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Is it even possible to get "ripped" doing paleo?

by (626)
Updated about 13 hours ago
Created May 06, 2011 at 1:39 PM

I've been eating paleo for at least three years and I've done very well. My weight is down from 221 to 170 and I look and feel great. I'm 45 years old and 5'10". I don't eat grains, I don't eat casein containing dairy, and I don't eat mammals. So I eat basically lots of fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, butter, heavy cream, green leafy veggies, and the occasional apple, lemon, orange, or lime, etc. I do like to have a DietRite and Whisky or a glass of wine or two with dinner. I eat one big meal per day (IF) generally 1500-2000 calories and I commute by bicycle 30 miles a day. Pushups and pullups to failure 2-3 times per week.

So I've gotten to the point where I don't know how to achieve my goal of being "cut" or "ripped". I feel like I'm doing everything "right". Taubes says calories don't count so theoretically it does no good to reduce calories. At what point does the body say "you're lean enough" and quit losing? It seems like my body likes to be at 170 which is about 10 lbs heavier than my goal of 160. Anyone know what to do at this point? Thanks!

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1571 · February 20, 2012 at 10:23 PM

@Rick - This place looks like magic to me. How'da they do that George?? Holy Crap! Get Ripped: http://www.leangains.com/. I'm pretty sure it's Paleo as I found it through a posting on PaleoHacks.

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1074 · November 18, 2011 at 10:33 PM

i believe you can achieve the lean/muscular physique but you might have to follow a Hollywood diet thats closer to high protein, moderate/low fat & carbs. results may be temporary...

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1074 · November 18, 2011 at 10:32 PM

go search Perfect Health Diet weight loss version. it's basically a fixed level of carbs, moderately high protein (relatively) and moderate fat (rather than high fat as most Paleo'ers recommend) in order to tap into your own fat store. 300g is way too high, you're not an elite athlete

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5136 · May 22, 2011 at 2:37 PM

Chicago has some of the worst, most aggressive drivers ever. It's so true. Safe riding to you!

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163 · May 18, 2011 at 9:11 PM

@Rick if paleo or a high-fat diet were so metabolically advantageous, then would even need to ask this question?

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626 · May 09, 2011 at 4:28 PM

Lots of great ideas to try here, thanks everybody. I've decided to get out my old motor scooter and scoot to work for a month or so. Diet will still be much the same but I'll add a sweet potato here and there. I'll hit the gym 2-3 times a week with a more comprehensive bodyweight routine than just pushups and pullups. And I've set my bedtime for no later than 10:00pm. Hopefully this new plan will cut my food cravings and I'll get to my desired goal. I think being cut is not a natural state so I can't rely on natural methods to achieve it. Thanks again!

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60 · May 09, 2011 at 1:59 AM

Men's Fitness.... I say f**k the culturalisations of what men are supposed to look like.

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143 · May 08, 2011 at 4:20 PM

Look at Mark Sissons 'carbohydrate curve. 300g per day from carbs is far far to high. Aim for around 75-100g carbs, and eat more good fats such olive oil, avocado, nuts & seeds etc Just a side note when talking about carbohydrate grams its not total weight. Its the actual carb content on food...use fitday website (its free) to input some random veggies and look at their carb content.

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163 · May 08, 2011 at 3:33 PM

People want to be told "it's not your fault", that's what GCBC/Taubes does. Well sorry but it is your fault; what and how much you eat is your choice.

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7970 · May 08, 2011 at 2:58 AM

@tartare BTW, completely unrelated to the original question but I had to upvote you. I cycle in Chicago quite often and get annoyed almost as much by people trying to kill me. Recently had a guy in a Toyota Solara b*tch me out for being in the left lane (when I was going to be turning left) saying that he was an F**king lawyer and knows the f**king law, I should've been in the right lane!

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163 · May 08, 2011 at 2:12 AM

Right it's hard to admit. A hard reality to face, that places responsibility on oneself for their actions.

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15976 · May 08, 2011 at 12:53 AM

Excellent last paragraph there. It's odd sometimes how so many people new to paleo, having just read GCBC, etc just will never admit that cutting calories indeed ALSO works and can complement a good paleo way of eating if one's goals are leaning weight.

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5136 · May 06, 2011 at 11:07 PM

i mean, it is likely 5 days a week, and I see where it can wear on you, particularly with the stressful traffic aspect, but it can also be extremely relaxing and there a plenty of "rest opportunities" while on a bike. Besides, I have to defend it because I just love riding my bike so much :)

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5136 · May 06, 2011 at 11:01 PM

yeah. but the thing with most bikes is, you can coast, and then you're just sitting (unless its a fixed gear) and once you build momentum, it can be pretty darn easy, so its certainly no comparison with say an hour and a half of running or even walking for that matter. And he is breaking it up into 2 events of 15 miles each.

