My Self-Experimentation and Transformation

Thanks to Richard Nikoley of Free the Animal for this Guest Post! Here is more anecdotal proof that a high fat diet coupled with intermittent fasting can improve body composition. If you’re interested to know more about Richard’s transformation visit his site, or simply ask him a question in the comment board where he’ll be fielding inquiries. Thanks, Richard!


I’m a blogger with over two thousand posts under his belt going back five years this month, to November of 2003. And, until May of 2007, about 18 months ago, I was a big fat blogger — one usually filled with rage over politics and all sorts of other societal elements far removed from my direct control. The blog was supposed to be an outlet; but instead, I was a basket case of stress, with blood pressure consistently measuring 145-160 / 95-105, probably well on my way to some cardiac event or stroke within a decade. To make matters worse, I took prescription medication daily, both for gastric reflux (pretty predictable) and for sinus allergies I’d suffered from since my teen years.

I was 46 years of age when I got fed up with it all. By this time, I had racked up over 5,000 miles walking the first hour of every weekday morning over a period of five years. Walking, by itself, doesn’t work — at least not for me.

Tipping the scale at 230 (5’10), 30%+ body fat, I decided to really and finally do something definitive about it. And I blogged about it extensively — mixed in with all of the ineffective, stress-inducing political toxins. But having now racked up nearly 60 pounds of fat loss and almost 20 pounds of lean muscle gain — now at 190 and closing in on 10% BF — I finally decided to blog about health and fitness exclusively last September. I’ll not be looking back. I’m enthusiastic about helping others achieve real results.

The mainstream advice is mostly wrong. One need only take a look around.

So it was easy, right? It’s all math: calories in equals calories out. Boost the metabolism, cut back a little — maybe even on refined carbs, add some lean mass, tip the “energy balance,” and watch the fat melt away. …Well, not exactly. Though, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a trainer who, not only stressed weight training over cardio, but actually steered me toward 30-minute sessions vs. an hour like almost all trainers and gyms try to do. I got set up to go twice per week. That’s an hour per week of ripping intensity and I’ve never worked out for a second longer. I do still walk my 3.5 miles every morning.

And so it began, I trained hard, made real strength gains quickly, initially gained some weight (lean mass) as expected, and then waited for the fat to magically vanish. But It didn’t work out that way. You see, I thought that as I built lean mass, I’d boost baseline metabolism, and my body would just naturally burn the fat over time. Well, maybe a little, but after six months I had dropped about 6 pounds net. At that rate, it would take more than five years. Still, I knew I was onto something, because almost immediately upon beginning the weight training, my blood pressure started coming down, and pretty rapidly too. Within only a couple of weeks I was down to 130-140 / 85-95 most of the time.

So this is when I began to really take others out here in the blogosphere seriously. Guys like Mark Sisson and his Daily Apple. It has been invaluable, and once I learned that diet is 80%, things began falling into place. It was a bit more than a year ago when I really began replacing carbohydrate with fat (mostly from animal sources). My pace of weight loss doubled immediately, to about a pound every two weeks — even though I was still doing too much cheating with burgers, fries, and pizzas too frequently.

But it was working.

Then one day last December I read about “Intermittent Fasting,” and suddenly, the whole foundation of evolution through natural selection, leading to Mark’s Primal Blueprint began falling into place. Think of it this way: everything begins with hunger. An animal — any animal, including the human kind — can only exist in two states with respect to food: fed or fasted. From the point we’re hungry to the point when we eat, we’re in a fasted state. From the point we eat until we’re hungry again, we’re in a fed state.

So, when we think of diet being 80% of the equation, how come so many focus on how to feed and never on how to fast? Could it be that it’s more like 50-60% diet (what we eat), 20-30% fasting (when we eat), and the rest is additional gene expression factors through various forms of brief, intense, stressful-functional activity?

So I decided to give it a go. By this time I’d been working out for over six months, and so had a pretty good idea of the demands. I decided that my first fast would be 30 hours in duration, and, I would do an intense workout near the end at about 26 hours in. It was a profoundly enlightening experience, one that once and for all convinced me that virtually everything you see, read, and hear from the mainstream “authorities” is completely and woefully wrong. I have named this phenomenon modern ignorance.

Far from “losing lean mass,” I and my trainer (to his utter astonishment) found that I gained it even more rapidly. Of the 100-300% strength gains I’ve accomplished over the last 18 months, perhaps 75% have come from the point that I began doing all my workouts moderately to extremely fast. I always ensure that I’ve not eaten for at least 12 hours, but from time to time, I’ll hit the gym not having eaten in 36 hours. Now, of course, I’m not aiming to get “body-builder” big, either; just strong, lean, ripped.

