Archive for the ‘Paleo’ Category

Why Fish Oil?

Posted: February 26, 2013 in Diet, Paleo
Tags: ,
Why Fish oil?

Why Fish oil?

ish oil, which includes Cod-liver oil, is a significant source of the Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.  These fatty acids have numerous, documented health benefits: improved cholesterol balance, reduced inflammation, increased blood flow, reduced rates of heart disease and atherosclerosis, better immune system function,improved brain function, improvement in psychiatric disorders, and prevention of cancers (particularly breast, colon, and prostate).  Improved blood flow and reduced inflammation are of particular interest to athletes.  This enables an athlete to train harder and recover faster.

Even for the non-athlete, the benefits of fish oil are profound.  Including the benefits listed above, studies have shown that fish oil can cause weight loss and improved body composition even when supplementing a very poor diet.  I advise everyone to eat a diet rich in lean meat, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, with as little starch and refined sugar as possible. However, if you simply refuse to change your diet then I highly recommend you take fish oil.  It’s super easy and will go a long way towards counteracting those McDonald’s extra value meals.

The only significant negative effect of fish oil is that when taken in large doses and combined with drugs like aspirin, it can cause increased bleeding.  This doesn’t mean you will bleed out from a paper cut, but it could be significant if you incurred a life-threatening injury.  This would probably only happen in rare circumstances where you take an extremely large dose and combine that with an anti-coagulant like Aspirin and suffer life-threatening bleeding. I think the benefits far outweigh the risks, but that’s a decision you must make for yourself.

How Much Fish Oil Should I Take?

First, ignore the recommended dosage on the fish oil bottle. Most Americans consume enough Omega-6 fatty acids that the recommended dosage on the bottle would be laughably low in keeping your Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio in check, which is one of our primary goals of supplementing fish oil. Next, the amount of fish oil you take isn’t nearly as important as the amount of Omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids in that fish oil. We are just taking the fish oil for the n-3′s, so it makes sense to pay attention to the n-3 content of your fish oil. This varies wildly by brand and quality. You’re looking for the EPA and DHA content of the fish oil. This will be listed on the back label. To make things simple, total the milligrams of EPA and DHA to get a single amount of n-3 content. So what’s a good number? I’ve seen fish oil from Wal-Mart that has less than 200 mg total per capsule. That’s pretty poor. Most quality fish oil will have 300-600 mg per capsule. That’s pretty good. Anything over 600 mg per capsule is pretty potent stuff, sometimes called “pharmaceutical grade.” If your brand doesn’t list the EPA and DHA content at all (it’s not required by law), then ditch it. That means it’s so pitifully poor that they’re ashamed to list it. Lower quality fish oil also causes “fish burps” much more frequently than high quality fish oil.

Below you can see an example of a fish oil nutritional label. Notice the serving size is 2 capsules. Eachserving has a total of 720 mg of EPA and DHA. Therefore, each capsule contains 360 mg of EPA and DHA. That’s not terrible, but it’s not very good either. You’ll have to consume a lot of capsules to get the necessary n-3 content. Always pay attention to serving size. Many manufacturers (like the one below) will try to trick you into thinking you are buying extremely high quality fish oil by listing a single serving as 2 capsules. They know everyone assumes the nutritional information on the back is given for a single capsule.

Fish Oil Nutritional Data

For comparison, I would have to consume 30 capsules per day of this fish oil to get the same n-3 content that’s in 12 capsules of the more potent fish oil that I take. If you’re serious about getting the correct amount of Omega-3 fatty acids (remember, we’re only taking fish oil for the n-3 content, not the fish oil itself) then bargain brands of fish oil may not be a bargain at all.

I use Member’s Mark triple strength fish oil from Sam’s Club. After tax it is a few cents more than $20 for a bottle of 150 capsules. Each capsule contains 1400 mg (1.4 g) of fish oil and 900 mg combined EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids. Based on recommendations from other CrossFit athletes and my own experimentation, I currently take 12 capsules per day, each with 900 mg of combined n-3 content. I consume the capsules in equal doses at three times throughout the day. That works out to 10800  milligrams (10.8 g) of n-3 per day. That is not the same as milligrams of fish oil. Each capsule is 1400 milligrams of fish oil, so I am taking 16800 mg (16.8 g) of fish oil to get 10800 mg (10.8 g) of Omega-3 fatty acids. The n-3 content is what’s important, not the fish oil itself.

In his book, The Paleo Solution, Robb Wolf makes different dosage recommendations based on level of athleticism. He recommends 1g of EPA/DHA per 10 lbs of body weight for sick, overweight, and highly inflamed individuals. For lean, muscular athletes with blood chemistry closer to ancestral norms, he recommends .25-.5 g of EPA/DHA per 10 lbs of body weight. All things considered, I recommend athletes use the upper end of .5 g per 10 lbs of body weight. Use the below tables as a rough guide.

Fish Oil Dosage for Sick and Obese

Fish Oil Dosage for Sick, Overweight, or Inflamed

Fish Oil Dosage for Lean Athletes with Proper Diet

Fish Oil Dosage for Lean Athletes with Proper Diet

If you’re not ready to jump into consuming that much fish oil, that’s OK. I didn’t start out taking that much daily. If you’re apprehensive then just start with 3-5 capsules daily. Once you’ve seen its positive effects then you may want to consider taking more.

