Ginormous Meals for Fat Loss, Leanness and Conditioning

I really didn't see this coming

Throughout my progress from initially starting the process by eating high-fat/low-carb paleo/primal combined with episodic fasting and brief intense workouts I often remarked at how non-hungry I usually was. And that's a good thing.

But what if when you do eat -- and this is very paleo -- you pretend there might not be another meal for a good long while? Suppose you made a kill on the Savannah. Are you going to stop when you're full, or are you going to gorge yourself silly because of all the unknowns that await you? After all, you can always stop eating. There's never a guarantee that you can start.

But then again, evolution really only "cares" about carrying the genes forward successfully, so perhaps "pigging out" isn't optimal for health in a longevity sense, but only in a big-fucking-strong-sperm-donor-to-the-masses right now kinda way. Put a different way, perhaps it was essential survival behavior in the Paleolithic and beyond, but essentially only to impregnate or bear offspring and care for them long enough. Frankly I have no certain idea. It's all speculative and the logic of evolution and natural selection can only give us clues as to what sorts of evidence to look for.

So while we're exactly right that we are adapted to eating animal flesh, seafood and all manner of plant material -- and not Hot Pockets, Pop Tarts, Cheerios or Pepsi-Cola -- this should principally be taken to mean that we are generally adapted to an extremely wide range of food. It says nothing about what's optimal. Real Food is most likely optimal, in various levels of variety including macronutrient ratios and total energy consumed.

In other words: lots of variety, random eating schedule (including fasting), varied protein, fat, carb ratios and varied levels of consumption all in the context of Real -- Primal -- Food.

And so the rest of this post is devoted to one aspect of that, one that a lot of people don't ever do because..."I'm not hungry." Here's two meals, both break-fast meals (16-18hr fast). The first one is post workout as well, and the second one is a non-workout day.

Meal 1
Meal 1

This was an on-the-fly toss together. One pound of TJ's 96/4 lean ground beef fried in it's own minimal fat with 1/4 onion and 2 cloves of fresh crushed garlic. Once the beef was done I added about a cup of beef stock, a tablespoon of yellow curry powder, 7 oz of cubed white potatoes and 5 oz of cubed sweet potatoes. I simmered covered until the potatoes were soft, then thickened with 2 tbsp tomato paste.

That's a full sized plate, and here's the profile or "mountain" view. All images can be clicked upon for high resolution versions.

Mountain View
Mountain View

But that's not all. I also had 2 cups of whole milk mixed with 60g unsweetened whey powder. And still not all, I polished it off with a half of a large cantaloupe, clocking in at 1 pound, 3 oz.

I had another, albeit much smaller meal about 3-4 hours later and then a final one a few hours after that. Interestingly, I had woken up that morning way bloated. I mean way. We had gone out to dinner with a friend and I don't know what it was but I got awful heartburn, slept like crap and ended up downing a couple of liters of sparkling water during the night to quench the fire. Within hours of the above meal I was peeing like crazy, dumping water like crazy. Hmmm... That was yesterday and today my pants are once again nice & loose.

Alright, next up is this morning's break-fast meal at a restaurant I like to go to because their weekend special breakfast steak is really good; and they serve it with three instead of two eggs and they cook them in butter for me.

Steak Eggs
Steak Eggs

That's about a 7 oz grilled tri-tip steak, three large eggs o/e, 2 oz of my wife's potato, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, and a side of bacon, four strips. And coffee.

Since this is a non-workout day that meal got me better than halfway for today. I'll eat once more.

So I wonder, how many out there have ever done 250g of lean protein in a sitting (about 2 pounds of meat)? And, why wouldn't or couldn't you do that, at least now and then? If it's because you physically can't, have you been exercising (practicing)? If you think it's because it's not Paleo, then I highly doubt it. Sure, paleoman would not have done this every day, probably not every other day.

And that's what I'm saying. That first meal is pretty ginormous, probably one of my biggest ever. But those are reserved exclusively for:

  1. breaking a fast of at least 15 hours, and...
  2. after a big (fasted) workout with big weights.

