I received the following question that is in response to an earlier post of mine:
“Calorie restriction doesn’t work and just feeds into neurosis.”
I don’t get it. I thought you recommended the Zone? If not that, or your own variation of the zone, what are you recommending?
I ask because the Zone is a calorie restriction diet. That is what Barry Sears said many times in his book, “Enter the Zone”. I don’t have it with me, but off the top of my head, I remember three explicit parts where he said this. Lets see, 1) in the summary chapter, page 204 (did a search), he directly said that the Zone works by caloric restriction (“A Zone-favorable diet is a low-calorie diet that supplies adequate amounts of protein, essential fat, and micronutrients …”), 2) in an earlier chapter, he showed a chart that he said was the quantities of carbs, fat, and protein that the average person ate on different diets; the number of grams of fat and protein were constant on all the diets, but the number of grams of carbs were the least on the Zone; when you add it all up, the graph tells you that the Zone restricts calories more than every other diet he compared it to, even the ones that are considered low calorie, and 3) he has a chapter extolling the benefits of caloric restriction, which I took to mean that he thinks caloric restriction is a good thing (“Chapter 16: The Zone and Life Extension”).
So I recommend the Zone…AND I said calorie restriction does not work…what the heck is going on? Most people approach “dieting” as some kind of calorie restriction…typically low fat, high carb (as a percent of calories) and a hellish application of meal skipping. This is the “prudent” eating approach that dooms people to ffailure, stripping away muscle mass and generally reinforcing bad eating habits. By contrast if we get people changing the composition of their food towards the low-ish carb paleo direction we control insulin levels and by extension hunger. This is what Barry Sears talks about in the Zone and is what you quoted above. I think the Zone is fantastic but it can be a pretty heavy change for folks to not only change the composition of their diet but to also start weighing and measuring. That’s why I recommend a basic paleo approach at first. This will reverse metabolic derangement and get people moving in the right direction. From here, if one wants or needs further refinement, be it for bodycomposition or performance, the Zone awaits.
That shopping and food guide you pulled that quote of mine from is written in response to questions and excuses of our clients who are…lost.I’m not trying to be a dick or elitist but getting our clients to understand what constitutes solid nutrition is a daunting task at times. Here is an example: One of Nicki’s clients came in with his son the other day. The son (about 6 years old) is gnoshing on a bag of microwave popcorn! We grilled the dad why he was feeding the kid this stuff and he was just stunned…”is’nt this a good snack?” The dad is in his early 40’s and has some ragging metabolic derangement…he is a mess and we have been hammering him on his nutrition for nearly a year and it just does not uptake. So that food& shopping guide is an attempt to educate and motivate, without getting overly technical or making the buy-in a deal breaker for 99.999% of the folks we work with.
Hopefully that clears up the seeming contradiction there.
Mike OD - IF Life says
As they say….
There are essential amino acids…
There are essential fatty acids…
There are NO essential carbs!
High carb diets + CR = Goodbye muscle and metabolism…and oh yeah, hello insulin resistance and increase of all diseases! Popcorn anyone?
Yeah so I eat healthy and all..But some of my family is still stuck on their old/conventional ways just like that dad and his kid eating the micro popcorn! It is frustrating!! Honestly only my 17yo is still living at home f/t and that is enough some days…She is slim and all, even likes or loves veggies and fruits, but tens to eat tons of dairy and “white” stuff–bread, cereal, pasta, rice…
Just a little rant here from a frustrated parent…
Well…kids will be kids!
Richard Nikoley says
Just as bad, maybe worse, is the kids I see now continually sucking on a bag of “healthy” fruit juice. When I’m in a position to do so, I ask people: would you sit your kid down and have him eat 2 dozen oranges?
This is a stumper for folks. You can pick up a can of Coke and a box of juice and the nutrition info is virtually identical…but there is this nebulous notion that the juice is “natural”. Plutonium and arsenic is natural. Dengue Fever is natural…natural can kill!
I would like to start some sort of paleo/zone diet and I have no idea how to start. I eat really clean now, i just dont measure. I am 6’3″ 205 male. My body fat is 9-12%. Does any of that matter for quantities of food. Please help
Just eat as hunger dictates. Meats, veggies, fruit, some nuts. Easy peezy!
Pete Kennedy says
Rob, I am a huge fan. Thanks for the tremendous work. I am a recent convert to the Zone/Paleo/IF and am down 17lbs in 3 months. I just ordered a side of grass feed beef and entered a CSA for fruits/veggies.
A couple of questions for you. I have read from previous posts that you are critical of the Weston A. Price Org. Part of this is due to their being critical to the Dr. Cordain’s and Dr. Sears’ books. I have found good in all 3 so I am looking for a little advice.
– How many eggs a day? Go with Dr. Cordain’s advice of 6 a week? Weston A. Price as well as many PM and Crossfit blogs say you could almost eat unlimited eggs. I don’t understand Cordain’s reasons for limiting eggs due to the fat/protein ratio. I though Sat Fat and Cholesterol was no longer the evil once thought. If we are supposed to up our fat content, aren’t eggs perfectly acceptable.
