Paleo Beans and Legumes

Are beans and legumes allowed in the paleo diet lifestyle?

I happen to hear this question very often, and it’s a very  good question. Legumes form part of almost everyone’s diet, and while they are nutrition deans and have a high caloric value, they are generally frowned upon in the paleo diet. So before we get into the nitty gritty of this topic, lets first clarify what constitutes a legume or bean:

Legume

paleo-legumes

  • A legume is a fruit of any of the plants found in the Fabaceae family of plants.
  • A legume is simply dried fruit of these plants.
  • Used for eating and the production of oils by humans.
  • Are  comparatively  high in protein.

Beans

paleo-beans

  • A bean is a seed of any plant found in the Fabaceae  family of plants, similar to the legume.
  • There are 40, 000 different bean varieties.
  • Some beans need to be cooked to remove toxins.
  • Are comparatively high in fiber and soluble fiber.  
  • Beans are relatively high in protein.
  • Many beans require  anti-oligosaccharide enzymes to properly be digested. Humans don’t naturally posses this enzyme, and so rely on bacteria.  
So there we have have it, a brief difference between our two suspects in the, What foods are allowed on the paleo diet?” question.
Legumes and beans are largely considered to not be allowed in the paleo diet. This is because back in the day, and I’m talking dinosaur-eating-cavemen days, our brothers and sisters probably didn’t have access to legumes or beans for food. Either that, or we just hadn’t an idea that they existed and so its for that reason that we didn’t evolve to eat them. A good case in point here that seems to support this notion is the fact that we don’t have the necessary enzymes to properly digest some beans. While that is quite a general accusation of our meat sacks bean processing ability, it is also a very important one. Even though we evolved and spread around the world, we stopped evolving at some point on the bean processing front.
Legumes, on the other hand, are far less of a troublesome food. While they are also harvested from plants in much the same way as beans are, they are for the most part quite different. Legumes, for a start are much easier to digest. This could be from our more fruit orientated digestive system.
While legumes are frowned upon because they are believed to be not that accessible to cavemen, they are much easier to digest because they are essentially tiny fruits. Having said that, they don’t taste like fruit at all. ha-ha.
So now that you have a bit of theory under your belt, you can decide whether or not you want to incorporate beans and legumes into your diet. While they may not be perfect foods or on the paleo diet list of approval, they are in some cases excellent calorie boosters.
I sometimes use a mixture of chakalaka/salsa with some refried beans to boost a meals calorie content. Why? Because sometimes  I need more calories.  Having said that though, I am generally content with a relatively low-calorie, low-carbohydrate heavily paleo influenced eating regime.

So when would I advocate eating legumes and beans on a paleo daiet?

When you eat breakfast, and I mean about 80% of breakfasts, you don’t actually get enough out of them to significantly nourish your body for the morning. Think of what you eat for breakfast on your paleo diet, and you’ll quickly see that it is probably, for the most of you, low in calories.

Why is this important?

Because most people are in a calorie overdose, or a calorie deficit. This is not good, unless you are trying to rapidly lose weight or rapidly gain weight. You can guess which one causes weight gain and which weight loss.

I would advise experimenting with a salsa bean mix to boost caloric density in the morning. This will pump up your energy levels for the morning.

If you’d like a quick, easy paleo diet breakfast idea, then check out my post I wrote last month.  

How The “Paleo For Life” Philosophy Has Worked For Me So Far

I have always been aware of food and what constitutes a healthy and complete meal, where in my teens I began to study to nutrition. I thought of learning as a way of mastering another part of my life. I began by reading about nutrition and what was actually in  food.

Food, I learned, was an incredibly complex stuff. It had lots of different components and many, many variables. However, I learned that the simpler the food, the better it was for you. This ultimately led me to the Paleo diet, which I have adopted as my eating for the body  philosophy. I redesigned my entire eating idea around simple food which could have been gathered by our long passed ancestors.

Because of the almost overnight  adoption of the diet, I encountered some very specific happenings with my body. For the most part, these issues were related to the sudden decrease in carbohydrates.

For the first two weeks of the paleo diet adoption phase, I experienced quite drastic energy level fluctuations. This was due to the decrease in overall carbohydrate consumption. My body was learning that it’s primary source of carbs had changed, and so I was in a carbohydrate slump.  

This was only temporary though, as my body soon learned to expect carbohydrates from the large volumes of vegetables I was now eating. While I stuck to the paleo diet for the most part, I sometimes felt the need to introduce some legumes, such as beans and lentils into my meals. This made a massive difference to me physically, as because I exercise regularly, I was in an almost constant caloric deficit. This was not good, thankfully, the new twist on the paleo diet allowed for caloric boosts which would often power me through the day, and then keep me going right into my exercise.

What physical changes have I noticed while being on the paleo diet?

I noticed that almost immediately  after adopting the diet, I started to lose weight. I am around 6ft 3 and weigh in the region of 200 pounds. I have relatively low muscle mass because of always doing cardio based workouts, but at the the start of the diet I had a high amount of body fat.

