Quitting Rice

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

I hesitated to share my story since before I started The Primal Blueprint (PB), I was already a fairly healthy 22-year-old, so my transformation simply cannot compare to those that have lost weight in the triple digits and literally cured diabetes. However, I decided to write out this story after some encouragement from my friends, and I do believe that my transformation is incredible in its own right: particularly, the results materialized so quickly. I’m writing this after less than 4 months of following PB. Moreover, I don’t see many success stories involving my ethnic group, Asians, probably because of the importance of rice in our culture. One of the most common critiques that I hear is “look at all those skinny Asians who gobble down rice.” I wanted to show that there exist substantial benefits to toning down the consumption of rice.

My story starts in my senior year of college. After four years of college, I had put on 20 pounds, reaching 160, which was slightly overweight considering my height of 5′ 5″. Furthermore, the acne that I assumed would disappear with time still persisted from my high school years. You can see me as a college senior.

When I graduated, I decided to make my health a priority and threw myself fervently into the Conventional Wisdom (CW) approach. For 5-6 days every week, I would exercise splitting my time about 50-50 between cardio (in the form of running) and strength training (mainly pull-ups, squats, and bench press). As for diet, I ate my whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and upped my fruits and veggies. The results were slow, but over the course of about 3 months, I managed to lose 10 pounds. Suddenly, progress stopped. I stayed the course with this regimen for 2 months, and my weight remained unchanged. In addition, I doubted my ability to sustain this volume of exercise: I constantly felt tired. You can see the results of CW.

Around this time, I stumbled upon Mark’s Daily Apple when looking for ways to increase my ankle mobility (I was having trouble squatting low, which I have also since remedied). I began to dig deeper into this concept of “Primal Living,” and I found much of it, particularly the bits about insulin and cholesterol, aligned with what I had learned in my college Biochemistry class. Suddenly, I began to look through the lens of evolution, connected the dots, and realized that something has gone awry with how humans interact with our environment. For instance, I discovered that high-carbohydrate diets have been linked to myopia. In terms of evolution, it makes no sense that I was wearing glasses by the time I was 7, and myopia among Asians is the norm. Perhaps, we don’t store fat the way Westerners do, but I sincerely doubt our carbohydrate-rich diet is harmless.

Frustrated with the CW approach and being young with not much to lose, I figured that I would give PB a try. Rather than ease in to the PB, I dove all-in, dropping grains immediately. When I got the low-carb flu, I doubled down and ate more fat. I had an awful case of the flu that lasted nearly 3 weeks, which indicates that I was very insulin-resistant at the start. After 6 weeks, I decided to check my progress, and I couldn’t believe the results. I had already reached my goal weight of 140! That was my weight back in high school when I played tennis and soccer, but I found myself even leaner then than my former 18-year-old self. I’ve managed to stay the course, adding in things like organ meats and intermittent fasting (which for me tends to mean simply skipping breakfast), and have made even more progress as you can see.

The ease of PB has surprised me the most. Fat tastes delicious, so I eat better-tasting food. I don’t go hungry because I simply eat until I’m full instead of counting calories. I work out even less than before: most weeks I lift 3 days and sprint 1 day. If weather permits, on the weekend, I may run 3-4 miles, but this happens maybe only once a month in Boston during the winter. I’d say that the only difficult thing was learning how to cook, but I view it as a fun challenge and a chance to experiment. Furthermore, the 80/20 rule allows me ample chances to deviate without feeling guilty.

Like many, I started PB for weight-loss reasons and have discovered other numerous benefits. Not only have I lost weight, but also I have gotten stronger as measured by my weight room gains, I recover faster from hard workouts, and my skin is much better as one can see. Most importantly, though, my energy levels are more stable, which has made me more productive at the office. Not being a slave to eating three square meals per day and having too much energy to sit still and watch TV has afforded me the time to do things I enjoy like reading, cooking, and mathematics.

All in all, through this experience, I have become convinced that “Primal Living” is the right way to live. If my example can even inspire one person to convert, I’ll feel that I have spent my time well writing this.

Thank you Mark!

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  1. Nice work! It’s awesome to see benefits besides just “weight loss” as you mentioned. Interesting hypothesis about myopia, makes sense though. Thanks so much for sharing, now I have a story to point my Asian friends to!


    1. Great story! Well done.

      Did your eyesight improve? I wonder if it might. I stopped eating gluten grains many years ago, after being diagnosed as non-celiac gluten intolerant. I was surprised that after a few years, I was not seeing as clearly as before, but a regular eye exam turned up that I needed a weaker prescription whereas I had been thinking I would need a stronger one.

      1. That’s an interesting question about the eye sight. I read another blog post from a woman whose vision improved after doing a 21-day “water” fast.

      2. I am so glad he shared this story! I found my eyesight improved after a few months of going grain and sugar-free. I no longer needed as strong a prescription, and I work with an osteopathic doctor who checks my eyes and he said they were actually less stressed without the glasses. I think getting enough rest and relaxation was a huge contributing factor as well, cause I will notice that i can’t see as well when I am stressed out.

      3. Grains are starchy carbohydrates. Carbs turn into sugars. Higher sugars get into the lenses in your eyes. When the excess sugar leaves your lenses, your eyesight changes.

    2. More likely the prevalence of myopia in Asian children is the lack of Vitamin D/sunshine, as written about by Mark here:

      (no direct link because it takes too long for links to get approved.)

