Back in April I sent an email out to folks on my email news list, asking for Guinea Pigs to try out the Paleo eating for 6 weeks. I know that Paleo eating worked well for me, however I wondered what results others might achieve, especially given most contacts already follow a fairly healthy diet (according to NZ nutrition or even Zone diet guidelines). I had around 20 people who decided to take it on. 15 have so far finished, 4 pulled out due mostly to difficult life circumstances. Before and after health questionnaires, blood tests and 24 hour meal diaries were filled out by most participants. Each person followed a set of basic rules, some combined Zone proportions with Paleo while others just ate to rough portion guidelines. Some had limited alcohol.
The results have been trickling in, as they come in I will add to this post. But to start here are 8 results that really typify what I have heard from others. Here too are comments from participants on how they managed and experienced the change in diet.
I have posted results where there were significant changes, not every figure, for example most cholesterol and blood sugar results were very similar and okay both before and at the end of the trial, as were some participants blood pressures.
Trial participant Kathy
Weight at start: 99kg, 6 weeks: 94kg
Blood pressure start: 130/90 at 6 weeks: 110/80
Waist start 106, end 101. Hips start: 118, end: 114cm
Total cholesterol start: 7.8 mmol/l end: 6.0,
Triglycerides before: 1.4, post 0.9 mmol/l
Diet before trial: Zone balance, grains included
Trial diet: Zone balance, excluding grains and most dairy, carbs less than pre trial diet
2 weeks in:
The eating plan is going really well. I feel fantastic! This is the first time I’ve given up grains entirely and it obviously suits me. I have to be more organised, but I don’t miss them at all. I find it easier to do without, rather than to restrict grains – much more simple.
I have lost a lot of the puffiness in my hands, ankles, neck, and the bloating in my abdomen. So I feel slimmer. I have lost approx 1kg.
My arthritis is much better and I have more energy. And I’m much better emotionally, not so shaky (that could also be the Vit D).
But I can’t seem to give up my daily trim latte, which is a social thing for me. I’ve tried coffee without milk but it was too harsh on my gut (I have GERD).
On a couple of days I’ve been disorganised and had to buy sushi for lunch (no sashimi available), but I haven’t had any other grains.
I’ve organised an organic vege delivery which makes life easier, plenty of fruit and veges on hand.
End of Trial
I’m continuing to lose weight slowly which is really fantastic. I will continue on the diet, and increase my exercise.
My Doctor is very very pleased (especially with the BP) and wants me to continue.
My doctor also said she saw a vast improvement in the condition of my skin. She said I looked as if I had had a facial, that good nutrition oxygenates the skin and improves the appearance. My previous red blotchy appearance (rosacea?) has improved, and my skin has plumped up and some of the lines have disappeared.
My friends have all noticed the difference and I’ve had lots of compliments.
Overall, I am really pleased with my results.
So thank you!
Trial Participant Andrea
Weight loss 4 kg.
Pre Trial diet – standard healthy NZ diet
Trial diet – Paleo, eyeball zone proportions.
Pictures show Andrea before and after Paleo trial.
Comments: Part way through:
The programme is going fantastic!! I have been surprised at how easy it was to let certain foods go, such as bread, rice and pasta. I have also removed cheese, yogurt and butter from the list and only have milk in my coffee (haven’t quite let that one go!!). Cereals were easy to kill off as I’m not a cereal fan. I have had the odd craving for sugar, but now instead of telling myself not to have it, I ask whether I have done enough to deserve a treat. In taking this approach I am able to remove the emotional battle and have a sound, logical debate with myself. I usually find that if I believe that I deserve it because I have done the work I only eat half of the portion I was going to.
As I eat out a lot, I find that I don’t bother to look at a menu but ask the wait staff if the kitchen can make me something and I rattle of the ingredients. I am yet to be told no!!! So there are a number of restaurants etc who are more than cooperative. Although I have had people ask if I am gluten intolerant, it’s easier to say yes than to try and explain it.
When going to the gym I sometimes drink coconut milk with my protein powder or use freshly squeezed fruit juice. This has been an eye opener and made the food taste very differently. I have also cut salt out of the diet and now find that I can taste the salt in the meal already.
Overall, I have noticed the body changing, with clothing becoming quite loose, in particular around the midriff section and the arms.
I’m seriously loving the programme!!! I have been surprised at how simple it has been for me to stick to. I did the measurements at the gym and in 6 weeks have lost 4 kilos, I have also killed off about 8 cm all over, the most around the hips and bum.
