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    Paleo Eating Part 2: Understanding Carbs

    February 18, 2013

February 18, 2013

Paleo Eating Part 2: Understanding Carbs

Let’s Dive Deeper Into the Benefits of Paleo Eating!

If you missed Part One of this blog, click HERE.

Last week we talked a little about the idea of Paleo and what it is, what some of the “anti-nutrients” are, this week, let’s talk in more detail about the effects that the Paleo lifestyle has on your body.

First, Let’s Talk Carbs!

There’s a lot of confusion out there about carbs, I can tell you first hand that I was one of the one’s who was very confused up until I really started researching the Paleo lifestyle.  I agree with most of you (people who I talk to) it can be confusing.  Good carbs vs bad carbs, how many carbs can I eat, when do I eat them, etc.

So let’s simplify it, as Paleo will do, all carbs are seen as sugar in your body, but that doesn’t mean all carbs are bad.  Any food that you eat that isn’t a protein or a fat is a carbohydrate.  Remember, there’s only three kinds of foods: proteins, fats and carbohydrates (or some combination of the three).


Good Carbs, Bad Carbs?

Yes there are good carbs and bad carbs, BUT that doesn’t mean what you think!  You’ve been told in the past that the difference was whether they were “complex” or “simple” carbs.  I want you to forget that way of thinking.  I’ll make it even simpler, or better yet, Paleo will.

Bad Carbs are those which are: (1) void of nutrients for their proper metabolism, (2) can cause digestive issues and (3) are refined and man-made/factory made.

Good Carbs are: (1) contain easily digestible, bio-available nutrients that can be metabolized at the cellular level and (2) are available from nature as WHOLE foods.

Pretty simple right?!?

When you eat carbs, your body has to use the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that are in the food to break down the sugar (the carbs) within the food.

Let’s look at a comparison:

Four tablespoons of table sugar (bad carb) has 60 calories in carb form. That’s it, it doesn’t give you any nutrients at ALL.

Now look at a small sweet potato (good carb), it too contains 60 calories in carb form but also gives you B vitamins, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, and chromium.

Pay close attention to this comparison!  Two different foods, SAME AMOUNT of carbs, BUT one has micronutrients in it which allows your body to break down and use the carbs, the other has ZERO micronutrients and forces your body to break it down on it’s own which causes problems!  It’s like taking an energy withdraw (causing your body to work on it’s own to break it down) and figure out what to do with it (usually store as fat).  As opposed to making a healthy deposit (consuming carbs w/ micronutrients in it) while also making a energy withdrawl (where your body can fuel you naturally) and give you the energy nature’s way.


Carbs and Exercise

You should eat carbs according to your average activity and stress level to avoid storing extra body fat.  This will also help keep your triglycerides at a healthy level and prevent visceral fat from being developed around your organs.

Let’s look at where most of you should be with your carb intake:

Low Carb: 30-75g / day: Not very active or participating in intense cardiovascular activity that lasts fewer thank 20 minutes.  This also works well for most weight lifting and strength training individuals.

Moderate Carbs: 75-150g / day: Moderately active or completing intense cardiovascular activity that lasts between 20 – 60 minutes.   This is you if you have a generally active lifestyle or job, or a somewhat stressful lifestyle.

Higher Carbs: 150g+ / day:  Intense cardiovascular exercise that’s more than 60 minutes a day, very active job or very stressful lifestyle that is mentally and physically demanding.


Carbs Vs. Fat

So if you don’t need a lot of carbs to fuel your body then what do you use as fuel?  It’s simple — fat.

As Brett Thornton (www.fullfunctionalfitness.com) says all the time to people, “fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar does.”  Remember, carbs are sugar.  Fat serves as the perfect, long-lasting fuel source for your body.  This is what Paleo is all about!  The caveman didn’t have sugar and processed foods to fuel his/her body, they ran off of fat!

In order to re-program your body (which Paleo does) you have to teach your body to burn fat, not sugar.  Here’s another thing you’ll find, when your body uses fat to fuel, you don’t have the dreaded “sugar crash” where your blood sugar spikes and crashes and you have to constantly eat every 2-3 hours.  Your body can regulate your insulin levels longer on fat than sugar.

Your body’s insulin response to carbs depends largely on the types and amounts of carbs you eat, as well as the frequency of when you eat them.  When you eat a lot of carbs, your body’s response is to release a lot of insulin to bring your blood sugar back down to non-toxic levels.  So think about it, when you eat a lot of carbs on high frequency basis, your body is constantly releasing insulin on a consistent basis.  This puts your body in “storage” mode all the time.  Or in other words…..IT MAKES YOU FAT.

High Blood Sugar = high insulin response

High Insulin = storage mode

Storage Mode = not burning fat for fuel, you’re actually GETTING FATTER.

