Tag Archives: paleo

The Gluten(free) Myth – Are you really gluten intolerant? Should you live gluten free?

In the first two parts of this series, we spoke about whether going gluten-free is worth all the hype it is getting and if you will benefit by purely going gluten-free. In this 3rd part, I’ll answer the most important questions of today’s affluent society…

Are breads and rotis and parathas and pastas out of my list of ‘foods I can eat and not feel like I’ve sinned’? Should I always eat that burger without the bun? Should I eat my pizza crust-free, base-free and taste-free? Should I forever call food induced happiness a “cheat”?

Should I live gluten-free?

The short answer is… NO. A big freakin NO. Paleo/primal/real food/gluten-free advocates, read before you let steam out of your ears. Food lovers who want to have their cake and eat it too, continue to sport that wide grin, but do listen to the why.

Let’s talk anti-nutrients

Before we talk about gluten, let me clarify the concept of anti-nutrient. The truth is that all foods contain anti-nutrients. From wheat to spinach to fruits to eggs to seafood to meat. But before we get into any of that nonsense… what is an anti-nutrient?

Antinutrients are natural or synthetic compounds that interfere with the absorption of nutrients.

So basically anything (and everything) that interferes with the absorption of nutrients is an anti-nutrient. So then, as far as real food goes, are anti-nutrients a list of foods everyone should avoid? Or is it a list of food YOU should avoid based on what effects these foods have on YOUR body? Say for example you’re allergic to shellfish.

All food allergies are caused by an immune system problem. Your immune system identifies certain shellfish proteins as harmful, triggering the production of antibodies to the shellfish protein (allergen). The next time you come in contact with proteins in shellfish, these antibodies recognize them and signal your immune system to release histamine and other chemicals that cause allergy symptoms.

Histamine and other body chemicals cause a range of allergic signs and symptoms. Histamine is partly responsible for most allergic responses, including runny nose, itchy eyes, dry throat, rashes and hives, nausea, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and in some cases, anaphylactic shock.

So in this case, shellfish contains an anti-nutrient that harms your body. Sure it is real food and sure it is loaded with nutrients and sure it is superfood and sure the paleo/primal/real food folks love it, but if you are allergic to it, it is poison to you.

Now on to gluten madness

That said, gluten and especially the gluten from wheat that is cultivated today, is an anti-nutrient to “most” folks. I believe that everyone is allergic to gluten at some level. But this belief is similar to my believing that alcohol and sugar affect everyone at some level. This could be so minute that the person may not be able to ever identify it or so large that the person might actually die from an exposure or anywhere in between. You know, kind of like what alcohol does to a person – maybe just a buzz or maybe complete liver failure. Or like what sugar does to a person – maybe just empty calories or maybe fatal due to uncontrolled diabetes.

So then, this bring us to three questions…

  • Does gluten actually affect you?
  • How badly does gluten affect you?
  • How does this severity influence how much or how frequently you can consume gluten?

Without answers to these questions, any, and I repeat, ANY recommendation means nothing to you and is in all probability not optimal for you. So how do you get answers to these questions?

Method to the madness

Step 1: The Elimination Protocol

If it isn’t clear from the term “Step 1”, this is the first thing you need to do and this step cannot be skipped. Without this step, everything else is null. Let me repeat, if you don’t do this initial first step, anything and everything you say about whether or not you are allergic to gluten (or any food for that matter) is nothing more than bullshit you tell yourself. So suck it up and do the following.

– For a period of 6 (ideally 12) weeks, remove any and all potential allergens from your diet.

  • Remove all grains except cooked white rice.
  • Replace all industrial seed and vegetable oils with coconut oil, ghee and butter.
  • Pre-soak all your lentils/beans/legumes before cooking.
  • Remove all boxed and junk foods.
  • Stay away from sugars and sweeteners.
  • Eat only whole foods – whole eggs, farm fresh whole milk and other dairy, raw nuts, organic vegetables and fruits, high quality meat

– In other words, eat RealFood and be very true to yourself. Don’t cut any corners. Don’t cheat. Don’t obsess. Just do it right.

Step 2: The Monitoring

Though this is step 2, it happens simultaneously with step 1. During your 6 (or 12) week phase monitor how you look, feel and function.