And that doesn't mean I always do it when the above conditions hold either. Sometimes I just spread it out, or even eat a small meal that's mostly protein and save the rest for later.

The point is to not do the same thing all the time. When people talk about how many calories they eat each day, how many grams of carbs, fat and protein, I kind of chuckle. That could never be done in the paleolithic, and not only because they didn't have scales. They didn't have generally reliable sources. So while all the foods above aren't strict Paleo (though I'd argue they're Primal), I think there's good support that such mixing up of energy intake and macronutrient ratios has a lot of support in a Paleo context.

I can remember a lot of times reading what Keith Norris was eating for his meals and I can remember that even if I was hungry, just seeing a picture and reading the quantity he put down took away my hunger. But now I am enlightened.

Free The Animal is supported by readers like yourself shopping Amazon and CLICKING HERE to do so. Costs you nothing but sure helps out around here quite a lot. Always appreciated.

Comments

  1. 250 grams = 1/2 pound did you mean 900 grams?

  2. Yup, done two pounds of meat and more on a number of occasions, especially in my Warrior Diet/IF days.

    We had an interesting comment thread both on twitter and at Martin Berkhan’s Lean Gains site about who can eat the most. Doubt we will ever crown a champion but humongous meals are my specialty. So often those who fast forget about the other side of the coin, feast, and they do go hand in hand for optimum results in my opinion.

    • Fiest & famine. Divine & evil. Amen, brutha.

    • JP@Pr[email protected] says:

      That’s how I did it too… I forgot to include it in my post but i was eating accordingly to the warrior diet principles.

  3. [email protected] says:

    Richard,

    this is something I have done for a while. I would fast for a full day and in the evening, I would eat at least a pound of meat (more often than not, it was a pound and a half) with some vegetables. As a ”dessert”, I ate full fat yogurt (a lot of it). I was basically eating 1800-2300 calories in a single meal.

    All I know is that I felt fine and never hungry. It helped me pass my exams at school since I had no time to cook and I discovered that hunger is more often than not psychological. I can’t say it’s optimal but then again, nothing, in the food world, can be said to be optimal with certainty (other than vague ideas such as avoiding processed foods).

    It’s not something I do often nowadays. I like to start my day with eggs and bacon or fish and vegetables. During the day, I tend to eat more plant foods and some meat and for dinner, I tend to eat a large amount of animal foods. I seem to do better when I eat like this.

    You definitely touched some points that I tend to advice on my website (such as eating whenever you are hungry…no need to eat on a schedule). Thanks for the great article!

  4. One of these days the Austin Primal Group is going to go to Salt Lick BBQ and we’ll see who can put down the most beef. 2+lbs of all-you-can-eat meat is the way to attenuate the fast/feast equation for sure.

  5. 250 grams of protein. I can say I have never consumed that in one meal. Any feelings of nausea for you?

  6. I’ve had over 3lbs of meat in a sitting. It was a brazilian master grill. they hated me. No bloat, and I wasn’t uncomfortable, i lifted less than four hours later no problems. Being a bodybuilder at 265lbs I try for a protein intake that ranges from 250 to 400 grams daily. i don’t like to count but estimate by wieght most times. i’m never stronger than after breaking a fast and gorging on a low carb pile of meat. my birthday meal last year was two 24 oz ribeyes and a sweet potato after shrimp enbrochette. i miss that restaurant. the biggest benefit i see is not having to eat all day to get that much meat in in one day.

    • I had a 48 ounce porterhouse once at a local steakhouse. My date didn’t think I could eat it all. Ha! Ate the steak, veggies, taters, and washed it all down with a very nice bottle of wine. Felt fine. Bumped into some attorney friends and finished the dinner portion of the evening with a glass of port and a cigar. Lovely.

      • Lightweights. I only weight 165 and will smoke you all.

        48oz porter is fairly impressive. I admittedly get bored eating steak. Ha! I think I just figured out a new way to reduce cals ;)

  7. i don’t think trader joe’s 96/4 ground beef is grass fed ? i thought paleo included getting good source of meat like grass fed beef. does it not matter?

    isn’t beef saturated fat supposed to be healhty paleo wise? why do you go for lean beef?

    also do you include white potatoes on a regular basis or is it just on this occasion after fasting?

