I am still totally confused over what would be the best way for me to eat. I am male, 32 years old and need to lose 20-30lbs of fat (mainly around the abdominal area).
Whenever I read Taubes or other Low Carb experts, they convince me and the carbohydrate hypothesis makes sense. However, when I read the likes of Kurt Harris or The Jaminet's, the need for some starch in the diet makes sense and the carboydrate hypothesis seems flawed!
I really don't know what to do for the best anymore and it is actually hindering my efforts as I will decide to start a VLC diet one day and then read something else and decide to try a diet more like Archevore / Perfect Health diet the next day. Inbetween all this I will cheat and eat terrible foods like wheat and sugar!
Stop reading about different diets and literally listen to your gut for a while. You have the answer inside of you, not out there.
You have enough information to move to the self-experimentation step. Try each one out for a month or two and see what your body feels like after each one. No pity party if you slip up, just get back on the horse. The less emotional you get about eating the "wrong things", the less vulnerable you will be to the siren song of the pastry case or candy aisle, and the less collateral damage you'll get from a spike in stress hormones when you choose to have them for social or crummy day reasons.
Sorry, I don't have an "eat this, do this" answer, but if it were that simple there would be far fewer questions on paleohacks.
Dude, just try either Rob Wolf's Paleo Solution, The New Atkins for a New You, or Loren Cordain's Paleo Diet (2010 version).
There are lots of other good programs out there, but I don't want to add to the info overload.
I personally like a very-low-carb diet to start, adding good carbs back as you approach your goal weight.
PS: All matters regarding your health require supervision by a personal physician or other appropriate health professional familiar with your current health status. Always consult your personal physician before making any dietary or exercise changes.
How active are you? If you are sedentary, it's likely that lower (not necessarily ketogenic) carbs would be better for you. If you are active (doing lots of CrossFit or you run or bike or hike), you will probably find a higher carb diet a la Kurt Harris or PHD will fit better.
Me, I'd try the version with the safe starches first. You can always reduce/eliminate them if you find them to be problematic. Whatever you do, it's more important to do what you will do regularly. As you already know, using the angst about what to do to eat a lot of wheat and sugar is definitely not the right route.
Back in June I decided to go back into the military after separating two years ago. Well after being in excellent shape for four years , I took a two year break, gaining 20lbs. I decided to try the Atkins diet integrated with a Crossfit routine and achieved great success! While I was on the Atkins diet I ran across the Paleo diet, which I have been on now for 60 days. It's been a little over 90 days now and I have lost 18 lbs. and two inches off my waist, not to mention a stronger physical physique. The most difficult part of the entire process has been counting calories, those of which have been consumed, and burned in the gym. My ideal weight is 170 lbs so theoretically I have 10 more pounds to lose. In order to get there I am consuming 10 calories per pound of Ideal body weight or (170X10=1,700). I usually burn approximately 600-700 calories per day at the gym six days a week (6X600=3,600) or the equivalent of a pound of fat. 10 more weeks and I should reach my target. Good luck on your journey!
I found doing a Whole30 was quite illuminating (and I felt great near the end of it, although I still felt a bit lost without my butter). Perhaps give a minimal eating plan like that a try for a month to try establish some kind of baseline for yourself, then try adding foods back in?
Don't be confused. Listen to your body and start with a sound base.
Eat real whole foods. Avoid wheat and grains. Avoid added sugar, especially fructose (HFCS) Avoid vegetable/seed oils.
When eating meat try to eat grassfed/pastured when possible.
No need to go very low carb, but of course you can try it out. I would at first just, since you are losing weight, limit carbs (stick to berries when eating fruit, dont worry about the veggies), and watch the nuts.
If you start losing weight, you could always start adding in more carbs (safe starchy ones), or if you feel a bit low on energy or if you are very active.
Once in awhile skip a meal, if you are not hungry.
There are a lot of diets out there, and a lot of science and pseudo-science. My attitude is, pick a plan and stick with it for about 20-30 days and see how you respond. Keep the "rules" simple so you can follow them while living your life. After a month or so you should know if it is working or not. If it is, stick with it and re-evaluate every month or two.
I have taken this approach with vegetarianism, Atkins, Zone, and other diets, including now Paleo/Primal. So far Paleo/Primal has been far and away the greatest success, it has literally transformed my health at age 41.
My simple rules are: cut out all grains and sugars, and exercise 2-3 times per week, 20-30 minutes of intense strength / crossfit exercise. That's it.
You could optionally add low carb, no dairy, etc. depending on what you are trying to do and what you suspect you are sensitive to. But just try it and see what happens. I am really glad that i did.
in my personal experience, it starts with food, but the type of foods and macro/micro nutrients is conditional within a range of what PHD & archevore consider healthy foods. depending on your unique & current hormonal status, meal quantity, meal timing, and meal content will affect you differently.
the best way is to begin tracking and eliminating, keeping it as simple as possible. if you also currently exercise, that is another variable to consider. your emotional state, mental health, and spiritual beliefs will also effect your physical body.
if you have the funds, a full-on hormonal profile using blood & saliva, a comprehensive blood & stool test, and dark field microscopy would be handy. as well as omega 3 staus, vit d levels, and a spectracell nutrient profile.
I am in almost exactly the same position as you. Here's my story:
I did Wolf 30-day challenge. I thought that that was the only Paleo out there really. I did no dairy, no fruit, no nuts or seeds. I wanted to see what happened after 30 days. I didn't think about it, I just did it through sheer will and determination.
I lost weight, and a lot of it.
