Without being restricting, it is important to point out that there are certain foods to try and avoid as much as possible, on this or any diet. They are simply bad for the body under any circumstances. With anything, there are extremes. Some books I read list out all the different vegetables and fruits, which are good, ok and bad. I’m not going to list them all here.
I have followed certain health experts who make certain claims only to sell their products. It’s a tricky practice and makes it difficult to know what’s good or bad. The list below is agreed upon by many experts and diets alike.
Everyone pretty much agrees that added sugar is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet. It has no nutritional value, it overloads your liver, can cause insulin resistance, leads to cravings, gets stored as fat, is addictive and leads to heart disease and obesity. It also kills the goal of the diet in keeping your insulin in check. Avoid foods with added sugar. Fruits and other foods may have fructose or other natural sugars, but the body handles those much better. There are sweeteners like stevia and xylitol that are much better for you. Simply sweeten drinks and bake with stevia or xylitol and that will be a good start.
Vegetable oils, including soybean oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil and margarine. These oils unfortunately are found in A LOT of foods. They are full of trans fats, have way to many omega-6 oils, are linked to cardiovascular disease and cancer. You should avoid cooking with them or eating foods made with them. Simply replace your cooking or baking oil with coconut oil, which is very good for you. Also, cook with more grass-fed butter which has way more nutrients and tastes better too! Unfortunately a lot of fast food today is cooked in this crap. After not eating it for a while you’ll notice how it makes you feel if you have it.
You want to have a ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids of 1 to 1. Normal diets exceed this. Omega-6 is found in many more foods then Omega-3. We it’s good to focus on getting more Omega-3s in your diet. A good source of Omega-3 is green leafy vegetables and fish. I take krill oil supplements. Omega-6 are found in grains or any food that’s derived from the seed of a plant. Even if you eat beef, if that cow ate mainly grains, you will get more Omega-6 then you need. Thus grass-fed variety is best to limit the amount of Omega-6 you consume and increase the amount of Omega-3s.
It’s pretty obvious that processed foods wouldn’t be as beneficial as raw foods. Many diets, including paleo and others are based on eating foods in their raw form. Processed foods were created to increase shelf-life and profits, and they simply aren’t natural. Try to avoid candy, protein bars, cookies, crackers etc. All of these are high in carbs anyways. If you are going to die unless you have that Oreo, eat it at night after dinner. There are some other culprits like pasta, spaghetti and others that should be classified here. Go ahead and replace those with white rice, and you’ll be fine.
Another reason to not eat processed foods is that they require less metabolic activity to digest. Processed carbs can be used by your body very quickly, whereas raw foods and proteins require your body to work harder to pull out the nutirients, which requires more thermic activity. Also, research has shown that humans gravitate toward eating a specific weight-based quantity of food each day. You’ll automatically get less calories eating the same weight of fresh foods compared to processed, and it will require more energy to digest them.
For the most part, you want to consume foods that have less effect on your blood sugar than others. The glycemic-index (GI) of foods is how that is measured. Do research on low-glycemic foods and put more of those in your diet then others. For example, sweet potatoes instead of potatoes, berries instead of watermelon.
For many people, their fiber intake comes from grains and breads. Now that you are cutting those out of your diet and eating less carbs and most likely more protein, you may experience constipation because your daily fiber intake is less. It’s important than to either research high-fiber fruits and vegetables and make them part of your diet, or start taking daily fiber pills. There are also some yogurts out there high in fiber. Either way, if after a few days you notice with this diet a change in your bowel movements, try fiber before you worry.
When you are figuring out how many “net carbs” a food has, or in other words the effective carbs that you’ll digest, you can figure it out easily reading the label. It’s simple. Take the total amount of carbohydrates listed and subtract whatever is listed for “dietary fiber” and “sugar alcohol”. That will be the amount of carbs you need to consider. For a given day, if you can keep net carbs under 50g a day on average, you will have great results. That means you’ll need to up the amount of protein and fat to feel full. One way to achieve this is to cycle high-carb and high-fat meals. One night, eat a little more carbs then normal but keep the fat down. The next night, have more good fats like avocados, butter, olive oil etc. Try not to combine the too as that won’t help results.