    • I had the same thought (re: the 96/4, not necessarily the grass-fed). I think the grassfed GB at TJ’s is 85/15. But, Richard choosing 96/4 was somewhat of a surprise for me. At the risk of a commenter micro-managing your beef selection….Richard? ;)

    • Iusually do grass fed, but I’m no anal about it. I like my post workout meals to be lower in fat, higher in carbs. As for the white potato issue, search the blog. There are two posts with lengthy comment threads.

  8. paul bowers says:

    Do you think every time that primitive man expended a lot of energy on tracking down and killing food he was successful? If not, why then wouldn’t you randomly fast, exercise, and then fast again?

    • Paul, I have done exactly that, time to time. I’ve gone as much as a whole nother day, long time ago but usually it was break fast in a 2-6 hour window. For the time being I’m eating 45-90 minutes after completing the workout. Once I make my leanness goal I’ll back off from being strict about that all the time.

  9. I know I come off sounding like some new-age wack-job, but in all seriousness, I totally follow what my body asks me to do. When I’m hungry, I eat…when I’m really hungry, I eat for an effin’ army; when I’m not hungry, I don’t eat at all — even if that’s for a long period post-workout — and I don’t ever worry about it, either. Also, I don’t even begin to prep my meals (those that I eat at home) until I’m actually hungry, and I know what I have a craving for. Cravings mean that your body has a need for something inherent in that craved-for food. Our bodies contain 3+ million years of “smarts”, while our minds have been effed-up by a lifetime of mainstream “intelligence” — try as we may to abort that brainwashing (and even though we may be somewhat successful in the endeavor), I’d still give the wisdom-edge to the body, hands-down. Learn to listen to it, friends, because *that* is truly a Paleo act.

    @Skyler – Here’s my vote for Artz ribs. I guess I need to become a member, though, before my opinion will count for much, eh? :)

  10. paul bowers says:

    Keith,
    I’m not sure how “smart” are bodies really are. I recently flew from Seoul to Atlanta and then to Newark, NJ. It took about 19 hours total. They’re was complete garbage on the plane, so I ate nothing. When I got to Atlanta, I also couldn’t find anything I felt was worth eating, although I kept feeling a slight gnawing in my belly. I drank some water and waited for my plane. I chewed some sugarless gum and waited. I didn’t get any hungrier. I arrived in New Jersey and went to my hotel. I was exhausted so I went to sleep without eating. Slept about 7 hours and woke up with a headache. I went down to the hotel restaurant and ate 2 eggs and 3 sausage. I felt fine after that. I hadn’t eaten for nearly 33 hours (7 hours before flying while I slept, 19 hours flying, and 7 more hours of sleeping). i went thru various stages of being hungry but then being fine. i ate probably about a 700 kcal breafast and was fine for another 5 hours. not sure what i should be listening for, exactly.

    • I don’t see what’s wrong with this scenario? It looks like a Paleo “win” to me. Your body is signaling exactly as it should (or as you’d hope it would) in the absence of a descent food source.

  11. Lute Nikoley says:

    I don’t get it, I usually eat 1 meal a day, dinner which is mostly meat
    Vegetable and salad. I might have some nuts, a couple of
    Grape tomatoes during the day, or a very small amount of fruit.
    The problem? I am frigging stuck at 175# and just can’t get
    get loose, I also do workouts 2-3 times a week. It’s frustrating as hell.

    • Spencer says:

      Lute, try counting how many calories your meal+snacks is worth. It sucks, but it’s not that hard to put away enough in one meal with snacking in between to cover your daily needs, especially if lots of fat is involved.

      • Lute Nikoley says:

        Thanks Spencer, but I have considered that. I don’t think a couple of little grape tomatoes, a few cherries and an oz. or two
        Of nuts would even come close to bacon and eggs.

    • Also outside stressors play a HUGE part in weight loss attempts. Work stress, lack of sleep, overtraining, just to name a few. Sometimes just getting more rack time can initiate accelerate fat loss.

