What Is MovNat?

Eating healthy food is just one aspect of healthy living. The true paleo lifestyle includes a number of other things: getting enough sleep, doing plenty of exercise, and drinking lots of water.
 
Just as it can be difficult to work out which diet works best for you, there are plenty of exercise options to choose from. We’ve already discussed CrossFit as a fairly paleo way of working out, and in this article we consider another form of exercise which focuses on natural movement, MovNat.

Interview with Founder of MovNat, Erwan Le  Corre

 

What is MovNat?

MovNat is a coaching and training method for the practice of Natural Movement*. It is a health and fitness discipline based on the full range of evolutionary movement skills. It is way of mindful exercise, practical fitness, functional rehabilitation, and physical education.
 

What does MovNat involve?

The practice of MovNat encompasses breathing, walking, running, balancing, crawling, climbing, swimming, lifting, carrying, throwing, and self-defense skills such as striking and grappling. The foundation of the practice is the training of movement skills with a focus on effective and efficient physical performance. Strength and conditioning are equally emphasized, because they are required as well for high levels of performance. So MovNat is not just about the movement skills, or just about general physical preparedness, but enables the symbiotic development of both.
 

Why is natural movement important?

The general physical, health and fitness state of modern populations is quite alarming, despite advanced medical technologies, or sports and exercise science. So the problem is not that we lack information, or methods and programs, or equipment, but that our lifestyle is unhealthy, including altered food, water and air, sleep deprivation, stress, physical inactivity, lack of nature etc…
 
The primary benefit of Natural Movement is to reset people in their original – i.e evolutionary and biological movement behavior – in order to foster, restore and/or maintain health, fitness, well-being, happiness, and even a sense of freedom.
 
Natural Movement is also a mindful practice emphasizing awareness, body-mind connection, as well as a connection with Nature, and the respect of it.
 
There is also the necessity to equip people with the movement skills, overall physical competency required for practical situations of the real-life that demand a physical response. Such competency is timeless, and the individuals who possess it are confident and strong in a way that is useful to themselves, others and the community.
 
In a nutshell, I like to say that the concept of Natural Movement contributes to the self-actualization of people so they can enjoy a greater quality of life.

Can you explain why you started MovNat?

Ha, good question,  are you ready for a lengthy answer? 
 
First, I have been training this way for many years, starting in childhood in the woods with my dad, and in my early adult life in urban environments as well. I have also trained several specialized sports and learned valuable lessons from them, but I could never limit myself to training one sport or discipline only. I have also always felt that, while every sport or movement discipline had a place in society, the idea of “Natural Movement”, i.e the general practice of fundamental human movement skills altogether, was a concept foreign to most. If I was training in a park with some people around, they wouldn’t pay attention to the jogger, or the person doing pushups and sit-ups, or stretching; but they sure would be amused to see me combining crawl, jump, balance, sprint etc… While children do it all the time, it is as if these movements are not supposed to be done by adults, or would have to be done in a particular, indoors setting, or in isolation as part of a specific sports.
 
So I told to myself, this practice is valuable, meaningful, and effective, and could benefit so many people; it needs to be given a form of recognition in today’s world, to be valued, and to be taught, and learned.  From there, I studied the old European physical education systems that were used a 100, 200 years ago, and realized that before modern fitness, people used to mostly exercise in similar manners.  I have then synthesized what I have learned from these ancient methods, modern sports, and my own practice into a modern system (MovNat).
 
Last but not least, I realized that I had always been in search of practical preparedness my whole life, even through the specialized sports I have practiced, they ALL had practical value: running and swimming (trail running, triathlon), lifting (Olympic lifting), climbing (rock climbing), self-defense (karate, judo, jiujitsu, Thai boxing). I have always had the feeling that physical competency for the real world did matter, and that it gave me a greater sense of self-worth and self-confidence in life. In fact, I remember that as a kid between 6 and 18, so-called physical education programs in school never convinced me because they were all based on games and rules and nothing practical.  I knew that I was learning much more while running, jumping, and climbing in nature.  That’s where the fun was to me, but also where the real, primary value of physical action lied.  So I’d say that in a sense, MovNat represents the physical education system and program that I dreamed of as a kid, and never found in school.  You don’t want to learn how to operate your body in practical ways when you’re a grown up, this is a potential that should be developed, and a competency that should be acquired, during childhood, ideally.
 
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Who is MovNat for and is there anyone that MovNat is not for?

In term of practice, MovNat is really for everyone, since it is a coaching method emphasizing scalability, progressions, and safety.
A good, concrete example could be the broad jump. You will not be encouraged to “try” to jump over a difficult or wide obstacle, but instead will first learn the fundamental technique, starting with proper landing mechanics at ground/floor level, and improve the efficiency of your movement pattern. Then you will progressively increase volume (number of repetitions), intensity (distance jumped) or complexity (type of obstacle, including height, surface, or other variables). It means that you will never be pushed to do anything you are not physically ready for.
 