So then I rush to get that post-exercise protein, right? Nope; not even close. It’s never sooner than two hours, and from time to time as much as six hours. But this was an evolution too. Admittedly, at first, I “prepared” for my fasts with a big meal. Then, when I would finally eat, it would typically be the hugest ribeye steak you’ve ever seen, garnished with plenty of butter. What I found is that no matter how long I had fasted prior to the workout, hunger would usually go away 5-10 minutes in. Eventually, I learned to stay right on the edge of it. I could make it come and go at will, just by getting more intense, faster; then backing off.

Fat is king.

In retrospect, I doubt this would have been remotely possible without the essential pleasure and satisfaction I derived in the early stages from really pouring on the fat and pigging out before and after the fasts. I ate lots of fat (animal, olive and coconut oil) with everything, all the time. And then a strange thing happened, spontaneously. Subtly, without even really noticing it, I began eating less, less fat when I did eat, more variety including fruits, and my pre and post-fast meals took on the form of the normal. Now, increasingly, fasts are taken up spur of the moment, as in: “I’m busy; guess I’m fasting.”

I’ve found that fasting gives me high resolution into my own hunger and focuses me intensely on my own place here on this planet with respect to food. Perhaps that sounds a bit too “cosmic,” but I don’t know how else to express it. Consider how much emphasis is given on what to eat, and yet, everything begins with hunger. Could we go a step further? Without hunger, does anything really matter? Well, I can tell you first hand that fasting is your portal to hunger. Sounds obvious, but given the foregoing stated importance of it, how come people fear it so?

So there you have it; my story. It would not have happened without courageous and conscientious people out there like Mark Sisson and the cutting-edge work they do. I can only dream about helping half the people he’s helped; and yet, I’ve already helped plenty — many of them loved family and friends. I really appreciate Mark granting me this wonderful opportunity to put a guest post up on MDA.

What a great way to change a life, and to do it amongst such great people. If you’d care to see a bit more of the evolution in pictures, here’s my latest photo update; and also, my gallery of various progress photos and mashups. Finally, if you’re wondering how all this has effected my lipid panel, here you go.

Other Guest Posts:

Go Healthy Go Fit: Staying Healthy and Fit in Different Lifestyles

Fitness Black Book: Shake Your Gym Addiction. The Outside World is Waiting For You

10 Questions with MizFit from MizFitOnline

Modern Forager: The Tropical Oils

The IF Life: Building Muscle 101

Health Hackers: Conquer Restless Nights with This Simple Sleep Cure

Almost Vegetarian: Almost Vegetarian and Kitchen Geology

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49 thoughts on “My Self-Experimentation and Transformation”

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  1. Hey Richard,

    Congrats on the transformation! It’s great to see someone put their mind to a goal, find out how to accomplish it and then just do it! Kudos brotha!

    All the Best,

    Andrew R

  2. Thanks for the great story Richard! Congratulations! Quick question about the fasting – even on a primal diet, I find I get tired/moody/cranky/less productive if I fast for too long or when I have a lot going on. Do you ever run into those problems/issues? If so, how did you overcome them to make fasting work so well for you? Thanks! And again, congrats!

  3. Holly:

    Sure, I’ve had a few “failed fasts” over the year I’ve been doing it (twice per week). At the beginning, organized, disciplined fasts are probably good just to tough out — to convince yourself you actually can do it.

    But stresses and activities in life are varied, and who knows why you can easily do five 30 hour fasts in a row, then can’t even get through a 24-hr one without caving at 10pm?

    I guess it’s something that needs to be taken flexibly, intermittently, and listen to your body. As you lean out, I’ve found, I am much more in tune to how I feel. If my body screams too loudly for food, then I eat.

    One caveat: don’t be anybody’s fool, not even your own body’s. There may be instances where you still have to tough it out.

    That said, everyone is different. I’m a male, and I have heard speculation that females have a more difficult _baseline_ time with fasting. There may be evolutionary reasons for that, as males were generally the hunters and females the gatherers. However, I’m sure that’s a real blurry line, not a clear cut distinction when it comes to individuals. Race could also play a factor.

  4. Awesome! Congratulations. I’m going to forward this to my mom. She is not overweight but she always talks about losing fat. I’ve tried to explain the primal blueprint to her before; to no avail. I think she may understand this.