    • anand srivastava says:

      Try estimating your metabolic performance. Take temperature 3 times (at 3, 6, and 9 hours since waking up). Need to measure for about 10minutes for required accuracy. Then take the average. Do it for a week. Note the average and variation. If average is too low (less than 98.4) or varies too much (more than .3), then thyroid or the adrenal is not performing 100%. Old age may result in reduced performance of these glands. With Low carb there is a possibility of over-stressing the Adrenal, as cortisol is required for protein to glucose conversion. You may then need to take it slower (as in reduced exercise), and increase Vitamin C (ie raw fruits/vegetables) consumption. It should reduce the stress, and provide rest for the adrenals.

      I had posted last year that I used to get dizzyness. Which had relieved somewhat, when my body got used to gluconeogenesis. Later I found out that my blood pressure was constantly low. This explained the dizzyness. Now I know that all of this is because my adrenals have an issue (temp varies around 1F). I don’t know if it can be solved permanently, but Vitamin C is helping keep the temp variation in check. It is required for Cortisol creation.

  12. Enjoyed the reading. While I’m not 100% primal or paleo, I find I gravitate towards that more and more. I started with Atkins years ago, and it’s cool to keep evolving, keep learning, and keep changing. While I’ve definitely been following the cues from my body when I feel no hunger, I’ve been fighting it when I am hungry! So this was a great read for me, and I the next time I’m truly hungry – I’ll just eat. The funny thing is, back when I was weighing myself every day, many times I noticed my biggest losses the morning AFTER I had consumed a nice big fat steak. A pattern I saw repeated many times over a year. I’ll be back!

    • Lute Nikoley says:

      I don’t think anybody is 100% primal, don’t think it’s possible, since almost everything we eat is different from what it was a million years ago. I am sure there are vegetables in existence today that weren’t in those days, and on the other side there most likely were critters and vegetation around in those days that are extinct today.

  13. I’ve found that large meals are very important to me, especially after a 24 hour fast. I found your comment about being bloated and then feeling better almost immediately after a monstrous meal. That very same thing has happened to me a couple of times. Very interesting…not sure what the mechanism is.

  14. Kari Kristine Haugberg says:

    Ohhh, Richard I know what I want for breakfast now! lol

    Lute – have you tried doing a min. 24 hr fast with a few intense workouts in ? Sometimes the body needs a bit shocking. You could also try eating everything in one meal, and not do the nuts and grape tomatoes – since even alittle does make the body work on it and the insuling levels to rise (though more on the tomatoes than the nuts I think). Your body might just feel like its okay to stay where you are at the moment – frustrating as hell, I know. anyway – I’d suggest you try doing one full protein and fat meal, and then doing a huge fasting session with intense workouts. That usually works for me.

    • Lute Nikoley says:

      Thanks Kari, I go from dinner to dinner, with intense workout at least twice a week, unless I am out camping with Richard and other sons and the wife, who all prepare excellent breakfasts which I just cannot pass up.

  15. Richard – by coincidence, I have just this week started loosely following Martin Berkham’s ‘Leangains’ approach to meal timing, size and carb/fat/protein mix, but putting a more Paleo spin on it by being more random and, obviously, eating only Paleo foods (My Leangains Experiment)

    I am going to add a link to your rather timely post, as it places the approach in an evolutionary context perfectly.

    Yesterday, I kicked things off after some sprints with grass-fed beef + sweet potato, then more steak, then a big bowl of fruit. I reckon it was about 1.5 lbs of steak.

    It will be interesting to see how this pans out for my own strength and leanness. It certainly feels instintively right to eat big after a workout. I am looking forward to more such feasts as the experiment progresses!

  16. I do something very similar several days a week, but it’s funny that we cook it in the exact opposite order!

    I throw a cubed sweet potato and diced onion into a big pan with a spoonful of coconut oil and maybe a 1/2 cup of water. Bring that to a boil and the water and steam cook the onion and sweet potato very quickly. Once the water boils off, I dump the meat on top and keep cooking until it looks very similar to what you’ve made.

    I’ve done it both ways, but to get the potato cooked the water/oil first approach is much faster.

    As for seasoning, I just do whatever sounds good at the moment. Sometimes it’s just some garlic salt. Other times it’s basil and oregano. Sometimes a bit of curry powder and a 1/2 cup of coconut milk added to the mix.

    I have a pound of meat to break my fast, post-workout, at least 4 times/week.

    • Bill I like the potatoes to take up the flavor of the meat & beef stock, & curry while theta are cooking. With enough stock and covering the pan, they soften up in only about 10 minutes, cause the cubes are small.

  17. Seems to me like you’ve been consorting with Berkhan…;)

    http://www.leangains.com/2010/08/intermittent-fasting-meals-part-two.html

    Been suspecting that from the start actually. What you’re doing is very similar to what he’s advocating (heavy training with compound movements, IF, big meals etc).

  18. I frikin love this post. only one caeveat… you need more rutabaga recipes :) Theyre my favorite vegetable. noting our size difference, lb for lb i can definitely down 2 lbs of meat in a sitting…only if it’s fasted, i worked hard, and the meat is real fatty though. i tried to do it with chicken legs and thighs one day and i bloated like a mofo!!!

    The eat when hungry, sometimes till stuffed, sometimes sporadically…people just dont get that! you do!!! but it is so annoying. i met bodybuilder branch warren last weekend at an expo my brother made me go with him too… he is so knocked up on roids and his arms look like mr potato head stick ons…not to mention his head of cauliflorwer complete with hot sauce….wouldnt wanna be around for that bathroom experience…ew

    hah anyways…i like you emphasized the feast and famini but dont forget the WORK HARD and REST HARDER part….i see a lot of people caught up in the work hard and not resting thing…

  19. David B says:

    If I am eating raw protein, be it sashimi or a steak, I find I don’t ever get bloated or full. The exception being with raw steak that is particularly fatty. I don’t get a bloated belly, but I do get “tired” of eating.

  20. I regularly consume over a pound of meat at evening meals, generally following fasts on the order of 18-24 hours.

    Later this month, my homebrewing club (me = founder/president) is throwing a 19th-century-style Beefsteak event: roughly 100 lbs. of local grassfed beef in a variety of cuts (including kidney, tongue, heart [I hope]), with pork and elk on the side, grilled, braised, etc. Accompaniment is … nothing. Well, draught beer (yeah, non-paleo, but hell, it’s a party).

    I’m shooting for 3 pounds, possibly 4.

  21. I spent more than a decade in the low-fat / vegetarian / low calorie paradigm. One of the best things that came from switching over to a more Paleo-type diet is that, for the first time in many years, I can eat until I’m full, REMAIN full for several hours, and ratchet my health up higher than it ever has been.

    Since I’m big on self-experimentation, I recently attempted to play with a more plant-centric diet and was reminded why I was so miserable on it in the first place – I couldn’t reach satiation and I literally used up all my willpower to KEEP myself from eating “the good stuff.”

    Recent studies have found that willpower is a scarce resource – we have a small amount of energy we can spend on conscious effort each day before we fall back on unconscious drives and reactions. Who would want to waste all of it on “eat less, exercise more” when they could simply delegate the task to their instincts and drives in order to do something much more productive with their lives?

    Much like Keith, I am a “new age whack-job” in that I listen to my body as much as possible these days when it comes to eating. Chow down when I’m hungry, skip a meal if I’m not. (I do “force” overfeeding and underfeeding a little occasionally due to the benefits of IF and refeeding, but I still put much less willpower into it than the average guy looking to get as healthy and fit as he can.)

    I’ve found that simply by surrounding myself with Real Food so that I’m not tempted to eat junk, I can be the weird dude who eats like there’s no tomorrow while remaining at the peak of his health and fitness potential.

  22. During my celiac research, I found several sources that said often those with more intense grain issues overeat to make up for the lack of nutrient intake. I believe I was one of those people for years, putting down up to 2.5lbs of food per meal. My body wanted to become a competitive eater just to get a basic level of nutrients. That was a vicious circle, as the increased crap food did more damage.