In term of type of fitness, let’s say that MovNat is not for people who don’t enjoy movement or who don’t see the value in the practicality of the skills trained, and those who are solely looking for the appearance of fitness, not the actual fitness competence.

Where can you do MovNat?

Everywhere, why? More seriously… practically anywhere indeed.  I am not saying that no equipment is needed for MovNat, for instance we have affiliates which provide a customized, scalable and safe environment with beams, bars etc… But when you’ve learned the techniques and principles, you start to see opportunities for movement practice everywhere, at the park, in nature of course, in your own backyard maybe.  The method itself is adaptable.  If a venue is adapted for MovNat training, then the indoors provide a controlled environment that presents many advantages such as easier access (great for people who live in town away from nature), scalability and safety, variety within a relatively small area, or the measurement of performance. Of course, nothing beats nature for the energy, health benefits and sense of freedom that she provides, but MovNat is not necessarily done in nature. You can learn and hone your movement skills and conditioning indoors for instance, in a progressive and safe manner, and sometimes move in natural environments for a “pure” experience.

How  do paleo and MovNat go together?

Perfectly? Biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky once said that “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” It means that what is natural is evolutionary, and reciprocally. In that sense, MovNat and Natural Movement are 100% Paleo. While we advocate a Paleo type of diet, diet is ultimately a personal choice of course. You do not have to be on a Paleo diet to do MovNat, obviously, but many of our practitioners and followers are part of the Paleo community. 
 
Regarding fitness, we pride ourselves for being the program that is the most relevant to a Paleo approach, precisely because of the naturalness of our practice, the fact that it is so practical and adaptable. We don’t recycle conventional fitness drills with a Paleo “package”, we move the way nature and evolution intend us to, but with an emphasis on efficiency.  
 

Why should someone do MovNat rather than (or as well as) any other form of exercise?

Because it makes you sexier? More seriously, people don’t naturally stick to something they don’t truly enjoy doing. It is important to realize that the number one reason why people don’t subscribe or renew their membership at conventional gyms is that they get immensely bored with machine-based fitness. They have the feeling that they must impose such mechanistic and repetitive programs to themselves as a form of chore or punishment for being out of shape. So where’s the enjoyment, and where is the meaningful purpose to be found?
 
If what you are looking for is the freedom and joy of movement, as well as a type of fitness that is 100% transferable and applicable to the real-world, then MovNat is the best choice possible because this is exactly what we are all about. And it WILL make you look better, feel better, and perform better, including in other areas of life.

How can MovNat complement any other activities that I’m involved with?

Many of our certified trainers blend MovNat exercise with their regular training classes, with great results, as it brings novelty, variety, new challenges, and playfulness to sometimes overly conventional or restrictive programs. Many MovNat practitioners come from a specific fitness modality background, be it kettlebells, other types of strength training, running or athletics, etc… Because of the varied and inclusive aspect of Natural Movement, specific disciplines often feel at home with MovNat, for instance kettlebell training becomes part of the manipulative aspect of MovNat training. Therefore, it is possible to maintain separate sessions, or to blend pre-existing trainings into an overall MovNat practice.
 
MovNat can also help you with your particular sport, especially if it is highly specialized. The greater the level of specialization in a sport, the greater the potential for particular physical deficiencies and imbalances (including but not restricted to lack of coordination, mobility, stability, strength etc…) pre-existing to training for the sport, or caused by it, leading to greater risk of injury. The variety of MovNat movements helps the body become overall skilled, strong, and more resilient. This is a great advantage especially when overly specific demands of a given sports create chronic stress in particular body parts, as it will reinforce the whole body, reduce physical imbalances, and help prevent injuries.
 
Last but not least, the practice of a single physical activity can be mentally straining, and lead to lack of motivation. MovNat makes physical activity varied and enjoyable again, which in return lead to an improved appreciation for the practice of specialty activities.

What results do people get with MovNat? Do you have any “success” stories?

We have countless of success stories indeed, which include people who had completely lost faith that they would ever become physically active again, and who have found in MovNat a practice that is meaningful, effective, and enjoyable.
 
We have so many testimonies of people who once had to deal with nagging injuries, or lack of mobility, and who have resolved their issues simply by resetting their body on their natural movement mode. As a matter of fact, we have more and more chiropractors, physiotherapists of occupational therapists who are using MovNat with their patients and get great results as a complement to treatment and therapy. 
 
Not all valuable transformation is dramatic, for instance a person losing a lot of weight and getting lean. What about greater sense of self-esteem and self-confidence? What about greater energy and resilience? What about greater mental focus and improved brain function? What about a greater ability to interact with others, a sense of community? These aspects, and many others, are positive outcomes of MovNat that makes it a success story for everyone who gets started with Natural Movement practice.

If you had the chance to thousands of people one thing about MovNat, what would you tell them?

I would ask them what is the best fitness training program for a tiger? Machines for strength, elliptical for cardio, plus daily stretching? That would be hilarious, since, of course, tigers, along with all other animals, just need to move naturally. Why would it be any different in humans? We just need a method for doing what’s natural more efficient.