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3244 · May 06, 2011 at 10:30 PM

Yeah! It's like getting a whole bunch of points at once. Passing lines of stationary SUVs filled with angry people on their cell phones - now that's some fun. I understand that being ripped is cool, and cycling may stall that, but the slugs I pass in traffic...you should feel proud, man.

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1138 · May 06, 2011 at 6:55 PM

Again, you are failing to consider where the person asking the question is coming from. He is 5'10", bicycling 30 miles every day, and eats less than 2000kcal! And @hermanvt, you tell him to exercise more and eat less based on where his is now? I'm not talking about hypothetical problems, I'm talking about this particular person's situation as he stated it and what I think he should do now, which does include eating more and exercising less than he has been. This is the last comment on this question from me, I hope Rick finds his way, that's what counts.

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571 · May 06, 2011 at 6:24 PM

300 gram carbs? It only works, when you're on low Fat, right?

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5136 · May 06, 2011 at 6:00 PM

that's why cycling in snowstorms is the best (though sadly, i missed that last one), cause everyone's indoors, there are hardly any cars out on the road, and the ones that are out are finally paying attention and driving the speed limit. And it's super fun! Yeah I finally got to the point where I had to employ conscious techniques to not get so angry because i was concerned it was starting to make me a cynical person. Fight and flight exactly!

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626 · May 06, 2011 at 5:58 PM

He he, it's true, I like hunting down and overcoming buses! :)

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626 · May 06, 2011 at 5:56 PM

Ain't it the truth. By the time I get home I'm ready to kill just about anyone. My wife knows to give me 15-30 minutes just to get back into a civilized mode when I get home. It's definitely fight or flight and usually both!

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5768 · May 06, 2011 at 5:41 PM

Eating more and exercising less may get you over a sticking point, but at some point you will have to restrict calories again to get ripped. Again...we are talking about getting ripped not losing weight. Maybe we need to define ripped.

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1138 · May 06, 2011 at 5:39 PM

@Rick: You have around 155lbs of lean body tissue (ie nonfat) at 5'10". Aim to be the same ~8-9% bf but at 180-190lbs. if you want a ripped physique.

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1138 · May 06, 2011 at 5:36 PM

@hermanvt: No insults intended, just stated my opinion, sorry if you took it the wrong way, but that is your problem not mine. And you said your suggestions were coming from the perspective of bodybuilder already having decent muscle mass, but that is not the case here if you read his question, so I still stand by your answer as off-base. Lastly, strength absolutely translates into muscle mass, but bodybuilders optimize for hypertrophy which may be why you were confused.

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5136 · May 06, 2011 at 5:31 PM

cycling raise cortisol? when i had a 6 mile each way commute in Chicago, i would get to be one angry b**ch. people would regularly try to kill me and once even a cop had to sheepishly apologize for his driving! (and I know there are a lot of ridiculous cyclists too, i'm not saying "cars bad bikes good") And i took mostly side streets for the first 3 miles or so! Cycling in a city is definitely cortisol raising. You always have to keep your eyes open and try to predict what someone is going to do. (even with vigilance, not always possible)

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19220 · May 06, 2011 at 5:19 PM

Sure, but he is not a running marathons or an endurance athlete or a competitive cyclist. He is just riding a bike to work each day.

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626 · May 06, 2011 at 4:12 PM

That's at least 1000 calories per day from carbs. Why so much? I find that my belly grows by just looking at carbs. :)

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626 · May 06, 2011 at 4:05 PM

What is that step??

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626 · May 06, 2011 at 4:04 PM

Thanks Hemanvt. I come from a background of many decades of weightlifting so I get where you're coming from and I see that you appreciate the nuances of the question. I wasn't sure if I had conveyed that. I will definitely try the carb/caloric cycling and maybe try taking the subway for a month to see what happens. So this may be just what I need to get me near 160. Bodyfat right now is 8-9% according to my Tanita scale. It's OK, but but I feel like I can get down to 6-7%.

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626 · May 06, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Some good advice here, thanks! I commute by bike for financial reasons. But I don't see why I couldn't try taking the subway for three weeks in June and then have my vacation week after that. That should lower my cortisol for sure and at least show me if it's the riding that's doing it.

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626 · May 06, 2011 at 3:41 PM

Good question, I ride the bike to work because parking in the city costs $300 a month, plus the cost of gas! Mark is one of the few folks I've seen that is paleo and that cut so I wonder if it's his genetic setpoint to be so lean?

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626 · May 06, 2011 at 3:38 PM

I found that cutting out casein makes my seasonal allergic rhinitis go away. :)

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1138 · May 06, 2011 at 3:37 PM

@Matthew, no it is not. Ask any former endurance athlete turned 'power' athlete how they got 'ripped' and they'll all say they exercised less/ate more. It is relative to what you have been doing and your body's current state.

