The Paleo Diet – Grains

More and more people are flocking to the Paleo diet based on foods that were widely available the paleolithic era (about 2.6 million years ago to 10,000 years ago) as opposed to modern foods available during the neolithic era (10,000 years ago to 2,000 years ago).

The idea is that our bodies evolved, over millions of years, to eat a certain way, and modern foods have no place in our diet. One leaders of this movement is Melissa Hartwig and her company Whole 9. It is an excellent source of information, and I highly recommend both of her books.  The Paleo Diet is both simple and complex. Let’s take it a little bit at a time. Today, we’ll talk about grains.

If you know anyone (and I’m sure you do) who prescribes to the Paleo diet, you know that they avoid grains as much as possible. Hartwig lays out some pretty compelling arguments in her Grain Manifesto. Here’s another one from Paleo expert Robb Wolf.

The basic paleo thinking is that grains are bad, and gluten is Satan.

Honestly, I’m not sure where I land on that last part. More and more research is showing that 99% of  people do NOT have a negative reaction to gluten. BUT, here is what I think:

Grains are just cheap carbs. Yeah, they have some nutritional value, but nothing like you can get from vegetables, proteins, and fruits. So, the question is, do you need cheap carbs.

Let’s say you are a tri-athlete, and Iron Man, actually.


You have single digit body fat, and you exercise off around 3,000 calories a day. In that case, you probably need some cheap carbs to fuel that level of activity. If grains don’t bother you, I don’t have a problem with it (though I would still recommend you try to get the majority of carbs from starchy vegetables and fruits).

However, if you maybe have a couple pounds (or a couple dozen) you’re trying to lose, then you don’t need cheap carbs. You see, the human body is incredibly adept to storing energy in the form of fat. In times of prosperity, we can save up some fat. In lean times, we can use it up. I think I can say that most of us have some stored energy to burn. Don’t keep putting fuel in your tank when you’ve got these reserves!

What’s the bottom line? Grains can be a delicious addition to your diet OCCASIONALLY!! Yes, you can have some pizza every now and again. No, you shouldn’t go through a loaf of bread every day. Try to get your carbs from:

  • First – Green Veggies
  • Second – Starchy Veggies and Fruits
  • Third – Grains

Take a look through your food log (I know you’re keeping one, RIGHT?!?!) and look for opportunities where you could replace grains with something better. Stay tuned for more info!



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