Real Paleo Results: Amazing What a Month Can Do

While I do indeed sometimes have my fun -- though dead serious too -- with posts such as yesterday's, today I'm again doing one of my favorite kind.

And, hey, nobody even had to vote on it for it to get done. Imagine that!

I got an email about a month ago from Mike calling attention to Robb Wolf's guest post of sorts at Tim Ferriss' blog that's essentially a lengthy excerpt from Robb's book, The Paleo Solution.

This article brought me to your site and the paleo diet.

Hmm, I don't recall getting what would have certainly been massive traffic had this blog been mentioned anywhere in that article, even amongst the 800+ comments. While I was curious as to how, exactly, that article brought Mike here I let it pass and just filed the email away.

While cleaning things out the other day I came across it again and sent off a very quick question to Mike:

Now that a month has passed, how's it going?

And here's his response which, in addition to reporting some fabulous, amazing results on Paleo, actually answers the question I never bothered to ask.

Wow, where to start. I should probably start by saying how effortless this has all been. I went from Standard American Diet plus chronic cardio (as Mark Sisson puts it) 3-4 times a week; to eating whatever I want and exercising easily and with a sense of actual enjoyment. Before, I ate out for almost every meal. Now, I actually know how to cook some delicious objects that I would put in my mouth, chew and love. The simplification of removing grains and shit that never seems to turn out well has been a particular boon. Cooking with fat is beautiful; and learning how is straightforward and uncomplicated.

Now, about myself. I started the end of September at 5'10" and 208lbs. Not obese, but definitely overweight. I was a fat slob two years ago, and spent almost all of those two years trying to lose weight and managed to shed 18lbs... at least it was something, right? When I read that excerpt of Robb Wolf's book Tim Ferriss posted on his blog, it opened my eyes enough to at least want to try it. I remembered reading the no shampoo article on your site linked from BoingBoing a while back, and some connection was made in my mind between you and paleo. So I went to your site to learn more, and immediately began eating as prescribed.

The first week went smoothly. It seemed I had dodged the bullet on carb flu. After two weeks I hopped on a scale and learned I had dropped 8 pounds, bringing me back to an even 200. I was elated. The rash on my arms caused by candidiasis disappeared and has yet to come back. My energy levels remain constant, except when I don't get enough sleep. Allergies are fading. My joints no longer sound like a bag of potato chips when I get up from a squat. My acne is completely gone. My skin, hair and scalp are healthy and glow-y thanks to no shampoo, soap or shaving cream. Every article of clothing that I had fattened myself out of in the previous years now fit; and thank god because my 'regular' clothes are starting to feel like sheets. I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm starting to look decent naked. Another weird thing, my teeth no longer ache.

Today, I weigh 193lbs. I haven't weighed this little in almost a decade. Yesterday I had to go shopping for clothes as everything else is beginning to look like a damn, baggy pirate outfit. I lost 15 pounds in a month, which sounds like something you'd see on the cover of Woman's Bullshit Today at the checkout stand.

The other day I was at a birthday and made the mistake of eating cake. Hilarity ensued. Don't eat cake.

It's highly likely I'm going to be doing this paleo/primal thing for the rest of my life.

I believe that what excites me the most about so many of these testimonials we see is not just the 15 pounds of fat loss in a month. Yes, like I say, put body composition first and foremost as your goal and, in the context of a Paleo lifestyle, the health markers should follow:

  • energy levels remain constant
  • allergies are fading
  • joints no longer sound like a bag of potato chips
  • acne is completely gone
  • skin, hair and scalp are healthy and glow-y
  • teeth no longer ache

Now, suppose you were to chase "health" instead of body composition in the context of Paleo. Which of those health markers would you go after, and how?

Comments

  1. I’m a believer in this way of eating. Until recently, I was a vegan. Had been for four years.

    I was very happy then and felt great. I’m very happy now and somehow feel better. More energy and way less appetite.

