Gettin’ Rid of the Grains (and the gut)

Cutting down on grain consumption can be tough, especially in the middle of this “whole grains are going to save your life and reduce your cholesterol and lower your risk of cancer and make you an Ironman athlete” society.  Everywhere you go: whole wheat pasta, whole wheat waffles, whole grain bread, whole wheat this and that, it’s hard to imagine a life with fewer grains, let alone without grains.  I can understand your struggle.

The reasons I cut out the grains:

1. They make me fat. When carbohydrates are consumed, they are broken down into glucose.  Insulin is then released so that it can use the glucose as energy, but it can only use so much.  When your body has more than glucose than the insulin can handle, it stores extra glucose as fat.  Grains/breads are carbohydrates, they are broken down into glucose and when you’ve had too much, it becomes fat.  Grain (even whole grain) has a high glycemic index, meaning it gets broken down into glucose quickly.  The more quickly it is broken down into glucose, the more insulin is needed to store the glucose as energy.  When not enough insulin is present for all of the carbs…they are stored as fat.

Not everyone is created equal and not everyone responds to grains in the same way.  I have a pretty touchy system, by that I mean that as soon as I consume some high glycemic carb, I quickly feel the consequence; either a slight headache, sleepiness,  feeling foggy or bloated.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t always feel like that when I ate high glycemic carbs, or maybe I did always feel like that, I just thought it was normal?   It was only after I lowered my insulin resistance that I began noticing just how bad bread and such was making me feel.  Lowering insulin resistance is a good thing, it means my insulin receptors readily respond to insulin’s attempt to store my glucose as energy, instead of fat.

By taking away that constant bombardment of carbohydrates, your insulin receptors become less resistant and more receptive to insulin.  When you eat high amounts of carbs often, your insulin receptors (those things that recognize the insulin that is trying to store your glucose as energy) become insensitive and don’t work as well.  Kinda like when a wife constantly complains and nags at her husband.  If she lays off for a few days (or years), and then slowly starts to ask for things really nicely, he is much more likely to respond and help her out.  Just like your insulin receptors, if you give them a break from the simple carbohydrates for a while, they will start working more efficiently.  It can be accomplished by reducing the number of carbohydrates in the diet so that your insulin receptors can “re-learn” their job. You will quickly realize that you don’t need or want all of those carbohydrates that are in grain products all the time.  Maybe just every once in a while to satisfy a craving.

2. They ain’t so nutritious. We are made to believe that the whole grains in breads are so stinking nutritious that we cant’ go a day without 6 servings.  While grains do have nutritional value, the grains that you are finding in your bread at the store are definitely lacking in nutrients.  The processing involved kills much of the nutritional value of the once innocent grain, in which that loaf of bread was made.  When grain was first cultivated thousands of years ago, it went through a process in which enzymes in the grains were activated that made it more digestible, therefore allowing humans to absorb the full nutrient content.  The grain found in our stores today has not been through that process of sprouting which makes sprouted grains more digestible and nutritious. Un-sprouted grains also contain anti-nutrients that keep you from absorbing other minerals found in the grain.  Basically, you’re not getting much from that bread other than an insulin spike.

There are breads available that have been made with sprouted grain flour, brands such as Ezekiel Bread, which can be found in the freezer section.  These breads are much more digestible and contain four time the amount of niacin, folic acid and Vitamin B6.  Sprouting also lowers the glycemic index, but I wouldn’t recommend going crazy, too many carbs will still be stored as fat.  Period.

On your quest to cut down on your grain consumption here are a few suggestions:


1. Use bread made from sprouted grain flour such as Ezekiel Bread found in the freezer section.

2. Begin eating at least one meal a day that does not have any grain involved.

3. Eat open faced sandwiches.

4. Less bread, more veggies.  Veggies are much more filling.

5.  No more processed foods.  Please, oh please, oh please, stop buying processed foods.  The processing leaves them with zero nutritional value, just empty calories filled with sugar and hydrogenated fat for your body to deal with.  And guess what it’s NOT going to do with it?  It’s not going to convert it to energy that you can use to exercise or work.  It IS going to leave you addicted to it’s sweet, fatty contents so that you want more, so you will eat more, and your body will store all of that as fat.

With those 5 tips, have a GREAT Friday.  Make healthy choices, and visit Saturday for a GRAIN FREE Weekly Meal Plan and Grocery List!

PS- Do you love the new logo?  Lee (the winner of the first workout challenge) created it for me!  And I didn’t even ask her to!  That’s just how generous she is. Lee also does the graphics and design for RARE Crossfit.  Thank you so much Lee!  I owe you.

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