Tuesday, April 15, 2014

In this Ask The Paleo Model post I answer the questions of my mate Ross in Australia and Will in London, both of whom are relatively new to Paleo.

Ross, 30 - Melbourne

Hey man, how's everything in the US? I was reading your blog the other day and am pretty interested in bulletproof coffee. Do you know if I can get all the ingredients in Melbourne? Or are they hard to source?

The Paleo Model

Hey mate. Yes all good in the US and A! How's Melbs?

Dave Asprey, owner of Bulletproof Coffee may vehemently disagree with me but I reckon you can use any high quality coffee for bulletproof. Dave's trademark low-toxin specialty Bulletproof Coffee may give you slightly better results but it is very expensive and I like to try different coffees and buy small batches regularly so I don't use his brand. 

However I would agree with Asprey that the quality of the coffee is paramount. I'd recommend buying the best single origin coffee beans you can afford - preferably organic but not necessarily. Generally speaking, coffee from higher mountainous regions that use use non-chemical processing (with water) is the best. Roasting does not kill the mycotoxins (mould) in the coffee so freshness and also time at sea (distance travelled) affects the toxin level. 

If possible buy small amounts of coffee frequently and grind it yourself, or use it very soon after grinding. 

To make your coffee bulletproof you just add grass-fed butter and MCT oil. I think the Woolworths' home brand
butter is grass-fed so that's the cheapest. Make sure you buy UNSALTED! 

The MCT is going to be the hardest thing to find in Australia. I'd Google it. 1Lt should last you a couple of months and shouldn't cost more than $25. I personally use Now Foods MCT oil which I buy online for about $13 a liter, shipped to my New York apartment.

I use a plunger (French Press) for the coffee. About three heaped teaspoons of fairly coarsely ground coffee is my sweet spot. Add about 20g of butter (1/10th of a 200g stick) and start with one teaspoon of MCT, then titrate up slowly over two weeks up to about 4 teaspoons or 1-1.5 tablespoons of MCT. Decant your hot coffee into a blender or beaker, add the butter and MCT and then blend well for about 10-15 seconds. I use a stick blender. 

I recommend having bulletproof coffee in the morning as a breakfast substitute. I think it's good to take two days off a week from BPC and eat breakfast instead if you feel like it. 

Make sure you go easy on the MCT oil to begin with. You'll know pretty darn quickly if you've overdone it as you'll be running for the bathroom immediately. The MCT induced diarrhea, if you get it, usually sorts itself out after a couple of weeks. It's a fantastic laxative though if you overdose! 

Thanks for your question and I hope you enjoy your turbocharged mornings. Here's a full post on Bulletproof Coffee if you're interested:

William, 31 - London

Hey mate, I know it's been a really long time. I follow you on Instagram (and read a couple of blogs from Facebook) and the lifestyle you maintain is pretty impressive.

I've just made the move to London for a couple of years and lost 6kgs in 6 weeks (now 80kgs), just exercising. 

Chewing your ear off about Paleo would be great, but next best thing would be to know: can I go Paleo and cheat a little bit? A beer here, a burger there... or is it 100% or nothing?

Either way, really impressed with how you go about your lifestyle mate. I hope it doesn't sound weird to say it's a little inspiring.

All the best, Will.

The Paleo Model

Hey mate, 

Great to hear from you and thanks so much for your positive feedback. Sounds like you're enjoying London? I had to battle pretty hard in London not to turn into a fat, pasty blob! But rest assured - it is totally possible - especially with a great gym membership, some healthy shopping at Waitrose and quarterly vitamin-D getaways to Ibiza, the Greek Islands or Portugal!

That's fantastic that you've lost some weight. Exercise is a great way to lose weight initially but once you plateau you really have to keep bumping up the volume and/or intensity to maintain the weight loss, which can make exercise an unsustainable path to weight-loss in my opinion. That's why I preach that nutrition is key! 

As I keep saying Paleo is a lifestyle not really a diet, which means it's something you chip away at as a basic mantra but you definitely don't have to be 100% all the time. Life is for living!

I think the biggest thing to be strict on is gluten though if you really want to see the best improvement. I'd definitely try at least 30 days strict as your first buy-in with zero gluten (including beer) and zero dairy if you want to see what it actually feels like to be 100% Paleo. After the initial 30 day buy-in then I think having a beer once in a while is ok if you don't react badly to it.

I had a couple of Guinnesses the other night, for example, when I was in London visiting mates. I've probably only had about for Guinnesses in the last 18 months, it's not a regular thing.

"Non Paleo" foods you can be more lax on are non-gluten grains like corn, rice and oats, sugar and dairy... but don't let them become staples. Some yoghurt here or there or corn chips once in a while shouldn't throw you off track if you're good most of the time. 

The 30 day buy-in is the ideal way to get started on Paleo but if that is completely impossible then you can gently wade into the Paleo lifestyle step by step. Even if it takes a year until you are at the point where you don't miss lattes, sandwiches and beer then it is totally worth it. 

And trust me, once you experience how good it feels to have boundless energy, stable body composition and no bloating or puffiness; and how shit you feel after eating a bunch of gluten then you'll find it even easier to permanently avoid those junky foods. 

Once Paleo do you have to be 100% strict, 100% of the time? Hell no! While I don't believe in a "cheat day" I think it's absolutely fine to eat a "non Paleo" meal once in a while. 

Dare I say that Paleo + beer is still a lot better than no Paleo + beer. 

Eventually I guess you have to find what works for you. Hopefully it is 90% Paleo or better. 

Now, I personally think wheat (and for the most part beer) are worth completely avoiding - although Corona for example has zero gluten so that's probably not too bad in the scheme of things if you're going to drink beer.

So if you're Paleo most of the time and avoiding things like wheat, industrial seed oils and most grains then I don't think you need to stress about having ice cream once in a while or a burger on a gluten-free bun or even a gluten-free pizza. I also go through phases of eating a fair amount of cheese, typically from goat or sheep milk.

Funnily I'm actually writing this from Bordeaux in France so I've definitely been more like 80/20 in the last few days on holiday. I even had some bread today which I haven't had for over a year. 

Anyway, glad you're giving Paleo a crack and let me know if you have any other questions. 

I think staying off the beer is a massive challenge in London but would definitely help the cause if you're trying to get lean. Maybe white wine, rose, vodka-soda or tequila would be the way forward... 

Here's a post on what to drink and why:



OK, that's the best lifestyle advice I've ever received in under 10mins!

I suppose the biggest thing to overcome is moving away from the 'staples' and wheat/beer, as you say, given the lifestyle in London. 

Thanks again, mate. Really appreciate the thoughts. Good to know it's something the layman can also achieve.

All the best. Will.

The Paleo Model

It's easily done mate. Just lay off the wheat (sandwiches, pasta, beer, kebabs, pizza) and instead go for salads, meat and veg, wine and spirits, kebab plate (no bread). Even bangers [sausages] and mash or curry and rice or sushi is better than pasta or bread when you're out. 

And when you're at home eat more veggies, eggs, fish, meat, nuts, fruit and lay off the cereals, sugar and grains. Easy! It's worth it.

Keep an eye out for the next Ask The Paleo Model installment to learn how my friend followed some simple advice to lose 8kg for his wedding in just 10 weeks. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Interview for Sous Style

Last week I did a really fun interview for Sous Style - a New York based lifestyle blog. They followed me around for a few hours on a fairly typical day - working out at the track, riding my beloved fixie, grocery shopping, and cooking them a tasty Paleo salad. In the interview I talk about modeling and Paleo and reveal some pretty funny anecdotes. Please check it out via the link below and share with your mates!

Still new to Paleo and trying to work out some substitutes for your favorite staple foods? Well here is a list of eight Paleo substitutes I frequently use. Some are fairly straight forward and obvious while others are a little more quirky. I'll give some basic 'how to' but for more detailed recipe just go ahead and Google them. 

1. Instead of white rice... try cauliflower rice

If you are going strict Paleo, if you want to restrict carbohydrates or lose weight then you may want to avoid white rice. Cauliflower rice is delicious, easy to make and more nutritious than white rice while being less energy dense and very low carbohydrate and high in soluble fibre.

  • Dice half a head of raw cauliflower in the food processor or as finely as possible with a knife. 
  • Place cauliflower in a big pot with about 1cm (1/2") of (boiling) water
  • Add sea salt and a couple of spoons of coconut cream (optional).
  • Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes depending on how 'al dente' you want it to be. 
  • Drain the excess water then add seasoning to taste and maybe some grass-fed butter or olive oil to make it extra awesome.
2. Instead of cooking with canola/sunflower/other vegetable oil... use coconut oil

Refined vegetable oils such as sunflower, safflower, canola, corn, cottonseed and soybean oil are unhealthy and should be avoided as much as humanly possible. They are very high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 (linoleic acid) and have basically zero nutrition. 

Cold pressed extra virgin olive oil is amazing stuff and should be consumed liberally but only when raw. Even though coconut oil and olive oil have a similar smoke point the fact that coconut oil is a saturated fat suggests that it is safer to cook with than the largely monounsaturated fats in olive oil, which tend to denature at temperature and are more prone to oxidation. 

Thus, use coconut oil or ghee (clarified butter) for cooking.

3. Instead of wheat flour... use dried shredded coconut

Wheat = gluten = bad news. Stay clear! You have been warned.

The Paleo diet is so effective because it eschews modern, processed foods. While you can technically make delicious "Paleo" desserts and baked goods using nut flours, dried fruit and honey I really don't think it is a good idea to be regularly eating muffins, cakes, brownies and chocolate mousse just because they are made from "Paleo" ingredients. 

Almonds are very high in omega-6, fat and energy. So if you eat a cake with two cups of almond flour just think about how extreme this is. Imagine if you had to collect that many almonds yourself!

don't often eat things that require a flour substitute, however I do use dried shredded coconut in my banana coconut pancakes and they are amazing. I also occasionally make carrot muffins using only carrots, eggs, coconut oil, shredded coconut, baking soda, walnuts and a tiny bit of honey if other people will also be eating them. 

4. Instead of toast... try a sweet potato rosti

Image courtesy of www.supideasypaleo.com 

If you really miss your toast and want some carbs with your bacon and eggs once in a while then try making a sweet potato rosti. Sweet potatoes are more nutrient dense than white potatoes and have a lower glycemic load. 

Side note: White potatoes are "not Paleo" because they are a nightshade and therefore contain some potentially harmful anti-nutrients (particularly in the skin). Also the carbohydrate in white potato is readily converted to glucose causing blood sugar control issues in some people. 

  • Peel a big sweet potato and then grate it into a bowl 
  • Add sea salt and pepper and toss
  • Heat coconut oil or butter/ghee in a frying pan
  • Take a big handful of the sweet potato and form it into a rough ball shape
  • Flatten this out into a patty and cook through, flipping once or twice. This should take about 10 minutes depending on the thickness.
5. Instead of ice cream... try coconut cream with berries

If you can find a nice, thick, delicious coconut cream (thickness and taste varies significantly between brands) then when it is cooled it makes a terrific substitute for cream. 