After the 30 days, I thought perhaps I could try expanding a little bit. Wolf says as much, that maybe some fruit and some nuts/seeds were acceptable after the first major metabolic shift phase. Also, in the midst of this I read Taubes. Taubes said absolutely no to fruit (which was confusing, since Wolf said it was ok in small amounts), but Dairy (as long as it's zero-carb) became acceptable again (which was confusing because it's not 'paleo' and I don't think Wolf goes for Dairy). So, it's not "Paleo" but it's low-carb. Ok.
So, I dealt with the confusion by having dairy and fruit. I figured I could always go back.
I kept losing weight.
Then I had this week where I literally just couldn't stomach any meat. I was repulsed by it. I posted on Paleohacks for some help and a lot of people thought I was just having a carb craving, but that's not how it felt. It felt like I literally had "bottomed out" with the no-carb Paleo. This theory accords with the Perfect Health Diet and Archevore. At a certain point you just need some carbs. I had pretty much lost the 20 lbs I was aiming to lose. It's not that I didn't have any more fat to burn, but it just felt like my body wanted a different source of energy.
So, I had potatoes for a few days.
I kept losing weight.
I was able to start eating meat again after a few days, but now I felt like I was onto something. I found out about the "set-point" reward stuff from Seth Roberts, I found out about Archevore, and I found out about Primal Diet, and I found out about Perfect Health Diet.
I started eating rice, corn, and continued with the potatoes, the fruit, and the dairy.
So, pretty much my diet came down to a gluten-free, sugar-free diet.
But by now, I wasn't really losing weight anymore.
The convenience of rice for dinner, versus going out and buying fresh meat and preparing it started to win out. Now most of my calorie intake was from potatoes, rice, corn, and dairy, not that much different than the way I used to eat when I was 90% vegetarian. The only thing I wasn't eating was wheat and sugar. Which is good, but still you see my point...carbs feel like easy fuel, so when you're tired after work, that's the go to. Also, after not having it for four months, I was enjoying the foods that I hadn't been able to have for the last little while.
And then I got the Perfect Health Diet book and somewhere it said something about Ice Cream, and how it was ok. Yeah, yeah, they say to make your own, but who's gonna go make their own ice cream after a long day at work? So, I bought some ice cream.
I started eating more Indian food buffets, which are light on the protein. I started craving Indian sweets which used to be a big treat for me.
You can see where this is going...
Just in the last week or so I feel like I've basically been on a junk food bender. I feel terrible, sluggish, and I've already gained back three or four pounds in just a week. Sure, I could start feeling bad about myself, but I don't really do that anymore, because I don't believe in perfection anymore like I used to strive for when I was younger. I'm much faster to accept my imperfections.
But, I do feel like crap physically and I don't really want to gain those 25 pounds back after getting such great feelings of accomplishment from losing it this summer.
So, I'm exactly where you are, at least in terms of "rules." Extreme no-carb paleo works to lose weight, but then there's these new guys (and even Wolf) saying that some carbs are good , and that a fully ketogenic diet might not be good in the long run.
So, I'm looking back at the journey and trying to figure out the moment where I got on the slippery slope back to my old diet.
Was it the fruit? Was it the dairy? Was it the potatoes? Was it the rice and corn? Was it the ice cream? Hah!
Well, I think I was ok with the fruit and the dairy (high-fat, zero-carb), and actually even with the potatoes I think I was ok. The problem came the moment I had enough choices for calories (adding rice and corn) that I got lazy about preparing meat-&-veggie centered meals.
My theory is that it's not the inclusion of any particular food item (be it a piece of fruit, be it a dollop of sour cream, be it mashed potatoes, be it rice or corn, or even gluten-free ice cream), I think it's when you start including easily digestible and easily preparable calories (in the form of carbohydrates) that you can lose your discipline with ensuring you focus on meat and vegetables. I could literally eat rice with soy sauce on it and feel full. I could eat a baked potato with cheese and feel full. That's the problem. Carbs create the impression of nutrition, but that's actually your body storing them for energy.
So, how to deal with the confusion?
The one thing they are have in common is that you shouldn't have wheat/gluten and you shouldn't have processed sugar and you shouldn't drink your calories.
Then, the major differences have to do with how many carbs you let yourself eat.
My goal for the next period is not to worry too much about how many carbs I eat, but how many meat and vegetables eating carbs encourages me to get lazy about.
Also, I think the amount of carbs you can get away with just depends on activity level. I know that I can't get away with a lot because I don't really have a lifestyle with so much activity and don't want one.
But yes, I have experienced the difficulty when you're not sure which plan to stick with. Everyday you read something different and then it changes how you act that day, and since you're not sure what you're doing there are more moments where your bad habits can get more momentum and strength.
I have an idea. Since I'm struggling with the same thing, I'm going to make a list, right here, right now, and I'm going to try to stick with it. You can try this for a month.
Meat/Poultry/Fish/Eggs Vegetables Fats/Oils Acceptable Dairy (heavy cream, sour cream, cheese, butter, ghee) Fruit (mostly melons, berries, and apples)
My only carb source will be: tubers (potatoes, sweet potatoes, yucca) and bananas
Even though Archevore and Perfect Health Diet says it's ok, I am going to skip rice and corn (Archevore says yes, PerfectHealth says no so there's another confusing thing for you)
No wheat and no drinkable calories and no sugar in anything.
My only treat will be this awesome combo I came up with: Baker's chocolate, Bananas and coconut milk.
Care to join me?
Happy Now nails it:
"Stop reading about different diets and literally listen to your gut for a while. You have the answer inside of you, not out there."
Especially because you give no indication of how you actually live — your real world behavioral choices.
Theories are dull. All the ones you mention, and mine too.