“Why ‘Is That Paleo?’ Is The Wrong Question” by Paul Nobles


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I have to say this every single time I write an article like this because otherwise, people assume I am anti-Paleo.  I have no problem with Paleo whatsoever!  What I do have a problem with is obsessing over whether or not something is Paleo without considering the bigger picture.

For example:

Q:  Are Whey Protein Powders Paleo?

A:  No.  Whey protein comes from cow’s milk, which is not Paleo.

That question gives us an answer that provides very little real information about whether or not whey protein is actually of any use to us.  Instead, we should be asking questions like these:

Q:  Can my body use whey protein?  I always hear that it’s just wasted after digestion.

A:  Yes.  Whey protein is practically the most bioavailable, fastest absorbing source available.

Many authors make silly claims that protein powder is useless because most of it just “passes through you” but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Protein  is comprised of amino acids.  Protein bioavailability describes the percentage of essential amino acids present.  Regardless of where it comes from, protein will be broken down into these constituents and absorbed.  Eventually, amino acids are used to rebuild and repair tissues or transformed into either glucose or ketone bodies.  Protein rarely just passes through you.  Whey protein actually has more essential amino acids, including the ones you need to build muscle!

Furthermore, the rate of digestion and absorption of most foods isn’t great, but when you look at protein powders, they are more absorbable, not less, in comparison to meat.  This means they hit your blood stream faster and that can be a good thing or a bad thing depending upon your goals.

In the end though, the physiological value of protein has more to do with the amino acid profile than the absorption rate – as long as you’re consuming complete protein sources or mixing incomplete sources, your body couldn’t care less.  Most meats and fish provide a complete amino profile, and so does whey protein powder.

The real issue here has to do with satiety – how protein affects your hunger levels.  This is where you have to consider your goals – are you trying to lose body fat?  That will require creating a Calorie deficit in some form, and that might make meat, fish, and poultry better options as they’ll fill you up more.  Protein shakes tend to have less of an effect on satiety – they just don’t fill you up as much as a nice steak.

Does this mean you should have nothing but protein powders?  Absolutely not!  I only use them on occasion to fill in the holes of my protein requirements for the day.  The rest of the time I eat meat and get incidental protein from all of the other stuff I eat.

Q:  What if I’m lactose intolerant?  Isn’t whey a dairy product?

A:  Whey is in fact a dairy product, but most whey proteins have almost no lactose after processing.  

Whey protein is a byproduct of cheese production and is usually cooked down further to provide whey isolate, they most common whey variation available.  This process lowers the lactose content from about 5% to less than 1%.  In addition, many brands add lactase enzyme to their protein powders so that the lactose can be broken down safely during digestion.  Mild lactose intolerance is essentially a non-issue at that point, so whey protein would be a good example of a processed food you could use to add to your health equation.

Q:  What if I have a dairy protein allergy?  Is there a safe way for me to have whey protein?

A:  I personally have a dairy protein allergy and that is why I use hydrolyzed whey.  I’m not providing any medical advice with this answer – you need to make changes to your diet under the supervision of a doctor if you have an allergy.

It’s important to note that dairy protein allergies are different from lactose intolerance.  The most common allergenic protein in milk is casein.  While processing of whey protein eliminates almost all casein, there’s still some left over.   Hydrolysis breaks the protein down further, into free-form amino acid peptides.  People with allergies tend to be unaffected.  Whey hydrolysate is also used in baby formula for this reason.

Clearly, just because something isn’t Paleo doesn’t mean it’s bad for you.  It’s a lot more complicated than that, and it depends upon the individual.

Here’s another example.

Q:  Is Oatmeal Paleo?

A:  No.  Oatmeal is a grain, and grains aren’t Paleo.

That’s only part of the answer though.  Of course, if you have Celiac disease, obviously you want to stay away from gluten.  Avoid all grains and be careful with preparation due to issues of cross-contamination.  You may also find that, regardless of diagnosis, that grains affect you negatively and it might make some sense for you as an individual to keep them out of your diet.  No need to go there.

Simply put though, basing your diet on questionable science because someone who was intolerant said it “changed their life” is ridiculous.  This isn’t an attack on your values or your lifestyle, it’s just common sense.  If someone changed their life by dropping grains, good for them.  They aren’t you.

The real argument against grains runs very deep, beyond gluten.  A major point of emphasis is lectin concentration.  Lectins are carbohydrate-binding proteins that can aggravate and inflame your digestive tract.  There are high concentrations of lectins in oatmeal.  The thing is, all foods have lectins – including many Paleo-approved foods – so you can’t completely avoid them.  That’s OK, because most people aren’t very sensitive to phytolectins as long as foods containing them are prepared properly; grains need to be cooked thoroughly and removing the germ can be beneficial.

Again, if you’ve found that despite your best efforts, you feel better avoiding grains and you’ve already tried everything, then don’t go back.  If you’re ready to give grains a try again, though, oatmeal is actually a pretty safe place to start.

Anecdotally, I used to live on Tums and when I reduced my grain intake, my issues with acid reflux went away.  Now, I eat oatmeal on occasion and I’m fine.

Let me tell you why.

First off, my problem wasn’t occasionally eating oatmeal – that certainly wasn’t the thing that made me fat and sick.  My problem was that I didn’t eat much whole food at all, so when I made that a priority, the game changed.  I didn’t eat oatmeal during that time and I felt better.

I later added oatmeal back in to meet my needs for starchy carbohydrates with no problems at all.  It turns out that I wasn’t gluten intolerant or sensitive to lectins, so why would I continue to avoid oats?

Q:  What about the insulin spike from eating starches/sugar/carbs/etc?

A:  Insulin spikes are normal and healthy for most people.  If you’re a diabetic (type I or type II) or you have issues controlling your blood sugar, consult a physician.

If you have diabetes or you’re developing diabetes, controlling insulin is important.  Your body doesn’t make enough insulin, or any at all, to clear glucose from your blood stream.  For those populations, it’s a matter of life and death.

