Ten years ago sugar wasn’t even on the radar as a harmful substance. Back then, health officials weren’t thinking about the significance of sugar consumption and its serious effect on our body. Since then, we’ve seen dramatic changes in the world of health and we now know sugar’s impact on our internal system. More and more individuals are showing interest in eating better; they’re eliminating sugar and including whole, organic, non- processed foods in their diets. The Maximized Living Nutrition Plans were born from this movement in 2009. Now, several individuals still have a lingering question: “What is Paleo? And is it a good choice for me?”
A Paleolithic diet is made up of whole, unprocessed foods — largely meat and vegetables with a limited amount of fruit and nuts and no grains or sugar (basically, anything that can be hunted or gathered). “Paleo”, or the Paleolithic diet, can be confusing. In her article, Seven Shades of Paleo, Amy Kubal speaks to the murkiness around what it means to be Paleo and reviews several classifications of a Paleolithic lifestyle1. Generally, individuals who choose a Paleo diet cut carbohydrates and processed sugars, but because there are so many different styles of Paleo, it’s difficult to precisely define. In fact, because the terminology has become so popular, it is my opinion that there isn’t a diet more ambiguous, yet so widely followed.
The Paleo movement was first popularized in the mid-1970s when a gastroenterologist named Walter L. Voegltin promoted a very primal way of living. His nutrition plan encouraged eaters to consume grass-fed pasture meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts and exclude grains, refined salts, refined sugars, processed oils and dairy products2, because, according to Voegltin, our ancestors ate this way and were able to sustain their health for a much lengthier period of time than we do today. People like Loren Cordain and Dr. Ron Rosedale who promote the “caveman diet” argue that people in the Paleolithic era thrived on such a diet and would never have consumed grains because there was no form of agriculture in that time period3. The accepted Paleo framework laid out by Voegltin diet is a step in the right direction, and the Maxmized Living Nutrition Plans provide clarity in the application of Paleo principles.
Maximize Your Life
In the AskDrErnst Nutrition Plan, there are two different nutritional plans to fit different lifestyles:
- The basic plan is meant for everyone.
- The customized plan is designed for individuals who are looking to achieve specific health goals, or for those who simply function better without consuming anything that turns into sugar.
There are a few (and these few are significant) refinements to the Paleo diet in the AskDrErnst nutrition plan that make a substantial difference in the health of those who follow it.
We place a very strong emphasis on the quality of meat that is consumed. While many of today’s Paleo followers would happily eat shellfish and pork, these types of meats have been left out of the Maximized Living Nutrition Plans for because of their high toxicity.
Shellfish are bottom-feeders, and absorb a significant amount of toxic waste from the ocean floor.
Pigs live in an unclean environment. They have a very basic digestive system, and because they are unable to produce sweat and eliminate toxins that way, they store toxins in their fatty tissues.
Because of these feeding and environmental issues, these protein sources will contain higher levels of toxins and are therefore to be avoided in order to maintain optimal health.
Fruit and Sugar
Some Paleo eaters consume moderate amounts of fruit. While acceptable on the Core Plan, I encourage people to consume very little, if any fruit on the Advanced Plan. Fruits with higher sugar content dump more sugar into the body than most people need, preventing them from utilizing fat as their No. 1 source of energy.
Maximized Living doesn’t present a one-size-fits-all approach. Rather, it allows for some variability based on a person’s activity levels, genetic background, and overall health goals. So, if you’re going to consume fruit on either plan, stick with lower-sugar, higher-fiber fruits like berries and green apples, consumed in very small servings.
Reducing simple sugars leaves Paleo eaters with a challenge when it comes to eating sweets. They meet this challenge by using a wide array of lower-glycemic sweeteners in “Paleo” desserts. It is my opinion that nutritionists have too long exclusively used the glycemic index of sweeteners to determine which are “good.” Therefore, it’s not uncommon to find agave nectar, honey, coconut sugar, blackstrap molasses, and even raw organic cane sugar consumed by some Paleo dieters. That’s not Paleo—and definitely not Maximized. It’s just a little safer on the glycemic index.