Exciting Changes to Grass Fed Meat Just in Time for the New Year

Exciting Changes to Grass Fed Meat Just in Time for the New Year

Grass fed meat is an important part of the paleo lifestyle and many of us make a big effort to eat as much of it as we possibly can.

But grass fed meat is not always easy to come by, nor is it easy to afford.

Enter Butcher Box.

SO many of my readers have now become big fans and loyal subscribers to Butcher Box’s pioneering subscription-style meat delivery service.

They make grass fed affordable and simple and can do boxes in beef, pork, and chicken.

But over time I’ve heard from some of you with some minor beefs (pun intended).

You guys were really excited about the idea but wished there was a bit more meat in each box.

You also wished they would use less plastic packaging so that you didn’t feel like a blight on the environment.

I heard you!

Butcher Box did too!

So they’ve made some great changes to their boxes the meet your needs!

Boxes now come with only biodegradable packaging and instead of a Styrofoam box to keep things cool, meat is packaged in a large reusable tote bag! (It’s really cute btw and great for picnics!)

Boxes also now come with an average of a WHOLE POUND of meat more per box for the same price!

Possibly best of all, there is now a pork and chicken ONLY box option if you’re just not feelin’ beef that month!

Butcherbox delivers right to your door, so its a great option for those of you who live far away from an available source of grass fed meat.

And the variety of cuts is awesome!

I’ve tried some great new cuts with this service and my readers who use Butcherbox love the included recipes.

A box of meat or even a subscription would make an AMAZING gift for anyone trying to go paleo in the new year and it would be something nice to do for yourself after all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season!

Use this link to learn more and order from Butcherbox!  You’ll get FREE BACON added to your box just for signing up through us!  Get more on Butcher Box here!

Hooray!

7 Dangers of Low Carbohydrate Diets for Women

7 Dangers of Low Carbohydrate Diets for Women

In the paleosphere, it is very common to hear low carbohydrate diets recommend for all sorts of reasons: weight loss, insulin management, stable blood sugar, gut health, and mental health.

Yet after several years doing research and working with women in the scene, I have discovered that there are in fact many potential risks of being on a low carbohydrate diet.

Of course, not all women suffer from these dangers and risks. I know that. That’s obvious. Plenty of women do well on low carbohydrate diets.

Yet plenty do not, too. As the paleo world’s go-to resource on women’s health, then, it is my duty to broadcast warnings about low carbohydrate diets.

I am not saying you need to stop being low carb. Really. There are just some potential problems you should be aware of, so you can prevent them, or at the very least keep your eye open for them.

Here are the 7 most major dangers of low carbohydrate diets for women:

1. Hypothyroidism

Perhaps the most common and most harmful damage a low carbohydrate diet can cause for women is hypothyroidism.

The body needs glucose (carbohydrate) in the blood in order to create T3, the active form of thyroid hormone. Without T3, you cannot burn fat mass, skin quality suffers, and hormone production slows down, resulting in infertility and low libido, among other things.

You could also suffer symptoms of hypothyroidism like being cold easily, having brittle hair and nails, and gut problems like constipation. If you think you may have hypothyroidism, check out this list of 19 indicators you may be hypothyroidor my favorite book on overcoming hypothyroidism, Izabella Wentz’s Root Cause.

2. Weight Loss Plateaus

Because thyroid hormone often slows down in response to a low carb diet, many women experience weight loss plateaus on a low carbohydrate diet. The body simply slows down when it’s not getting the carb-fuel he needs. I know a great many people, including many famous paleo writers, who jump-started their weight loss back into life by adding carbohydrates back into their diets.

(If you want to learn more about weight loss plateaus and how to rocket through them, you definitely don’t want to miss out on my weight loss manual designed specifically for women, Weight Loss Unlocked.)

3. Hormone imbalance

Without sufficient carbohydrate in the diet, thyroid production slows down, which negatively impacts other hormone production.

Moreover, leptin and insulin are secreted in response to carbohydrate intake. In the paleosphere this is often talked about as a bad thing, but it actually isn’t. In fact, leptin and insulin are the two primary hormones responsible for assuring the hypothalamus that you have been fed, which is in turn responsible for giving the “green light” to the pituitary gland for hormone production.