– Weigh yourself every week (first thing in the morning, before eating/drinking anything but after clearing your bowels and with little to no clothes on or wear the exact same clothes each time) and record it.

– Measure yourself every week and records the results. I recommend measuring neck, chest, bicep, waist, belly button, hip/butt, thigh and calf circumferences.

– If you are diabetic, test your fasting blood sugar, post pranadial (15 min and 120 min) blood sugar and random blood sugar once a week using any home test apparatus.

– If possible, do a complete blood count (CBC) test on day 1 and on day 42 (or 84).

– Listen to your body and make notes of how you feel.

  • How good/bad are your energy levels?
  • How good/bad is your appetite?
  • How regular are your bowel movements?
  • How good/bad is your sleep quality?
  • Do you have any mood swings? If you had them earlier, are they better or worse?
  • Has your skin cleared up?
  • Do you see any improvements wrt digestion? If you had acid reflux, is it getting any better? If bloating was a frequent occurrence earlier, is that getting any better? What about gas?

– Track your performance in life and on the field.

  • How good/bad is your libido and/or menstrual cycles? If you suffer from menstrual cramps, is there an improvement in either severity or frequency?
  • If you workout or play a sport, is your performance improving?
  • Are you more/less productive at work? Do you tend to handle stress better/worse?

I understand this is a huge list of stuff to keep track off, but the better you monitor yourself, the more solid your experiment and the better the learning. So, even if you can’t do all these things, make a sincere effort to monitor as many aspects of your life as possible.

Step 3: The Re-introduction

This step happens at the end of the 6 (or 12) week phase and, is a very interesting phase because most people are looking forward to this day like none other. Here is what you do.

– At the completion of your 6 (or 12) week experiment…

  • Gradually, start including grains (wheat included) into your diet. Now, don’t go crazy but slowly add in foods that you have stayed away from.
  • Hold on to the grain included diet for 2-3 weeks. This is very critical. I’ve had enough of folks going gluten-free and then after a significant period of time of not exposing their gut to gluten, they eat a whole damn pizza, feel like a drum of crap and blame it all on the pizza. Sudden (re)introduction of any grain (especially in large quantities) will definitely result in some form of reaction and this is falsely assumed as the true effect of that grain. Effects of reintroduction of any food needs to be assessed gradually over a period of a few weeks.
  • Monitor how you look, feel and function i.e. as laid out in step 2.

Step 4: The Learning

So, what did you learn?

  • Are you allergic to wheat (or any of the foods you briefly eliminated) at some level?
  • What benefits did you see when you stopped eating certain foods?
  • And did those benefits disappear once you reintroduced those foods?

This is of course, the most important step but the effectiveness of this step is dictated by how well you did the first 3 steps.  If you did this brief experiment sincerely, you’d have the answer to the question…

Am I intolerant to gluten?

And more importantly, you’ll have answers to the question…

What foods are good for ME?

And the results are out!

So let’s see how you did.

– Firstly, if you are celiac or have a condition wherein even a whiff of gluten could potentially kill you, then you shouldn’t be here doing funky experiments. You need medical assistance. This article (and this entire series) is more suitable for people who are either controllably allergic to gluten or are unsure if they are truly allergic to gluten.

– If your health and life changed drastically (complete reversal of an autoimmune condition, disappearance of chronic fatigue, relief from frequent chronic migraines etc.) once you eliminated gluten (or any other food), clearly you are pretty darn allergic to that food and, obviously, you need to stay away from it like the devil.

– If benefits included better skin, controlled mood swings, increased fat loss and other not-so-scary results, then while you are allergic to gluten (or whatever anti-nutrient you avoided), consuming it infrequently can be tolerated.

– If you noticed no improvements then you probably aren’t allergic to that anti-nutrient or you’re intolerant at a small level that it doesn’t really affect you visibly. But honestly, chances are you didn’t do the experiment properly!

Now depending on how much or how little an effect gluten (or any other anti-nutrient) has on you, you can decide to include it that (in)frequently. But do remember, anti-nutrients are not the only reason to stay away from wheat (and other grains). Grains, when compared to real foods, are empty calories and building your diet with them as the foundation will almost surely result in undernourishment.

But… there’s always a but!

