I’ve been promising this for a while, and this may turn into a work in progress, but: yes, I have been following a version of the paleo diet. It started back in April/May, and as of right now I am down three-plus inches according to my belt. No, I don’t know how much weight I’ve lost as I don’t give a damn about weight — nor should you if you are serious about your health.
First, what matters is body fat, and particularly belly fat (especially in women, but bad in both). Fat is much less dense than muscle, an obvious fact that needs restating given a lot of idiocy out there. Fact is, you will lose weight when you lose fat. However, if you work out and build up muscle, you will gain weight. Most basic Body Mass Index systems do not account for this, which is why you have the Army and others telling very healthy and fit people they have to lose weight to stay in. In short, because they got healthy and fit they are being penalized by mental morons who do good to say “weight bad” instead of fat and out of shape bad.
Health, and the health related to fat/lean muscle ratio, is complex and varies by gender, race, metabolism type, and a host of complex factors — which is why most bureaucraps much prefer to simply say “weight bad.” Feel I’m about to go on a rant here, but trust me it is not simple and easy, except that anyone who says “weight bad” is an idiot and their advice should be avoided.
Back on track, I know from experience; working with medical professionals who understand a bit about nutrition, metabolism, etc.; and working with trainers that a low-carb diet works well for me. Understand, I’ve spent most of my life around doctors because of a variety of issues. A key one for this discussion is that I was born allergic to almost everything in the world except chocolate, dairy, meats (protein), and potatoes. Yes, this is important, hang on a bit.
The problem is, most low carb diets have two major failure points (IMO and that of others): first, they simply reduce carbs and they make no distinction between types of carbs. If you reduce carbs but don’t bring in anything to replace them, guess what: you feel hungry and get cravings. Both lead you to eat more than you should and to binge eat. Second, there is a difference between fiber carbs and non-fiber carbs. I swear I’m not going to get into the whole glycemic thing, but it is important and you need to research it before researching diets and more.
Now, the good Instapundit has long been saying good things about the works of Gary Taubes. I recommend reading his work. Not what others say about it, but the work. Then, go read some of the studies on carbs, different types of carbs, and related — especially recent articles. Yes, this takes time and work but it is your body, your health, and YOU need to make an informed decision.
Short version, I did (and am continuing to do so) and after reading up on the paelo-diets at the urging of a friend, I opted for a modified paleo diet. I say modified as right now I can’t afford grass-fed everything, nor am I completely willing to give up dairy in the form of cheese. This means adapting other parts of what I eat to compensate, but for me it works and it gives me more good options when out or on travel.
The hard part of paleo is that when you come off carbs, particularly off grains and sugars, you are going to have several weeks of feeling like drek. Mine wasn’t that long, but on average it is about six weeks for many people. It takes that long to kick the metabolism over so that it is operating effectively on the new diet, and healthily.
Yes, I am simplifying and shortening simply because I don’t have time to get into it all, and you can (and Taubes and others do) write books on each of these different areas. Short version: once the metabolism kicked over, I started dropping body fat. Not just body fat, but belly fat. As I noted on Facebook, I am down three-plus inches as of this morning. No, I don’t know or care how much weight I’ve lost, it is irrelevant.
I have more energy than I’ve had in a while, all my drives are kicking up and moving into overdrive, and I’m getting in 1-5 miles a day walking now. Not just walking, but my pace is increasing and I am able to do more as I work on general and cardio fitness. The two things that matter to me are loss of belly fat and improving my cardio fitness (including blood work). Both are off to a good start.
Since sometime in May, I have not had: sugar, bread, pizza, ice cream, traditional desserts, and a host of processed foods I used to eat. The only way I have grains is in liquid libations of a spirituous kind, which I still do though it is not proper/true paleo. The purists can suck it right now on that one, as I do not plan to give up wine and spirits. I’ve cut back a bit, but that may be budget as much as anything.
Despite having had allergy shots (multiple times a week for many years) and being told I was “cured” of some of the allergies, cutting out the grains has had the effect of helping curb other allergies a bit, and I feel better on a level that is hard to describe to anyone who doesn’t have allergies (and lots of them).
So, what am I doing? Breakfast is either bulletproof coffee (coffee, butter, coconut oil whipped into an emulsion, much tastier than it sounds) on rushed days, or farm-fresh eggs, spinach, meat, and whatever other veggies are to hand along with a bit of goat cheese; and, it is served over fresh avacado. Lunch is usually a snack of some kind, which can be nuts, cheese, avacado, or other things on the cleared paleo list. My favorite dinner is salad with meat and a homemade dressing (blue cheese, balsamic vinagrette, balsamic avocado vinagrette). I’m eating more leafy green veggies when the budget allows.
When I’m out, I stick to salads with dressing on the side (used sparingly if at all); meats, more meats, and avoiding grains, legumes (esp. peanuts), and such. I do not like, never have liked, artificial sweeteners — read up on the studies, they can be worse for you than sugar and others. No high-fructose corn syrup, no sugar. When I need sweet I eat fresh fruit or a small bit of honey.
There is more, but this is already a long post. I will write and share more soon, and hope to talk about salt (your friend and not the heart-enemy oft portrayed); desserts; and the things that work for me that might (or might not) work for you. In October, I am planning on having a full panel done to see what the diet has done to various blood counts. If the belly fat continues to drop, I am hoping for some very good readings.
Meantime, it is your body, your health, and your responsibility! Read, learn, and take control as it is not up to anyone but yourself to do so.