Starting the ball rolling on a possible 40 day strict Zone/ Paleo Challenge

30 Jan

Since the 1st of  January, my inbox has been filled with emails from direct marketing companies about diet regimes and annual gym memberships.

Early January, so it seems , is the time to “snare” the unsuspecting would be weight loser and would be gym goer. This for many gyms is their financial motor: sign up loads of people,  and get their money upfront for services they will never use.

Frankly, I think its an unethical disgrace and a stain on the fitness industry.

Partly for this reason we steer clear of any new member offers and any diet challenges in January. We dont want that type of  money. We focus on training people who want to train. The other reason is that unless you are quite experienced, training in january can be difficult. When it cold and dark, weight loss, especially  for the emotionally vulnerable can be  daunting task.

Maybe there is a better chance if that 1st serious  weight loss attempt is postponed a bit, and  comes with a “history” of success.

For thousands of years, people  have decided to give something up for Lent, so I thought, this year we would play with a 40 days  strict zone/paleo challenge starting on Ash Wednesday (22 Feb) and ending 8 April, mirroring the Lent period.

Ive stereed clear of diet challenges before, for a couple of reasons. The most important being that I could never effectively workout how to measure success: We need to look at  weight loss, fat loss, muscle gain, quality of diet, quality of sleep, quality of training and improvement in blood chemistry.

For various reasons,  I now feel we are near to having an effective ( or much better) assessment  package. Steven has invested in a  sonic body fat measure,  Katarina often uses fat calipers, so can read them well. We are also developing an effective relationship with blood test agencies who can  help us with the chemistry . Perhaps we could  test blood pressure?

What im trying to say is that  a  Zone /Paleo challenge is, of course, about weight, but, its more about how it underpins a better life. How it moves blood chemistry , how it helps you train. How it helps you sleep and recover. Above all, its about what you learn about food, both quantity and quality.

So let me make this the 1st call for interested people. who would like to  get involved in this challenge.

It could  involve body fat measurements, before and after pictures, weekly weighing, and encouragement to get some blood tests done.  You will need to keep a food diary,a training and sleep diary. It will be quite public.

We are open to any ideas: should it be  done  it for charity, should we monitor “other stuff”. But for now, could I have expressions of interest

From a marketing point of view, it may be  as well to book yourself into this sundays Zone masterclass so you can learn how to  Zone properly. I was chatting to a paleo expert on Friday so we may also be able to come up with some effective how to do paleo, while crossfitting,  ideas.


47 thoughts on “Starting the ball rolling on a possible 40 day strict Zone/ Paleo Challenge

  1. This will be great! Always amazing seeing the results people get from Paleo challenges, people always lean out pretty well. Got to love Paleo!

  2. Yay this is exciting and coincides with my return to Crossfit this month 🙂 I would like to do this for charity, for the stroke association for my gran 🙂 xx

  3. I’d get involved in both measurements and challenge. It might finally gives me the motivation to actually clean out my eating properly.

  4. i might be up for it. never been strict paleo but i will give it a shot…. see how my body reacts to it

  5. im in. i need to get my total cholesterol down below 6.1, everything else is great. high HDL ( well done fish oil) crap LDL, which i put down to my cheese greed ( and possibly too many eggs), but excessive cheese for sure………wont whine, ill just deal with it.

  6. I think wine / cider is ok in both Zone and Paleo systems. But I would say, in the ‘spirit’ of Lent, no alcohol.

  7. Count me in too. If a spot of public humiliation and team bonding won’t shift the excess nothing will. My only question is, is there a Paleo version of BBQ sauce?

  8. I’ll give it a try. Prob be good to wean myself off starbucks (although if I gain weight due to resultant increased snacking I’ll be baying for blood – and caffeine 😉

  9. I’m off on holiday over the Easter break so this will suit perfectly 🙂 Also I’d like to get some proper body fat readings etc

  10. @andrew/kate- is this challenge zone or paleo? or a version of paleo that you use zone proportions/portions etc?

    also- I find it odd how the paleoites seem convinced alcohol is fine in moderation, yet stuff like bread is strictly forbidden. Seems to fall down on all the it came pre the agricultural revolution/it’s artificial and processed/effect on the body arguments that are the focus. Not just saying it because I can’t have nything alcoholic until april btw

  11. that said, i think packing up booze for 40 days would be a great idea for anyone who doesnt want to pack up booze for 40 days

  12. agree andrew-

    I’d go further and say it’s a nobrainer for anyone trying to lose weight who drinks, even if moderately.

    It’s like something Im sure you said ages ago about most people not really benefitting from focussing on the stuff on the periphery (ie whether their beef is grass fed, whether a peanut is worse than a cashew, whether a banana is more harmful than a grape, whether porridge is a no no)

  13. Pat – I’d be interested to see if my mile, 2 mile or 10 k pace improved over 40 days of paleo

  14. The Zonists and the Paleoites are like Catholics and Protestants – fierce devotion on both sides even though, fundamentally, they agree. In order to avoid sectarian grief, I don’t think it’s wise to impose adherence to one or other.