  5. Richard,

    Congratulations! And really nice progression of photos. I’m in Holly’s boat, even as a guy I find myself getting crankier on the tail end of a fast. Though usually my level of crankiness is inversely proportional to how busy I am. If I can fill up my day with activity, I have less time to dwell on being hungry and less time to dwell on being cranky.

  6. Wow Congratulations Richard! You have fitted the pieces of the puzzle together. Too many people think it only takes one “magic” exercise or diet but in reality it takes a good combination of diet and variety in exercise. Keep up the good work.

  7. Follwed you for a while Richard, and posted on your site as well.

    Happy to see you are still going strong, but I just have to ask this…

    Do you feel any real harsh reprocusions of not doing the whole grass fed ‘thing.’ If I had to eat fatty rib-eyes for a whole year that weren’t from a grass fed cow, do you feel that I am doing my body harm? Eggs?

    What about pastuerized cream as a fat source. Given it is basically empty except for fat calories, is it doing any real harm?


  8. I have been by Richard’s site before quite a bit. Richard has a great success story and it is a continuing one as well. Keep up the good work Richard!

    The SoG

  9. Great story Richard….really liked your insight:

    “I’ve found that fasting gives me high resolution into my own hunger and focuses me intensely on my own place here on this planet with respect to food.”

    Well said. Keep up the great health!

  10. Joe:

    I can’t say fasting has ever made me cranky. From my perspective, a _was_ a hugely cranky, disagreeable, volatile guy. Probably that low-level widespread inflammation from all the crap, the stress of running a company, etc. The change was so profound that from my perspective, I have become quite a bit easier to live with in general (just ask my wife :).


    I personally don’t worry a lot about the grass fed — except for raw whole milk (which I’ve given up anyway and feel WAY better for it). I sometimes get grass fed beef and buffalo, and I enjoy it. I also sometimes get the omega-3 eggs and such. That said, I try not to focus too much on the “frosting on the cake,” to use an awful metaphor. My focus is more on those that were in my shape, or worse, those with blood glucose and lipid issues and such. For them, just giving up the white flour, sugar, vegetable oils and the plethora of derivative franken-food crap is a HUGE step, and in my view, is 90% of it (I’m talking about people in BAD shape). Then, workout and fasting, if they can manage, makes up the other 9%. 1% is the frosting, i.e., the grass fed, free range and so on. Once they get their health under control, then, I think we’re into areas where one can get even more benefit from taking additional steps and now we’re into the 50/30/20 areas I discussed in my post.

    Also, a good idea is to supplement with fish oil and cod liver oil in order to improve the n-6:n-3 ratio. I take 3 grams of salmon and 2 of cod liver oil per day.

  11. Although I follow a very conventional diet plan, I am always interested in hearing about what works for others. Thanks for sharing your story, Richard!

    I’m particularly interested in the eternal “fat” debate: i.e., is it good for you? bad for you? neutral? I’ve been leaning toward the “good for you” side, although I don’t include trans fats in my assessment.

  12. Well, Liz Turtle, how about give it a try? You might be amazed. I suspect that most issues people have with being hungry and obsessive about food in general is a dietary fat deficiency in the right context (animal, olive, coconut), along with an elimination of processed foods.

    For example, the Zone Diet (I call it the “Groan Diet”) could never work for me, and I suspect, strict Paleo a-la Cordain either. In fact, I just got “The Paleo Diet” on my Kindle and haven’t learned a thing. “Skinless chicken breasts?” C’mon! Grok ate the skin, I’m pretty sure — especially once he learned how to roast it on the fire (now we do marshmallows).

    I’m sure both work well for some people, and I don’t think they are invalid diets, but I really get suspicious when these popular diet authors tow the party line with respect to animal fats. I don’t know, but I suspect they are putting their popularity above providing a path almost anyone can follow and have success in.

    Even though I fast, I do so by design. Being chronically hungry sucks, and I think that’s what you get with those diets.

    To emphasize, these are my opinions.

  13. Great work, Richard!

    Now a question on fasting. I’ve tried fasting before on numerous occasions the longest fast lasting 23 hours. Every time I’ve fasted I have become ill, the longest fast rendering me violently ill with headache, vomiting, fatigue, and so on. I’d like to make fasting part of my routine, but my experience is what makes me so frightened to do so. What’s going on here? Why does fasting make me sick? How can I put a stop to it so I can get on with a healthier lifestyle?

  14. Stacey:

    When I first began, I had real “intestinal” issues. I don’t know, but my working speculation is that there may be toxins sequestered in your fat, and releasing them in a flood as fasting does causes bad things to happen.

    Here’s what I do know: glycogen last a couple of hours under strenuous activity while a human can go 3-4 months and longer on fat and protein stores. Given the logic of evolution, what does that tell you.

