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paleo-food-pyramid

Paleo Diet – an update

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You may recall that in February 2011 I started on a new eating plan - following the Paleo Diet.

It kinda went to the pack when the big quake hit Christchurch on Feb 22. I managed to stay more or less grain and sugar free, but ate heaps of processed foods.

Some may well ask why I went off the eating plan.  Well it’s simple – with no running water, or power, so it was MUCH easier to eat some spare protein bars, or drink things like UpandGo (a pre-made breakfast drink) than prepare food.  While traditionally neither of these foods is ‘bad‘ for you, they are far from paleo, breaking what is my view is one of the most fundamental tenants – more FOOD less STUFF.   Enuf excuses though.  That lasted about a week, and then I slowly got back on it.

In this post I will cover three four things:

  1. An update on my eating plan and the results
  2. An update on my exercise regimen (both immediately post earthquake, and more recently)
  3. My results
  4. A reminder about what paleo eating is based on, and where I think MANY paleo writers get it wrong

1) My Eating now

As outlined above, I have gone back on the paleo diet (or as I have explained before, I prefer to call it an eating plan).

I have followed a reasonably strict routine.  What I am strick on is:

  • No intentionally eating grains (including bread of course) of any kind, so no pasta, bread, flour (baked goods), pastry etc
  • No intentional legumes (including peanuts) of any kind (I regard grains as a no go and legumes as an avoid)
  • Lots of veges – and as much raw as I can.
  • I eat lots of meat – good quality meat, including fish.
  • Moderate amount of nuts and eggs
  • A BIG focus on cutting down on sugar (it’s evil remember!)

What I am not super strict on:

  • If I suspect there is trace amounts of flour (or similar) in something as a small ingredient, and I otherwise would eat the item, I go for it
  • If I go to a friends place for dinner I don’t say No to anything other than bread.  If they are serving pasta I would just tell them in advance I don’t eat it.  But otherwise (almost) anything goes, and just don’t intentionally pile on anything I wouldn’t normally eat if I have the choice
  • I drink wine.  Mostly no more than 1 or 2 glasses in a day.
  • I’ll eat root veges like kumara and carrots.  Some say this is a no-no.  I do agree no to potato (for reasons specific to potato)
  • I have eaten desert one or two times in the last month that was sugary (and processed)
  • I eat some dairy – mainly cheese in things like salad.  How could anyone say no to halloumi cheese?

I want to be clear I do not worry about fat intake, nor do I worry about carb intake for that matter (although my total carb intake would be low by most standards).   I do focus on keeping sugars down (nothing natural about that), and eating food, not stuff.

I was in South Africa for a week – and lucky the hotel I was in for 4 days had an AWESOME buffet breakfast.  So when I was there I made good use of it.  Got up at 6am (which was really like 4pm for me), and went to the gym, showered then went for breakfast.  Ate HEAPS of bacon and eggs.  Also ate steak and/or mince, and bacon.  Then some yogurt, and some more bacon.  If I had room I ate some more bacon. 1-2 cups of coffee too.

Normally I eat a couple of eggs for breakfast (now I am home) and for lunch have a salad (pre-made from home, or just bought from somewhere I know has them – even Subway works for that), and throw on some extra meat.  Dinner is some nice meat, plus veges – either pre-cooked (like roasted veges, cubed), or a salad, or a combination of both.  And when I say salad I mean NICE salad.  Stuff like cashew nuts, halloumi cheese, chicken breast, grilled capsicum (olive oil works super well here since its lowish heat), bree or camembert, salmon (poached, grilled, smoked – any way is good), some super fresh lettuce etc.    That reminds me of another point – I am no longer grazing (ie eating 4-5 meals a dfay).  I eat 3 main meals.  Of course I will eat whenever I am hungry, but this is more around the 3 times a day now, not 5.

Oh, and I drink less coffee (because i don’t feel like drinking as much)

2) My Exercise Now

Since Feb 22, most of the gyms in Christchurch have been closed.  So for a over two weeks  any resistance training was problematic.  Three weeks later I started back 2-3 times a week (a combination of training out of a small city based club, and using clubs when I traveled).   I am back to a semi-regular pattern, of 3, sometimes 4 gym sessions a week.

