Q & A

Read time: 5 minutes

It’s been a few days since I lasted posted. I’ve been super busy with other projects but it’s always good to return to stuff I enjoy, like writing in The Lean Saloon.

I want to return by answering several of the questions that reader Mark asked:

Good Morning,
Great blog. It is very encouraging to see someone like you with real results. If you have some time, I have a couple of questions.

1. What are your thoughts on dairy? I noticed that you had yogurt in your chicken salad recipe and I didn’t really see much in regards to avoidance of dairy, just grains and refined sugar.

I use a small amount of Greek yogurt (raw, when I can find some) more as a conduit to bring other ingredients together into a certain recipe, and very occasionally as a base to mix together seasonal berries for a dessert. Having said that, I will occasionally consume dairy products, but for almost three years now any milk I drink is whole and raw. I believe that Bovine (cow) milk is non-species-specific and can be consumed by human and other lower animals. There’s so much goodness in raw milk, as opposed to the pasteurized milk with all its beneficial nutrients denatured beyond hopelessness. There are tribes that drink cow blood as part of their healthy diet, and milk isn’t too different from blood of the same source.

When do I drink raw milk? I drink it only during periods when my strength workouts are a little more intense, which is once or twice a year for periods of up to 6 weeks.

2. Could you write out your meals for a couple of days as an example? When I have gone Paleo before, but I think I overdid the fruit.

Day One

Meal 1:

Find fresh ingredients for breakfast.

Omelet with random good stuff. Throw it all together, stir-fry, then throw in the eggs.

Meal 2:

Salmon covered in almond flour, egg, and coconut flakes. Cooked in coconut oil. Broccoli. (This was left-over from last night.)

Evening Meal:

Filet Mignon, broiled in sauce made with red wine, wheat-free soy sauce, and butter. Vegetables.

Dessert:

Blueberries, walnut pieces, a little full-fat cream, and Greek yogurt to hold things together.

Day Two

I have a new espresso machine, and it makes way more "crema" than what this older picture shows. Ya gotta have a good espresso machine, if ya gonna drink espresso!

Fast. I typically fast two to 3 days out of the week, typically up to 16 to 20 hours after the previous night’s last meal. I find that fasting is liberating, and allows me to get a lot of work done. I’m always surprised by how much I can get done when I don’t need to eat.  I start my day with a double espresso, and then water whenever I’m thirsty.

First Meal after fast:

Grass-fed hamburger with vegetables, and a slice of grilled peach (my wife especially loves the slight sweetness the grilled peach adds to the meal).

3. What are your thoughts on sprouted grain products? I only ask because in the new The Paleo Diet blog in the Q&A section, they said that sprouted grains are fine because they leave behind all the bad stuff even though veggies/fruits are better choices because they have more vitamins and such.

The soaking and sprouting of whole grains and legumes are said to neutralize a good portion of anti-nutrients (e.g. phytates, lectins, trypsin inhibitors, etc.), and increase nutrient availability. Occasionally, I buy or make my own sprouted grains to serve at dinner parties in which I host non-paleo friends. At these parties I also eat and enjoy the sprouted grains, too, without ever feeling bad about it. Other than that, I rarely eat grains, unsprouted or sprouted. Sprouted grains yield a higher level of nutrients, but these nutrients are still relatively low in ratio to the useless carbohydrates they come with.

4. How did you go from 25% body fat to where you are now? I agree that a Paleo approach without calorie/block counting is sustainable for a lifetime but it’s the transition that gets me. I have a hard time believing that one will drop to 10% without at least having an idea of calorie intake. Thank you for your time, I really appreciate any feedback that you can give. Please let me know if you have any questions for me. If it helps, I’m 6′0″ and about 210 lbs, 25 years old, and probably around 15% bf (I can kind of see my top abs). -Mark

One thing to keep in mind is that I have been living the Paleo lifestyle for 3 years now, starting with my discovery of Dr. Loren Cordain, researcher and author of the book that got me started, The Paleo Diet. Initially the fat loss came slowly, but that was part of the deal.