For the rest of us, worrying about insulin spikes is unecessary.  Of course, most of us have been taught to fear insulin by low carb diet gurus.  They argue that insulin is a fat storage hormone but I think it’s better to look at insulin is a building hormone.  Let me explain.

To maintain the muscle you’re tearing down when you work out, you need insulin.  Without the presence of insulin, muscle cells don’t open up to accept nutrients.  Certainly, bathing your cells in insulin 24/7 isn’t a good thing – you can develop insulin resistance and become quite unhealthy.

Ironically, when you eat a diet of mostly meats and veggies with few starches and no sugars, you can elicit the same adaptation and essentially make yourself insensitive to insulin as well.  The problem with insulin resistance is that it makes it more difficult for insulin to do it’s job and open up transport pathways into cells so you can grow stronger and healthier.

Sure, if you’re obese from chronically overeating, you would see results from doing the opposite of what you have been doing.  That isn’t the case for a lot of people though.  100% adherence to a diet devoid of starches not only isn’t necessary for most people, it’s a way to develop a very unhealthy relationship with food.

A diet that is more flexible is the key.

Ask “Does This Food Fit My Goals?”

Paleo is a framework, a list of foods, and for some people, it’s a lifestyle.  If Paleo is just a diet to you, however, then you really need to ask yourself why you’re doing it when there are a ton of other, more specific ways to figure out what to eat that are probably a lot easier to adhere to for most people.

Once again, even in the instance where Paleo is your lifestyle, 100% adherence isn’t the goal.  Authorities that recommend the hard line approach often forget the role food plays in most peoples lives.  Food is not just fuel – it’s meant to be enjoyed as well!  It’s a myth to believe that the people with the best physiques are the cleanest eaters.  Almost the exact opposite is true; the people with the best physiques are the ones who took a moderate approach and kept it up for years and years.

A diet of mostly whole foods – meats, veggies, fruits – that allows for times where you occasionally eat for joy is about right for most folks.  Some people need to get specific before they know what that formula looks like for them, but it’s worth it.  That is what ETP is – it’s not the quick fix, it’s not about huge changes – it’s about sustainable results.

Fake Doctors, Unnecessary Testing, and Manufactured Problems


You have questions about how to eat to lose fat, and we have answers!  Our “All-In-One” bundle features four of our eBooks – including “Met Flex for Fat Loss” and our Meal Planning Guide – as well as a Science Lab membership.  Get reliable information and trusted guidance from our community of experts for just two payments of $29.95!  For more info, click the button below!

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Anonymous Client:  “My doctor told me that the 5 Diet Cokes I was drinking were eating my brain.”

Me:  “What kind of doctor is this?”

Client:  “You’re going to laugh.  He’s an acupuncturist.”

Let me tell you a bit about blogging, online marketing, and why talking to a real doctor matters.  Initially, the goal of a blog is to deliver engaging content that people connect with – it’s something I know a lot about.  You need to target an audience.  We talk to active people – everyone from beginners who’re trying to get healthy all the way to elite athletes – who want to lose body fat, build muscle, and kick ass.

The next step is to then find solutions to the problems your audience may have.  Our solutions are plain and simple; we teach people that constant dieting is bad and that diet breaks are actually the key to making dieting more effective.  We give people reliable, common-sense information that they can apply to their lives and to ensure their success, we bring them into a bustling community staffed by professionals.

On a secondary level, we sell Reebok gear, Rogue equipment, and occasionally the small list of supplements that we think actually work, like protein, creatine, and drinkable carbs.

What we don’t do is sell fixes to imaginary problems.  We go by a 100% “No bullshit” policy.

Not everyone abides by that rule, though and what’s worse is that many charlatans are masquerading as medical professionals.

“The Bullshit Doctor” Scenario

OK folks, I get it – fat loss has eluded you for years and your constant deficit diets have led to little actual progress, some binge eating cycles, and a whole lot of confusion.  You’ve contacted a professional to get yourself on track.  You can trust them – they’re a doctor of homeopathic medicine!

For the sake of our example, let’s say you eat poorly and don’t move much.  They order some basic blood tests and it turns out your cholesterol is bad, your inflammatory markers are through the roof!  They set you up with a custom “Blood Type Diet.”  They basically give you a list of whole foods and start you doing 30 minutes of exercise a day; it’s probably a good thing and you’ll be headed in the right direction.  Inevitably though, everyone hits walls and plateaus.  Progress isn’t linear, but the good news is that your new doctor has remedies to offer that will help you break through those plateaus!

Let me give you the pitch:

“I think your cortisol levels are high.  Luckily I sell cortisol tests.”  

“Based upon my tests, I am pretty sure you are deficient in these vitamins, which luckily I also sell.”

Next you get the big upsell.

“Let me tell you about the secret to ultimate health that will melt fat off your body like butter dripping off a hot biscuit.  It’s a little spendy, but it’s the real secret for people that are stalled.”

Total bill for the hocus pocus solution: $2,875 and ultimately the client ends up slightly more enlightened, slightly smarter about food, but looking roughly the same in the mirror.  The funny part about the “ultimate solution”?  They are essentially selling an answer to a problem THEY CREATED by putting you on a diet that ignores the very basics of nutrition science!

Does Anyone Notice What’s Missing?

Energy balance regulates body weight.  Changing behaviors that result in a reduction in Calories is the most basic, fundamental aspect of a fat loss diet and these fakes aren’t even asking you to log your food to see how much you’re eating!  How do they even know if you’re over eating?  They’re assuming you are and that’s not always the case.

Blood type, cortisol levels, hormone panels – that’s all potentially useful information to know but it’s secondary when you’re just trying to lose some body fat and using those factors as your point of reference is just plain wrong!

After seeing literally 1000’s of food logs, we know that many  people aren’t overeating Calories; they’re actually undereating in relation to their activity levels, or they’re inconsistent.  What’s almost universal is that they’re missing relevant DATA.

Unfortunately, the bullshit doctors discourage you from collecting simple data like the amount of Calories you’re eating (see their article on why calories don’t matter) or body fat tests because if people knew they weren’t losing much fat – if they knew that their muscle might actually be atrophying – there goes the cash cow.