I have cheated on occasions (sugar) but these have surprisingly been in moderation.
When eating out I’m ordering from menus but getting things replaced and have found all the places that I’ve eaten at are most willing to adapt.
The clothes are getting baggier, the skin is looking heaps better and feeling plumper and I am finding that I am coping well with the gym routines.
Post trial – a few weeks later
I have to say a big thanks to you and allowing me to be a part of this programme. I thought that I would give you an update on my results.
I did my measurements this Monday and the results are staggering. My weight is sitting at 79.8 kg of which 30% is body fat. At the start of the eating programme I was at 33% and although the weight loss has been small, people are stunned to hear of my actual weight as they believe me to be lighter.
In the skin fold pinch category I am sitting at 61, whereas at the beginning of the programme I was at 71. This has been a huge drop for me and it is now more obvious than ever!
While on the programme I was in Hawaii for 10 days in July, and thought that it would be difficult to maintain the healthy eating, however I was very surprised at how easy it really was. And while there I bought a lot of clothing only to find that some of it is too big now.
I have dropped from a size 16 to just below a size 14, which is very comfortable and manageable.
I have continued the eating regime as it is a part of my daily routine. While doing the eating programme I also changed my exercise routine and stopped doing weights and increased the cardio. I have found this to be very beneficial in losing the fat as well as some of the muscle mass, which I needed to do. I feel a lot fitter and lighter, more flexible and increased endurance. I have now re-introduced weights for muscle definition and focus more on my midriff section during my workout sections. This has made a huge difference.
So in conclusion, the combination of changing my eating habits and exercise routine has made a real difference in my life. Thank you so much for letting me participate in the programme and be a worthy ‘guinea pig’!
Trial Participant Peter
Weight at start 83kg, end 77kg
Blood pressure start 130/80 end
Waist before: 93 cm after: 85 cm
Pre trial diet: standard healthy NZ diet
Trial diet: Paleo Zone
Part way through
I have noticed improvements this week, it is amazing, my energy has picked up and my bloated tummy is flat.
I generally feel better, my thinking is sharper and I feel more calm and relaxed.
I have continued to notice things improving for me so this is a life changing event. I am so pleased I volunteered for this trail; it has consolidated a lot of what I thought but never put into practice! I must admit it is more work (especially doing zone) but very worth while. My weight has been dropping from not eating wheat, there is NO doubt it has been causing me issues. My digestion is much better but my tongue is still coated with a bit of yellow. I have noticed way more energy, it has picked up tremendously. My eye sight has got better, especially my close up vision early morning. I have no gunk in my eyes and my nose is clear all the time. I think the healing process will take time but things are definitely heading in a better direction.
End of trial
On the 25th I was at the end of my trial. What an experience it has been so far. My weight has dropped from 83 to 77kg, I got on the scales this morning and could hardly believe it. I had been adjusting my belts in but had no idea it was so much. When I was 19 years old I was 77Kg, I have dropped back to that exact weight. I have continued to experience more energy and overall improvement in health. My hip has improved a lot so long as I stay off wheat products. Introducing wheat will aggravate it and interfere with my digestion which is the best it has ever been on years. Digestion wise, everything is running like clockwork now.
Trial Participant Therese
Start weight 83kg end weight 78kg
Waist start 90cm end 83cm, hips start 120 end 118cm
Blood pressure 134/65 end 120/70
Pre trial diet: Zone, with grains (and a few cheats / extras)
Trial diet: Paleo Zone
The Paleolithic Diet is challenging: to your food habits, your routines and your social circle. Despite this I plan to continue eating this way. I did the food trial because of the accountability. Knowing that I would have to report back to someone else (with blood tests!) helped to get me through the first few weeks of saying no to delicious but off-limits food. However, after a month I realized that my sweet cravings had disappeared and my tolerance (and therefore desire) of salt was very low. While my overall weight-loss was not particularly dramatic, I have changed shape and dropped at least 2 sizes. My performance in the gym and in general daily activity is improving all the time, and I recover much quicker from exertion and stress. I now wake up refreshed instead of groggy. I feel mentally active all day, I don’t feel tired or bloated after lunch and I only eat when I’m hungry, not when I’m bored, tired or stressed. This was a fantastic opportunity to try something different, and having lived without grains, legumes and dairy products for the past 6 weeks, I find that I don’t miss them at all. I kept on telling myself that after 6 weeks I could have whatever food I liked, but the reality is, once I got to 6 weeks, I was almost completely cured of any desire for that type of food. In fact, I’m much more aware of my body’s response to food and I am not in a hurry to add these things back into my diet. Overall, the biggest change was to the way I think about food and the importance I place on choosing what I eat. I now treat food with the same respect as any drug, which makes me very aware of what I’m doing and has stimulated a previously undiscovered creativity in the kitchen. I would recommend anyone to try this out, for at least 6 weeks. It might be terribly inconvenient, it might challenge your beliefs about healthy food, it might make you socially repugnant but it might also turn out to be the best thing you ever do for yourself.