    The end.

  2. David Csonka says:

    For somebody like me who has never really been overweight, there are definitely still areas where this stuff can improve your health. Specifically – up until I cut out grains, and way back on the dairy, I had issues with acne on my shoulders and sometimes my face. Hell, I don’t even use body wash anymore, it’s amazing how different my skin is.

  3. “Which of those health markers would you go after, and how?”

    Seems silly, but this is the truth: I turned to a vegan diet to chase one and only one thing: total cholesterol number. Everything else was perfectly great, but my total cholesterol was always not optimal. A certain book scared me that I was in heart trouble. Combine that with the big heart attack my extraordinarily fit friend had (at age 39) and it scared me but good.

    My total was always around 230 with an HDL of around 75 or so. Sure enough, my total cholesterol plummeted, but not as much, proportionally, as my HDL.

    That’s the whole truth, silly as it sounds now.

    • Garth Whelan says:

      @VW I’m glad to see you’ve done so well and not been scared off by some of the crazy commenters. Wish you good health.

    • A vegan diet is not the best for lipid profiles. Introducing meat, eggs, and fish in your diet might improve your lipids.
      Do not get obsessed with cholesterol. It is not blood cholesterol which clogs up arteries, it seems the process starts with an inflamation of the artery walls, and then you get cholesterol infiltration, it is not as simple as just a “cholesterol stopper” by accumulation. And guess what, the inflamation is promoted by self-immune reactions in the body, which in many cases are activated by grains and dairy; this is the so-called metabolic syndrome, induced by grains, dairy and a high carbohidrate load, and the reason of many of the western civilization diseases like diabetes, obesity, heart dieseas, and so on.

  4. Headaches and heartburn are / were two clear markers for me. I suffered frequently (at least 2 times per week) from both for at least 20 years (all on SAD).

    From the first week of going paleo both went away and have now stayed gone for more than 9 months. Hell I can’t even seem to get a headache now if I drink too much and get a hangover.

    What I had come to accept as a normal part of life turned out to be symptoms of my body dealing with the crap I was eating.

    • That was the #1 immediate and profound result for me — daily severe heartburn went away within 24 hours, never to return. The pieces of the puzzle seem to fit together so well now. Why was it so dim before? It should have been obvious that when the eating parts are screaming, the food is the problem.

  5. I had some pretty substantial weight loss from paleo too (40 lbs). Plenty of other benefits though. The energy level thing is a big one. Mark always talks about that afternoon slump from a big carby meal, and I used to live that (favorite ‘healthy’ lunch was rice with some vegetables in it) pretty regularly.

    But the best part is the appetite control. I used to eat that big carby lunch, and be absolutely ravenous by the time I got home – we’re talking I’d be double fisting crackers or pretzels while I was standing there making dinner. Now, I eat lunch at 1:00, come home at 6:00, leisurely walk the dog, work out, tool around the house, and cook dinner around 8:00. No problems at all.

  6. Lute Nikoley says:

    Thanks to paleo, I am now at a wight I haven’t seen in nearly 40 years. I think I started about 1 1/2 -2 years ago.
    Total wight loss = 48 lbs.

  7. I should add a little more to this, as after I replied to Richard via email I thought of a couple more things I could have added.

    – Part of the reason I was so fat to begin with was because I had tried a vegetarian diet for 6 months. It was awful, I became sick, miserable and fat. One month of my vegetarianism was devoted to veganism. During that vegan period I was sick sick sick. I had never had a cold last that long in my life.
    I also ended up developing some sort of infection that my doctor prescribed anti-biotics for. The only other time I had ever had an infection was when I was 11 years old. It was after the course of anti-biotics, and high-carb eating, that I developed candidiasis… thanks a lot vegetarianism!!

    – I should also mention appetite control. I intermittently fast EASILY. If it becomes a hassle to get lunch prepared in the morning (like it did this morning), I have zero problem skipping it and just eating a slightly larger dinner.