    My intention is to go “favourable” Zone, and stick to my 11 blocks. This means no starchy carbs, dairy, sugar or alcohol. I will have to finally give up my last guilty pleasure – instant cappucinos and mochas 🙁 I’ve also just arranged another set of blood work to test for food allergies/intolerances – so I’ll finally be able to work out what is actually good for me to eat and avoid the dodgy.

    Do we want to come up with some rules for everyone in the challenge? Lent used to be about fasting from meat – but I don’t think that will have many fans. More recently it’s usually sweets and booze. I think that would be a good starting point.

  15. Oh, and 22 Feb also begins the Crossfit Open – would be interesting to see how/if everyone’s performance improves

  16. @alex agree Novak is an absolute beast since 2011 and obviously his gluten allergy being diagnosed and dealt with would have helped him. Don’t want to derail this ito a tennis discussion but reason imo he dominated was him improving his serve and forehand. Nadal has a niggling injury and Federer has declined a bit so it does not tell the whole story. Pre injury nadal ate industrial quantities of pasta (and has a sweet tooth) and dominated everyone. I dont think diet makes a huge difference at that high a level of sport imo

    re running speed and paleo or zone, my view is that a runner at 70 kilos will run a quicker 10k than one at 80kiilos (assuming same ability at each weight), so any diet that caused that loss would improve performance

    good comments distracting me from intellectual property 🙂

  17. Pat, true, but it maybe that you might not lose weight. You might put weight on or stay stable, not hard to imagine given what a lean machine you are.

    I dont think diet makes a huge difference at that high a level of sport imo” ….really?

  18. Yeah, not really convinced it makes a huge difference, as we are talking about the top 1% of their field, the true elite. I don’t think what separates the world class from the merely very good is what their eating. It’s skill/technique/innate talent/mental strength etc. You could use outlier examples of athletes who are not monks (eg rooney allegedly likes a beer and a fag, Usain Bolt eats a lot of chicken nuggetts) but I’d say it’s more relevant to say that most of them are pretty serious about what they eat across the board yet they dont all perform at the same level.

    It makes more of a notcieable difference below that level, especially in people who have never focussed on nutrition before.

    I’m going to have a jaffa cake 🙂

  19. Pat: I disagree. I think the more elite you get, the narrower the gaps are, and the harder it is to gain those extra percentages and advantages. I’m sure you know the difference nutrition plays in the average person and this will hold similar to some extent in an elite individual, although as you rightly point out it is much more about skill/technique/talent/mental side etc.

    It’s hard to say though. I just wonder how seriously good some of these immense athletes such as Bolt, Phelps etc. could be if they improved their diets. (Although in Phelps’ case, it would be difficult as sustaining that calorific load on clean foods is near impossible)

    Re: Cider/wine…never ever heard of cider being Paleo so not sure where that has come from, cider always has sugar/additives that will make it non-paleo.

    Wine is very similar. I don’t know if you can get completely unprocessed/no additives wine, but most people consider red a Paleo drink…

  20. some great paleo questions!

    id like to begin the process of introducing one of our new crossfitters, Rutger. He’s a former chef and seems to know a lot ( i mean, a lot) about the paleo system. Ill do a proper introduction to him soon, but it means we will have some expert info to tackle these challenges. Hell do some blog posts for us and maybe a few practical sessions.

    Just a point! the challenge starts in 22 days time. You need to use the time between now and then to get your research done, choose your diet, and commit.

    Simon are you on paleo already?

  21. Yeah I use Paleo as a template but I’m not overly strict about it, I’ll have dairy sometimes and have cheat meals occasionally.

  22. one of the really interesting thing will be kates “new” blood test results, she is going to have a food intolerance test done, The funny thing is that many diets, like paleo rely on a “food intolerance” boggy man: dont eat wheat/dairy as you are intolerant etc.

    Now its true that you can be intolerant to these, and thus the paleo diet merely cranks out a no wheat/ no dairy message ( I think. There are so many muddled versions about) . Anyway I was reviewing the list of what Kates test will test for.

    Cow’s Milk
    Egg White
    Egg Yolk

    Shrimp / Prawn

    Corn (Maize)
    Durum Wheat
    Rye Flour

    Cashew Nut
    Bean (red kidney)
    Bean (white haricot)
    Soya Bean
    Yeast (baker’s)
    Yeast (brewer’s)

    Yep, its the depressing fact that some well meaning paleo fan can make you give up wheat ( which you could be fine with), load you up with beef and cabbage ( that you could be intolerant to), and bingo, you have some real health problems!!

    That said, I’ve only just started researching the issues with food intolerance testing, some of which could be dubious….not sure, so here is some more info

    But you can see my point: I didnt know people could be intolerant of almonds and chicken…strawberrys…..

  23. I’m being tested for 200 foodstuffs, so the list above isn’t everything. Ever wanted to know if you’re intolerant of horsemeat? Get the test!

    Also useful to know that the results will be on a 0-5 scale, where 0 is not allergic and 5 is allergic. Inbetween are the grades of intolerance. Tolerance can be improved by removing the foodstuff, and gradually reintroducing it. Full allergy I’m told, is usually a permanent state.