More Evidence

Below is a 15-minute video by Barry Sears on the benefits of fish oil, including his results treating Manuel Uribe.  Manuel was the heaviest man on earth at over 1200 pounds.  Eighteen months after adhering to a Zone diet and supplementing with extremely high doses of fish oil he had lost 400 pounds and had the blood chemistry and resting heart rate of a well-trained athlete.  He currently continues his multi-year path to a normal body weight using the Zone and fish oil.  Dr. Sears begins discussing fish oil about 3 minutes into the video.

What is the Paleo Diet?

Posted: January 28, 2013 in Diet, Paleo

What Is The Paleo Diet?

The Paleo diet is the healthiest way you can eat because it is the ONLY nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you stay lean, strong and energetic! Research in biology, biochemistry, Ophthalmology, Dermatology and many other disciplines indicate it is our modern diet, full of refined foods, trans fats and sugar, that is at the root of degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility. – Robb Wolf
Okay To Eat Avoid
Fruits Dairy
Vegetables Grains
Lean Meats Processed Food & Sugars
Seafood Legumes
Nuts & Seeds Starches
Healthy Fats Alcohol

Building A Healthy Paleo Diet

Lean proteins

Lean proteins support strong muscles, healthy bones and optimal immune function. Protein also makes you feel satisfied between meals.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that have been shown to decrease the likelihood of developing a number of degenerative diseases including cancer, diabetes and neurological decline.

Healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, fish oil and grass-fed meat

Scientific research and epidemiological studies show that diets rich in Monounsaturated and Omega-3 fats dramatically reduce the instances of obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and cognitive decline.

Saturated fat has been demonized by our health authorities and media. What is the basis for this position on Saturated fat? Are current recommendations for VERY low saturated fat intake justified? How much saturated fat (and what types), if any should one eat? Without a historical and scientific perspective these questions can be nearly impossible to answer. In this paper Prof. Cordain looks at the amounts and types of saturated fats found in the ancestral diet:Saturated fat consumption in ancestral human diets: implications for contemporary intakes.

One of the greatest deviations away from our ancestral diet is the amounts and types of fat found in modern grain feed animals vs. the amounts and types of fats found in grass fed or wild meat, fowl and fish. What we observe is wild meat is remarkably lean, and has relatively low amounts of saturated fats, while supplying significant amounts of beneficial omega-3 fats such as EPA and DHA. In this paper Prof. Cordain and his team analyze the complete fatty acid profile from several species of wild deer and elk. The take home message is that free range meat is far healthier than conventional meat: Fatty acid analysis of wild ruminant tissues: Evolutionary implications for reducing diet-related chronic disease.

Benefits of a Paleo Lifestyle

Image courtesy of The Food Lovers’ Primal Palate – http://www.primal-palate.com

Health Benefits

For most people the fact the Paleo diet delivers the best results is enough. Improved blood lipids, weight loss and reduced pain from autoimmunity is proof enough.  Many people however are not satisfied with blindly following any recommendations, be they nutrition or exercise related. Some folks like to know WHY they are doing something. Fortunately, the Paleo diet has stood not only the test of time, but also the rigors of scientific scrutiny.

With a very simple shift we not only remove the foods that are at odds with our health (grains, legumes, and dairy) but we also increase our intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Here is a great paper from Professor Loren Cordain exploring how to build a modern Paleo diet: The nutritional characteristics of a contemporary diet based upon Paleolithic food groups. This paper also offers significant insight as to the amounts and ratios of protein, carbohydrate and fat in the ancestral diet.

Come on! Our Ancestors lived short, brutal lives! This is all bunk, right?

The Paleo concept is new for most people and this newness can spark many questions. We like people to not only read about and educate themselves on this topic but also to “get in and do it.” Experience is perhaps the best teacher and often cuts through any confusion surrounding this way of eating. Now, all that considered, there are still some common counter arguments to the Paleo diet that happen with sufficient frequency that a whole paper was written on it.

Does it work for diabetes?

A great question to ask is “Does the Paleo diet work”? Here we have a head to head comparison between the Paleo diet and Mediterranean diet in insulin resistant Type 2 Diabetics. The results? The Paleo diet group REVERSED the signs and symptoms of insulin resistant, Type 2 diabetes. The Mediterranean diet showed little if any improvements. It is worth noting that the Mediterranean diet is generally held up by our government as “the diet to emulate” despite better alternatives.

Cardio Vascular Disease

According to the CDC, cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. Interestingly however, our Paleolithic ancestors and contemporarily studied hunter-gatherers showed virtually no heart attack or stroke while eating ancestral diets. The references below will explore these facts to better help you understand the heart-healthy benefits of a Paleo diet.

Autoimmunity

Autoimmunity is a process in which our bodies own immune system attacks “us.” Normally the immune system protects us from bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections. The immune system identifies a foreign invader, attacks it, and ideally clears the infection. A good analogy for autoimmunity is the case of tissue rejection after organ donation. If someone requires a new heart, lung kidney or liver due to disease or injury, a donor organ may be an option. The first step in this process is trying to find a tissue “match”. All of us have molecules in our tissues that our immune system uses to recognize self from non-self. If a donated organ is not close enough to the recipient in tissue type the immune system will attack and destroy the organ. In autoimmunity, a similar process occurs in that an individuals own tissue is confused as something foreign and the immune system attacks this “mislabeled” tissue. Common forms of autoimmunity include Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, and Vitiligo to name only a tiny fraction of autoimmune diseases. Elements of autoimmunity are likely at play in conditions as seemingly unrelated as Schizophrenia, infertility, and various forms of cancer.

Interestingly, all of these seemingly unrelated diseases share a common cause: damage to the intestinal lining which allows large, undigested food particles to make their way into the body. This is called “leaky gut and the autoimmune response”.