That fat was specifically located on my stomach and legs, one of the most common fat storage areas on men. I noticed that a combination of a low-carbohydrate diet  and an exercise like cycling, my legs were stripped of pretty much all their fat. If I had to estimate, I would say that I dropped around 4-7% body fat in my first month.

That was easy easy fat loss, and I continue to passively lose fat while enjoying eating large amounts of food. There is a  psychological  element here I’ll explore later on in this short article. I continued to lose fat around my legs, hips and stomach. While I still haven’t lost all the fat on my stomach, I have decreased my fat percentage from around 28% to around 18%.

Remember, most of this fat loss is achieved by doing no exercise at all.  

That is the psychological element I was referring to earlier. You can eat as much good, paleo food as you want, and still you wont put on fat. You’ll just keep stripping fat because for the most part, humans don’t really need carbohydrates as much as we think, or as much as we are TOLD we do.  

Don’t listen to what you have been told constitutes a healthy diet. Anything white, or anything that could be white should not be eaten. Bar eggs, cauliflower and white food on binge days. Binge days? Yup Take a read through my other article about adopting a paleo lifestyle.

While the paleo diet and the subsequent paleo lifestyle have changed my life, I wanted to keep this article relatively brief, I’ll chat about the other changes in some subsequent, follow up articles, or perhaps I’ll make them a series.

Keep well,
Andrew

 

Vibram Five Fingers Comparison

For those of you who haven’t heard of Vibram’s Five Finger minimalist shoes, you are in for a treat and a surprise.

Vibram developed a shoe in response to the need for a shoe which provides a minimum amount of actual shoe material while still maintaining protection. Originally, this requirement was desired by sailors on yachts who needed a lightweight, high-grip shoe while  manoeuvring  around boats at sea.

Traditionally, this would have involved developing a shoe which had a high amount of traction, and possibly a thinner sole. Not in Vibram’s eyes, they saw the oppurtunity to develop a shoe that would change the way minimalist shoe wearers thought of both minimalism and their actual own feet.  

What was the result of all that research Vibram did on the human foot’s physiology, mechanics and sensitivity? Well, the Vibram Five Finger Classic shoe.

vibram-fivefinger-classic

These shoes blew the market wide open, with people jumping at the chance to own a pair of the “gorilla shoes”. They began being used for many more uses than originally imagined, such as running, walking, hiking and just general day-to-day footwear. Marathon runners started to use them to run ultramarathons, and they exploded into a sensation.

Books wrote about them, people blogged about them and they have even made red carpet appearances. People commented on how they were more in touch with the ground, and spoke about how their feet were now points of contact, rather than just a means of transportation.

Vibram then began to naturally expand and develop several models, beginning with the KSO:

vibram-fivefinger-kso

The KSO was a more rugged, protected shoe than the classic, and had a more secure fit. The KSO’s have subsequently been the “go to” FiveFinger shoe, being featured more than any other FiveFinger model. They are simple, comfortable and practical for any application. I have a pair, and they are fantastic. Towards the end of this article, I’ll write up what I think of each of the pairs of Vibram FiveFingers that I own.

At about the same time, Vibram released the Sprint…

vibram-fivefinger-sprint

The Sprint was developed in response to customer feedback. The classic, while being awesome on its own, wasn’t as good for running as it could be, and so Vibram developed what is essentially a classic with a strap. The strap secures the shoe to the top of the foot, and by doing so allows much more aggressive use. The sprint was a hit and is one of the most popular models currently available, even though it’s one of the first models sold.

After these three iconic models had made their mark on the minimalist footwear community, the bug had bitten people hardcore. Vibram, now committed to developing more models to cater for more usage scenarios, developed several additional models. These include the following models:

TrekSport

vibram-fivefinger-treksport

KSO Trek

vibram-fivefinger-kso-trek

Bikila

vibram-fivefinger-bikila

Komodo Sport

vibram-fivefinger-komodosport

And more recently,

Jaya

vibram-fivefinger-jaya

Spyridon

vibram-fivefinger-spyridon

See-Ya

vibram-fivefinger-see-ya

These aren’t even all the models though. There are several more models which feature things like leather uppers, boot style uppers and some which are purely designed for martial arts, yoga and indoor use. There are also models like the Flow, which feature a neoprene upper for water sports.

Wow. What an incredible range of shoes. Each has a specific intended application, but they can all be used for barefoot activities.

So,
Which models do I have?

In order of acquisition:

KSO

I bought the KSO because it was the most “all round” Five Finger shoe. It served my everyday use needs as well as got me into barefoot running. It was quite a different experience first slipping my feet into the KSO’s for the first time, as I had never really paid much attention to my feet, other than when I had stood on something sharp while barefoot. My KSO’s don’t get worn much anymore, but they are without a doubt the most versatile FiveFinger shoe I own.

TrekSport

I LOVE the TrekSport’s, they are great for hiking, running and anything outdoors. The sole is a bit thicker than that of the KSO and Classic, and has light cleating to deal with the need for additional traction. The TrekSports were developed for trail running and hiking, where the user might find mud and steep, slippery slope obstacles. I have used the TrekSports for hiking and some running, as well as everyday use and they are very comfortable, and very durable. The upper on the shoe is made from coconut husk, and is very thin, but does not tear.