By comparison I used to train 5 times a week – 3 heavy weight training days, two light, and 2 days off (in a row).   My regular week now would be 3 heavy days, sometimes 1 light workout and 3 (sometimes 4) days off (at least two in a row).

I continue to train with a 10 minute high intensity interval training (HIIT) routine at the start of most workouts on a rower (20 second bursts, followed by 40 seconds of rest) x 10 (3 of which are warm ups – so its really only 7 that are full on).  Then 45-50 minutes of resistance training.  Mainly compound exercisers, and normally train to failure in the majority of sets.  I do lots of exercisers that engage the core (like squats) but no crunches or similar.

3) My results

In the last month I have trained less, and eaten more (a lot more), but been quite focused on WHAT I eat.

The results:

  • I feel great – this is probably the best result of all
  • An unintentional benefit: I have now the best body composition I have ever had.  Around 10% body fat (at that level I have abs showing), and have actually built a few kg of muscle in the last month.
  • I get to eat HEAPS of cool foods.  I don’t feel like I sacrifice a lot – I guess I could say I wouldn’t mind bread with olive oil before a nice dinner out, but if I had a choice of that or bacon, or say that or halloumi cheese, then bread gets the kick anyway

4) Where I think many Paleo writers get it wrong

When doing the initial spiel about paleo, most paleo books or blogs start by explaining it all about eating how we used to eat – for hundreds of thousands of years, before we settled down and started to consume grains and such like about 5-10 thousand year ago.  Many go to great lengths to explain how eating meat enabled our brains to grow, and how, in particular, having high density foods (calorie wise) was a good thing for us in evolutionary  / section terms.  They also explain how grains aren’t all they are cracked up to be, and how sugar is just unnatural (even modern day fruits if quite unlike how most fruit used to be).  Some of the more scientific writers go on to explain that many of the nutritional concepts that we think are gospel (low fat is good for you etc) are just wrong, and in fact only really came around in the last 20-30 years (what’s fascinating to me is that the low fat modus-operandi has been around slightly longer than the obesity epidemic – coincidence?)

So far so good.  Except many then go on to say when choosing meat, we should choose low fat.  Ummm, why?  Where did this come from?  What’s paleo about that?   In fact what’s paleo about cut out animal fat or even cut out saturated fat?   I think many writers didn’t read their chapter one when they wrote chapter five! There is NOTHING inherently good about low fat.   Well let me rephrase that – all other things being equal lower ANYTHING can help with weight loss, but focusing on fat as something to always cut off (or out) is flawed and un-needed.  Weight loss, while the goal of many, should now be assumed as the goal of every person on an eating plan.  And moreover, as I have said many times (and may paleo writer go on about this at length) if you want to eliminate one thing from your diet and get amazing results (including weight loss) – eliminate sugar (especially fructose and anything like high fructose corn syrup).  If there is one thing to focus on when looking at fat: look at the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio in your diet.

So I want to finish on a positive and say what Paleo eating is:

  • It’s eating more FOOD and less STUFF
  • It’s a return to eating what we are (as humans) designed to eat: Lots of veges and meat, moderate amounts of fruit (esp berries), nuts and eggs.
  • Eliminate eating food that we aren’t designed to eat (and/or ones that try to not be eaten) such as grains, legumes, potatoes
  • Exercise Paleo (think Paleo = how we used to do it thousands of tears ago) too – short bursts of intense stuff, (gym is excellent for this!) followed by lots of rest
  • Focus on little or no (if you do the above this will happen naturally, but keep an eye on it anyway – especially if you aren’t being super strict)

Black and White Version: For me the paleo diet has been a great success.  Together with paleo exercise, it has given me a great feeling, awesome physical results, and I get to eat lots of tasty food.

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nutrition

Paleo Diet – updated log

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I am updating my post on my new eating regime, with daily info on what I am eating, and how I am feeling (the important bit).

The log and post on the Paleo diet can be found here.

