Executive Summary: Live Close to the Ground!
1. Eat only fresh meat, eggs, fish and (leafy) green veg, and seasonal veggies. Include butter.
2. Get hungry, Do Exercise, Eat until full.
3. If trying to lose fat then limit dairy and nuts. Also limit starchy carbohydrate.
4. Moderate fruit. Eat it seasonally.
5. Avoid all industrially prepared grains, all grain oils, juices, sugar, highly processed foods.
6. Skip breakfast as often as you can.
7. Once week, fast for 24 hrs.
Your genes operate optimally under the conditions for which they were selected!
1. The Diet
What should you eat? Imagine you are trapped on a desert island or out in a wilderness - any situation where you were force to live 'close to the ground'. What would you eat? What would be available to you? You'd eat any animal you could catch (and pretty much all of it), eggs, seasonal plant food - leafy vegetation, starchy tubers, and, for a few months a year, fruit. Welcome to 'paleo ground zero' (PGZ).
So what does this mean you should avoid? All highly processed grains (bread, cereals, flour), highly processed foods such as seed oils, sugar and soya. Also avoid non-foods like margarine. Just because we can eat it does not make it food.
You're joking right? Nope! Avoid all foods that you wouldn't come across in the wild. This concept should also inform the proportions of each food to aim for. With animal, don't forget organ meat and bone broth. It is claimed that complex carbohydrate gives you 'a slow release of energy' throughout the day. It might do, but so does bodyfat - and that is why you are here isn't it? To learn to burn bodyfat?
PGZ - then what? There is a grey area for you to explore. If you want to move on from PGZ you might want to experiment with dairy, including goat's cheese and goat's milk. Butter gets a thumbs-up, as does full fat cream. You might also want to experiment with more starchy carbohydrate, especially if you are very active. Grains (traditional strains) and legumes are fine if prepared using traditional methods. This diet is not necessarily low carb, although that will help if your goal is weight loss.
What should I expect from the diet?
Mental fog and 'carb flu' are likely results of the initial transition to this kind of diet. It will pass. If you are suffering heavily with 'carb flu' add in more carbohydrate. Ultimately you should expect prompt and progressive weight loss down to around 10% BF (men), and 15% (women). Depending on your previous diet, you might experience a higher state of mental clarity.
2. The Plan; Fasting
If you need breakfast then try a fry/grill up, or if time is short then a couple of boiled eggs and then some nuts. You can add in some fruit, but ideally you will quickly progress to avoiding breakfast. This is the point at which you are considered to be 'fasting'. The ability to fast COMFORTABLY was the point where I realised this diet was for me (previously I was plagued by hunger shakes late afternoon), that I could cycle my fat stores without a problem, and offered confirmation that my metabolism was healthy.
Straight off the bat, NO SNACKING. Ever. If you are hungry then eat bigger meals at breakfast, lunch or supper. After about six months you should never really feel the need to snack, and more importantly you should also feel ready to fast. Don't worry - this is no big deal; your goal is to NEVER eat breakfast. Ever. In fact you want to be looking at only TWO MEALS A DAY! Broadly I get hungry (AM), do exercise (midday), eat until full (PM)!
So what should be your first meal of the day? Ignoring breakfast your first meal is lunch. Come late lunchtime - 1400hrs-ish, you should have completed any exercise planned for that day, and be looking forwards to eating. (There is an advantage to waiting an hour or so after you have exercised before eating but that is an advance strategy). This meal can be 'significant' in size or simply enough to keep you going until your last meal, later in the day. I normally eat one or two tins of fish (mackerel and sardines), at this meal, and I may have a goat's cheese on a rest day or jacket potatoes on a training day. Occasionally I have a couple of boiled eggs instead of the fish. Have as much salad as you want but watch the avocado!
What is for tea? The last meal of the day I favour to be the biggest. Here you should go for a large piece of meat/organ/fish - including any fat with the cut. This should fill half your plate by area and the other half should be devoted to green leafy veggies. You might want to 'express' seasonal veg. Have a side-portion of starchy carbohydrate. In addition you might want to put butter on the veg and/or some grated cheese.
This is a Targeted Ketogenic Diet approach; Generally, protein is high most days. A couple of days a week I will have (a lot of), dairy and my carbohydrate will be low. A couple of days a week I have a lot of starchy carbohydrate (usually on a training day). Rest days I just eat less and training days I eat more. Every so often I ditch the training day/non-training day rule and make things pretty random over the course of a week, but with a repeating pattern over the course of several weeks.
What to expect? It is hard to skip breakfast in the first few months - but work with it. It took me six months to get to this stage. Then I found it desirable. If you get hungry then try to increase the volume of food at tea time primarily and also at lunch. You should feel content after lunch and 'full' after tea - if not 'stuffed'!
Fasting; how far should I go? Once you have two meals a day sorted, throw in one or two 'single meal' days. This is effectively a 24hr fast. This should be a comfortable fast, with no hunger shakes or feeling of low energy. In fact, after the first 12 hours of the fast, you should feel abundant with energy. I normally fast tea-time to tea-time which means that most of the first 12 hours are occupied by sleep. As a general rule I get hungry, do exercise and then eat until full!
Diet is the most important thing to get wired. Pay the farmer or pay the doctor! Fasting should feel easy. Make sure you eat heartily when you do eat. If you choose wisely from the foods outlined above, you should have no fear of 'bingeing' or eating too much.
By eating this way your are sending information rich signals to your metabolism. These signals are vital to your metabolic health and enable your body to liberate bodyfat and maintain muscle mass.
The other side of the coin is exercise. The importance of exercise is not to burn off fat or to prompt muscle growth as such, it is again 'signalling'; signalling to make low the fat point your body seeks to defend.