Trial Participant John
Weight before: 79, Weight at end: 77.3
Blood pressure before: 148/95, Blood pressure after: 126/80
Comments at end of trial:
The logistics of the diet are a bit daunting, but having made the transformation, I’ve become a fan because I seem to have way more endurance and find myself able to keep in the ‘mental zone’ while working and then later being able to enjoy engaging with people while socializing in the evening. I just plain feel positive and cheerful for much of the day.
I notice that my overall levels of hunger are much lower at equivalent times of day, and can often find myself eating early/mid afternoon rather than at midday. I think I’ve only lost about 1.5kg but I didn’t start the program to lose a lot of weight, and I know that I’ve also put on some more muscle as is evidenced by my performance during resistance training.
Physically some hip arthritis pain has reduced so much that I can enjoy long vigorous walks, and my blood pressure has also dropped markedly. This last one is really important to me, because (at 54) I thought I was going to have to begin a life-long course of medication and now that’s in abeyance.
Subjectively I seem to be better at my job, (writing software) which requires concentration and memory.
Trial Participant: Julie
Age 62, Height: 170
Weight before: 72.2kg Post trial weight 69.6kg
Waist before: 84cm post trial: 80cm, Hips before: 98cm, post 98cm
Pre Trial diet: Most meals Zone, with grains (and a few cheats / extras)
Post trial diet: Paleo Zone, whey protein pre workout.
Pre Trial comments:
I went on the Zone diet with you some years ago with good results – lost 13 kilos and now down to 72 (am 170 cms) but need to lose probably another 7 kilos, but haven’t been able to shift them. I know when I go back to grains it seems to hold on to the weight, and my energy drops, but need to be accountable to someone for several weeks to be disciplined, until the results and energy benefits keep me maintaining better habits!
I exercise daily at the gym, doing weights 4 times a week, followed by cardio, and cardio on the other days. I am a very fit 62 year old.
Post trial comments:
Weight has dropped to 69.6Kg, but my trainer said from body fat caliper measurements this week I have got quite a lot leaner, and have put on 2 kg of muscle. Waist is now 80, down 4 cms, but hips still 98.
Other changes noted have been that I am doing harder workouts and seem to recover faster – leg-pressed 200kg today – two sets of 12, and that’s a first for me – okay for a 62 year old!
Not bloated either – much flatter stomach, and generally more energy. The hardest bit of my day was always late afternoon, when I craved sweet things, but that’s much less now.
So I’m sold – my trainer’s delighted, as it’s very much the diet he’s been advocating for me anyway, with no starchy carbs, although he still feels whey protein shakes , if it’s a good protein powder, are okay.
Trial participant: Michelle
Weight loss was 6.4kg
Waist loss was 3cm
Total cm loss of 17.4cm
Body fat percentage loss of 4.8%
All gut issues cleared up
Much improved energy levels – from around a 5 to a 9
Thanks for the opportunity.
Trial Participant BW
Diet before – standard NZ healthy diet
Trial diet – Paleo
Weight before 74.5. after 71.3
Total cholesterol before 3.7 after 3.3
Triglycerides before 1.9, after 1
4 weeks in:
Going just fabulous have lost 2 kg and feeling great.
I have just been to Europe for swimming competitions. Won all my age related races including setting 3 new times. So that speaks well for the paleo diet.
My weight had gone down to 71.3 kg and my waist size had decreased.
I do miss having treats
What about the others on the trial?
All lost weight and centimetres, between 1 kg to 6kg, and 1 to 6 cm off the waist. All except one reported improvements in energy, gut issues, sleeping, blood pressure and cholesterol etc. Similar results in fact to those above.
See these links for more New Zealand success stories: