If you're looking for a diet that incorporates the best of Paleo diets with a different approach to carbohydrates, we've found it in the brilliantly written new book "Sexy by Nature: The Whole Foods Solution to Radiant Health, Life-Long Sex Appeal, and Soaring Confidence" (click for details).
We interviewed author and celebrity nutrition guru Stefani Ruper to get the skinny on how and why her approach can transform your body and life. Find out about everything from how to boost your weight loss with great food to why Stefani's favorite recipe combines coconut oil and liver (you can try it yourself below). Stefani says that she owes a "debt" to the principles of Paleo and Primal diets.
"My program is founded on the idea that the human body is better adapted to eat some foods rather than others. Foods that were available throughout most of human history are almost always good for us (for example, vegetables), and foods that were recently invented almost always are not (for example, trans fat). This is because the body simply doesn’t know how to handle these new foods," she explained.
"I also believe the human body is naturally in a state of good health and that it is only over-consumption of bad foods that has driven them so haywire in recent decades. These are the same principles that paleo and primal diets are founded on, so even while our philosophies vary to some degree or another, we all achieve better health by paying attention to the demands of our genes."
And part of the Paleo principles to which she adheres involves gluten and dairy. She explains how to avoid them in the "Sexy By Nature" book.
"Based on my extensive familiarity with medical literature, both of these foods are detrimental to health," Stefani told us.
"Soy is problematic because it contains compounds called “phytoestrogens.” Phytoestrogens are similar but not identical to your body’s natural estrogen. Excessive phytoestrogen consumption can lead to unhealthfully high estrogen levels, causing symptoms such as PMS, menstrual cramps, mood swings, and weight gain. Excess estrogen also happens to be one of the favored foods of female cancers such as breast cancer."
As for grains? "Grains are neutral foods at best and extraordinarily toxic at worse, and for most of us fall somewhere in between," she says. And Stefani has a strong response to all those marketing claims plastered across breads and cereals proclaiming "Healthy Whole Grains."
Why have grains such as bread, pasta, and cereal been touted as a health food? Protein? Vitamins? Fiber? None of these claims hold any water, not even for “whole grains.” Grains are not a good source of protein; they have only small amounts of vitamins in them, all of which are found much more abundantly in fruits and vegetables; and grains are comprised primarily of insoluble fiber, which is rough on your intestines (as opposed to its friendly cousin soluble fiber).
Grains are obviously not what they’re cracked up to be. It gets worse, though. They 1) contain extraordinarily high amounts of the same nutrient-stealing anti-nutrients found in soy, and 2) contain proteins (gluten is one, but not the only one) that can tear holes in your gut lining and cause what would otherwise be excreted as feces to leak into your bloodstream. This fact makes grains one of the primary culprits in causing all autoimmune diseases, inflammation, insulin resistance, and obesity. Yikes. At best, grains are empty calories, and at worse, they make us sick and fat.
Got it. So then we asked Stefani about the sea change occuring in nutrition. We've got the one group of experts proclaiming fat-free vegan diets to be the greatest thing since, hmm, sliced bread? And the other group announcing that low carb high fat (LCHF) ketogenic diets are the way to go. Leaning toward the latter: Paleo proponents. Stefani offers her own unique view and details on what really works for health and weight loss in "Sexy by Nature: The Whole Foods Solution to Radiant Health."
"I was a vegetarian for four years. Then I studied nutrition, and I began eating animals again immediately," Stefani declares. Her beef against vegans?
"I hadn’t known how many nutrients I was missing out on, but the list ended up being quite long. Vitamin A (not beta-carotene, which is the plant-derived form of vitamin A and not the same as true vitamin A), DHA, EPA, heme iron, choline, and B12 are all necessary parts of being healthy and are found almost exclusively in animal products. Vegans in fact need to supplement with vitamin B12 or else they die. Seriously. So I recommend eating animal products such as beef, pork, bacon, eggs, organ meats, fish, and butter—from happily-raised, grass-fed, natural animals whenever possible."
But it's not all about mooing for meat, says Stefani.
"In addition to animal products, my other primary food group is plants. A bountiful variety of fruits and vegetables is key to the Sexy by Nature program. Leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and sweet potatoes, berries, bananas, mangoes and oranges are just a small selection of nature’s nutrient-dense powerhouses that have the power to heal you and to restore your natural, in-born radiance and vitality."
Our advice after reading her book and talking with Stefani? If you want to learn about everything from a tasty, no-deprivation path to weight loss to which foods to eat "with a proud, happy smile on your face" to recipes for radiance to the real skinny on quality carbohydrates, get more information on "Sexy by Nature: The Whole Foods Solution to Radiant Health, Life-Long Sex Appeal, and Soaring Confidence" by clicking here.
Here's a day in her own diet:
- On a most typical day, breakfast is an apple and some berries with a serving of greens cooked in coconut oil and at minimum three over-easy eggs with bacon or sausage.
- Lunch is a stir fry or a salad with several servings of vegetables in it, an avocado or olive oil-based dressing, and again another few servings of fruit. If I can, there’s protein in this meal, too, whether some liver, beef, or salmon.
- Dinner also varies. I love making soup if I have the time. I’ll have leftover beef or salmon from earlier in the day. If I haven’t had bacon or pork belly yet that day I’ll try and squeeze some in because it’s delicious. I will probably have a potato or sweet potato with coconut butter on it.
"Snacks are often fruit, jerky, carrot sticks, hummus, or coconut yogurt. I try not to snack too much and rather just wait for meals, but it’s fine occasionally. Before bed I often have a mango or spoon or two of coconut butter because why not? I like these foods a lot. They go down well with an episode of The Daily Show or Parks and Rec," she adds.
As for her own favorite recipe? It's that food that makes little kids (and some grown-ups) shiver and shudder: Liver.
"What I am about to tell you is not a lie: liver is my favorite food. It’s incredibly delicious if you only give it a chance and do it right. You also get tons of vitamins and minerals. Liver is, in fact, possibly the most nutrient-dense food, with enough vitamin A in a single serving to feed an army," she promises.
So here is: Coconut-fried calves liver from "Sexy by Nature: The Whole Foods Solution to Radiant Health, Life-Long Sex Appeal, and Soaring Confidence" (click for details).
1/2 pound calf or beef liver
1-2 tablespoon coconut oil
1 medium yellow or sweet onion, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
1 medium ripe tomato, diced
Heat coconut oil on medium heat in medium-sized skillet
Add onion and a pinch of salt, cook until edges become golden
Add pepper and a pinch of salt, cook until soft
Remove vegetables from pan
Slice liver into bite size pieces, salt and pepper, add to skillet
Add more coconut oil if necessary (the more the better!)
After five minutes, add back in the onions and the peppers
Cook on medium heat until liver is crispy on edges and brown through the middle
(Seriously. It’s amazing.) Get more recipes from Stefani by clicking here for her book.