Without leptin and insulin, it is challenging for the body to feel sufficiently fed, and therefore to make the right amounts of hormones you need to be healthy, fertile, and happy.

4. Serotonin insufficiency

Carbohydrates actually play a role in serotonin production in the female brain. This has been demonstrated in the medical literature. I have also witnessed it first hand in many women, who appear not only to be more mentally stable, but also to sleep better, after a meal with carbohydrates in it.

Serotonin is important for many things, least of which being feeling calm and peaceful, being happy, winding down, and sleeping well.

To help boost my own serotonin production at times, I either take a tryptophan supplement, or Serotonin Fx, the only supplement still left in my supplement cabinet.

5. Insulin resistance

Even while low carbohydrate diets prevent blood sugar levels from spiking, and therefore prevent insulin levels from rising too high, they actually cause insulin resistance.

Now, this doesn’t mean that this kind of insulin resistance is necessarily unhealthy. The body is simply trying to hold onto as much blood sugar as possible, because it likes having glucose in the blood but has been deprived of regular glucose consumption.

What this does mean is that when you do eat carbs it becomes all the more difficult to process them healthfully.

Rather than trying real hard to stay super low carb most of the time…. then eating carbohydrates and causing blood sugar spikes and fat gain, I prefer instead to regularly include carbohydrates in my diet. This way, my body doesn’t think that it’s being deprived of carbs, and it doesn’t become insulin resistant or overweight as a result.

6. Sugar cravings

The body needs a steady amount of glucose in the blood. If you do not eat carbohydrates, the liver can produce the glucose it needs, but it really would prefer not to.

The female body needs glucose. If you do not feed it the carbohydrate it needs, it will start sending you stronger hunger signals.

Moreover, insulin and leptin are powerful satiation hormones. They help you feel full. Without them, sometimes it can be hard to feel full.

Finally, the psychological aspect of low carbohydrate dieting can be damaging. Many women begin obsessing over sweets and treats when they go low carb because those foods have been forbidden.

A much healthier way to approach dieting, in my opinion, is to regularly include at least some carbohydrate in the diet, so that you don’t feel restricted, and get obsessive over and perhaps even start bingeing on sugary foods. This is the approach I take in my program for happy, healthy, and speedy weight loss, Weight Loss Unlocked.

7. Adrenal spikes and fatigue

When the liver makes it own glucose for the sake of maintaining stable blood sugar, the stress (adrenal) glands get involved. How?

The body secrets cortisol, the stress hormone, in order to help elevate and manage blood sugar levels.

Once in a while this is perfectly fine and healthy. Yet when this becomes routine, the body may begin to develop hypercortisolemia — that is, excessively high cortisol levels — or hypocortisolemia — excessively low cortisol levels.

With cortisol levels that are too high, the body’s circadian rhythm gets off, you fall asleep poorly and may wake during the night, your heart races, and you often feel tired but wired.

With cortisol levels that are too low (which can happen after levels are too high for too long), the body’s circadian rhythm gets off, you feel sluggish, you lose energy, you cannot think very clearly, and you often feel tired but wired.

The adrenal glands are very important to keep in tip-top shape. They regulate so much of health and behavior. Throwing them off can lead to serious mental health problems like anxiety and depression, sleep disorders, hormone imbalances, and other problems down the line.

What to do about it

Some women do better on low carbohydrate diets than others. I recognize this! This is totally important and awesome.

Nevertheless I caution women who are low carb to keep their eyes open for any symptoms related to the problems I described above. If you develop symptoms of hypothyroidism, hormone imbalance, poor sleep, mood dysregulation or sugar cravings, you may be able to alleviate them by re-introducing some carbohydrate back into your diet.

You do not have to eat a lot of carbohydrate, just some.

I recommend that all women start with 100 grams of carbohydrate a day. This is the equivalent of four servings of fruit (like four biggish apples), or two cups of rice.

That may sound like a lot to women used to being very low carb, but really in the grand scheme of things it is not.

You can go below that level, but not too far. I think 50g is the absolute lowest limit I recommend for women.