      My brothers all played outside while I stayed indoors to read, and yes, I’m the only sibling who had to wear glasses starting in second grade.

      Asians’ aversion to sun is having widespread repercussions, including myopia, osteoporosis, and perhaps even autism (more will be coming out with that connection in the future, I am sure of it.)

      1. Also, reading for long periods with the book close to your face (which I have ALWAYS done… and still do), and genetics are a big factor. I got a lot of sun as a beach-going, outside-playing kid, but good eyesight just wasn’t in the cards for me. More than one reason for it!

      2. I stayed inside a lot and I didn’t get myopia. It was weird–my dad’s worn glasses for as long as I can remember (point of reference: he was 22 when I was born), and my mother had lazy-eye and glasses as a kid and then had to get them again later (she’s also now diabetic), but when I went to get my driver’s license removed they told me I am still 20/20. I need to go get my eyes actually checked, I know better than to just trust the BMV, but so far so good.

        And for the record, Asia is a big place and lots of Asians live in the tropics–kind of tough to miss the sunshine.

        1. Dana, in many Asian countries, children are in school and after school in tutoring schools until night time. Women shun the sun and worship pale skin – look up pictures of the famous Korean beach in Pusan – people wear long sleeves, long pants, scarves, hats and gloves and sit under umbrellas or go into the water clothed. It’s reached a full-on fever pitch, a madness. Side-effects of this sun- aversion are just now being noticed. Osteoporosis, myopia, ties to autism, the list will continue to grow. I only have experience with Korea and Japan, where the young stylish girls put on thick sunscreen with spray-tan on top! The top seller in cosmetucs in much of Asia is skin lighteners – to get rid of any freckle or other sun spot.

          The children suffer from studying all day so they can get good exam scores to get into the best schools. Yes there us the factor of reading all day, but the ties to lack of sunlight are there.

      3. Oh and I’m 38 this year. Should have added that in. At my age a lot of people are already in reading glasses, minimum.

      4. My eyesight improved after going primal without any change in Vit D/sunshine intake!

      5. Not so sure about that, I’m one of 8 sibblings who grew up around the ecquador in terms of lattitude so we had strong sun., From eight children I am the only who needs eyeglasses and very strong ones too. I was a bookworm like you but I always read outside in the backyard from around 1 to 5 pm.

        I have 3 other bookworm sibblings, butv they were the lazy kind who hated to go to the “nasty” outside, they were indoors all the time but they do not ever needed glasses.

        I am the youngest and by the time I camr around my family was starting to eat imported and processed foods for their convinience, which were replacing my mom’s traditional food, for example corn flakes for breakfast instead of cheese, milk, eggs…

        Sorry about typo, I,’m on cell phone!

      6. I have read it’s to do with being outside as a kid, but just the effort of looking at things far away. Being outside while you’re growing affects ocular development by placing emphasis on long range focusing, rather than very close focusing as you’d do reading a book or watching TV. Societies where people spend the majority of time outside either working or socializing have very low levels of myopia. Supposedly, it’s not things like reading that cause myopia, but a lack of long range focusing. So being outside is the ticket, even if you stay in the shade.

  2. Woah, dude! Good for you for jumping into eating more fat right away when you got the low-carb flu. It takes a lot of folks a great deal of time to get over their fear of fat. Awesome work!

  3. This is a great story. I am a teacher because I love learning, and you just taught me something about mypoia.

    Thank you!

      1. Here is a link:

        The article is, ‘An evolutionary analysis of the aetiology and pathogenesis of juvenile-onset myopia’ and looks at high insulin levels. (I only looked at the abstract here on PubMed.)

        (NB: The link is from a comment by healthyengineer on Mark’s article on sunlight and vision on 28 June 2011

      2. Seconded, I would love to read more about this. I have been intrigued since I read a (completely unverified and dodgy) account of someone not needing his glasses after 4 weeks of a strict paleo diet. The connection with Asians and how much rice they eat is interesting too.

        1. I’ll be the first to admit that the research in this area is nascent and rather inconclusive. However, it is well know that Type 2 Diabetes leads to macular degeneration. I believe the proposed mechanism is the formation of Advanced Glycation End Products, which can be linked to high-carbohydrate diets. The exploding rates of myopia definitely make you wonder, though. It could not have been evolutionary favorable to be unable to see things that are far away. Most research has shown near work is not a significant cause, so some environmental factor must be at play here.

        2. Another angle on all these kids needing glasses now, is that we are over-relying on plants for our vitamin A when no plant contains that vitamin. Unfortunately, there’s been some small research done pointing to the possibility that almost half the population (at least in the U.S. and UK) is not able to convert enough beta carotene to rely on it for all their vitamin A needs. Yet how many people do you know who still eat liver? Yeah, they probably get dairy, but (1) they’re not eating a lot of animal fat and (2) have you seen the amount of vitamin A in milk? There’s not much, even with enrichment. Scary stuff.

          You see a lot of kidney defects too, and other urinary tract defects. The Mayo Clinic says UT defects are the most common class of birth defects in the United States. Urinary tract development is mediated by vitamin A. Kidneys get finished up later in the pregnancy than eyes. Probably a good thing too; otherwise we’d be seeing babies born eyeless instead of just myopic.