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44 · May 06, 2011 at 3:04 PM

push ups work the arms and core where bench press works the chest. there are hundreds of different variations to do pushups without needing excess weights.

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19220 · May 06, 2011 at 2:58 PM

Eating more and exercising less is certainly a novel way to get ripped...

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5768 · May 06, 2011 at 2:56 PM

haig...I also suggested cycling calories, but I guess you chose to focus only on the suggestion you could insult. Also, I was speaking from a bodybuilding perspective, which I mentioned, so those suggestion are based on someone already having decent muscle mass. Also, asking him how much he benches, deadlifts, and sqauts is not going to get him lean...strength does not equal muscle mass nor leanness.

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5768 · May 06, 2011 at 2:55 PM

haig...I also suggested cycling calories, but I guess you chose to focus only on the suggestion you could insult. Also, I was speaking from a bodybuilding perspective, which I mentioned, so those suggestion are based on someone already having decent muscle mass.

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5768 · May 06, 2011 at 2:53 PM

haig...I also suggested cycling calories, but I guess you chose to focus only on the suggestion you could insult.

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15976 · May 06, 2011 at 2:44 PM

I would agree wholly with PKN

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1138 · May 06, 2011 at 2:31 PM

What is your current bf% and how much can you squat/bench/deadlift?

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1334 · May 06, 2011 at 2:30 PM

exactly, over calorie PWO, restrict on off days. heavy carbs PWO also, high fat, low carb on off days.

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1138 · May 06, 2011 at 2:28 PM

More exercise and less calories?! He's eating less than 2000kcal daily and bicycling 30 miles! Sorry, but this is horrible advice. See my answer.

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5768 · May 06, 2011 at 2:17 PM

I bet the farm Mark always looked ripped even before he took on this lifestyle. He was an elite athlete for one thing. He is genetically gifted as they say.

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7970 · May 06, 2011 at 2:16 PM

I don't mean to bash Mark Sisson (or you) - but know that he was a SAD athlete long before he started living/eating primally. So I don't think he can claim primal as the cause of his physique.

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15976 · May 06, 2011 at 2:13 PM

excellent reply. I have come around to a way of eating/living/lifting that uses a lot of classic bodybuilding tools. I am not a bodybuilder, rather just an amateur powerlifter, but the tools that bodybuilders have established and proved for years and years are a great tool in our arsenal I believe. I don't recommend getting down to those super small bodyfat levels BUT if one desires that than protocols like hemanvt refers to will indeed work. Proof is in the pudding. Don't trust armchair coaches, listen to people that do it, have done it, know what works and does not.

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44 · May 06, 2011 at 2:07 PM

very similar here although i do eat "mammals"(little beef but bison, elk, wild board and venison are delicious, raw.) and don't drink any alcohol. thanks for posting. i can tell you that adding some dumbbell routines for arms/shoulders/back has helped in the "ripped" dept. i hate doing abs though... why no casein dairy?

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44 · May 06, 2011 at 2:02 PM

very similar here. thanks for posting. i can tell you that adding some dumbbell routines for arms/shoulders/back has helped in the "ripped" dept. i hate doing abs though...

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5768 · May 06, 2011 at 2:08 PM

I think this is an interesting question because as a former bodybuilder the only way I knew to get sub %5 BF was caloric restriction and expenditure (calories in/calories out). However, I don't think I could or would want to maintain that level of leanness for a long period of time because i just don't think most people are meant to or even can run effectively without a certain amount of BF to protect the organs, joints, etc. Of course, there are some who are genetically "gifted" and run at very low BF levels very effectively but I think that is a very very small portion of the population.

Now back to your original question....I think Taubes is correct to a point. But I think you have hit that point! Your body obviously needs an extra "push" to lose additional BF or get ripped. The only push I know is either more exercise or less calories or even both.

Another suggestion, and something I tried when I was bodybuilding, was carb/caloric cycling. Essentially do a cycle of something like 3 days of restricted carb/calorie followed by a one day of excess carb/calories. Restricted and excess meaning lower or high than your "BMR."

Other than those two suggestions, I don't see how you can get to a "ripped" form unless you are genetically gifted. Of course there are different definitions of ripped, but that is another discussion.

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5768 · May 06, 2011 at 2:55 PM

haig...I also suggested cycling calories, but I guess you chose to focus only on the suggestion you could insult. Also, I was speaking from a bodybuilding perspective, which I mentioned, so those suggestion are based on someone already having decent muscle mass.

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5768 · May 06, 2011 at 2:53 PM

haig...I also suggested cycling calories, but I guess you chose to focus only on the suggestion you could insult.