– Are egg yolks bad? Once again Weston A. Price says the yolks are source of all the goodness (vitamins and other brain food). So should we heed to Dr. Sears’ advice of avoiding yolks?
– I am confused about the focus on lean meat in the paleo regime. As above, if saturated fat is not bad, why the focus on lean meat?
– What is your view of fish oil versus cod liver oil consumption? Take both or one?
– What is your view of raw milk and other dairy versus cutting dairy completely out?
– Finally, is fasting one day a week (24+ hours) as good as the daily 15-19 hr fasting window for long term health gains? I tried the daily fasting window last week and gained weight as well getting a lot of constipation. Any suggestions?
Sorry for the long laundry list but it is my first posts of hopefully many more. Thank you, Pete
Pete! Great questions! I’m going to take htis to the front page to go a little more in-depth.
Jeez…you make it sound as if nobody has ever lost weight without eating paleo. I know a ton of people who have lost weight by calorie restriction and tons of cardio. Its not the best way to lose weight but it certainly does work.
The scenario you describe has a nearly 100% failure rate! If we are not controlling insulin levels it is hard as hell to keep calories low OR to loose weight. People report loosing fat on a low carb diet to be much easier then a CR high carb/low fat diet. Less hunger, better energy. The problem is people get “bored” and start straying into problematic foods. Welcome to yo-you dieting.
Craig Cooper says
isn’t the short answer that Caloric Restriction DOES work in the short-term, but that the body will eventually compensate (at least that’s what I read in Good Calories Bad Calories) by moving less? Isn’t that why there’s the Athlete’s Zone? I’m pretty sure The Zone isn’t a caloric restriction diet when you’re at 5x fat.
That is why the athletes zone ramps up the fat…for caloric balance. It does seem to run people leaner in terms of total calories than what they are accustomed to. Same for basic paleo eating. Control insulin and folks tend to eat less.
Once again Robb – great post.
I have tried a CR high carb diet several times in the name of getting leaner. I started around 14% BF and would lose about 15-20 lbs. So yes, you can lose weight this way. However, my BF% basically did not move, I lost strength and was tired most of the time. I also looked worse.
When I went paleo the fat melted and the muscle stayed. My BF% dropped to about 6-8%. Furthermore, this eating is enjoyable and easy. Lots of veggies and meat with fruits and nuts mixed in…..very sustainable. It’s just a no brianer.
So, how do you know what your insulin resistance/sensitivity is? Along with ghrelin, leptin and all those other hormonal goodies that seem to regulate so much? Do I just need to stop by my friendly neighborhood endocrinologist? And if so, what do I need to have him/her test? Normally I would just suck it up and do what I need to do but I know chemo has thrown all of my hormonal regulators in my system out of whack and I want to know what kind of debauchery is actually going on inside me.
Well…You could GET all that stuff checked but it’s not really going to alter your approach: an emphasis on proteins, loads of seasonal veggeis, enough fruit to replenish glycogen for training…fish oil, perhaps some R-alpha lipoic acid (500mg-1g/day), 9hrs of sleep in a dark room. Get that stuff dialed in and you are 90% down the road. if you do not see body comp and energy improvements from that THEN lets go digging in your hormones.
Greg Fischer says
To clarify about caloric restriction – It is sometimes a secondary effect of a paleo diet, but is not the intended purpose. Caloric restriction is not the goal, but often when programming a paleo diet for athletes (or anyone), they are consuming far fewer calories (most of the time) than those who don’t “program” their diets and consume high quanities of grains and fast food.
It’s similar to a common argument about Crossfit. People tend to argue that Crossfit is simply aiming to train people at near maximum heart rates, when in truth – high heart rate during crossfit is not the goal, but really a secondary result of the intensity of any given workout.
Being that Robb is a personal trainer why would he advocate any other means of losing weight/body fat than paleo/zone diets? Obviously if you are obese and you cut your calories in half – you should lose weight…Proper nutrtion programming is the goal here and discussion of (most) other methods of losing weight is probably a waste of time and doesn’t promote overall fitness, nutrtion, and well-being.
You said it better than I did! Thank you. The funny thing about the resistance to even trying a paleo/zone diet (particularly on the CF Message board) is the info is ALL FREE. I wrote some articles on the PM, Scotty Hagnass has a recipe book. There is no 19.95/month recurring auto pay for this stuff, just fucking try it! Maybe i need to reconsider the $19.95 auto pay for a bunch of bogus supplements…hmmm
Thanks again for the great answer Greg.
Loving your blog man. Question about El Pato. . . I’m assuming the stuff I bought isn’t the same because the jalapeño one (assuming it would be green) wasn’t. It was more of a liquid salsa. Which one did you use?
That’s the goods. We use the yellow can which is a bit less spicy but the same consistency. Great stuff!