How can readers get involved in MovNat?

A simple way is to explore your natural movement potential on your own is to check out the “MODs” (Movement Of the Day) we are posting 5 days a week on movnat.com. MODs include warm-up and mobility moves, as wells as “combos” (circuits) one can do to get started with our program.
 
But exploration alone is limited, and isn’t a substitute for direct coaching. You can learn techniques and make your movement effective and efficient, ensure safe progressions and boost your progress by learning from one of our certified trainer (a locator cab be found of movnat.com). They are professionals trained in our method and will provide expert guidance. 
 
MovNat also holds 2 day training workshop worldwide, dates and locations can be found on the website as well.  Last, people who  are serious about MovNat can pass one of our 3 level certification programs, which will allow them to teach and bring the Natural Movement experience to their local community.

Where can readers find out more about MovNat?

Go to www.movnat.com or google MovNat to find countless media articles and reviews on blogs. Our certification manual is also a GREAT read.
 
*Natural Movement is a term I have defined, popularized and used as a simple way to explain MovNat since 2007.
 
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How to Start Eating Paleo Today

The most important step when transitioning to the paleo lifestyle is just getting started. And yet it’s also the hardest. Here at the UPG, we get tons of questions from people around the world who are interested in living a healthier lifestyle, but who are just not sure how to get started. We take the guess work out of it, so that you can get started today, and your transformation can begin.

Step 1: Perform a kitchen makeover

As nice as it is to think you have all the willpower in the world, and that you can resist any and all temptations, especially when it comes to food, the truth is that you can’t. It’s been proven that willpower is a limited resource that actually gets depleted and replenished throughout the hustle and bustle of each day. This is one reason why so many of us have a hard time sticking to our nutrition plans at the end of the day or over a weekend. You use your willpower all day long, doing things like:

  • getting up to an alarm for work,
  • avoiding the pizza in the break room,
  • biting your tongue when someone makes a rude comment, and
  • not flirting with your cute coworker (hey, you’re married).

If there is unhealthy food in your home, it will eventually get eaten. Unhealthy foods are usually easier and less time-consuming to prepare than healthier alternatives, so, when we get hungry, we tend to rip open a bag as opposed to chopping up some veggies.

So make it hard to do the bad stuff, and easy to do the good stuff, by removing the temptations. One of the best ways to do this is by performing a kitchen makeover: out with the bad, and in with the good!

Black bag it!
You want to remove all the junk crowding up your kitchen, and replace it with the foods from our food list that form part of a healthier lifestyle.

1. Grab a large black trash bag…maybe two…maybe three.

2. Open the pantry, and look for items like these:
a. Chips
b. Pretzels
c. Chocolate
d. Candy
e. Baked goods/Hostess/Little Debbie
f. Instant foods (cake mix, mashed potatoes, macaroni)
g. Flavored nuts
h. Cereal
i. Breads/bagels/pasta
j. Crackers
k. Granola bars

3. Open the freezer, and look for these foods:
a. Ice cream
b. Frozen dinners
c. Hot dogs
d. Cookie dough
e. Candy/chocolate
f. Waffles

4. Open up the fridge, and look for these items:
a. Milk
b. Fruit juice
c. Alcohol
d. Any caloric beverage
e. Sweetened yogurt, sweetened anything
f. Processed meats (deli, prepacked)
g. Restaurant leftovers
h. Margarine
i. Breads, bagels, whole grains
j. Peanut butter
k. Condiments (BBQ, ketchup, salad dressings)
l. Cream cheese

These lists do not include everything, but they should give you a general idea. If it comes in a box, bag, or some sort of wrapper, throw it out. If it has more than three ingredients, throw it out. If you cannot pronounce some of its ingredients, throw it out. If you are not sure about a certain food, a good rule of thumb is to throw it out.

What a waste
Absolutely not! What you are throwing away is not food. These are substances that promote disease and an unhealthy lifestyle. Please feel free to feel liberated while throwing this crap away.

Step 2: Go grocery shopping

You have to eat right, and an empty kitchen isn’t going to fix that. Now is the time to hit your local Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, or grocery store, and get your shop on. If you are not already, I recommend subscribing to the UPG newsletter to get a free four week meal plan that should help to get you started. We also have 1 week, 2 week, 30 day, 60 day, and 90 day plans available for free here, so please take advantage.

You can use our complete Paleo food list to help you decided which foods you should and should not be purchasing. For the most part, stick to the parameter of any grocery store. This is where you’ll find all the real food like fresh veggies, fruit, and animal protein like grass-fed beef, lamb, and salmon.

