Is Paleo + Intermittent Fasting the Ultimate Diet for Guys?

captain caveman Is Paleo + Intermittent Fasting the Ultimate Diet for Guys?

In all my years as a personal trainer, I have uncovered a few common truths.

One of those truths is that men & women don’t diet the same way.

Women are generally better at counting calories and men are more effective at restricting food groups.

To test this observation, I conducted an experiment with a few of my male clients on what may just be the Ultimate Guys Diet.

Combining my version of the Paleo Diet with Martin Berkhan’s Lean Gains version of Intermittent Fasting, I watched four of my male clients/guinea pigs drop a bunch of body-fat without hearing any of the typical “I hate dieting” bitching and whining.

Amazing.

Here’s what they did.

  • From waking up until 1 or 2:00 p.m., they ate nothing except for one coffee (no sugar) and/or a green food drink sweetened with stevia.
  • They also supplemented their diet with branched chain amino acids (BCAA) throughout the morning – dose dependent upon bodyweight.
  • Between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m., they ate a meal of salad greens, protein (steak, chicken, fish, eggs), balsamic vinegar and some version of healthy oil.

Notesome of my guinea pigs worked out in the afternoon while others in the evening. This would impact when their second meal of the day was consumed. If they worked out in the afternoon, we increased the size of their lunch. If they worked out in the evening, we increased the size of their dinner.

  • 20 minutes prior to their workout, they took another dose of BCAAs.
  • Dinner was consumed between 6:00 and 8:00 pm depending upon the workout schedule with the goal being to eat dinner as soon after working out as possible.
  • Dinner consisted of more protein and either more salad or a plateful of sauteed/grilled vegetables. Everyone’s barbecue got a lot of work during this experiment.
  • No solid food was eaten after 8:00 pm.
  • Between 8:00 p.m. and bedtime, they were only allowed unsweetened, calorie free beverages.
  • Before bed, another dose of BCAAs and a few other supps were taken.

And as I mentioned previously, the end result was fairly significant fat loss without any noticeable bitching, moaning or muscle loss.

Success.

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Another Intermittent Fasting method that you may want to take a look at is the one by Brad Pilon – Eat Stop Eat.

While I am not a big fan of his style of web marketing, his book is the best available for explaining the whys & how-tos of Intermittent Fasting.

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Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, a social media nerd and a student of nutrition and exercise science. Since 2008, Doug has brought his real-world experience online via his health & fitness blog, Health Habits.

24 Comments

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  2. Jeff Pickett

    April 6, 2011 at 7:43 am

    I’ve been eating Paleo for the past year and have been following LeanGain’s program for almost a month. The IF philosophy works well for me as a 43 year old who likes to get out the door in the morning. I use the weekend to prepare my meals (lunch) and eat between 1 and 2 most days. I get home, take care of my kids dinner, work out and then eat. I’ve lost a little weight although that is not my goal – I just want to cut the bodyfat.
    With a high stress job, I’ve been leery of raising cortisol due to IF, but so far so good. I’ll continue to monitor that.
    Kudos for this post, for providing the results of your clients. Pics and numbers from their trials would be great if you could share those.

  3. Dylan

    January 2, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Great feedback! Thanks!

  4. Matt

    December 31, 2010 at 10:12 am

    I follow IF and workout in the AM, however I drink BCAA before I workout, and then about ever 2hrs after till noon when I have my first meal. For me it looks like this:

    ~5:45AM – Drink first serving BCAA
    6AM – workout
    8AM – Drink second serving of BCAA
    10AM – Drink third serving of BCAA
    Noon to 8pm – Feeding window
    8pm to 5:45AM – Fasting (technically fasting till noon)

    I think perhaps everyone’s physiology is different so some may do better one way or another, however I have found that generally speaking my workouts are much more effective when fasted (as long as I am eating enough calories during the feeding window, I am experimenting with very low cal and IF atm and its going ok but may require some time to adjust). I have more focus, drive, and seemingly energy while fasted.

    While I am not doing it now, I could see perhaps how a post workout meal would be beneficial. It may be more like how things worked for us in our hunter gatherer days, you’re hungry (fasted) so you hunt (exercise) which uses a lot of energy, but then you are able to eat because you kill something (or gather it, etc..).