    I am still able to put down that much food, I just don’t ever want to. The blood-sugar and insulin based hunger is gone, and the undernourishment problem is gone.

  23. Flying Burrito says:

    It just so happens that last night I had grass-fed NY Strip with veggies. It was an incredible meal–I cook intuitively with an emphasis on flavor much like Richard does (although still very much the disciple!). It’s taken me about six months to love cooking again. I only eat once or twice a day and never breakfast. I’m just not hungry and can go almost all day. In any case, last night’s meal was especially beautiful and particularly tasty.

    Earlier in the week I was visiting with a buddy who is this burgeoning rock star and his girlfriend gave me tons of various peppers and spices after we visited their organic garden just outside. I tried to incorporate as much as I could of this cornucopian plunder into this meal in a flavorful way. The meat was about a pound–it was a real medium-rare beauty. The vegetables were zucchini and various bell peppers (purple ones, green ones, red ones–the whole rainbow). And I cheated a little and cooked myself two small quartered, yellow potatoes too–I had no choice with all the dill and rosemary she plucked and put in a great big brown paper bag for me (and feasting on the little critters was my reward for cutting out alcohol and too much fruit after reading about Murray’s amazing results from a previous post).

    So I’ve got my sumptuous meal of the day laid out before me and I’m feeling just like a king and totally channeling Richard’s typical meal when after about half the meal, I realized I just couldn’t eat it all. I was stuffed after eating about 3/4 pound of the strip…and I was starving before I started preparing everything! A year ago, I would have had all that times three helpings. So there’s this strange new phenomenon for me of needing a lot less. This has become a general rule. But there are times when I simply gorge and like another poster suggested (and within the Paleo framework), I listen to what my body craves too. I also figure it’s biologically onto something. I did eat two semi-hard boiled eggs with Celtic sea salt, pepper and a touch of mustard about an hour before starting–maybe that had something to do with filling up so fast? Anyway, that’s generally my daily meal plan. If I’m starving, I eat walnuts or almonds.

    I’m really steering clear of the fruit and alcohol right now, and reading-up on Sisson’s Primal Fitness right now. But I usually do a bicycle pump about twice a week up here in the mountains and walk a lot. I find the walking is often more than enough to show results. These are power-walks…sometimes I’m barefoot and pump in that regard too…slowly doing these little panu things along the way, thinking like a caveman.

    By the way, great post, Richard.

    • Flying Burrito says:

      P.S. The nuts I eat are always raw nuts. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, I just figure it’s a little more Paleo.

  24. Richard, how often are you fasting?

  25. I always wondered why do You think, that the Paleo men were healthy, strong and so on..? When I’m not wrong, they died in their 30-40 years so no one can compare them with our modern life and state at older age.. Or lets see some aboriginal people. They live like our ancestors. Are they an example from fitness perspective?

    • Wood:

      That’s bogus. 30-40 is an average that includes high infant mortality as well as the peril in living in the wild. There is plenty of archeological evidence (as well as observations of HGs over the past couple of hundred years) that plenty of them live into the 80s & 90s, just like we do. The difference is that most of them live WELL up to that age, not a debilitating downward, medicated slide as is so common in the modern world.

  26. I love this post because I am the queen of eating huge portions (protein based)… and I do eat up to a pound of protein in a sitting… and eat about 2 to 3 pounds of protein a day… You must know something about me though, I am a small girl (5’2”) and weigh around 98 pounds, so eating this amount is “nuts” to a lot of people and many don’t believe me when I say it, but… it’s true and I love every second of it! I wonder who would win in an eating contest, your or me! ha ha!

  27. david pugh says:

    I have reading reading the blogs and have been seeing stories (WITH THE PROOF OF BEFORE AND AFTER PICS) about people who are getting lean and having weight loss success with a primal paleo eating lifestyle..i’m still miffed..how is this possible eating fats????

    correct me for being a bit naive but this is very intriguing and inspiring

  28. “how is this possible eating fats”

    Human metabolism 101.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Ginormous Meals for Fat Loss, Leanness and Conditioning – Free The Animal [...]