Showing posts with label alcohol. Show all posts
Showing posts with label alcohol. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I do not consider the Paleo diet to be a weight-loss diet. In fact, as I've mentioned several times I don't consider Paleo to be a diet at all. The word 'diet' is too strongly tied to ideas of short term 'restriction' or 'reduction' - negative associations that almost certainly doom those attempting it to fail. 

This is why I view Paleo as a habitual way of eating that is healthy, sustainable and enjoyable. Paleo is a lifestyle that one forges through smart, positive, empowering choices. 

Having said this, Paleo is extremely effective at achieving short term weight loss goals, particularly for those trying it for the first time and coming from a standard Western diet of processed food. 

The following is a Facebook conversation I had with a very good friend of mine, Cam, who was weeks away from his wedding and wanting to lose a substantial amount of (fat) weight in a short period of time. I gave him the most simple, straight-up Paleo advice that I thought would be the easies to adhere to. 

Please note that Cameron was not in terrible shape to begin with, is very disciplined and exercises regularly and at intensity. 

Cameron, 28 - Melbourne:

Hey mate! 

[As the wedding rapidly approaches] I have 10 weeks to drop 8 kg (18lb). Any tips for some rapid weight loss?

The Paleo Model:

Mate that's awesome. I sure hope I'm back in Australia for your bucks!

Ok tubby. If you're serious about rapid weight-loss here's what you have to do: go very low carb and cut out insulin-spiking food such as sugar and dairy. You can still eat as much as you want ASIDE from this:

1. No beer
2. No grains or faux grains (including all wheat, rye, sorghum, corn, maize, polenta, rice, cereal, pasta, bread, cous cous, quinoa, etc)
3. Cut out all dairy except butter
4. No white potatoes including fries, chips, mash, etc
5. Not too much fruit (less than 3 serves a day)
6. Avoid processed foods (packaged goods including dips, biscuits, processed meat, snacks, peanut butter, fish fingers, salad dressing, protein bars, chips, cordial, sports drinks, soda, frozen meals, desserts, etc)

Eat as much as you want of:
Meat (doesn't have to be lean), chicken, fish, eggs, bacon, avocado, butter, olive oil, raw nuts (not peanuts), coconut cream/milk/oil, all vegetables except for white potatoes, including sweet potato. 

If you want to drink alcohol have white wine, champagne, or clear spirits either straight up or with soda water - no mixers. 

The main thing is to limit refined carbs including all grains and potato and also give up dairy for 8 weeks. Unsweetened black coffee only. 

Make sure you're eating enough. Hit the weights hard once or twice a week and you'll just drop the weight. 

You need to be 100%, even when you're drinking or hungover. 

The less alcohol you drink the easier it'll be. 

In Godspeed son! Any questions?


Good stuff mate! I will be following this religiously for the next 10 weeks! I am planning a paleo beef casserole for tomorrow night.. Is beef stock paleo?

The Paleo Model:

Beef stock should be fine, especially if it's gluten free. 

If you want to understand some of the science behind why the aforementioned works so well for weight-loss you'll have to check out my blog. Particularly these posts:


Will have a good read today mate! Today it has started! I weigh 82kg (the heaviest I have ever been). Target is 72kg. Had a paleo breakfast this morning of eggs, avocado, tomato, mushrooms and bacon! Paleo casserole tonight!!

The Paleo Model: 

Awesome man. Just stick to it. 8 weeks of your life. You'll feel shit for about 4-7 days, then amazing. Let me know if you need any support or answers. If you have food cravings eat some 85% cacao dark chocolate.


Cam lost over 5kg (11lb) in the first 21 days and easily made his target of 8kg (18lb) in time for the big day. 


If you liked this post please share it with your friends and family. Spread the #PaleoLove!

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. 

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 prednisone 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!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Five Ways to Minimize Harm From Alcohol

Justifying Alcohol

I'm not going to lie to you, alcohol is great for a lot of things... but your health is probably not one of them. 

Having said that, I personally find that alcohol is worth the occasional indulgence. When I have given up drinking for a few months - which I've tried a couple of times - my social life has definitely suffered to some degree. 

Maybe one day when I’m old and boring I'll work out how to have fun going out and not drinking but until then I'm going to keep enjoying my occasional tipple and not feel too guilty about it. I mean, as a 28-year-old Aussie who recently moved to New York City being tee-total would be both un-Australian and un-American. 'Nuff said!

So once you've justified binge drinking the next step is damage control. There are many ways to minimize the ill-effects from consuming alcohol. 

Here are my top five tips for boozing without completely compromising your health and waistline:

1. Choose your poison

Alcohol is an organic compound that is toxic to humans. Depending on the dose it can be relatively harmless (or even beneficial) all the way to being lethal in very rare cases of alcohol poisoning. Being drunk = being intoxicated. 

Along with the actual alcohol, all forms of booze also contain toxins and/or other "non-Paleo stuff" (to use the technical term). These nasties can take many forms - from histamine in red wine, gluten in beer or added sugar or artificial sweeteners in mixed drinks. 

When you're drinking you want to minimize the intake of these additional toxins. That is, you want to consume the purest forms of alcohol - or those with the least amount of added crap. 

From a bit of research and a fair amount of self experimentation I've come up with this list of alcohol from least bad to most bad. (See infographic above).