Make sure to learn to read a label as well. Actually, don’t do that, because most of the food you will be buying will not have a label at all. Here’s a good rule of thumb for you:

  • No ingredients – you have a winner
  • One ingredient – you’re good
  • Two ingredients – it’s ok
  • Three ingredients – you’re pushing it
  • Four or more ingredients – forget about it

 

Quick tip: Not everything you buy needs to be organic. Visit the EWG shoppers guide to get a complete list of the dirty dozen foods you should definitely buy organic and the fifteen clean foods that are lowest in pesticides.

Step 3: Learn to cook

Ok, so you’ve cleared out your home, and hooked yourself up with some healthy groceries. Now what? For some of you, I know the thought of cooking can be terrifying, but you don’t need to be Bobby Flay in the kitchen to make healthy, paleo-friendly meals. Here is the can’t-mess-up process for making your first, second, or one millionth paleo meal:
  • Put oil in a pan (it’s up to you how much, but 1 tablespoon for every 6 ounces of meat is generally good).
  • Brown some meat in the oil.
  • Add in some spices.
  • Add in your veggies.
  • Cover it up, and let it sit. Check on it every 2-3 minutes.

Your plate should be covered mostly with veggies, with animal protein taking up the space of 1-2 palms, depending on your body type and activity level. The amount of cooking oil you use will vary as well – roughly 1-4 tablespoons depending on your body size and gender. Focus on using oils that are solid at room temperature (e.g. coconut oil), as they do much better under heat than liquid fats. Olive oil can be used as well, but use a lower heat.

Eat slowly, chew fully, and eat to satiety. No more calorie counting or weighing and measuring food.

Quick tip: Don’t get too wrapped up in making long and difficult recipes at first. It is much easier to establish healthy eating habits if you simplify the cooking process. Recipes can be difficult and time-consuming, so we suggest using the formula above, or choosing 5-6 stable recipes, mastering them, and eating them until you can’t stand them anymore, and then learning a new batch of recipes. Pick up a cookbook, or check out some of the UPG recipes here.

Step 4: Exercise

Cavemen and women spent the majority of their days on their feet, mixing in bouts of sprinting from predators, and chasing prey, to lifting heavy things, and putting them back down. Most of their rest time was spent walking from place to place in search of a safe cozy night’s sleep. Long story short: they were active.

Fitness doesn’t need to be complicated either. You can use basic body weight movements to start building strength and endurance, and to increase fat loss. Pick up the free No Excuse Workout, and get moving today.

Quick tip: Learn to become more active in your daily routine by parking farther away from places you visit, taking the stairs, and jogging to get the mail. Make more time for play by joining some recreational sports leagues, or by going on walks with friends and loved ones.

Step 5: Sleep

I just heard some of you say ‘YES!’ Sleep is vitally important to establishing perfect paleo health and wellness. You’ll need plenty of it in order to let your body recover from exercise and the daily grind. The benefits of healthy sleeping habits stretch far and wide, and include

  • better performance in athletics,
  • increased energy,
  • improved mood and attitude,
  • stronger immune system,
  • higher tolerance for stress,
  • enhanced memory and mental focus, and
  • decreased risk of obesity, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes.

Get a better night’s sleep tonight and from here on out by applying some of these tips:

  • Turn the television off. The light and noise interferes with the deep and rejuvenating level of sleep required for ultimate health and energy. Cavemen didn’t have TVs; they had dark caves. How lucky they were! No joke, I’ve even slept in my closet before. Scout’s honor.
  • Make use of dark curtains or blinds if street lamps or outside light tends to illuminate your bedroom at night.
  • Shut down the computer, cut off the monitors, and even cover up the alarm clock. You want your room to be pitch black.
  • Sleep in a cool room. You ever wonder why we love air conditioners when the weather gets warm? Probably not. Well, the fact is that when our bodies become too warm or even hot, it’s difficult for us to relax or focus. If excess warmth and heat cause us a bit of discomfort during the day, just think about what’s happening when we’re sleeping. Your sleep is terribly disrupted when you’re too warm or too hot. In fact, many people complain about the inability to sleep when it’s too warm. Although you don’t need your room as to be cool as the North Pole, you do want a cool room in order to maximize sleep.
  • Try getting to bed and waking up consistent times. Getting onto a regular sleep schedule will work wonders. Your body will begin to get tired and wake up effortlessly due to the consistency.

Some things to watch out for

If you’re just transitioning to the paleo lifestyle, the first two weeks may be a bit difficult. As your body is cleansing itself, releasing toxins, and switching from being a sugar burner to a fat burner, you may experience a few side affects like fatigue and sugar cravings. Here is a detailed example of what to expect during the first 30 days of your paleo journey.

You may also get some grief from family members and friends about your new eating habits. Just remind yourself that change is scary, and that when you change, you change things for other people as well, and this can be difficult for them. Here are a couple of things to remember when talking to family members and friends about your paleo lifestyle:

1. Mention what you CAN eat, and not what you can’t. When you tell people what you are not allowed to eat, they can get a little defensive, as they might be eating those foods. It can come off as if you are chastising them for choosing to eat differently from you, and this is the exact same thing you are trying to prevent them from doing to you!