Over the years, I discovered more incredibly smart people whose work have influenced tweaks and modifications in my approach, which accelerated fat loss. Some of these folks cover the area of Intermittent Fasting (IF) like Brad Pilon and Martin Berkhan.

Another great influence is the book The Blue Zones, which helped me to understand that I don’t need to pulverize myself with exercise in order to get lean and live a healthy and (hopefully) extended life.

But I’m impressed most with the long-term adherence and result of the paleo diet in conjunction with intermittent fasting. I believe that either alone is fine, but together they seem synergistically powerful at manipulating the body to partition calories to the right places — that is, mostly to muscle and organ cells and away from fat cells. The Paleo diet controls blood sugar and eliminates any insulin resistance, optimizing cellular uptake of calories; intermittent fasting increases growth hormone and catecholamines, helping to mobilize fatty acids out of fat cells to be metabolized in the muscle and organ tissues as fuel.

Intermittent fasting might also cause a net average of lower calorie intake over time, but the Paleo diet offers an abundance of dense nutrients that my body can run on without ever being “starved.” It’s all about sustainability. I’m not completely certain, but I think these days I average fewer calories than I did 3 years ago, but my body now probably uses a much greater portion of the calories I’m eating.

Suffice it to say, then, that this might have helped me go from 25% body fat to the current 5 to 8%, without ever counting calories.

I appreciate any question and will try to answer all of them in either the comment section or as a post. So post them up!

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12 Responses to Q & A

  1. Al says:

    I have followed your site for 2 months now. I have also followed Brad Pilon’s site for a while as well. I agree with both theories, but I have a question. If I just used intermittent fasting only, will I get down below 10% BF? I just don’t know if I can just eat meat, fruit, and veggies the rest of my life. Do I just need to grow a pair and go Paleo anyways? This lifestyle change is much harder to adapt than you think. Thanks.

    • Johnny from The Lean Saloon says:

      Al,

      I believe you can get below 10% BF on intermittent fasting alone.

      In my experience, though, clients and friends who lose fat on just IF often report greater hunger during the fast periods, as compared to those fasting while eating a Paleo diet.

      The greater hunger experienced with just IF, while still eating a standard western diet, may be due to several reasons:

      – Processed foods and excess carbohydrates still cause blood sugar fluctuation
      – Excess insulin is still stimulated during feeding
      – Insulin encourages fat storage and inhibits fat mobilization, preventing other cells from taking in and metabolizing fatty acids
      – Insulin resistance prevents much of the ingested nutrients from entering muscle and organ cells for nourishment, shuttling them instead toward fat cells
      – Muscle and organ cells not receiving adequate nutrients may communicate with the brain via complex hormonal signaling, triggering symptoms of semi-starvation and hunger
      – The carbohydrates from the last meal may produce hypoglycemia and trigger increased food craving

      The Paleo diet helps to stabilize blood sugar during feeding, which may translate to easier fasting. The Paleo diet controls insulin even during during the feeding periods, which may optimize energy regulation (storage vs. usage). This means that, during fasting periods, fatty acids are free to mobilize from fat cells, and that muscle and organ cells can receive fuel (mobilized fatty acids).

      I believe that IF alone is an excellent method for fat loss, but combined with the Paleo diet we can possibly expect:

      – Enhanced result because of improved energy regulation
      – Increase health factors from more intake of nutrients and less intake of anti-nutrients
      – Maximized adherence to IF from less discomfort during fasting, making the entire lifestyle sustainable.

      The most important thing to remember is that making the transition from the standard western diet to the Paleo diet is often not easy. Grain-based carbohydrates and hyper-flavored processed foods stimulate hunger and appetite through various mechanism (unstable blood sugar, hypoglycemia, over-stimulation of the brain’s pleasure center, uncontrolled release of the hunger hormone grehlin, etc.).

      Just as breaking a drug habit takes work, time, and commitment, breaking away from the standard western diet require the same. If you decide to adopt the Paleo diet, I encourage you to hang in there for 6 months to 1 year. The craving for grain-based carbohydrates and sugar and hyper-flavored foods will subside. The taste of natural real foods will become once again intense. I promise you, the sweetness of strawberries has never been so explosive. Tell me that 3 years ago and I would have laughed and called you nuts.

