Ramadan & Intermittant Fasting paleo diet-min

Ramadan & Intermittant Fasting

You might be aware that the Islamic month of Ramadan has just started. Having just arrived on my travels in a Muslim country, I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the subject – from a Paleo perspective.

Ramadan is a month of fasting , where Muslims from all around the world start their fast at sunrise, and don’t eat or drink until sunset – for the whole month. Fasting is something I’ve read a lot about, and tried myself in the form of Intermittent Fasting. In the Paleo world intermittent fasting refers to the not eating part – people undertaking an intermittent fast drink water. Some people even take BCAA (Branch Chain Amino Acids) to decrease cravings and hunger signals at the level of the brain – something that wouldn’t be done in Ramadan.

As so many people fast during this time, a lot of scientific studies have been conducted – with very interesting results. Whilst intermittent fasting as part of a Paleo protocol is different to fasting during Ramadan, there is still a lot of useful learning from these studies.

A number of studies concern diabetes – and have shown during Ramadan, diabetics blood glucose levels are far more stable. A study on a group of students also demonstrated that over the month weight loss was common; more significantly in overweight participants. Studies have also shown a significant decrease in markers of inflammation during the month of Ramadan, which is speculated to decrease the risk of heart disease.

Ramadan & Intermittant Fasting paleo diet-min

One area of Ramadan that is hard to reconcile to intermittent fasting, is diet. Many people will break their fast on Ramadan with the refined carbohydrates that someone breaking a Paleo intermittent fast would avoid. What impact does this have on the application of Ramadan studies to understanding the benefits of a Paleo intermittent fast? Another part of Ramadan which is hard to quantify is the peacefulness that surrounds the period – something which must surely have health benefits?

Whilst clearly limited, the studies conducted on Ramadan certainly seem to imply eating less frequently has many benefits. This is completely contrary to the conventional wisdom advice, which is often to snack frequently, and eat lots of small meals.

It’s going to be an interesting time being in the midst of Ramadan. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences of Ramadan and intermittent fasting in general. Do you think it’s beneficial to health? Have you ever fasted?

Paleo Portion Sizes weight loss lose weight how to-min

Paleo Portion Sizes

What are the correct portion sizes on the Paleo Diet?

Portion sizes seem to create a lot of confusion when people transition from a SAD diet to a Paleo diet. Conventional wisdom diet plans (Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Tony Ferguson, Lite & Easy, Lighter Life, Slimming World, Slimfast… in fact, pretty much all of them) have at their very core defined portion sizes. These portion sizes are defined in many different ways; calorie counting to strict daily limits, staying within strict macro nutrient ranges or eating a set number of points each day – but they are all essentially strictly controlling the portion sizes the dieter is allowed to eat.

This means the conventional wisdom dieter knows exactly how much they should eat everyday – which takes the thought out of meal planning, as the exact portion sizes are prescribed. On a conventional diet plan, because the focus is on low calorie and often low-fat food, the dieter simply doesn’t get the nutrition they need, which often results in a near constant state of hunger. Clearly if you eat the right foods, Paleo foods, there is no need to feel hungry – even if you are losing weight.

On a Paleo Diet, the types of food are emphasised – not the number of calories,or specific macro nutrient ratios. This can lead to confusion – surely you can’t eat unlimited serving sizes, especially not if you’re trying to lose weight?

 

So, you can eat as much as you like on a Paleo diet?

This seems to be a common trap people fall into. The belief that on a Paleo diet you can eat as much as you like – and provided it’s good wholesome Paleo food, the weight will fall off. There even seems to be the mindset in some cases that as the food is so nutritious – the more you eat – the better!

This just is not the case. No matter how nutritious the food, calories do still matter. If you eat more than your body needs – even if it is grass-fed, organic beef – it has to go somewhere.

Paleo Portion Sizes weight loss lose weight how to-min

So what is proper portion control on a Paleo diet?

There’s not a one size fits all answer here. The best approach is to transition into a Paleo diet – and once you are used to your new way of eating, experiment with your portion sizes. You should eat enough so you are no longer hungry – but should know when to stop eating!

Of course depending on your lifestyle and body type, your calorie and macro nutrient needs are likely to be as unique as you.

Increasing the amount of fat and protein at meal times is a lot more satiating and should help to reduce portion sizes.