Some observations I would make about reactions from friends that hear I am doing it:

  • It’s clear there is LOTS of mis information out there about what to eat to be healthy.  Lots of people talk about protein, carbs, fat etc, but not a lot of talk about FOOD.
  • The vast majority of people think a diet is to lose weight (I ain’t trying to lose anything here)
  • People seam to get the basic premise: eat food not stuff; eat food we were, in evolutionary terms, designed to eat; don’t eat plant foods that tries not to be eaten1 (i.e. has chemicals that fight proper digestion)
  • Most people think fat is bad.  A few think it’s just saturated fat that’s bad.  Only a handful get that neither is overly true – if there is one bad fat, it’s transfat (an unsaturated fat).
  • Almost no one gets that the worst things in western diets is sugar.  If one thing is evil, it’s sugar! (fructose being the worst).
  • People really do want black and white stuff – this is good, that is bad.  Life ain’t like that (yep – and I do see the irony about this blog (whiteandblack) blogging about that – life AIN’T like that, but people WANT it to be – hence this blog)

Note 1: It was pointed out to me by a few people that almost all animals try not to be eaten (mainly by running away if they get a chance), so the distinction is made above about plants that try not to be eaten.  AKA grains, or potatoes (try eating one raw and see what happens).

The more I read about the Paleo diet the more it seams clear that a number of proponents believe (limited) diary is OK, like PaNu.  Also most allow small amounts of caffeine (aka coffee) and alcohol – not because they are inherently good for you, or somehow a Paleo thing, but just coz they know people will consume them anyway, and they aren’t that bad for you when one looks at the big picture.

Update 22 Feb: My log now has a “cheats” section for each day – ie how well did I stick to the strict Paleo way.

Black and White Version: I am still learning about this area, but it’s clear what I thought was fact relating to healthy eating (e.g. low fat, high complex carb) was WAY wrong.

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Paleo-Diet-Pyramid

Paleo Diet – a 30 day trial

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I am trying a new eating plan.  I prefer not to use the term diet, as it implies something based on restrictions, and also a temporary thing (one goes on and off a diet).

Anyway, I am trying a Paleo (Paleolithic) diet, which I started yesterday (Wednesday 16th February 2011).   For those that haven’t heard of this it’s based around the idea that we should eat what we have been designed to eat, and did eat, for hundreds of thousands of years, and cut out all the modern crap that has been introduced in relatively recent times (in evolutionary terms that means the last 10,000 years or so).  So that means eating meat, veges, and to a lesser degree fruit and nuts.  No grains (yep, no bread) even wholemeal types, rice, and of course sugar is just evil (mind you it always has been eh?).  Dairy is out too.

I am trying this eating plan for a number of reasons:

  • It fits with my philosophy of exercise – do what we (as humans) are designed to do, not what some guy invented or discovered last week
  • It makes sense to me from what I have read so far
  • It’s not extreme in that I don’t need to change my eating patterns in any massive way (although some bits will be more of a challenge, like breakfast)
  • It’s based on back to basics – eating FOOD not STUFF.  There are no special foods to buy (no one tries to sell you any), it’s about eating proper food and eating how we are designed to eat – good food!

So, I have decided to try it for 30 days.  See how I feel, see how my workouts go, see how my body reacts.

For more info see a great resource by Robb Wolf on the Paleo diet. I’ve recently read his book The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet – highly recommended – an easy read, entertaining yet highly informative and based on science.

Anyway .. I am gonna give it a go, and provide updates here.  Table of progress last updated Friday 25th Feb 2011

(more…)

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quality

Stuff you should not skimp on

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I quite like bargains, especially for quality stuff (yep, I like champagne on beer money).  So I use web sites like www.wotif.com to book hotels, buy $30 bottles of wine on special at the supermarket for $9.95, and spend $14 to fly to Sydney with AirNZ when it’s on special.

But IMHO, there are just some things one should not skimp on and here they are listed below (in no particular order).