Oh by the way “You certainly wouldn’t want to weigh yourself, because that number has ruled you for too long.” This, despite the fact that scale weight is one of the most easily accessible metrics.

And of course, “GMO’s and not eating organic is killing you.”  Despite the fact that there is insufficient evidence to prove that GMOs are bad and that organic food is any better for you at all once you account for other lifestyle factors.

Do you see a common thread here?  It’s all based upon keeping you in the dark.  It’s very non-scientific.

It’s a sales tactic, and when you are selling fear and confusion it’s best to be all-in so you can sell a lot more stuff.

So Who Do You Turn To?

The simple answer is that if you you want help from a medical professional to solve any health problem you’re having, starting with an acupuncturist, chiropractor, or holistic practitioner might not be the best place to go.  You knew that already though, right?

I mean, you know that if you go to your real doctor they are probably going to give you the truth, for basically free.  The truth in regards to losing weight is simple – eat better, control your Calorie intake, and exercise – and frankly not what people want to hear.  They want to hear that taking a pill or an injection will save them from the work of tracking food for a few weeks.  They want to believe that there’s an easy, quick fix that will alleviate all of their problems.

There isn’t though.

True understanding of yourself is hard work.  Moving better and doing more is hard work.  I don’t necessarily think people are afraid of hard work; I think they’re afraid of working hard for nothing, and that’s typically because they’ve had fruitless experiences  They just need to be shown a path that works, that makes sense, that they believe in, so they can stick to it.

I get that it’s hard to commit to something when you’ve been let down before, but if you are willing to drop $3,000 on a bunch of nonsense, wouldn’t you just be better off logging your food for a few weeks and getting a $30 body fat test and bringing it to your actual doctor for his thoughts?  What do you really have to lose in that scenario?  Better yet, ask yourself how much you could gain.

I am not going to say that every MD has the answer for you because that would be impossible for me to know.  What I am saying is that if a practitioner is selling you expensive blood panels and vitamins to make you lose fat, you would probably be better off starting with someone who isn’t pretending to be a physician.

In future articles, I am going to have some physicians who take their health very seriously give you guys some thoughts on questions you can ask your doctors to get you headed on a better path.  For now, thank you for reading :)

“Boot Camp – Nutrition Rules for People New To Exercise” by Paul Nobles


Boot camp can be a great way to get in shape but you need to have a a plan!

You have questions about how to eat to lose fat, and we have answers!  Our “All-In-One” bundle features four of our eBooks – including “Met Flex for Fat Loss” and our Meal Planning Guide – as well as a Science Lab membership.  Get reliable information and trusted guidance from our community of experts for just two payments of $29.95!  For more info, click the button below!button (13)

Fitness boot camps are becoming more and more popular lately.  This is mostly due to the atmosphere – group exercise is fun, you feel a sense of camaraderie, and it’s easy to find people to team up with and build a support network.  Getting yelled at by an ex-Marine as you crawl through tires and jump over obstacles can also be hugely motivating, so more and more newcomers are finding themselves at boot camp.

First things first though, when you exercise, the point is to get better at exercise – not just to burn Calories.  You might be at boot camp to lose fat, but to reach your goals you need to have a plan when you go home.  The reason exercise is so important is because it wakes up dormant muscle and starts your metabolic furnace rolling.  The secret to a healthy metabolism is actually quite simple:  keeping the muscle you have and potentially building new tissue without adding fat.

Muscle is your metabolic engine, so it’s also a large part of the secret to FAT LOSS (not weight loss).  TONE is muscle.  Want to tone up and lean out?  You need to feed the furnace.

Follow these rules and you will have the formula for finally seeing the results you have wanted all along.

1.  Don’t diet!  Change your lifestyle one thing at a time.  Think of it this way:   if you were going to quit smoking, you wouldn’t take up jogging as well.  That’d pretty much overwhelm you.  If you’ve decided to spend a few days each week doing high intensity fitness stuff like a boot camp or WODs, there’s really no need for you to eat at a deficit because the workout will create one for you.  That single change will help you lose body fat and tone up.  While you might eventually want to reassess your Calorie intake and create a larger deficit by under eating slightly, you shouldn’t do it right off the bat.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t change up your nutrition a little bit, but you shouldn’t focus on eating less while you do more.

2.  Don’t pull off the Band-aid.  Look, I’ve been there.  I had a lot of fat to lose and I wanted to lose it as quickly as possible (and I did, many times).  It might be kind of exciting to get on the scale and see that you’ve lost 5 lbs. in one week, but your progress simply will not continue at that rate.  In a group setting like a boot camp, you’re going to notice that a lot of people experience this phenomenon.  You’re going to see a lot of people give up too.

That’s because the “pull off the Band-aid” approach just isn’t sustainable.  If you are working out hard a few days a week, you should be creating enough of deficit to see real change without losing too much weight too fast.  For most people, “too fast” is more than one pound of fat a week.  Anything more than that and you are often digging into your muscle which, as I mentioned before, is your metabolic engine.

3.  Change what you eat, not how much.  A diet of mostly meats and veggies will provide an adequate base of nutrition for most people.  Throw some starchy carbs like rice and potatoes in around workout time and boom, you can eat until you’re full and get great results.  Most people are slaves to convenience and find themselves in a drive thru around dinner time though.  The temptation is always there.

Here is my suggestion:  don’t go cold turkey, like I said if you are changing the exercise portion, dieting as well will ultimately derail you.  Make small changes. if you are were eating out 5 times a week, switch that to two.  Which brings me to my next point.

4.  Be smart about your cravings.  If you’re under eating every single day and not prepared, that bagel with cream cheese will seem more appealing when you wake up but you probably won’t enjoy it.  It probably won’t fill you up either.

It often surprises people to find out that they become more reliant on processed foods (especially carbs) when they’re hungry.  We suggest you keep carbs in your diet to fuel greater work capacity, but you also need adequate proteins and fat.  You need “real food,” otherwise you will never get out of the trap of convenience because it surrounds all of us and if you’re hungry all of the time you are going to doom yourself to failure.  So gradually make changes that keep you full and allow you to get better at working out.

