Many of these trendy kinds of ‘low-carb’, ‘paleo’, or ‘atkins’ style diets base their reasoning on insulin production. Since insulin is seen as the ‘root of all evil’ in terms of dieting and weight loss, many of these diets operate under the semi-false-assumption that carbs increase insulin, so therefore you should never, ever eat carbs. Right?
For the past 50 years we have had plenty of scientific research show us that if we eat only meat/protein without any sugars, starch, or carbs, then insulin levels go up, not down.
Therefore, yes, it is true that carbs (simple carbs specifically, like jellybeans and donuts) will raise insulin levels, but so will protein.
In fact, in 1997, an index of insulin inducing foods was published. Foods such as apples, oatmeal, white-flour pasta, and steaks, amongst many others, were included in this study. Guess what produced the highest insulin…meat.
Even more interesting, there were no differentials between different kinds of meat, such as pork, chicken, or beef – they all produced just as high amounts of insulin as the others.
Fun fact: “meat causes as much insulin release as sugar…meat-eaters have up to 50% higher insulin levels”.
Thus, if these paleo-dieters really utilized this insulin logic, they would be preaching plant-based diets as opposed to meat-based ones. Although paleo diets do have many benefits, such as ditching things like dairy and processed junk foods, and substituting them for nuts, fruits and vegetables, there has been some alarming research on its impact on cholesterol.
Researchers took a group of young, healthy people and placed them on a strict paleo diet along side a CrossFit-based circuit training exercise program, a not-so-uncommon combination in the nutrition and fitness world these days.
After just ten weeks of the paleo diet and CrossFit exercise programs, participants LDL cholesterol (the bad-kind of cholesterol) STILL went up, while their HDL cholesterol (the good-kind of cholesterol) dropped. Exercise is supposed to increase our good cholesterol, not lower it.
That being said, “if we put people instead on a plant-based diet and a modest exercise program, mostly just walking-based; within three weeks their bad cholesterol can drop 20% and their insulin levels 30%, despite a 75%-80% carbohydrate diet, whereas the paleo diets appeared to negate the positive effects of exercise.”
Moral of the story: there might be something to the vegetarian diet, despite the fact that no bacon is allowed.
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