    I think there’s a withdrawal element to it, just like if you drink coffee every day and quite, you get headaches, or, if you drink alcohol every day and quite, you’ll get cold sweats.

    Your body gets used to things and complains when you change course. Don’t be your body’s fool is what I say. That said, if it’s bad enough you might want to seek advice from a physician who has experience with fasting, if there is such a thing. Perhaps one who practices one of the religions that fast.

  15. Hi Richard,

    Thank you for sharing your journey-notes.

    I appreciate the “cosmic” hunger stuff.

    I’d appreciate if you could elaborate on a couple points.

    1)”…Eventually, I learned to stay right on the edge of it. I could make it come and go at will, just by getting more intense, faster; then backing off.” Is the “it” of which you speak, your hunger? The quoted passage, while obviously important to the overall learning you acquired, has me a bit confused.
    2)”…I began eating less, less fat when I did eat, more variety including fruits, and my pre and post-fast meals took on the form of the normal.” What is “normal” in this passage ? Still no grains, right ? Does this mean that IF now supersedes emphasis on fat-heavy diet composition? Elaboration on this part would help as well.

    Is this what you do now?

    ~1 hour walk daily
    2-30 minute intense weight training sessions per week. (ie;”metabolic conditioning” BTW, do you have specifics of your training regimen posted?If so, any links?)
    Train while fasted.

    Did I miss anything ?

    Thanks and best wishes for continued health, happiness and success !


  16. Richard,

    Congrats. I have watched your progress and you site after seeing your comments over at Art. D’s.

    I still have pretty big meals after my fasts.
    But I’m also very active, so figure that I still need it.
    I only schedule 1 IF day per week and the other day I let happen naturally based on my scedule for the week.
    Thanks again for the GREAT post!


  17. Congratulations on your transformation, I’m a big believer in this way of eating and the various versions of the paleo-type diet. I first heard Loren Cordain speak 10-years and I think the biochemistry behind the primal living is sound and spot on! Richard, you are another great example of this.

  18. Hey, Richard. As a follow-up, I was looking over some fasting tips and noting that pretty much everyone says nursing moms shouldn’t fast. True? I’m nursing a 3 month old. Bummer (re: fasting).

    BTW, while I’m talking about the baby, carrying a baby counts as exercise?? I just walked to the grocery store and back (1/2 mi, 30 mins – we’re down to one car and it’s not with me) with the baby strapped across my chest. It certainly *felt* like a workout. Counts as one, right?

  19. Really enjoyed following your blog as well as from Art’s blog. Glad that you’re staying on track.

    I read Eat Stop Eat and that was very enlightening with regard to IF and blood sugar levels. I’m quite slim though I would like get more definition. The fasting that I’ve been doing are mostly eating very early dinners and eating breakfast later or skipping it altogether. I can go as long as say 18 hours but beyond that I get light headed.

    What I do notice though that on my fast days it has a great effect on my digestion and overall feeling of energy and vitality.

    I’ve been a raw vegan for a while now and just started small amounts of flesh food to experiment. I leaned out pretty quickly once I started adding even small amounts of animal protein though I think my body is not use to digesting them. I get headaches two hours after a flesh food meal. I’m sticking to high raw most of the time then when my body tells me I need some flesh food I add some. I’ve maintained a pretty good level of body fat percentage and good muscle mass for my age (42) even on a raw vegan diet. I weigh between 110-112, 5’5 with body fat around 15%.

    If you’re contemplating on IF, just try it. The easiest really is to just eat an early dinner and eat breakfast then you’ve at least fasted for at least twelve hours. Another thing I do is to go and workout right away really really intense then wait about an hour then have a feast.

    I’ve also done where I keep my eating window from say 9 to noon and not have anything until the next day. Water and teas help and also has a detoxing effect. If you get light headed or some tummy issues, this could be a detoxing effect.

    Anyways, I just wanted to share my experience with IF. It’s not as hard once you work it into your week. It really does kick start your fat loss. I was having some small jggly bits prior to IF and now they’ve just about disappeared. So, ladies if you’re worried about muffin tops in your low rise, IF will melt them away 😉

    Thanks again Richard for sharing your experience. You’ve motivated and inspired lots of people with your blog.


  20. Richard,

    Great job on your weight loss and your dedication to a healthy life style.

    As a male who is just starting the journey, I’m doing pretty good except I find myself cramping up. Different places of the body at different times of the day. I take vitamins, eat a banana everyday and drink water. I do drink quite a bite of coffee every day-6-9 cups-. My question is do you, or have you had any problems with cramping when you first started?