2. Let results do the talking. Plain and simple, paleo works, and it works wonders. Let the results do the talking. When the fat starts melting off, your energy is sky high, and everyone is asking you how you did it, then feel free to share.

3. Keep educating yourself. There are tons of fantastic resources available to learn as much about the paleo lifestyle as possible. Keep learning, so that, when those interested in it start asking you questions, you are well-informed with factual information that they can apply. We have a resources page dedicated purely to that. Please take the time to check it out.

The first step to adopting the paleo lifestyle is simply getting started. The time is right now – you can perform a kitchen makeover in the next few minutes, and head off to the grocery store, and cook a meal within a few hours. Why wait? It’s your health we’re talking about here.

Additional reading: 13 steps to perfect paleo

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Paleo and Fiber

A few questions that come up frequently when someone is looking to transition to a paleo lifestyle are related to fiber:

  • How will I get enough fiber if there are no grains allowed?
  • Don’t “whole grains” and fiber help fight cholesterol?
  • Don’t I need a certain amount of fiber in order to stay regular?
  • What are the best sources of fiber if I’m going paleo?
  • Fiber helps keep me full and is good for weight loss, right?

A lot of the information you’ll read about fiber is not far off base – fiber does help with satiety, constipation, and regular bowl movements, cholesterol, and a whole host of other ailments. In this article, we’ll answer some of the questions above.

What is fiber?

You can break fiber down into three main sources: soluble, insoluble, and resistant starches. No single source is better than any other, and all are valuable in their own way when it comes to having a well-rounded nutrition plan. Most food that contains fiber contains both soluble and insoluble fiber.

Fiber is an indigestible type of carbohydrate often found in the cell walls of plants, making it readily available in many fruits and vegetables. You’ve probably read or been influenced by many “health expertswill know that the benefits of fiber rich whole grains do not outweigh the damage and disruption they can do to the lining of your gut. Below you’ll find some recommendations as to how you can get your fiber in, protect your gut, and still stay paleo.

Soluble fiber: This dissolves easily in fluids, is known to lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL), and helps to regulate blood sugar. Soluble fiber also slows down stomach emptying, which can help to keep you feeling full longer. This type of fiber may also help your body to absorb certain vitamins and minerals. That said, it can also keep other important vitamins and minerals from being absorbed (more on this later).

  • Traditional sources of soluble fiber: Oatmeal, lentils, psyillium, beans, and oat bran
  • Paleo friendly sources of soluble fiber: Strawberries, nuts, seeds, cucumbers, celery, carrots, blueberries, apples with the skin on, sweet potatoes, yams, and other root vegetables

Insoluble fiber: This does not dissolve easily in liquids, and has a laxative-like effect because it adds bulk to stool.

  • Traditional sources of insoluble fiber: Wheat and wheat based products, legumes, corn bran, and veggies like green beans
  • Paleo friendly sources of insoluble fiber: Cabbage, beets, carrots, and Brussels sprouts

Resistant starches: These starches are not digested in the small intestine, and are found in potatoes, pasta, unripe bananas, and various legumes like navy beans. They can also come in the form of non-digestible carbohydrate sources typically extracted from plants or animals, and then manufactured: psyillium husks, fructooligosaccharides, and polydextrose for example.

Fiber, your gut, and digestion issues

Fiber plays a very important role in proper digestion. It can help to feed the healthy bacteria that your gut needs in order to run optimally. Because over 70% of the body’s immune system is found in your gut, proper care is needed in order to become or remain a healthy individual.

If you’re suffering from any of the following:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Headaches
  • Burping
  • Reflux
  • Fatigue after eating
  • Constant hunger
  • Irregular bowel movements
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Neck, or upper or lower back pain

The Standard American Diet, which is high in industrial seed oils like corn, cottonseed, and safflower, Omega-6 fatty acids, and inflammatory foods like wheat products containing gluten, coupled with modern medicines and antibiotics, has nearly destroyed our guts. Add on stress, hormonal imbalances, pregnancy, and thyroid complications due to the modern lifestyle, and you have yourself a recipe for poor gut flora and broken digestive systems.

One way you can begin to fix your gut health and digestive system is by eliminating toxic foods:

  • Cereal grains (especially refined flour)
  • Omega-6 industrial seed oils (corn, cottonseed, safflower, soybean, etc.)
  • Sugar (especially high-fructose corn syrup)
  • Processed soy (soy milk, soy protein, soy flour, etc.)

Many of us have various food sensitivities, with some of the more common culprits being dairy and gluten. Removing some of these items, and including fermentable foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir might just do the trick in restoring some healthy gut bacteria.

You can also help to improve your health by including the right kinds and amounts of fiber.  The Institute of Medicine recommends around 38 grams of fiber for men, and 25 grams for women on average per day. Although it is not entirely necessary to hit these numbers, a paleo approach to eating will get you pretty darn close if it doesn’t exceed them.