    – Richard mentioned body composition and I probably should have as well. Body composition is absolutely improving. Sometimes I absentmindedly feel my arms and I’m amazed to find a new muscle I had never felt before. Awesome and motivating. FYI – I follow Mark Sisson’s exercise plan from his free eBook. It’s done wonders and really accelerated my weight-loss efforts.

  8. Amazing differences in just a month! Keep it up, man. If you can do this much in a month, imagine how you’ll feel after 3 or 4.

    • Murray, I’ve seen quite a few transformations, and have gone though one myself (mostly fat loss), but your transformation is the most impressive I’ve seen so far.

      • Thanks Ned! I appreciate the comments. Let me throw that back at you and say that your blog is a really fantastic resource. Keep up the good work.

  9. I asked a group of volunteers on my email new database to try the paleo diet for 6 weeks. I wanted to try it on a few of my nutrition clients who were either eating along healthy pyramid, average diet or Zone diet lines to see if / how much Paleo food choices impacted their lives. I had about 20 people take on the challenge – here are some results:

    http://paleozonenutrition.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/6-week-paleo-trial-results/

    I was blown away by the results and just want to keep spreading the word in New Zealand

  10. I don’t want to overtake this thread, but today is a month exactly since I gave this a shot and cut grains. To give an account would be too long so I won’t get into it. One thing, oddly enough, is that although my weight hasn’t changed, I lost an inch off my waist and the small amount of fat (not really love handles…small puffs?) I had on my waist has shrunk. I did run into a small problem and ended up in the hospital having an angiogram, but it is unrelated to my diet. And that’s the “oddly enough” point. ” Because I was having a potential heart problem and a stress test , angio gram etc, I have been restricted from working out for the last 3 weeks. The shrinking waist/bodyfat loss came during 3 weeks of being sedentary.

  11. I want to see more responses with 6 months in, 12 months in.

    Seeing great results in 4 or 5 weeks is great, but maintaining those results or even improving on them over a year of sticking to an eating style is another. It’s the hard part, too. It’s why long-term weight loss studies show dismal compliance and lackluster results.

    You guys who are 4 or 5 weekers – keep kicking ass, ok?

    • And I should have answered the question like a good little reader.

      Health results I’ve seen from low-carb – not necessarily strict Paleo but pretty damn close

      Acne gone
      Less toothaches – saying a lot since I’ve got a half-tooth that seems to want to fall out of my head
      My J-Lo glow
      Much less GI problems
      An impeccable blood lipid profile

    • Not to redirect from the point, but if you go to marksdailyapple.com and look at the success stories forum you can see dozens of people that have been going at primal/paleo for a lot longer.

  12. I had a similar thing happen to me. A friend of mine called me at home one night a few weeks ago and asked if I was still doing “that diet thing” (primal/paleo). I reported that I was. He then told me that he had been trying it out, too, for a few weeks but that he was concerned. When I asked what was troubling him, he informed me that he was worried because he dropped 10 lbs and had tons of energy just by modifying his diet.

    Say no more, eh?

  13. I started low carb/paleo a little over a year ago, in early October of 2009, and in that year I went from 205lbs to 155lbs. I also rid myself of Type II Diabetes and diabetic neuropathy. I now wear a size 11 jeans again and I have my “breezeway” back! I’m hoping to get down to my best weight, which is 140lb for my height and bone structure, and I have no doubt that I will be able to do it.

    p.s. I hope Gabrielle is reading this thread and sees what people can do for themselves on a paleo diet.

  14. Emily Deans says:

    7 months paleo – mostly primal. Lost 30 pounds (I can fit in my wedding dress). No cellulite. No acne. I’m not gorgeous or anything but I find people staring at me on the street, and service people are noticeably nicer to me and go out of their way to help me. I’ve had complements about my skin, my hair, and my “glow.”. Energy is generally terrific, mind is quick. At first I felt almost superhuman – but of course this is how humans are supposed to feel.