    Thank you.

  21. OK, here we go.


    Yes, the ‘it’ is hunger. In fact, I happen to be in a fast today. My last meal was yesterday around 2pm (small salad, lunch-size steak, sauteed veggies). I was going to be working out at 4pm this afternoon, eating around 7 but my trainer called wanting to move up, so it’s now 3:30 and I worked out from 1-1:30 and I feel great. A very mild, ENJOYABLE hunger. Anyway, I did upper body first 20 minutes and then deadlifts and leg press. Pretty heavy — and by the 2nd set hunger began to come on steady. I took a rest for 2 minutes, it went away. Then, I got back on and decided to do explosive on the positive, really slow on the negative, and I got the hunger back. Once I went to the sauna, steam, and showers, hunger was gone and didn’t return until about 30 minutes ago. But as I said, it’s very mild & enjoyable right now.

    Yes, normal is normal in quantity, but still all the right, ‘Paleo-esque’ foods.

    The one thing I do that you didn’t mention is I make heavy use of the ‘cold plunge’ at the gym. They keep it around 50 degrees, and this takes working up to. I typically spend 3-5 minutes up to my neck after each workout. It’s a reset button. You can put your clothes on and not get them all sweaty as you cool down, and your full energy vitality gets restored. I sometimes go as long as 10 minutes. When I started using this 18 months ago, I could barely stand 30 seconds. My sensitivity to cold has dropped considerably. My morning walks, even at 50 degrees outside are still in shorts and t-shirt. In past years by this time I was in full sweats. Now this makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. It always mystified me how Grok of the North wasn’t writhing in agony half the time due to chronic cold.


    As to the nursing, as you can imagine, I’ve no experience. My guess is that nutrition for the little one is SUPER important, so I’d want to keep your nutrition optimal. While I’m sure that natural selection provides for the possibility of a nursing mother not having food for a while (it probably sacrifices YOU for the sake of the offspring), I doubt it’s optimal and I wouldn’t want my wife doing it.

    As far as carrying the ‘guy’ around, oh yea! Fabulous exercise, and, just one reason to make sure his nutrition is top-notch — so he gains weight and makes you work even harder.

    Green Goddess:

    Interesting. It’s good to know that people who choose that path can still maintain good health and strength.


    Never had cramping that I can recall. Here’s my general take: I am certain that we were designed to go long periods with little to no nutritional intake. I’ve done it long enough to where it actually makes me feel wonderful to fast up to 36 hours — to the point where I may try a 3-4 day fast once or twice per year. I have been able to work through all of the minor issues I’ve had, but if I was in good health and had nagging issues, I would simply fast long enough until I broke through. I think it’s no surprise that you can eat 2-5 times per day for 40 years straight and have your body react violently when you decide to change course.

  22. Great success story Richard. I have tried fasting but never for as long as you do it (usually 24 hours max). And I’ve never tried exercising during a fast but if the hunger really does go away during the workout I might give it a try.

  23. Great Post Richard and Congrat’s!!!
    So many people are afraid to eat fats, but as you pointed out, eating “good” fats is “good” for you!

    Fasting is something i occasionally do, i really like it, i actually feel pretty good the next day after. Taking a 24 hour break from food does a world of good for me. I don’t eat but i do drink water on my fast.

  24. Wow. That is amazing. What a great story and inspiring as well. I have never really thought about using fasting, ever. Not sure I could take a 24 hour break from food though. Maybe I could start with a 12 hour fast, heh??

  25. There seems to have been a lot of attention paid to intermittent fasting recently. In my opinion, there are two camps: those who believe one should eat “nothing” for an extended period of time, and those that believe that “eating light” will produce the same effect. Which is it? I do practice fasting and I realize that I prefer, when fasting, to have a few cups of coffee with cream. It really seems to keep hunger at by and increases my mental focus. Am I reducing or nullifying the effect of fasting by ingesting cream? As you mention in the blue print, fats have a neutral hormonal effect, but doesn’t cream also have small amounts of protein as well (i.e. glucagon response)? Thanks!!


  26. Tom Parker:

    Regarding hunger going away during a workout, just a heads up. Depending on your individual disposition, it might be hard to get this working for you. Because you are simply choosing to use this as a tool to improve, and not for survival, it might be difficult to motivate yourself to really put out when you have this gnawing feeling in your stomach. If you don’t really put out with the intensity in the first 5-10 minutes, you might not see the hunger go away. The key to getting it to go away is to drive the intensity such that your body really turns up the fat burn, and that’s the key to hunger going away. Then, you can even up the intensity (it’s usually heavy leg work where I can outstrip the ability to keep hunger at bay) to see if you can get the hunger to return — for fun and profit.