5.  You have to prepare your food.  Life is busy.  It’s even more busy when you have a boot camp workout scheduled and you’re pressed for time.  As I mentioned earlier, without real food readily available, it’s tempting to take the convenience route or in some cases, not eat at all.  If you go into my kitchen right now, you’ll find chicken, beef, and chopped vegetables along with salad mixes.  There are also mashed potatoes and baked fries.  I can have a meal ready in 3 minutes.  Add some chilis and some soups and you have a number of days covered.

Here are some thoughts on getting your family to buy in:  For kids, if they cook it they typically eat it.  When it’s dinner time put vegetables out at first.  I use Sundays as prep days.  My daughters also like to go skating on Sundays so once the vegetables are chopped up and the chili is in the crockpot I drop them off.  It’s not perfect – they don’t always love it – but in general, if your spouse and kids aren’t on board you’re going to make everyone’s lives more difficult, including your own.

If you don’t have a spouse and kids, you can always get together with like-minded friends – potentially people you meet at boot camp – and hang out while you meal prep.  Get 3 or 4 crock pots going, and split it up.  Grill a bunch of meat.  Think outside the box and make things fun so you can stick to it, because that’s what it’s going to take to get from where you are now to where you want to be.  Seeing results that last takes hard work and preparation.  Anyone who tells you differently is selling you on misinformation.

Paleo 3.0 (The Evolution of The Paleo Diet)

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You have questions about how to eat to lose fat, and we have answers!  Our “All-In-One” bundle features four of our eBooks – including “Met Flex for Fat Loss” and our Meal Planning Guide – as well as a Science Lab membership.  Get reliable information and trusted guidance from our community of experts for just two payments of $29.95!  For more info, click the button below!button (13)

When I walked into the gym I currently go to, I had heard the Paleo Diet mentioned one other time in passing.  When my fellow gym members started asking how I lost over 60 pounds in about a year, I said “Honestly, I eat mostly meats and veggies.”  They said “That sounds like Paleo.”

I had no problem with them having that opinion because in my previous life, I relied on overly-processed convenience foods that didn’t provide me with adequate nutrition.  Call it what you will – Paleo, clean eating, whole foods – it’s all good to me.

With all that said, let’s get into the history of the Paleo Diet a bit because similar to Paleolithic man, it has evolved.

Paleo 1.0

Dr. Loren Cordain’s book “The Paleo Diet” popularized the concept of ancestral nutrition.  Cordain and others before him hypothesized that many modern ailments – obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer – are linked to our diets, which have become increasingly dependent upon foods that were not available to our paleolithic ancestors.  Specifically, the Paleo Diet removes grains, legumes, dairy, and most processed foods in an effort to improve overall health.  ”Paleo friendly” foods include protein sources like lean meats and seafood, with most of your carbohydrates coming from fibrous vegetables.

Many critics suggest that Paleo has become a fad diet, and there is a lot of evidence their criticisms are supported (I will talk more about that later).  Whether you agree or disagree with the premise, it’s hard to argue that eating real food isn’t good for you.

So let’s break this down: when your diet consists of mostly meat and veggies, it’s probably very nutritious and provides your body with plenty of protein and essential fats.  In the end however, there aren’t a lot of Calories there (I’ll talk more about that later as well).

Like the Atkins Diet, the goal of the Paleo Diet was some level of restriction followed by an eventual re-introduction of previously off-limits foods.  He mentions an 80-20 way of eating from a maintenance perspective (80 being mostly meats and veggies, 20 eating more liberally).

Paleo 2.0

It wouldn’t be long before the “lean meats” thing came under fire.  The problem was that when you eat a high protein, low fat, low carb diet, you’re essentially relying too heavily on stored body fat for energy.  This works if you’re carrying excess body fat, but it fails people who’re leaner.  Many of the current iterations of Paleo rely heavily on fats from animals and certain oils (i.e. coconut oil) as an energy source.  This allowed the Diet to be more sustainable for relatively sedentary people.

The next big step was making adjustments for athletes.  Dr. Cordain wrote a follow-up book called “The Paleo Diet for Athletes” and made some very non-Paleo recommendations, even going so far as to suggest that athletes drink Gatorade.

Next, Mark Sisson’s “Primal Blueprint” opened people up to a few ideas that significantly altered the course of the movement.   Mainly, the inclusion of occasional dairy, (assuming it wasn’t an issue) as well as supplements like protein powders, vitamins, and digestive enzymes made Sisson’s version of the diet more accessible.  In addition, starchy carbs like potatoes and even white rice were added to the list of acceptable foods for Paleo athletes.  That was a BIG change that brought us to where we are today.

Let Me Introduce You To Paleo 3.0

One of the main appeals of Paleo is that you can eat intuitively and lose weight if (notice I didn’t say lose fat) you were coming from a mostly processed way of eating.  I mentioned earlier that Paleo has received many criticisms.  One of the most egregious offenses to point out is that people started drinking buttered coffee with 500 calories of fat and oils in an effort to keep their fat high and their carbs low.  To some, this is evidence that Paleo has completely jumped the shark.  I look at it as a misapplication.

Recently I saw a food log where half of the persons daily calories came from butter/MCT oil coffee (MCT oil is Medium Chain Triglycerides, mostly derived from coconut oil in her instance).  She couldn’t understand why her body fat was still going up but she was keeping insulin repressed by cutting carbs.  Well, as it turns out, your body can store fat if you’re in a Calorie surplus!  That is a great example of intuitive eating gone bad – it’s really no better than binging on McDoubles and Coca Cola.

When we work with clients coming from a “Paleo” background, we don’t try to convert them from the way they have chosen to eat.  Our role is to enlighten them on how they can make their choices better.  The story usually goes like this: intuitive eating has left them under eating protein, their carbs are unreasonably low for the amount of activity they get, and in many cases they have traded their overly processed carbohydrates for a way of eating that’s overly reliant on fats.