  4. Haha, love your subject header. And congratulations on the success! You look happy, healthy and strong! 🙂

  5. Congrats on your weight loss!

    Do you avoid white rice completely or do you just eat it less? If you do eat it, when? After a workout or is it just part of your 80/20?

    1. Thanks. I pretty much completely avoid it unless I’m traveling, and I have no other choice. After giving it up for so long, I don’t even know why I liked it so much in the first place—it’s so bland. I suppose we’re all just afraid of change. If I need carbs, I prefer sweet potatoes.

      1. An asian giving up rice? This is about as controversial of a topic as it comes for our race. hahaha! But seriously, great testimony of how you can feel different in such a short time. You inspire me to cut out rice completely.

  6. another great story! I love seeing the variety of experiences that people have with primal.

  7. Great story. I also love the variety of success stories and hearing about people’s journeys.

  8. I think you’ve pointed out the most important things about Primal living. So many of us started as a way to lose weight- which means do it until you’ve lost the weight and then resume your previous poor eating habits. But then there’s that Aha! moment when you realize that this is the way your body wants to be fueled, and you know you never want to go back.
    Another great Friday story!
    Am I crazy, or is my hair getting curlier?

  9. Fantastic job — intriguing detail about myopia. I always thought mine was propelled by childhood reading my kerosene lantern. Hmmmm

    You look happy, good on ya.

    1. Yep, theres myopia for you. I meant to say “from” childhood and “by” kerosene lantern.

  10. I love that he said he has time to do mathematics for fun. Nerd power!!! (I’m a math/physics nerd so I mean that in a good way) We nerds are definitely attracted to the primal lifestyle.

    1. Nerd power indeed! I found the scientific evidence to be too strong to not give this a try.

      1. Haha – right there with you. I’m a conservation biologist/ecologist with a strong interest in evolutionary ecology, so as soon as a friend directed me to a link on Mark’s Daily Apple a few months ago, I was hooked. Look! Quantitative Evidence! Qualitative Evidence! He links back to PubMed! This is the nerd diet, no doubt about it.

        Also, you look fantastic, congratulations.

  11. Impressive transformation Phil. Very inspirational seeing you transform first hand and you have helped me spread the word!

  12. Hey congratulations! Great to see a story that doesn’t focus on weight loss so much and seeing the other benefits PB can provide. You’re right, just because you’re skinny, doesn’t mean you’re healthy and certainly it doesn’t mean optimal. Great job!

    1. Exactly. Poor diet can manifest in a body in SO many ways. It’s not fair to just pick on the fat people. I was a skinny junk-food eater before I had my first child. I should have been yelled at *then.* Or at least encouraged in a better direction.

      …Unfortunately, that was the early nineties, a bit early for Paleo/Primal.

  13. I so needed this perspective regarding rice. I love the chart and the progression of the photos. You look splendid!

  14. Thanks for sharing your story, it IS an inspiring one! I have noticed my vision improving (I only started wearing glasses four years ago) since reducing and finally cutting out grains completely. I’m glad to see there is a viable explaination 🙂 Thanks again!

  15. A hot nerd! My favorite! (Lucky me, I’ve got one at home.)

    Congrats on your success!

  16. A great story – thanks so much for sharing. Am liking the stats too – am seeing the start of some useful primal data here!

    1. Glad you enjoyed the chart. I’m a consultant by trade, so we love our data.

  17. Did it fix your myopia? I notice you’re no longer wearing glasses in the last photo. Man would I love that. Nice six pack, too. 🙂 (or as we say in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, a “tablette de chocolat”)

    1. Thanks. Unfortunately, I think the damage has already been done. Robb Wolf mentioned that Paleo led to a super-speedy recovery from LASIK, so I may consider that route. I like the saying “tablette de chocolat” as coincidentally, I probably have a few squares nearly every day.

      1. Hey Phil, my two cents on LASIK, in case you’re interested: my vision improved on its own from -5.0 to -3.75 after ditching grains (wasn’t primal yet at the time) and supplementing lutein and astaxanthin. I had LASIK done November 2011, at which point I’d been primal (not just grain-free like before) a few months. They said I had the easiest surgery (it literally took 2 minutes for each eye, instead of the usual 10-30) and quickest recovery of anyone they’d ever “LASIKed.” Make sure you get a surgeon who uses the all-laser technique. Have fun. 😉

  18. One of my brothers has been hanging out in China for the last 9 months or so and he’s always trying to tell them to go easy on the rice.

    Just this morning he wrote me about it again and he said, “they think that rice is so nutritious, and so good for you, and without rice they would all spontaneously combust.”

    1. Peggy, that’s what my family used to think about pasta and bread: we’d all die a terrible death from malnutrition without our required daily intake of lots of bread. LOL

  19. Thanks for sharing this! I need to show this to my husband. He’s Chinese, and is not really open to the idea of ditching rice full-time (or at least 80% of the time). He’s now 21 days into a Whole30, and already his previously lean-ish shape is changing and a 6-pack is being revealed. He’ll love reading this success story!

  20. Hi you look really good and congrats!
    Yes a study was released just last week linking the development Type 2 Diabetes and increased rice consumption

    Also i did not know high carb was linked to myopia(nearsightedness) too. Interesting!

  21. Thanks for your valuable post. It is a great contribution to Success Stories for the reasons you mention. Congratulations on your success.