If weight loss is the aim, portion sizes should not be too generous; but also cutting out nuts, and heavily limiting fruit consumption is a good idea.

Often women automatically take the same portion sizes as men, when generally they should have a smaller serving size.

How do you manage your portion sizes? Have you changed your serving sizes since you started following a Paleo Diet?

Smell your way to weight loss paleo network-min

Smell Your Way To Weight Loss

I was amazed to read about a new weight loss perfume. Apparently for about $50 you can get slim – just by wearing perfume.

Weight-Loss-Perfume-Paleo smell-min

The ingredients include caffeine, carnitine & spirulina which they claim active enzymes that are involved in lipolysis (to break down your fat cells, I assume). Other ingredients apparently release B-endorphines and reduce the need and desire to overeat in the wearer. Three quarters of testers reported that they didn’t snack as much whilst wearing the perfume. So it must be true then…

I know that taste can have a biological reaction. For example, if you drink a diet soda, the sweet taste may prepare your body to receive sugar; even if that sugar doesn’t materialise. However, I’ve never heard of the same effect based on smell alone. Though perhaps if the perfume smelt particularly revolting, eating would be the last thing you’d want to do!

Products like this sum up exactly what people want – an easy, no effort approach to weight loss. The ability to continue to give no regard to the food they put in their mouths. Sadly health rarely seems to be a driver for people to lose weight. People seem very reluctant to give up their SAD diet; never mind get off the sofa.

Do you think there could be any scientific basis to the perfume makers claims? Of the overweight people that you know, how many would opt for a perfume, rather than a healthy (Paleo!) diet and lifestyle?

Smell your way to weight loss paleo network-min

Tony Ferguson v paleo weight loss diet-min

Tony Ferguson Weight Loss Diet v Paleo

I was really surprised to see this poster advertising the popular Tony Ferguson weight loss diet. It advertises that with the joining fee you get a free lifetime membership.

Tony-Ferguson-Paleo-Diet-min

Surely a weight loss program should “work” within a finite period? For a program to be working, I’d expect a successful dieter to lose at least 0.1 kg a week (the smallest interval most scales will measure). If a dieter is doing such a weight loss program for 50 years of their life, losing 0.1 kg a week – they’ll have lost 260kg. Given that this seems rather ridiculous, I can only conclude that the lifetime membership is offered because dieters on this plan fail to achieve their weight loss goals – or put it all back on?

What is the Tony Ferguson Diet?

The diet appears to be a very low calorie diet, where dieters select from a range of heavily processed “meal replacement” products, such as shakes, soups and bars. These seem to replace one to two meals a day, with the remaining meal being a “proper” meal from a restricted list of allowable foods. The plan also recommends a lot of supplements of vitamins and minerals. These are vitamins and minerals that appear to be difficult to obtain when cutting out the natural food sources.

Good Ingredients?

These are the ingredients for one of the products, the Mixed Vegetable Soup. I’m not sure how something with 3% vegetables (which is mainly legumes anyway) is called “vegetable” soup, but still…

Milk solids, soy protein, thickeners (1442, 412), flavours, inslin, dried vegetables (3%) (corn, pea, red capsicum, tomato), yeast extract, salt, sunflower oil, onion powder, minerals (sodium phosphate, magnesium oxide, ferric pyrophosphate, zinc oxide, manganese sulphate, copper sulphate, chronium chloride, sodium molybate, potassium iodine, sodium selenite), anti-caking agent (551), colours (160a, 141, 100), garlic powder, vitamins (C, E, B3, B5, B2, B6, B1, A, folate, K, biotin, D, B12), parsley, flavour enhancer (635), spice & herb.

A Better Way?

Surely instead of being on a lifelong diet and not being able to eat real food, Paleo is a far better way to lose weight? Learning to eat properly – then eating that way for the rest of your life is a far more sustainable – and healthy approach.

Have you ever tried a weight loss plan like this? I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts on these types of weight loss plans.

Paleo Weight Loss primal diet slimming lose weight-min

Paleo Weight Loss

Many people start the Paleo Diet with one aim. Weight loss. Programs like the Truth About Abs are gaining more and more popularity, demonstrating just how many people out there are desperate to lose weight.

The more popular the Paleo movement becomes, the more frequently I see questions on Paleo and Primal forums like:

“Why am I not losing weight on the Paleo Diet?”
“Why have I stopped losing weight on the Paleo Diet?”
“Why has my weight loss reached a plateau on the Primal Diet?” and even
“Why have I gained weight on the Paleo Diet?”!