A 1,000 calorie serving of fruits and vegetables will provide you with roughly two to seven times the amount of fiber than whole grains would. Plus, most of this fiber is from soluble sources which are more beneficial in that they feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. Soluble fiber ferments in the gut, and turns into short chain fatty acids that, in turn, help to grow, and feed healthy bacteria.

By including more green leafy veggies, root vegetables, and tubers like sweet potato and carrots, as well as low sugar fruits like berries, you can not only add more fiber to your diet, and improve gut health, but improve vitamin and mineral uptake and absorption. Because of phytates and gluten found in foods like beans and various wheat-based products, many vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, and zinc can go unabsorbed.

The vegetables and occasional fruits on a paleo diet supply more than enough fiber to your body. Actually, ¾ cups of cooked broccoli would supply you with seven grams of fiber and only 30 calories, while it would take two slices of “whole grain” that equal 120 calories to supply the same amount of fiber.

Constipation and regular elimination
If staying regular with your bowels is a major concern, I suggest first taking a look at your water consumption. Dehydration or a lack of water is usually to blame for a poor digestive system. It is also very possible that the grains, dairy, and legumes you were used to eating caused leaky gut. The best way to combat this is by removing the foods most harmful to the digestive tract like industrial seed oils, grains, dairy, and legumes, and by allowing the good bacteria and intestinal flora to reset themselves, and repair the gut lining.

75% of stool is dry weight or dead bacteria, which means that fiber is not needed for bulk and elimination. It can definitely assist, but is not a requirement.  As long as your body maintains healthy gut flora, and you stay away from food that body does not tolerate well, and high fructose foods like soda, honey, agave, breakfast cereals and bars, and processed snacks, you should be able to avoid constipation, gas, and bloating.

Fiber supplementation
Many so-called health experts recommend taking supplementary fiber products to assist with weight loss, the lowering of cholesterol, and constipation. The problem with this is that your body, or, more specifically, your colon, can become addicted to these products, and require more and more of them.

If you are following a lower carbohydrate diet, and are struggling with the regularity of your bowel movements and cholesterol, first try slowly increasing your water intake by about eight ounces per day. Then think about adding in more starchy and fermentable foods like sweet potatoes and carrots. Finally, if those things do not help, or if you have blood sugar issues, and can not include starchy carbohydrates, think about adding in a soluble fiber supplement like Organic Acacia Fiber, or a prebiotic like Klaire Labs Biotagen. In both cases, begin supplementation with a very low dose, and gradually increase weekly or bi-weekly.

Fiber and cholesterol
This might be the one thing that frustrates me more than anything else in the world of nutrition. I would like to kick the people who started this rumor in their junk. I just want to touch on a couple things here.

  • Cholesterol is not bad. Your body actual needs it in order to operate efficiently. Cholesterol is used to make cell membranes, which are used to help every single cell in your body move, and interact with the other cells.
  • The cholesterol you eat has almost nothing to do with the cholesterol in your blood. You ingest cholesterol, and create your own cholesterol every day. Roughly 25% of your daily cholesterol is from the food that you eat, and the other 75% is actually made by your body. Most of the cholesterol you eat and produce every day resides in your cell membranes. It is actually serving a purpose.
  • Cholesterol in your blood doesn’t mean cholesterol in your arteries. When you get your cholesterol checked, what is measured is the amount of cholesterol in the blood. The truth is that there is no way of knowing if that cholesterol is going to end up in your arteries or not.
  • Most of the cholesterol you eat is pooped out. There is no other way to put it really. Most cholesterol you eat is not absorbed – it leaves the body in your stool.

Actual causes of heart disease are rooted in inflammation. This is due mostly to the overconsumption of Omega-6 fats from grains, vegetable oils, and grain-fed animals. One way you can help to combat this is by eliminating these foods from your diet, and including more healthy Omega-3 fats from wild-caught salmon, supplementing with fish oil, and eating more grass-fed beef and lamb.

Instead of counting up fiber grams, mixing up high fiber supplement shakes, taking in absurd amounts of grains or legumes, or searching for fake foods with added fiber, instead get back to eating real food. Emphasize green leafy vegetables, lower sugar fruits like berries, and fermentable starchy carbs like sweet potatoes and carrots, increase that water intake, get regular exercise, and, for Pete’s sake, get your rest, and practice proper stress-relieving techniques like meditation. Not only will that keep you regular – it’ll keep you healthy, happy, and fit as well.

Bonus: If you’re looking to get your digestive system on track, try our 7 Day Meal Plan.

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Sugar Is Toxic

7164573186_638fc97c37_c The NYT Opinion recently ran a piece on a PLoS One study that links increased sugar availability to increased rates of obesity and diabetes. One  of our favorite things about paleo is the natural decrease in sugar consumption that it brings to most diets, simply because it means eating real foods. The study corroborates this approach.