      • Adam Kayce says:

        I’m new to IF, but this is so true…

        I tried IF a while ago, but it was before I was doing Paleo consistently (I was doing a Zone diet, but with grains, dairy, sugar, etc.). I tried IF, and I could hardly stand it. I was hungry constantly, and gorged during my feeding window. Needless to say, that didn’t last long.

        But now, I’ve been Paleo for almost six months, and trying IF again… it’s a piece of cake. No hunger, no drop in energy levels (yet), and I’m amazed.

  2. Tammy says:

    Hi! You’ve left a comment on one of my posts a while back and I’ve been reading your posts ever since, trying to wrap my brain around your eating lifestyle. I have several questions I’d like to ask you, and some things I’d like to discuss. Too much to leave in the comment section. Would you mind popping over to my blog and emailing me at my gmail address listed there? I’d really appreciate your advice and a few minutes of your time. Thanks! 🙂

  3. Mark says:

    Thank you for responding to my question, well done. Now one more if it’s ok. As far as IF goes, I’ve read a lot about avoiding IF until you’re adrenals are ok. For example, if you’re not normally around 98.6 then wait for your thyroid to heal some (stimulants, over-exercise are a couple of other examples). What are your thoughts on this? Thanks again. -Mark

  4. Johnny from The Lean Saloon says:

    @ Adam,

    It is common that I hear reports of IF being much easier while on a Paleo diet. At the beginning I thought it might have been placebo. But the more I hear reports like yours, the more I think there might be something to it!

    In any case, I believe that the two together work much better than either alone. So, it’s not that one facilitates or makes the other more tolerable, but that each exerts benefits independent of the other — together, compliance is maximized, health benefits higher, and fat lost enhanced.

  5. Johnny from The Lean Saloon says:

    @ Mark,

    IF increases catecholamines, epinephrine (adrenaline), and glucagon.

    Glucagon is released when blood glucose level falls (typically during a fast) in order to stimulate the liver to convert stored glycogen to glucose, in a process called gluconeogenesis — which helps prevent hypoglycemia. This is perhaps why it is found that IF doesn’t disturb blood glucose too much, and that hypoglycemia is actually less common in the state of fasting than people think.

    Also, glucagon regulates the rate of glucose production through lipolysis, or fat breakdown. This is a good thing for those looking to lower body fat.

    Catecholamines and epinephrine (the adrenal hormones released during fasting) boost glucose to the brain and other parts of the body as part of a “fight or flight” response, or in this case, to go find food.

    These adrenal hormones are probably the reason why you might have heard that one shouldn’t use IF unless the adrenals are healthy. Personally, I’m unsure about this and cannot argue for or against it.

    What I do know is that we should strive to exercise in ways that don’t increase the rate of stress beyond the rate of relaxation (that means, short bouts of exercise, rather than long). Lifestyle should be geared away from stress, period. If our adrenals are unhealthy, then there are lifestyle concerns that should take precedence over the practice of IF.

    Great question, though, Mark. One I will look further into!

  6. Shameer says:

    Hi, I am newcomer to this concept of a Paleo Diet and IF as I have recently discovered it & find it pretty fascinating.

    One question I have is regarding calcium intake. There’s no doubt a lot of animal protein consumed on the Paleo diet which I read can cause an acidic state in your body. Do you receive enough calcium on this plan so that your body is not taking calcium from its bones?

    Thanks.

    • Johnny from The Lean Saloon says:

      @Shameer,

      Calcium and bone mineral retention and resorption (or loss) are complex and multifactorial.

      There’s still debate about the effect of net acidity and alkalinity from dietary intake, but assuming this is real, then a diet that includes vegetables and fresh fruits should net a balance pH level.

      Also, mechanical stimulation of bone metabolism from regular exercise may help bone loss. I would count on this more than count on the pH level.

      Finally, I believe that by removing the very foods that are high in anti-nutrients (phytates, lectins, etc., from grains), you’ll prevent a lot of vitamin and mineral loss from what quantity of vegetables and fruits that you do consume. This may also help prevent bone loss or keep bone metabolism on the positive side.

      Thanks for reading, Shameer!

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