View Full Version : Paleo Critique, am I on track?

Matt Chou
04-08-2008, 03:27 PM
First post, really excited about this new quest in healthy lifestyle.

Just read Protein Power Lifeplan and decided to go for Paleo diet with some IF thrown in. I would love some critique on the food I"m eating and if I'm on track for Paleo.

goal : I'm a rock climber / outdoor adventure enthusiast. My goal is to be able to quickly excel at all outdoor sports. My philosophy in fitness seems to be in line with Crossfit's. I will be starting basic crossfit today after my climbing session and hopefully join a local Crossfit gym soon.

My diet goal is to bring my BF down to <10%, increase climbing performance. I am currently 162lb 5'7, not sure about current BF. I can barely see my abs if I flex and mid-section is generally flat (slight belly when I exhale). I can grab onto some fat on the side and under my arm. I'd guess I'm probably somewhere around 18-20%, not sure though.

My fitday journal is at


I'm at day 2 of my diet. I got nervous yesterday because I only ate 1080 calories (apparently greens don't have much calories), I tried to increase it today by eating a lot more lean meat, egg and add some extra olive oil.


Greg Battaglia
04-08-2008, 04:04 PM

Can you give us a sample day of what your food intake looks like? Basically, to lose body fat and increase performance you want to switch your body to a fat metabolism rather than a carb metabolism. To do this, you'll want to increase your fat intake from clean sources of animal fat (fat from grass-fed animal flesh, grass-fed butter, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, avaocados) and decrease your carbohydrate intake. This means limiting fruit intake. You can sub in berries for other fruits as they are lower GI and higher in antioxidants. In addition, most of your carbs should be reserved for the meal following training to take advantage of the increase in insulin sensitivity; your body will divert glucose from carbs to replenishing glycogen stores rather than to body fat. Keep protein intake moderate and eat wreckless amounts of green and cruciferous low GI vegetables. That's really all there is to it.

In summary:

1. Reduce your carb intake- Basically eat tons of greens, good fats, and moderate protein most of the time

2. Reserve your carb intake for the post-workout meal

3. Don't exceed 100 grams of carbs/day (following rule 1 ensures this without counting anything) if you find that fruit is not sufficient in replenishing glycogen (you'll know because performance will drop) then use starchier options like butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, etc.

That's it really. This alone will probably lean you out very nicely. If you want to add in some IF to get the last 5% of perfection wait until you;ve mastered the above comfortably, then jump in with short fasts that gradually increase slowly.

Matt Chou
04-08-2008, 04:10 PM
That's awesome Greg. since I just started, I only have yesterday's full day intake. It's on the fitday journal in detail but here it is for easier viewing.

Tuna, fresh, raw ( 8 oz, boneless, raw )
Mixed salad greens, raw ( 2.5 cup, shredded or chopped )
Olive oil ( 1.5 tablespoon )
Sesame oil ( 1 tablespoon )
Nuts, macadamia nuts, dry roasted, with salt added ( 0.5 oz (10-12 kernels) )
Water ( 24 fl oz )
Cabbage, green, cooked, fat not added in cooking ( 0.5 medium head (about 5-3/4" dia) )
Chicken, thigh, with or without bone, NS as to cooking method, skin eaten ( 7 oz, with bone, raw (yield after cooking, bone removed) )
Broccoli, cooked, from fresh, fat not added in cooking ( 1 cup, fresh, cut stalks )
Swanson Chicken Stock ( 2 cup )

Calories breakdown:

Average Calories
grams cals %total
Total: 1040
Fat: 65 589 59%
Sat: 12 105 11%
Poly: 9 81 8%
Mono: 37 331 33%
Carbs: 37 86 9%
Fiber: 15 0 0%
Protein: 81 326 33%
Alcohol: 0 0 0%

and breakdown so far today (Lunch, 1 meal so far)

Average Calories
grams cals %total
Total: 989
Fat: 64 577 60%
Sat: 12 105 11%
Poly: 5 45 5%
Mono: 38 342 35%
Carbs: 39 105 11%
Fiber: 12 0 0%
Protein: 70 281 29%
Alcohol: 0 0 0%

I guess my fear is eating too much or too little and end up gaining extra fat as a result. From what you're saying, calories doesn't really matter , is that right?