Komodo Sport

These are my favourite Five Finger shoes, hands down. They are the most comfortable of the entire range(that I have tried), and feature a lightly cleated, slightly thicker than the Classic and KSO sole. They are designed for sports applications where lots of lateral cutting is done, like rugby or football. They feature breathing vents on the shoe, and have a removable insole. The insole makes them VERY comfortable, and it often just feels like I’m wearing socks when I’ve had them on for a while. I have used the Komodo Sports for running, hiking, cycling and everyday use, and so far these are my go-to Five Fingers. I would recommend them to anyone.

My girlfriend Carrie has a pair too, and she think they are awesome.

Classic

These are probably my least worn Five Fingers. Not because they are inferior or less awesome than the other pairs I have tried and owned, but because they are open shoes. I mainly wear jeans so having closed shoes is a style must, haha. I do like them, especially when I wear shorts and am on holiday, as they are great to slip into a bag to take to the beach, or if I go running barefoot, I take them with in case of any hairy terrain.

Bikila

The Bikilas are great at what they were designed to do, run. They are lighter than some of the other FiveFinger shoes I own, but they are slightly more rigid. I’ve found that they support my feet differently than my other FiveFingers, and are better for running and hard surface contact.

So there you go, that’s my write up on the differences between the Five Finger’s I own. I love these shoes, and I generally wear them all the time. They have a bit of an adaptation curve, but they are great when you get used to them. My feet, legs and back are stronger from wearing them, and I can feel the ground, wind and generally speaking, whatever I’m walking on.

Give them a try, you won’t be  disappointed.

 

6 Reasons The Paleo Diet Is Healthy

So what constitutes effective diet plans?

Diets, fad-diets, dieting, crash-diets…

We’ve all heard them before, and we’ve all rolled our eyes.Is The Paleo Diet Healthy?

The paleo diet is different… and here’s why:

The Paleo Diet is Healthy Because…

1: Large Amounts Of Nutrients

The paleo diet, when followed correctly can supply your body with everything it needs to keep running, and running well. The diet contains lots of fiber rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables which when eaten in relatively large amounts, paleo-diet style, you keep your digestive system clean and healthy. With a focus on protein and generally low carb foods, the paleo diet promotes lean muscle growth and sustained fat loss. Generally speaking, the paleo diet lets you lose fat passively. Even while you are sitting in your chair at the office your body is burning up all that excess fat you’ve accumulated over the years.

2: It’s simple, easy and is an effective diet plan

Eating paleo doesn’t require lavish meals or expensive ingredients. For the most part, you can feed yourself on the bare minimum. Hungry? Get yourself a bag of steam-to-cook vegetables and add some tuna. Done. It’s that simple. While you should diversify in what you eat, for the most part, weight loss occurs when you repeat-eat one meal over and over again. This may sound boring, but it makes sense once you try it. You can make seemingly mundane meals exciting by adding relishes to them that accord to the paleo diet.

3: the diet naturally avoids “fast foods”

If you are following the paleo diet, you will naturally veer away from fast foods not only because they are a terrible form of nourishment, but because they are not allowed to be eaten according to the paleo paradigm. This equates to more fatloss. Because you won’t be eating foods like bread, rice and corn, you will naturally lose weight and feel better and less congested. Also, if you are gluten intolerant the paleo diet is by default a very effective diet plan. GLuten is found in more foods than you might realise, bread being the biggest offender.

4: You can eat whatever you want

Yup, as long as it’s on the paleo foods list, you can eat whatever you like, and with the exception of nuts, as much as you like  as well. There is evidence that protein binging boosts testosterone and makes you overall healthier, so eat heaps of steak for a binge weekend and see how it makes you feel. I’ve tried it, and my testosterone sky rocketed. I routinely eat 2-3 eggs for breakfast, mixed with some spinach and a relish of some sort and I feel amazing afterwards.  Give it a shot, eat as much as you like of good food, and your body will react in a very positive way.

5: you change your outlook on not only food, but on life

By adopting a new ideology, in this case a new way of feeding yourself, the changes ripple through your life. Instead of trying to change the colour of a tree’s leaves individually, you are going right to the roots  and initiating change there. That change is felt, almost automatically  by the rest of the tree. So by changing your eating, are changing your whole life. You must engage the change head-on, make it something concrete and let it help you become healthy, strong and motivated. You will find that as you internalise the change on a basic level, you start applying changes to other areas of your life on a similar level of intensity.

6: Once you have made the change, it is easier to continue on with the paleo diet than other diets

While the temptation to fall back to old eating norms which include bad food such as bread and grains, once you realise what those bad foods do to your body, you will naturally turn away from old temptations. That’s all that bad foods will become, old temptations. You’ll find that once you have found an effective meal that you enjoy, which keeps you full and is easy and cost effective to make, that you will stick with that diet. I routinely eat the same meal, sometimes multiple times per day.  This makes the diet predictable, easy and allows you to observe and track results.