    I do a 20% of white rice about once a week. If I did lots of heavy work or workouts, I’d probably do more. I’m not giving it up completely because I’m a stubborn old coot (who contributes to the Forum as Hedonist2.)

  22. Congratulations Mark! I went full bore PB January 20th and have gone from 263 to 226 (6’2″) with NO excercising as I had surgery on my big toe days after. What interests me is your loss of acne. My daughter and her best friend are still SAD I I am encouraging a change to their diet to eliminate their acne. They both are in sports so this helps with weight gain. Thanks for sharing your story as my daughter is having a sleepover tonite and I will not get that “Oh, Daaad!” thing when I share your story.

  23. Great story, and great pics. Short, sweet and lasting. Thanks for a great start to my Friday!

  24. Great job!

    Your success is awesome! Our body composition backgrounds are pretty similar…and while I’ve only been primal for 4 weeks, I too have debated about sharing our (my wife and I’s story) because we both started out in decent shape.

    I also struggles with acne as I was younger and am very happy to tell you that your skin looks great. Congrats!

  25. I love Fridays because of these stories. I’ve only just started going Primal (2-3 weeks). One of the biggest changes is my skin. It used to be dry with blemishes/acne (on a low carb, low fat diet) but now it looks so healthy. Fat is awesome!

    1. It also looks like Phil’s acne is clearing up. Is it?

      I went off primal for about a month because I was moving, and I feel worse, and my *ahem* monthly hormonal breakout was worse than usual.

  26. Thank you for sharing your story, I’m asian too so it’s been really hard for me to drop rice (dropping grains has been relatively easy). Have you noticed any difference in your eyesight since switching to Primal?

  27. Way to GO! The health benefits are so numerous–I dropped from 185 to 170, but my indigestion/acid reflux totally disappeared!

    It’s the ONLY way to eat and exercise.

  28. Great Job! I have one question though. Who likes Math as a past-time for enjoyment? 😛

    1. Isn’t Law #10 “Use your brain”? I’m a pretty weird guy, though, after all. Well, society considers all of us weird.

  29. Is it just the lighting, or do you really look best when 6 weeks going on primal? Way too skinny at present for my taste, but a great success of course nonetheless. Congrats!

    1. It’s not just you…while I applaud the conversion to a Primal lifestyle…and am truly impressed with the vision and skin improvements…one must be vigilant about “veering” too far and possibly losing muscle mass. Your increased energy and fitness improvements are fabulous…but just remember to increase/maintain the fat intake!

      1. Agreed. In the past 3 months, I’ve upped my food intake and put on somewhere between 5-10 lbs and have gotten stronger.

  30. Your story very much inspired me. I am too, Asian (I’m from Thailand). No need to say that rice and noodles are a huge part of my diet since I could remember. Since I started PB two months ago, cutting out rice was extremely challenging. Also, my parents act like it’s a sin that I’m not eating rice. I do not have any results to show yet. But I’m trying to be very patient! Do you have any tips you can share with me?

    1. That’s a tough one. I live on my own, and yes, my parents freak out when I tell them about the way I eat. Maybe help out with the cooking? Other than that, maybe you can say it’s for a limited amount of time, say 2 months? Hopefully, by then you’ll have results to show for it. Not sure how science-oriented they are (mine aren’t at all, so this didn’t work for me), but you can show them some of the impressive research on Paleo/Primal.

  31. What a great improvement! And an interesting point about the myopia, I never thought of that one, but as soon as you said it I realised I DO see a higher % of Asian people with glasses. The Asian child with glasses is almost a stereotype.

    Our food intake affects us far more than we realise.

  32. So awesome and good for you! I too am Asian and used to eat bowls of rice and not necessarily gain all too much weight, but now that it’s gone I feel a million times better. Before I used to look at all the skinny Asian girls and feel so jealous of their natural slim body, but now since going primal I just feel so much stronger and healthier than them. Great story!

  33. Thank you for sharing your story! You look great and seem more confident. I love the graphic you provided.
    I have never commented on these boards before, but wanted to today since I am also an Asian living in Boston who has been following primal principles for the past year. Like you, I was relatively healthy before going primal, so have not seen dramatic weight loss. But, also like you, I have experienced benefits beyond the weight loss and have been trying to convince my parents to give this lifestyle a try. (They are actually giving it a go, but aren’t fully on board yet.) My husband (whose brother went primal around the same time we did) and I are also trying to convince his parents to follow suit. Maybe one day I will have an extended family success story to write.
    Congratulations on your success and thank you again for sharing!

    1. Great to see another Asian doing Primal in Boston. I thought I was the only one. I’d love to hear about your experience with the parents. My parents saw me transform right before their eyes and still won’t give it a try. It’s hard to tell someone that the way they’ve eating for 50+ years isn’t so good. My parents also have limited English skills and aren’t going to read the literature.

      1. I’d be happy to talk. I just registered in the forum, so I think you can send me a private message that way.

  34. Wow.Fantastic transformation.You’re a real inspiration to us dude.Congrats.

  35. Bravo bud. Keep up the good work, any success story is inspirational!

  36. Wow, that was quick progress, thanks for sharing! You look great, and the acne angle was particularly interesting!

  37. Some of my Asian friends have been… unenthusiastic about the prospect of cutting rice out of their diets. You’re a gigantic baller, keep on keepin’ on, man!

