Without spoiling Eliza’s big reveal of exactly what’s on offer I’d just like to mention how excited I am with the upcoming KX 12 Week Challenge. Last time we ran it we had amazing results across the board with the winner shifting a nifty 8kgs of weight. I’m especially excited because this time around I’ll personally be working with the contestants offering my expertise and experience. We’ve been tweaking the program and brainstorming ideas to make it even better than ever – all I can say is to keep an eye out as places will fill fast. With that in mind I want to continue our series on ‘intelligent eating’ by exploring one of the biggest dietary myths around today – the fallacy of healthy whole grains.
The magic pill
I often have clients ask what’s my number one tip for weight loss, hoping there’s some magic answer that will fix all of their problems. Of course weight loss is never that simple but I’m always able to identify one key that stands out above all others. So, what is it, what’s the magic pill? You might guess to exercise more, cut out sugar or perhaps eat in moderation? These are all good answers, but not the best (exercise comes close!). So what is my answer? Don’t eat grains. You heard me: no grains. I know, I know, last week I recommended eating lots of fat and now I’m telling you to avoid grains, surely I’m a little delusional? Ha ha, maybe a little, but when it comes to this one I assure you, I’m onto a winner.
The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist
I think we’ve all heard the dietary advice. Most of us assume it’s true like a fact of life. There will even be some that will disregard everything I have to say here and argue with me til they’re red in the face. This is how strong the belief of eating healthy wholegrains has been engrained (pun intended thank you!) into our lives. The idea has made itself into almost every set of governmental dietary recommendations in the last 20 years. So why then, do I go around telling dieters (and non-dieters for that matter) to leave this seemingly beneficial food out of their healthy eating plan? There are a few good reasons but we better start at the start – gluten.
Grains aren’t all they’re cracked up to be
The protein gluten is found in wholegrains such as wheat, barley and rye. In coeliacs (and those who are gluten intolerant), gluten damages the gut lining and eventually passes into our bloodstream. Like any good doorman the body is very picky about who it allows into its bloodstream; gluten unfortunately is not on the guest-list. The end result of all this is gut irritation, increased systemic inflammation and the potential for autoimmune disease. Interestingly, new research is suggesting that as many as one in every two of us are gluten intolerant, which means most of us are suffering and don’t even know it. You may be surprised but symptoms of gluten exposure may be seen in virtually any system of the body. The checklist for gluten intolerance should include rashes, acne, congestion, irritation, arthritis, bloating, lethargy, depression, kidney disease, etc. etc. etc!
The rest of us
OK, so you’re not coeliac and you’re not ticking any boxes to suggest you might be intolerant (not that’d you necessarily know), so then why would you give up the grain? I mean, there are plenty of tasty reasons NOT to, so why then all the fuss? Truth be told, grains are making us fat. No word of a lie. Consider this; the glycemic index of wheat is actually higher than table sugar. A high GI food stimulates a large release of insulin, which when done over a prolonged period (let’s say a lifetime in most cases) will lead to weight gain, insulin resistance and eventually diabetes. To further fuel this metabolic fire, there is also a strong appetite stimulating effect following the consumption of wheat, which simply means you’ll want to eat and eat and eat! Funnily enough, the diet of choice recommended to Diabetics is one heavily laden with those so called ‘healthy’ whole grains.
The ‘whole’ story
OK, so I’ve done plenty of wheat bashing up until this point, but how about its illustrious fibre content? Surely this will help to redeem its soul. Let’s take a look. The fibre content is precisely the reason why we see recommendations for ‘whole’ grains and not the processed varieties. The fibre it contains helps us poop and may be supportive to a healthy heart. The flaw to this wholegrains=fibre=superhuman health argument is that even a moderate consumption of veggies (replacing the wholegrains) provides us with well and truly enough fibre to keep things regular. Not only are veggies a great source of fibre, they are also a much better source of essential vitamins and minerals. Heck, even meat is a better source of nutrition than most grains. Add to this the fact that eating grains reduces the amount of vitamins and minerals we get from other foods and you’ll start to see the healthy wholegrains case as rather flimsy.
Anyone for a hit of wheat?
For the most part wheat provides a seemingly bland array of products (bread and pasta), yet when asked to stop this nasty habit, most will shoot me the death stare which says it all “You must be kidding right!” Sound familiar? If it’s not you personally then odds are someone you know is one of these breadaholics. They sound something like an addict asked to stop using, and funnily enough, this isn’t far from the truth. You see when taken into the bloodstream, wheat products have the unique ability to trigger opiate receptors in the brain – the exact same ones that heroine and morphine act on. Great for a high but unfortunately this effect makes giving up grain a hard fought battle. Something to consider over your morning toast.
I’m here to hold your hand
OK, so I hate to give you all this doom and gloom stuff without at least arming you with the necessary tools to fix the problem. So here goes: the to dos, and not to dos of wheat.
Don’t eat grains. Understand that there will be cravings in the first few days. This is a normal part of the process and will go away
Just trial it for a month and see how you feel. Once you’ve completed it for a month you can try reintroducing non-gluten grains (corn, rice, etc) and see how you fare
Avoid non-grain processed foods (anything in a wrapper), these are a far too often a hidden source of gluten. If you do feel the need to push the boundaries, make sure you check the labels allergen advice for “contains gluten”
A better life
Follow those 3 tips and I can guarantee that you’ll feel better. Some will find it life changing; others might just have a bit more energy. Either way, I’m yet to have a client that didn’t respond positively. So why not give it a go and see for yourself. For now that’s it from me, until next time when we wrap up this series on intelligent eating (hot tip: it’s going to be a good one!).
– Until then, happy eating