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