  38. Well done – it’s great to see such wonderful results in only a year! Keep up the good work and thank you for the inspiration!

  39. Mark, indeed your time was well spent writing this! Thank you. Rice, particularly brown – and a couple of other gluten free high protein grains – seem so hard to give up entirely.

    Wondering if you or anyone else out there has a take on eating some gluten free grains in the primal. Is there benefit to cutting out most, but not quite all such grains?

    Thanks again. Enjoyed your post.


  40. First?

    Anyway nice progress. You are very skinny.
    What happened to your sex drive?

    I noticed that low cal and low carb eating seriously damaged my sex drive! :/

    1. No affect. From what I’ve heard and read, it’s low cal eating that affects sex drive, not low carb eating. It just happens that when you cut out carbs, people tend to eat lower calorie. Trust me, I don’t eat low calorie in any sense. I just happen to hit the genetic lottery and can maintain sub-10% body fat on Primal rather effortlessly.

      1. In fact, saturated fat has been shown to possibly boost testosterone as well.

  41. I’m half Asian, but I don’t eat a lot of rice because I don’t like it. I’ve had a harder time giving up noodles, though. Your story is inspiring; something to show my Thai father when he comes to visit. He’s not all about the rice, either, since he’s 73 and diabetic, so he’ll be glad to see other Asians giving it up for health reasons, too. Thanks for sharing your story, and good job!

  42. Myopia–Yup, Phillip is right. It’s caused by a high carb diet, not reading in bad light or holding the book too close (I held it close because I couldn’t see it otherwise!)as my parents always told me, or poor genes. So glad you wrote this, Phillip. You may save lots of folks from unnecessary Lasik surgery.

    If you do a google search linking myopia and carbohydrates you’ll get lots of hits, but a few quick links to studies are: http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/myopia.html, http://www.medical-explorer.com/eye.php?040 and http://www.unleash-your-vision.com/cure-myopia-naturally.

    1. Fascinating about the myopia—mine has been awful most of my life, along with by equally awful carb intake. Noticed something different the last couple of years, though—distance prescription and blood sugars have both gotten very unstable, leading to abrupt changes/new lenses WAY too frequently (my last pair of eyeglass lenses alone were $300—ouch!!!–had to get them because distance vision suddenly went completely to hell and I couldn’t drive safely). I also don’t dare order contact lenses without an exam first so I end up w/ exams at least twice a year OR when I notice a vision change.
      Now that I have kicked the carbs (aiming for 60-80 gms/day to start and adjust later as needed) will see if contact lens prescription is any different in 3-4 months compared to now.

  43. Awesome job. Great thing you got off the CW, high carb/low fat diet and discovered Primal/Paleo at your age. I’m a lot like you but at almost double the age which meant it took me 6 months to almost match your 6 week photo (those darn alpha-2 receptors). I too am 5’5″ and 167 at my heaviest in my mid 30’s. I’m now hovering at 133-135.

    Besides the weight loss, my seasonal allergies were much improved. No upper respiratory infection this year either. No meds. No sick days.

    If you catch flack from family, know that you’re not alone. Grok on!

    1. don’t want to speak too soon because spring just started 🙂 but it seems like my seasonal(spring is rough for me) got a lot better since i started primal in Nov 2010

  44. I love that you stumbled onto mda by searching for ways to increase your ankle mobility. I stumbled in the same way by searching if microwave ovens are safe. Now, my life is changed. Great smile, keep doing it!

    1. Indeed, it’s great that Mark has posts that normal people can relate to. Primal isn’t all about eating organs and walking around barefoot. Those things are great, though!

  45. Awesome transformation in just a few short months! Interested in seeing what a day of eating looks like for you…

    1. Recently, I’ve been trying to put on weight. I normally skip breakfast, but for lunch and dinner, I’ll have:

      1-2 lbs of meat, primarily beef, lamb, fish, and pork with the occasional chicken—I normally try to eat a different meat for lunch and dinner for variety
      2-3 eggs
      3-4 servings of vegetable and fruit: apples, bananas, broccoli, carrots, asparagus, avocados, and kale are my staples
      1 sweet potato occasionally
      Other small things like greek yogurt, berries, chocolate, wine, or whey protein powder

  46. Because of the timeliness of this post I literally threw away the bit of ice cream I was about to eat. I’m not hungry at all and was mostly about to eat it because it was there and I am bored. Thanks for the inspiration.

  47. Great Job! And I had no idea carbs was linked to Myopia in any way. I guess you learn something new every day.

  48. Awesome transformation story! It really relates to me too because i am asian and i have been through the whole rice dilemma & glasses situation. I have a ton of horrible acne and some fat around my hips that i would love to get rid of!

    Phillip, do you have some sort of facebook page so that we can ask questions?

  49. From one Asian, to another: Right on! I’m glad you got over the rice crutch :).

  50. excellent story. You look great and obviously feel the same way. 🙂

  51. Dude I can completely relate to your battle with giving up the white rice…(I’m asian) and rice was always a main part of my cultures (korean) diet. It was’t until I learned some basic training and nutrition rules like limiting carbs to post workout training meals did I start seeing body composition change. All the other days I followed primal blueprint’s way of eating and was able to drop 10% body fat. Thanks for sharing your story…awesome motivation…

  52. Looking good Philip – congratulations on finding this lifestyle so young. I’m half-Asian, and a couple of my brothers have always fought to not look so skinny too. But, hey! Why not embrace the skinny? As long as you are strong. Look at Bruce Lee’s physique – he was very skinny but no one could say he was not a powerhouse.

