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Explanation Time

March 7, 2010

Yesterday I posted an amazing looking (and tasting) recipe from another site.  The recipe was for Nanaimo Bars, a popular treat amongst those of us in North America, according to Wikipedia.

The ingredients were nothing short of evil.  Butter, coconut oil, cocoa powder, nuts – your basic compilation of ingredients that would have Richard Simmons crying to his mom for hours on end.  But here’s the catch:  the world wants you to think that these ingredients are evil.  Borrowing a question from the Matrix – which pill do you want to take – blue or red?  If you choose the blue pill, then you can stop reading at this point and believe what Conventional Wisdom incorrectly tells you in “study after study” – that saturated fat is bad for your heart, cholesterol is hazardous, etc.  If you choose the red pill – then keep reading my friend.  And welcome to a new world.

The nutritional statement you see to the left is taken from my entry into the DailyBurn site so I could see the totals from the Primal Nanaimo Bars.  As you can see, the caloric content and fat are quite high in a world that would have us believe that all fat is bad.  I took the ingredients outlined in the recipe I gave, placed it in a smaller baking pan, and that made 9 bars.  You could obviously change the serving size up for a lesser amount of calories and fat, but I wanted to be fair in my serving size information.  So we end up with 532 calories; 500 of them coming from fat.  I need to explain at the very least here that Primal folks do not eat this kind of recipe everyday but would view this as a luxury or cheat snack.  Most Primal meals consist of high fat, but it is usually accompanied with a protein source as well as a nutritionally dense carbohydrate source coming from a fruit or vegetable.  In every sense this is a Primal dessert and not intended to be defined as anything but that.

With that in mind, can all that fat really be good for you?  Take the red pill, if you haven’t already, and you will discover – the studies on saturated fat are flawed and only show correlation to heart issues.  Correlation only mind you – not cause.  Don’t take my word for it – check out Mark Sisson’s explanation on Saturated Fat for full blown studies and all the scientific jargon you could ever hope for.

Here is where most people get it horribly wrong, so let me stress this point:  Fat is good – and even better in a “Primal” lifestyle or environment.  Eating Primal is all about moderating insulin production.  When we eat grains, cereals, pasta (even whole grains) – they are still carbs at the very least and cause the body to secrete insulin to counteract the increase in blood sugar and gluten from those carbs.  Overactive insulin production in our bodies, prompted by too many carbs in our diet, eventually causes insulin resistance which leads to diabetes (and obesity).  When insulin is released, it allows the carbs to be shuttled into our body’s cells for use as an energy source – this is why athletes and runners often talk about “carbing up” so they can use carbohydrates as a fuel source.  BUT oddly enough, insulin blocks fat from being used as an energy source – and steers those fats into our fat cells.  As they swell – we get the proverbial “love handles” or “saddlebags;”  the basic chub that plagues 2/3 of our nation.

Moderating the insulin reaction by eating healthy carbs from fruits and vegetables, we increase our sensitivity to insulin and stave off diabetes.  Bear in mind – just because you’re Primal and eat veggies or fruits doesn’t mean you can eat as many as you like.  We’re talking about low glycemic creatures that are nutritionally dense but low in sugars.  Those items include but are not limited to cherries, berries, avocados, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, applese, kiwis, apricots, etc.

Sorry if I got all scientific and medical on ya there, but let’s circle the wagons back to how this relates to the Nanaimo bars.  Although this recipe has almost 57 grams of fat – the carbohydrate grams only add up to 8 grams.  That means the body will transport this fat into our body cells to be used as energy AS LONG AS WE DON’T INGEST HIGH CARBS AT THE SAME TIME.  If we did that, like add some ice cream, or eat one following a high carb meal – then we’d be in trouble.  The fat in these bars also ends up blunting insulin secretion.  The fat in these bars will also satiate.  That means you should feel pretty full from eating one.  And that’s a good thing because eating too many is putting too many eggs in your nutritional basket.  Your body still needs protein and fiber coming from your plant sources.  Just like too much protein can be toxic, so it is with consuming just fat.  You need nutritional variety for all of the body’s functions – it’s the percentage of the variety that is messed up in Conventional Wisdom.

So, let’s summarize – the Nanaimo Bars are tasty and full of precious, saturated fat.  In a Primal environment, they are an acceptable snack as they lack the high carbs that cause a flood of insulin to run through our bodies.  This and any other dessert recipe are never a substitute for a great Primal meal like a steak, eggs, salmon, bacon or so many other tasty Primal entrees.  Just because you eat Primal doesn’t mean you have to strictly eat high fat, moderate protein and low carb all the time.  As long as you eat that way 80% of the time, you will supply the body with what it needs to maintain or lose weight and enjoy activity worthy of a 20-30 year old.

In conclusion and using the Matrix again to assist, Morpheus had this to say to Neo:  “I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.”

Are YOU ready?  If questions still linger, please post them in the comments section.  If you’ve walked through that door and have gone Primal, feel free to share how it has changed your life.

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