Category: Fats

What Is a Primal Diet?

What Is a Primal Diet? A Primal diet is not a “diet” in the way the word is commonly used. It’s not a rigid set of rules centered around caloric restriction or “allowed” foods, usually prescribed for the express purpose of weight loss. Instead, a Primal diet honors, approximates, and emulates the spirit of the dietary environment available to humans for most of our history.  To eat according to the Primal Blueprint means choosing foods that provide the body with all the building blocks it needs to function (amino acids, fatty acids, nutrients, and more) while avoiding foods, and modern “frankenfoods,” that erode your health. It means giving your body all the energy it needs to be strong, active, and well.  In answer to the hugely contentious question of which diet—plant-based, vegan, carnivore, Mediterranean, “everything in moderation”—is best, the Primal Blueprint puts forth a simple answer: The best diet for humans is one comprising the foods that humans are designed to eat.  Primal Diet: Ancestral Eating in the Modern World Despite what you might have heard about Primal, paleo, and the more general ancestral health movement, the goal isn’t to get you to eat “like a caveman.” For one thing, many of the foods that were around millennia ago have been changed by natural evolution and human agriculture. Furthermore, the foods your far-back ancestors ate depended entirely on the geographic location from which they hailed.  The environments in which we eat are also different. Food has never been more abundant and easier to procure. We are more stressed, more rushed, and more sedentary. We are less exposed to dirt and the accompanying microbes that populate the gastrointestinal tract.  In short, the idea isn’t that we should be eating exactly like our ancestors did. The Primal Blueprint takes lessons from human history and modern science to decide what, when, why, and how (much) to eat—and, importantly, what to avoid.  Primal Laws #1 and #2 cover the what and the why. The how and when are discussed extensively here on the blog; I’ll provide an overview in this post.   The Primal Blueprint Diet Laws The 10 Primal Laws start with diet—what to eat and what to avoid. That’s because of all the environmental inputs we can leverage for proper gene expression, diet arguably has the biggest impact in the shortest time.  Primal Law #1: Eat lots of animals, insects, and plants. This is the basic description of everything our ancestors ate to get the protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phenols, fiber, water, and other nutrients necessary to sustain life, build strong muscles, expend lots of energy each day moving about,  maintain healthy immune systems, evolve larger brains, and raise healthy children.  As you can see, this law leaves plenty of room for you to structure your diet according to your personal tastes, preferences, and needs. Perhaps you prefer to eat relatively more plants than animals, or vice versa. You might be a gourmand who takes great pleasure in creating elaborate dishes … Continue reading “What Is a Primal Diet?”

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Keto Shopping List

When starting a ketogenic diet, grocery shopping can become a confusing task. You may begin to question each item, unsure if it supports or hinders your new eating approach. Is this the right kind of fat? What cut of meat should I be buying? Does this constitute “very low carb?” I created this guide to simplify your next trip to the grocery store. Don’t feel like you have to buy every item listed. See these as options to get you started. As you learn what foods you prefer, and what your version of keto looks like, you can customize as you go along. This breakdown is organized by section in the typical grocery store, but don’t limit yourself to shopping the supermarket. Check out your local farmer’s market and co-ops. Peruse online retailers for good deals to fit your budget, as well as community supported agriculture (CSAs) shares. CLICK HERE to download a pdf of the Keto Shopping List!  Produce (Fresh or Frozen) All vegetables are “allowed” on keto. The trick is finding the ones that have the fewest carbs and, hence, the most bang for your macro buck. Fruit is harder to include because of the relatively high sugar content, but it’s not strictly forbidden. Thus, there is some nuance to choosing the most keto-friendly produce options. Here are some of my favorites to get you started, but it’s not an all-inclusive list: Leafy Greens Arugula Beet greens Dandelion greens Endive Lettuce (romaine, red, green, bibb, etc.) Mustard greens Purslane Spinach Swiss chard Watercress Cruciferous Veggies Bok choy Broccoli Brussels sprouts Cabbage (red and green) Cauliflower Collard greens Kale Other Produce Artichokes Asparagus Avocados Bell peppers Berries Broccolini Chili peppers Cucumbers Eggplant Fiddlehead ferns Garlic Green beans Leeks Lemons Limes Mushrooms (all varieties) Okra Olives Onions (green, red, white, yellow) Rhubarb Spaghetti squash Sprouts Summer squash Tomatoes Zucchini Fermented vegetables (refrigerated) Pickles Sauerkraut Kimchi   Meats/Fish/Eggs Prioritize pastured, grass-fed, or organic meat and wild-caught seafood when possible. Seafood Anchovies Bass Clams Cod Flounder Halibut Mahi Mahi Mussels Oysters Salmon Sardines Scallops Shrimp (wild) Sole Trout Tuna Meat/Poultry Beef Chicken Duck Elk Lamb Pork Rabbit Turkey Venison Organ meats Cured/Preserved Meats (sugar-free) Bacon Biltong Ham Jerky Pemmican Prosciutto Salami Sausage Eggs Chicken eggs Duck eggs Goose eggs Quail eggs   Dairy Prioritize pastured, grass-fed, or organic varieties. Hard Cheeses Cheddar Emmental Gouda Parmesan Swiss Soft Cheeses Blue Brie Cream cheese Crème fraîche Feta Goat cheese Queso fresco Other Dairy Full-fat cottage cheese Full-fat Greek or regular plain yogurt Half & half Heavy whipping cream   Healthy Fats and Oils Avocado oil Butter (preferably pastured and organic) Coconut oil Duck fat Extra virgin olive oil  Ghee Lard (preferably pastured and organic) Macadamia nut oil Tallow (preferably pastured and organic) Walnut oil   Pantry Items (Packaged, Shelf-stable, and Bulk Bin Foods) Broth/stock Canned wild fish (anchovies, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, tuna) Coconut (manna aka coconut butter, shredded coconut) Coconut milk Collagen peptides Dark chocolate (85% or higher cacao content) Nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, … Continue reading “Keto Shopping List”