    Rachel/Fit Mom:

    Of course, you don’t have to do anything, but I’m pretty convinced that some degree of fasting is necessary to really lean out without all the bad stuff bodybuilders do, like eating dry lean and dehydrating themselves. Regarding 12 hours, this is a daily thing for me anyway and I don’t really consider it fasting. I always ensure that my first meal of the day is at least 12 hours since the last time I ate in the evening. So, if I graze on nuts until 10pm, I ain’t eating again until at least 10 in the morning. That’s no problem, however, as I’m almost never hungry before 10 am, and one rule I always follow is that I don’t eat unless I’m hungry.

    One good strategy is to eat at 3-4pm, then go until late lunch or dinner the next day. That way, you won’t be super hungry when you go to bed, and you sleep through a lot of it. Sleep also preps your body for fasting through GH release.


    From what I understand, any significant amount of calories shuts off the fat burn immediately. I drink coffee and tea too during a fast, but always black. The cream is pure fat, so it might not have the same fat burn shutdown effect that carbs would, but to me, that would be a bit torturous. I want to punch through, get my body very used to accessing fat stores (fasting, intense exercise, and sleep all stimulate GH release to preserve lean mass). I’d be concerned that the low cal intake might shut down these mechanisms and so you could be actually consuming lean mass you otherwise wouldn’t. Not sure, but that would be my concern.

  27. Richard, congrats on your weight loss. Its remarkably similar to mine. I had a blog when I was overweight struggling with the issues and getting over dieting. Then I started paleo and took it seriously and the weight has melted away effortlessly. Congrats!!!!

    Secondly, I just wanted to point out that Dr Cordain says to trim the fat off of meat because wild game meat is extremely low in fat (especially subcutaneous fat) and so they would never have gotten as much fat as we do if we don’t trim the meat. Its obviously not a problem eating it, but he is simply saying that if you want to mimic a hunter gatherer diet then you need to trim the fat.

  28. Dr Dan:

    Let me just say that I recently began reading “The Paleo Diet” for the first time.

    Frankly, I think Cordain is FOS on this point, and the book is plain IRRITATING with all the bromides he uses liberally (‘heart healthy fats’ — he means unsaturated — ‘artery clogging saturated fats’, etc.). I certainly grant that SOME indigenous populations didn’t have access to lots of animal fats (or it was easier to eat high carb, like the healthful Kitavans, Kuna, etc.).

    What I think is that humans are generally adapted to a fairly wide range of fat and carb intake. Northern climes would have been high fat and protein, while southern ones would have more access to easy-to-obtain carbs. There may be something to the idea that whether your ancestors harken from north or equatorial may determine your tolerance both for fat and for carbs, in proportion. My wife’s lineage is S America, and she tolerates carbs far better than I. I’m northern European and (obviously) don’t tolerate them well. Conversely, where she doesn’t like lots of meat and fat, like I do, I love it.

    The problem with Cordain is that he’s attempting to advocate only variation within a one-size-fits-all framework. I think the framework itself is vastly varied, and the important thing is to eliminate grains, sugar, vegetable oils (and the millions of processed derivative products). Then, you work to find the right ratios for YOU. Alternatively, I eat intermittently. Some days to weeks, it’s 80-90% fat. Other days to weeks, it’s 30-50% fat with lots more fruit. I basically go with what I’m hungry for, and this is how it seems to work out.

    This is what I like about MDA. Fruits and veggies are great, but SO IS FAT.

  29. Most excellent post Richard – Your blog is one I follow regularly (along with MDA! and a few others) – well written, always interesting and you seem inquisitive, playful and not doctrinaire. Works for me – I really like your approach.

    My experience has been similar to yours. I have lost about half the fat you have – I am shorter (5’9″) and “only” weighed a little over 185 lbs at my heaviest. I don’t know about you, but I have been amazed how much weight I have lost – 30lbs – mostly fat I think – I feel at least as strong as before – and yet I still have fat to lose! We really fool ourselves into thinking we are “just a little” overweight.

    I too have found IF to be great for me although I tend to limit it to about 16 to 18 hours per day, 4 or 5 times a week. And like Patrick, I do sip a large cup of coffee or strong tea throughout the day, laced with a good shot of coffee cream – it may blunt the effects, but I still feel great (and better) with the IF’ing.