    Also, American culture has been so effed up with CW and the current way of eating most people adhere to, that someone who is thin is looked at as sick. Fat is the new normal, so thin is looked at as weird. It’s a backwards world we are living in!

    1. Agreed, Hillside Gina! I feel better, since reducing my physique. I used to be stocky in appearance (but too much body fat) – hence, I was labeled Big Les, growing up. Since I’ve shrunk, my energy levels have been the best, in recent memory.

    2. That’s too true – we’re conditioned (particularly the mexican-american culture)to view being/looking overweight & even obese as acceptable. Skinny in my culture means you’re sick. Most events good or bad are celebrated w/ eating. Even when folks do get a rude awakening at the docs office (HBP, Type II, Athero..) they view the meds as the green light to change nothing. Education in the reality of good health vs. being FAT and unhealthy is almost nil so that even those that see the light and desire to change are completely clueless where/how to start.

  53. I love reading these stories, there is always something I can relate to – although, when I saw 22 year old Asian man, I didn’t think that would be the case this time (as a 37 year old Caucasian obese mom!!!). As usual, I was wrong. Ever since thinking about the primal lifestyle (the actual very ancient one) I wondered how on earth I would have survived life in the bush being so incredibly near-sighted. After reading your story, it also occurred to me that maybe the reason my reading vision of late seemed to be declining… so I took of my glasses and, low and behold, I can see my phone screen better!!! I haven’t read without my glasses since my early teens (even though near sighted – I’m very near-sighted!). Amazing!

    1. Sue, I’ve wondered that myself about surviving in the wild. I was driving at night a month or so ago and was astonished to find that I could see without putting on my polarized lenses!! And the street signs were crystal clear too. (meh, my contact prescription is on the old side) I was so shocked that improved vision could be a side effect of primal living.

  54. LOL. I love how in the progress pictures, you’re smiling harder in each one. Great! I am also Asian, and cutting out rice seemed like a betrayal at first.

    Since I started out at my own ideal weight, I didn’t lose any weight, but feel better and am more satisfied with my diet. Who needs all that rice anyway? It was just filler to begin with. 🙂

  55. Improvement in vision is a result of the Vitamin A found in organ meats. meats and saturated fats. This is one of THE big premises from Weston A. Price. You don’t get Vitamin A from plants, only the precursor Beta-Carotene.

  56. Congrats, you look fabulous and happy!
    If only some of us could have found this lifestyle sooner.
    You have a wonderful long life ahead of you now 🙂
    Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  57. It’s awesome to see a story from an asian perspective, being one myself, follow the primal diet. I’ve lost 20 lbs since I started but I regime only is 2 days of lifting a week and an occasional sprint.

    From your results, it looks like I should incorporate dead lifts for bigger gains!

  58. I just about spit my coffee out after I read the line “…has afforded me the time to do things I enjoy like reading, cooking, and mathematics.”

    My sons and I love maths.

    I think that any story of increased performance or quality of life is just as valuable as the “OMG look at the before and after” type RLS.

  59. Firstly, congratulations to your new transformation! Very well done and impressive indeed.

    To say that Asians eat rice, lots of it, and stay lean, is a bit misleading, especially if we are talking about modern Asians. If you eat rice, AND if you also eat other kinds crap, of course you tend to put on weight.

    Step back in time, say 50-100 years ago, we did eat lots of rice as a staple, along with root and leafy veggies, plus some meat and we WERE lean. There were no ‘healthy’ vegetable oils (yet), just rendered animal fats (my mum used coconut oil since we live in the tropics, until Mazola came into the market in the 70s and she switched to it), plus food preparation was simple. Fast forward to modern day, the fat is replaced by vegetable seed oil, we start to eat more wheat, rice as a staple is replaced by wheat (and other processed crap usually pre-prepared and ready-made), sugar consumption is increased, we drink more soda pop, even green tea is sweetened no wonder the modern Asians are not getting lean anymore. I am Asian and these have been my observation. This is especially true in my family, and my Dad was the only lean person (very flat stomach and did hardly any exercise voluntarily) as he was conservative and traditional when it comes to food.

    I still eat rice as a staple, but I avoid modern processed food, and stick to the old ways of eating. So far so good. I am slim, I might not have a single digit bodyfat %, but slim enough to get compliments from others including strangers, even after giving birth to 2 kids, all thanks to the collective knowledge I found through the Primal Blueprint, Perfect Health Diet, Panu and Weston A. Price.

  60. … and this whole time I blamed my parents for my poor eyesight. I should blame all the rice I ate when I was growing up! Thank you for sharing such an interesting article.

  61. There is a four page thread in the forum about myopia and primal. Think it’s in the “success” sub forum.

    Really interesting stuff, some eye doctor is talking about it all.

  62. I don’t know many Asians and I never knew they get Acne too.. Every time I see Asians (mostly Thailands) their skin is silky, milky..

    Your transition inspires me to continue with the primal way of life.
    Grok on!

  63. wow its amazing the amount of health benefits you will gain from just giving up the unhealthy grains, i find it so easy to eat primal but must confess i didn’t think i could do it in the beginning, i feel great, feel like my skin is looking better and my eyesight has improved and i also think it has improved my mental health as i am now a much happier person, more positive and less depressed, so this way of eating is a no brainer for me!! Give it a go, what have u got to lose, Good luck everyone.

