Standard American Diet, A Lot of Empty Calories
Is it possible to eat a large volume of food, but to really have consumed nothing of any real value? Or worse yet, what if this same volume of food even harmed your body? This is the standard American diet. Not only is this diet devoid of consistent nutritional value, but the typical American is consuming more of it. The average American consumes more food than their body needs. As a result, American’s waist lines have continued to grow and health has declined.
More Volume, Less Nutrition
The volume of food that the average American consumes now is vastly different than in years past, and certainly different than the primal diet of our ancestors. The primal diet contained limited amounts of calories. This is much different than the standard American diet which tends to be very high in calories. One of the main reasons that this dietary pattern has such a high caloric burden is the change in the types of foods that are being consumed now that was not part of the primal diet. In general there is an abundance of grains and carbohydrates in the standard American diet. The consumption of these categories of foods has the consequence of not promoting the feeling of fullness. Thus, when they are routinely consumed, more and more is wanted to attempt to reach a level of satisfaction. Unfortunately, this is rarely reached and more carbohydrate laden foods are consumed, creating the roller-coaster of fluctuating blood sugar.
It’s Not all about the Calories
Most of the calories found in the primal diet, or Paleo Diet as it is most commonly known, are derived from foods that are high in proteins, fats, or high fiber foods. These three aspects of food have a common trait. They all support the feeling of being full, or satiety. Protein, fat and fiber do not quickly leave the stomach. They are more difficult to digest and as such help us feel as though we are getting more out of the food that we are eating. Ironically, of these three, the only one that has a high caloric value is fat. Yet calories are not the whole story. It is as equally important how the food affects the hormones. Fat, protein and fiber have a hormone stabilizing effect and do not cause secretion of insulin in quantities significant enough to promote storage of sugars and fat. The role of insulin is storage. However, insulin is the result of carbohydrate consumption, the component of the standard American diet that greatly differs from the primal diet.
All Those Extra Calories are Empty Calories
As if eating all of the extra empty calories and causing excess secretion of the storage hormone insulin was not problematic enough from consuming too many carbohydrates, you can add to this the fact that most of the calories consumed from this style of eating are devoid of nutrients. So not only are you eating more calories, but you are getting fewer vitamins and minerals from them. This is a real problem when you think about it. The standard American diet places more burdens on our bodies by causing higher consumption of calories, but then also gives us smaller quantities of nutrients to work with to help burn those calories off. This is a lose-lose situation. However, as I have noted in other articles, there is an easy way to beat the effects of the standard American diet, and that is through the primal diet, aka the Paleo Diet.