    I echo Andrew’s point in that some diets blanket ban wheat and dairy, assuming that because we’re human, we must be intolerant. But because we’re human, we also adapt, are omniverous – we survive and thrive on all sorts of stuff. I’m excited to find out what!

  24. Its amazing how we can get so excited about what we are about to NOT eat. It used to be the other way around! It starts in 22 days? I am in. Since Christmas I have been totally lazy about what I have consumed.

  25. @Si yep that’s a fair point, not much is separating athletes at elite level, so it could be more of a factor. Though I can’t see how Bolt could get much better. My view for what it’s worth is that diet is only really a big factor in performance to the extent it’s making you lose or maintain weight. Depending on your sport and metabolism, this may not be much of an issue, hence guys like Bolt, Phelps etc. It’s probably much bigger in prolonging your career though. Guys like mayweather or pacquaio look after their bodies all year so don’t waste training time focussing on big weight loss binges.

    @andrew/kate sounds really interesting re the intolerance tests etc. I’m keen to try this challenge but since I saw the film “Forks over knives” on sky a few weeks back I’ve been almost tempted to cut out/or at least drastically reduce meat

  26. @Andrew: Re – “But you can see my point: I didnt know people could be intolerant of almonds and chicken…strawberrys…..”

    We can become intolerant and allergic to any food over time…I know people can become quite intolerant to eggs if they eat too many too often.

    @Kate: Would be interested in seeing your results regarding the various food intolerances…if you don’t mind sharing? Totally understand if you want to keep to yourself.

  27. @ Si – having already announced to the world that my ovaries have packed up, sharing my food intolerances will be no problem at all!

    I will be more than happy to publish the results. I’m expecting some individual seafood rejections, but anything else will be a surprise. I have eczema, so would be good to work out a culprit. Environmental allergen tests may be next.

  28. I’m in! This is such a great idea. Just the motivation I needed to eat paleo more often than not.

  29. spent sometime thinking about pats meat concern, and chatting to those who cannot give up booze: So lets widen this challenge. if you cannot do without a particular “bad” food” could you commit to cutting it down during this period. Pat, given your meat concerns, is there a diet you would like to experiment with?

    The clock is running, i want a lot of people “eating better” over lent. you have 21 days to get ready

  30. I’m in so long as its secular Andrew! Motivation by numbers…..that’s what we (I) need!

  31. Kate, I don’t believe I am intolerant to much (food wise anyway) although I feel wretched after three consecutive room service meals of burgers, club sandwiches and beer. But my question is, are there some intolerances that only work when food stuffs are combined. Ie not alergic to nuts or eggs unless combined. Like a catalyst?

  32. Loving this debate. @Andrew regarding intolerances, EVERYTHING is poisonous you can in theory die of too much air! We are an amazingly complicated organism built around a very simple and narrow diet plan compared to what we are exposed today. yet it never ceases to amaze me at how we can be so fragile and resiliant at the same time. I know somone who could die if they eat a peach and yet I saw a documentary about woman who lived on Monster Munch!

  33. @Pat, you need to regard the human being as a car. You can in theory be “engineered” from a Morris Minor up to a Formula 1 car. There is always room for improvement year on year. The biggest factor in stopping an athlete form improving is age. If Bolt was to be cloned and born in 10 years time I reckon with new knowledge in diet and training he would be breaking his own records.

  34. Alex and Colin – good points. Having been eating cleanly for ages (mostly), I had a cheating weekend. The final straw was a tuna melt toastie from Nero’s. It made me quite sick and in pain that day. I don’t know if it was the tuna, cheese or ciabatta, or the combo – but my digestion couldn’t cope.

    I saw the Monster munch woman! She took a suitcase full on holiday! And there was another who only ate Special K (at least she got something from the milk with it). I think both were losing their hair.

  35. @ andrew no danger of me ever going veggie but I’m keen to experiment with reduced meat. I’ll have a look online at potential options. Paleo to me seems a huge attempt to eat bacon and eggs every day. If there was a veggie based version that allowed me fish/seafood and lattes, I’d be keen. Will have a look..

    re bad foods/not wanting to give up, i’ve found alcohol really easy to give up suprisingly. Am not sure about performance, but def seeing a training recovery improvement. So I would recommend although that’s not based on anything scientific

  36. @Pat: There is a big misconception that paleo is about eating massive loads of bacon and eggs. Bacon can be consumed but should be limited as it is a somewhat processed meat and isn’t a smart choice vs chicken/turkey/beef.

  37. @Si yep I’m sure as it was originally designed, it was meant to limit bacon/eggs/processed meat, and if everyone followed as written that would be great, but lots of people I know/see essentially modify it while technically sticking to “the rules”

    for some, it ends up as bacon and eggs for breakfast daily, snacking on meat and nuts, and massive meat based meals. I spoke to a boxing coach about how his fighters eat. He said he almost never recommends the ones who need to drop weight go on any regime allowing them “unlimited” anything as these people’s main issue is being unable to moderate the quantity of food they eat

    Might have muisunderstood him, but i think I remember andrew saying something similar and about how that made him quite like zone diet, because of the weighing/measuring etc

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