Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Paleo Case Study

I'm not going to post before and after pictures, because they were never taken. I'm not going to give you detailed girth or body composition measurements, or diet diary's, or other values to fall back on. I'm not going to try to baffle you with science, I'm going to tell you something real.

I got to chatting about palaeolithic nutrition and the low-carbohydrate concept a good few weeks back (probably end of September/start of October) with a close friend of mine. He was talking about losing some excess weight and getting in to better shape but he didn't want to do some fad or go on some diet where he'd lose weight and then put it back on. Eventually over the course of a series of discussions he decided that he'd give it a try.
I guess it started with some simple decisions about cutting down obvious complex carbohydrates such as bread, rice and pasta, but I explained about cereals and the like as well. He would always ask what I ate, e.g. for breakfast if I don't eat cereal what do I eat....I would explain; eggs, bacon, mushrooms, whatever I wanted as long as it was fitting with palaeolithic. Of course the reality is that this is quite appealing! I remember early on he asked about salmon and eggs and ham, to which I responded yes, yes and yes! He smiled.
I normally avoid showing this image, but I like that the last
stage in this evolution is a tall, strong, athletic man - not a
chubby short guy, crouched over with illness and disease.
Week One
By the end of the first week we estimate that he'd lost about 6lbs of weight, and he was excited. I made a point of explaining that much of this was likely excess water weight that he didn't need, but that he would not sustain this continued weight loss. We talked about training and he committed to a more rigid schedule, employing simple HIT philosophies; controlled movements, brief intense workouts on body-weight exercises (e.g. pull-ups and dips) or resistance machines (e.g. shoulder press, etc.).
We also talked about fatigue. I had mentioned that he might feel quite tired but if he could get through it then to do so as it would not last (as your body transitions from carbohydrate intake, we switch to a more ketogenic diet, where our body essentially produces all the sugars that tissues will need!). He wasn't feeling any degree of fatigue and so was happy to carry it on.
Week Two
My friend showed a great degree of commitment to it, expressing that it was not a difficult change in his lifestyle and diet. He ate a lot of stir-fry and quick and easy food like that. We talked of cooking with butter and coconut milk and flavoured things that are wrongly considered unhealthy because of their fat content. I talked about maintaining protein intake and fluid intake as well and he seemed happy that all of this was easy to do. We estimated that he lost maybe another 1-2lbs over this week.
Week Three
I had been trying to get him to commit whole-heartedly to this change in the early stages but by this week we were overdue a few Friday night drinks. At this point I unveiled the key......the 80:20 principle! Some of you may be familiar with this, that generally 80% of our productivity comes in 20% of our time and effort. It's pretty well documented, so check it out if you haven't already. In context, my policy is that eating following palaeolithic principles 80% of the time is generally good enough. I travel a lot and spend weekends away coaching where I have little control over what is available to eat so those days I eat what I want and what is available without concern. When you consider the odd few beers or a slice of pizza here and there it all adds up to about 20% of the time, but it's OK (or at least it seems to work for me). he expressed interest in this and of course liked the idea of having a few guilt-free drinks and not being on anything too rigid. This week his training continued and he probably lost another 1-2lbs.
Week Four and onwards
It was a couple of weeks back he popped around and stood in my door way chatting I commented that he was looking really well, certainly the shape in his upper body seemed to have changed considerably. The bulk was missing from his mid section and he had certainly filled out his chest and shoulders (or got an expensively flattering suit!) He continued to comment about how happy he was and the weight he was losing albeit small increments of a lb here of there.
We spoke about all of this just the other day and while a couple of weeks back he was suggesting that he wouldn't stick with this on a long term basis, he's now stating that it's a lifestyle choice and that he's settled into it. We estimate that from day one he's lost approximately a 14lbs, but I would reckon he's dropped closer to 16-18lbs of fat and put on the rest in muscle mass. His words were that he's tightened two belt sizes, he feels better, lighter, more athletic. He doesn't get hungry between meals, he never feels the need to snack and so on; all the things we all wish when we're trying to lose weight or get fitter. He's more comfortable in his body, happier with his body shape and ultimately and most importantly healthier for it.

You can go back through my blogs and look at how carbohydrate intake screws up hormones like insulin and testosterone. The reality is there's no wonder he's doing so well.

So there you go. No photo's. No measurements. Just reality. Just a guy following some simple rules. And more proof that it works.

So give it a try.

Be well

JF

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