What is Food? – Watch Simon’s Talk on Nutrition from the 21 Convention London Conference

Primal Fitness founder Simon Whyatt was very pleased to be included as one of the speakers at the 1st UK based 21 Convention, which took place at the Charring Cross Hotel in Central London.

The 21C events are very exclusive, with only a limited number of places, however, you can now watch the full video on youtube for free – check it out below for an outline of Simon’s views on food an nutrition:

For a more detailed insight into the topics discussed in the video, checkout Simon’s blog Live Now Thrive Later.

Nutrition Spotlight: Rice – Food Friend or Foe?

Rice was the most ubiquitous food crop on the planet for millennia (until it was recently usurped by its Machiavellian arch rival corn), it was one of the first crops to be widely cultivated at the dawn of agriculture in the East, and has been a staple of Asian food culture ever since.

Traditional Eastern cuisine has long been thought of as one of the healthiest diets on the planet, and rice has become widely accepted as a good food choice, a staple in health food shops and on clean eating menus.

More recently however, rice has received criticism from various corners of the nutrition world – first white rice was bashed by the “wholegrains are healthy” and “fibre is good for you” crowd, as it was a refined food, stripped of its nutrients and fibre. Next all rice was off the menu, first because the low carb crowd said it was a root cause of diabetes, heart disease and obesity along with all other carbohydrates, and then because it wasn’t “Paleo” – Only 10,000 years young, we simply weren’t ready for its grainy goods.

So what’s our take on the matter? Should rice be on or off the menu, and if on, should it be white or brown?

White Rice - Healthy Staple or Empty Calories?
White Rice – Healthy Staple or Empty Calories?

The answer, as usual, is “It depends” – There is a bit of truth on all sides of the arguments.

First, let’s look at the difference between brown and white rice.

Brown rice is the whole grain. The brown part is the husk. Remove this husk and you are left with white rice.

The “Wholegrains are healthy” crowd argue that all the essential nutrients are in the husk, so if you remove it you’re just left with pure carbohydrate – empty calories.

Those advocating a “Paleo” diet on the other hand, argue that the husk contains all the anti-nutrients, the main culprits in rice being phytates, which block mineral absorption.

Both are actually correct. The husk does contain all the essential nutrients, but they are bound up with phytates, and various other anti-nutrients, which essentially make them indigestible by any human which might eat them.

In terms of essential nutrients, it really makes little difference whether you eat brown or white rice. They are both a poor source. The white rice is a poor source as it doesn’t contain any, the brown rice a poor source as although it’s packed full of vitamins and minerals, you can’t access them. It’s a bit like having a safe full of money, but no key!

So rice is essentially empty calories – this is surely a bad thing?

Some nutritionists liken eating rice to consuming sugar, stating that as it’s pretty much pure glucose, there’s little to no difference.

This isn’t really the case though, as there’s a big difference between the long chains of glucose starch found in rice, and the short disaccharide of glucose and fructose.

Excessive sugar consumption causes a rapid spike in blood sugar, and all of the fructose needs to be processed by the liver. This isn’t a major issue in moderate quantities, but when consumed in excess can lead to non alcoholic fatty liver disease, and is likely a major factor in rising rates of diabetes.

The glucose from rice on the other hand, is released relatively slowly, and can be taken up directly from the blood stream into the muscles. Glucose is also the primary fuel for the brain and many other essential processes in the body.

Rice, therefore, while a poor source of nutrients, can be a good source of fuel for your body and brain.

Whether it’s a good choice for you, depends on whether you’re in need of extra energy.

If your goal is fat loss, it’s probably best to give rice of any kind a miss. Body fat is stored energy – if your aim is to burn it, you don’t want to be consuming a food which is basically pure energy. Instead, focus on nutrient dense, but low calorie foods. (Hint: Vegetables).

If you don’t want to lose weight, or perhaps even want to gain weight, or are simply very active and need plenty of fuel, rice could be a good option.