Is The Paleo Diet Safe?

 

Quick Paleo Breakfast

How to make a quick paleo breakfast

UPDATE: Check out my awesome paleo breakfast muffins!

I’ve just finished reading Timothy Ferriss’s book, “The Four Hour Body”, and in it he largely subscribes to a paleo diet lifestyle. He focuses heavily on principles on which the paleo diet is based, and excludes things like white foods and in general, legumes. While legumes are not allowed in the paleo diet strictly speaking, they are permitted for once in awhile consumption.

This morning, I decided to put a meal of his to the test, and opted to include  the legumes he used in the meal. Legumes are pretty calorie dense food stuffs, and when used correctly can, I believe, be healthy enough to make it into your paleo for life philosophy.

The recipe is incredibly simple, and involves chicken eggs, spinach and some sort of salsa. I opted to make a mixture of a chakalaka(basically salsa) and some mexican refried beans. So try out my take on Tim’s paleolithic diet breakfast below and see if it suits you!

If you’d like something a little more simple that really breaks down eating into a simple function, check out my post on how to make the ultimate paleo smoothie by clicking here.

quick-paleo-breakfast

Quick paleo breakfast ingrediants

  • 3 chicken eggs
  • A handful or two of spinach leaves (I used baby spinach)
  • Salsa with legumes in it

The eggs add a massive hit of protein, and as you should know, eggs are an “eat wherever possible” food. They have so much good in them it is like passing up a freebie if you don’t eat them. I LOVE eggs.

Cooking instructions

  • Put a large skillet on the stove or heat source of your choice
  • Use some oil, I used olive oil
  • Break the eggs into the skillet and scramble them right there in the pan
  • Tear up the spinach leaves and sprinkle them over the eggs while they are still moist and gooey
  • Cook to your liking
  • Serve on a plate and add some of the salsa(chakalaka) and refried bean mixture on top. I guess I added around 3-5 tablespoons on top
  • Mix it all up, and put it in the microwave to take the chill off the salsa
  • Enjoy!

So there you go, a simple, easy and quick paleo diet breakfast. If you like, remove the salsa(chakalaka) and replace it with something which has no legumes. Perhaps some sort of vegetable mash, like sweet potato mash or something like that. I must admit, that I’ve tried some other paleo breakfast recipes and they have been great although most have a low amount of calories, this breakfast however has a big calorie count, and I was full for most of the morning. I also had more energy and felt like my mind had lots of energy to expend.

Check out my post on what it takes to make a great caveman breakfast.

This meal is going into my cookbook!

All the best.

Andrew.

 

Paleo Diet Supplements

How to supplement your paleo diet without going overboard or applying too much thought…

The paleo diet is fantastic, and while paleo meals contain many different food groups which themselves contain excellent nutritional properties, sometimes you’ll need to cover your bases. Some areas of nutrition require a bit of bolstering, and let’s be serious; sometimes it isn’t possible to give your body everything it needs every single day.

I will attempt to break this post up into sections which are easy to understand, internalise and action. I’ll provide pro’s and con’s to each option I recommend so that you can make your own mind up on which option is best for you.

 

  • Multivitamins: What multivitamins are required vs what multivitamins are  desired
  • Essential fatty acids: When to take them and which ones to take
  • Other supplements: Green tea extract, protein shakes and weight loss substances

Multivitamins

Multivitamins are widely considered as being essential to any diet. Most people do take vitamins as part of a “good practice” philosophy and that’s OK. In fact, taking vitamins as a supplement to your paleo meals is favourable. However, should taking multivitamins be a requirement? Perhaps not… I’ll explain why:

  • You should be eating enough daily to get all the nutrients your body needs, If you haven’t got this right, perhaps you need a  cookbook  which could provide you with some recipes you can use as a base to fall back on. Ensuring you get enough good protein, fat and calories every day can be difficult, and having a paleo centric cook book on hand can take the guess work out of meal making.
  • It’s not that you  require  multivitamins, it’s just that its  favourable.  It’s a good practice, and by that I mean that you should take vitamins as a supplement because its a good move on your part. You are covering your bases, and while it may appear at first that I’m advocating a “bandaid for a bullet hole” idea the real point is to  blanket as much of your nutrition as possible  and so the desired multivitamins should be as high quality as possible.  
  • Drink a lot of water.  Because of the increased load multivitamin supplements can take on your organs, namely the kidneys and liver, you should drink more water so that you can expel waste more effectively. Basically, the  blanket  approach to nutrient supplementation that is multivitamins will allow your body to not use a portion of those very nutrients. These “waste” nutrients need to be expelled in the form of sweat and urine.

I would advise taking multivitamins which are fairly comprehensive, but  are of exceptional quality.  Buy at the top of your budget, and when in doubt, stick to one of the  top brands of multivitamins.

ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

While there is some controversy around which fatty acids are good or bad for you, the general consensus is that they are in fact beneficial. Personally, I’ve noticed decreases in resting heart rate, as well as improvements in sleep, eyesight and the condition of my skin.  The EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids) I take are pretty high in dosage, about 1000mg, and while others are of competing dosage amounts, I’ve found that the better the brand, the better the performance. EFA’s are one of the best diet supplements you can choose to include in your paleo meals, as most people lack the required levels of fatty acids in their diets, even when they are trying hard to cover their bases.

  • Try and take the EFA’s at different times of the day. I’ve noticed that if I take them before I go to sleep I generally sleep better, and in the morning my eyes are rested and feel relaxed. This is especially good to do if you work with computers during the day and get home only to find you are looking at more screens.
  • Eat a meal with your EFA’s. Essential fatty acids are often derived from fish oils, and thus have some pretty heavy odur and taste if ingested on an empty stomach. I like to have mine with my morning breakfast, but you can have them whenever you like, as long as it is with a meal.

OTHER SUPPLEMENTS:

  • Green tea extract:  Green tea extract contains  epigallocatechin gallate  or EGCG, which has been shown to help your body kill fat cells, as well as prevent them returning. EGCG also promotes the body to store carbohydrates in top level muscle, which not only will help with muscle mass development, but also in muscle endurance. Make sure you take a  decaffeinated supplement to avoid bouncing off the walls.  Timothy Ferriss  has a great section on the benefits of green tea supplements and EGCG in his book,  “The Four Hour Body”.
  • Protein shakes:  Protein shakes are an easy way of getting a relatively large amount of protein into your body. While the protein in most protein shakes is derived from milk in the form of whey protein, I still recommend using shakes a way of getting your protein for the day on top of what you get from your paleo meals. The convenience of having a protein shake available to eat is enough of a reason to make sure you always have some. I keep mine on top of my fridge!
  • Meal replacement shakes:  Meal replacement shakes are a great way to cater for the amount of meals you aim to eat everyday. However, some, or most of them are high in carbohydrates. If you are just drinking meal replacement shakes to replace one of your paleo meals, you are approaching their purpose in perhaps the wrong way. I would recommend that you keep a meal replacement shake on hand to be used as part of your paleo diet supplements, and as part of your entire paleo food eating list.

SUMMARY

While the pull of using supplements as part of your diet is an easy route to go down, you should always try and eat real food for nutrients. If you are doing lots of physical exercise then you might in fact  need  to supplement your paleo diet. It will be difficult to get all the protein you need to support effective muscle growth without a protein supplement. In fact, for active people I’d recommend using supplements to ensure good muscle development.

Multivitamins should be part of your diet even if you get a lot of vitamins and minerals from all your food. I’d recommend you use multivitamins as a blanket approach to getting all your nutrients. If you are going to choose one thing to add to your paleo diet, I’d say that multivitamins are one the best dietary supplement you can get and they are in the realm of being essential.

  • Get a great protein shake and add it to your daily eating routine, a good protein shake is one the the best dietary supplements you can.
  • Multivitamins and essential fatty acids should be added to all your paleo meals, and you should try and maintain a steady “take them everyday” schedule to ensure your body has ample vitamin and minimal reserves to stave of infection and illness.
  • Try and work out exactly what you need from your paleo diet supplements and only aim to get what you actually, really need. Excess is just that, excess, and your kidneys and liver will take a hit if you are always overloading them with excessive, concentrated nutrients.


Best Multivitamin Brands

Top Multivitamins

Multivitamins are the most important supplement you can take. Whether you are an athlete training for an ultra-marathon or weight lifting competition, or a business man making his way through the 9-5 shunt multivitamins could help you.

Below is a list of the best multivitamins brands in the world. I have personally tried most of them, and have included some others in the list to make choosing the right multivitamin easy. Whether you are looking for the top multivitamins for men or the top multivitamins for women, these brands will have a great product for you. I would recommend trying 2-3 different brands to establish which one is best for you and your lifestyle. The paleo lifestyle aims to provide as much nourishment from real food, but food can rarely cover all the bases in one delivery like the world’s top multivitamins can!

Optimum Nutrition Opti-Men MultivitaminsOptimum Nutrition Opti-Men Multivitamins

ON is one of my favourite brands. I personally have used more ON products than other other brand, they have good dosage amounts so their products last a while, and they are of a very high quality. Optimum Nutrition’s Opti-Men has some 75 ingredients, including amino-acids and male specific concentrates. This is a fantastic multi-vitamin for day-to-day use.

 

Universal Animal Pak Sports Nutrition Supplement, 44-Count

Universal Animal Pak Sports Nutrition Supplement, 44-Count

The original Animal Pak, 44 packets of precisely controlled multi-vitamin tablets. Universal designed the Animal Pak to dominate the competition while providing the best multivitamin for athletes. It does just that, and it’s been doing that for a long time. I have used Animal Pak for support during some intense training programmes, and it has done the job perfectly. While the physical dimensions of each dose may be too much for some, the ingredients used are of immense quality and if ever there was a case of taking a hand grenade to a knife fight, Universal’s Animal Pak multivitamins would be that grenade, and win every time.