In that case, there are some rules to follow that don’t break the Paleo framework.

Here Are The New Rules

1.  If you aren’t interested in specific results, you can’t complain that Paleo isn’t working for you.  Clean eating as an example isn’t a plan it’s the absence of one.

2.  Eat with a purpose.  If you ARE looking for specific results, you need to know how much protein, carbs, and fat you’re supposed to eat.  You need to know how many Calories your body needs to function properly.  Luckily, we have a calculator to help you figure those numbers out for yourself.

3.  Log your food (occasionally).  If you are looking for specific results, YOU HAVE TO LOG YOUR FOOD at least occasionally.  Otherwise you’re just guessing at how much you’re eating.  For instance, if you upped your protein and it helped you lean out, wouldn’t you want to know that?  Without logging your food on occasion, you’ll end up very confused.

4.  Eat at maintenance and don’t be too strict.  You have to move to an “80/20″ style of eating and up your calories to maintenance, otherwise you’re just painting yourself into a low Calorie, low carb corner.  You’ll obviously get results in the short term by being super strict and eating almost nothing, but you WILL plateau.  You have to take long diet breaks, maintain your body composition, and expand your work capacity as a result before you get back to the fat loss.

5.  If you’re an athlete, you have to eat starches.  Carbohydrates are your best friend if you want to improve performance.  FOR ATHLETES who want to lean out, I lower the fats first.  The reason is simple:  athletic endeavors tear down muscle fiber and protein and carbs are more important to the recovery process than fat is at the moment.  For a lot of athletes I don’t recommend dieting for more than 8-10 weeks.  The goal is typically very specific – one pound of weight loss a week.  This formula works well for most people and also gets you out of the Paleo Challenge “rinse and repeat” cycles were people get too aggressive in too short of a time period and end up losing muscle and sometimes gaining fat as a result.

6.  Eat intuitively.  Since you won’t be dieting, the majority of the time you won’t be looking for a specific result, so moving to more of an intuitive way of eating is not only suggested but encouraged.  That brings me to my last suggestion.

7.  Weigh yourself.  It doesn’t have to be every day but when you’re making changes to the way you eat, you need to know if those changes are working.  Without some real hard data, you won’t know.  Basically, if the scale goes up, the formula is relatively simple.  When you’re eating at maintenance, lower your carbs on rest days to keep fat and inflammation in check.

Don’t go crazy here – don’t drop your carbs to zero.  As an example, if you are eating 250g of carbs and resting two days a week, lowering those days to 125g of carbs on your rest days is a good palce to start.

If all of this sounds very “un-Paleo” too bad.  Most people who started Paleo did so to see results.  Real results take time and patience.  So rather than jumping into yet another rinse and repeat Paleo Challenge that lands you in roughly the same spot incorporate these concepts and I am sure you will figure out some major pitfalls in your previous approach.

“Toes To Bar – 6 Tips For Beginners” by Dani Horan


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One of the FIRST movements most of us learned when we did our first WOD was the good ol’ “toes to bar”.  It’s basically the king (or queen) of leg raises and it’s a vital skill to master if you want to compete in fitness.  The strict version is also a great way to develop total body strength, from your core to your grip.

While toes to bar (T2B for short!) is not a highly technical movement, it’s still got some ins and outs you should be aware of.  Here are some tips on the kipping toes to bar from Games athlete Dani Horan!

Note that it’s probably a good idea to master pull-ups to make your toes to bar easier and more reliable, so check out our article “7 Reasons Why You’re STILL Struggling With Pull-Ups!” while you’re here.

1.  Start at the floor.  Work on perfecting the hollow and “Superman” positions.  Staying tight in these positions will allow you to transfer more power into the bar so you can move more efficiently.
2.  Take those two positions and put them together on the pull-up bar.  Practice transitioning between the hollow and Superman positions and get into a rhythm to perfect your kip.  If you start to flop around, take a break and get back to it.
3.  Work on your grip strength.  If your grip is giving out, you’re not going to last long.  You need to work on specific grip strength on the pull-up bar.  Simply hanging from the bar for time – 30 seconds is a great place to start – can address a deficiency.
4.  Knees up.  Work on knees to elbows.  This is a remedial/scaled version of the exercise that’s great for people with mobility issues as well as folks who just want a way to make the exercise easier and work on developing core strength.
5.  Activate your lats.  When you come behind the bar at the top,  focus on engaging the lats.  Push down on the bar and descend quickly.
6.  Work on small sets.  To develop your technique without ingraining bad habits, keep the reps low and focus on perfect form.  If you push until your form begins to break down/loosen up, or even until you fail a rep, you’re just making it harder on yourself in the long run.  Quality vs. quantity!
In addition to these tips, you might also want to work on your hip mobility during your warm-ups.  Stretch those hamstrings too!

“You Might Be An Athlete If…” by James Barnum



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We get asked this question all the time: “How do I know if I’m an athlete?”