If you are athletic, recovering from hypothalamic amenorrhea, recovering from hypothyroidism, have struggled with food issues in the past, or simply like carbs, then you can feel free to eat more than 100 grams a day. I personally eat probably around 250 grams of carbs a day, and I don’t gain any weight or suffer from symptoms.

 

 

And that’s a wrap! Here are two other posts about carbohydrates for women’s health: Carbohydrates for Fertility and Health, and 8 Signs You Need to Eat More Carbohydrate.

Also, if you’d like to learn more about macronutrients like carbs and fat, and especially how they relate to weight loss, you may want to check out my program for weight loss for women specifically, Weight Loss Unlocked.

 

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? What has been your experience with a low carb or with a carb-inclusive diet?!

How fasting after workouts can cause high testosterone, acne, and PCOS

How fasting after workouts can cause high testosterone, acne, and PCOS

This morning one of my most dear friends posted to Facebook that she was so happy after an interview she just conducted with Mark Sisson.

The reason she was so happy, at least in part, was that Mark helped her understand better how to re-fuel after a work out. Most fitness gurus know that muscle building is the most efficient when you refuel with carbohydrate and protein. This is a precise science that people talk about all the time.

What we forget to often talk about are the hormonal effects that occur at this time, too.

This is especially important for women.

When I was diagnosed with PCOS, I searched high and low for a link between muscles and testosterone. I thought maybe my high muscle mass was causing my PCOS. Exercise junkies on internet forums often hypothesized that this was the case…. that increased muscle mass causes women’s testosterone levels to go up. That made intuitive sense to these people. Men have muscles, and lots of testosterone.

So, QED?

But I couldn’t find any good science to back it up.

Today, still, women with high testosterone levels ask me all the time if their exercise habits have anything to do with it. Just last week I had to shrug my shoulders as a fellow blogger and say ‘hm sorry I don’t have a good answer for you?’

kthanxbai?

(By the way, I did write a book on PCOS, its causes, and how to support your body with it.  See it here.)

Then Stacy and Mark gave me the idea to look into the science of post-workout meals.

(THIS is my favorite post-workout snack.)

Because what’s important for the relationship between exercise and testosterone levels is not muscle mass, nor even the intensity of the workout.

It is, instead, whether or not you eat afterwards.

What happens when you workout and afterward

During the course of any kind of strenuous activity — whether more in the vein of endurance / cardio or in high intensity weight lifting — the body burns through its glycogen stores. Glycogen, in essence, is a form of sugar. It’s stored in the muscles. It’s one of the body’s favorite fuel sources for exercise. Athletes almost always start a demanding workout with full glycogen stores. Otherwise, they will have less fuel for their efforts and will perform less than optimally.

Fitness specialists recomment that after a workout that depletes muscle glycogen (so after about one hour of higher intensity), you eat a meal composed of 3:1 carbohydrate:protein. When you do so, insulin and growth hormone levels rise, and testosterone levels fall.  This boosts muscle building while at the same time maintaining healthy hormone balance. Cortisol levels appear to stay the same after you eat. For women, luteneizing hormone levels also stay the same . This demonstrates that it is not hormone levels in general that fall when you eat post-workout, but testosterone levels specifically.

Moreover, it seems as though post-work-out feeding reduces muscle soreness, too.

Testosterone is important for a lot of functions in the female body. Excess testosterone, however, is not. Excess testosterone causes infertility, poly cystic ovarian syndrome, acne, male pattern hair growth on the face and body, hair loss on the top of the head, and diminished libido.

Here are some summaries of papers I recenty read to demonstrate these effects:

Kramer, Volek et al 1998 compared the hormonal responses to consecutive days of resistance training with and without nutritional supplementation.  Subjects drank either a carbohydrate‐protein supplement 2 hours before and immediately after their workout or a placebo.  Blood was taken before and 0,15,30,45 and 60 minutes after the workout.  Lactate, growth hormone, and testosterone were significantly elevated immediately postexercise in all subjects.  Growth hormone and prolactin responses on day 1 were significantly higher for supplementing subjects, then leveled out.  After exercise, testosterone declined below resting levels for supplementing subjects during all three days.  Glucose and insulin remained stable for placebo subjects and were significantly elevated by 30 minutes during supplementation.  Insulin‐like growth factor‐I was higher during supplementation on days 2 and 3, indicating long-term increases in IGF1.