Personally, I go for white rice – I prefer the taste, and I’d rather play it safe and ditch the anti-nutrients, and get my nutrients from elsewhere by combining it with nutrient dense foods such as fish, seafood or pastured meat, and lots of vegetables – think traditional, home made Asian dishes such as stir fries and sushi – to ensure you’re getting plenty of good fats, vitamins and minerals.

If you prefer brown rice, however, it’s probably not going to cause you any issues.

If you’ve got any thoughts or questions about rice, or any other grains for that matter, we’d love to hear from you below in the comments!

Image courtesy of Suat Eman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Eat Primal 8 Week Challenge – Week 8

Learn to Cook

Generally speaking, cooking things slowly at low temps is usually best...
Generally speaking, cooking things slowly at low temps is usually best…

Hopefully, you’ve already seen some great results, and it hasn’t been too difficult!

If you’ve got into the habit of looking at food labels to watch out for hidden sugars, vegetable fats, wheat and other nasties, however, you’ll most likely have found that they’re in pretty much everything for sale in the supermarkets!

Unfortunately, most of us have forgotten how to cook, and are relying on factories to produce our food. The problem is, they are most concerned with profit, not your health, which is why the nation is in such a state at the moment.

With a bit of planning, cooking does not have to take up all your time, and is not difficult. You can pan fry a fish fillet and steam some vegetables in under 10 mins!

Healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive either. Buy in bulk, and shop locally for whole foods and you’ll also find you might actually save money.

Check out this Quick and Easy Primal Meals Cookbook for some inspiration.

Eat Primal 8 Week Challenge – Week 7

Add Some Prebiotic and Probiotic Foods

Image of Home Made Yoghurt
You are what eats what you eat…

The modern diet can wreak havoc with your digestion. Having a healthy population of good bacteria in your gut helps you digest food, and bolsters your immune system.

A diet high in processed foods and sugar can create an imbalance, leading to bloating, IBS and even much more severe health problems down the road.

A probiotic is a live food containing good bacteria. For most people, the easiest option will be a live, full fat (no added sugar) yoghurt. If for any reason you don’t/can’t eat dairy, live sauerkraut/kimchee or miso can be an alternative, or you can purchase probiotic tablets online.

Prebiotics are foods which feed the good bacteria in your stomach. The best sources are Chicory Root, Jerusalem Artichoke, Dandelion Greens, Garlic, Leek, Onion, Asparagus and Banana.

Why not try a good bacteria friendly breakfast of full fat live yoghurt, with a sliced fruit and berries?

Eat Primal 8 Week Challenge – Week 6

Eat Nutrient Dense Animal Foods

Image of Salmon Steaks
Nutrient dense, satisfying and tasty!

Do you find that no matter how much you eat, you are never satisfied? Perhaps it’s because your body is craving certain nutrients, which your current diet is not providing, no matter how much of it you eat.

Good quality animal products are the best source of vitamins A, D and K, complete protein, long chain omega 3 fatty acids and CLA, iron and other minerals, choline and good, heart healthy cholesterol.

As far as meat and fish are concerned, free range grass fed beef and lamb and Wild Caught Fish and Seafood are the best.

Full Fat Dairy Products such as real, grass fed butter, cheese (unpasteurised if possible*) and full fat (no added sugar) live yoghurt.

Free Range Organic Eggs are one of the most nutrient dense foods available.

(If you’re vegetarian eggs and dairy should provide you with everything you need)

You don’t have to have them in huge amounts, and certainly not at every meal, but aiming for close to once per day would be a sensible aim.

*Warning – Unpasteurised dairy products should not be consumed by pregnant women, or those with compromised immune systems.

Eat Primal 8 Week Challenge – Week 5

Cut Out Vegetable Oils

Industrial Seed Oils - Not a Natural Part of the Human Diet!
Industrial Seed Oils – Not a Natural Part of the Human Diet!

You can’t get oil by squeezing a stick of broccoli!

Vegetable oils should really be called “Industrial Seed/Bean Fat” – They are extracted in factories at high temperatures using chemicals to produce a super cheap ingredient to put in commercial food products.