The key point in the article is this: “Each 150 kilocalories/person/day increase in total calorie availability related to a 0.1 percent rise in diabetes prevalence (not significant), whereas a 150 kilocalories/person/day rise in sugar availability (one 12-ounce can of soft drink) was associated with a 1.1 percent rise in diabetes prevalence.” Thus: for every 12 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverage introduced per person per day into a country’s food system, the rate of diabetes goes up 1 percent. (The study found no significant difference in results between those countries that rely more heavily on high-fructose corn syrup and those that rely primarily on cane sugar.)

The study meets the “Bradford Hill’ criteria – the medical standard for inferring causation. The big takeaway at the end of the article sums things up pretty well:

It isn’t simply overeating that can make you sick; it’s overeating sugar. We finally have the proof we need for a verdict: sugar is toxic.

We agree. Want to reduce your sugar intake? Take our 30 Day Paleo Challenge.

Read the full post below. It’s worth your time.

via It’s The Sugar, Folks

photo credit: David Pacey

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How To Lose The Final Five Pounds With The Paleo Diet

This is a guest post from Vic Magary.  Vic is an advocate of the Paleo diet, proud pet-parent to his golden retriever Coda, and creator of the Final Five Formula program.

photo (7) The Paleo diet is a great eating strategy for weight loss.  But sometimes, even when following a Paleo diet, it can be challenging to lose that last bit of fat.  Sure you are healthy and fit, but maybe vanity combined with an upcoming beach vacation has you wanting to lose those final 5 – 10 pounds.  If those last few pounds won’t seem to budge, here are a few tips to take your Paleo diet to the next level:

1.  Stop fudging the numbers.

Do you follow the 80/20 rule?  Or even 90/10?  You know, where you eat Paleo almost all of the time but still allow yourself to stray from the plan once or twice per week.  If that is what you have been doing, stop cheating and lock it down tight.  If you really want to lose those final five pounds forget “cheat meals” and other permissive slips.  Instead focus on sticking to the Paleo path 100% of the time for 2 – 4 weeks.

2.  Pass on the potatoes.

Many fans of the Paleo diet see potatoes as a gray area.  Since they come from the earth and have no additional ingredients, it’s easy to make the argument that they should be included under the Paleo umbrella.  But they also cause the exact blood sugar spike and corresponding insulin response that you want to avoid when trying to lose weight.  So if you are trying to take your leanness to the next level, skip the potatoes (and yes, even sweet potatoes).

3.  Watch your portion sizes.

There is no way around it – losing that last bit of fat is going to take a reduction in your caloric intake.  And since counting calories can be tedious and impractical, focus instead on “eye-balling” your portion sizes.  For vegetables, especially those awesome green leafy vegetables, eat all that you want.  For meat and fish, use the size and thickness of your palm as a portion guide.  But the big one to watch out for is nuts. It’s so easy to grab a huge handful of almonds and mindlessly munch on them.  Instead, keep nut portions to what fits in the center of your palm without overlapping – that’s only about 6 – 8 almonds for most people.

4.  Reduce or eliminate fruit.

Fruit can be a good source of vitamins and minerals, but it is also a source of sugar.  Like potatoes mentioned above, the natural sugar fructose in fruit can cause the insulin response we want to avoid when working to lose fat.  Typically the included fiber and relatively low calorie count makes fruit a relatively harmless indulgence.  But when trying to lose those final few pounds, placing your focus on a variety of vegetables for those vitamins and minerals and eliminating or greatly reducing fruit can help you reach your goal.

5.  Consider Intermittent Fasting.

If you are already following the tips above and you are still stuck at a weight loss plateau, then intermittent fasting may be worth experimenting with.  This is simply adhering to an eating schedule that involves an extended period without food followed by a specific window for eating.  A common intermittent fasting schedule is 16 hours of fasting followed by 8 hours of feeding.  As an example, you may have your last meal of the day at 7:00pm and then not eat again until 11:00am.  An even simpler way to think of this is skipping breakfast.

Remember the tips above are not necessarily meant to be permanent practice.  Following the 80/20 principle and enjoying the occasional potato can be great for maintaining a healthy weight.  But if you are looking to lose that last bit of fat, then you have to do something differently than you have been doing.  To drop those final 5 – 10 pounds maintain a strict Paleo diet, watch your portion sizes, eliminate the potatoes and fruit, and consider intermittent fasting.

The Final Five Formula is a program specifically designed to help you lose the final 5 – 10 pounds.  It combines a tiered system of diet, recovery, and exercise to help you take your body composition to the next level.  Get the full details on the program by clicking here.

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The Paleo Diet For Vegetarians

A vegetarian paleo diet? Can it be done? After all, with their savage caveman ways, how could cavemen eat . Well, it’s true and vegetarians can do the paleo diet too. After trying a modified paleo approach in Impossible AbsSusan Lacke found that she lost an astounding 19 pounds in 8 weeks.

As you can imagine, the toughest part about doing paleo as a vegetarian is getting all the necessary protein needed. So what were Susan’s secrets for getting healthy fats & protein in her diet without all the meat?