If you are intolerant/sensitive to gluten at some level, small or big, does that mean you need to stay away from gluten forever? Is it acceptable that you feel like someone dropped a cannon ball in tummy after you eat a meal that contains gluten? Is it OK to experience fatigue crashes after eating gluten? In short, is it OK to suffer after eating gluten? Is staying away from gluten the only solution to that?

Drawing parallels, if you are unable to run/trek/workout due to respiratory issues, do you live your entire life without any running/trekking/training? Or do you find a way to fix it and start living life? If you are unable to squat/climb stairs/dance because you have knee problems, do you modify your life such that you never squat/never climb stairs/never dance? Or do you work on the knee problem, fix it and get back to living a normal life?

So, if you are indeed gluten intolerant, would you obsessively avoid and uncontrollably crave foods you love? Wouldn’t you rather find a way to (at least partially) fix the intolerance and enjoy what the 21st century has to offer while still staying healthy?

How? We’ll find out in part 4.

Adios!

Paleo, primal, eat real food, GAPS… really?

This is probably what you'd look like at the end of this post

I think everyone will agree that the best way to eat right is to eat plenty of nutritious foods and, if possible, eat only nutritious foods. And hence the nutrition concepts concepts such as paleo, primal, eat real food, GAPS, WAPF etc. are pretty awesome. Forget the different diets circling around the internet. Forget high fat low carb. Forget moderate protein. Forget macronutrient ratios. The concept of good nutrition is that quality of food is paramount. As long as one eats foods that are devoid of anti-nutrients and wholesome and unprocessed, it can be accepted that the said person is ‘eating right’.

So in as little words as possible, any good diet concept should preach the following.

  • Eat meat, whole eggs, vegetables, roots, tubers, fruits, unprocessed whole dairy and nuts.
  • Stay away from any and all potentially allergenic grains like wheat.
  • Stay away from any and all legumes, beans and lentils unless they are soaked/fermented.
  • Stay away from sugars.
  • Stay away from anything processed.

As you can see, the emphasis here is staying away from all foods that could potentially hurt you and eating only foods that are benign. And as it turns out, the foods that don’t hurt you are actually filled with plenty of nutrients and actually help you w.r.t health and longevity. Now getting into a little more detail, the following minutiae really matter.

  • Red meat is great but all red meat should be grass-fed/finished.
  • Poultry is healthy but all poultry should be free range.
  • Seafood is filled with nutrients but all seafood should be wild caught.
  • Whole eggs are more loaded than multi-vitamin tablets but all eggs should be organic and free range.
  • Vegetables and fruits are king but all vegetables and fruits should be organic.
  • Dairy, and especially dairy fat, is healthful but all dairy should be from grass-fed animals or should at least be organic.

What’s the problem really?

All these nutrition concepts – paleo, primal, eat real food, GAPS, WAPF – work and there is absolutely no surprise there. If you eat high quality food and stay away from any and all anti-nutrients that irritate your gut, there is no chance that you won’t get healthier.

But here’s the catch. These concepts only works under one condition – you have got to do it right!

Let me explain.

Health is a not short-term goal. Health is the cumulative result of many years of eating good food among other things like leading an active and stress-free lifestyle. So for any of these nutrition concepts to help with long term health (and hence longevity), one needs to ‘do it’ for many many days. In other words – the diet needs to be sustainable. So then, the question is…

Are these concepts sustainable?

If you live in the US or in any other developed country, you’d notice that most things are easy. This holds true for everything from cleaning the house to depositing cash to eating nutritious food. But if you live in India or in any other developing country, you’d realize that it is indeed hard to get things done. And eating right isn’t an exception.

As much as advocates of all these nutrition concepts (yours truly included) argue that their concept of eating is suitable for everyone, sustainable and more environmentally friendly than agriculture dependent feeding, I still haven’t found answers to the following questions.

  • If meat, seafood & eggs forms a considerable portion of one’s diet and if high quality meat (grass-fed, wild caught etc.) is a requirement, what about places where high quality meat is unheard of?
  • If dairy is healthful and necessary for healthy living (especially in the absence of meat), what happens if grass-fed cows don’t exist and the term organic milk is always associated with ‘what is that?’ or ‘now you owe me your car’? You could go raw, but what happens if raw milk is diluted with questionable water and if raw milk is indeed unhygienic?