    • Yes, Emily, I remember that Superhuman feeling. I’m not sure whether it eventually fades or you just get used to feeling that way so it’s normal and not super.

      On the other hand, all fat loss means a high fat diet. You’re burning through a lot of energy when losing fat, and that has to have a positive effect on mood and energy, especially when you can go straight to metabolizing and don’t have to digest first.

  15. Keith Harvey says:

    Oh shit! The no shampoo article link on Boing Boing. That’s how I found this blog, and discovered Paleo, with which I have now successfully infected 3 people. I was trying to remember how it all began, for me.

  16. About 70% Paleo/primal since January. I’ve not had the amazing weight loss that most people seem to get and that’s probably a result of alcohol being my cheat. I’ll get it together eventually.

    I would say my markers have been:
    – Fewer atopic eczema flare-ups
    – Good blood lipid profile, triglycerides are optimally low
    – No “3pm slump,” which as been amazing
    – Better general satiety, which has alleviated some of my emotional issues with food

    The alcohol aside, I’ve been able to eliminate sugar, artificial sweeteners, grains, and almost all dairy and cheeses without a huge amount of pain. Meat and veg is delicious!

  17. Even though I’m “quasi” paleo…call it more “real food” than primal…I’ve had several of the benefits.
    – More energy [when my kids let me sleep]
    – Clearer, more vibrant skin [thanks to kicking the 15 year long apricot scrub addition and switching to honey and egg white masks]
    – Body changes [even at a constant weight, I'm getting "tighter"]
    – Fewer anxiety attacks [this is a BIG one more me, as I have chronic anxiety. If I go off-kilter into gluten land, my attacks flair up like mad]
    – Less PMS and better periods [TMI? Oh well, it's true]
    – No more nasty stomach problems [had I known then what I know now, maybe I'd still have my gallbladder]

    One draw back is an inability to tolerate cold. I’ve always had a bad sensitivity to it, but when I’m on real food, it’s next to impossible to weather anything under 40 degrees. Not good in Northern Illinois. HOWEVER when I do get cold, I heat up much faster than I used to. Years ago, it would take an hour or more to get my toes to heat up. Now, it takes about 20 minutes.

    No-poo is totally the way to go. Before switching, I’d wash my hair in the morning and it would be frizzy and crazy all day. The next day, it was oily and nasty. I wash with baking soda/apple cider vinegar once per week and water every other day. My hair is soft, shiny and perfectly under control. It took a good 2 weeks to “normalize” but it was well worth it.

    • Becky, next time you get cold I suggest try eating a reasonably stout high fat / protein meal. When I do that I feel the furnace kick on within minutes.

      • I’ve had a lifelong problem with the cold and I’m also underweight with relatively low body fat. I’ve been eating primal for a year, and I can’t remember ever being this warm about comfy during cold weather. As long as I’m moving I don’t even need a coat at temps as low as freezing! However, I eat quite high-calorie, very high-fat, relatively high in protein (70-100g daily) and I do not fast. At this point, if I get chilly toes, I know it’s time to eat – and I’m toasty 5 minutes after I do.

        Long story short, I agree. If you’re cold, eat moar.

  18. My teeth also ached for years, but trips to the dentists confirmed no new cavities or anything wrong. They thought that maybe my wisdom teeth (which then at 23 years old, I’d never had removed and years later still haven’t) was pressing on nerves and recommended I had them removed. I never did end up removing them, but after going paleo the toothaches cleared up very quickly, and return quickly if I cheat with wheat.