Muscle Pharm Armor-V 180 Capsules

Muscle Pharm Armor-V 180 Capsules

Muscle Pharm is a relatively new kid on the supplement block. With some great branding and brand recognition on the MMA front thanks to UFC product placement, Muscle Pharm Armor-V multivitamins seem poised to pack a punch. Armor-V containst  methylcobalamin as its source of vitamin b12, this is a much easier for your compound to break down and use by your body and also leaves no traces behind unlike some other multivitamin products. I haven’y personally used Muscle Pharm’s products, but I have highly athletic friends who swear by it. Try it out!

Controlled Labs Orange Triad: Multivitamin, Joint, Digestion, And Immune, 270-Count Bottle

Controlled Labs Orange Triad: Multivitamin, Joint, Digestion, And Immune, 270-Count Bottle

Orange Triad is an enigma all on it’s own. If you are going to be lifting heavy, and lifting often, Controlled Labs’ Orange Triad is the multivitamin for you. With some pretty awesome joint support and a huge dose of essential vitamins all your bases are covered. I suffer from some joint clicking and creaking and Orang Triad solved that within 2 days of me starting to use it as my main multivitamin. Of all the top multivitamin brands I’ve tried, I am probably most impressed with Controlled Labs and their Orange Triad multivitamin has provided the best overall experience I’ve had. Highly, highly recommended.

Gaspari Nutrition Anavite, 180-Tablets

Gaspari Nutrition Anavite, 180-Tablets

A very well priced, high performance multivitamin. Gaspari Nutrition is a good brand, with lots of UFC involvement and some high-profile athlete sponsorship. Anavite has some great additions in the energy providing front, and can keep you going just that much harder so that you reach your goals effectively. This is another product I haven’t used, but I have used Gaspari’s protein products and I have been very happy with them. I have a friend who uses Anavite however, and he is very happy. A great multivitamin that won’t keep you up at night.

 

 

Running In Vibram Five Fingers

VIbrams’ FiveFinger, Five Finger or 5 Finger shoes are fantastic, however you pronounce them. The shoe itself is built to provide the wearer with as little ground feel, or perception of the ground as possible.

Why is minimal ground feel important you may ask? Well, the answer is surprisingly simple, and actually pretty elegant.The human foot is described by many as being one of the most fantastic evolutionary marvels on planet earth. It has evolved to deal with various situations such as being supportive when walking and standing, flexible and strong while running and sprinting, and sensitive to what you are actually walking on. That last point is of particular importance.

Sensitivity to the ground

Human feet have about as much nerve endings as the human hand. Feet are sensitive to everything the hand is and then some. Have you ever been walking around barefoot and stepped on something sharp like a thorn perhaps and felt how your  whole body  reacts to the sensation? Your feet are designed to prevent injury and keep you standing, the reaction you experience is one which is designed to “lift” all your weight off the affected foot.

However, when you wear shoes, this reaction is near to impossible, and while most shoes typically protect against thorns and sharp, dangerous objects, it is the ankle that is the weak point when wearing shoes.

How many times have you sprained an ankle with shoes on? Many times I’m guessing!

The reason you sprain an ankle, or over extend or pull something while wearing shoes is that  your feet are unable to detect the imminent trouble. Your ankle is not bad just because you have sprained an ankle once or twice, it is simply because you wear shoes and subsequently have less sensitivity to what your legs, ankles and feet are doing. From my own reference, I have never had any injury while doing physical activity while barefoot or while wearing minimalist shoes such as Vibram’s FiveFingers. This is largely due to the fact that as a  result  of wearing minimalist footwear, my ankles, feet and general coordination of my legs has improved substantially.

It all started when I began running in Vibram Five Fingers

I have never been a runner and I never really saw myself as a runner. I played track sports in school though, and while I did enjoy them, I hated the running part. I thought it was a necessary evil which was required to get fit. I used to get shin splints, sore feet, and blisters. I was completely unaware as to how weak my feet and ankles actually were  at the time.  

I then discovered the barefoot movement thanks to the Internet, and I thought that I should give it a try. A radical new “barefoot” shoe was in the market called a FiveFinger by Vibram. It took the world by storm with its individual toe pockets and zero-drop sole.

The idea behind Vibram’s FiveFinger shoes is that in order for a shoe to provide a barefoot experience, the shoe should be thin, very flexible and have a zero-drop. That is, no difference in thickness from heel to toe. Vibram went one step further and designed and produced a shoe that has individual toe pockets for each toe. This feature alone makes them awesome, and surprisingly comfortable.

I did my research and found that the Vibram FiveFinger KSO’s were my best choice to go  vibram-fivefinger-ksowith. I wanted an all-round experience, and seeing as the KSO’s had Vibram’s original sole , it was as close as I could get to the original intended experience Vibram had in mind with the FiveFingers.

They were FANTASTIC. I loved them. My only gripe was that they were a little on the small side. I should have gone one size bigger to ensure a comfortable fit. My fourth toe on my left foot is a little longer than that of my right foot, and so I have had some sizing issues with VFF’s(Vibram FiveFingers).