Derek Weaver
04-08-2008, 04:22 PM
I don't post over here as often and am not as much of an expert as many on this board, but from what I've seen an experienced it is almost impossible to overeat on mainly meat and veggies. throw in a few nuts and you're set.

Fruit earlier in the day when insulin sensitivity is highest and you're there. Just remember to stay with it. Nothing works overnight. Stay the path and keep us updated.

Also, try breaking up the meals a little bit. Almost 1,000 calories can be result in a big insulin surge, even if it is low(er) carb. Pretty sure I heard this from the IF Life blog (http://projectfit.org/iflife). (work and family safe)

Greg Battaglia
04-10-2008, 09:31 PM
Derek is spot on.

The amount of food you eat does matter, it's just that when you eat mostly meat, veggies, and good fat you're going to find it really hard to eat too much food. You'd have to force feed yourself probably to gain weight eating this way.

How much do you weigh? What's your height? Less than 1500 cals may be too low depending on body size. Let me know what's up.

Matt Chou
04-11-2008, 09:39 AM
Thanks for the response Greg. I weight 158 LB, 5'7, according to the skinfold I'm about 19% BF. My goal is to go down to 10% while building lean muscle.

Some quick observations 3rd day on Paleo -

My body has really adjusted to this new form of food. First day I hated eating so much vegetable, now I look forward to eating broccoli. I had a cheat meal last night at the Baseball game (it just wouldn't be the same without Garlicl fries, chicken tender, and beer), I definitely felt the impact physically (headache, loss of energy, etc.).

How do you determine Calories to body weight? I guess my main concern is losing muscle mass eating such low calories. Is there a weight to calories ratio I should be aiming for?

Greg Battaglia
04-11-2008, 02:42 PM
That's great to hear that you're improving. You'll come to learn that once you;re really dialed into this way of eating you'll feel like complete garbage any time you cheat, which is both good and bad. Good because it discourages you from eating bad stuff, and bad because you can't enjoy an occasional cheat without paying the consequences.

For someone your height and weight, your basal metabolic rate is around 1700 cals/day. That's how much cals you'll burn if you do nothing but sit on the couch all day. Assuming you're working out and your goal is to lose fat, I honestly think you will get great results with 1200 cals/day as long as you stay Paleo and listen to your body. What I mean is, once you lean out you'll probably have to increase calories to prevent losing muscle mass. But listen to your body and pay attention. Keep doing what you're doing, especially since you feel good, until you lean out nicely, then worry about the next step.

Jay Cohen
04-11-2008, 04:23 PM
Assuming you're working out and your goal is to lose fat, I honestly think you will get great results with 1200 cals/day as long as you stay Paleo and listen to your body. What I mean is, once you lean out you'll probably have to increase calories to prevent losing muscle mass.

1200 calories, NO WAY, not even if you never left the couch, let alone if you're training. If you're lifting weight or doing Metcon, fat loss will come if you dial in your eating, but dropping down to 1200 cals is totally nuts.

Good luck in staying healthy at the level, good bye to building muscle.

Greg Battaglia
04-11-2008, 08:24 PM
Jay, I have personally performed well eating 1200-1300 cals/day during cutting phases in the past. If you have the fat to burn and weight to lose, it will work, as your body will simply revert to stored fat. In fact, this is the obvious method that weight is lost and fat stores are burnt, especially when consuming a low carb paleo diet.

Additionally, my main reason for saying that 1200 was fine is due to the fact that Matt clearly stated that he feels good eating this way. You can pull out your calculator and start doing the math but the arbitrary numbers mean nothing is he's feeling and performing comfortably. Moreover, I made it clear that he should listen to his body and will probably eventually need to up the cals.

I think an intial restriction of calories during a cutting/weight loss phase is good to shock the system into ketosis to burn fat stores. Combine this calorie restriction with low carbs and the fat will come off at an alarming rate.