If you’ve read even some of my articles, you’d know that I’m a big proponent of sustainability and I keep banging on the same point over and over again…

Is your super healthy diet and/or nutrition concept sustainable?

The answer to this question depends on many factors and two of the main factors are ‘availability’ and ‘affordability’. Sure, you may have discovered the world’s best diet, but can you ‘do it’ right? Are high quality foods available? If yes, are they reasonably affordable? If yes again, is this affordable availability sustainable?

And IMHO, if you don’t have answers to these questions, then you’re just buying into another fad! Why? Well, because what isn’t sustainable doesn’t last!

Coming to India:

As most of you know, I recently moved to India (a developing country) from the US (a developed country) and I cant guarantee that the fight to ‘eat right’ is harder here… much harder.

Allow me to elaborate.

Let’s say Rahul, a chubby 40+ metabolically deranged desk-job worker with a sedentary lifestyle and limited experience and enthusiasm towards health and fitness, has been advised by his doctor to ‘eat right’. So he decides to try one of the above stated nutrition concepts. All his meals contain mostly meat, eggs, vegetables and fruits. He consumes limited whole milk dairy and enjoys a cup or two of rice say every once or twice a week.

While Rahul read the right literature, took the best advice and is following the plan as closely as possible, he doesn’t realize a few things.

  • The commonly available meat (beef, lamb, chicken etc.) is in no way close to grass-fed or free range.
  • Most commercially available seafood is farmed.
  • All commonly available eggs are from factory farmed hens.
  • Whole milk available in regular supermarkets are made from milk solids.
  • Vegetables and fruits are loaded with pesticides.

Ummm… this is what I call – epic fail!

I’m sure many of you can relate to our imaginary Indian – Rahul. You’ve made up your mind, modified your pantry and even tweeted your resolution! But are you doing it right? If yes, care to share? If not, what are you going to do about it?

Do I have answers to these questions? Have I modified my dietary recommendations? Are things really that bad or am I just orthorexic? We’ll find out in the next post.

Peace out.

Healthy pizza? Seriously?

Hells yeah! Why not? Pizza is not evil and salad is not divine. It’s all about the ingredients. Use the right ingredients and anything can be healthy. Here is a vegetarian super low carb-high fat-high protein pizza I made for my yet-to-be (significantly) better half.

Time:

Prep time: 10 mins

Cook Time: 20 mins

Ingredients:

Base:

  • 2 large free range eggs
  • 3 tbls almond meal
  • 1/2 tbls coconut oil
  • 2 tbls shredded cheese (pepper jack or mozzarella or parmesan works best)
  • dried basil to taste
  • chilli flakes

Note: The base comes to approximately 370 calories with zero net carbs.

Topping:

  • 4 tbls organic tomato basil pasta sauce
  • 1 Orange bell pepper
  • 1/2 medium red onion cut julienne
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • Handful of organic dried bing cherries
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese

Note: You can put whatever the hell you want as topping. If you need the extra protein, throw in some grilled chicken or ham or whatever sails your boat.

Preparation:

Base:

  1. Beat the eggs together.
  2. Add in all the other ingredients and whisk well.
  3. Pour the mixture on a skillet, drop the heat to low and cover with a lid.
  4. Cook like you would cook a pancake.

Pizza:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
  1. Pour pasta sauce on the base and spread evenly.
  2. Add toppings.
  3. Cover with shredded cheese.
  4. Bake at 350 F for 6-8 mins or until all the cheese has melted.

Nutritional Information:

  • Total energy: 500 kcal
  • Fat: 39 grams
  • Protein: 28 grams
  • Net carbs: 10 grams (18 grams total carbs – 8 grams fiber)

Basically there is no limit to the number of different topping combinations you can come up with. Remember the base is basically zero carb and you can up the protein content of this pizza by using proteins (meat, tofu, seafood etc.) as toppings.

Why is this healthy?

  • This pizza is gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, soy-free… I can go on and on but in short this pizza is crap-free.
  • All fats are from egg yolks, coconut oil, almonds and cheese. All awesome sources of fat. No freakin hydrogenated oils or soybean BS oils.
  • High in protein.
  • Super low in carbs. All carbs are from tomatoes, basil, almonds and vegetables used as toppings.
  • Provides 8 grams of fiber which is ~ 33% of your daily requirement of fiber.