a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.
More and more people are becoming athletes nowadays, and while the definition is helpful, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of 50 telltale signs to remove any and all doubt.  You might be an athlete if…
  1. You feel more at home at the gym than you do at your actual home!
  2. You spend most of your waking hours thinking about PRing.
  3. You DREAM about PRing!
  4. You own ten pairs of shoes – not for vanity, but because you need running shoes, weightlifting shoes, street shoes, barefoot shoes, etc.
  5. You’ve ever had to ask for help getting out of a chair, because yesterday was leg day.
  6. Random people ask you if you work out, and you’re excited to respond!
  7. When you watch an action movie, you think to yourself, “I could do that.”
  8. Most of your wardrobe has been replaced with free t-shirts from fitness related events.
  9. You’ve had a bad day completely turn around as soon as you set foot in the gym.
  10. ANYTHING is a pull-up bar if you believe in yourself.
  11. Your normal friends know your Fran time, even though they have no idea what Fran is.
  12. Your Facebook profile pic is you hitting a heavy deadlift.
  13. You believe that squatting above parallel is a sin.
  14. Most of your Facebook status updates involve a PR announcement, a video of you training, or a picture of new equipment.
  15. You never miss the opportunity to take a nap because naps = gains.
  16. You have a “fitfam.”
  17. All of your friends come to you for fitness/diet advice.
  18. You own an article of clothing with your gym’s name on it!
  19. You’ve attributed a great workout to watching a motivational YouTube video.
  20. You own more shaker bottles than you do regular glasses and cups.
  21. You’ve had nightmares about burpees.
  22. You think wearing an elevation mask is totally badass.
  23. You have a space reserved on your kitchen counter for all your supplements.
  24. You’ve shared a “leg day” meme on your social network.
  25. Your phone is filled with form check videos.
  26. You forget that “snatch” and “clean & jerk” have a different meaning to normal people.
  27. You have a rack or a rig set up in your garage so you can train at home.
  28. Your Instagram is basically just fit people and food.  And cats, of course.
  29. You know how big your arms are – you’ve measured, and my how they’ve grown!
  30. 9/10 people on your Facebook friends list are coaches, athletes, or fitness authors you look up to.
  31. You can’t wait to tell your friends and family about a great workout, even if they hate hearing about it.
  32. You have a section of wall in your home dedicated to all your event trophies.
  33. You have a pair of running shoes you wear for mud runs so you don’t ruin your OTHER running shoes!
  34. You stay up late so you can see tomorrow’s WOD.
  35. Most of your pants are too loose around the waist and too tight around the thighs and booty.
  36. You’ve given up on jeans and spend most of your time in shorts or tights.
  37. You know what a “sweat angel” is.
  38. You’ve actually looked forward to taking an ice bath.
  39. You have nightmares involving boxes eating your shins.
  40. You’ve had to explain to a layperson what exactly a foam roller does/is.
  41. When you shake the hand of a new acquaintance, you wonder if they’ll notice your calluses and be impressed…or grossed out.
  42. You make time to work out.  No matter what.
  43. You’ve done/are doing a Paleo challenge.
  44. You have a backpack full of wraps, straps, jump ropes, and healthy snacks.
  45. You’ve been told to – more than once – talk about something other than working out.  You did not comply.
  46. You’ve spent a Friday night at home, alone, watching MobilityWOD.
  47. There is never enough coffee.  Or bacon.
  48. You’d rather be training right now.
  49. People think you’re CRAZY for wanting to train all the time :p
  50. You made it all the way to the end of a “You Might Be An Athlete If…” list.

“5 Tips for Women New To Lifting” by Sheri Stiles


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I love meeting new people who share my passion for lifting heavy things and I get asked often by ladies who’re new to lifting for any advice I can give them.

While every experience will be different for each individual, there are some universal things I often share with them that I would have found helpful back when I was considered a novice.

1.  Don’t do too much too soon.

I am torn saying this, because I was the same way as many of the women I talk to. They have big goals and numbers they want to hit, which is fantastic, but it’s important to remember too that won’t happen overnight. I can say from experience, looking back I believe I was going too heavy for too long with being too new in the sport. Was I strong enough at the time to be doing that? Sure, but I also believe a few of my injuries could have been avoided going into it a little slower. My training partners used to say to me, “It’s a marathon not a sprint!” and I now understand that!

2.  Eventually, your huge PR jumps will slow down.

Your first year, or two, you will make huge jumps in your lifts and it will feel great. That will eventually slow down after those initial years. I deadlifted 300 lbs. after 8 weeks of training, but have worked my butt off, for much longer, to get over 400 lbs. now. This is normal; Don’t let it discourage you, make you feel weak, or as if you are not “where you should be”.  After your body gets accustom to the heavy work load and adapts, you will have to put in more effort to see those gains.

3.  Stop comparing yourself to anyone else.

This is not just advice for new lifters. I can’t tell you how much happier I am not constantly worrying about someone else’s numbers, or what they were going to lift. You should definitely be competitive, and a little friendly competition can be good; but, if you are constantly comparing your journey and situation to others you’re going to be disappointed. You will never feel good enough doing this—its negative self-talk, and not productive. It’s necessary to have a goal, and others you look up to, but don’t downplay your hard work and achievements in the process.

4.  There isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

One program isn’t going to work for everyone; we all have different weaknesses. There is no absolute correct form for everyone. It’s like with many things, there are multiple ways of doing something and finding what works best for you and your body type will give you the best success. Yes, there are dangerous/ blatantly wrong forms of performing a lift, but there are things that will never be the same for everyone. I get criticized all the time for my deadlift form, but you look at some of the strongest and best lifters in the world and no one will tell them they are wrong—its finding what is strongest for them.

5.  Have fun with training and competing!

If you don’t, what’s the point? There is enough negativity in life, and you will encounter plenty in a strength sport. Lots of people will tell you what you’re doing is dumb and they will not understand it. You will get asked some of the dumbest questions possible; learn to laugh at them. People will talk negative about others, but don’t let that influence you. If you are bored, injured, or not having fun with training or competition (if you choose to) change what you are doing, and dismiss the negative input from others—it’s no one’s happiness but your own!

Jesse’s 1 Year ETP Transformation


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My journey to permanent change happened in February 2013.  I was 235 pounds and completely out of shape. Like many, I was a very active three-sport athlete in high school.  Once I got to college I was burnt out from the constant workouts and became lazy, yet I continued eating the same amount of food I was eating when doing the grueling workouts I did in high school.  I was a fit 185 pounds then, and got up to 215 in about ten years.

Fast-forward to 2005, I had my first bout of being fed up with how I looked, so I did what everyone else was doing in 2005: the Atkins diet.  Combine that with jumping full throttle into cable machine circuit training with 45 minutes of machine cardio five times a week.

I dropped 30 pounds in about 4 months (back to 185!), but then two things happened.  Two things that I repeated twice over the next ten years: I got sick of the deficit diet and bored to tears of the exercise program.  I also rebounded in weight gain by 2007, jumping up to around 245.  That’s a guess because I don’t really know.  I didn’t like myself, didn’t like having my picture taken, and had a total of three pairs of pants that fit me.