For a nice dessert add some berries and/or chopped banana to a couple of spoons of chilled coconut cream - and maybe even a little honey if you are desperate for sweetness. I personally don't use honey but I add some nuts, shredded coconut and occasionally shaved dark chocolate. This is my go-to dessert and it's bloody incredible! It all hinges on the quality of the coconut cream though. 

6. Instead of energy drinks... try Bulletproof Coffee

You couldn't get much further from Paleo than Red Bull, Monster or 5-Hour ENERGY. These drinks are simply awful concoctions of sugar and chemicals.

If you really need a Paleo power boost - especially in the morning - then you can't go past Bulletproof Coffee. Check out my post on it for more details but basically it is brewed black coffee blended with grass-fed butter and MCT oil. It is Paleo crack... In a good way!

7. Instead of pasta... try steamed vegetables

This may seem boring but it sure beats the post-meal crashes, bloating and moodiness I used to get after eating pasta. 

Next time you cook up a Paleo bolognese sauce with beautiful grass-fed beef (and bacon) try steaming some broccoli and cauliflower and using that as a pasta substitute. I also really like to use Brussels sprouts. Make sure you add some olive oil or butter to the steamed veggies to maximize nutrient-absorption... and taste. 

8. Instead of sweet snacks... eat 85% cacao dark chocolate

If you haven't noticed I have an (un)healthy addiction to dark chocolate. The stuff is amazing. 85% cacao dark chocolate is rich in polyphenols, magnesium and healthy fats. The mouthfeel is pure decadence and once you get used to the intensity of near pure cocoa it is the perfect balance of bitter and sweet. 

Whenever you have cravings try eating about 15-30g of the stuff and you should be good to go. Try not to eat as much dark chocolate as I do though or you may have to check yourself in to CA (Chocoholics Anonymous).  

Food is like sex - it is enjoyable for reasons that transcend its practical function. So indulge guilt-free in good quality, healthy and enjoyable foods - preferably shared with friends and family - and you'll be better off for it!

PS - Please subscribe by email to receive these posts straight in your inbox. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Being of a Paleo persuasion, there are many foods I completely avoid that other diets insist are healthy. "High protein tofu," "healthy whole grains," "heart healthy vegetable oils" or "all natural agave nectar" are all foods I steer clear of.

But fear not, my vegan and vegetarian brethren. I have no beef with you! This post is about solidarity. Let's focus on the things that all diets worth their weight in sea salt can agree on. Here are six tenets that all good diets share:

Monday, March 24, 2014

When in Jamaica... Drink rum!

I write these blog posts for several reasons. Firstly I enjoy writing. I didn’t really appreciate it while I was studying Media and Communications at Melbourne Uni, nor did I enjoy Creative Writing classes. But now that it’s a hobby and no one is forcing me to do it, I love it! 

Secondly, I am absolutely passionate about nutrition. I find it fascinating. I think the word ‘passion’ is thrown around too much these days. It is an idealistic term. It’s like the concept of “love”. Yes you can be “in love” but it’s a bit of a vague notion - an internal reflection. In the movies characters romantically fall crazy, madly, deeply in love, but for most people it’s actually more of a slow burn - a journey. And then one day you’re like, ‘hmm… I think I’m in love”.

Well that is pretty much how it worked for me and my “love/passion” for nutrition. It’s been a thing in my life for a while. I grew up with a Mum who was borderline neurotically obsessed with holistic medicine (in a good way!). Our pantry always smelled like a health food shop and our fridge could wipe the smile off a child’s face in a microsecond upon opening… “Would you like some psyllium husks with your rice milk, Timmy?” 

Miraculously even this borderline-hippy upbringing, years of being called ‘soy boy’ at school and having to smuggle my own yeast-free rye soda bread to Cadet camp didn’t permanently turn me off healthy eating. After a few years of sausage-roll-and-chocolate-milk rebellion in my early teens I was back on the bandwagon, and this time with my own motivations! The rest is history. 

One recent evening I found myself listening to five hours straight of fairly heavy (dull) science on podcasts about autoimmune disease and gluten sensitivity and I’m like, shit, it’s 2am and I should probably go to sleep but this is too damned entertaining! That’s pretty much when I realized that it was ok to officially label this as a 'passion'.

Now the third reason why I write these posts is because I love educating people. I’ve always been a bit of a know-it-all and have a knack for remembering all kinds of odd facts and stats. So it’s pretty easy and fun for me to relate all that I’ve learned over the years to a captive audience... Suckers!

The problem with forming an identity as 'The Paleo Model' is that people tend to think I’m some kind of superhuman diet freak, with a magical cape of self-discipline and an iron will. HA! 

Those of you who know me personally will attest to the fact that I am no saint. Yes I’m fairly disciplined and generally look pretty reasonable with my shirt off but I certainly have my vices. 

Often these days when people catch me eating rice, drinking a beer or sleeping in til midday after a late night they’re like, “WTF. I didn’t know you drank beer/ate rice/partied until 3am!” Well in defense to that, I don’t really have any defense. The truth is I do my fair share of unhealthy shit and I’m totally fine with it. Why? Because perfection is completely overrated. 

What’s your goal? Let me guess. You want to be healthy, happy, and preferably look good naked. Well trying to be perfect 100 percent of the time and then beating yourself up whenever you waver - which you will, often - is definitely not going to help you achieve those goals. 

Perfection is NOT the aim. Improvement is. 