Another great post Robb. Do you find that you tend to be met with resistance and/or denial from certain generations? Dad, born in ’40 is very resistant to dietary changes (“It’s food. Not rocket science Derek. Such a fanatic.”) Mom, flower child who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s (parents are almost twelve years apart in case you thought you read that wrong) is into it, accepting of the new and old school. I don’t trust the establishment (food pyramid), Zone, Cordain etc. all fit the opposite.
Just wondering if you see similar trends.
I think I see more trends based on personality type, particularly addictive perssonalities. In the more addictive personality type I see a lot of self sabotage and just reticence to take the steps necessary to better insure success…I also see a streak of perfectionism that makes this whole process an all-or-nothing proposition. 2-weeks of perfect compliance is undermined in one meal, the individual feels they have “failed” and they give up. It’s tough stuff. Shitty, refined carbs taste good, are socially acceptable and in this era of “environmental awareness” a quasi vegetarian approach that is all bagel-bites and brown rice seems like a morally laudable approach. I’m perhaps a calloused bastard but I’m at the point where it’s “Help the ones who are open to change, fuck the rest.”
Nick Hanson says
This sorta applies to this post, but either way I am going to ask it here. Another crossfitter mentioned to me that they actually blend up some of their veggies with water and some tomato paste, etc… and drink it. How does this effect the intake into the body. I know that juice (which is different because this is actually the whole veggie/s) is obviously bad, and I thought that I remember seeing that blending fruit (i.e. whole fruit) isn’t as good as just eating it. So how does it affect you when its vegetables that are blended up. For example, I tried it recently and zoned my veggies for 4 cups spinach, 2.5
Sounds nasty! How about soup? I think it’s still a good idea to chew things. Our guts do not do well with mass-intake liquid foods.
Nick Hanson says
woops I didn’t realize that I didn’t finish – 2.5 cups bell peppers and then some tomato paste to get it to 4 blocks.
If cooked just right, brown rice resembles a bowl of slightly soiled maggots.
Never a more stunning endorsement has been made…for rice.
Thank you for sharing all this great stuff.
Could you spend a little time adressing the questions from poster Pete?
I too get confused from all the conflicting info from what I consider quality sources of info. (Cordain/Weston price etc)
I mentioned on my blog recently that some of the info is to scientific for me to fully comprehend. So I go by trial and error and common sense.
Thanks in advance.
Again GREAT blog!
Let me know if the current post helps a bit.
I have tested this myself and lo and behold the black box worked!!
I need to do a post on this. Folks are finally waking up…maybe!
roger king says
I have a client that is prone to getting kidney stones… any ideas with the zone??
thanks a bunch
The diet part is going to be a challenge for me.
Protein – Whey etc…
Little safety assurance
Nutritional supplements can be marketed without FDA approval of safety or effectiveness. Athletes who choose to ingest these supplements should be concerned with the safety of long-term use. They are low-nutrient, low-fiber, highly-processed, high-calorie “foods,” whose consumption reduces the phytochemical density of your diet.
Ingesting more protein than your body needs is not a small matter. It ages you prematurely and can cause significant harm. The excess protein you do not use is not stored by your body as protein; it is converted to fat or eliminated via the kidneys. Eliminating excess nitrogen via your urine leaches calcium and other minerals from your bones and breeds kidney stones.
Bad amino acid trips
Vegetable foods are alkaline. Animal products are acidic foods that require a huge output of hydrochloric acid from the stomach for digestion. This acid tide in the blood after a high-protein meal requires an equally strong basic response by the body to neutralize the acid. The dietary-derived acid load from high-protein animal foods must be buffered, and to do that your bones dissolve and release phosphates and calcium. The alkaline phosphate then buffers the acid. This is a primary step in bone loss that leads to osteoporosis. High salt intake also contributes to flushing your bone mass down the toilet bowl. Excessive stimulation of bone turnover also causes an increase in bone breakdown and remodeling, which can lead to osteoarthritis and calcium deposits in other tissues. The presence of this bone material in the urinary tract also lays the foundation for calcium-based kidney stones
Who gets kidney stones?
Anyone can get a kidney stone, but it may be more likely if you:
* Are male
* Are Caucasian
* Are very overweight
* Have had kidney infections
* Have a family member with kidney stones
* Have had kidney stones before
* Eat a lot of animal protein (such as meat and eggs)
* Do not drink enough fluids
How can I prevent kidney stones?
If you have had kidney stones in the past, you are more likely to have kidney stones in the future. Try to stop stones from forming by:
* Drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water each day
* Eating less salt (sodium), meat and eggs
* Finding out what type of stone you have
* Having a urine test done by your doctor
* Talking to your doctor about your medicines and other tests for kidney stones
Acid Base balance is key with kidney stones. Some of that was alluded to above. A basic paleo Zone approach in which protein is moderate and the carbs are from predominately fruits and veggies guarantees a net alkaline state. Damn tough to create calcium oxolates in this condition.
roger king says
thanks bunches robb
Just like Eva says… mr.smarty pants…lol
keep up the good work…
HA! That’s funny. Eva T is not just a pretty face (or a perfect fanny) she is pretty damn smart on all this geeky crap too. Give her a smooch for me.