By 2013, I was tired of looking at myself in the mirror, was motivated to change, and wanted to try something different.  Enter cross training.  Why?  You get to lift weights and I’ve found that I love lifting weights. You get to learn Olympic weightlifting.  I never get bored, and have yet to plateau.  I am always tired after every workout.  It is the first exercise program I’ve done that reminds me of my grueling high school track practices.  I was sold.

However, the diet was lacking.  I was doing low carb again and four months in, I hit an absolute wall in energy.  I was getting moody and even a little depressed.

Discovering Eat To Perform


Then I heard an interview with Paul Nobles about Eat To Perform.  The message is simple: focus on becoming stronger and crushing your workouts and not your weight.  You’re not interested in losing weight; you’re interested in becoming leaner.  Fuel your muscles with carbs to become stronger.  Gain and maintain muscle to burn fat.  Lose weight but do it slowly.  No more yo-yo.  Allow your body to adjust to change gradually, which allows for those changes to be permanent.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that in order to achieve the results you desire, you need consistency and patience – consistency in hitting your macros, getting every workout in, getting adequate sleep, and taking proper rest days.  Have patience in the things that hold up your progress.  Life happens and you have to remind yourself that you’re in this for the long haul.  I had a twenty-year on and off back problem flair up on me to the point that I had to stop working out for weeks in March of this year.  I went to a physical therapist and got it fixed.   I immediately got back on track after this and went on to drop more weight than I had in the previous six months.

There Is No Magic Formula

Consistency and patience are the two things most vital to this and any program, yet many have the hardest time accepting it.  The fitness and nutrition industry has made millions of dollars on convincing us that there is some quick magic formula to losing weight and looking like a million bucks.

When I started ETP, I was told that if I had been deficit dieting, that chances are I would gain weight in the beginning – I did.

After the initial weight gain, I was told that I would slowly start losing weight – I did.

It took two months before the real fat loss kicked in, but I believed in the program. I stuck with those initial macros, plateaued in my weight loss, made slight changes and kept going.  I didn’t see the plateaus as a negative; I expected them to happen, adjusted, and moved on.  As an aside – track everything you do: strength, diet, and weight.  By tracking, you figure out when you’re plateauing, and only then should you make programming adjustments.  These adjustments happened over months, not days.

Long term, I told myself that if this takes me two years to reach my ultimate goal of under 20% body fat, then so be it.  Think of it from this perspective: my body fat has been over 20% for almost twenty years now.  Not having the patience to take two years out of my life to get it back down is ridiculous.

The Results

When I started ETP in October of 2013, I weighed 228.7 pounds.  My body fat % was 33.7.

As of the beginning of November 2014, I weigh 199.2 pounds, and my body fat % is 25.9.  I’ve lost 29.5 pounds, 86% of which was fat.  I smile a lot more.  I walk with my shoulders back.  I wear tighter clothes.  I’ve had almost every woman I know personally tell me that I look amazing.  They always use the word amazing.

Like everyone says about every lifestyle change, the initial process is the hardest.  Breaking down the carved in stone deficit dieting ideology and telling people to feed their muscles in order to become leaner is a big hurdle for a lot of people. Yet like everything else, once you accept it, meet your daily goals, and be consistent and patient with all of it, it’s actually pretty easy.

Tear Down “The Wall” – Change Your Body Fat Set Point


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“At first, I was having an easy time losing weight.  The fat was melting off.  Then, after a couple months, I stopped making progress – I hit the wall!”

Does that sound like you?  Practically anyone who’s been on a diet knows that you’ll eventually hit a point where results come to a screeching halt.  To make matters worse, once you lose weight, it nearly always comes back with a vengeance. 

Why (despite your best attempts) do you continue to end up back at square one, frustrated and confused?

In this article, we’ll help you devise a strategy to tackle “The Wall” and keep the fat off for good.

What Is “The Wall?”

To begin, you need to understand a bit about your nemesis.  ”The Wall”, the barrier that’s standing in the way of you getting leaner, is your body fat set point.  Your set point is just the body fat percentage – the ratio of lean mass to fat mass you carry – that your body has become most comfortable with.  This is influenced by a ton of different factors but the one we’re going to focus on is energy homeostasis.  If you’re carrying around a lot more fat than you used to, your set point has increased.  This can be usually be attributed to chronic overeating and a lack of physical activity.  In other words, eating too much and burning too few Calories resulted in you storing extra body fat.

I’m willing to bet you’re not exactly a sedentary person though – you probably exercise several times a week at a pretty high intensity.  You probably eat clean and work diligently to avoid junk food, and you’re probably in better shape than you used to be – your set point is slightly lower than when you were a bump on a log.  Why can’t you seem to lose fat then?  Unfortunately, the very thing that everyone tells you to do to lean out is inhibiting your progress.  ”The Wall” is different for you.

Your wall has been erected in response to chronic undereating combined with excessive physical activity.  Months or even years of eating too few Calories – whether intentional or not – and pushing harder and harder in the gym have elicited adaptations that will prevent you from losing fat.  Your body fat set point is lower than most people, but you’re not like most people – you expect more from yourself and that’s why you’re reading this article.

How Do I Lower My Set Point?

To lower your set point, you can’t be in diet mode 365 days of the year.  You need to attack fat loss from both angles – adding lean mass during parts of the year is absolutely necessary if you want to reduce your set point and tear down the wall.  Every few months or so, you need to take a diet break, which is just an extended period of eating closer to your maintenance Calorie intake.  We like to call it “un-dieting.”

We’re not talking about a cheat meal/cheat weekend or anything like that where you eat whatever you want.  No, this is not a free-for-all – that’s how you go from making progress to regressing and increasing your set point (not good)!  Un-dieting/diet breaks are controlled, gradual, and they work to decrease your body fat set point by shifting your maintenance Calories slightly lower than they were before the diet began.  A weekend of binge eating does the opposite.

