Minding Your Mitochondria, Primitive Diets, and Potatoes

As you may very well know, I have a strong distaste for the Paleo diet.

The way most people follow this diet is dumb.

Point blank.

BUT My friend, we’ll call him The Trainer, shared an interesting video with me a couple of days ago, which I’d like to share with you all.

(Here is the text if you prefer to read.)

The Trainer and I had a little discussion a la Facebook, and I think it’s worth repeating.

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The Trainer: Argue with this please! I would like to hear the other side!

Me: First of all, I’d like to say that this is the first intelligent argument on Paleo/Primitive based diet that I’ve heard. I am very impressed that the focus on vegetables and hardly nothing on meat, except for the maybe two sentences on fatty fish consumption. You can even look at her sample plates and deduce that she is consuming appropriate serving sizes of meat (3 oz).

I completely on board regarding her recommendation to consume more fruits and vegetables to obtain (at least) the RDAs for vits&minerals. Her recommendation of 9 servings of vegetables a day remind me of the DASH diet (8-10 servings fruits and veg per day), which has proven beneficial for chronic diseases across the spectrum. Now, if we focus in specifically on the vitamin and mineral content of grains, dairy, and potatoes, I think you may be surprised.

Here are the nutrients she discussed in her article:

  • B Vits
  • Vit C
  • Vit A
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Iodine
  • Omega-3

Take a look at these nutrient analyses:

1 Slice Whole Grain Bread

1 C Skim Milk

1- 8 oz white Potato

Not too shabby.

My choice to go vegetarian does not mean that I think it’s the best diet for everyone. But massive consumption of bacon does not a healthy diet make.

P.S. If you think meat improves athletic performance, I beg you to reconsider – After going vegetarian, I cut 30+ seconds off my mile time, almost 8 minutes of my half marathon time, and 17 minutes off my marathon time. What upppp!

The Trainer: First of all, thank you. This is what I think good discussion should look like. A look at the facts, not the outlier idiot examples.

Second: Dont mess with bacon.

Third: Endurance athletes are a very small percentage of (college or professional) athletes, and, since they have very different nutritional needs (before, during, and after competition) should not be viewed as a good representation of Athletes as a whole. Some of the best Ultra-endurance athletes in the world are vegetarian, but I would happily challenge those herbivores to a pushup contest.

Me: Check it yo: Successful Vegetarian Athletes.

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Okay, so there you have our nice, pleasant discussion.  Eyes opened on both sides, I would say.

But then a few other Facebookers got involved, namely, The Doctor, who commented on the nutrient analysis of the potato…

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The Doctor: empty carbs?

Me: Not at all. Check out all those vitamins and minerals. The potato gets a bad name because the way it most frequently gets prepared (i.e., fried…) Potatoes are a nutrient dense food!

The Doctor: so is steak! just without the insulin spike

Me: I could argue the negatives for steak, but I encourage you to look at nourishment from a non-food police perspective!

The Doctor: i’m not sure there are any negatives for a good grass fed steak esp as compared to a high glycemic index carbohydrate such as white potatoes which can raise ur blood sugar faster than consuming spoonfuls of pure table sugar… but I would love to hear ur argument

Me: Well, we could discuss the average American portion size for steak, common cooking techniques, or even take a trip down memory lane and revisit Nutrition 101 and metabolism. My previous non-food-police comment was referring to my strong belief that there is no.bad.food. There is room for everything in the diet– in moderation. :) Now, if you eat a whole bag of potatoes – eh, not so great. Eat a 12 oz steak – eh, not the best idea. Or even eat that white potato all by itself, you’re definitely going to see an insulin spike- a normal homeostatic control mechanism. (Remember, glucose is the body’s preferred energy source.) BUT, if you pair that potato with 3 oz of protein, or a little healthy fat, the GI effect decreases significantly. In my opinion, it’s about eating smart, not completely cutting out entire food groups. :)

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Shocking and interesting, huh?

In conclusion, I’d like to share this research article with you, entitled, “The Status of Nutrition Education in Medical Schools.”

Distribution of the total number of hours of required nutrition education at US medical schools. US medical schools responded to a survey conducted in 2004. Ninety-seven schools responded to this question (2 other schools did not indicate the number of hours).  

The majority of doctors receive only 11-20 hours of nutrition classes in their training! Hardly enough to qualify them as experts in the field.

I don’t want to make any blanket statements, but do you see the lesson here, folks?

Please contact a Registered Dietitian for nutrition information!

That is all.

Stepping off my soap box now.

Have a Lovely Thursday!