Recently I had the honor to interview one of my favorite people and superstar nutritionist, Esther Blum, about her new book, Cavewomen Don’t Get Fat. I first met Esther about 8 years ago when I was looking for a nutritionist in NYC. Ever since then she has not only been a great mentor to me but also has become a great friend. I was lucky enough to help her gather research for this book and also develop recipes, too. I cannot say enough great things about Esther and her new book. Check out what Esther has to say about Cavewomen Don’t Get Fat!
[SS] Why did you write this book?
[EB] I wrote Cavewomen Don't Get Fat because it was a natural evolution in the process of my writing. My first book, Eat, Drink, and Be Gorgeous, was a very balanced approach to life and that was great. When you're in your twenties if you just cut out some simple sugars and eat whole foods you can lean out pretty quickly. But, once you get to your thirties and forties that shift has to change. You have to work harder to stay leaner and that means really streamlining your diet and finding out what your carb tolerance is appropriate for us as individuals.
[SS] Did you write this for a specific person?
[EB} I wrote it for the woman who is really struggling to change her body and who has tried numerous diets that have failed repeatedly. This is really a lifestyle change, it's not a diet, it's not even a one-size-fits-all diet. I just really wanted people to learn and understand how carbohydrates affect their bodies and in turn how their hormones are going to affect their body fat levels. Once you understand the volume of carbohydrates you can tolerate each day, you will be able to achieve mastery over your metabolism.
[SS] How is this book different from a more traditional Paleo book?
[EB] This book really gives a woman a three-way mirror to look at her body by addressing food, hormones, and toxins. Most of us are using hundreds of chemical- laden beauty products everyday that contain obesegens, which are hormonal disruptors that mimic the effects of hormones and make us fat.
Cavewomen also closely examines a woman's hormonal fluctuations and resulting changes in carbohydrate tolerance throughout the month. A woman can tolerate at least an extra serving of carbohydrates during the first 2 weeks of her cycle because she is much more insulin sensitive. The second half of her cycle is the best time to ramp up her protein and drop her carbs, when estrogen levels drop. So just understanding something simple things like that can really change your physique and your body in a short period of time.
[SS] What result do you expect your readers to get out of reading this book?
[EB] I think that my readers will understand that they can't just eat bagels without consequences. I think you have to do the time to really change your body. It's not simple and it's not easy. And it does require diligence but when they do put the work in, their rewards are great. And when you learn the lifestyle, and get a razor sharp focus on your eating, the rest is easy. I really want women to take away from this book that if they create this environment, they can really set their body up for success.
[SS] What results can women expect from this book?
[EB] Women can expect solid results from this plan. One major thing they can expect is a better hold on cravings. Most of us really experience cravings because we're not eating enough protein, fiber, and fat during the day to balance brain biochemistry and feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Once you boost neurotransmitters, the cravings disappear, and fast. Protein is the one nutrient that really shuts off hunger in hypothalamus.
Another thing women can expect is an improvement in body composition. I find very few women who are ever eating optimal amounts of protein to build lean muscle mass and lose weight. If you increase the ratio of muscle mass to body fat, you are going to drop some body fat and you are going to build and sustain lean muscle mass. This is important because as we age, most of us do experience sarcopenia, or age-related muscle loss. So, if you can sustain that muscle mass by eating optimal amounts of dietary protein and pushing some heavy weights at least 3 times a week, you are going to be able to basically age-proof your body by keeping it lean and strong.
[SS] Is this the way you eat now?
[EB] This is totally the way I eat. I'm really pretty squeaky clean. Over the years I've invested in quite a few instruments for cooking and my kitchen, like a slow cooker, Vitamix, and a spiralizer. A spiralizer takes zucchini, sweet potatoes or any hearty root vegetables and makes them into noodles that can make a great base for meat sauces. And I do eat a lot of protein and I eat pastured (grass-fed) meats and wild Alaskan salmon. My husband and I spend a very large chunk of our income on food because we believe it is curative, preventative, medicinal, and the foundation of heath.
[SS] Why are you so passionate about the Paleo lifestyle? Is there a certain reason why you got into eating like this?
[EB] Funnily enough, I did not start out as a Paleo dietitian at all; I didn't even start as an integrative dietitian. I started out as a hospital dietitian for 5 years working in the cardiac intensive care units. Working in a hospital you see what patients are fed after surgery: jello and gingerale. Not a great way to build up muscle mass and heal the heart! So, I gravitated away from hospitals when I realized that I was not helping patients at all. I wanted to help people at preventative stage and not the end stage. Over time, I started to move towards a more holistic approach.
Looking at the way the world is today, we have an extraordinary amount of toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis and chemicals in our food. These are making us fat and even so-called whole grains are still making us fat. So, we live a lifestyle that does not enable us to burn enough calories and build muscle mass on a daily basis. We're not physically active enough and we're very sedentary. I personally struggle to workout consistently on a regular basis with my work schedule, too. So, I think that if I'm struggling, what is rest of the world doing?
I really have evolved, pardon the pun, to Paleo because I think it's the only way to even have a chance to staying lean at this point if you're not exercising regularly. If you are exercising a lot and pushing heavy weighs, then you've earned your carbs and can have extra servings of starch. But really, you have to earn it. So I think this diet is the most solid foundation that I can come up with.
[SS] What inspires you?
[EB] What inspires me are people like-minded professionals who walk the walk and consistently exercise and push themselves to greatness. I constantly struggle with consistency of exercise due to some chronic sleep issues. Diet is much easier for me to tackle. So, somebody who transforms their body with clean eating and intense exercise is one hell of an inspiration to me.
[SS] What’s up next for you?
[EB] The next in line is releasing my online programs and then start working on my next book!
Hook up with Esther online and stay tuned for her online programs:
Esther’s site: http://www.livinggorgeous.com