I worked incredibly hard for years and years at my physique. I went through periods of straight up masochism - six or seven days a week in the gym for an an hour and a half a day, smashing through ridiculous workouts like the imbecilic Aries ram that I am! In hindsight the kind of training I was doing, paired with a fairly hectic travel, work and party lifestyle was quite stupid, completely unsustainable and probably bad for my health. 

I’m a lot smarter these days. I’m happy to trade off one or two percent more body fat to avoid getting colds every few months. I'm happy to be good at many different forms of movement than great at just one. I’m happy to have some corn chips and a couple of Coronas at a birthday party at a great Mexican restaurant. And trust me, I’ve done my fair share of crazy, unhealthy binge drinking and partying over the years. But I don’t regret that for a second. 

I honestly live what I preach for the most part. My diet is clean and my workout routine is well balanced and consistent. I make smart choices the majority of the time and practice willpower when I need to. 

Having said that, I still have room for improvement. We all do. My sleep could be better and I could lay off the caffeine and alcohol a bit more. But as I keep saying, having a few vices is what makes us human. And there's no reason why you can't be healthy, happy, look good naked and have some fun once in a while. 

As the psychiatrist explains to Bill Murray’s nervous character in ‘What About Bob?’ it’s all about baby steps - "setting small, reasonable goals one at a time. One tiny step at a time.”

This is such an apt analogy. 

If you want to try Paleo but you are daunted by the seemingly momentous dietary changes it would entail just think 'baby steps'. Maybe give up sugar in your coffee at first. Then switch to black coffee. Then give up wheat. Then ditch the cereal in the mornings and switch to eggs for breakfast. Eat less packaged food and more veggies. Trade in your weekend beer for a weekend vodka/soda. 

Focus on the small improvements. There is no need to be perfect, just try to improve. Before you know it you’ll be full blown Paleo and feeling a million bucks. Hell, Paleo may even become a passion! 

"Form a habit. Forge a lifestyle."

David Sciola.

PS - If you liked this post please take a second to share it on Facebook or Twitter. I take note of the popularity of these posts and it helps me decide what to write about in the future. Suggestions welcome. Cheers!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My Guest post on MindBodyGreen

I was totally pumped to get published on the massive health website MindBodyGreen this past weekend. It was so exciting to see my Twitter blow-up and to reach such a large audience and I can't wait to write another article for them. You can see the article here:

1. Vitamin D is not a vitamin 

Vitamin D is a hormone produced in the body when cholesterol is converted into a secosteroid via UV exposure. Vitamin D can be assimilated through dietary sources but since it’s a hormone it sure makes sense to me that it’s better to naturally synthesize it from sunlight than to rely on supplements or fortified food to get this crucial hormone. 

Vitamin D deficiency is rife in the Western world, thanks to our indoor lifestyles and our dispersion to the more northerly and southerly latitudes. Our fear of the sun has become so extreme that it is negatively affecting our health. I wholeheartedly disagree with the latest skin-cancer scare campaign in Australia, “There’s nothing healthy about a tan”. 

Lesson: Be smart, enjoy the outdoors, get some sun early and late in the day when you don’t need sunscreen... and don’t get burnt! 

2. Peanuts are not nuts

Peanuts are legumes. They grow in the ground just below the surface and have fairly soft shells. Compare peanuts to tree nuts, which typically have strong shells and grow high above the ground out of reach of most animals. 

The fact that peanuts have relatively poor external self-defences tends to support the fact that their internal defenses are so potent and why peanuts are so allergenic. Because they aren’t protected by hard shells or elevation they have particularly strong lectins (anti-nutrients) that cause havoc to digestion and even a strong immune response in susceptible individuals. 

Lesson: Beware of peanuts. They are nothing but shady beans hiding underground posing as nuts. Eat almonds and macadamias instead.

3. Dietary cholesterol is not bad for you

For about 80% of people, dietary cholesterol does not affect their serum (blood) cholesterol. That means four out of five people could eat animal fats all day long and their cholesterol won’t go up. Furthermore, 75% of the cholesterol in our blood is actually internally produced by our liver so this whole hoo-ha about avoiding dietary cholesterol is nonsense. 

Furthermore, while high serum cholesterol has some correlation to heart disease the link is tenuous at best. It is becoming increasingly apparent that when it comes to artherosclerosis the number and size of lipoproteins (the proteins that carry the cholesterol around our bloodstream) are far more important variables than the absolute amount of cholesterol contained inside of these lipoproteins. 

That is, it is far more risky to have a lot of small, dense LDL particles charging around your arteries carrying not much cholesterol within them than a few giant, fluffy LDL particles with a bunch of cholesterol in each one. 

Not only this but cholesterol does not CAUSE artheroscleorsis, inflammation does. Blaming LDL for heart disease is like blaming firemen for fires. Yes they are always present during a fire, but they didn’t necessarily cause it!

Lesson: Eat the whole damn egg.

4. Terrestrial animals have more protein than sea animals

Gravity-bearing (land) animals have eight grams of protein per ounce of body weight. Fish have only five grams per ounce. Clearly load-bearing activity promotes lean muscle mass. 

Studies have shown that astronauts experience up to a 20 percent loss of muscle mass on spaceflights lasting just five to 11 days.

Lesson:  Lift weights! 

5. Red meat does not cause cancer

I am so sick of seeing these epidemiological studies linking meat consumption to cancer. They are so full of scientific holes, confounding variables and bias that they couldn’t hold a gallon of water for two seconds. 

Unfortunately the media love to sensationalize the latest bad research - which they don’t actually read (or understand) - with headlines such as:


Ok not quite that extreme but not far off! 

The China Study is a great example of this. This massive epidemiological study, which famously linked animal protein consumption to cancer was grossly flawed and misleading. Yet it still remains the vegan bible for many.

