What's written in this blog post is purely based on my own experiences after "experimenting" with both the paleo diet and Intermittent Fasting. This blog post is written with the intention in mind to provide you guys with my perspective of the two nomenclatures above. I am neither a scientist nor a nutrionist, thus I am not going to be scientific and statistical in this post, it's just going to be simple and straightforward.
The paleo(paleolithic) diet is essentially one that encourages one to eat more fats (good fats), moderate amount of protein, and a smaller amount of carbs. Good fats include nuts,seeds,coconut oil,grassfed butter,animal fat,avocado(the list is not exhaustive).
I first started the paleo diet about 4 years ago when i was in junior college, and stopped unfortunately when i enlisted for National Service. Back then, i could safely say that i was 100% on the paleo diet. I was strict about my sources and quality of meat. My chickens and eggs were free range and hormone free. My beef were grassfed, my salmon were wild salmon, not farmed. I only utilised grassfed butter, duck fat oil, and coconut oil to cook. I ate lots of avocado and nuts. I ate lots of veggies(broccoli and asparagus). I didnt have much starchy carbohydrates except for fruits and a little abit of sweet potatoes.
I felt very energetic and active throughout the day. I didnt feel hungry all the time. i lost weight but grew stronger during my training. I became leaner.
It was really great fun having to cook your own meals because first, you are fully aware of what you are about to put into your mouth. Secondly, you get to experiment with the wide array of paleo recipes online. There was even once i made paleo 'curry rice' using cauliflower rice and my own self made curry sauce. I make my own paleo pancakes every morning. Once in a while, i would bake paleo muffins, bars, cakes etc. It's all good fun and they taste as good as your normal food, or even better!
Practically speaking, it was very costly both time-wise and financially to lead a paleo lifestyle in Singapore. First, it was impossible to find paleo food, or anything close to it, when you are dining out. As such, i cooked every single meal on my own at home. I had to wake up at 5.30am everyday to cook my breakfast before heading to school. Secondly, it is unfortunately more costly to purchase your free range eggs, grassfed beef, wild salmon, nut butters, avocadoes and coconut oil in our supermarkets. I had to purchase them at "premium" prices at the butcheries. As such, it was financially taxing to purchase all your ingredients.
I experiemented with IF for about a month or so. As the name suggests, IF dictates when you should eat during the day, not what you should eat. There are various methods of IF but i tried the 16/8 method, which essentially meant that on a daily 24hour basis, i fasted for a period of 16 hours, and ate all my food within an 8 hour time frame. I fasted from 8pm at night till 12pm the next day, and started consuming my food from 12pm till 8pm, and the cycle repeats itself. During the fasting period, i had only black coffee and BCAA (branched chain amino acids). Protein shakes werent allowed during the fasting period. During the eating period, i ate generally paleo food.
I lost weight and body fat. My body weight dropped from 69kg to about 64.5kg. My body fat percentage dropped from 15% to 9.3%. The results were astonishing, and it proved that it was working. Evidently, i became much leaner.
It was constantly a painful period from the moment i woke up till the time i broke my fast (12pm) i was training about 3-4 times a day and my training took a hit. My first session is usually a non-intensive cardio/gymnastics based training, which included rowing, running, biking and bodyweight movements like your dips,push ups,pull ups and sit ups. I consumed BCAAs after that to prevent any breakdown of muscular tissue. I would then have black coffee to fill my tummy and keep me awake before my first meal. The worst part was during my second training session(strength session that took place just after i broke my fast. I would usually have bananas or berries with nut butter before i commence my strength training. The 2nd training session took the biggest hit as i was not able to concentrate on the lifts, especially when it got heavier. My central nervous system (CNS) was tired and i was simply demotivated to train. I would subsequently consume my first proper meal after the training session and rest up before my third training session in the evening. The third training session usually felt better because i was already well fed and nourished. Energy levels were higher and i felt better. I would then have my dinner after the session and rest up for the night.
My Current Situation
After trying IF for a month, i decided to stop and resumed back to my normal eating habits. Yes, i definitely looked much better infront of the mirror for that month. But i felt that everyday was a mental and physical battle for me, especially when my training frequency and volume are rather high. i am now currently back on a full fledged paleo diet and i am feeling physically and mentally much better during the day, especially when i train. I probably foresee that such a lifestyle is more sustainable in the long run.
My Final Take
For those who are really looking to get leaner and healthier, i can assure you that you will be in good hands if you adopt a paleo lifestyle. I am not kidding when i say that 'eating fats will help you loose fat'. Fats are a source of energy, and they have been underrated and underestimated for years. Your body will run more efficiently when it relies on fats for energy instead of carbohydrates. Fats make you full, and decreases your level of satiety during the day. This is simply because fats are harder to break down as compared to carbs. I am not saying that you cannot have carbs, but do be mindful of the quality and quantity that you consume. I would usually only recommend one to consume bananas, berries, apples,sweet potatoes and yams if you are in need of carbs(post workout). Other than that, consume more nuts,seeds,avocadoes,coconut oil, butter,ghee,salmon,fish oil throughout the day. Grassfed beef and free range eggs are also good sources of omega 3.
If you are really interested in trying out IF, i would recommend reading up on bulletproof coffee. It's basically coffee with added coconut oil, grassfed butter blended together. The fats in the coffee are meant to keep you full before your first meal. If you are desperately trying to get leaner and lose excess body fat, you might want to give IF a try.
But still, i will recommend the paleo diet as the best medicine to improving your health and fitness. Whenever my relatives approach me with any of their health issues, i only give them one advice. That is to eat foods that are somewhat similar to the paleo diet.
In conclusion, give the paleo diet a try for a month and see if it helps you in anyway. I am not saying that 100% paleo is the way to go because sacrifices will have to be made. (meals with your family and friends/cost/time) However, you can always go 80%paleo(2 out of 3 meals per day are paleo) for a start.
It's also heartening to see more 'paleo friendly' food cafes and restaurants in Singapore taking their ground in recent times. Some of them include 'project paleo','the naked meals' and 'daily cut'. Out of the 3, i would recommend 'the daily cut' because their meals are tastier and they offer you with a wider range of food options to choose from. Lucky for you if you are working in the CBD area because most of the clean food joints are located there. However, not to discount these 'paleo food cafes', i still ultimately believe in cooking my own meals because i am 100% sure of whats's inside. If time is an issue for you, these paleo food cafes are still the better options as compare to fast food joints, hawker centres, coffee shops etc.
If you would like more information about the paleo diet and IF, they are widely available online.
1)Robb Wolf (pioneer of the paleo diet)
2)Mark's daily apple (primal diet)
3)paleomg (paleo recipes)
If you havent started, start today! Feel free to approach me or any other trainers regarding your nutritional needs. We may not be nutrional professionals, but i am sure that we will provide you with the best advice possible based on our own experiences.
On a bright side, dont feel sinful to have your bacon, they are good sources of protein and fats!