    I am just now looking into a gym and trainer to help me get started into working out. I am in good health and I have the same goals as you – strength and leaning out more. Any advice for the workout newbies? – I really want to get some professional help with form etc.

    Another question – did you snore before all this and how about now? I have been a big snorer all my adult life even though I was far from obese with no allergies or breathing problems. My snoring has simply ceased. I am quite sure that the weight loss has been part of this, but I am convinced that the larger factor is general systemic inflammation affecting the throat and airway. Of course this is almost certainly much less now that I am eating the PB. I am aware of other effects in my body indicating reduced inflammation, but the end to my snoring has been dramatic. This may contribute to my increased energy on this diet – like you I cannot conceive of going back to my old way of eating – my memories of eating waffles and bread are enough.

    Snoring and airway patency are huge issues – I am an orthodontist and dentists are becoming involved in making appliances to advance the mandible to improve the airway during sleep. My experience with one such appliance I made for myself was that it helped and pretty well eliminated my snoring for the first half of the night, but that I did start snoring in the second half – thank goodness for that spousal feedback!

    The scary thing is that this is becoming an issue in children! Not surprising given the increasing obesity in kids, but I think that the inflammation is at least as big a factor.

    I have heard a sleep expert say that if you snore, you cannot get a good sleep. I tend to believe it. Any thoughts on this?

    In any case, keep up the great work! Your information and inspiration are very helpful.

  30. John Campbell:

    “I am just now looking into a gym and trainer to help me get started into working out. I am in good health and I have the same goals as you – strength and leaning out more. Any advice for the workout newbies? – I really want to get some professional help with form etc.”

    This is another area where I think there’s often too much emphasis on what/how to work out than on just…simply…working out. All newbies need to know is ditch conventional cardio and do brief, intense. There’s a lot of resources like here at MDA, De Vany, and Chris Highcock at Conditioning research is fantastic (check out some of those “Mountain Athlete” videos he posts).

    I’ve always used a personal trainer, but it’s important to find one who understands brief and intense, and lets you do 30-minute sessions instead of an hour. BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF A PERSONAL TRAINER IS THAT HE HAS AN INTEREST IN YOUR CONTINUED PROGRESS. In other words, a good one will keep you from injuring yourself, so you stay in the game. Some injuries could put you out for months, even longer. In 18 months, I’ve never had anything but very mild strains and pulls — usually from ignoring my trainer’s advice (15 years experience, bachelor’s in exercise physiology). He really, really focusses on protecting my lower back and always watches my form very carefully.

    “Another question – did you snore before all this and how about now?”

    I began snoring only when I began to get really overweight, and it was exacerbated by alcohol. My wife has told me that snoring is very rare, now. I really have no idea about the quality of sleep issue.

    As a dental pro, you might be interested to know that, one, I had to have braces as a teenager (severe crowding — several teeth pulled to make room, no overbite — could run a straw between teeth, thruster — they used the sharp barbs to torture my tongue and retrain it). Then, I had two surgeries for gum disease back around 2000. Had to have cleanings four times per year as some bacterial “pockets” could not be managed without it. Then, when I went off grains and sugar completely, my teeth/gums began feeling better, and I skipped three cleanings in a row. Finally went in and it had been a year. The hygienist and doc determined that not only was my gum problem resolved, but reversed. They had measurements going back 15 years and I was better off that 15 years prior.

    That’s not all. I began reading Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Price, and began supplementing with Activator X (K2 Mentetrenone, MK-4) in combo with A and D. Even though my gums had resolved, I would get awful calculus buildup, especially inner lower front teeth. Within a few days of a cleaning, I could no longer suck air/liquid through my bottom front teeth. Once I began taking the K2, it was 2-3 days and the calculus began dissolving. I had a cleaning 3 weeks ago, and my teeth have remained very smooth. No buildup at all. I don’t even brush after every meal, sometimes not even every day.

    Weston Price also observed in his travels that these indigenous people with no tooth decay also didn’t have dental crowding, and child berthing was easier than in the west. The speculation is these fat soluble vitamins are very important early on for proper bone development, such as the width of the dental bridge and the birth canal.

    I mentioned some of this to my dentist and hygienist, and emailed some info. In spite of their astonishment at my dental / periodontal transformation, they seem not so interested.

    Do you have any take on this?

  31. Richard – thanks for the reply – I am not obsessing over the workouts, but your advice is very good – it will help me judge a personal trainer for maximum benefit.

    As far your dental findings are concerned, I am not at all surprised by much of it. I posted in another blog I believe you frequent – Diana Hsieh’s Noodlefood – she was posting on a piece you did on vitamin D! don’t you love the incestuous nature of the web.

