Tag Archives: energy

Sleep | The Paleo Diet
As we move into the colder, darker and shorter days of fall and winter it becomes more difficult to maintain your energy levels, productivity and fight off nasty colds and flu. These common complaints become the norm as the seasons change and people are constantly looking for that “magic bullet” supplement or medication to keep them running on all cylinders. Interestingly, a new study on the daily patterns of modern hunter-gatherer tribes across the globe might hold a few clues in how we can keep ourselves healthy, fit and productive through the winter season.

How Much Sleep Did Our Paleo Ancestors Really Get?

There is a romantic notion that our “hunter-gatherer” ancestors rested their heads with the setting sun in the evening, slept blissfully through the night for 8-10 hours and woke up with the rising sun. They certainly didn’t have cellphones, laptops or external light sources to keep them up. Was it partly down to this that they were so fit, strong, and free of chronic degenerative diseases? Not quite.

An interesting new study on modern day hunter-gatherer tribes – the San of southern Africa, the Tsimane in Bolivia, and the Hadza in Tanzania – found they only sleep an average of 5.7-7.1 hours per night.1 This is very surprising because sleep research today suggests most westerners are sleep deprived, averaging about 6.5 hours of sleep per night, which is approximately 1.0-1.5 hours less sleep than our grandparents got two generations ago. Experts believe we should be aiming for 7.5-8.0 hours per night for better health.

This new research suggests there is much more at play than simply the amount of hours of sleep you get (although, I believe this is also important). Let’s take a closer look at some key factors that could help you improve your sleep and upgrade your energy levels this winter and help fight off colds and flu.

The Tribes Go To Bed Earlier in the Winter

As the year comes to an end, most people are busier than ever at work and home as the holidays approach, rather than winding down to recharge their batteries. If we look to our ancestral roots to find answers to the “best” sleep practices, we find the tribes in the aforementioned study went to bed earlier during the darker days of winter/rainy season and later in the summer/dry season. Their average bedtime was just after 9:00 pm in the winter months, compared to 10:45 pm in the summer (still, not exactly “night owls” by today’s modern standard).
A lot people struggle to get bed before midnight (laptops, cellphones and TVs don’t help) and usually don’t get to bed earlier in the colder, darker, winter months. As we approach the darkest days of the year, we should be getting more sleep (not less), but holiday parties, travel, and work commitments usually ramp up at this time of year. This lack of sleep is shown in the research to suppress your immune system function, putting you at significantly increased risk of catching a cold or flu.2

The Tribes Wake Up Consistently With Morning Light

Hitting snooze is a morning ritual for a lot of people, as they struggle to find the energy to get out of bed and start their day. While I am sure we can all agree that sleeping in feels pretty good, is it what your body really needs? The tribal groups in this study woke up at virtually the same time throughout the entire year with the morning sun (not surprising if you’re an avid camper!).

Many of your key hormones are produced on a natural daily pattern or circadian rhythm that new research shows gets disrupted if you constantly change your sleeping and waking time. Disrupted circadian patterns have been shown to leave you more prone to fatigue (sound familiar?), inflammation, and even change the balance of “good” to “bad” bacteria in your gut.3

If you struggle with fatigue, insomnia or frequent colds and flus, aim to have a consistent bedtime and waking time this winter. Go to bed earlier (don’t sleep in longer in the mornings) to help kick your snooze button habit in the morning. If you really struggle to wake up, try some gentle stretching/mobility/yoga on the floor to ease your way into the day. (Not only that, research shows the later you get to bed the greater your likelihood for weight gain.4 If weight loss is also a goal, get ahead of your new year’s resolution by tucking in earlier at night).

The Tribes Are Exposed To Lots of Morning Light

It’s difficult to wake in the morning and get outside during the cold days of winter. Fatigue, lack of time and general desire to stay warm keep you huddled up in your house, car, and office. However, not exposing yourself to natural light may be having a significant negative impact on your health.

Modern hunter-gatherer communities get up daily with the morning sun and engage in the vast majority of their physical labor in the morning hours exposed to natural light. In contrast, most people are indoors all morning throughout the winter – commuting in cars and working in buildings – not getting nearly enough exposure to natural light. Even on a cloudy day, the natural light outside provides a whopping 100,000-lux (a measure of light intensity), compared to only 5,000-lux in your office or home.

New research shows that this light exposure is crucial for circadian hormone production and thus your energy levels, health and resiliency.5 It’s easy to find yourself stuck in your car, office or house all winter. Instead, get outside to grab your morning coffee, walk a few blocks to your next meeting, or go outdoors in the morning for a light run/jog to start your day. You’ll feel much better for it!