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15976 · May 06, 2011 at 2:44 PM

I would agree wholly with PKN

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626 · May 06, 2011 at 4:04 PM

Thanks Hemanvt. I come from a background of many decades of weightlifting so I get where you're coming from and I see that you appreciate the nuances of the question. I wasn't sure if I had conveyed that. I will definitely try the carb/caloric cycling and maybe try taking the subway for a month to see what happens. So this may be just what I need to get me near 160. Bodyfat right now is 8-9% according to my Tanita scale. It's OK, but but I feel like I can get down to 6-7%.

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15976 · May 06, 2011 at 2:13 PM

excellent reply. I have come around to a way of eating/living/lifting that uses a lot of classic bodybuilding tools. I am not a bodybuilder, rather just an amateur powerlifter, but the tools that bodybuilders have established and proved for years and years are a great tool in our arsenal I believe. I don't recommend getting down to those super small bodyfat levels BUT if one desires that than protocols like hemanvt refers to will indeed work. Proof is in the pudding. Don't trust armchair coaches, listen to people that do it, have done it, know what works and does not.

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5768 · May 06, 2011 at 2:56 PM

haig...I also suggested cycling calories, but I guess you chose to focus only on the suggestion you could insult. Also, I was speaking from a bodybuilding perspective, which I mentioned, so those suggestion are based on someone already having decent muscle mass. Also, asking him how much he benches, deadlifts, and sqauts is not going to get him lean...strength does not equal muscle mass nor leanness.

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1334 · May 06, 2011 at 2:30 PM

exactly, over calorie PWO, restrict on off days. heavy carbs PWO also, high fat, low carb on off days.

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1138 · May 06, 2011 at 5:36 PM

@hermanvt: No insults intended, just stated my opinion, sorry if you took it the wrong way, but that is your problem not mine. And you said your suggestions were coming from the perspective of bodybuilder already having decent muscle mass, but that is not the case here if you read his question, so I still stand by your answer as off-base. Lastly, strength absolutely translates into muscle mass, but bodybuilders optimize for hypertrophy which may be why you were confused.

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1138 · May 06, 2011 at 2:28 PM

More exercise and less calories?! He's eating less than 2000kcal daily and bicycling 30 miles! Sorry, but this is horrible advice. See my answer.

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1138 · May 06, 2011 at 5:39 PM

@Rick: You have around 155lbs of lean body tissue (ie nonfat) at 5'10". Aim to be the same ~8-9% bf but at 180-190lbs. if you want a ripped physique.

best answer

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163 · May 07, 2011 at 9:32 PM

Depends on your definition of paleo. If you aren't genetically predisposed to being lean in the first place, I would say no. Let me ask you this, how many people on a paleo diet would have been lean with or without it, and comparatively how many people are not at their ideal weight on a paleo diet? The ones who are satisfied with themselves are typically within a "normal" body fat range, and don't have a goal of being ripped. And most fat (long chain triglycerides) is, no surprise, easily stored as bodyfat compared to protein (read about ASP).

IF is bad, bad, bad. Where do you think the excess of those 1500-2000 kcals go within 2-6 hrs of digestion? Are they magically carried into the next 18 hrs. of the day? Oh right they are, as stored fat. Get rid of fruit, fructose is no good for you. Change your diet to high animal proteins, low fat, and go for simplicity in your diet instead of complexity.

To get ripped, you need to apply some common sense instead of relying on blind faith. And you simply need to EAT LESS, that's what I had to do anyway. Not more exercise. Reduce you calories by about 400 kcal / day and tell me you don't lose fat. I know it must be huge mental barrier to get over, but you just need to do it.

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15976 · May 08, 2011 at 12:53 AM

Excellent last paragraph there. It's odd sometimes how so many people new to paleo, having just read GCBC, etc just will never admit that cutting calories indeed ALSO works and can complement a good paleo way of eating if one's goals are leaning weight.

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163 · May 08, 2011 at 3:33 PM

People want to be told "it's not your fault", that's what GCBC/Taubes does. Well sorry but it is your fault; what and how much you eat is your choice.

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163 · May 08, 2011 at 2:12 AM

Right it's hard to admit. A hard reality to face, that places responsibility on oneself for their actions.

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3417 · May 06, 2011 at 2:55 PM

Being ripped is having a low bf% AND having a lot of muscle. There are several approaches you could take to achieve both:

(1) Your workout regimen is pretty sparse. Try adding an Olympic lifting regimen that shoots for strength gains. No, it's not going to be a bodybuilding regimen that aims for hypertrophy only, but with strength gains come mass gains because strength is a function of the cross-sectional area of a muscle. I'd recommend Starting Strength (a book by Mark Rippetoe), StrongLifts, or some 5x5 protocol. The functional benefits of a strength program far outweigh the slightly quicker aesthetic benefits of a bodybuilding program, at least in my opinion. Adding muscle will also affect several factors that will help in either keeping weight off or losing more fat: increased testosterone synthesis, increased basal metabolic rate, increased insulin sensitivity, etc.