Don’t worry about slicing or sharing. It’s just 500 calories… eat the whole damn thing for Christ’s sake!

Peace out.

Some paleo love for the vegetarians?

I’ve been living the paleo/primal/real foods way for a while now and…

  1. Most paleo folks hate dislike are not really fond of vegetarians.
  2. A bunch of folks tried out ‘vegetarian-paleo’ and it sucked their efforts were not too fruitful (at least not shared publicly on the web).

In this post…

  1. I will try to act as a mediator/translator between the vegetarians and paleo community explaining one side’s arguments to the other.
  2. I will take a stab at making the generic vegetarians a little (more) healthy by recommending a make-believe ‘vegetarian ancestral diet’.

Realize that…

  1. I will be talking only about ‘vegetarians’ in this post. No vegans. No frutarians.
  2. Being vegetarian does not mean you’re healthy by default.
  3. Being vegetarian does not make you better than anyone else in any damn way. The relationship between morality and food is just as stupid as the relationship between wealth and happiness.
  4. I come from a country where a lot of people are vegetarian by birth (almost never by choice) and you need to be one of them to understand ‘why’ they are vegetarians. So my argument here might be more pertinent to these folks than those who chose to be vegetarians.
  5. Anything titled ‘vegetarian-paleo’ is retarded. It’s an oxymoron for all practical purposes… you know like Microsoft Works.

To everyone:

Paleo is a simple dietary lifestyle that is based on foods being either in or out. In are the Paleolithic Era foods that we ate prior to agriculture and animal husbandry (meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, tree nuts, vegetables, roots, fruit, berries, mushrooms, etc.). Out are Neolithic Era foods that result from agriculture or animal husbandry (grains, dairy, beans/legumes, potatoes, sugar and fake foods). – From www.paleodiet.com

A vegetarian does not eat meat, including red meat, game, poultry, fish, crustacea, and shellfish, and may also abstain from by-products of animal slaughter such as animal-derived rennet and gelatin. An ovo-lacto vegetarian is a vegetarian who does not eat animal flesh of any kind, but is willing to consume dairy and egg products. – From www.wikipedia.org

To the vegetarians:

While a lot of paleo folks are against a vegetarian diet, I, personally, am not against any way of eating (except this guy’s twinkie diet) as long as it encourages consumption of wholesome and real ingredients. Make no mistake, the folks who hate you because you don’t eat meat actually care about you. They believe that the pinnacle of human health was reached when man ate meat and you can’t hate them for trying to help you make the choices that (they think) are best for you.

Keep in mind that these paleo rock-stars are not idiots like your average dietitians/nutritionists. These folks are a part of the select few (I’d say 0.0001% of the population) who have the balls to go against conventional wisdom that is prescribed worldwide today by doctors, nutritionists, dietitians, the respective governments and well, the World Health Organization itself. Check out some of their advice – ‘Eat more meat’, ‘Saturated fat is good for you’, ‘Skip the olive oil. Go for the butter’, ‘Eat lard’, ‘Don’t eat breakfast’. For someone to make such bold statements/claims there absolutely has to be solid evidence available. And guess what… there is. Look into Dr. Loren Cordain’s ‘The Paleo Diet’ or Robb Wolf’s ‘The Paleo Solution’ or Anthony Colpo ‘The Great Cholesterol Con’ or T. S. Wiley’s ‘Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar & Survival’. I kid you not, ~ 30% of each of these books (~ 100 pages in each book) has nothing but references of published literature! These guys are  extremely well-versed in nutrition and the human body and understand extremely well, how what goes in your pie-hole can lead to your coffin. These guys are indeed elite.

My point? Keep an open mind. Listen to what these guys have to say. Decide for yourself if it fits your bill. Don’t just hate.

To the paleo folks:

It’s not that vegetarians think meat eaters are evil (at least not everyone), it’s just that they find it hard to wrap their heads around ‘killing something for food’ when it is possible to live without doing so (note that I said ‘live’ and not ‘thrive’). Realize that these folks haven’t eaten meat in a long long time and have been taught over and over again that a vegetarian diet is the healthiest diet there is. They, like most of us, think that they are making smart choices (remember the days you proudly ordered ‘Whole wheat toast with no butter please!’). So even if you do convince them that meat is what resulted in brain development in the early man and that eating grass-fed meat is the healthier option, the texture, taste and smell of meat along with other psychological challenges make the transition painful and, in most cases, impossible.