  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Broccoli
  • Eggs
  • Hemp Seed
  • Pistachios
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Spirulina
  • Walnuts

As she adjusted to the diet – she had a rather pleasant surprise:

As I adjusted to the new diet, I realized something surprising:

This isn’t so hard after all.

Yes, it was an adjustment to learn how to get enough protein without my go-to sources, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was certain I’d constantly crave baked goods (my comfort food), but as it turns out, I could be just as satisfied with healthier, real-food alternatives. I couldn’t imagine a breakfast without oatmeal, cereal, or pancakes, but smoothies, fruit salads, and egg-white omelets loaded with fresh veggies gave me more energy than the grain-based foods.

And though it was a “diet,” I was never ravenously hungry. I always felt satiated. The nice thing about paleo diet is that it only provides guidelines for what to eat, not how much of it. In other words, if I was hungry, I could eat as much as I wanted. Only this time, instead of reaching for a nutrition bar or a coffeehouse muffin, I’d grab some veggie sticks or a bowl of fruit.

As you would expect, there’s quite a bit of interest in a vegetarian paleo experiment as most paleo enthusiasts love their paleo foods & meats (especially bacon). As such, there were quite a few comments on the original article. To really give the article it’s due, Susan followed it up with a solid Q&A. A short sampling of the questions are below:

Did you take any supplements?

I took the exact same vitamins I had been taking before this experiment. These vitamins included a daily multivitamin, a Vitamin B complex, and Flaxseed Oil.

Is it possible to do it vegan, no eggs?

I did eat eggs during this experiment (usually one per day), so I cannot speak to a vegan experience. I do believe it’s possible to be a Paleo vegan, and there were several people who commented that they had accomplished this. If you are one of those folks (and you have a blog or other helpful resources), comment at the end of this post to help your fellow NMAs, please!

During the experiment, how did you feel in terms of energy?

The first week sucked. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so “out of it” as I did during that time. With such a huge drop in my carbohydrate intake, my body felt sluggish, my brain felt muddled, and the last thing I wanted to do was get up from the couch, much less exercise.

As it turns out, my experience was pretty similar to what most people go through. If you Google “Paleo First Week,” you’ll find a huge volume of stories of really freakin’ miserable people. For some, this period lasted a few days, for others, three or four weeks.

But then something really weird happens if you get through that first sluggish phase: You start to feel pretty good. I was surprised at how quickly my energy levels turned around. I went to bed one day acting like a petulant child; the next morning, after breakfast, I was my peppy self again. I pretty much stayed that way for the rest of the experiment.

You can see the whole Paleo Vegetarian Q&A here. For more on the paleo diet for vegetarians, check out the two following posts in full at No Meat Athlete.

  1. Paleo Diet For Vegetarians Q&A
  2. How I Survived for 8 Weeks as a Paleo Vegetarian (and Lost 19 Pounds)
  3. Impossible Abs Protocol

via No Meat Athlete

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Paleo Diet Troubleshooting with Robb Wolf

Robb Wolf does it again. One of our favorite minds in paleo is back at it with his free paleo diet troubleshooting guides. Depending on your individual goal with the paleo diet, he provides a visual solution for each of your needs. Check out the trouble shooting guides linked below. They’re all framed as “I’m eating a paleo diet and….” with an individual troubleshooting guide for 4 common issues people run into. Check them out, download them & enjoy!

paleo-diet-troubleshooting-guides

Paleo Diet Troubleshooting with Robb Wolf 

I’m eating a paleo diet and…

You can download the full guides here.

via Robb Wolf

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Paleo Diet & Fat Loss Maximization

Are you eating a paleo diet while trying to maximize fat loss? Check out this visual guide from Robb Wolf on how to tweak the paleo diet to do just that and reach your fat loss & weight loss goals.

Robb Wolf’s Paleo Diet Guide to Troubleshooting Fat Loss

paleo-diet-guides-fat-loss

 

via Robb Wolf

To see the rest of the guides, check out Robb Wolf’s troubleshooting guides on UPG here.

Read more about Robb Wolf here.

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Paleo Diet & Power Athletes

Are you a power athlete trying to reach your goals while eating a paleo diet? Check out this visual guide from Robb Wolf on how to tweak the paleo diet to do just that and reach your power & strength goals.

Robb Wolf’s Paleo Diet Guide to Fueling For Power Athletes

paleo-diet-guides-power

via Robb Wolf

To see the rest of the guides, check out Robb Wolf’s troubleshooting guides on UPG here.

Read more about Robb Wolf here.

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Paleo Diet & Endurance Athletes

Are you an endurance athlete trying to reach your goals while eating a paleo diet? Check out this visual guide from Robb Wolf on how to tweak the paleo diet to do just that and reach your endurance athletic goals.

Robb Wolf’s Paleo Diet Guide to Fueling For Endurance Athletes

paleo-diet-guides-endurance

 

via Robb Wolf

To see the rest of the guides, check out Robb Wolf’s troubleshooting guides on UPG here.

Read more about Robb Wolf here.

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