(2) Taubes is right in that calories aren't as important as the strict, classic energy balance theory makes them out to be, at least insofar as the essential effects of hormones are ignored in that flawed assumption, but know that calories ARE still important. If you eat 500 calories a day of only carbs, you'll lose some weight. If you eat 7,000 calories a day of only fats, you'll gain some weight. These are extremes, but it shows the limits of Taubes' framework. You can leverage the extremes, though, to your benefit. You can eat for more fatty calories than sugary calories before gaining fat, and gross caloric intake, irrespective of its source, is essential for muscle building. This means that if you were to start a strength-training program, you could (and would need to in order to see quick gains) eat ~3000 calories of fatty food with plenty of protein (~1.5g/lb body weight) and gain mostly muscle, only minimal fat. I see that you do IF... check out leangains.com for a ridiculously successful approach to keeping lean while gaining strength and muscle mass that incorporates IF and is compatible with a Paleo diet.

(3) Cortisol decreases insulin sensitivity which makes it harder for fat cells to let go of stored fats. Your daily bike ride is a cortisol machine. Cardio releases plenty of cortisol if done for long enough in a given session, and the problem gets worse if the cardio is chronic, as it is in your case. Maybe reduce the number of bike rides if possible and replace them with a long walk, rest, or some interval sprints.

(4) The heavy cream may be doing you no favors. Though it certainly has a lower casein and lactose content than milk, both chemicals are present in heavy cream, and both lead to an insulin response that could hamper your fat loss.

(5) How occasional is the fruit, and what fruit is it? If it's citrus, toss it; too sugary. If it's not citrus or berries, keep it down to only a couple of times a week. If it's berries, maybe do a handful every other day or so.

Keep trying to lose those last 10 lbs. Don't get in the mindframe that your body has reached its point of satisfaction, even if you haven't. This is paleoHACKS. We'll find a way to piss off your body and get YOU what you want :)

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626 · May 06, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Some good advice here, thanks! I commute by bike for financial reasons. But I don't see why I couldn't try taking the subway for three weeks in June and then have my vacation week after that. That should lower my cortisol for sure and at least show me if it's the riding that's doing it.

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5136 · May 06, 2011 at 5:31 PM

cycling raise cortisol? when i had a 6 mile each way commute in Chicago, i would get to be one angry b**ch. people would regularly try to kill me and once even a cop had to sheepishly apologize for his driving! (and I know there are a lot of ridiculous cyclists too, i'm not saying "cars bad bikes good") And i took mostly side streets for the first 3 miles or so! Cycling in a city is definitely cortisol raising. You always have to keep your eyes open and try to predict what someone is going to do. (even with vigilance, not always possible)

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5136 · May 06, 2011 at 6:00 PM

that's why cycling in snowstorms is the best (though sadly, i missed that last one), cause everyone's indoors, there are hardly any cars out on the road, and the ones that are out are finally paying attention and driving the speed limit. And it's super fun! Yeah I finally got to the point where I had to employ conscious techniques to not get so angry because i was concerned it was starting to make me a cynical person. Fight and flight exactly!

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626 · May 06, 2011 at 5:56 PM

Ain't it the truth. By the time I get home I'm ready to kill just about anyone. My wife knows to give me 15-30 minutes just to get back into a civilized mode when I get home. It's definitely fight or flight and usually both!

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7970 · May 08, 2011 at 2:58 AM

@tartare BTW, completely unrelated to the original question but I had to upvote you. I cycle in Chicago quite often and get annoyed almost as much by people trying to kill me. Recently had a guy in a Toyota Solara b*tch me out for being in the left lane (when I was going to be turning left) saying that he was an F**king lawyer and knows the f**king law, I should've been in the right lane!

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5136 · May 22, 2011 at 2:37 PM

Chicago has some of the worst, most aggressive drivers ever. It's so true. Safe riding to you!

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15976 · May 06, 2011 at 2:07 PM

I would say calories do indeed count, not that hormones and activity level do not. Realize and focus on your goal. If it really is leaning down to your desired 160 then realize its more important than your whisky, wine, 30 mile/day bike rides, etc.

I would advise eat at least twice per day, maybe three times.

Stop riding 30 miles per day. (I know its a commute and it may not be avoidable but im just advising what i feel will get you to your goal.)

Ditch the pushups and pullups to failure. (great exercises, don't get me wrong, but you're sending the wrong signals to your body if you are doing them to failure.)

Start lifting very heavy weight 2-3 times per week for low reps.

Sleep at least eight hours per night, nine or ten if you can.

Ditch any liquid calories (wine and whisky included).

Eat carbs in the 200-300 grams/day range.

Eat protein at 1 gram per pound of body weight.

Eat fat for the remainder of the calories you desire (perhaps 2000 per day would be a good starting point.).

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571 · May 06, 2011 at 6:24 PM

300 gram carbs? It only works, when you're on low Fat, right?

