matter how "healthy" the food you eat is, in the presence of excess insulin, the food will be stored as fat.
For example, if your meal consisted of steak and broccoli, excess cortisol/gluconeogenesis can make it seem as though you had a cupcake from the local bakery. That’s right … you don’t even have to eat sugar for your blood sugar to be abnormal !!!
This is why it is so important to enjoy your diet while also being honest with yourself. The goal isn’t to give you an excuse to eat "whatever you want" and use clinical research as a crutch to call it "healthy". The goal is to eat the healthiest foods possible as long as it is sustainable and enjoyable, while still adhering to primal diet principles. Having lifestyle practices to lower stress levels is another key factor.
Better sleep quality, yoga, qui gong, and many other stress relieving practices have been clinically shown to lower cortisol levels. Find a stress relieving activity THAT YOU ENJOY and be sure to add it to your daily routine.
Three go-to Primal Meals when you don’t feel like "being strict"
As I said previously, stressing out about what food you are going to eat can actually change what your body does with the nutrients that you provide it. A fat burning meal can turn into a fat storing meal in the presence of stress. Remember the primal diet logic when you don’t feel like being strict with your meals and simply adhere to high fat, moderate protein, and lower carb. I am going to share with you 3 of my favorite meals that I call upon when I do not feel like being super strict with my diet. These meals adhere to high fat, moderate protein, and lower carb so feel free to call upon these meals as much as you need them and use them as a crutch to keep you on the primal path. Remember, slow and steady wins the race and the key is to control insulin and cortisol.
Go-to Meal #1: Buffalo Wings
Buffalo Wings Ingredients
About 1/2 lb. of organic or free-range buffalo cut chicken wings
1-2 tbsp. Coconut oil
Seasonings/Spices (black pepper, rosemary, cayenne, garlic)
Hot Sauce (if desired)
Buffalo Wings Recipe Instructions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Melt 1-2 tsp. of coconut oil in a large glass bowl in the microwave (depending how many wings you have)
Pour 1 tsp of the melted coconut oil onto an aluminum foil lined baking tray
Leave the remaining melted coconut oil in the bowl
Add the chicken wings to the bowl and add whatever/however much of the spices that you would like
Place the chicken wings on the aluminum lined baking tray and make sure they are not touching each other
Bake the wings at 400 degrees for 35-45 minutes (depending how crispy you want them)
When wings are done, feel free to load them up with hot sauce if you like them spicy !
Go-to Meal #2: Bacon Cheeseburger
Bacon Cheeseburger Ingredients
4 oz. of grass fed ground beef
2 slices of uncured bacon
1 oz. of grass fed cheese
1 tsp. Coconut Oil
Romaine lettuce (to wrap the burger if desired)
Bacon Cheeseburger Recipe Instructions
Cook bacon on a skillet and set aside
Heat coconut oil over medium heat a pan on the stovetop
Form a burger patty with the 4 oz. of ground beef and place in the heated coconut oil pan
Spice burger with any preferred seasonings
Cook to preference and be sure to flip the burger to cook evenly
When the burger is done, top it with grass fed cheese and bacon slices and wrap it in romaine lettuce
Go-to Meal #3: Guac and Beef Bowl
Guacamole and Beef Bowl Ingredients
1 Ripe Avocado
1/2 of a medium tomato
4 oz. of grass fed ground beef
1/4 of a medium onion
1/2 -1 Jalapeno Pepper
Seasonings (cumin, garlic, black pepper, Himalayan pink salt)
1/8 Tsp of Spirulina Powder (optional)
1 tsp. coconut oil
Guacamole Dip Recipe Instructions
Cook the ground beef in 1 tsp of coconut oil over medium heat
Mash the avocado in a large bowl until it is mushy
Chop the tomato, onion, and jalapeno into small cubes and add to bowl with avocados
Add the spirulina powder and seasonings to the bowl and mix well
When beef is done, add it to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
Mix well and enjoy !