Chandler, Byrne, et al 1994 examined the effect of carbohydrate and/or protein supplements on the hormonal state of the body after weight training exercise.  Subjects consumed either a control (water), protein, carbohydrate, or carbohydrate‐protein drink immediately and 2 hours after a resistance training workout.  Blood samples were drawn before and immediately after exercise and during 8 hours of recovery.  Exercise induced elevations in lactate, glucose, testosterone, and growth hormone in all groups. Carbohydrate and carbohydrate-protein stimulating insulin levels.  Carbohydrate‐protein led to an increase in growth hormone 6 hours post exercise which was greater than protein and control.  Supplements had no effect on insulin‐like growth factor‐I but caused a significant decline in testosterone.  Testosterone levels fell below resting levels 30 minutes postexercise during all supplement treatments compared to the control.

 

The takeaway

Many people deliberately fast after a workout in order to burn as much fat as possible.

While this is a reasonable approach for people who are significantly overweight or who do only this only occasionally, women who repeatedly fast after workouts can experience significant long-term testosterone elevations.

I used to be one of these women. My testosterone levels were through the roof…. but I was completely insulin sensitive. Conventional wisdom says that insulin is the primary means by which testosterone becomes elevated in the body (it directly stimulates testosterone production in the ovaries). Clearly, insulin wasn’t my problem.

I can’t say that my daily high intensity workouts and limited fueling were the only cause of my high testosterone levels. Most definitely they were not.

But it seems that they were a culprit. And I can honestly say that deliberately refueling after every workout (like with awesomeness that is Tanka bars!) and dance class, along with being sure to include plentiful carbohydrates in my diet, relax as much as possible, and gain a few body fat percentage points, has drastically improved my sex drive and the quality of my skin.

The healthiest athletes I know – and some incredibly beautiful female fitness competitors, to boot – always, always, always refuel after a workout.

Julia Ladewski of Bella Forza fitness.

My body building friend Julia Ladewski of Bella Forza fitness. Image credit: Eva Cowan Fitness.

 

Re: how to refuel. THIS is my favorite post-workout snack, rich in protein and carbs with a little bit of fat… from grass-fed buffalos! I also really like this Wild Alaskan Salmon from Vital Choice with some Extra Virgin Olive Oil and some fruit.

Check out more awesome snacks like smoked salmon, protein bars, and powerhouse paleo granola here.

Even if you are on a low carbohydrate diet, I — and low-carbohydrate gurus, too — recommend consuming some carbohydrates after your workout. Make it at least 30 grams of carbohydrate — so about two apples, or a half cup of rice — and 10 grams of protein, so 1-2 eggs, or half a can of tuna. Fasting after a workout very occasionally is okay. And it varies by individual. Nonetheless science doesn’t lie – a fasted workout decreases muscle growth, increases soreness, and elevates testosterone levels in women.

And, of course, for more on how to fast, and how many carbs and fat grams and the like to eat…

you can learn all about that in my book on weight loss for women Weight Loss UnlockedTo get a jump start on it, you can dowload a free chapter of the book HERE, and sign up for updates on more free weight loss tips and info!

And if you happen to suffer from acne as a result of your workouts or hormone balance, you may be interested in my brand new, right now 50% off program for overcoming acne, Clear Skin Unlocked: The Ultimate Guide to Acne Freedom and Flawless Skin.

Clear Skin Unlocked was written specifically for women like you in mind. It’s for when you’re frustrated, looking for answers, and tired of falling through the cracks. In Clear Skin Unlocked I discuss everything I did in this blogpost here at much greater depth, as well as provide a Four  Week Jumpstart to Acne Freedom to get you on your way to robustly healthy and radiant skin, for good.

Pin it:

How Fasting After Workouts Can Cause High Testosterone, Acne, and PCOS.

The best resource for being loyal to a healthy diet is finally HERE!

The best resource for being loyal to a healthy diet is finally HERE!

Ladies.