Why is it Not Working?

Unfortunately many people get the impression that you can eat as much Paleo food as you like – and the weight will fall off. Sometimes people seem to hear the message that the more Paleo food you can eat – the better! Whilst Paleo food is nourishing, if you’re not hungry, you certainly shouldn’t force yourself to keep eating. And one of the benefits of Paleo is that you are likely to feel a lot less hungry.

I seems that initially, a lot of weight can be lost very quickly – in a matter of weeks. This seems to have a lot to do with just removing grains from the diet and eating nutritionally dense Paleo food instead.

After the initial weight loss, it seems that it’s necessary to constantly change things in order to keep the weight loss momentum. Methods like Intermittent Fasting (along with a Paleo feeding window) work really well for many people, as does restricting fruit and nuts. Some people also report a lot of success with a ketogentic low-carb Paleo diet. Ultimately, different methods work for different people – the key is experimenting to find out which method works best for you.

Decide on an approach, make the commitment to stick to it for a reasonable period – and don’t be discouraged if the weight loss falters.

Sean Croxton’s program the Dark Side of Fat Loss is a Paleo weight loss program (with free cookbook!) that gives underground, not conventional weight loss wisdom.

Have you lost weight on Paleo? What worked for you? I’d love to hear your Paleo weight loss tips.

Paleo Weight Loss primal diet slimming lose weight-min

Atkins diet v paleo primal differences comparision-min

9 Reasons Why Paleo isn’t Atkins

Now that more people have heard of Paleo, I’ve notice it is often assumed to be a different name for the Atkins Diet. “Oh, so you’re doing Atkins…”. Well actually, no. I follow a Paleo Diet, which is completely different to Atkins.

1. Low-Carb?

The main difference between Paleo and Atkins is that Atkins IS low-carb. In the induction phase (the initial two weeks), less than 20g of carbs a day are consumed, rising to about 20g – 60g a day in the Ongoing Weight Loss Stage. This is designed to keep the body in a state of Ketosis, which seems to be very beneficial to achieving weight-loss. Whilst a great number of people do eat a low-carb Paleo diet (keeping carbs under 50g a day seems popular); Paleo is not a low-carb diet tweet this quote Indeed, a lot of people, particularly Paleo athletes and crossfitters, eat a far higher carb ratio (though obviously these carbohydrates come from foods like sweet potatoes and fruit – rather than refined carbs).

2. Counting, Counting, Couting…

As carbs rule on Atkins, counting is essential. An Atkins diet requires measuring, weighing and recording of the carbohydrate content of everything that’s eaten. Paleo is just about eating real food and avoiding grains, legumes and dairy – so no weighing, counting, measuring and journaling is required. So. Much. Easier.

3. Grass-Fed, Organic?

A Paleo diet is all about food quality. Meat in particular, is ideally grass-fed and organic. Processed, grain-fed, intensively farmed meat is to be avoided. On Atkins however, the source of the food isn’t of such importance (though they do seem to be paying more attention to quality).

4. Processed?

A simple “is it Paleo” test can be resolved like this: if it’s in a packet, it probably Paleo tweet this quote . If it’s in a packet, it could well be Atkins. Atkins have a whole rage of processed convenience foods, that meet the Atkins low-carb rule; but would fail miserably to be classed as Paleo foods, with their long list of ingredients.
Paleo-Diet-V-Atkins-Diet 680-min

5. Allowable Foods

Whilst a Paleo diet omits grains, legumes and (sometimes) dairy, on an Atkins diet, these are all permissible – providing they are low in Calories. You can consume sweeteners, diet soda, seed oils, soy, Atkins chocolate bars, Atkins crisps – and lots of other very un-Paleo foods on Atkins.

6. Purpose

I also think the purpose of the plans is very different. Atkins followers tend to be following the plan for weight-loss – once they get to their goal weight, they generally stop eating an Atkins Diet. Paleo however, attracts followers for many reasons. Weight loss is definitely a driver, but many people come to Paleo to improve their athletic performance too. Health is a key motivation for many looking to reverse/ improve health issues such as diabetes, allergies and auto-immune conditions.

7. For Life, Or Just For a Bikini?

Generally, Atkins seems to be followed until weight-loss goals are achieved. Paleo is more of a lifestyle; a way of eating and living that is easy to follow forever.