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626 · May 06, 2011 at 4:12 PM

That's at least 1000 calories per day from carbs. Why so much? I find that my belly grows by just looking at carbs. :)

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1074 · November 18, 2011 at 10:32 PM

go search Perfect Health Diet weight loss version. it's basically a fixed level of carbs, moderately high protein (relatively) and moderate fat (rather than high fat as most Paleo'ers recommend) in order to tap into your own fat store. 300g is way too high, you're not an elite athlete

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1884 · May 06, 2011 at 2:09 PM

Eating what you're "supposed" to eat (i.e., paleo) means you'll look like you're genetically "supposed" to look. Most of us are not predisposed to be ripped. Lean, yes, but not cut like a model on the cover of Men's Fitness.

Certainly you can make it happen if you want to, but if it's a step away from your default state you will have to actually take that step to get there.

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626 · May 06, 2011 at 4:05 PM

What is that step??

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60 · May 09, 2011 at 1:59 AM

Men's Fitness.... I say f**k the culturalisations of what men are supposed to look like.

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1074 · November 18, 2011 at 10:33 PM

i believe you can achieve the lean/muscular physique but you might have to follow a Hollywood diet thats closer to high protein, moderate/low fat & carbs. results may be temporary...

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39841 · May 06, 2011 at 8:31 PM

I would disagree with most everything here and simply state that you should keep doing what you're doing with some slight modifications. 30 miles is a good distance, but if you're not heavily exerting yourself for extended periods of time, then your muscles will be burning fat the entire time. Your conditioning is probably such that most of us would be exerting ourselves quite a bit and relying on glycogen but you don't. Just keep it slow and steady. Having that substantial quantity of "built-in" activity will be a huge benefit for you.

As for your workout, pullups and pushups are excellent compound exercises. I would keep doing them 3x a week, but I would do 4 sets of each every workout. I'd set it up with MWF 4 sets of pullups; TThS 4 sets of pushups. (Every set to failure). This won't be overtraining. I'm all for setting up workouts that aren't just effective, but are actually sustainable. Having the perfect workout that you get totally sick of after 2 weeks is worthless. You already do these exercises and like them, so just keep doing it. You hit most upper body muscles with them and obviously your legs are getting a great workout already so don't bother hitting them.

As for the diet, I would simply increase total meat consumption per day and decrease total fat consumption.

I would pitch the catabolic IF and just eat 3 big meals of mostly meat and tubers per day.

I'm only now getting back to where I was bodyfat-wise before I adopted a high-fat diet. When I get to a point where I want to stop losing fat, I'm just going to add fat back in until things stabilize.

As for Taubes, if you want to look like him, do what he does. If you want to be "ripped" like a bodybuilder, do what they do.

Good luck.

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3244 · May 06, 2011 at 5:05 PM

If your city is anything like mine, public transit can accommodate bikes. To cut down on the chronic commuter-cardio I sometimes bike one way and transit back, or drive to the outskirts with the bike on the rack, park in a public space, and beat the traffic downtown. I get the damage biking can do, but I get a huge amount of enjoyment dodging cars. Life-and-death adventure is kind of paleo isn't it...?

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3244 · May 06, 2011 at 10:30 PM

Yeah! It's like getting a whole bunch of points at once. Passing lines of stationary SUVs filled with angry people on their cell phones - now that's some fun. I understand that being ripped is cool, and cycling may stall that, but the slugs I pass in traffic...you should feel proud, man.

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626 · May 06, 2011 at 5:58 PM

He he, it's true, I like hunting down and overcoming buses! :)

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565 · May 06, 2011 at 2:10 PM

You'll probably have to vary your routine a little if it's been the same for a while. Your body is completely adapted to what you're doing. You're eating maintenance amounts of food. 30 miles a day is a good amount of cardio. That much cardio could be impeding muscle building. Your body is holding onto what fat it has left b/c it's in preservation mode. Try bumping up the carbs with some squashes or sweet potato a couple days a week. I know it seems counterintuitive, but it the body thinks it has different fuel to burn it won't be so stubborn to release the fat that it's holding on to.

Try adding some heavy lifting into your routine as well. It will active different energy systems. Even if it's just one day per week.

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120 · May 06, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Have you seen pictures of Mark Sisson at http://www.marksdailyapple.com/ ? It is quite possible. Do you commute 30 miles via bike out of necessity or for your health? You might think about switching to more high intensity, shorter duration workouts. That 150 or so miles a week on the bike just might be causing your body to hold on too some of the fat.

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7970 · May 06, 2011 at 2:16 PM

I don't mean to bash Mark Sisson (or you) - but know that he was a SAD athlete long before he started living/eating primally. So I don't think he can claim primal as the cause of his physique.

