Paleo pyramid

Fruits & Vegetables v.s. Grains

Anyone who has spent some time poking around Health Habits knows that I am a big fan of Paleo style diets for weight loss and general health.

So, it should come as no surprise that when I when I start working with a new personal training client, one of the first things I do is change their diet over to my version of Paleo eating.

And one of the first things that they do is complain about the absence of bread, pasta, rice, croissants, bagels, toast with jam, brioche, sandwiches, Egg McMuffins, Big Macs, pizza, deep fried Snickers bars, etc….

In desperation, some of them trot out the argument that they NEED whole grains in order to be healthy.

Their doctor said so, and so did their nutritionist and so says the government in their healthy food pyramids.

Everyone says that whole grains are a necessary part of a healthy diet.

The problem is, everybody is wrong.

And I aim to prove it with this special Nutrition version of Celebrity Deathmatch.

Let the deathmatch begin.

About 10,000 years ago, our ancestors made a huge cavewoman breakthrough. They learned that inedible raw grains (wheat, corn, oats, etc…) could be made edible by cooking them.

This was huge.

  • Grains were much more stable than fruits & vegetables and could be stored to help them survive the winter months.
  • Grains are dense in calories. This produced two benefits.
  1. It was now easier to transport food as they followed migrating herds of animals,
  2. and it suddenly became much easier to eat the required amount of calories.
  • Since raw grain is a seed, hunter-gatherer communities could choose to stay put and become farmers.

In fact, it has been argued that the domestication of grain is one of the major factors in the evolution of human civilization.

  • Seasonal starvation eliminated
  • Permanent communities established
  • Animals domesticated for meat & dairy
  • Instead of families doing everything for themselves, people can now specialize at specific trades (farmer, toolmaker, doctor, personal trainer, blogger)
  • and so on….

So, at this point in our evolution, grains seem to be pretty darn awesome.

Fast forward to today.

  • The evolution of human society no longer needs grains to keep the wheels turning. (at least in the “developed” world)
  • Your fridge keeps the meat & veggies from spoiling
  • Seasons are next to irrelevant with modern food production
  • And we certainly don’t have a deficit of available calories…too many calories is our problem.

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But wait, what about the fiber?

  • Without my whole wheat bagel, how will I get my fiber?
  • And if I don’t get my fiber, won’t I get all blocked up and maybe even get colon cancer?

Note – this is a real argument that I get from real people

Okay, fiber is important.

But, surprise, surprise, grains aren’t the only foods high in fiber.

In fact, if you look at this link, you will see that except for wheat & corn bran, the top 300 (I stopped looking at 300) sources of dietary fiber are all fruits and vegetables.

You don’t need whole grains to get your fiber.

But, what about the vitamins and minerals?

Whole grains are loaded with vitamins and minerals like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, iron, magnesium and selenium.

Hmmmm…why don’t we take a look at the nutrition info again and see if that’s true.

  • Thiamin … And the winner is fruits, vegetables and once again…bran.
  • Riboflavin … veggies win again
  • Niacin … and again
  • Folate … and again
  • Iron … and again
  • Magnesium … and again
  • Selenium …and last but not least, it’s a tie between veggies and grains!!!

So, except for the fine showing in the selenium category…

Fruits & vegetables are the best source of vitamins and minerals.

This Nutritional Deathmatch is looking pretty lopsided.

And here comes the knockout punch:

Like most of my clients, there are a lot of people out there who need to lose a few pounds.

And the last thing an obese person needs to eat is food that is dense in calories and low in nutrients.

And when it comes to raw ingredients (fruit, vegetables, animal protein, grains, dairy, fat & oils, seeds & nuts, legumes), grains are the worst.

Grains provide too many calories and not enough nutrition.

And there’s your knockout

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Fruits & Vegetables are the Greatest!!!

And if you still don’t believe me, free free to perouse the links below.

Nutrition Info – Fruit, Vegetables & Grains

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