T. Colin Campbell couldn’t find any direct correlation between meat consumption and cancer so he threw in a confounding variable - cholesterol - to try and force some kind of correlation. Then he cherry-picked the data points that supported his hypothesis so he could sketch out a nice linear correlation in graph which more accurately resembled the Milky Way. 

Unfortunately a lot of nutrition research is misleading. Why? Because people have big egos, need the funding, and want to prove themselves right at any cost. 

Until someone shows me a controlled, double-blind, clinical trial using grass-fed meat against a vegetarian control group I will not be concerned about my meat consumption. 

Lesson: Enjoy your grass-fed beef and don’t worry about it negatively affecting your health. It’s good stuff.

As always thanks for reading. I've been told by some social media expert mates to start ramping up my Instagram with lots of half-naked pictures, recipes and workouts so if you're into that kind of thing please follow www.instagram.com/thepaleomodel 




Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Here is a list of eight staple food items I buy every time I go to the supermarket (usually Trader Joe's or Whole Foods) and what I use them for:

1. Grass-fed butter ($3.19/227g)

Grass-fed butter is a great source of fat, contrary to all the 'saturated fat is bad for you' nonsense that has grossly slandered this incredible food. Trust me, butter is far healthier for you that "heart healthy" vegetable oils such as sunflower or canola and especially margarine. And as butter is almost pure fat there is basically zero milk protein (whey and casein) or lactose in it, which is why pretty much everyone can tolerate it. 

I put Kerrygold Irish grass-fed butter in my coffee, use it to cook (at lower temperatures), dowse my steamed vegetables in it to help absorb all those fat-soluble vitamins, which require molecules of fat to shuttle them into the cells. So make sure you include at least some fat with your veggies or green smoothie or you will miss out on much of the nutrition. 

2. Grass-fed (New Zealand) frozen ground beef ($5.99/lb)

I would love to buy beautiful steaks of fresh grass-fed beef from the farmers' market but unfortunately I can't quite afford it as a Paleo staple so instead I rely on a good quality frozen grass-fed ground beef from NZ. I use it to make chili con carne (sans beans), bolognese (which I have on steamed veggies) or burgers (on a big salad with a side of baked sweet potato). So good.  

3. Organic spring salad mix ($2.49/140g)

I eat a lot of salads and this is always my base. Kale and spinach contain a high level of oxalates, which are oxidants (they cause free radicals) that can be problematic to those susceptible to kidney stones, those with autism or inflammatory bowl issues such as IBS.

Oxalates are only generally an issue if you consume huge amounts of raw kale or spinach. Since I eat so much salad I've decided not to use kale or spinach as a base. It's better to lightly steam or sauté most greens anyway as mild cooking improves nutrient absorption and makes it easier to consume more. I still eat some raw spinach and kale but not as a Paleo staple. 

4. Unsweetened shredded dried coconut ($3.99/lb)

I love this stuff. I add it to my salads, use it as a flour substitute for my coconut crusted fish and banana pancakes, or sprinkle it on berries and coconut cream to add some texture to my dessert. 

5. 85% cacao dark chocolate ($1.49/100g)

Dark chocolate really is a superfood. It is a great source of magnesium and polyphenols. The polyphenols in cacao also act to block iron absorption though, which is great for me as I have mild iron-overload. If you are iron deficient though I wouldn't eat it (or tea or coffee which also contain polyphenols) within an hour of consuming iron-rich foods if you are prednisone trying to increase your ferritin levels. In contrast, alcohol and Vitamin C both increases the absorption of iron so keep that in mind. 85% dark chocolate is a huge Paleo staple of mine but beware, it is energy-dense so if you're trying to lose weight stick to no more than 30g a day.

6. Organic frozen raspberries ($2.99/340g)

Frozen raspberries are cheaper and more convenient than fresh ones. Of course I love fresh berries but I'd rather buy organic frozen ones than conventionally grown fresh ones given the choice. Berries are part of the dirty dozen so definitely something you want to go organic on if you can afford it.  

7. 100% pure coconut water ($3.49/L)

I try not to drink this by itself (unless I'm hungover or need some electrolytes post sweatier-than-usual workouts) but I do put about 100mL of it in my smoothies. I only buy 100% pure coconut water not from concentrate. Coconut water has about 8g carbohydrate (sugar) per 100ml so if you are trying to lose weight I wouldn't be sculling this stuff. 

8. Organic carrots ($1.29/lb)

I eat a lot of carrots. Hence my orange tint which I swear is not from fake tan! I probably eat too many carrots given my propensity to accumulate beta-carotene in my blood (a condition known as carotenemia) but they are such a great snack and I love them so I put up with my orange palms! 

Organic carrots are not much more expensive than conventionally grown ones so I always opt for organic. Don't listen to the "carrots are high on the glycemic index" nonsense. When you consider calories by weight they are extremely low in glycemic load and very high in soluble fiber so eat as many as you want... unless you fear getting accused of fake tanning!

If you haven't already make sure you read my most popular post, My Ideal Paleo Eating Day

Once again thanks for reading and a special shout out to those (Nick, Pete, Hobbs) who have been sharing my posts on Facebook and Twitter!

I've just started an Instagram too... @ThePaleoModel

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Goose - 28, New York City, new to Paleo asks:

Dear Paleo Model,

Now that I'm eating paleo style, I find that I have to be super organized for grocery runs. I head out armed with paleo recipes to make sure I only get paleo friendly foods. This is not really my style.Do you have any tips or overarching rules for remembering what's "in" and what's "out" so I don't have to keep deferring to the web and recipes?

