Introducing ‘The Carb Pyramid’

The Carb Pyramid

I have always been a little frustrated with the food pyramid in terms of how carbohydrate heavy it is with all the harvest foods at the lower levels.  It got me thinking about how it could potentially be improved to help people lower the amounts of sugar and starch in their diets holistically.

Governments and health organisations seem to be in denial that starch converts readily into sugar (a quick search for the top item on the glycemic index is quite shocking, have a look yourself when you’re finished reading this).

This seems  obvious, but lots of people are missing this point:

Carbs  harvest in a circannual cycle (as they rely on the sun) and so only exist in abundance in autumn. 

There’s no starch in March.

As a result, I believe that starch and sugar are part of the formula that causes animals to gorge in preparation for winter.

Recently, the food pyramid was altered, and now vegetables and fruit appear on the bottom rung, which was a welcome move, however there are things like bananas and orange juice on that level which I think do not belong there as they have significant amounts of sugar/starch in them.

So, for what it’s worth, here is my own version of a food pyramid but rather than including staples like protein and fat in the pyramid itself (which are just as important as carbs in the diet if not more so), I’ve created the main pyramid to consider what types of carbs should be prioritised in the diet.

The Carb Pyramid
Click here to download The Carb Pyramid PDF

The Carb Pyramid Explained

The Levels:

  1. Junk appears at the top as normal and should be limited to occasional treats.
  2. Semi-processed foods where wholefoods have their skin removed, or there’s been sugar added.
  3. Typical carbs like potatoes and whole grains, where both the fibre (e.g. bran) is eaten with the food
  4. Fruit and Veg that have a high GI but a low glycemic load (i.e. you’d have to eat a lot more to get the same amount of carb as level 3)
  5. Finally, we have low GI fruit and veg which can be eaten in much larger quantities because there’s low amounts of sugar/starch

Fat and Protein Vectors:

The double arrow on the left means protein should be eaten with all levels (especially 3-5).

The fading arrow on the right means fats should be eaten with lower gi foods

Why avoid Carbs+Fat?

The key reason behind avoiding high carbs+fat is satiety.  Recent studies have shown this combination is more valued by humans and can cause hormonal responses that drive greater reward signals to the brain and potentially addictive like behaviour. They also affect other hormones like ghrelin, leptin and insulin. For this, and various other reasons explained in Don’t Eat for Winter and on this website, this autumnal combination of simultaneous carbs+fat is limited in order to control appetite and retard potential fat storage.

The premise of DEFoW is that the spike of carbs in autumn, combined with fats, causes hyperphagia in the animal kingdom (we observe this with bears and squirrels and pigs fattening from things like acorns, which are the only wholefood in nature with a high carb+fat signature), and that this phenomenon could still be active in human beings. We are seasonally adapted creatures as we can develop a winter thermal layer of fat called brown adipose tissue that uses regular white fat as a fuel source. It therefore stands to reason that we would need to also store fat during autumn to survive winter, just like other animals in order to give us our best chance at making it through to the following spring.

Unfortunately in today’s world, we eat this autumnal combo in every single meal and snack (junk foods match acorns in an uncanny way), all year round, and so we are putting on weight indefinitely in anticipation of a winter that never happens.

Spring into your Summer Body with Don’t Eat for Winter…

…the Anti-Autumnal Diet

Human Hyperphagia – How to control binge eating!

Do you often just keep snacking uncontrollably? “I’ll just have one more biscuit” or when eating a takeaway eat more than you thought you would? Often it’s even stronger after a crash diet.

Don’t worry, it’s a normal part of being a creature from planet earth, especially if your ancestors adapted to seasonal climates.

This week is fat bear week and they can put on an incredible 4lbs a day before hibernation. This is so they can survive a cruel winter and sleep for up to 6 months. They undergo hyperphagia, an uncontrollable instinctual desire to eat  in order that they can survive winter.

Though we humans do not hibernate, we are seasonal creatures too to varying degrees. It was recently discovered that adult humans can develop brown adipose tissue or BAT FAT, a special type of fat that has thermic properties that assist winter survival.  There two ways to develop this are via autumnal triggers from diet (high insulin and leptin levels, pointing to autumnal carbs+fat) and exposure to cold (also autumnal).

We don’t need to develop BAT any more (modern heating, and food availability) and typically we never do as the conditions for it do not ever happen in the modern world. However, we can develop the precursor to brown fat in abundance i.e. white adipose tissue (WAT, the stuff that jiggles), which is necessary in order for brown fat to develop.

I propose we suffer from hyperphagia collectively because of our modern food environment, and I believe many of us trigger it daily because of the hormonal and chemical impact of the foods available to us.  Essentially, we trigger ancient autumnal instincts that encourage us to develop fat because our bodies believe winter is coming, just like bears instincts are telling them this week.

