One of the MAJOR criticisms about the Paleo/Primal approach is that the lifestlye advocates NOT weighing, measuring, or portioning food. While it’s true, this is an integral Paleo principle, it IS possible to adapt a Paleo approach to food selection and still weigh, measure and portion your food. Paleo is a lifestyle approach, a framework. In fact Robb Wolf, author of the Paleo Solution advocates the examination of Paleo as a “STRUCTURE” within which you need to pick and chose what works for you, not a diet that requires absolute adherence. Naysayers of the Paleo plan will say that it’s impossible to lose bodyfat while on the Paleo plan because you’re unaware of how much you’re consuming.
As a figure athlete, I can see the intial concern because as I was researching the approach for my own life, it was a concern of mine too. I need to maintain a low bodyfat percentage for competition. As a fitness model, I need to keep myself tight so that I can be ready to get in front of a camera at a last minute notice. So ensuring that I could achieve both those goals while going Paleo was a PRIME concern of mine.
If you’re a Paleo, or looking into becoming a Paleo, the following are my personal tips for achieving fat loss while making the switch!!!
1. HAVE A PLAN. The old saying goes: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Have a realistic goal and set specific targets for your week to reach that goal, with regards to your nutrition. Part of the beauty of the Paleo approach is that it’s so OPEN- you can virtually have any lean protein source, fresh veggies, and fresh fruit. If you’re out to eat, or get caught in a business meeting or other engagement it’s SIMPLE to make good, adaptive decisions that will keep you on your plan and not derail your progress. As long as you opt for plain grilled items, veggies prepared plain, salads free of dressings, cheese, condiments, beans and grains, and/or fresh fruit options, you’ll be FINE!! It’s virtually impossible to over-eat while being a Paleo because there are built in defense mechanisms with the food options available to you. Fresh fruits and veggies are full of filling fiber and protein boasts the highest satiety of any macronutrient- even fat! Think about your hungriest, how many tomatoes, baby carrots or chicken breast filets could you eat? Not too many I’m sure, yet given the same measure of hunger how many cookies could you eat? EXACTLY- stick to the rules of Paleo as your basic framework and structure a plan within that framework. Have no fear of over-eating, it won’t happen!
2. GET MORE SLEEP. Sleep does more than help your body recover from a long day — it actually helps you fight fat. In fact, researchers at the University of Chicago reported that sleeping less than 7 to 8 hours can increase your appetite (forcing you to overeat), slow your metabolism (causing you to burn fewer calories) and make the body retain more abdominal fat. Lack of sleep also tends to increase our body’s response to stress, which has a domino effect on cortisol. The more sleep deprived we are, the more stressed we become, the more cortisol we release, AND the more cortisol we release the harder it is for our bodies to handle stress. elevated cortisol disturbs our sleep, then we go into our day tired, which further elevates stress which further raises cortisol. You see the problem by now- disturbed sleep makes us more prone to stress, which raises cortisol, which supresses immune function, elevates blood sugar levels, decreases sex drive and decreases insulin sensitivity. Once sleep gets out of whack, you’re REALLY in trouble. Think about it- for most of us, stresses that would otherwise be manageable become UN-manageable when we’re tired. Staying up too late, neglecting sleep quality, or not sleeping long enough can seriously affect your ability to handle stress. Here’s a fun fact: JUST ONE NIGHT OF MISSED or INADEQUATE SLEEP CAN MAKE YOU AS INSULIN RESISTANT AS A TYPE 2 DIABETIC. EEK. Your physiology simply is not normal when you don’t get your zzz’s. Even if you work out and your food is pretty good, you can seriously undermine your health and add inches to your waistline by mismanaging the amount of hours you sleep each night. So try to sleep more, booze less. Shoot for AT LEAST 8 hours of solid zz’s a night, and not on the couch with the TV on. Make sleepy time SLEEP time, dark room, quiet, no distractions, time for zz’s. Need another reason to sleep more? Lack of shut-eye is also associated with bad workouts. Do yourself a favor and get some rest. Your body will thank you.
3. KNOW HOW MUCH YOU ARE EATING. I know I know, this flies in the face of the Paleo (no need to measure) mentality but despite my making the Paleo switch I’m still an advocate of taking into consideration the calories in vs calories out old school mentality. You need to know what your daily calories should be and if you’re hitting that mark (or close to). You don’t need to be a calorie zealot, within range is perfect, but for most of us, we GROSSLY underestimate the amount of calories we are consuming a day. Research has shown that most people grossly underestimate how much they are eating, sometimes by up to 50 percent! There are a number of ways you can track what you are eating, such as using MyPlate, but whatever system you use the key is consistency and accuracy. I simply write it down in a food log which I made customized to my own needs (on my computer), but there are DOZENS of nutrition journals out there. One I like is the Dietminder series which is available for like $10 on Amazon I believe. Know how much you’re eating and how much you SHOULD be eating! Paleo or not!