  64. This says a lot about rice being a so-called “safe” starch, doesn’t it? Apparently it isn’t safe for ANYBODY!

  65. So that’s it. Rice makes you blind… Funny thought, Latin Americans (Brazilians are the greatest consumers of rice outside Asia) eat rice in almost every meal and report much less myopia victims than Asians.

    1. You’re quite right. I’ll admit that in my enthusiasm, I overstated myself quite a bit. In rural parts of Asia, myopia prevalence is quite low. Myopia is a rather complex condition with many causes. Perhaps it’s a high carbohydrate diet combined with a sedentary lifestyle that’s the cause since myopia is much more prevalent in Asian cities. More research needs to be done for certain.

      1. Yes,got a little ahead of yourself. Anyway, nice job. Congratulations!

  66. Looking good Phillip , congratulations. I think it is very simplistic to say though that the major cause of myopia is a high carbohydrate diet. My whole family has been doing primal since January and my 10 year old son was diagnosed this week with myopia. If paleo was the only answer surely his myopia, which I am sure pre- dates going paleo, would not have become a problem now. Please google the myopia myth and the international myopia prevention association and you will discover that the main culprit is all the close up work that kids have to do during their school years eg lots of reading and computer work. Coupled with prescription glasses, the myopia is made progressively worst because the minus lenses does not allow the eye to relax and instead keeps the eye in an elongated state which makes myopia worst. I have refused to put my son in the minus lenses that the eye doctor prescribed and have instead bought him +3 reading glasses for him to wear when he is reading and on the computer. This will help keep his eyes in a relaxed state when he is doing close up work and halt the progression of his myopia and maybe even reverse it. It’s that simple to stop our children from a lifetime of wearing glasses but you will not hear this from your eye doctor otherwise they will go out of business. Instead they prescribe minus lenses which makes the myopia worse, which in turn keeps you coming back every year to keep getting stronger minus lenses. It’s a vicious cycle.

    1. Near work is definitely a factor. A lot of research indicates that it plays a rather small part, however. Moreover, many kids, including me, were myopic before we ever read our first book or play on our first computer.

  67. Yo Phillip,

    You got an Asian fellow on Mark’s site here 😉 If you’re Vietnamese too (I’m guessing from your last name) then we’ve got a couple of Vietnamese followers of the Primal Blueprint.

    I haven’t gotten rid of rice entirely yet, but there were weeks that I had none. And when I had some rice after, I could feel the dizziness (the influx of glucose hit my bloodstream?)

    Anyway, thanks for sharing.

    1. Great to see another Vietnamese guy here. Glad you enjoyed the story. Yes, I get the same reaction when eating large quantities of rice. My vision also becomes a bit blurry, temporarily.

  68. This is great! My DH and family are Indian so rice is a mainstay at every meal. Not to mention the amount of sugar in the faloodo, chai, and other items. I limit myself to one meal per month with them and tend to put more spinach curry on my plate.

    My TIFO (thin outside fat inside) husband has dropped back down to pre-wedding weight since I completely changed our meals to PB. He noticed the other day that he is getting ‘buff’ on top and attributes it to his job but we all know better.

    Interestingly enough, he is 48 and still eats 3 scoops on not so good ice cream every night. Imagine if he stopped that addiction?

  69. About eyesight and carb intake… I read a fascinating take on the situation in Afghanistan where an army strategist made the point that Afghans struggle in many combat scenarios because, as a rule, their eyesight is extremely poor due to their traditional diet being so carb heavy (high levels of rice consumption). So the link is obviously known about in military fields.

  70. One of the studies sited by Loren Cordain pointed out that wild dogs don’t get myopia while domesticated pet dogs do. The hypothesized reason was the heavy carb fillers in commercial dog food.

  71. Great job, you can really tell the difference.

    And that was an interesting bit on myopia. I’ve been wearing contacts/glasses since the 7th grade.

    I’ve never really considered that my diet could affect my eyesight. Because I’ve always felt that I was pretty healthy, especially when compared to other people who had good eyesight.

    That being said I wonder if there are any studies where people changed their daily diets and experienced an improvement in eyesight.

  72. What I’m taking away from this article is “debilitating disease and strong overhead lighting cause apparent weight loss.”

  73. the best thing about all these stories is the wide range of people who are seeing improvements: young, old, male, female, women with children, and people of different races. Truly, PB is something anyone can do and benefit from.

  74. You look great! Thanks for sharing your story. I wish I would have known about the links to acne when I was younger. We’re still debating cutting out rice in our house. We’ve cut out pretty much everything else, but we do still indulge in rice once or twice a week. I probably just need to find some good side dish substitutes!

  75. I eat a lot of rice everyday, about 3-4 large bowls/day. Been eating rice all my life.

    But if I wanted to trim down from my 5’4″ 196lbs frame, rice would be the first thing to go.

  76. YOU LOOK AMAZING!!! & your progress is incredibly encouraging, considering how long you’ve been Primal. My boyfriend is Vietnamese and he loves to argue about rice, lol He doesn’t even eat it all the time; he just doesn’t wanna give it up. He’s not Primal yet, but maybe this will motivate him to be. 🙂

  77. Oh, wow!! I am an Asian and still love some rice in my diet. But seriously, your transformation is amazing!! Congratulations!

