We’re all different.
What works for one person may not work for the next.
I’ve written quite a lot about low-carb diets in the past, because I believe them to be a potential solution to some of the world’s biggest health problems.
However, the truth is that low-carb isn’t for everyone.
Some people don’t want to eat low-carb. Other people don’t feel good doing it or simply don’t need it.
Also, those who are physically active and do a lot of anaerobic work like sprinting or lifting weights need some more carbohydrates in their diet to function optimally.
I thought I’d offer these people a healthy alternative.
The Context of Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are a very controversial macronutrient.
Some say that it is an essential part of the diet, critical for the brain and should make up more than half of your calorie intake, while others regard it as little more than poison.
As so often before, the truth is somewhere between the two extremes and depends entirely on context.
People who are already obese, diabetic, or show other signs of metabolic disturbance so often associated with a Western diet, would probably do best eating a low-carb, high-fat diet.
The evidence is clear that this diet is at the very least much more potent than the low-fat diet still recommended by the mainstream (1, 2, 3).
But for people who don’t have a broken metabolism and are relatively healthy and active… a low-carb diet may be completely unnecessary.
Even though removing all carbs may be required to reverse the metabolic dysfunction associated with metabolic syndrome and obesity, just avoiding the worst carbs may be enough to prevent these problems from occurring in the first place.
Good Carbs, Bad Carbs
Many populations in this world have thrived as long as they ate real, unprocessed foods, regardless of the carbohydrate content of their diets.
Examples of populations that ate a high-carb diet in excellent health are the Okinawans and Kitavans.
Not until modern foods like sugar and refined carbohydrates were introduced did these people become sick.
There are also plenty of populations in Asia that do eat lots of carbohydrates, but are in exceptional health… at least compared to the average American.
What this implies is that it is not the carbohydrates per se that cause problems… it’s just the “bad” ones (along with all the other crap in the Western diet).
If you’re healthy and active, then there’s probably no major reason for you to avoid the healthier carb sources like potatoes, fruits and non-gluten grains.
The Sugar Free, Wheat Free Diet
In my opinion, the two worst foods in the diet are sugar and wheat.
I’m pretty sure that 80% of the health benefits of low-carb and paleo diets stem from the fact that they eliminate these two from the diet (along with trans fats and vegetable oils).
The SFWF diet is pretty much like paleo + full-fat dairy + healthier carb sources.
The focus is on quality food… choosing good sources of fat, good sources of protein and good sources of carbohydrates.
- Rule #1 – Avoid added sugars.
- Rule #2 – Avoid wheat.
- Rule #3 – Also avoid trans fats and vegetable oils.
- Rule #4 – Don’t drink calories (no sodas, fruit juices).
- Rule #5 – Eat real, unprocessed foods.
What Foods to Eat
It is important to choose real, unprocessed foods that resemble something you might find in nature.
Just like before, you can eat meat, fish, eggs, fruits,full-fat dairy products, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
But now you can add healthy carbs into the mix:
- Tubers: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, taro, etc.
- Non-gluten grains: Rice, oats, quinoa, etc.
- Fruits: Bananas, apples, oranges, pears, berries, etc.
- Vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, etc.
I’d like to stress the fact that potatoes really are an excellent food.
They’re out of the question on a low-carb diet and probably a bad choice for those who are very carb sensitive, but other than that they’re pretty much a perfect food. Highly nutritious and very satiating.
Take Home Message
For healthy people that want to stay healthy… just do some exercise and eat real food. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.