    I am also wondering if there may be a hidden mechanism at work here based on food intake. For example I am starting to think our bodies adapt because of the type of things going on overall. Let’s say you do a 1hr intense workout, but then gorge with food, the body may be programmed in such a way like: “We worked really hard, but we have all we need and more, there is no reason to change our physiology.” Whereas another person doing 30min of intense workout, but then does not eat for some period of time, the body may be programmed to see it like: “We just worked hard, but we didn’t get what we needed, we need to be faster, stronger, and more agile to succeed or we will die.” And thus their body starts to adapt, maybe it is just subtle changes such as the next time they eat they will absorb more nutrients because of chemical changes (insulin response, glut-4 changes, IGF changes, Growth hormones), which cause the body to get stronger or faster etc…

    That is just a concept I have been thinking about, maybe having every single nutrient 24/7 causes our bodies to want to remain as they are? Maybe this can cause a person to have trouble losing weight even when dieting (supplements covering nutrient bases)?

  5. Dylan

    December 30, 2010 at 7:51 am

    I’m also wondering about how this might work for those of us who workout first thing in the morning.

    • healthhabits

      December 30, 2010 at 9:58 pm

      A lot of IF followers believe that training on an empty stomach is a good thing.

      Not me – don’t like it.

      What I would suggest is to shift the 8 hour feed to work with your workout schedule – for example if you workout at 7:00 am – start eating at 6:00am – finish at 2:00 pm – fast from 2:00 pm – 6:00 am

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  7. Jarret

    December 11, 2010 at 10:32 am

    Hey Doug, this is great summary of Martin’s Intermittent Fasting diet. I still have to take some more time to wade through his site to learn more about it.

    Both leucine and BCAA are great supplement choices for those who’re dieting and/or preferably involved with resistance training.

    I’ve never tried leucine myself, so please give me some feedback from your experience with that supplement!

  8. Vicki Kron

    December 10, 2010 at 8:39 am

    I forgot to ask, what is a “Green food drink”?

    • healthhabits

      December 10, 2010 at 10:08 am

      This is the green food I have been using for the past year or so

      But, I think I have found a better one – Athletic Greens – you can order direct through their site – I like this stuff so much, I am trying to convince them to set up an affiliate program so that I can sell it via Health Habits

  9. Vicki Kron

    December 10, 2010 at 8:35 am

    This sounds like a great way to go for overweight diabetics. Where do you get leucine? The Natural Food Store here doesn’t have it, will order it, but it is very costly. Do you know of an online supplier?

    Even though I’m not a guy, I’m trying this starting today. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

    • healthhabits

      December 10, 2010 at 10:03 am

      @Vicki

      Let me know how it works for you. Re the leucine, I am using Allmax Leucine right now. I bought mine at a supplement store in Toronto but it is available online

      You can also get it through my amazon store for a couple of bucks less

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  11. Brit

    December 9, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    So women are just out of luck?

  12. Tyson

    December 9, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Did these individuals have a lot of weight to lose to begin with? I ask because I have been trying to follow the leangains approach for a few months now and can’t seem to get the results that others are experiencing. I eat primal and rarely cheat but can’t figure out where I am going wrong. My body fat is already pretty low (but not cut). Just curious.

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  14. mac

    December 9, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Doug, I’m also curious about ~ number of calories they were eating? Any clue?

  15. Nick

    December 9, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Ashley,
    That is the point of the IF (intermittent fasting) set-up.
    Check out Leangains.com for more information.

  16. Ashley @ Nourishing the Soul

    December 9, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Curious… why was there nothing consumed before 1 or 2 p.m.? And would this be effective if the individual worked out in the morning. I would imagine it would be important to consume a meal either before or after exercise?

  17. Matt

    December 9, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    I think that you are on to something. I know for me IF has greatly increased my energy levels and focus, and I feel more “balanced” but I have already hit a plateau with weight loss with the current foods I eat regularly on the IF structure. I believe I am burning fat more efficiently and thus the energy boost, but I don’t think I am getting the restriction in calories I need even though I am eating very infrequently (16hr fast is the goal, but a lot of times its closer to 20hr).

    In terms of health there are many people out there that have had a lot of success with Paleo, and its really not that easy to over eat from what I can tell (vegetables almost don’t count, there is only so much meat you eat before your full and its a lot less then the amount of carbs you can eat). In many ways you will also be continuing the benefits from the IF fast in terms of insulin/glucose and other factors directly related to weight due to the lower carb menu.

    Combining the IF structure with Paleo nutrition should be a killer combination. Now if I can just get control of the foods I am eating to try it out!

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  19. Nick

    December 9, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Why so many supplements

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  21. Ahmed

    December 9, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Intermittent Fasting FTW!

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