Although I have my own ideas about weight loss and reducing body fat – much of it gleaned from research about other people’s methods – I am always happy to listen to people about their successes in this area. And while I am generally going to be unlikely to become a disciple of any single diet ‘method’ I do believe in the concept of ‘absorbing what is useful’. One of the huge diet crazes at the moment is the Paleolithic Diet – often referred to as simply the Paleo diet. I haven’t researched this thoroughly, although I am probably already using some of its principles. But I’m also doing stuff – and will continue to do so – that is completely against paleo principles.
More about the paleo diet later. First, I thought it would be good to reach out to someone who uses this lifestyle, and get some input about a common problem encountered by people on all sorts of diets which restrict (or forbid) highly processed carbs. So this is just a small snippet of a Q and A session hosted by Regev Elya, creator of FreshBeetle.Com, a website dedicated to improving your health by providing a great source of knowledge in the fields of nutrition and exercise. It’s worth a rummage if you want to learn more.
Tips for Losing Weight – Q and A
This is an email I got from one of my readers last week. Thanks, Robin, for letting me share that.
Q: Hey Regev! I recently started trying to lose weight and fat, according to your website, but everyone around me tells me it is a little bit peculiar that I don’t have to count calories. I’m having stress all day imagining that I’m doing all of that for nothing and that in fact I am not losing any weight, as it seems that I am never hungry. I’d love to get your reply, and any other tips for losing weight. Thanks in advance man, Robin.
Robin is going through a phase where many people who first read about the paleo diet find themselves in. How can it be that you are losing weight and fat if you don’t feel any hunger? Here is my reply to him.
A: Hi, Robin. Thanks for contacting me. What you are going through is pretty common among paleo first timers. Our common beliefs have led us to believe that we must feel hunger and cravings for sweet stuff if we are losing weight. All of these go out of the window once you start eating correctly. You really do not have to count any calories, just make sure you measure your body (neck, biceps, thigh, stomach, waist at navel) – this is the ultimate check-up to see your current condition, since the weight scale is highly bogus.
The reason I say so is because you can lose fat and increase muscle and the weight scale might show that you’re still the same weight. Of course, this is a good thing to have, but you will probably be frustrated and more likely to quit, if you give the weight scale too much attention and feeling. Don’t mind it too much and focus on your measurements. They are far more objective for your goal.
The reason you do not feel hungry at all is because you are eating the good stuff. This is appetite control at its finest. Because you don’t consume any carbs and sugary stuff, your body turns into the mode of ketosis, where it uses fat as the primary source of fuel. That’s the way our acestors survived for hundreds of thousands of years, before these companies and sugary industries came into play. Don’t worry – this is perfectly fine as long as your measurements go down. Feel free to contact me on any thing else you might find helpful.
This question, answered by Regev, is commonly reframed in a different way. Usually people feel hungry (or expect to) when they ditch the white processed bread, pastries, rice and pasta. All these processed foods have a high caloric density, which means you get a lot of calories from not very much food. If you stop eating them, and instead opt for healthier replacements like salads and vegetables, you might begin to feel hungry if you continue to eat the same volume of food. Often then, Robin’s question is reframed as a worry about actually putting on weight, because he eats a lot more food than before the diet – it’s just healthier food with a far lower caloric density. And as Regev said, even eating higher quantities of the right foods, you can still lose significant amounts of body fat and weight. It’s just that the increase in muscle mass has to be taken account of, if you are worried that your weight is not dropping – and that will show itself nicely in your body measurements!
It should also be stressed here that it is fairly important to pigeonhole yourself at the beginning of any kind of new dietary regime. You need to know what you want to achieve. Some people hate running for example, but do it as part of their exercise routine aimed at losing weight. For these people, a paleo-style diet might be great. For people like me however, I love running and I always want to push myself further. Expecting to train in ketosis mode – burning just fat – is never going to happen, especially if you are as competitive as I am. Carbs are fine for highly active people – even the energy gels I consume if I’m running for over an hour. The key is total calorie intake. And it’s wise to make sure all your calories come from high quality foods, nicely balanced, rather than counting out your daily requirement in chips and chocolate!
Vietnamese Green Tea For Losing Weight
What you drink can have a huge bearing on your success if you are trying to lose weight. Everyone knows about so-called ’empty calories’ so alcohol is usually best avoided. It is also a diuretic, so it’ll dehydrate you given half the chance, and that is bad for performance and concentration if you are racing. Nevertheless, there are also some good nutrients in beer and red wine. After all, they are not just alcohol in water! So my advice is moderation, if you like a glass of wine or a beer, then go for it. I don’t drink in the few days before a race, and I’ll usually increase my water intake.
A book that I have used quite a lot for selecting what to eat to achieve fat loss, is Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Body, and Regev also likes this one, and has had success with green tea – personally, I’m more of a coffee addict, although I only drink caffeine after waking up, and drink decaf if I fancy a coffee during the rest of the day. Here’s Regev’s take on green tea:
As a side note for all of you out there reading this right now, I’d also recommend the usage of green tea for weight loss purposes. This is one of the most common tips out there – but it certainly works. You’ll be able to find the science behind it in Tim Feriss’ recent book ‘The 4 Hour Body’. I’d been experimenting with green tea for a few years already, and although I will be cautious not to mix correlation with causation – I had some very, very good results from a diet that consisted of green tea.
Another cool thing about green tea is its taste. I actually just came back from 7 months in the rural areas of South East Asia, and green tea played a major part of their life, and as a result – of mine. I literally can not stop consuming it today, especially the Vietnamese one. If you have drop to the northern border with China, don’t miss it.
Paleo Diet Resources
I have looked briefly at the Paleo diet to see what’s allowed and what is not. I’m not usually a diet type of person, because they are often way too prescriptive and restrictive. Usually these days I’ll try to find a happy balance between foods, but haven’t eaten much in the way of processed white stuff for a couple of years. If I eat bread, rice or pasta, I always look for wholegrain varieties. But all of this kind of food is out of bounds on the Paleo diet.
The other thing about all diets is that they have their disciples, people who swear by the practices and want to convert everybody else to their way of thinking. And there are the detractors, who are forever picking holes in the theory despite the fact that many people do really well on most types of diet. The problems are usually to do with ‘falling off the wagon’ and returning to old unhealthy eating habits. This is why I always make sure I can have some chocolate if I want it, or a pastry maybe – but I’ll do it in a controlled manner, rather than craving for weeks and then hitting the self-destruct button and eating my own weight in lard!
Everybody’s different though, and you’ll need to experiment with a whole array of methods to find out which is best for you. To find out more about the general principles of the Paleo diet, the old favorite Wikipedia is probably a good start. And you can find out more about my own thoughts on fat loss by reading my previous article Top 10 Fat Loss Miracles For The Non-Lazy.