    In any case I posted a reply which included:

    “The plaque is formed by naturally occurring bacteria feasting on … TA DAH … fermentable carbohydrate. Brushing and flossing your teeth daily mechanically removes the stuff and your teeth and gums should remain healthy. Many people do not perform this adequately and problems arise. Plaque and the carbohydrate work to lower the local pH which dissolves the minerals in the teeth producing caries. The plaque also sets up an inflammatory response in the gums and later in the bone that supports the teeth. Daily cleaning is vital and the professional cleaning in a dental office further ensure that the plaque that was missed, that became mineralized by the saliva is removed on a regular basis.

    Almost everyone eating a “normal” diet with fermentable carbohydrate will leave behind plaque on a regular basis and problems are very likely.

    Another factor is the saliva which serves to neutralize the pH changes. Now this is probably more than most people want to know, but one can see that the essential factor is carbohydrates in our diet. Vitamin D itself is unlikely to have a direct effect on the plaque although it is certainly possible. The greatest benefit is to cut down on the fermentable carbohydrate and particularly the stuff that gets broken down in the mouth – ie sugars, starches etc. Eating a lot of vegetables will add very little or no plaque while the natural cleaning action of the fibrous vegetables could very well help depending on the alignment of your teeth.

    You will likely find your teeth remaining cleaner, but you may still chronically miss an area or two so tooth brushing and flossing are still advised – it isn’t going to hurt unless you scrub and particularly if you do so after ingesting acidic foods. This will lower the pH again apart from the plaque and make tooth brush abrasion much greater. But of course acidic foods are often the carbohydrate crap again – cola drinks, orange juice, sour candies etc.”

    My own experience has been very interesting – I have a fractured lower second molar (don’t chew ice kids!). The fracture almost certainly extends into the root which means doom for the tooth. My buddy patched and crowned it and we both kept our fingers crossed. The tooth was variably sensitive with some gum involvement – I was resigned that the tooth would soon have to come out – root fractures cannot be repaired. Since my PB diet and lifestyle, the tooth feels much better – virtually asymptomatic for now – I am fully aware that it could blow up at any time, but I am enjoying the reprieve.

    Now lest anyone think that this PB can cure anything, I am not saying that, but it can do wonders – you still require professional guidance and help with some things at some times, but the Primal Blueprint does place your own health with you where it belongs.

    It is very interesting that you were still finding a significant calculus buildup on your lower front teeth – with minimal carbohydrate consumption alone, you should not get the plaque buildup which leads to the calculus. Hmmm – as an orthodontist I am not the expert on this at all – periodontists or gum specialists would be much more knowledgeable. It is clear however that our modern diets are so messed up that many (most?) findings and studies are based on a diseased model of humanity. We have so much to learn – it is really exciting, but frustrating how stuck we are right now.

    I am not really surprised that your gum problems have resolved and even reversed. I believe that the reduction in inflammation is the key to these improvements. As to the calculus dissolving – that is a real poser – again my oral biochemistry and physiology is a very distant memory. It has been apparent to me however, that this improved diet and lifestyle that you and others advocate has so many positive impacts on so many body systems that we are only beginning to scratch the surface.

    I am aware of sounding like a bit of a nut when I enthuse about the changes I have experienced in less than a year of this. I cherish a scientific and rational approach to life, yet it is hard not to sound like a missionary! I am proud to be a dentist knowing that Weston Price is one of the pioneers in all this – maybe we dentists are predisposed to this thinking because it is carbs and not fat that causes dental problems

    Sorry to go on but this stuff just juices me – most everyone I know rolls their eyes when I get started – my bad – I need a good editor!

    One last question if I may – you mentioned the Activator X briefly on your blog – where do get it and what dosage?

    Thanks again Richard!

  32. Sorry – Mark I must add a huge thank you to you as well for your great blog and giving us all this wonderful opportunity to learn from your wisdom!

    Kudos! We are all in your debt! As the name of your blog implies – I never miss a day! I often suggest interested people check out your site since it covers such a broad range of topics and is so intelligent and accessible.

  33. Thank you John for the compliments and kind words. And thanks for being a loyal reader! Keep on referring people. I want to get the word out to as many people as possible, and I can’t do it alone. Cheers!


  34. John Campbell:

    Sorry, I didn’t get that quick question answered regarding “Activator X.” On my site, just pop ‘K2’ into the search function and that will pull up all my posts on it. In those, there are references to other articles. Pay particular attention to Stephan’s posts (Whole Health Source) as well as the substantial article by Chris Masterjohn at the Weston Price Foundation.