Proof that stress can get to cavemen too!

While it is true that being vegetarian is unnatural and will not provide the best nutrition possible, it is also true that the benefits of meat consumption can be easily negated with bad meat choices (grain-fed/farm-raised), less than optimal sleep, a polluted environment, chronic stress and  lack of exercise. So, as important as it is to fine tune nutrition, it is critical to grab other low hanging fruits (eating real unprocessed foods, avoiding grains and sugars, increasing activity level, weight training, getting adequate sleep etc.)  first up.

My point? Claiming that eating meat is the be-all-end-all of health is BS and won’t work. There are other changes that can be made in an existing generic vegetarian diet/lifestyle that will produce numerous health benefits. Respect a person’s food choices and try to work with/around it.

Please note that I too have read The Vegetarian Myth and I’m only trying to explain a vegetarian’s perception of food. So please don’t waste your and my time with emails/comments talking about how a vegetarian diet also results in bloodshed and you absolutely have to kill to live blah blah blah. You’ll only be preaching to the choir.

So what is a vegetarian’s ancestral prescription for health and longevity?

1. Eat real food: No brainer. I’ve spoken about this plenty and you can read about it here. Also, be sure to check out this post about how to gradually transition to clean eating.

2. Drop the grains: Grains include wheat, oats, barley, rice, quinoa etc. Just drop ’em. This post will teach you how to gradually reduce/quit grains.

3. Control the sugar: Enjoy your fruit and honey in moderation and drop all other types of sugars. Yep even the zero-calorie sweetener.

4. Love your nuts: Ok that did not sound right. Anyways include nuts as a part of your diet.

5. Don’t worry about macro-nutrients: Unless you’re marching towards a certain aesthetic/performance goal.

6. Don’t fear the fats: Saturated fats are your friends. Enjoy the coconut oil/butter as a part of everyday cooking. Here is a list of other awesome fat sources you can enjoy often.

7. Include a protein in every meal: Since your protein sources are limited, include eggs, cheese, paneer, cottage cheese, whey protein powder and tofu/tempeh (for women) in your diet. Regularly.

8. Eat starch only when you need starch: Sweet potatoes, yams, squash, beets and other starchy vegetables/tubers are your best options.

9. Fish Oil: Please, please, please swig some everyday.

10. Move like the hunter: Sprint, jump, push, pull… you know like when we they used to hunt critters.

11. Sleep like a baby: Getting enough sleep is extremely important in controlling stress and systemic inflammation.

Now the above will be an ideal vegetarian diet. What are some sensible detours that will let you live disease free but also let you enjoy some of the sinful neolithic foods available today?

1. Lentils/Beans: Yes, they contain lectins and yes, they give some people the runs. But if you can tolerate them and the carb-load they provide, lentils/beans are definitely a fair compromise. Tip: Soaking lentils/beans in water overnight (prior to cooking) has proven to remove some of the toxins.

2. The infrequent rice indulgence: The key word here being ‘infrequent’. If you did this everyday then you’re just too stupid to live long enough anyways.

3. The occasional sugar-high: When it’s time destroy that plate of cheesecake! The key word here being ‘high’. Sugar = cocaine. Do it rarely… the sugar I mean.

Since this turned out to be a long-ass post, I will elaborate in the near future by dedicating one blog post to each of the above points.

Peace out.

7 Week Results

Before I start this post, a big thank you to Lyle McDonald, Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf and Martin Berkhan. I have learnt so much from these guys I have to literally pay them tuition!

On the 12th of July I wrote a blog post titled ‘Time To Walk The Talk’. This is a follow up post to that. If you haven’t read that post already please do so before reading this post.

So for the last 6-7 weeks I have been trying to lean out. I generally don’t like focussing on aesthetics and prefer going by how I feel in general, sleep at night and perform during the day. But this time was a little different. Here’s why.