Of course everyone reacts differently to different types of alcohol and we all have our own preferences. This list is a general indication or scale from most pure ("Paleo friendly") to most impure (least "Paleo friendly"). This is not an expansive list but contains most types of booze:

1. Tequila
2. Non-grain based clear spirits (potato vodka, gin)
3. Grain-based clear spirits (vodka, white rum)
4. Other dark distilled spirits (scotch/whiskey, bourbon, dark rum)
5. Dry Champagne
6. White Wine
7. Red Wine
8. Liqueurs
9. Dessert Wine
10. Barley malt/rice/corn beers (Most larger/pilsner e.g. Bud, Heineken, Corona)
11. Wheat containing beers (Hoegaarden, Blue Moon, etc)

In addition, there are cocktails and premixed/ready-to-drink beverages that will fall somewhere on the scale depending on their ingredients. E.g. Martini = not so bad (gin + dry vermouth), White Russian = not so good (vodka + coffee liqueur + cream).

The how: Choose drinks from towards the top of the list (left of infographic), such as distilled clear spirits. Avoid beer, sugary mixed drinks and liqueurs. 

The Paleo Model (TPM): I drink tequila, soda water and half a fresh lime on plenty of ice as my main drink of choice.

My Vegas shopping cart from my only trip there back in 2012... Not my finest 72 hours!

2. Don't bastardize your drink

Try to stick to your drink of choice. Mixing up many different types of alcohol is bad news. Try sticking just to vodka-soda or tequila-rocks all night and I guarantee you will feel a lot better than switching from red wine to white wine to gin and tonics to tequila shots.

How: If you are drinking spirits, either drink them neat, on the rocks or with soda water and fresh lime. Do not add juice or soft drinks as your liver will then have the added burden of metabolizing fructose as well as alcohol. Alcohol spikes blood sugar so adding refined carbohydrates such as coke, tonic water, pineapple juice or cranberry is just fueling a fire you are trying to control.

3. Supplement your drinking wisely

  • Eat a healthy meal containing some safe starch before you start drinking. For example, have a grass-fed steak or some tuna or salmon with sweet potatoes or other root vegetables. 

  • Drink lots of water before, during and after boozing. Order a glass of water with your alcoholic drinks. Fill up your empty beer with water and drink that before your next beer. There's no shame in rehydrating.  

  • Coconut water works very well when you are hungover and dehydrated. Drink some before bed and upon waking.

  • Supplement with Milk Thistle before and after drinking. Milk Thistle is a natural herb extract that boosts liver function. I'm very cynical about supplements in general but this stuff seems to work for me, and even if it doesn't it is cheap and has no downside so take it for the placebo! How: Take 300-500mg of Milk Thistle extract morning and night in the days leading up to and after your binge.

  • Supplement with Vitamin C before and after drinking. Vitamin C is necessary for alcohol metabolism. It is an excellent antioxidant to fight free radicals formed during the break down of alcohol. How: Take a 500mg tablet before, after (and even during your session if possible). 

  • Supplement with Activated Charcoal. Activated charcoal is magic stuff. When consumed it attracts and binds toxins. It is highly adsorptive. Its porous structure means that just 1g has a surface area of over 500m2. Activated charcoal is what they give patients with alcohol poisoning in hospital. How: After a big session pop up to 2g of activated charcoal to help bind some of the toxins from alcohol. 
TPM: I think charcoal helps really well with hangovers. Note that it can also bind the vitamin C so try and separate ingestion of these by about two hours. Activated charcoal is cheap and readily available. 

  • Eat another small Paleo meal after your drinking session. I know it's tempting to eat burgers and kebabs when your inhibitions are down and when all your drunk friends are doing it but try to well up a bit of willpower and instead choose a Paleo-ish alternative. Get a kebab plate with rice and salad and no bread. 
TPM: If I can't find a Paleo drunk food option I'll wait until I get home and eat some leftovers and maybe a banana and some dark chocolate to stave off cravings.

4. Know when to stop and get adequate sleep

Ideally get your drinking session in early, stop drinking a couple of hours before bed and still go to sleep at a reasonable time. Clearly late nights and booze go hand in hand so if you do have a late one still try to stop drinking a couple of hours before bed. 

Typically the most fun is had earlier on in the night anyway. As soon as you can see the night heading into a fast downward spiral (usually around 1am) switch to just waters (or soda water and lime if you want/need to look like you're still drinking). 

TPM: No matter what time I go to bed I'll try and get eight hours sleep in, even if it means wasting part of the next day. Sleep debt will come back to bite you in the ass so I suggest sleeping in but also trying to get to bed at a normal time the following night. Your body can use the extra sleep as it's trying to recover from the havoc reeked on your metabolism from binging.  

5. Don't let a hangover get in the way of healthy eating and exercise

If I know I have a big night coming up I will try to avoid doing an intense training session on that day. Alcohol completely stunts recovery and I actually think that doing a workout before drinking can be worse for you than taking a rest day. 

I find that working out the day after drinking is better option. It forces me to get back on track and if done at the right intensity can definitely help minimize the fog of a hangover or even eliminate it. 

How: Hit a moderate bodyweight circuit for 20 minutes, some yoga or stretching then a 10 minute sauna and finished off with a cold shower. Works a treat! If you have access to a beach a dunk in the ocean is even better!

TPM: The day after I stick to my usual Paleo diet. If I'm feeling a bit more vulnerable than usual then I'll up my carb intake or perhaps have some "borderline naughty" foods... There are Paleo ways to indulge too - perhaps a take away Thai curry with white rice or if I feel like cooking something sweet my Paleo Coconut Pancake

Don't fall into the trap of feeling sorry for yourself or feeling guilt associated with over-indulging in booze. I think it's ok to get a bit drunk once in a while so long as you are generally disciplined with your diet and exercise and lead an otherwise healthy lifestyle. Everyone needs a vice… or four!

"Eat Paleo. Train. Get Tipsy."

The Paleo Model.

PS - Happy Holidays! It's my first Thanksgiving so I'll be practicing what I preach this week. Please share this post with your boozy mates and we might be able to improve our collective hangovers somewhat!