8. Not Just Eating

It’s also important to bear in mind that as well as nutrition, fitness, strength, stress-reduction, balance, sleep and sunshine are amongst the lifestyle factors that Paleo addresses. Atkins appears to be primarily focused on diet, rather than lifestyle factors.

9. Paleo-Atkins?

It is possible to be Paleo-Atkins; but many people are also Paleo-not-Atkins.

Have people told you “oh, Paleo – that’s like Atkins”, when you tell them how you eat? Have you ever tried Atkins? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on Atkins and Atkins V Paleo in the comments below!

 

Intermittent Fasting paleo diet primal lean gains-min

Intermittent Fasting

I’m love it when people ask me about Paleo, which happens more and more often.  They are normally very interested as I explain to them why I don’t eat grains, or avoid fat.  I explain about fitness and how I don’t do chronic cardio – they’re still interested.  I explain about the importance of sleep and sunshine – they’re even more interested.  This is the point at which I’ve learnt to stop.

Every time I’ve mentioned Intermittent Fasting they look at me like I’m crazy – and I realise I’ve completely lost them.  To someone carbohydrate adapted the thought of not eating every few hours is unthinkable.  The response I often hear is how dangerous fasting is, as, apparently, your body will immediately go into “starvation mode”, storing fat and using muscle for fuel.  They never have any evidence to back up this belief, it’s seems to be just a repetition of conventional wisdom they once heard.  From a source they can’t remember.

Intermittent Fasting paleo diet primal lean gains-min

I did a lot of research before I first tried Intermittent Fasting.  I think it’s best done on easy, stress-free days and as yet, I’ve not fasted on training days.  My preferred method of Intermittently Fasting is to have my evening meal and then not eat again until my evening meal the following night.  Because my diet is very low in carbohydrate (so I don’t have to worry about avoiding wild fluctuations in my blood sugar levels), and not shy in fat, I don’t feel hungry and find it easy to wait until the evening for my first meal of the day.  I also find on the day of the fast and the day after, I often have a lot more energy than usual.

I think fasting is a good exercising in learning hunger isn’t something that must be feared and avoided.  It makes a lot of sense to me from an evolutionary standpoint – we haven’t always lived in times where food was constantly available.  I’m also very interested in studies suggesting fasting  appears to be very beneficial from a biological perspective.

What do you think about Intermittent Fasting?  Do you fast?  How do you explain it to people?

The Unspoken Truth about the Paleo Diet & Weight Loss-min

The Unspoken Truth about the Paleo Diet & Weight Loss

The widely reported Paleo message is that if you follow a strict Paleo diet, you will effortlessly lose weight.  I’m reading more and more comments on Paleo forums from disappointed people, reporting that they have not lost weight – and in some cases have even put on weight.  This was my experience too, until I finally understood the missing piece to the Paleo weight loss puzzle.

When I initially changed my diet, at that time to more of a Primal diet, I very quickly lost a lot of weight and several dress sizes, effortlessly.  Looking back, I think a large part of this was due to replacing high calorie, refined foods, with more satiating whole (Paleo) foods.  However, without apparent reason the weight loss reached a plateau after a few months.  I remained strictly Paleo, I reduced my fruit intake and stopped eating nuts.  I continued to work-out.  Yet my weight would not budge; very frustrating.

Over Christmas I began to think more and more about portion sizes – the one variable I had overlooked before.  Most of the key Paleo bloggers and experts did not come to Paleo overweight.  They were often unhealthy and unwell, but rarely overweight.  Whilst not expressly stated, the “Paleo message” that could be construed is that provided you eat the right things (i.e. Paleo foods), you can eat as much as you like (perhaps even “the more you eat, the more beneficial the effects become”).  From what I’ve read, it appears that when you are overweight the hormones and signalling in your body become distorted – meaning that what works for someone of a “normal” weight, will not work in the same way for someone who is overweight.  At least, not until they restore the balance and signalling.  I’ve been particularly interested in reading Dr Jack Kruses Leptin Reset ideas in this regard.