HELLO? Does this ring any bells?  Look around you and ask yourself why there are so many people overweight and diabetic!  It’s so simple, but yet we can seem to get through to people that the very thing they want (a healthier, better looking self) is so easy to achieve.

But this is what we get:

I don’t want to give up my splenda (insert yours here)

I can’t stand the idea of drinking just water

Oh, but I just love my sodas

Oh, my kids or husband will never eat this way

My kids are too picky” Yep, and chances are if they are not fat by now, they are probably ill, moody, talk back, can’t concentrate in school, etc.  Not to come across rude, but how’s that working out for ya?  Here’s a good book for kids and Paleo right HERE.  Here’s one with a TON of kid and family approved recipes HERE.  We’re using both with our daughter, I’d recommend you do the same if you want to help them understand.  Their diet and sugar intake has everything to do with how they act.  I have a kid, I get it!  But my question is, when do we change the pattern?

But fast food (and processed food) is so cheap and eating healthy is expensive” -Let’s pause here, this is bold face LIE! Eating Paleo is not expensive at ALL. Don’t even go there.  And even if it cost you $5 more a week (which it won’t) are you really going to tell me that you and your family’s health isn’t worth it?

I’m busy and work a lot and never home to cook” – Two things, you can fix the food ahead of time, it’s not complicated cooking and you can also eat Paleo on the go at restraunts very easily.  Heck, Hardee’s (or Carl Jr’s depending on where you are) has a turkey burger in a lettuce wrap!  It’s not the best thing I have ever had, but it will work in a pinch.

It’s mind boggling to me the people who will argue with Mother Nature and the way God created this planet and think that some how man is smarter than nature and that we, in some way, have re-created the wheel and know better.  It’s simple, we don’t.

Let’s Talk Glucagon

So you now understand what “storage mode” is and how insulin affects it.  Now, let’s talk about the other side of the party, “releasing mode” and Glucagon.


Insulin and Glucagon are counter-regulatory hormones, so while insulin’s job is to store nutrients, glucagon’s job is to pull nutrients from storage to fuel your body.  You want glucagon dominance in your body, because that means your body is pulling from storage to fuel itself and not letting insulin control the situation where you are constantly putting fuel in the tank and not burning any!

Here’s 3 “Promoters” of Glucagon:

1- Dense source of protein.  This usually comes from an animal source and isn’t packed with insulin demanding carbs, a good example would be a steak.  It’s high in protein and no carbs at all.

2- Exercise. When you workout your body looks for available fuel sources to power your muscles.  The first place it looks is your bloodstream, which is about 4g of sugar circulating at the moment, especially if it’s been a while since you ate.  So glucagon then goes to work and starts “pulling” fuel sources to get you through the exercise.  This goes very smoothly when your body is used to burning fat for energy.

3- Hunger. When you are hungry, your blood sugar drops. It’s now up to the glucagon to find stored sugar and bring it to your bloodstream to keep your levels up.  Ever thought, “why when I haven’t eaten all day, I haven’t passed out from hypoglycemia?”.   Simple answer, your friend glucagon.  Pretty cool right?

Blood Sugar is SO Important!

People don’t realize how important regulating our blood sugar is, it effects so many things like: 

  • Clarity of mind – you can’t think straight if your body is constantly fighting to maintain your levels.
  • Your immune system – the stress your body goes through when you eat a ton of bad carbs and you are constantly withdrawing from your storage tanks to regulate and not depositing, your immune system then has nothing to use when it’s time to crank up and fight for you.  Just like any bank account, you will bounce that check.
  • Coritsol – also known as the “fight or flight” hormone.  When you stress your body out over regulating your blood sugar, ON TOP OF the daily stress of your life and job, you end up at a constant level of stress of 4 or 5 out of 10.  The body can handle levels of 7, 8, 9 or 10, but only if you follow it with very low levels for recovery.  So imagine what your body goes through at a consistent level of 4-5, 24 hours a day!  To change from the bank account to a car comparison, it would be like just running your car on cruise control down the highway and never stopping for gas….then wondering why the car quit running.  Heads up, your body is that car.


In Summary For This Week

Maintaining even levels of  blood sugar is good for: maintaining your hunger levels, your mental clarity, positive moods, fat loss, hormonal balance and managing inflammation.  Whether you are trying to lose weight or just be healthy, regulating your blood sugar is a must.

Eating a Paleo lifestyle will help you do just that!  If you would like more information or to join one of our Paleo Groups, please contact us (at top of the page) today and we will be more than happy to show you how to transform your body with some very simple steps, exercise optional.

Until next week, peace out!


Special thanks to The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson and Pratical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo whom’s books I gathered the info and research.



  • Kathryn Martin

    What are your Paleo Groups?

    • Todd Midgett

      Just emailed you Kathryn, thanks!

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