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What to Eat When Going Keto

Now and then I’ll read comments on keto discussion forums that gloat about being able to eat anything if they’re just sure to stay below 50 grams of carbs a day. I’ll be direct here and say this is the wrong way to do keto. Unfortunately, many people get overzealous about macro counts and lose sight of the bigger picture. Reaching ketosis is never the end goal. You want health, energy, vitality. How you get there matters. It’s true that the ketogenic diet uses a macronutrient framework that looks roughly like this: Carbohydrates below 50 grams per day (around 5-10% of total caloric intake) Protein sufficient to meet physiological needs and goals (generally 15-25% caloric intake) The rest from healthy fats Within that framework, there is generous room to fulfill your body’s nutrient requirements and include ample vegetable—and even some fruit—intake. My hope is that this guide will leave you feeling you have an incredibly vast array of appetizing, nutritious options. The truth is you CAN create an effective keto diet from an expansive range of whole, nutrient-dense foods. Healthy Fats Because we want to increase our healthy fat intake on a ketogenic plan, I’m starting with fats. First and foremost, avoid industrial seed oils. Steer clear of anything hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. Choosing the right fats to keep your fatty acids in balance is important, but it’s not something to get overly stressed about. Use fats appropriately at temperatures and in storage conditions that maintain their stability and nutrient value. Here are some healthy fat options: Saturated and monounsaturated fats: Great for higher temp cooking and for making fat bombs. Cheese (see dairy) Butter Ghee Coconut Oil Lard Tallow Sustainably Sourced Red Palm Oil Avocado oil Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs): Best for low temp sauteeing and cold use. Extra virgin olive oil Extra virgin avocado oil Bacon fat—actually a mix of saturated and monounsaturated, but surprisingly high in monounsaturated fat; great for sautéed vegetables Duck fat—also a mix of saturated and monounsaturated, but surprisingly high in monounsaturated fat) Macadamia nut oil—very low in PUFAs Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs): Know the difference. Some should be completely off the menu, like over-processed vegetable oils (corn and canola), but others can have a regular place at the ketogenic table. Most seed-based oils are high in polyunsaturated fats. Unfortunately, seed oils are typically extracted in ways that can destroy the nutrients. Be sure to look for cold-pressed versions, and don’t heat these oils. Hemp oil Flax oil Chia oil Vegetables and Fruits Many people falsely assume they have to forgo the benefits of vegetables and especially fruit with a keto diet. The best source of vegetables are above-ground varieties, which are nutrient-dense yet low in carbohydrates. Dark leafy greens and cruciferous veggies are excellent options. Take time to learn how many carbs are in each kind of produce. I recommend carefully limiting root vegetables and tubers, as well as most fruits, during keto phases. These don’t deliver the best bang for your buck in terms … Continue reading “What to Eat When Going Keto”

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8 Reasons You Need to Be Eating Avocado

Avocado is one of those foods that almost every dietary ideology agrees is good for you. Vegans, vegetarians, paleos, Mediterranean diet espousers, and keto diet fans all promote avocados as a “good fat.” Even the USDA dietary committee wants people eating avocados. But most avocado discussion stops there. It’s “good for you” and that’s about all you hear about the avocado. I’m as guilty as the next man, seeing as how my main focus is on avocado oil used as the basis of most Primal Kitchen products.

But the human research convincingly shows that avocados—the whole fruit—are incredibly healthy and nutrient-dense additions to anyone’s diet. Unless you have a specific reason for not eating them, you should be eating avocados on a regular basis. Here are some evidence-based reasons why this is the case:

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Does Your Digestion Need a Tune-up?

Well, does it?

We’re all going to be putting food in our bodies just about every day for the rest of our lives. Most of us will do it several times a day. We’ll chew it, send it down the esophagus into our stomach, and expose it to gastric juices and digestive enzymes. We’ll strip it of nutrients and send the excess down to the colon for dismissal, feeding resident gut bacteria along the way. The whole process should go smoothly. There shouldn’t be any pain or discomfort, bloating or constipation. Oh sure, nobody’s perfect, and there will be slow-downs or speed-ups from time to time, but in general a vital, fundamental process like digestion shouldn’t even register in our waking, conscious lives.

But sometimes it does.

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Is Saturated Fat Healthy?

It’s probably the one thing that prevents people from fully buying into the Primal Blueprint. Almost anyone can agree with the basic tenets – eating more vegetables, choosing only clean, organic meats, and getting plenty of sleep and exercise is fairly acceptable to the mainstream notion of good nutrition. The concept of Grok and a lifestyle based on evolutionary biology can be a harder sell, but anyone who’s familiar with (and accepts) the basics of human evolution tends to agree (whether they follow through and adopt the lifestyle is another question), at least intellectually. But saturated fat? People have this weird conditioned response to the very phrase.

“But what about all that saturated fat? Aren’t you worried about clogging up your arteries?”

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