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5768 · May 06, 2011 at 2:17 PM

I bet the farm Mark always looked ripped even before he took on this lifestyle. He was an elite athlete for one thing. He is genetically gifted as they say.

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626 · May 06, 2011 at 3:41 PM

Good question, I ride the bike to work because parking in the city costs $300 a month, plus the cost of gas! Mark is one of the few folks I've seen that is paleo and that cut so I wonder if it's his genetic setpoint to be so lean?

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143 · May 08, 2011 at 4:20 PM

Look at Mark Sissons 'carbohydrate curve. 300g per day from carbs is far far to high. Aim for around 75-100g carbs, and eat more good fats such olive oil, avocado, nuts & seeds etc Just a side note when talking about carbohydrate grams its not total weight. Its the actual carb content on food...use fitday website (its free) to input some random veggies and look at their carb content.

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405 · May 06, 2011 at 7:59 PM

Alot of the above advice is great, but I will expand just a bit. The REASON calories don't "count" is because what Does count are the hormonal signals being sent in the body. In order to achieve a leaner physique you must take into account how your modern life differs from the ancestral lifeway, and whether you are hormonally signaling to the body that it 'should' be leaner. That last 10 pounds

-CORTISOL modern life (artificial life, chronic stress, unnatural sleep patterns, alcohol consumptions, etc.) can send more of a chronic type stress signal that will disregulate cortisol (making it high when it shouldn't be or most of the time). One of the most important factors in allowing the body to use its stored fat as fuel is proper cortisol regulation. Get a long nights sleep in a very dark room, sun exposure during the day, keep stress low, and exercise intensity variable, etc.

-EXERCISE Should vary in intensity, but 30 miles of biking a day could be considered chronic cardio, and may actually make the body run preferentially on glucose (whether by food or gluconeogenesis) and not fat. Strength training and short intense sprint or max effort workouts may be favorable for fat loss.

Intermittent fasting and very low carb often work well for an initial period, after which fat loss can stall in some people. This is mostly due to the cortisol issue I mentioned above. Any amount of artificial sweetener and alcohol can also inhibit fat loss to varying degrees. Here is what I recommend you try for 10-16 weeks:

-Cut down the long distance biking to 2-3 days a week if you can (if you can't, eat a decent amount of starchy carbs like sweet potato within 1 hour afterward)

-Limit alcohol to 1-2 drinks per week for this short period until your goal is met, then see how you do adding more back in.

-Add 2-3 heavy weightlifting sessions per week focusing on big compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, bench press, etc. ALWAYS get a good amount of protein (40-60g) and starchy carbs, NOT FRUIT, within one hour post workout to keep cortisol at bay, encourage muscle gains.

-Be sure you are sleeping 8-10 hours per night in a DARK room. This is very important when losing that last few pounds and keeping hormonal signals in balance.

www.paleofreedom.com

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200 · May 06, 2011 at 7:10 PM

yeah, i did it. i started out skinny so i didn't have all the fat too lose, but once i started working out and eating paleo style it was pretty fast from there to being "ripped". i did it strictly with bodyweight exercises and sprinting, and long walks. the key is low body fat for abs and such. I acheived a six pack with only a few exercises, planks, planche progressions (I am currently able to hold a tuck planche for about a minute) and pushups (making sure to keep entire body stiff during sets). I never had abs, was always skinny with no muscle, and was shocked at how fast I had visible abs from planks, planche stuff and pushups. shocked. i read up everything i could find about bodyweight and isometrics and found some really good things to put into practice. Now it's much easier to see how food affects my body, as in if i eat a bunch of pizza one day the next few days I can see the change in my body comp, and likewise if I have a particularly good stint of eating and training. I'm not huge by any means but when i started out Bruce Lee was my main inspiration and the more I train and eat right the more possible it seems to achieve a level of rippedness that I deem acceptable in light of masters like Lee.

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1138 · May 06, 2011 at 2:46 PM

Being 'ripped' does not just mean low bf%, it means low bf with a descent amount of muscle mass. Marathon runners have very low bf% but I doubt anyone one would consider them ripped. You may be doing 'paleo' and so have insulin and food toxins managed, but that's only half the story. It sounds like you are just skinny (or maybe even skinny fat) and are probably dealing with cortisol and leptin issues.

My suggestions:

  1. Ditch the bicycle (maybe do it 1-2x a week on non-workout days) and start using public transportation/carpool/driving to work.
  2. Start lifting weights 2-3x a week, heavy, using compound exercises like stronglifts.com. Track your numbers and always aim at increasing the amount you can lift weekly.
  3. You can stay eating the way you are on non-workout days, but on the days when you lift weights you should eat around 1000 calories more, which would be ~3000kcal, consisting mainly of tubers and lean protein. Break it up into 2 meals instead of 1 large one those days to manage consuming those calories more easily.

Make those adjustments and you should definitely see improvements in body composition towards a 'ripped' physique.

