Everyone tells you their diet is The One. If you only follow their instructions then you will be thin/healthy/happy/perfect, etc. Popular British newspapers feature a never-ending parade of diets that will supposedly transform your life. There is, no doubt, room for all kinds of diet, considering that the world has all kinds of people. And yet, many people have tried so hard to lose weight and get healthy but struggle to get anywhere. Or they lose weight and then put it back on again later. Why do I think Primal can be any different?
The articles and external links on this website give deeper explanations and research references, but my quick answer is this:
above all, primal-aligned eating lets me feel well and manage my weight without feeling hungry
Yes, it takes willpower to switch over to primal. Cleaning out the pantry, re-stocking with primal foods, and planning what you will cook takes some thought and effort. But willpower becomes less important even after a few weeks because, crucially, primal-aligned foods keep you fuller for longer.
This is important because, as many of us know, losing weight is easier than keeping the weight off long-term. Willpower is great until you just can’t keep it up anymore! Our bodies eventually just want to make up for the ‘famine’ and get some food on board. This is why we try not to call Primal a ‘diet’ – it is designed to be something that more people can sustain forever.
The key is in the hormonal response to different foods. Hormones such as insulin, ghrelin, glucagon and leptin all influence our appetite and metabolism. You can read about these hormones anywhere, but if you’re not up for that level of science, it is important to consider at least the importance of insulin:
So many doctors, nutritional therapists, type 2 diabetes experts, and other health commentators are now realizing that if we can keep our insulin production low and stable (through our food choices), good things happen:
- we are less likely to lay down fat in our fat storage cells
- we are more likely to be able to burn the fat that we have already laid down in our fat storage cells (insulin keeps it locked away)
- we are less likely to have low blood sugar ‘crashes’ that make us reach desperately for high sugar foods
- we are more likely to avoid the blood-sugar-related conditions that develop from long-term high insulin levels, such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and their associated problems
- we have a better chance of avoiding the conditions exacerbated or caused by the inflammatory effect of high insulin levels
Primal eating takes into account all of this information on insulin (and related appetite and metabolism hormones) and highlights nutrient-dense, real foods which:
- tend to be naturally low in carbohydrates and therefore make it easier to keep insulin levels low and stable as described above. A primal diet can even be so low in carbohydrates that it becomes a keto (ketogenic) diet.
- provide our bodies with the nutrients we need, helping to remedy some of the deficiencies we may have built up over the years and helping us to feel satisfied.
- contain the natural fats that can be used for vital functions in our bodies, help us absorb nutrients, contribute to stable insulin levels, and keep us full for longer.
- exclude many damaging foods that deplete, irritate or overwork our bodies.
- form the basis for specialist diets designed to heal all sorts of chronic conditions (the Wahls Protocol and the GAPs diet come to mind).
Many kinds of diet will contribute to health and weight management. What successful diets have in common is that they encourage the reduction of sugar and processed food. Primal goes further by also reducing less obvious sources of sugar (such as starch-based grains) and in focusing on the all-important nutrient-density.
Of course, a Primal diet is just another diet option among many but I think that anyone who is wondering why they are not losing weight even though they are not over-eating or who has lost weight only to put it back on again will instinctively know that there has to be more to losing weight than just trying to eat less and do more exercise.