The Unspoken Truth about the Paleo Diet & Weight Loss-min

For the last six weeks I’ve been challenging and significantly reducing my portions.  I’ve not been weighing and counting calories, nor have I changed what I eat.  I’ve simply been eating a lot less.  For example, where I’d have had three serving spoons of soup or bean’-less chilli, I now have two – and I don’t have seconds.  Where I’d have had three rashers of bacon and two eggs, I now have two rashers of bacon and one egg.  When I Intermittently Fast, I’m careful not to expand the size of my first post-fast meal to compensate.

I’ve lost 7kg in the last six weeks (15 pounds) and finally smashed through that plateau.  I think this is proof enough that a Paleo diet – with reduced portion sizes, is the essential combination for weight loss.

I don’t know what happens at the right body weight, but I am expecting to find (when I get there) that I will be able to eat as much Paleo food as I like, with no adverse effect on my weight or body composition.  In the meantime, it’s clear that reducing portion sizes is the right approach.

Essentially, I think the Paleo diet needs are very different for an athletic individual, compared to an overweight individual.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – have you had similar experiences?  Do you agree that portion control is essential for weight loss, on a Paleo diet?

LighterLife anti paleo diet

Lighter Life, The Anti Paleo Diet?

There’s been a lot in the UK press recently, about British actress Pauline Quirke.  Quirke has lost about 47kg (105 pounds) in just eight months.  This extreme very low calorie diet seems really popular in the UK, but thankfully it doesn’t appear to have taken off in Australia and New Zealand.

She has done this by following the LighterLife program, which fascinates me.  The program is for people with high BMI’s – and a lot of weight to lose.  It is a very low calorie diet, where about 500 calories is eaten a day.  You eat this in the form of shakes, soups or bars  which come in “food packs” provided by the company.  The idea is that by having under 50g of carbohydrates a day you’ll go into Ketosis forcing the body to use bodily fat for fuel.  I’m completely on board with ketosis, but the idea of this diet sounds completely miserable to me.  You can easily become fat adjusted (and go into ketosis) on more calories than this, whilst eating normal Paleo foods and plenty of fat.  It seems dangerous to go from obese to such few calories overnight.  I also hate the idea of existing only on processed “nutritionally balanced” foods.

I’ve found the ingredients for lighter life  and am horrified, but not shocked by what they show.

Chicken Flavour Soup: Ingredients:  Skimmed milk powder, Maltodextrin, Soya protein isolate, Soya flour, Milk protein, Soya lecithin, Inulin, Flavouring, Hydrolysed wheat and maize protein, Potassium chloride, Calcium phosphate, Stabiliser (Xanthan gum), Magnesium oxide, Onion powder, Calcium carbonate, Parsley, Ascorbic acid, Pepper, Ferrous fumarate, Nicotinamide, Copper gluconate, Zinc oxide, Vitamin E acetate, Manganese sulphate, Calcium d pantothenate, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Thiamin hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Vitamin A acetate, Sodium molybdate, Chromic chloride, Folic acid, Sodium selenite, Potassium iodate, d-biotin, Vitamin K, Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12

Fruit Flavour Meal bars: Ingredients:  Maltitol syrup, White coating (sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oil, skimmed milk powder, whey powder, emulsifier: soya lecithin, stabiliser: E492, flavouring), Milk protein, Soya protein isolate, Whey protein concentrate, Polydextrose, Whey powder, Potassium phosphate, Sunflower oil, Calcium carbonate, Magnesium oxide, Maltodextrin, Ascorbic acid, flavouring, Ferrous fumarate, Nicotinamide, Copper gluconate, Zinc oxide, Vitamin E acetate, Manganese sulphate, Calcium d pantothenate, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Thiamin hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Vitamin A acetate, Chromic chloride, Sodium molybdate, Folic acid, Sodium selenite, Potassium iodate, d-biotin, Vitamin K, Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12

So no meat in the chicken soup (obviously, meat is bad, right?), skimmed milk powder (we don’t do fat), lots of soy, sunflower oils, sugars, trans fats and grains-a-plenty.  I think the only thing I’d consider eating would be the parsley…  For these “foods” to be the only fuel you consume for several months is quite a scary thought.  I’d love to find out more what these ingredients do to the body, I’d imagine they are very inflammatory.

Obviously consuming such few calories, weight loss is inevitable.  But then what?  Once you get to a healthier weight, you still have no knowledge about eating healthy, so presumably you go back to your former eating habits – and back to square one.

I’d love to see some studies about extreme diets like this.

What do you think about diets like these?  Do you think the ends justify the means?  Would you willingly consume those ingredients?