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1138 · May 06, 2011 at 6:55 PM

Again, you are failing to consider where the person asking the question is coming from. He is 5'10", bicycling 30 miles every day, and eats less than 2000kcal! And @hermanvt, you tell him to exercise more and eat less based on where his is now? I'm not talking about hypothetical problems, I'm talking about this particular person's situation as he stated it and what I think he should do now, which does include eating more and exercising less than he has been. This is the last comment on this question from me, I hope Rick finds his way, that's what counts.

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1138 · May 06, 2011 at 3:37 PM

@Matthew, no it is not. Ask any former endurance athlete turned 'power' athlete how they got 'ripped' and they'll all say they exercised less/ate more. It is relative to what you have been doing and your body's current state.

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19220 · May 06, 2011 at 5:19 PM

Sure, but he is not a running marathons or an endurance athlete or a competitive cyclist. He is just riding a bike to work each day.

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19220 · May 06, 2011 at 2:58 PM

Eating more and exercising less is certainly a novel way to get ripped...

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5768 · May 06, 2011 at 5:41 PM

Eating more and exercising less may get you over a sticking point, but at some point you will have to restrict calories again to get ripped. Again...we are talking about getting ripped not losing weight. Maybe we need to define ripped.

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20908 · May 06, 2011 at 9:11 PM

ben61820 has is right. You need to cut the chronic cardio and start lifting heavy weights. 30 miles a day riding is somewhere between 1 1/2 and 2 hours on the bike. That's too much time in the oxidative pathway. Your body is going to try its best to NOT put on more muscle in that situation because then it has to feed that muscle during your long rides.

I feel that I'm reasonably ripped (especially considering that I spent most of my good formative years being a nerd and not doing any good exercise other than chronic cardio) and I'm 100% paleo (eating)

I do:

crossfit-like high intensity stuff (7-10 minutes) 2-3 times a week.

lift heavy weights (5x5, 3x3, 1x1 at 85-100% max) about 2-3 times a week.

indoor rock climb for recreation (i.e., not going there for my workout) 1-2 times a week.

eat about 5000 calories a day, at least 3000 from fat.

On that schedule I'm really happy with my body comp and performance

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5136 · May 06, 2011 at 11:01 PM

yeah. but the thing with most bikes is, you can coast, and then you're just sitting (unless its a fixed gear) and once you build momentum, it can be pretty darn easy, so its certainly no comparison with say an hour and a half of running or even walking for that matter. And he is breaking it up into 2 events of 15 miles each.

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5136 · May 06, 2011 at 11:07 PM

i mean, it is likely 5 days a week, and I see where it can wear on you, particularly with the stressful traffic aspect, but it can also be extremely relaxing and there a plenty of "rest opportunities" while on a bike. Besides, I have to defend it because I just love riding my bike so much :)

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1334 · May 06, 2011 at 2:28 PM

another vote for hi-intensity weight lifting doing major compound exercises a couple times per week. And your chin-ups/pull-ups--add weight (I hang plates from a rachet tiedown around my waist and clamp them between my knees, very crude but efective), your upper body will start getting ripped. I think push-ups do more than benching so i switch off, so on push-up day I have my son set plates on my upper back, do my set, and then he takes them back off. again, very crude, but whatever.

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44 · May 06, 2011 at 3:04 PM

push ups work the arms and core where bench press works the chest. there are hundreds of different variations to do pushups without needing excess weights.

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0 · February 15, 2013 at 11:25 PM

I've noticed diet is only a part of the leaning process. I wouldn't suggest lowering your calories or trying to burn more by extending your time at the gym. I would recommend breaking through your exercise plateaus. In other words, your body seems to adapt very well to the environment it is put through. You mentioned that you lost over 50 pounds and you are in your forties. That combined with the fact that you are having trouble burning those last few pounds of stubborn fat. This indicates to me that your body is quick to adjust to your diet and workout and diet regimen. With that in mind, there are only a couple things you can do to breakthrough your metabolic rate plateau. For one, you need more muscle mass. If your 5 foot 10 and you are weighing in at 170 you have some room for muscle mass increase. This will help burn much more fat. That is of course easier said then done. I am not suggesting you need to lift more weights. I am talking about full body muscle mass. This is achieved by high intense full body workouts in the form of circuits, typically with body weight resistance supplemented with weights. (I can forward you an excellent free one I use if you email me for it at jrwoodield@gmail.com) Lastly to be able to successfully build the necessary muscle, You will need to consume at least 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight, typically supplementing whey isolate or hydrolyzed whey protein shakes with added BCAA's shortly after your workout. Hope this helps! Good Luck brother

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0 · January 29, 2013 at 10:40 AM

Um its pretty easy. Build more muscle and keep the same bodyfat. You need to hitthe weight more and the cardio less. I do no cardio and am ripped.

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