Do Athletes Need Grains to Get Enough Carbs?What will I eat for breakfast without cereal and bread?

This is a question I’ve been asked thousands of times by patients and students. Most people have very little real knowledge of nutrition and, sadly, most nutritionists and nutritional “experts” are unconscious of the fact that much of their knowledge has been bought and paid for by food manufacturing corporations.

Few realize that the entire field we now think of as nutrition and the nutritionists it produces was started and funded by General Mills, specifically to sell processed foods made largely from grains.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t great nutritionists out there, but you’ll find that the great ones had to unlearn much of what they were taught, and relearn the truth through clinical trials and life experiences of their own.

I addressed this important issue recently in a response (below) to Rahul Dey’s question recently posted on my YouTube channel.

Rahul Dey: Hey Paul: Trying to religiously follow How to Eat, Move & Be Healthy. A quick question: I am a polar type and a rugby player at an Ivy League University so carbs are important to keep my energy levels up.

However, sprouted grain breads such as Manna breads are not an option when it comes to college dining. Whole wheat cranberry breads are what I eat usually. Do you suggest any alternatives to get the carbs in, especially for breakfast? Is it all right to eliminate breads and any form of grains completely from my diet?

Finding balance with the Tachometer Diagram

Hi! There are some key points that will be important to your process.

1. The diet types (polar, equator or mixed) are not rigid classifications. The questionnaires give you an idea of what is likely to be your natural or genetically inclined eating pattern, but they are only starting points for your ongoing relationship with body-mind awareness and foods and drinks.

The Tachometer Diagram below shows what happens when you eat too many carbs versus too many fats and proteins, so you must think about your own power zone.

Being in your power zone means what you want to create each meal, but what foods and drinks and their quantities can change radically for any Primal Pattern or Metabolic Type depending on internal and external stress factors.

An example of how this plays out in my own body-mind: When I do a heavy deadlift workout, my body wants a lot more flesh foods relative to plant foods (unless it is quite hot outside).

However, on my resting days (particularly if I take two days off), my body directs me to eat very little flesh food and lots of vegetables (more like a carb type). Sometimes, my body wants no flesh foods, or even to fast, particularly on my second day of rest.

Do Athletes Need Grains to Get Enough Carbs?Bread or no bread?

2. The issue isn’t one of bread or no bread. The issue is “what works well for your body.” My personal experience is that the great majority of people cannot digest, metabolize, assimilate or eliminate grains well at all, even if they are gluten-free.

Common indicators that your body doesn’t want such foods:

  1. Seeing skin problems.
  2. Noticing cognitive issues.
  3. Experiencing disrupted bowel movements.
  4. Feeling muscle and joint aches and recovering more slowly from exercise.
  5. Waking up tired and/or feeling groggy and foggy-headed, even after eight hours of sleep.
  6. Waking up with swelling or discoloration under and around the eyes.
  7. Feeling sore internally when you press through your abdominal wall with your fingers while your abdominal muscles are relaxed.
  8. Accumulating phlegm in your nose and throat or experiencing a runny nose.
  9. Sneezing more than usual.
  10. Feeling decreased motivation over time.

Issues with carbs

3. There are a myriad of sources of carbs aside from grain-based foods. Any vegetables grown above or below the ground, fruits, raw honey and other natural sweeteners are all good sources of carbs.

The best carbs to eat, in my experience, are raw fruits and vegetables. Always be sure to check in with your body and pay attention to what it needs.

4. The idea that we need to eat carbs (cereal grains and breads in particular) for breakfast is merely a “programmed idea” that has been put into people’s heads by food manufacturing corporations that have spent literally billions of dollars to “condition” people to think they should eat that way to be healthy.

Unfortunately, this programming has nothing to do with the truth, and everything to do with selling loads of processed, poor quality, grain-based crap foods sprayed with poisons and grown in dead soils to generate very high profits.

Keeping people sick is very profitable when you consider that many shareholders of these corporations also invest in drugs to treat all of the diseases caused by eating such foods (and believe in such silliness too).

If you want to learn more about the history of grains in our diet, how long it takes our bodies to adapt to eating grains, and the prevalence of gluten intolerance (gluten is a type of protein in all grains except corn, rice, buckwheat and millet), I highly recommend reading Cereal Grains: Humanity’s Double-Edged Sword by Dr. Loren Cordain, a member of the Health and Exercise Science department at Colorado State University.

That said, there are places in the world — Sweden, Denmark, Norway and England, among other countries — that have developed the habit of eating a lot of cereal grains in various forms as a result of the agricultural revolution, their ability to be stored through the winter and the relative ease of preparation.

Organics: The big difference

Do Athletes Need Grains to Get Enough Carbs?The key difference: For a very long time, these grains were farmed organically, so they were free of toxins and had a very different nutritional profile. This allowed them to be much more digestible and nutritious.

That said, I have done extensive work in the regions mentioned, consulted for the Danish Olympic Committee, and worked with top athletes, performers and educators from Norway, Russia, Siberia and a significant number of places around the world.

Only about one in 20 people living in these regions can eat any kind of grain-based diet without significant negative symptoms, like those I suggested previously.

If you want to be optimally healthy and vital, I highly suggest you follow the rotation diet in How to Eat, Move & Be Healthy!

On a rotation diet, you eat the same food groups for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The need for grains at breakfast is more psychological (programming as cited above) than physiological, or “actual.”

By sticking to the same foods for the whole day as outlined in my 4-Day rotation diet, you give your immune system approximately 24 hours rest from exposure to any given genus of foods, which calms the immune system and significantly decreases inflammation in the body.

Do Athletes Need Grains to Get Enough Carbs?Inflammation is akin to “liquid fire” in your body, and has many destructive effects if it occurs to a greater degree than optimal for healing.

In other words, if you are generating more inflammation by the food choices you make than would normally be there living and eating naturally, systems begin to break down.

Too much inflammation also shifts the body’s general pH levels toward acid, opening the door wide for a lot of problems:

  • Fungal and parasitic infections
  • Low energy states
  • Cravings for quick energy foods and drinks
  • Brain fog
  • Decreased motivation and recovery from activities of daily life and exercise

If you really want to master taking care of yourself, and achieve optimal athletic performance, you’ll want to study my Holistic Lifestyle Coach (HLC) Level 1 program through the C.H.E.K Institute. I think you’ll find it’s an essential course for anyone wanting to learn how to be healthy, strong and vital, and to achieve optimal performance in his/her life.

Love and chi,