Thank you sir.

Hi Goose! (Very paleo name by the way).

What a great question. Thank you. I understand how stressful and busy grocery shopping in Manhattan can be, with gaggles of vegan-inclined New Yorkers lining up out the door of Trader Joe's while you stand there, bewildered, having a gander at the epic fruit and nut wall. (See how I snuck in not one but two puns in that sentence?). 

I've been thinking about how to answer nizagara your question, and I think we should start with an old adage... "practice makes perfect". When you're brand new to Paleo it can be a little overwhelming with all the contradictory opinions of what constitutes a "Paleo food" and what doesn't. But don't worry because after a few months of eating this way and delving into some of the Paleo literature you'll be a pro. But let's set down some basic rules to get you started. 

Firstly, a loose definition of Paleo would be anything that flies, runs or swims; and anything that grows out of the ground that can be eaten raw. Now of course there are some exceptions to this so let's get into some more detail with these eight guidelines.


1. Focus on everything in the exterior sections or walls of the supermarket (i.e. produce and meat) and ignore almost everything in the aisles (processed, packaged and multi-ingredient foods).

2. Go for any meat, seafood, poultry & eggs, fresh or frozen, so long as it is not processed (i.e. only contains one ingredient). 

3. Choose any vegetables and fruit, frozen or fresh, that can be eaten raw and that is only one ingredient. The "can be eaten raw" rule means that it is NOT a legume or a grain, which are not paleo foods. (Note that peanuts are legumes so peanut butter is out). 

4. The exceptions to the 'can be eaten raw' rule are starchy tubers and roots such as sweet potato, parsnips, turnips, taro, yuka root, plantains, etc. 

5. Some exceptions to the 'not from the aisles' rule are as follows: canned fish, raw tree nuts, coconut products (water, cream, oil, milk, dried/shredded), olive oil, vinegar, spices, sea salt,  >80% cacao dark chocolate, coffee, tea, sparking water, tinned (or preferably glass bottled) vegetables such as tomatoes, olives, etc.

6. The dairy section is out for strict Paleo although I do recommend grass-fed butter or ghee. Once you've been dairy-free for a while if you really want to you could potentially reintroduce some fermented dairy such as kefir or even raw aged cheese and see if you do well on that. Milk is out though.

7. The frozen section is good for single ingredient (preferably grass-fed) meat, (preferably wild caught) seafood, (preferably organic) veggies and berries.

8. Some packaged foods with a few ingredients are still "paleo". Make sure you carefully check the ingredients. These include things like tomato "passata" sauce, thai curry paste, fresh salsa, pesto, etc. Watch out for cheeky ingredients like dextrose, corn starch or high fructose corn syrup. 

That pretty much covers everything. I highly encourage people to go to farmers' markets to get really fresh, local produce at a good price. Due to economies of scale it's hard to find really good quality eggs and meat from a supermarket and often you can't guarantee the origin, quality or time in cold storage of supermarket produce, which all affect the nutritional value. 

Here are a couple of resources for more detailed lists of paleo friendly foods:

Hopefully my guidelines help you a bit until you find your Paleo feet. You'll be a Paleo pro in no time. After a year in NYC I now have my own Trader Joe's strategy down. I quickly grab all the 'in the aisle' stuff and then jump in the massive line (which conveniently wraps around the exterior of the store) and then I just pull things off the shelf as I go! 

Thanks again for your question and am so glad you've found Paleo. Please spread the word (but not in a preachy way!) 

Also look out for my upcoming post, 'My Paleo Staple Foods', which coincidentally outlines the eight items I buy every time I go to the supermarket and what I use them for...


The Paleo Model. 

PS - I went out to buy some goose feather pillows, but I found they were so expensive I couldn't even afford the down payment!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ruminant animals...

Q. How do you make a calf gain 600 pounds in eight months? 
A. Feed it corn... A shed load of corn. 


Go out into the bush and try and find a fat brush turkey, kangaroo or deer. You won't. Animals in their natural state  are inherently healthy and lean.

Before concentrated animal feeding operations (factory farming), cows raised on pastures typically weren't slaughtered until five years of age. Now these poor beasts are stuffed with corn, antibiotics and hormones to reach slaughter weight at just 14 to 16 months old.

Unfortunately we humans love to intervene. We think we can do better than mother nature. We think we are so industrious that we can increase productivity endlessly. We think that we can make chickens bigger, fatter and grow faster and cheaper. But all of this comes at a cost, and this cost is ultimately born by us and our own health.

The modern epidemics of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer are no mystery. These diseases of civilization stem from a mismatch between our modern lifestyle and our natural state, with poor nutrition being the primary culprit.

In this post I'm going to shed some light on how industrial farming affects the nutrition of our food and outline two basic rules to follow in order to make the right food choices. 

Pasture raised cow v CAFO cows

Q. How do you make a human gain tens of pounds and become diabetic?
A. Feed him corn... and wheat, and sugar, and soybean oil, and other industrial foods. 

Now unlike cows, which are ruminant animals that should only eat grass, we omnivorous humans require a broader diet. But in general, the further we move away from a diet of unadulterated (meaning wild, grass-fed, organic, local, in season, unprocessed) animals and plants the more likely we are to get fat, sick and die prematurely. Simple. 

Keep it simple, stupid

I have been ruminating [pun intended] about the diets/inputs of the animals/plants that we eat and how that affects us when we consume them. 

What I have come up with is a couple of general rules when it comes to what we should eat:

Rule # 1: Eat animals and plants that existed in a state closest to their natural environment. 