The two main problems with vegetables are:

1) They are high in Omega 6 Fatty Acids

Omega 6 fatty acids are essential for survival, but only in very tiny quantities, and when balanced by Omega 3 consumption. As most processed foods are jam packed with vegetable oils, but lacking in omega 3s, this creates an imbalance. Too much Omega 6 to Omega 3 is a major cause of inflammation, now believed to be at the root of many modern degenerative diseases.

2) They are very fragile and prone to oxidation

Polyunsaturated fats are very delicate, and oxidise easily when heated. When oxidised fats are consumed they expose the body to free radical damage, known to be a major cause of cancer. Even if you don’t heat the oil yourself, the chances are that it was already exposed to high temperatures during manufacture and so will be rancid when you buy it!

Always check your food label, and if it contains any of the following put it back!

Vegetable Oil, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Sunflower Oil, Soybean Oil, Safflower Oil.

(Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil is great for salads, but don’t heat it to high temperatures in cooking, use ghee, dripping or coconut oil instead)

Eat Primal 8 Week Challenge – Week 4

Try Cutting Out Wheat

Image of a Loaf of Whole Grain Wheat Bread
Image Courtesy of Dan / www.freedigitalphotos.net

If your digestion is compromised (as it is in a high proportion of people today), wheat can be very hard to digest.

Hard to break down proteins in wheat such as gluten and lectins can make it intact into your blood stream, and irritate your immune system causing inflammation, which in turn can disrupt your metabolism and make it hard for you to regulate your weight (in extreme circumstances it can turn into full blown auto-immune condition known as celiac, which often goes undiagnosed).

Wheat is also high in FODMAPs – fermentable carbohydrates which can cause uncomfortable bloating and gas which can make you feel sluggish and miserable.

Even if you are lucky enough to have very strong digestion, modern wheat has been engineered to give high yields, at the expense of nutritional value, producing a crop high in calories, but relatively low in vitamins and minerals.

These low mineral contents are made worse by the presence of compounds known as phytates, which bind to the minerals making them unavailable for digestion.

Food manufacturers have also found that using wheat gluten as an ingredient helps make foods irresistible, making your more likely to overeat (and therefore buy more of their products).

Cutting out wheat means cutting out cakes, biscuits, pastries, breads, desserts, pizzas, pasties and pretty much all junk foods, it’s also an ingredient in pretty much all packaged processed foods, which are better off left on the shelf.

Swap sandwiches for salads or corn tortilla wraps, and swap pasta for extra servings of vegetables. This will reduce your calorie intake, and increase your intake of vitamins and minerals.

As with sugar, allow yourself some leeway on the weekends, but why not try some sourdough rye or spelt bread (available in Barbakan and Unicorn), which is easier to digest and more nutritious?

Eat Primal 8 Week Challenge – Week 3

Cut out Snacks in-between meals

Picture of Hand Holding a Chocolate Bar

There is no need to snack. The idea of eating little and often is marketing hype intended to sell more products!

3 Meals a day is more than adequate to sustain you.

More often than not we snack out of boredom or habit, rather than true hunger.

To make things worse, most of the foods we snack on are junk often disguised as health food, full of sugar, fake fat, and additives, with no real nutrition, which are not satiating and keep you in a vicious cycle of constant grazing.

If you are struggling with cravings, try a cup of tea or coffee (no sugar!), or if you have to eat, try a piece fresh of fruit.

Eat Primal 8 Week Challenge – Week 2

Cut Out All Added Sugars Monday-Friday

Sugar Cubes Positioned to Form a Heart
Image courtesy of Tina Phillips / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sugar is pure energy, with no other nutritional value.

Food product designers use it in conjunction with other ingredients in order to make foods so highly rewarding, we don’t want to stop eating them even when we’ve had enough.

As with week 1, it’s not just about weight-loss – if you’re eating lots of sugar and not gaining fat, it could be a sign of worse things going on behind the scenes!