Often we’re drawn to the “shiny new toy” or exotic and complex solutions to our problems, however the real lasting solutions are typically always found in how you eat, move and lifestyle factors. While a Paleo diet will go a long way to keeping you energized and fighting off colds and flu this winter (check out my article on how to Paleo boost your immunity this fall), looking at your daily patterns of sleeping and waking from an ancestral perspective will likely help you dramatically upgrade your energy and vitality this winter.

 

References

  1. Yetish G et al. Natural Sleep and Its Seasonal Variations in Three Pre-industrial Societies. Current Biology. Vol 25, Iss. 21, 2 November 2015, Pages 2862–2868.
  2. Prather A et al. Behaviorally Assessed Sleep and Susceptibility to the Common Cold. Sleep Journal. Vol. 38, Issue 09.
  3. Voigt R et al. Circadian disorganization alters intestinal microbiota. Plos One. 2014 May 21;9(5):e97500.
  4. Asarnow L et al. Possible link between bedtime and change in body mass index. Sleep Journal. Vol. 38, Issue 10.
  5. Czeisler C, Klerman E. Circadian and sleep-dependent regulation of hormone release in humans. Recent Prog Horm Res. 1999;54:97-130; discussion 130-2.

All Day Energy Cherry Mint Turkey Balls

Turkey is a great source of protein and high-quality fat. Paired with steamed vegetables or a fresh, garden salad, our Cherry Mint Turkey Balls offer enticing flavors and clean-burning, all day energy.

Wait a second. Doesn’t eating turkey induce sleepiness? This urban legend, most likely inspired by our inclination for napping after Thanksgiving meals, actually has nothing to do with turkey, and much more to do with overeating.

If you’d like to impress your friends with your knowledge of amusing, overly technical scientific jargon, the scientific term for food-induced drowsiness is postprandial somnolence. You might try informing your boss some day that you’ll be away from your desk while you sort out some postprandial somnolence issues. If you say it with enough confidence, it just might work.

Turkey contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid that is the precursor to serotonin and melatonin (by way of serotonin), the neurotransmitters that regulate sleep.1 However, turkey isn’t any higher in tryptophan compared to related foods.

25 g of turkey protein contain 284 mg of tryptophan. You would consume 25 grams of protein from a serving of meat weighing between 100 and 150 grams. Leaner cuts have more protein; more fatty cuts have less. 25 g of beef, lamb, pork, and chicken protein contain 280 mg, 292 mg, 318 mg, and 292 mg of tryptophan, respectively.2 In other words, all types of meat have very similar tryptophan levels.

Interestingly, research shows that high-carbohydrate meals increase serum tryptophan concentrations, whereas meals of protein plus fat have the opposite effect.3 So be careful. If your boss knows you’re eating Paleo, he/she might also know your postprandial somnolence issues are completely unfounded.

INGREDIENTS

Serves 2-4

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 bundle fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1 bundle fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup dried cherries, pitted, finely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

  • Chop the cherries finely.
  • Wash and spin-dry the herbs before chopping them finely.
  • Break the eggs into a bowl and mix well.
  • Put all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and, using your hands, mix everything together.
  • Form mixture into balls and place on a baking sheet.
  • Bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes or until the balls are lightly browned.
mint-turkey
4item(s) « 1 of 4 »

Note: You can substitute dried cherries for dried cranberries or other dried fruits. Be sure to read the product labels. Commercially sold dried fruits often contain added sugar, vegetable oils, sulfur dioxide, and other ingredients that should be avoided on a Paleo Diet.

Christopher James Clark, B.B.A.
@nutrigrail
Nutritional Grail
www.ChristopherJamesClark.com

Christopher James Clark | The Paleo Diet TeamChristopher James Clark, B.B.A. is an award-winning writer, consultant, and chef with specialized knowledge in nutritional science and healing cuisine. He has a Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan and formerly worked as a revenue management analyst for a Fortune 100 company. For the past decade-plus, he has been designing menus, recipes, and food concepts for restaurants and spas, coaching private clients, teaching cooking workshops worldwide, and managing the kitchen for a renowned Greek yoga resort. Clark is the author of the critically acclaimed, award-winning book, Nutritional Grail.