If you have been living anywhere other than under a rock for the last several years, you have probably heard the name Diane Sanfilippo. Diane is the author of two (!) New York Times selling books, Practical Paleo and The 21 Day Sugar Detox.  She also happens to be one of the people I am indebted to for my success in the paleo world, as in my first few months as a blogger she brought me onto her and Liz’s podcast and told people to pay attention. Humbling, to say the least.

She’s an amazing and brilliant woman and an incredibly sincere, supportive colleague and friend.

And lots of other cool things I could keep listing.

Anyway. I’ve brought up Diane’s Sugar Detox plan before. When I was in the throes of recovering from a punishing, self-destructive 2 months of 3 hours of sleep each night… which took months of its own, by the way… I decided that I needed help overcoming my dependency on sugar. I knew that I needed sugar, to an extent, because my adrenals were taxed and I needed to fuel them as best as I could. I also knew that I needed to get off of it, as it was impeding my ability to have stable energy in the long run.

Thankfully I already had two copies of the 21 Day Sugar Detox. It was… the perfect friend I needed at the time. It told me a bit more than I already knew about blood sugar regulation, and it gave me the structure I needed to recapture energy I had lost.

So in the last few weeks Diane has amped up the resources available in those books to the 1000000th degree.

There are meal plans and audio support files and special guides for autoimmunity and athletes and extra cookbooks and special memberships and yoga guides and pilates guides and access to full-time 21 Day Sugar Detox experts.

Here is a picture of some of the stuff Diane offers:

21DSD offerings

It’s kind of mind-blowing, actually.

And what I love most about it all is that this is a program focused on cultivating loyalty. It doesn’t just throw a list of paleo foods at you. Instead, it takes you by the hand, heals you physically, and in doing so helps heal you psychologically. It’s gets you off the sugar monster, and on the road to loving partnership and kicking ass with your body.

Pretty cool stuff.

You can read all about it (the website is stunning… I like to go look at it just to look at it)… here

Balanced Bites

.

Also there appears to be a free 4 part video series?

Wicked.

Check that out @ here, or click the banner below:

21dsd video series

Coool.

Is the Autoimmune Protocol a breeding ground for disordered eating?

Is the Autoimmune Protocol a breeding ground for disordered eating?

Sarah Ballantyne, author of the groundbreaking Autoimmune Protocol book The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Bodyis one of the most brilliant people I know. She writes at ThePaleoMom.com, and at that site as well as in her book, she outlines a very specific, very effective, and therefore necessarily very limited approach to paleo eating. If broken, it heals your gut.

By healing your gut, you heal a lot of other things, too.

It’s remarkable. Sarah has had success with… I’m going to guess, and correctly, I believe, hundreds of thousands of people.

So the short story is: the autoimmune protocol Sarah (and others, like one of my favorite women, Eileen Laird) outlines and advocates is the. bomb. digs.Bomb diggity Black

But I’ve always been wary.

For two reasons. 1) People without autoimmune diseases often eat an AIP for the sake of “better health.” But this is silly, because I and AIP advocates alike think it’s unnecessary, and doesn’t even benefit your health really, necessarily, unless you’re autoimmune. 2) People use this as an excuse to eat a controlled way of eating. 3) People sometimes feel unduly restricted on AIP and develop disordered behaviors. 4) People have a hard time transitioning out of AIP. 5) Obviously there are more than two reasons.

(And no, to answer my title’s question, the AIP doesn’t always beget disordered eating. But there’s definitely a “but” that belongs, hanging, at that end of that statement.  “The AIP doesn’t beget disordered eating, but…”)

So anyway. I did an interview talking about these things with an AIP advocate named Eileen Laird, who writes at Phoenix Helix.com (what an amazing brand name, holy hell), who’s brilliant and lovely. There’s a lot of psychological stuff that swirls around AIP: fear of death, fear of illness, fear of freedom..

Good. Stuff.

 

@ here.

If you do have an autoimmune disease, there are so many incredible resources now to help you not feel deprived.  The Autoimmune Paleo cookbook is a great example that comes to mind (Amazon link here).  And of course, Sarah’s book here is always a winner.