  78. I loved this story! I have a daughter who is adopted from China and have always wondered about the rice connection. I felt like I should make rice for her even thought she could take it or leave it. She is our little protein queen! She is 5 years old now and I really hope that she never has any issues with her eyesight.

  79. Way to go! Awesome story. Always so inspiring to hear about others’ success. I’m so happy for you and wish you all the best! 🙂

  80. Squat depth is critically important, but so is correct form. ATG-level depth most usually requires that the lumbar muscles relax the lordosis and that the hamstrings relax before extreme depth can be reached. It doesn’t sound like a good idea to me that anything be relaxed in a deep squat, since doing this kills your good controlled rebound out of the bottom and risks your intervertebral discs. Those rare individuals that can obtain ass-to-ankles depth without relaxing anything might be able to get away with it, but as a general rule you should squat as deep as you can with a hard-arched lower back and tight hamstings and adductors. This depth will be below parallel, but it will not usually be “ATG”.

  81. I eat more fruit ang vegetables than fish or poultry, eggs or goat cheese, and it’s hard for me to eat red meat, but I’m openend to different way of life. So I’m interested in what you wrote, to understand…

    I see that the paleo diet uses coconut flour, but I can’t imagine prehistoric people living in the european area eating this… Do you thnik chestnut flour could be an equivalent ?

    Same for bison lol My husband loves this meat but it’s VERY hard to find this where we live. And actually I don’t find very natural to take complements. In my head, I suppose that in the paleo era, people probably had carences too. I mean, getting your lunch wasn’t as easy as today lol

  82. I like to tease my Phillipina wife: “your so ricist!”

    (In all fairness, she’s cut down her intake lately, and been losing some weight as a result)

  83. Congrats~!! glad that I know at least you Asian who gave up rice haha
    I have not been eating rice for a year and half and I feel tremendous improvement of my health – no acne, no mood swing, more muscle, and deep sleep etc.
    My boyfriend always makes fun of me not eating rice at all.
    I pretty much dont care what other people saying about my primal diets.
    but great thing is my boyfriend, who used to drink coke and icecream almost every single night, starts to have those sugar foods one or twice a week.
    haha lots of improvement, huh?

    anyways, thank you for sharing your story!!

  84. Well done! An incredible story! And I can so relate, i’m Australian Chinese…and I try not to have grains at all; mostly easy to avoid since we don’t have ‘Western’ foods much apart from cuts of meat and salads. BUT rice in my parents eyes is indispensable…it took 18 years for them to finally add barley into the mix (my age is 18!) and even then it’s still ridiculous. Noodles are not cooked often at our house, nor are the other flour based Chinese dishes (eg dumplings) but when they are…

    So what I do is eat my dinner in my room and throw the rice in a little bag. What they don’t know won’t hurt them. When i move out i’ll be able to eat even healthier because I’ll eat a true Primal diet, not all this soy sauce based Chinese food! Right now I just eat out more (salads without dressing mostly); more veggies, meats, seafood, fruits, nuts, dairy (can’t do without that…) and no junk food or fast food at all and I feel great =)

  85. Thank you for this story! It’s nice to see one about another fellow Asian. I am an Asian female, embarking on the PB journey as well. I’m easing into, not diving in cold-turkey, but I am starting to see benefits. I will start to be more strict in the upcoming weeks, but have already seen about a 7lb weight loss without the chronic exercising which also always left me tired.

    Congratulations! Hopefully I will be writing a success story soon, too!

  86. I am Asian and after I dropped carbs, especially rice and breads, my constipation since junior high school days were over, my blood pressure dropped, my uric acid dropped (gout checks), my skin is better, my energy level rose, i wear 32 inch pants instead of 36, i don’t “hollow out” when i get hungry, i don’t binge on fav foods even when i adopt 80/20.

    All without exercising regularly at all!

  87. Asian social culture – you cannot get away from food, but what i found was that hotpot (you choose what you cook in the pot), japanese and korean BBQ (meat and left veg) + Brazilian BBQ are good alternatives to both share the social interactions and still stay loyal to the path

  88. WOW!!! congratulations, I have to say you look AMAZING!!! I’m so happy for you. I’m asian too and similarly, I’ll have to try to cut down on the rice intake..hehe. That’ll be tough but seeing how great the results are, I’m willing to do it. Congratulations again.

  89. thanks for an Asian perspective on PB. i’ve been reading into paleo/primal ways of eating and i’m definitely intrigued. i’ve always used being korean to keep rice in my diet, but after cutting down to half the amount i used to eat….it’s not so bad. kudos for going cold turkey and for all your success!!

  90. Anyone notices the facial transformation within a few months? It gave me an impression that it was not the same person.

    I did not goes on full paleo diet but simply reduce my carbohydrate intake, reduce vegetable, increase meats and oil(coconut and olive, 2 tblsp per meal) plus lot of butter.

    By the 6th month, I lost at least 5kg, waist from 33 to 29. Moreover, a relative, whom we meet weekly, noted that I seem to have “aged”. Unfortunately, I can’t tell the different. I’m 51.

  91. I was not expecting to see ggplots on this website! Good job! I loved your story, I’m also Asian and grew up loving rice, but now see that it’s worth it to give it up.