In terms of Zone blocks, Matt falls at 15 blocks per day, which by my calculations is 1162.5 cals per day. That's less than his current 1200 cals per day.

Derek Weaver
04-12-2008, 01:57 AM
Just to jump in real quick. When he falls to 15 blocks on Zone, we should all remember that those who use the block system tend to lose track of at least a couple hundred "hidden" calories. Zone's restrictive, but not nearly as low as most would believe.

I agree with Greg though, that if he's feeling good, performing well etc. then he's good. 1200 does sound a bit low though... if it's too low then he'll crash and burn soon enough and tweak as necessary. Getting food and quantity dialed in is far from an exact science.

Greg Battaglia
04-12-2008, 10:58 AM
Yeah, I agree with Derek. I later considered the extra calories coming from the macros that you don't count toward individual foods that are primary sources of one particular macro (ie in nuts you only count the fat, but protein and carb cals are disregarded). So yeah, go with what's working until it doesn't, then tweak.

Matt Chou
04-14-2008, 09:25 AM
Thanks for all the input. I've bene testing <1200 calories and so far it feels pretty good. My weight seems to have stablized at 158 lb without much change though. I went climbing yesterday and performed pretty well, so I felt pretty good about that.

This week I'm going to aim to meet zone requirement of 15 block while aim for 1200 cal. If I get excessively hungry, I'll eat more, I'm beginning to dial into my hunger a lot better (If i'm really hungry, or just craving).

Derek Weaver
04-14-2008, 12:47 PM
A little clarification? Are you going to be using the "gramming" method for your Zone blocks? Which would end up at just slightly lower than 1200 calories? Or are you going to use the "block method" (the Zone block charts at the end of the book)? If your weight has stabilized, is your body comp improving (may be a bit early to tell) and/or performance increasing?

Keep us updated. This has become a favorite thread of mine quickly.

Matt Chou
04-14-2008, 01:09 PM
I'm not really clear on the difference between "gramming" and "regular zone blocks". I read the Zone book a few years back, if I remember correctly a zone block would make 7 grams of protein. So I'm assuming 15 * 7 = 105g. Maybe Greg or someone can clarify.

I'm finding it to be slightly challenging to eat enough protein without eating massive quanitity of sat. fat.

Body composition is definitely a bit early to tell. Performance seems to be stable so far, I climbed a few 5.10d along with running 3 miles and felt pretty good, surpringly not insanely hungry either.

I'll be joining a local Crossfit gym for a workout Wednesday, that should give me a good baseline to measure my performance.

Greg Battaglia
04-14-2008, 02:10 PM
I'm not much of a fan of the Zone to be honest. The reason I used the Zone as an example was to show that someone at your height and bodyweight could realistically consume 1200 cals/day. If you wanna do Zone, it works, it's just too meticulous fro me. You only really need to do strict zone for 2 weeks to get an idea of what type of portions you should be eating until you add in fat blocks to increase performance. So if you want to do the 2 weeks and then up the fat that could be good, but it seems your doing good now. Don't fix it if it ain't broken!

Mike ODonnell
04-14-2008, 02:34 PM
I'm finding it to be slightly challenging to eat enough protein without eating massive quanitity of sat. fat.

Lean beef/turkey/pork (not hamburger, hotdogs, sausage), chicken, fish, tuna, Omega 3 eggs (better omega 3/6 ratio when you eat the yolk...as you should).....plenty of ways to get it with whole foods.

Matt Chou
04-14-2008, 03:46 PM
You guys are the mostly helpful bunhch. Thanks for the clarification.

Right now I'm using Zone block to make sure I meet the protein requirement per day. Looking back at my food log, I see that fat is typically the highest percentage. I consume average of 60-80g of protein a day whle fat is at about 80-120. Most things I eat are grass-fed and organic so I'm not losing sleep over it, I do think I should eat more lean protein though.

Greg Battaglia
04-14-2008, 05:31 PM
That's great stuff. Grass-fed and organic are definitely major bonuses. It sounds like you're getting adequate protein, but it could help you to lose fat mass quicker and preserve lean mass by upping the protein intake a bit. Tinker around with increasing protein and let us now how it goes.

Best wishes