Think about un-dieting like “The Three Little Pigs” but in reverse; you’re the big bad wolf attempting to topple a structure with just your breath.  Your set point is as thick as a brick by the time you reach a fat loss/weight loss plateau.  You’re just not going to break through it, and if you try to trick your body, you’ll end up in hot water.  You can soften it up by gradually increasing Calories back to maintenance, working from brick to wood, until you finally reach a point during your diet break where all you’re dealing with is a flimsy straw barrier.

What Do I Do When I Hit The Wall?

Eventually, you’ll hit the wall – your body will adapt and what you’ve been doing will stop working.  You need to be prepared for this, not surprised by it.  At this point, your body fat set point will be lower, but you’ll likely become frustrated by your lack of progress.  When the wall rears its head, most people attack with brute force and further reduce their Calories – they work harder and harder and the result is usually a loss of muscle mass, which actually increases your set point.  

DO NOT BECOME VICTIM TO THIS METHOD OF APPROACH!  All you’re doing is fortifying the wall and making it harder and harder to see results.

Instead, when your fat loss stalls, confront the wall with a more intelligent plan; instead of working harder, work smarter.  Gradually increase your Calories by 100-200 each week and monitor your weight.  It’s important to take things slowly to allow your body to adapt positively to the extra food – you want to increase your metabolism and recover from dieting, not backtrack and put on unnecessary body fat.

After your weight has stabilized with more food, you want to stay at that Calorie intake for a period of time to allow your body to adapt.  The end result will be a lower set point and easier fat loss moving forward.

How Long Should My Break Last?

The leaner you get, the longer your diet break needs to last and the more gradually you need to increase Calories.  We usually recommend about three weeks of time for people who maintain “normal” levels of leanness.  People with more fat to lose can go a little less than that, and folks who’re approaching lower levels of body fat might need more time to adjust.  If you’ve spent a very long time undereating, the process might require some patience.

Essentially, the longer you’ve been dieting, the longer you need to un-diet.

Tips for Breaking Fat Loss Plateaus

  • Track your food intake for a few days.  Compare your Calorie intake with the results of our TDEE Calculator.  This will give you a look into how much you’re undereating/overeating and help you determine where to go from there.
  • Take your diet break seriously.  Don’t eat everything in sight – stick to mostly whole foods and gradually increase your Calories.  This should happen over the course of weeks, not days.
  • A word on cardio:  if you’re doing it to lose weight, you might want to tone things down.  The added Calorie burn isn’t helping you out if you’re severely underfed.
  • Adding in more food will give you more energy – enjoy the extra vigor and focus on gaining strength.

You have questions about how to eat to lose fat and gain strength, and we have answers!  Our “All-In-One” bundle features four of our eBooks – including “Met Flex for Fat Loss” and our Meal Planning Guide – as well as a Science Lab membership.  Get reliable information and trusted guidance from our community of experts!  For more info, click the button below!button (47)

5 Rules For Masters Athletes Who Want Real Results

KellyESnatch2 You have questions about how to eat to lose fat and gain strength, and we have answers!  Our “All-In-One” bundle features four of our eBooks – including “Met Flex for Fat Loss” and our Meal Planning Guide – as well as a Science Lab membership.  Get reliable information and trusted guidance from our community of experts!  For more info, click the button below! button (13) First let me start this by saying that you are an athlete.   I don’t care if you started last week or 40 years ago – if you’re concerned about your strength, speed, and performance in general, you’re not just “working out”.  I’d say 99.8% of the nutrition advice you get on a daily basis is geared towards sedentary populations who just need to improve their health.  In other words, it doesn’t apply to you and you need a different approach. To make matters more complicated, things change as you get older and what may have worked well twenty years ago isn’t going to cut it anymore.  As one masters athlete put it, “We have more years of brainwashing to undo. And we may be a little stubborn.”

Here are five tips that masters athletes need to keep in mind if they want to maximize their results.  Let’s get started:

1.  Fuel properly.  As the body ages, the hormones that allow us to recover and get better become compromised.  That makes fueling yourself properly even more important.  Especially as a masters athlete that’s new to fitness or you have been eating in a very restricted way, changing that will help you get better results quickly but you are just getting to par at that point.

2.  Build muscle.  If you look at many of the people with the most muscle in the gym, many of them seem to have arrived with all that lean mass.  As we age, we lose lean body mass (for a number of reasons) and for that reasons, Masters athletes need to apply some level of of emphasis to building muscle.  On your most challenging strength days, you should be eating a Calorie surplus and YES, the scale should go up.  You are trying to add lean tissue – it won’t appear out of thin air.  This is a long process unless you were previously carrying a lot of muscle, so stick to it.

3.  Don’t push the limit of intensity too often.  Instead, focus on developing a well-rounded engine and build all of your energy systems.  High Intensity WOD’s are a piece of the puzzle but if you just get good doing everything at high intensity, your body simply adjusts to that.  Even if you’re doing burpees, air squats, or even barbell movement.  Just because you change exercises doesn’t mean you have necessarily changed domains and functioning well at your redline is only one part of the equation.  True variance includes high intensity, rep work with short rests, and LONG endurance. For an example of this type of programming, check out The Master WOD.

4.  Change up your focus.  Insulin is a building hormone and at high intensity you are not building – your body is just trying to survive.  There are two ways to address fat loss: lose adipose tissue and gain lean mass.  When you focus too much on one or the other over LONG periods of time, your body simply adjusts and your progress is compromised.  For masters athletes, patience is the key in both instances.

5.  If you are using WODs to control your weight, STOP.  You exercise to get better at exercise.  As we touched on in rule #1, masters athletes have limited recovery ability.  You need to train smarter, not harder!  If you are sick or injured, stay home and get better.  You can easily keep fat off without working out compromised assuming that you are nourishing your body most of the time.  Yes, the scale will probably go up a bit when you aren’t moving very much but you have my permission to be OK with this; it’s normal.  Don’t, however, use this as an excuse for 2 weeks of bad behavior.  I am not suggesting you should just stay home and do nothing.  Do what you can but don’t over-exert yourself and miss the point of rest.

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