Running in Vibram Five Fingers is a completely different experience, as I’m sure you would imagine! The ground feels intimately close with your feet, and they react to everything you feel. I could feel the grass texture beneath my feet and the cool breeze when I started to sweat. Everything seemed to make perfect sense, my body felt  free.  Free from shin splints, ankle injuries and clunky shoes. Until…

My calves started to hurt. They felt like they were on fire. I had never experienced such pain in my calves before. And this was from running the way my body was  meant  to run.

The solution, which seems pretty obvious now, was to run more. My muscles had atrophied to the point of almost being running-useless. I could run for about 1km maximum, and then what followed were days of not being able to walk or do anything physical. However,  the more I ran, the better it got,  and  because I had converted to only wearing FiveFingers  as my primary shoe, I got stronger feet and legs by default, without  exercise. I think that if you can’t transition into barefoot footweare completely, start slow. As in, run 100metres, then stop. The next day, 150metres, and increase distance as you get stronger and your feet get stronger. It really is a different experience entirely, and it effects your whole body as well. For the first two weeks my back was sore, not  because  of the minimalist footwear, but because of the corrective nature and the  natural  nature of being barefoot. My back was now merely  being used properly.  

I now found that I was standing up properly and  really  using my feet to move my body around. While running my posture transformed into an upright, strong form, with my arms barely moving and my feet landing just below my forward-falling centre of mass. Acceleration while running barefoot is effortless and while the overall workload is perhaps higher than heel-strike running form due to the shock absorbing action required by the calf muscles, it feels more natural, efficient and effective. Even while walking my form has changed. I am quieter, lighter and smoother on foot, and I have found  that I no longer experience any pain or strain while running.

My advice for transitioning into running either barefoot or with minimalist footwear like Vibram’s amazing FiveFinger shoes is to take it slow initially.

Steps for  easy  adoption of barefoot/minimalist/FiveFinger running:

  1. Start with small distances. Run 100metres for the first day and increase in small increments. Monday: 100m, Tuesday: 150m etc.
  2. Run barefoot first, then only use minimalist footwear. Your feet will need time to gain strength and develop the necessary  calluses  for protection. A good idea is to run carrying your Vibram’s, and put them on when you feel your feet getting sore, then turn home and call it a day.
  3. Set some goals and run with them in mind. Some goals may be to cover distance or to simply harness the new forefoot-strike running form. This is a big one for me as even after having run “barefoot” for over a year now, I still am conscious of my form all the time. Even a small correction, such as raising your eyes from the ground right in front of you can improve your form, which will in turn increase speed, decrease effort and ultimately make your runs that much better.
  4. Run without any music. Embrace the simplicity that is running. Feel the ground, get runner’s high, hear your body working. One thing I have noticed is how quiet forefoot-runners are. There is no slap, grind or squelch from rubber running shoes, just pat-pat-pat-pat.
  5. Increase your  cadence. Aim for a high cadence(amount of strides per minute). Olympic athletes run at a cadence of around 180, recreational runners hit about 150. I’d suggest aiming for 160 and then increase as you get stronger and fitter. The higher the cadence, the less work you need to do to keep moving forwards. A higher cadence form is better because there is less load on the skeletal system, you engage more elastic functions of your muscles and ligaments and it just feels lighter and faster.
  6. Enjoy and learn to focus on the run. Forget everything else. Smile.

And there is my write up on what it’s like to go from  not  being a runner to being a barefoot runner. It’s quite a journey, and if you are looking for something to master it’s a great way to engage with your body and learn how to do one of our greatest and most underrated abilities, to run, and run well.

 

The Paleo Diet Lifestyle

Living according to the paleo blueprint, or according to Mark Sisson, the “Primal Blueprint”, is about adopting a set of rules and regulations with regard to what you eat. Although that is an over-simplified analysis of what it actually means to be paleo, the paradigm ultimately begins and ends with what you eat.

Basically, the way normal people eat is completely wrong and unhealthy. For example, when last did you hear someone say something like, “Let’s buy some healthy bread”, or “Don’t worry, I drink low fat milk”.

Both of these statements are completely incorrect. Breads contain grains and milk is a dairy product. Both of these foods are  unacceptable, bar the one-day a week  caloric  binge you should be undertaking, that is however for another article entirely.

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Foods  Unacceptable  According To The Paleo Foods List