Wild Salmon v Farmed Salmon


Beef: Organic pastured beef from happy cows on nice small farms is far more nutritious and healthy in every respect compared to feedlot beef: better fatty acid profile, higher protein quality and less toxins in the meat from hormones and antibiotics. This is not even to mention the ethical and environmental benefits of pastured beef. 

Plants: Organic vegetables grown locally in nutrient-replete soil free from chemical fertilizers have significantly higher nutritional content and none of the nasties found in mono-crops farmed in nutrient-depleted soil and sprayed with harsh chemicals.  

Seafood: Wild-caught seafood is far superior to farmed seafood. Farmed fish is no different from farmed cows, pigs or chickens. The fish are often confined in overcrowded unsanitary tanks and administered antibiotics to keep them from dying. Furthermore, the fish are fed processed pellets made from soy, corn, canola oil and even other dead fish - clearly a terrible diet for salmon, for example, which are supposed to subsist mainly on krill. 

As the adage goes, "rubbish in, rubbish out". Same goes for farmed aquaculture. One study found farmed salmon to have eight times the levels of PCBs (synthetic chemicals) than wild salmon. 

This unnatural diet also affects the nutritional value of the salmon - reducing the amount of anti-inflammatory omega-3s and increasing the amount of pro-inflammatory omega-6s. This is exactly what happens with beef and poultry. 

You see, the fat in corn and soy is overwhelmingly omega-6, which prednisone is why corn, soybean and other industrial seed oils are so harmful to humans in the way they skew our diet towards a high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. Our ancestors had a ratio around 2:1 of omega-6 to omega-3. Today the average Westerner has a ratio of 20:1 or more. This is hugely problematic and is thought to be a major culprit of inflammatory conditions such as heart disease. 

So not only are we screwing ourselves by eating corn, soy and refined vegetable oils but we are compounding the situation by eating animals that are fed corn and soy - causing their own omega ratio to be out of whack. 

Poultry: Chickens are supposed to scratch around in the dirt eating grass, seeds, worms, bugs and insects. But now we feed them - you guessed it - corn and soy! 

Poultry, especially the skin and dark meat, has a very high omega-6 content. This chart estimates poultry to contain around 3g of omega-6 per 100g. Compare this to pork (0.8g/100g) or beef (0.3g/100g). 

This brings me to my next point:

Rule # 2: Eat animals that eat mostly green stuff

When it comes to choosing your meat, it matters what your meat ate. 

Ruminant animals are ideal nutrition for humans because they have a clean, healthy diet... of grass. 

If we had four stomachs and could digest 70 pounds of grass a day I would totally recommend a raw vegan diet of grass! But we don't, so I recommend we eat cows, sheep, goat, bison, elk, deer, raw vegans, etc. 

Since grass derives its energy from sunlight consuming red meat is basically eating mouthfuls of sunshine! How awesome is that? And much healthier than eating mouthfuls of corn, antibiotics and animal cruelty! 

Seriously though, I believe pasture-raised red meat to be superior to poultry and pork because of the fact that grass is a simple, natural and healthy diet for ruminant animals. Compare this to pigs. Pigs are omnivores that sometimes eat questionable matter. Toxins from their diet will be stored in their fat and could potentially affect us when we consume pork. 

Incorporating the same logic explains why (smaller) fish that predominantly eat algae generally have better nutritional value than larger fish that eat these smaller fish. 

We've all heard about metal toxicity (mercury) in fish. Usually the higher up the food chain (the more predatory) a fish is, the more mercury and other toxins are contained in it's flesh. Toxicity accumulates the older and bigger a fish is, and the further up the food-chain it is. 


Eat animals and plants that lived in the way nature intended them to, favouring ones that eat green stuff or convert sunshine... 

  • Eat organic, locally farmed plants that are in season. 
  • Eat wild or grass-fed ruminant animals as your first preference for meat
  • Eat pasture-raised pork and poultry as your second preference for meat
  • Minimize consumption of CAFO/factory farmed animal products
  • Eat wild-caught seafood and avoid farmed seafood
  • Favor smaller fish such as anchovies, sardines, mackerel, herring and salmon over predatory fish such as swordfish, tuna and shark. 

God/evolution (you choose) created a harmonious system of nutrition from sunshine to green stuff to animals to humans. Mess with it at your own peril!

"Eat Paleo. Train. Live life."

The Paleo Model

PS - If you care, share! Also if you haven't already you should subscribe by email (below) to get these posts direct to your inbox with no advertising. Thanks for reading!


Burridge, Les, Judith Weis, Felipe Cabello and Jaime Pizarro (March 2008). Chemical Use in Salmon Aquaculture: A Review of Current Practices and Possible Environmental Effects. World Wildlife Federation, Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue. 


Image Credits


Monday, February 24, 2014

Arnie as a teenager (left). Myself as a teenager (right)

I'm blessed with the ability to gain muscle relatively quickly and easily. Ironically, as a fashion model this has been more of a curse over my 10 year career than a blessing. A few weeks of eating and training how I would like to and I no longer fit the sample size 40 suits!

While I'll admit that part of my growth potential is genetic, I think it can largely be attributed to my passion/obsession with food, sleep and lifting heavy things. Also in my teenage years I went through a token megalomania phase where I wanted to be Arnold Schwarzenegger. Thankfully I got over that boyish beefcake obsession but it did teach me how to train hard, eat prodigiously and get results fast. 

If you're a "hard-gainer" or simply need to build more lean muscle mass here are my five (no shortcut, no supplement, no bullshit) tips to honest muscle growth in a safe, sustainable and healthy way. 