I went on a strength gain cycle for 5-6 weeks. All was well and I was gaining strength as expected until June 16th happened. I had a stupid fall while doing box jumps as a part of a conditioning workout and I ended up fracturing my left elbow and straining my left wrist pretty badly. This put me in a bad spot because I had to rest my arm on a sling for 2-3 weeks and couldn’t do any proper/intense workouts. I realized I was starting to  losing the strength I had just gained and the fat I gained along with the strength ain’t going nowhere! Well.. now I was just a fat guy who didn’t work out! Painful flashback!

The injury kept me from working out for about a week and then I was back on. I did exercises I could do without hurting the fractured arm. Thanks to solid nutrition and swigs of fish oil I recovered a lot quicker than I (or the doctor) expected. In like 3 weeks I was able do pull-ups again though it took me close to 5 weeks to do comfortable pushups.

What did I do for these 7 weeks?

Diet:

  • I ate a super clean diet filled with real foods. 95% Grade A foods. Click here for more information.
  • I had cheat meals every 2 weeks. I planned them, worked towards them and destroyed them when the time came. FYI – I had 3 huge cheat days and one all out 3-day vacation in Hawaii during these 6 weeks.
  • I did not count calories but I’m pretty sure I was somewhere in the 1500-1800 calorie range with ~ 40-60 gms of carbs and 150 gms protein per day. Rest of the calories coming from fat (and yes… lots of saturated fat too!)
  • I ate 2 meals a day. My first meal was lunch. Yep I ate no breakfast. Why? Intermittent Fasting Leangains approach. Martin Berkhan is dope and here is all the information you need.
  • Everyday Supplements: 1 Multi-vitamin, 3-4 gms EPA/DHA (fish oil), Whey Protein (as required)
  • Liquids: 2-4 liters of water depending on thirst, black coffee pretty much everyday

Training:

  • 3 days of lifting per week (squats, deadlifts, presses, weighted pull-ups, dumbbell rows)
  • 1-2 days of high intensity metabolic conditioning < 20 min duration (sprints, jumps, crossfit metcons, tabata protocol workouts etc.)
  • 1 day of ‘not for time’ workouts ~40 mins in duration.
  • 45-60 mins walking everyday (morning walk/stretch, lunch break walk, evening walk, dog walk and post dinner walk)

Results:

  • I felt awesome throughout the 6 week period. No hunger pangs or drop in blood sugar. High energy throughout the day. Very deep sleep at night. Great focus during the day.
  • Strength losses occurred. I would say most of the strength loss was due to the injury (and inactivity therefore) and some of it was due to the drop in calories.
  • Awesome endurance gains! Basal Heart Rate dropped from 62-4bpm to 46-48bpm. Metcons had a 30% improvement with respect to time. 400m sprint times also improved.
  • I don’t have blood work done yet, but will update you guys when I have it done which will be very soon.
  • Weight loss: 10 lbs in 6 weeks. Mostly fat loss. Body composition improved. Starting weight – 158 lbs. Current weight 148 lbs.
  • Photo evidence below.

PS: I generally run leaner in the morning and so the first picture (left) was taken first thing in the AM. Basically I tried everything to look less gross in the before picture (left). Didn’t help too much I guess. The second picture was clicked this evening.

Conclusion:

  • Like I had promised – I loved every single meal I ate and never compromised taste for health or health for taste. Cheat/carb-load days were even more special!
  • I did not let this leaning out cycle stop me from going on a vacation (which was nothing short of fantastic!)
  • I will continue this for another 4 weeks or so but, now that my elbow has recovered, I will focus primarily on performance.
  • I will get back to not worrying too much about aesthetics and focus on how I feel and function. (I like the my level of leanness right now because this body fat level generally helps me perform strength, endurance and yoga workouts comfortably. Any lower and I feel like dog poop all day… any higher and I look pudgy. No choice but to work with the genetic cards that we’re dealt!)
  • Considering the injury and the 2-3 week time off after the strength (and fat) gain cycle, this wasn’t a bad leaning out cycle. I lost about 1.5 lbs per week consistently. I’m not thrilled about the strength losses but it is what it is. Like I said in the July 12th post – “I will realize that my elbow has not completely healed and choose exercises and/or scale loads accordingly”.

Remember… it’s not enough that you train hard… you’ve got to train smart!

I will update you guys once again in about 4 weeks.

Adios.

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