If you struggle with restrictive eating, my book, Sexy By Nature can help you feel confidence and freedom in your food choices.  Check it out here.

Carbohydrates for Fertility and Health

Carbohydrates for Fertility and Health

I spend a disproportionate amount of my time telling women to eat carbohydrates.

In the paleosphere, it is incredibly common to eat a low carbohydrate diet. Plenty of people use low carbohydrate diets to lose weight, to sharpen insulin sensitivity, and to reduce appetite in the short term.

A low carbohydrate diet can also be therapeutic for people with cancer, migraines,and  chronic infections or psychological disorders.

On the other hand, low carbohydrate diets can be a significant tax on people, women especially.

Because low carbohydrate diets are so popular for weight loss, it is common for women trying to lose weight and to “look good” to exercise often, eat very few carbohydrates, fast, and restrict food intake.  The more of these restrictions a woman undertakes at once, the more and more her body reads this as living in a starved, stressed state.

The effects of this are significant: adrenal glands work overtime, livers get tired from performing so much gluconeogenesis, insulin sensitivity drops, body fat levels fluctuate, sleep quality decreases, and libido and fertility decrease.

The problems that come from a low-carbohydrate diet of course don’t affect every woman. Each of us is different. But women who experience stalled weight loss, low-thyroid symptoms, menstrual dysregulation, sleep and or mood and mental health related issues may find significant relief from adding carbohydrates back into their diets.

If you are trying to lose weight, take a look at my program, Weight Loss Unlocked, which will help you lose weight in a healthy, safe, and balanced way. Check it out here.

Also, this is my favorite paleo cookbook with plentiful carbs in it. It’s by Russ Crandall, and he’s an amazing chef, as well as one of my favorite people of all time.

Carbohydrates are beneficial for fertility and health because…

-Glucose is necessary for the conversion of T4 to T3 in the liver.

Without adequate glucose, the liver struggles to make enough T3, which is the form of thyroid hormone critical for healthy thyroid function.

Without sufficient T3, hypothyroidism results. Hypothyroidism is implicated in mood disorders, reproductive irregularities such as PCOS and amenorrhea, in skin conditions, and in weight gain, among other things.  (For more on how to figure out your particular type of PCOS and how hypothyroidism may be at play, see my program PCOS Unlocked or read my post on the causes of PCOS)

Many women, contrary to popular paleo belief, in fact lose weight once they add carbohydrates back into their diets. This is because the carbs help the body produce more T3.

(Now, low carb dieters might be quick to point out that the liver can manufacture its own glucose. Certainly, the liver is capable of producing its own glucose with gluconeogenesis, but that process can become taxed over time, particularly if the liver is already taxed from poor eating habits in the past, mineral deficiencies, stress, or calorie restriction.)

-Glucose elicits an insulin response, which in turn spikes leptin levels in the blood.

This is a short-term spike, so eating carbohydrates should not be used as a replacement for body fat, which is the primary long-term secretor of leptin.

However, moderate, regular consumption of carbohydrate spikes leptin frequently enough to help signal to the hypothalamus that the body is being fed. Leptin is absolutely crucial for reproductive function.  Without leptin, the hypothalamus does not tell the pituitary to produce sex hormones, so it doesn’t.

Insulin is also an important signaler of the “fed” state. 

In addition to leptin, the hypothalamus also responds to insulin. These two hormones are largely responsible for the female body determining whether it is in a “fed” state.

Being in a fed state is critical for convincing the body it is in a healthy enough environment to reproduce, have a libido, and also lose weight.

Moderate carbohydrate intake is associated with better mood, stress-reduction, and sleep quality.

I see this in my work and in anecdotes, as well as in many controlled studies.

Carbohydrate intake boosts tryptophan levels in the brain, and tryptophan is the protein precursor to serotonin. Getting at least some carbohydrate in the diet helps with the vast array of issues associated with serotonin deficiency which include moodiness, stress, and insomnia. People have been shown to sleep better if their dinner includes carbohydrates in it.

This is especially true for women.

For a look at the details and complexities of the issue, see Emily Deans writing  here and here. The primary takeaway of this point being that while the exact mechanism of carbohydrates boosting mood and sleep quality is unknown, carbohydrates still appear to be a healthy, and in many cases necessary, macronutrient.

Carbohydrates for fertility and health

The main point here is that carbohydrates are not just okay but important. For women who have appetite control problems, sugar addictions, and a lot of weight to lose, absolutely I believe a low-carbohydrate diet can do them wonders. For women who struggle with menstruation, fertility, stress, exercise performance, or any other hormonal oddities, carbohydrates help assure the woman’s body that she is healthy and fed.  This is crucial for reproductive health.  

In all cases, diet is a matter of personal physiology and experimentation.  If a woman’s body works better on carbs, she should eat them, and delight in those joys rather than worry needlessly.  At the very least, they are not harmful, and at their best, they are life saving.

This concept is central to my program Weight Loss Unlocked. If you are interested, it will help you figure out which path to weight loss is best for your unique body and metabolism.

Carbohydrates to eat:

 

-Starchy tubers such as sweet potatoes, batata, jerusalem artichoke, cassava, tarot, and bamboo. Regular potatoes are fine, too, but they contain fewer vitamins than their sweet counterparts.  Of the sweet potatoes, Japanese sweet potatoes are the most delicious, in my opinion, followed by white sweet potatoes and then yams and regular orange sweet potatoes.

These starches are composed primarily of glucose.

Fruits. All fruits! Berries and cherries tend to have more glucose than fructose, other fruits tend to have more fructose than glucose. This is not a huge point of difference but I have noticed that some women tend to do better on glucose-heavy or fructose-heavy carbs. I personally have an easier time with weight maintenance with fruits than with starches. I talk about this idea more in depth in that Weight Loss program for women I use with my clients.

-Rice Both white and brown rice are fine, but are fairly nutrient-poor.

Brown rice contains anti-nutrients in it’s shell, so white rice is more innocuous in terms of nutrient absorption.  Wild rice is another option that I like.  Pink rice is something that my friend Noelle from Coconuts and Kettlebells really loves and is a unique way to incorporate rice into the diet! (By the way, if you haven’t listened to The Paleo Women Podcast featuring myself and Noelle, you need to!  We are the BEST and we will explain to you ALL THE THINGS.  Find us here!)

-Vegetables of course are great, but they do not count for carbohydrate consumption.  I know that most of the carbs in vegetables are glucose, but much of it them are also tied up in fiber, which is broken down and turned into short-chain fatty acids by gut bacteria. For this reason, vegetables alone cannot make up a woman’s carbohydrate consumption.  Instead, starchy tubers and fruits work the best.

How much carbohydrate to eat for women:

For a woman recovering from stress, metabolic distress, and hypothalamic amenorrhea, I recommend eating between 100-200 g/day.  That goes for athletes as well. And for pregnant women. At least 100 g/day.

I typically recommend that women start with 100 grams of dense carbohydrate like starches and fruits and experiment from there. You can definitely eat more than that – I know that I do. But you could also eat a bit less, especially if you prefer a lower carbohydrate appraoch to health.

Remember, you do not necessarily need to eat high carbohydrate. You can, but you don’t have to. It is only that a diet with at least some carbohydrates can really help with fertility, hormone balance, thyroid, and weight loss problems.

Carbohydrates elsewhere in the paleo blogosphere:

Chris Kresser and Chris Masterjohn: Cholesterol, mostly, also: Telltale signs you need more carbs

Jimmy Moore: Is there any such thing as a safe starch?

Jamie Scott: A Week of It

Paul Jaminet: Higher Carb Dieting Pros and Cons (includes a discussion of the “longevity trade-off”)

Cheeseslave: Why I ditched low carb

Beth Mazur: Why I don’t eat low carb

Julianne Taylor: Okay, People, Carb’s Don’t Kill

Melissa McEwen: What the bleep do we know about carbs

While you’re at it, go read Melissa’s post on Why Women Need Fat.

Don’t forget this is my favorite paleo cookbook full of good carbs.

And especially don’t forget to check out Weight Loss Unlocked if weight loss is one of your main goals right now, The Paleo Women Podcast, which is just so much fun, and my best-selling book Sexy By Nature, all great resources for all things women’s health, happiness, and fertility!