1. Eat real (Paleo) food - more than you think you need. 

If you are lean, if your current diet sucks, if you're "skinny fat", or if you have been trying to lose weight through calorie restriction (and obviously failing because it doesn't work) the chances are that you are not getting adequate nutrition. 

In all of these scenarios, and even if you are overweight, your goal should be to build lean muscle mass, as this is the only sustainable way to improved body composition and optimal health. 

You need to be eating enough quality food not only to maintain your current state but to build new tissue. That is, you need periods of energy surplus - but only of quality, real (Paleo) foods. Extra calories from crabby carbs like sweetened cereals, protein bars, shakes and juice will screw your metabolism and counter your efforts to grow lean.

So cut the processed, adulterated, modern food out of your diet and eat big, satiating meals of whole foods that are high in quality fats, moderate in protein (you don't need to consume prodigious amounts of protein to gain muscle), and moderate in safe carbohydrates. I have written many articles on nutrition so check them out for more detail. 

But basically you need to focus on nutrient and energy dense foods like pastured eggs, coconut products, oily seafood, sweet potatoes, raw nuts, 85% dark chocolate and (not-too-lean) grass-fed meat and pork. 

If you really want to gain size then incorporate more starch such as white rice, sweet potatoes and whole fruit. And if you tolerate dairy then consider adding in fermented, full-fat, (preferably raw) dairy like aged cheese/sour cream/greek yoghurt/kefir.

2. Sleep more

This is both simple and crucial. You cannot repair and rebuild if you don't rest and reset. I believe sleep is actually more important than training. 

If you smash the gym but only sleep five hours a night, even if your nutrition is impeccable, you will go backwards and put your health at risk in the long term. 

Sleep eight or nine hours a night. The better the quality and quantity of your sleep, the quicker and easier you will gain muscle mass and shed fat. 

3. Train hard, smart, and not too much

Lifting heavy weights is not the only way to gain muscle, but it's the best, fastest, and most efficient way. 

Exercise needs to be an acute stress to your body - enough that it causes positive adaptation and growth but not so much that it becomes a chronic stress from which you cannot recover.

The effective dose of exercise is actually a lot less than you would think. Given that you train at intensity (that is, complex movements at a challenging amount of weight, until failure, without too much rest) I think that two intense weight sessions per week, such as a circuit of 20-30 minutes if you're not stuffing around, is sufficient to build substantial amounts of muscle without risking injury or overtraining. 

I would suggest adding one sprint session to this per week, along with as much low-level movement or activity as possible (e.g. walking, yoga, commuter cycling) and you're good to go!

4. Avoid "chronic cardio"

Q. What do fitness models, sprinters and bodybuilders have in common, besides having massive guns and less than eight percent body fat? 

A. They don't do hours of cardio per week. 

That's right. If you want to get lean then doing long sessions of steady-state cardio is a very bad way to go about it.

When you're trying to build lean muscle mass a high volume of endurance training or "chronic cardio" will counter your efforts. 

Distance running or cycling, for example, is all about efficiency. Do these singular, repetitive movements enough and your body will strip away non-essential muscle to make you more efficient at running or cycling. Just look at pro cyclists or marathoners! Endurance comes at the cost of physique... Unless you're going for that emancipated look (models)?

I'm not saying don't go for a run or ride if you enjoy doing so, I'm just saying that if muscle is your priority then do as little "chronic cardio" as possible and instead focus on high intensity weights and sprints. Feel free to do as much low intensity movement (e.g. walking, yoga, hiking, etc) as you want though. 

Arnie after a few more years of steroid abuse...

5. Rest, recover and don't overtrain

I've already mentioned the importance of sleep and the benefits of short, intense workouts over high volume training but I think this point bears repeating. 

Smashing yourself at the gym, on the pavement or on the road everyday will be counterproductive to your progress (unless you are 18 years old or devouring anabolics like Arnie in the 70s)

While the precipitous overtraining promoted by hardcore fitness communities [cults] like CrossFit or Barry's Bootcamp does lead to great results initially, I believe that this style of training is both unnecessary and unsustainable for the average person. The risk of injury or burn out is simply not worth the results it if your objective is health and a good physique more so than elite performance.

As a type-A personally who is slightly masochistic I've done my fair share of overtraining in the past. I get it. I loved CrossFit for my brief stint at it. Hard workouts are addictive, especially in a competitive environment or group atmosphere. Yet if your goal is to build muscle in the healthiest, most sustainable way that will enhance longevity rather than hinder it, less is definitely more. 

This is why I suggest spacing out your weight sessions with at least one (and up to four) rest days. 

My ideal weekly schedule will look something like this:

Monday: heavy lifting session
Tuesday: yoga
Wednesday: sprints
Thursday: weights + metabolic conditioning (i.e. circuit training)
Friday: rest
Saturday: Rest/Play (cycle, surf, walk along the beach/river, get some sun, etc)
Sunday: yoga

In NYC (except for winter) I cycle everywhere on my fixed-gear as my mode of transport... Often up to two hours a day. This does not count as 'training' but rather 'movement’. So even though I am highly active almost every day I only consider myself to be doing around one hour of actual intense 'training' per week, split over three workouts.


If you want to build muscle honestly and healthily you need ample nutrition, sleep and rest. Training is important but intensity trumps volume. To summarize:
  1. Nutrition: Eat as much clean, real Paleo food as you want/need. 
  2. Sleep: Aim for eight hours a night, minimum.
  3. Train: Train hard, smart and not too much.
  4. Avoid chronic cardio: do weights/circuits, sprints and lots of movement.
  5. Avoid overtraining: rest, recover and rebuild.
"Form a habit. Forge a lifestyle." 

The Paleo Model

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