Are Waffles Paleo?


Waffles, like most of our standard American breakfast foods, are not Paleo. They tend to be made mostly out of flour, cream, and sugar, none of which are Paleo-friendly ingredients. As if the waffles themselves weren’t bad enough, most people top them with more sugar, whether it’s maple syrup (or even worse, high-fructose corn syrup disguised as maple syrup) or fruit and/or whipped cream. The combination of sugar on top of sugar creates quite the load on our pancreas, which has to pump out gallons of insulin to deal with all that sugar (OK, not really gallons, but definitely more than should be made after a single meal).

Paleo and Carbohydrates

Most of us living a Paleo lifestyle try to avoid consuming high amounts of sugar that spike our blood sugar. A spike is followed by a crash, which leaves us feeling tired, cranky, and craving more sugar to get our blood sugar back up. When we eat more sugar, the cycle continues and our bodies maintain high levels of insulin. Chronically high insulin leads to insulin resistance, which means your pancreas has to pump out more and more insulin to get to the cells. Eventually the cells stop recognizing it and the result is diabetes and the slew of health problems that go along with it.

The Problems with Gluten

As if the sugar wasn’t bad enough, the flour that makes the base of waffles is full of gluten. Gluten is a form of protein that helps baked goods hold together. Unfortunately, it tends to do the same thing in our stomachs. The lining of our guts are designed to be permeable so they can let certain nutrients into the blood stream, while keeping others inside until they are more fully digested or pass out the other end.

Gluten messes with this system by sticking to the inside of our guts and blocking nutrients from getting out. The gut lining responds by increasing in permeability and thereby letting toxins and undigested food into the blood stream. When these escape from the gut, the body responds with an immune reaction, inflaming the area in order to get white blood cells there to fight off the toxins. This kind of inflammation is beneficial in small doses, but it’s not meant to be sustained. Chronically high levels of inflammation have been connected to everything from diabetes to heart disease to Alzheimer’s.

Mark Sisson has a whole post on why we should avoid gluten.