We try for a common sense approach with everything we do at Well Effect and that is what our Soma Science℠ approach is based upon. It starts with sound, science based concepts that evolve as new concepts emerge and are proven. Our goal is to combine the most up to date science with practical real world methods to improve your health. It is our mission to show you how to bring these methods into your life as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Speaking of evolving approaches, let’s talk a bit about the cave-man diet craze known as the Paleolithic Diet. This has recently been popular by Dr. Loren Cordian in her bestseller “The Paleo Diet”. I’ve been reviewing the premise and it’s easy to grasp, basically, if a caveman couldn’t have eaten it, you shouldn’t either. So where does that really leave us.
There is scientific evidence that our caveman ancestors were healthier than we are in today’s America and the developed world. They likely died because of injury, unlike most of us today who die of a disease process usually linked to our lifestyle. Our ancestors obviously had incredibly high levels of physical activity by today’s standards, and a diet full of organic, wild game meats, nuts and greens, as well as bugs. Yes, bugs!
What do Paleo Advocates Say
Dr. Cordain and other Paleo Diet advocates say that man was a skilfull hunter bringing home lots of meat to feed the tribe. In reality, even with today’s modern methods, the yield from hunting would bring about a 20% success rate. This means that early humans likely ate a lot of other things the other 80% of the time. We might wonder how they got their foraging nutrition? They ate plants and berries, (without the oil and vinegar). Unlike larger prey that they hunted, at least they plants and berries were easier because they don’t run away. You do have to eat a lot of plants and nuts too, but bugs were by necessity a nutritious part of their diet.
Modern research on bug consumption shows that bugs have a higher nutrient and calorie dense composition than almost anything else on the planet! Now I’m not suggesting you start eating bugs, but if you were starving there could be worse choices. Think about this: A lean rump steak has about 322 calories per 100 grams, a white fish such as cod about 74 calories per 100 grams, and termites over 560 calories per 100 grams!
What did our ancestors really do?
Since the record on what early humans ate, the real Paleo Diet, is varied not only by the region of the world that our ancestors lived in, but also by the inherent bias of modern day speculation. It’s hard to really know what they actually ate. Despite the popularity of a “Paleo Diet”, our ancestors diet was probably not quite like the books concept by Dr. Cordian..
A more realistic discussion we should be having is on the pattern of eating that our ancestor hunter/gatherer would most likely have had. Hunting was only about a 20% success rate when they went out. So each time they went out it was miss, miss, miss, miss and hit; BBQ Time!. As a result, they probably had long periods of low calorie, plant based grazing through most of their day supplanted by an occasional higher calorie meat based food. This is something that can be likened to what is now being investigated by researchers under the technical name of Intermittent Fasting for Caloric Restriction or IF-CR. See our blog for hormone health concerns on Intermittent Fasting – Different for Women and Men!
What is Intermittent Fasting for Caloric Restriction?
Researchers are evaluating what happens when someone goes for prolonged periods without eating. There are lots of ways to do it, including meal skipping, alternate-day all day fasting, Eat Stop Eat, and others. There’s evidence that IF-CR, when done properly, might help regulate blood glucose, control blood lipids, reduce the risk of coronary disease, manage body weight, help us gain (or maintain) lean mass, reduce the risk of cancer, and more. Our approach and research has led us to develop our specialized version of Intermittent Fasting that we call Paleo Eating Pattern℠ or PEP℠. Our clients describe having a greater sense of autonomy over their food weaknesses and their fears about being hungry.
Is a Paleo Eating Pattern℠ for you?
Considering how much remains unclear and contradictory from the research, I suggest a conservative approach. Our PEP℠ approach is conservative. If you want to try PEP℠, use a gentle protocol. Eat for 5 or 6 days in a normal pattern of eating that allows you to maintain a neutral or slightly negative energy balance. To set yourself up for your PEP℠ day, the night before, eat your normal dinner then get up and go through your day (a busy day is easier) without eating. Sip a hot or cold beverage throughout the day that has a small amount of calories, 100 calories for women, 150 calories for men. Come home and have your normal dinner.
- For women, aim for 400 calories for a total of 500 calories for the day. Very important to keep your weekly average of all calories to no less than 8,400, and pay attention to how things are going (see below).
- For men, aim for 500 calories for dinner and 650 calories for the day. Men need to keep their weekly average of all calories to no less than 10,500.
Stop PEP℠ if:
- your menstrual cycle stops or becomes irregular
- you have problems falling asleep or staying asleep
- your hair falls out
- you start to develop dry skin or acne
- you’re noticing you don’t recover from workouts as easily
- your injuries are slow to heal, or you get every bug going around
- your tolerance to stress decreases
- your moods start swinging
- your heart starts being irregular
- your interest in romance fizzles
Fasting is not for everyone.
Don’t try PEP℠ if:
- you’re pregnant or lactating
- you have a history of disordered eating
- you are chronically stressed
- you don’t sleep well
- you’re new to diet and exercise
Pregnant women have extra energy needs. if you’re trying to get pregnant, fasting is not a good idea. Similarly, if you’re under chronic stress or if you aren’t sleeping well a fast would not be recommended. Your body needs nurturing, not additional stress.
If you’re struggling or have struggled with disordered eating, you probably recognize that a PEP℠ protocol could lead you down a path that might create further problems for you. We don’t recommend PEP℠ if you fall into one of these categories. You can achieve similar benefits in other ways. If you’re new to diet and exercise, PEP℠ might be a great approach for weight loss. It’s important to address any nutritional deficiencies before you start experimenting with PEP℠ so that you’re starting from a solid nutritional foundation.
What to do if fasting isn’t for you and on the other days?
How can you get in shape and lose weight if PEP℠ isn’t a good option for you? Learn the essentials of good nutrition. It’s by far the best thing you can do for your health and fitness.
- Cook and eat whole foods.
- Exercise regularly.
- Stay consistent.
- Work with us as your guide.
A PEP℠ approach may be a good option to help you learn to work through your hunger. Listen closely to your body, avoid fads or extremes, and follow good advice.