As you’ll know if you’ve been following my blog, I am not a fan of foods that cause blood glucose levels to rise to high levels. I therefore do not support eating many, if any, grains and certainly shun the sugars.
A healthy, low sugar and starch diet emphasises a wide range of low starch veggies, a little fruit and plenty of unprocessed fats and clean proteins. This all sounds quite simple, but knowing how much protein is optimal can be tricky. It’s really easy to overeat protein when cutting back on carbs.
According to the Institute of Medicine you should get at least 10% of your daily calories, but not more than 35%, from protein; many health websites suggest 0.8 grams per kilo of weight per day for an average adult, going up to 1 gram per kilo per day for more active individuals – but how helpful are these guidelines when it comes to practically assessing how much you’re eating day to day (not very!).
Healthy individuals need not weigh and overly scrutinize their protein intake. Have a mix of vegetable proteins (nuts, seeds, pulses) and animal proteins (high quality meat, fish, eggs and fermented dairy) but it’s not necessary, nor desirable to have piles of protein at every meal. If having some meat or fish, the size of your palm is a good guestimate of a portion size, but again, there are so many variables: how much you’ve eaten that day / the day before; how much exercise you’ve taken, esp. resistance exercise; your age. I would say, don’t try and eat more protein than you fancy and just because having regular amounts of protein is a good idea, having more isn’t necessarily better.
Too much protein can actually cause blood sugar to go up – this surprises many people. If you are eating an abundance of protein beyond your body’s needs, your body converts the protein to glucose through a process called neo(new)gluco(glucose)genisis(creation). So, if you’re on a low GI diet, be warned that over-doing protein, especially low fat protein – think egg white omelettes, chicken breasts, protein powders etc. you are in danger of pushing your blood sugar levels up. It’s actually really tough on your liver too. Your body needs good levels of fat to help metabolise protein in a way that is usable for the body. Without fat, excess protein becomes very toxic.
Excess protein also increases levels of a hormone called IGF-1 to increase. We need plenty of this as children as it is instrumental in cellular growth. However, excess IGF-1 as an adult is thought to increase risk of cancers and ageing due to the effect it has on cell turnover.
If you are trying to stick to a low carb diet, ensure you’re eating plenty of green leafy and highly coloured veg every day; focus on the good fats – extra virgin coconut and olive oil; nuts and seeds; avocados; fermented dairy; organic, grass-fed eggs and other animal fats. Also, get in to the habit of intermittent fasting (IF). I have blogged fairly extensively about this previously, so put IF in my search box to read about how and why you should be doing this. IF has many, many health benefits, one being a reduction in IGF-1 levels, so try and incorporate some kind of IF in to your weekly regime on a regular and long-term basis.