4. ADIOS TO LIQUID CALORIES. This is the cold hard truth, most beverages out there in WaWa coolers and on grocery store shelves are chalk full of sugar, additives and other gross disgusting carbohydrate and calories. In fact a recent study L done on 810 male/female subjects from Baltimore, Baton Rouge, Durham, and Portland found that liquid calorie intake had a stronger impact on weight than solid calorie intake. The results are going to be published in the April 1 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Now when I say ADIOS to liquid calories, I also mean RELYING on liquid meal replacements as well. Stop with the grab and go protein drinks, the store shelf smoothies, ALL OF IT. Say goodbye. Goodbye to sodas, fruit juices and other forms of pre-made drinks. Liquid calories do not satiate as much as whole foods, nor are they as nutrient dense and satisfying. Void of fiber, one of natures built in “over-eating” defense mechanisms, its easy to over-consume when youre consuming liquid calories. Cut them out, even if they’re PALEO friendly. Look to whole, natural, SOLID foods to sustain you!
5. MAKE YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE. All of us, even the BEST of us, need support in our fitness endeavors. We live in a society that makes it HARD to be healthy, that’s a fact. Announcing that you’re making a change to those around you and inviting them to be a support system for you can make a WORLD of difference in your success. If you don’t think you’ll get the support you need from friends and family, extend your radar. Reach out for a coach or nutritionist. Maybe a personal trainer a few times a week. Join an online forum- there are SEVERAL out there that are Paleo oriented! There are even more that are weight loss oriented! Join one, join more then one, the more support you have the better! Having someone, or multiple someones to reach out to on rough days, to cheer you on when needed, and to offer motivation and inspiration can often times mean the difference between success or failure on a plan!
6. VARIETY IN YOUR WORKOUTS. As with food, variety in workouts is EXTREMLY beneficial. This is DIRECLTY in line with the Paleo lifestyle- why do you think Paleo and the CrossFit trend have seem to come about hand in hand? In fact I recommend incorporating lots of CST, metabolic style training methods which incporate randomization techniques and the mergence of aerobic and anerobic systems to maximize results. For a high-impact workout that will kick up your metabolism in a short amount of time, try alternating cardio and resistance training in a circuit. For example, start with 5 minutes of cardio (treadmill, bike, elliptical) immediately followed by a dumbbell circuit of cleans, cleans and press, lunges, military presses and bent over rows, where each exercise is performed for eight repetitions. By using compound movements you’re recruitig total body co-operation for maximal burn.
7. EAT MORE FAT. Did you know that the Institute of Medicine recommends that a diet be made up of 35 percent fat? Turns out, high-fat foods like nuts, avocados and healthy oils can help you lose fat faster than other diet approaches. Fat from healthy sources such as lean animal fats, Coconut oil and raw coconut (chalk full of MCT’s), nuts, seeds, avocados and healthy oils are EXTREMLY beneficial in improving body composition and stimulating weight loss. Just remember that peanuts are a legume NOT a fat and peanut butter is NOT Paleo. Cut it out. Look for fats with good balances of Omega 3′s. Keep in mind if you’re REALLY trying to lose a ton of weight that nuts should be limited to no more then 4 ounces a day as they can hinger your progress. However if you’re already lean, you can eat more nuts especially walnuts which have a favorable omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Cashews, Macadamias, Pecans, walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds are great. Olives and avocados are good too. Also look for olive oil, walnut, and flaxseed oil.
8. EAT MORE PROTEIN. Protein helps you maintain lean body mass (muscle, not fat), and increases the thermic effect of your diet. In order for your body to GET energy from the food you eat, it must expend some of its OWN energy. This phenomenon is called dietary induced thermogenesis (D.I.T) and protein has a higher DIT then body carbohydrates OR fat. This can subtly contribute to the calories-out side of the energy equation. As a bonus, eating protein keeps you fuller longer, and researchers have shown that it can reduce how much you eat per day by hundreds of calories. Look for healthy, lean protein sources- farm raised, cage free, grass fed if possible. Those types of meat have healthy ratios of protein to fat, such as 80/20. Look for skinless turkey breast, shrimp, lean pork tenderloin, lean beef tenderloin, skinless chicken breast, sirloin, lean ground turkey or ground beef, Omega 3 eggs, egg whites, cod, halibut, haddock, salmon, tuna (in moderation due to mercury), orange roughy, bison, venison, etc….
9. BECOME A HEAVY DRINKER. No I’m not talking about alcohol. While there’s nothing magical about water, the process of consuming lots of liquid can trick you into feeling less hungry. What’s more, when you’re dehydrated you burn 2 percent fewer calories per day, says University of Utah researchers. So if you struggle to control your appetite, drink up before your meal. Then drink some more. You’ll be more likely to fight off fat. Adequate water intake also aids in digestion and in the absorption of nutrients. It helps your body to flush and dispell waste and toxins and it lubricates joints and muscles for exercise.
10. TRY INTERMITTENT FASTING. Intermittent fasting is considered one of the more controversial eating habits, discussed A LOT by Art De Vany. Intermittent fasting combines long breaks from eating (12 to16 hours) with a shorter feeding period (8 to10 hours), or fasting for 24 hours once per week. While the behaviors might seem extreme, research indicates that this method not only is linked to healthy weight loss, but also preserves muscle mass. I wrote a WHOLE blog about IF, which you can browse if you have time, but I will say that I incorporate two-three 12 hour fasts per week and I LOVE the results.
Today’s Thought: “Physical fitness is not the result of a single decision that is made once and for all. Physical fitness, knowing the body, and taking care of the body results from thousands of decisions that are made day after day, week after week, and year after year.”- Food, Fitness, & Faith
Get Fit/God Bless
XOXO ~ Alli