  • Refined sugars (Read pretty much all sugars)
  • All grains:  Yup, that means ALL bread and specifically anything that contains gluten. A note here, corn is a grain. I find this to be a sticky point for me as I enjoy a breakfast meal which is fairly nutritious and incredibly convenient. I have made steps to completely remove corn from my diet though.
  • General starch: Avoid things like potatoes and in general, any white food, or any food which could be white. This includes flour, rice and as mentioned, potatoes. Potatoes are really just a bad food. You can however eat sweet potatoes, some say no to this choice, but if you are following a relatively strict paleo for life  ideology it won’t be a problem avoiding starch at all.
  • Legumes: According to strict paleo law, legumes aren’t allowed because they have to be cooked in order to be eaten. This obviously goes against what a super old school burly caveman would have been capable of. Having said that though, legumes can be included to maintain a sufficient amount of calories in your diet. I eat legumes to ensure I get enough caloric density in my meals.
  • Dairy products:  Milk would have been fairly hard to come by for old Ugg the caveman. He’d have had to either have killed the animal providing the milk or he’d have to have caught and cared for it like the modern day cow. My recommendation here would be to avoid milk where possible and eat foods such as butter and ice-cream sparingly. Butter, interestingly enough, can be used to lower the GI of food that inherently has a high GI.
  • Processed meats: This includes any meat which has been overly processed. Meat like polony and vienna sausages are a no-no. This shouldn’t take much convincing as polony is pretty disgusting anyway.
  • Some oils: Avoid oils like corn oil and rice bran oil. You can cook with things like bacon fat and olive oil. Olive oil should be used wisely though as it has a lower burning point than other more common oils such as sunflower oil, for example.

Foods Acceptable According To The Paleo Foods List

  • Meats and eggs: Mark Sisson says you should get eggs wherever possible. I agree with this completely, and the whole cholesterol issue surrounding eggs is not accurate. The quantity and quality of nutrients in a single chicken’s egg is worth and cholesterol knock you might receive from overeating on eggs. Eggs also boost testosterone. FIsh are great for the paleo for life long term vision. Make fish part of your eating routine. You can eat meats with a relatively high fat content, as animal fats are good for the body, and because of the generally low carbohydrate intake on the paleo diet, fats are utilised for uses other than just adding body fat for later use.
  • Vegetables: Load up on veggies like broccoli and spinach. Both contain heaps of good nutrients and spinach covers multiple nutrient columns where it ranks in the top 5 of all foods. A great breakfast in fact is spinach and eggs together.
  • Fruits: I have oral allergy syndrome, which is partly why I started embracing paleo for life in the first case. Timothy Ferriss states that fruits aren’t necessary, and honestly I’d have to agree as fructose isn’t that great for your body. Enjoy fruits, but perhaps include them in your weekly caloric binge day only.
  • Nuts and seeds: Watch out here, while nuts are on the accepted paleo foods list, it is a common mistake for new adopters to over do it on the nut eating. Nuts are full of nutrients, but are also high in fat, and contain compounds which retard certain bodily functions. Eat nuts, but no more than a handful or two every day perhaps.
  • Liquids: Water, litres and litres of water is good. Water is essential for many bodily processes and organs like your liver require a certain minimum level of hydration to operate effectively.
While the lists above are brief, they can guide you in the right direction should you wish to enhance how you are eating at the moment, or if you are interested in what actually makes the paleo diet paleo. I can honestly recommend adopting the paleo for life philosophy, as it is effective and will keep you feeling great all the time. I would recommend a hard adoption, that is overnight. You might experience things such as carbohydrate lows while your body adjusts to the new low carbohydrate intake levels, but after two weeks or so you would have  equalised  and will have a hard time going back to eating a “regular” diet. Ironic that, as it is the modern day “regular” diet that is in fact irregular and incorrect.

 

Tips for adopting the “paleo for life” philosophy:

  • Start with a clear adoption plan: Start buying paleo foods  immediately, but plan to replace existing food types with their paleo food  equivalents  before hand. This will help you build a correlation between what is good and what isn’t as well as make it easier for you to pick foods off of a menu when out for dinner.
  • Have a cheat day: While this isn’t actually a cheat day, but rather an increased  calorie  cycle. Calorie cycling is used by body builders to encourage calorie efficiency. You can eat whatever you like for one day a week only. This calorie spike ironically may make you actually lose weight instead of gain weight, and that weight you may gain on the days following the cheat day is for the most part water retention.
  • Eat more eggs: Eggs are fantastic. Eat them whenever you can, obviously within reason though, you don’t want to rely only on eggs for your protein intake.
  • Get some good supplements: This will help to build the bigger picture of nutrition that is the paleo lifestyle. I take omega’s, green tea extract and multivitamins. Protein shakes are good, but make sure that they don’t contain substances like maltodextrin for sweetness.
  • Read: Read all of Mark Sisson’s and Timothy Ferriss’s work. Mark is a middle aged guy who knows plenty about paleo and primal lifestyles, and you’ll possibly learn the most from his website marksdailyapple.com than any other resource. Timothy focuses more on becoming an effective, best possible version of yourself. He teaches life changing techniques to change every aspect of your life for the better. His new book “The 4 Hour Body”  is amazing to say the least. His information on the benefits of certain foods to be included in your diet is worth purchasing the book alone.And that’s my article on the adoption of the “paleo for life” principle and philosophy. Ultimately, you have everything to gain from becoming a healthier person. You’ll sleep better, have better sex, and most importantly, be able to see and feel results  immediately. Get your caveman on!

If you would like to learn more information about how to live paleo, my 7 Step Paleo Fast Track Guide gives away plenty of information which I should be selling, for FREE.

Click here to get your free copy now!

Wishing you all the best in health,
Andrew.