Stuff you shouldn’t skimp on:

  • Oil for your car (even a cheap car) – get a good grade synthetic like Mobile 1.
  • Cornflour: Get Fielders (or whatever your good local brand is).  Same applies to baking powder.
  • Toilet blue thingies you put in your cistern.  The cheap ones just don’t last.
  • Your daily coffee – enuf said.  If you don’t understand this one you never will.  And if you don’t have coffee daily, then you are broken, that or you live in America where one can’t get good coffee.
  • Vanilla Essence.  Don’t buy imitation vanilla essence, ever.
  • If you live on a computer all day, and/or it’s your main work tool, get a good one.  This means one that doesn’t crash and is fast enuf to do what you do regularly without you tearing your hair out.  This probably means getting a Mac :-)
  • For men that wear them to work: black socks.  You wear em for 8+ hours a day, so make sure they are 95%+ natural fibers (like cotton or wool).
  • Ice-cream.  The $9 a litre stuff is just SO much betta than $5 for 2l.    This of course assumes you don’t eat it every week, just as a treat.
  • Pizza.  Actually scrap that, pizza is like sex, even when it’s bad it’s kinda OK.
  • Flowers for special occasions: Spend the extra $ and get a nice bunch, that or go minimalistic (single red rose).
  • ISP providers – esp if you use the net a lot.

Just to be clear, no one payed me to plug any particular brand, and no brands have given me permission to use their name.  I just blog about stuff I like and use.

Black and White Version: Cheap stuff works well sometimes, and quality cheap stuff is even better. But sometimes it’s just not worth skimping.

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wine

Indepth wine review, Main Divide Chardonnay

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I recently blogged about NZ wine, and my favourites.

I thought I might expand on that from time to time, both with more wines being added in, and sometimes (like this post) a more in depth commentary on a particular wine.

In this review I am exploring Main Divide chardonnay.

(more…)

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graphic_bottle-chardonnay

New Zealand Wine – my top pics

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I just made a huge post about exercise and eating well.  Life is all about balance so here’s my wine post.

Let’s cut to the chase: I like wine.  I like New Zealand wine. I also like drinking good wine, but not paying top dollar for it.

So, here are my top pics for NZ wine, taking into account price (so best value), along my take on overall quality irrespective of price.

Price has the normal price range one can find it for sale (the lower number being less common) along with the recommended retail price (RRP) in New Zealand (based on memory).

A full table listed below.  Click on the wine name for tasting notes etc from the winemaker, or on the wine type to see more about that grape/wine style.

(more…)

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Sprinter vs marathon runner

Exercise, food and weight loss – the low down

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OK, this post is something I have been meaning to write for quite some time.  Consistent with the idea behind this site (i.e. black and white), it’s gonna get straight to the point, make a bunch of assumptions, and say “how it is” in very simple language. You should therefore read the disclaimer at the end :-)   Oh, and PLEASE PLEASE ignore any ads from pages I link to, I like the content on the pages, but seldom the ads!

I have come to the views on this page thought my experience in the fitness industry (20 years plus as of 2010), talking to some of the worlds leading experts on exercise when I travel the world at attend exercise conferences and generally my own research, experience, and collected views on things.

The VERY short version:

  1. Do any exercise
  2. Worry less about calories and more about WHAT you eat
  3. If you already exercise do MORE of Resistance Training, do MORE of High Intensity Interval Training, do LESS of Steady State Cardio (especially long runs) and do ANYTHING you enjoy
  4. It’s OK to ask for help – get a Personal Trainer, or even a friend to exercise with

That’s it.  End of post.  Well almost, let me explain it a little more, actually, let me explain A LOT:

(more…)

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There is no such thing as a large flat white coffee!

7

Ok, now this might sound trivial, but for anyone that likes good coffee you will know how important anything coffee related is.

So, lets get it out and up front: There is NO such thing as a large flat white!  If you make a flat white in a large cup it’s just turned into a latte.  So PLEASE stop refering to it as a large flat white

It’s just as bad as saying “An espresso with milk”.  An espresso is BY DEFINITION a black coffee.  If one adds milk it’s no longer an espresso.  One can refer to espresso when making another coffee (for example “A cappuccino is made by adding milk and milk froth to an espresso ….”.

Just to be clear, for those outside of Australiasia (flat whites are mainly found in NZ and Asutralia), here are the receipies for each:

(more…)

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The “R” word

2

Here’s what I think about recessions (or economic downturn)

I want to start by saying what’s WRONG with prolonged periods of economic growth by using an example at the more detailed micro level, and then looking at the big picture macro view.

Let’s start with coffee – a great place to start the day, and an even better place to start this topic.

(more…)

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