See more recipes!

references

1. Woolf, P. & Lee, L. (July 1, 1977). Effect of the Serotonin Precursor, Tryptophan, on Pituitary Hormone Secretion. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 45(1). Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/jcem-45-1-123

2. Nutrition Data. All figures retrieved July 4, 2014 from http://nutritiondata.self.com

3. Lyons, PM. & Truswell, AS. (March 1988). Serotonin precursor influenced by type of carbohydrate meal in healthy adults. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 47(3), (433-439). Retrieved from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/47/3/433.short

Get Rid of Bloating And Lose Weight | The Paleo Diet

Dr. Cordain,

I found your book, suggested to me by Dr. Valori Treloar (Dermatologist and co-author of The Clear Skin Diet), to help me with weight loss and lowering my insulin resistance (precursor to diabetes.) I have been following The Paleo Diet for about six months. It was suggested by Dr. Treloar during an appointment, to perhaps change some foods and eliminate others to improve my condition. I immediately purchased your book and found it to be extremely easy to read and to understand your suggestions on food choices and preparations. I was trying to become a vegetarian and introduced beans to replace meat dishes. Although tasty, I was very bloated and not losing pounds or inches. So, I followed your food lists, your recipes, your exercise suggestions and found myself feeling less bloated and more energetic. It is important to begin to feel better to then continue on an exercise routine. In my case, I ride the stationary bike because of knee issues and use the treadmill with caution.

The first couple of days eating the Paleo way, I Iost fluids and as well as my bloated feeling. This felt good. I have so many food choices, I never go hungry. I found vegetarian fed chicken and beef easily in the markets. My quarter cup of walnuts came in handy either on diced apple with cinnamon for breakfast as an alternative to egg white, veggie omelets or a couple of hard boiled eggs (Egglands Best, of course with extra omega-3.) Fruit is a favorite for me, so no problem having a serving with each meal or snack. Veggies are so easy to use in meal planning. I just make sure to buy lots of them at the market in winter and now at farm stands in summer here in the Northeast.

So now for the results: several doctors have confirmed my weight loss which has been gradual. About eighteen pounds in six months, (on Paleo Diet) but actually twenty-five in one year, struggling with the traditional food pyramid. Definitely the Paleo Diet is better for me dealing with the inflammation I had in my body, the fluid retention and lack of energy. I do not weigh myself daily, but I feel my clothes fitting better and actually some are too big for me. I began to see changes in my face becoming thinner, my neck thinner, my upper back thinner, my waist slimming and changes in my legs – less fluid around the knees and ankles.

One very interesting fact appeared about a month into eating the Paleo way. While exercising on my stationary bike, I had a burst of energy and stayed on it for a longer time. It felt good. I now split time on my stationary bike and the treadmill (no inclines because of my knee issues). I am able to walk longer distances outside as long as I avoid hills. It feels great to be able to enjoy being outdoors again. I also found doing tasks around my home taking less effort and my mental attitude is more positive. I am willing to take on a task and complete it. This motivates me to accomplish more during a daily routine. I work from home and my mental attitude is improved.

I will continue eating the Paleo way and suggest your book to others who find themselves unmotivated to lose weight. I enjoy the flexibility of this eating style and know when I eat foods not on the list, I feel bloated and sluggish. There are times when I do crave grains, but definitely I am in control and stay within Paleo guidelines most of the time. I do not deny myself from cravings and when not eating the Paleo way 100% each week, I find it very easy to get back on track. The slimmer me and good, healthy feeling I have, is the motivation to stay with this nutrition plan.

Thank you so much for making your book easy to understand and helpful with food lists. Your menu selections are helpful to get started and I now create my own dishes. By the way, my husband eats the Paleo way since I do the cooking most of the time. He lost ten pounds without extra exercise. We both feel much better eating the Paleo way.

Linda

Energy Levels | The Paleo Diet

I keep to the diet, but for two cups of coffee with skim milk a day. My lipids were all good. My energy level is better (it was good before), yet I sleep one hour more each night. At this point I like it and I am staying on it. Thank you for writing your book.

Anonymous

The cookbook based on the bestselling The Paleo Diet.

Dr. Loren Cordain’s The Paleo Diet has helped thousands of people lose weight, keep it off, and learn how to eat for good health by following the diet of our Paleolithic ancestors and eating the foods we were genetically designed to eat. Now this revolutionary cookbook gives you more than 150 satisfying recipes packed with great flavors, variety, and nutrition to help you enjoy the benefits of eating the Paleo way every day.

  • Based on the breakthrough diet book that has sold more than 100,000 copies to date.
  • Includes 150 simple, all-new recipes for delicious and Paleo-friendly breakfasts, brunches, lunches, dinners, snacks, and beverages.
  • Contains 2 weeks of meal plans and shopping and pantry tips.
  • Features 16 pages of Paleo color photographs
  • Helps you lose weight and boost your health and energy by focusing on lean protein and non-starchy vegetables and fruits.
  • From bestselling author Dr. Loren Cordain, the world’s leading expert on Paleolithic eating styles.

Put The Paleo Diet into action with The Paleo Diet Cookbook and eat your way to weight loss, weight control maintenance, increased energy, and lifelong health-while enjoying delicious meals you and your family will love.

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