  19. I started living the primal lifestyle on June 10th, 2010 and have never looked back. My starting weight was 197lbs (5’7″) and I was in a size 18 for almost 10 years! I have 4 children, and attributed my weight gain to the pregnancies, and didn’t think i’d ever lose the extra weight. I was 180lbs and a size 14 on my wedding day almost 17 years ago. Being of Hispanic background, I was raised on bread and butter as well as rice and beans, and ate grains ALL THE TIME! I was always tired, bloated, exhibited symptoms of hypoglycemia, and had constant sugar/carb cravings….it was a cycle I never thought that I would be able to break, until I tried eating clean, primal foods. In the almost 5 months I’ve been primal, I’ve lost 42lbs and am now in a size 10! For the 1st time in a very long time, I am no longer considered overweight or obese. I am free of cravings, and feel amazing! I am still losing about 1lb a week and am 10lbs away from meeting my ultimate goal of 145lbs. My husband is also primal, and has lost 50lbs since June 17th, 2010! We never intend to go back to the way we ate before because we LOVE THIS PRIMAL LIFESTYLE!!! This is the simplest, most effortless way to eat ever and we are looking and feeling better in our late thirties, than we did in our twenties (no joke!)

  20. I’ve been lazy paleo on and off for about five years, but really kicked into it properly again in Spring this year, and easily lost 35 pounds. I am now at a pretty decent weight. The last time I was at this weight was 13 years ago in my early 20s, and I found that a struggle to maintain – running five miles every day and eating low fat food (and always being hungry). Now I’ve the same weight, am an infrequent exerciser and never feel very hungry.

  21. I’ve been paleo for about 12 months now.. i have never been badly overweight,but always had visceral fat like the rest of the boys in my family.
    I work shift work, rotating which used to always kill me. These days its a breeze and i still keep the weight off, despite the less than perfect sleep. I am now, at 50, lighter than what i was at 20, stronger and i have a six pack.
    I do 3 x20 HIIT pw, one static contraction workout per week (maximum weight) and the doctor tells me at my exec health check yesterday that i must do a lot of exercise because of how well i went in the stress test.

    Probably the thing i enjoy most about Paleo, is how clear my mind is, and my ability to focus and reason has never been better.

    PS> looking forward to your LeanGains installments. I have switched to the IF eating he does.. works a treat and i haven’t even started the workout side of it yet.

    Brilliant!

    • The next Leangains post, on the workouts, should be up very soon.

      • I’m very much looking forward to it! I’ve started reading about the Reverse Pyramid, and hope to implement it. I recently hurt my lower back, though, and am worried about trying to do huge weights without much warm-up.

  22. Richard,

    I have been doing a lazy paleo with no exercise for a couple of months now, still with way too much alcohol as my cheat. (Will deal with this) Also, I am actually eating more than before. So no weight loss. But no weight gain either. However, I have eliminated sugar, wheat, all other grains, legumes, etc. from my diet. I also added vitamin D supplements. (northern climate, indoor job) Even with the over-the-top overconsumption of alcohol, here are the results:

    35 years IBS gone within a week (no more immodium, no more Zantac)
    Life-long nightmares (when able to sleep) gone
    Insomnia gone
    Anxiety attacks gone
    Chronic skin condition on forehead treated with cortisone cream 95% improved.
    Just started the no shampoo a week ago and my girlfriend tells me my hair looks better than ever. I am not experiencing any “adjustment” problems.

    I can’t believe the suffering I endured for all of these years and the mountains of medications I stuffed down my gullet to try to cope with the misery. All fixed with such a simple change.

    Once the alcohol is eliminated and I add some exercise, I am absolutely certain that I will enjoy all the other benefits I’ve been reading about on your post.

    Keep up the great work with your blog.

  23. I’ve always had acne problems, and cutting chemicals out of my bathroom and going paleo eradicated my acne and made the scars heal quickly in just a few months. This alone is a good enough reason for me to stay paleo, my teenage years were plagued with shyness and feelings of low self-worth and now as I have just turned 21 I feel more confident than ever.

    Being fit helps too.

  24. just curious if those on the paleo plan us ghee in their diet and if so how do you incorporate it?

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