Cut out biscuits, sweets, cakes, chocolate bars and other sugary treats in the week. (If you’re really struggling try a small bar of 85% Dark Chocolate, or some fresh fruit and berries with full fat, no added sugar yoghurt to curb your craving).

Also, check all food labels, as sugar is hidden in all sorts of things you wouldn’t expect – Even savoury foods! Check the nutrition info for grams of sugars – 4g = 1 teaspoon, you could be surprised.

In particular, be careful of “low fat” products – Often these are some of the unhealthiest items on the shelves as healthy natural fats are replaced with processed sugar!

There is nothing wrong with treating yourself on the weekend, but try and go for home baked goods that are free from fake processed fats and additives, and don’t go overboard and eat a week’s worth in two days ;)

If you’re on twitter follow @PrimalFitness and we’ll always be there to give you the advice and encouragement you need. Use the hashtag #EatPrimal8WC to post your successes and struggles, and to lend support and encouragement to other members of #teamprimal.

If you’re not on Twitter, don’t forget about the Primal Fitness Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/198285283566452/

8 Week Eat Primal Challenge – Week 1

At Primal your success is very important to us.

By coming to the park even just one day per week, you can make tremendous gains – Become faster, stronger, better coordinated, increase stamina and endurance, bullet proof your body against back and joint pain. and relieve stress and banish depression. All while having a laugh and getting some lovely fresh air in the park!

Of course, in addition to being fit, strong and healthy, we all want to look good too, and an added bonus on top of all the above is that the type of training we do in the park is great for fat burning – High intensity interval training (H.I.I.T) has been shown to be the most effective way to liberate fat from your cells so it can be burned as you train.

To really get the benefits of all the above however, eating the right foods makes a huge difference to your results. Whether you want to be fitter, faster, stronger or simply look better on the beach, making changes to the way you eat will help you reach your goals faster, and much more effectively.

We understand however, that making changes to your diet and lifestyle is not easy, so we’ve put together a little 8 week challenge to help you get on track.

Each week, we’re going to release one small change to make to the way you eat, that will pay dividends in the long run. One change at a time may not seem like much, but by the end of the 8 weeks, they will add up to a huge difference. Often people try to do too much too soon, and end up falling off the wagon with a crash, but by making one small change at a time, you can make permanent life altering changes that you can stick to forever.

If your goal is fat loss, take some measurements now so you can track your progress – we’d recommend not only weighing yourself, but also taking a tape measure measurement around your waist and/or hips. Ensure you always use the same scales, and measure the same spot (using the belly button as a reference is a good idea). Just measure once per week, at the same time of day, ideally in the morning when you first get up.

Remember though, these dietary changes are not just for weight-loss – following a Primal type diet can help you feel better in yourself, improve digestive health, give you more energy, improve immune function and reduce inflammation – now thought to be the underlying cause of many modern lifestyle diseases.

We understand that even small changes can be hard to stick to without a support network to back you up though, so we’re going to be here to help.

If you’re on twitter follow @PrimalFitness and we’ll always be there to give you the advice and encouragement you need. Use the hashtag #EatPrimal8WC to post your successes and struggles, and to lend support and encouragement to other members of #teamprimal.

Alternatively, if you’re more of a Facebook Fan, follow the challenge on our Facebook Page

So without further ado, here’s week 1’s challenge:

Eat Primal Challenge Week 1:

Cut out Calorie Containing Drinks

Image of sugar being added to coffeeDon’t Ruin a Great Drink with Sugar!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sugary drinks provide extra calories, but do not fill you up. Cutting them is the easiest way to reduce your energy intake without feeling hungry.

Even if you don’t need to lose weight, sugar has been shown to be very bad for health and a major cause of most modern health problems, from tooth decay to heart disease and worse!

Cut out all fizzy drinks (even diet ones, as artificial sweeteners have their own problems), fruit juice (eat real fruit instead) and drink tea and coffee without sugar and preferably black. (If you can’t cope without any milk, add less – Latte>Cappuccino>Flat White>Macchiato)

Good luck, and don’t forget to keep us posted on Twitter and Facebook!