The main food available to bears at the moment is ACORNS… a fun acronym for acorns is Autumnal Causing Rapid Obesity in Nature.  Check out the chart from  on the Wise About Bears website, courtesy of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources…

A Bears Quest for Food

From the chart you can see that the main food bears are eating during Fat Bear Week (#fatbearweek), is acorns, and it seems this food from the great oak tree protects these vulnerable creatures through fat storage for winter survival. The profile of acorns has been discussed often on this site and in  ‘Don’t Eat for Winter’.  It matches just one other natural food in an uncanny way: Human Breast Milk! A food designed to help human infants become hardy and survive a vulnerable period (a perfectly healthy food for vulnerable infants of course).  The only other foods matching this signature from the USDA food composition database is a list of junk foods.  Energy dense and hyper-palatable triggering fat storage instincts.

This food macro ratio is good for bears and babies through natural foods like acorns and breast milk, which have other nutrients they need too, but for adults who are no longer vulnerable in winter time, perhaps not so much.  I suggest that this is why junk makes us gorge and become fat. They trigger these instincts within us and you simply cannot outwit instinct with willpower. It is therefore ridiculous to blame obesity on lack of willpower or laziness.  Squirrels and bears are anything but lazy as they gorge in autumn to survive the winter, if anything they’re more active than ever before they begin resting up.  If they cannot out run autumn, how can we, when we have sedentary jobs which compounds the issue.

Although humans don’t eat acorns (some tribes did over winter like celts and native americans), we do eat combos with the exact same signature, and these are the foods that do the damage to out waistlines.

E.g. popcorn on it’s own is meh, butter on it’s own is yuck, but together (carbs+fat) and you’d eat a whole bucket of it and we pay through the nose for the privelege for something that costs close to nothing to make. A recent scientific paper shows how we value such foods more, and other papers show cafeteria diets cause excessive eating in rodents.  Yet another paper shows how fats increase the dopamine effects of carbs through endocannibanoids.

Others notable combos include…

Donuts (carbs+fat)
Chocolate (carbs+fat)
Pastries (carbs+fat)
Buttery popcorn (carbs+fat)
Crisps (carbs+fat)
Syrupy coffees (carbs+fat)
Pizza, burgers and fries (carbs+fat)
Biscuits (carbs+fat)
Ice cream (carbs+fat)

There are also more natural, nutritious combos too that hit this formula like fruit and nuts, apple tart, potatoes and fatty meat etc. that we should be careful of too if management of bodyfat levels is sought.

These sort of foods set me off into a gorge frenzy because they prime my instincts, my pupils dilate and it doesn’t matter how much willpower i have, I’ll make excuses to get more of it into me… a little demon on my shoulder having a dialog with me whispering, “one more will do no harm” until I get to the last one and then it’s “sure you might aswell eat the last one, what difference will it make?”

I don’t feel guilt when this happens anymore, I know it’s not because I’m weak, it’s because millions of years of evolution lead to me liking foods like this more than others because they assisted my ancestors survival and I inherited the gift to be able to survive times that were less plentiful.

High carb+fat foods and food combinations can only exist in nature in autumn and so what is happening is the earth itself becomes a protective mother for her inhabitants and we gorge and get hardy for winter. Nowadays, foods that traditionally would only appear in autumn are now available all day every day, all year round.  I believe this is a major factor in, if not the fundamental cause of, the obesity and the world’s ongoing battle with weight.  Most of us find it difficult to get into really good shape and it is the environment, not us that is to blame.

This is what DEFoW is about more than anything else. Avoiding hyperphagia, and controlling appetite, so that we’re not continually snacking for the sake of it. This is what I mean by anti-autumnal eating and why it’s the lowest common denominator of many diets that people swear by like low carb and low fat (which are at loggerheads for this obvious reason – they both avoid simultaneous carbs+fat).

DEFoW is the first method of eating that consciously removes the formula that causes this gorges by avoiding the autumnal combo of carbs+fats in the same sitting.  It doesn’t avoid either carbs or fat just the combo (which you can then choose to savour from time to time in moderation, we all need to cut loose now and again).

The data, the science, the deceptions, the commercialism, the law changes, the diets and the problems we face with weight globally all point to this highly palatable combo as being the key to the problem we need to solve.

Knowledge means avoidance is possible and you can choose when to indulge and when to stop through preventing triggering of instinct on your terms.  As stated in Don’t Eat for Winter, we cannot fight instinct with willpower alone and things can be a lot easier once we stop triggering these instincts buried within our programming.

I hope this helps people out there. Eating anti-autumnally has freed many from the infinite autumn we are subjected to daily and continues to receive positive feedback, which is hugely encouraging.