Ways to Create a Calorie Deficit – Paleo

I’ve written before about my own nutrition and how I mainly eat a Paleo based diet.

I say Paleo based because I don’t follow Paleo eating at all in the strict sense or all the time and I adjust it to suit my own needs.

Essentially Paleo is eating what cavemen ate so basing your diet on meats, veg, nuts and seeds.   It’s high protein and fats and low in carbs and dairy free.   I eat largely like this with some exceptions (I include potatoes and often some chocolate milk after my classes in the evening).  This is largely because my job means I’m very active so it wouldn’t be sensible to stay low carb.  I try and do this 4 days a week with three days where I eat freely (although often along the same lines just with the addition of some bread and maybe pasta or rice and some sweet treats).  If there is a social occasion on one of the days I’d normally eat Paleo I just don’t do it for that period of the day / that meal.  Some months I just keep a check on my calories because that’s how the mood takes me.

So if I’m not strict about it that begs the question why do I bother.

Quite simply it is a way of keeping myself within my calorie requirements that suits my lifestyle and reduces the need for me to count calories.

I know I eat more at the weekend.  I’m not in the office and more likely to go out for food or get a takeaway and eat chocolate whilst I’m sat on the sofa etc.  By slightly reducing my calorie intake Monday – Thursday whilst still filling up on lots of protein I leave myself room for three more calorie dense days.  This happens without even thinking about what I’ve eaten and how many calories is in it.

My message here is Paleo is one method of eating – it can have many benefits (and equally some drawbacks depending on your activity levels and lifestyle) but whatever way you look at it, it is one way you can reach a calorie deficit.  So if you lose weight with it this isn’t because of a magic combination of food just a general reduction in your calorie intake.

For me personally it’s still the best way of eating most of the time as it reduces how often I think about food and encourages me to eat more homemade and less shop bought.  Sometimes the idea of banning certain foods (even though it’s just foods and not food groups and even though it’s only ever for a few days each week!) is bad for my mindset so I will have periods where I don’t follow this and just eat to a bog standard calorie deficit.  Not getting hung up on what foods you do or don’t eat is more beneficial to your long term health than cutting out bread to feel less bloated will ever be.

So it might suit you, it may not, but the habits of eating less processed foods and getting enough protein whilst keeping in a calorie deficit are all positives however you chose to eat.

Paleo

Recently I’ve been eating a Paleo based diet which has been working out pretty well for me.

When I say Paleo based I don’t mean strict Paleo. I’ve tried that previously and never found it sustainable.

The ‘strict’ way I managed 21 days. I ate only meat or eggs, veg and fat in the forms of nuts, oils and avacados. No dairy, fruit, carbs – even potatoes. It worked well – I lost weight, body fat, looked super lean. But it was hell. I was grumpy, craved everything and felt dizzy and weak frequently. It actually put me off trying a more relaxed form after the 21 days were up. But after trying IM fasting and deciding that wasn’t for me my trainer suggested I give Paleo another go, but this time trying his more flexible version.

I did and now I’ve settled into eating a Paleo based diet for four days a week and then just eating sensibly the other three days.

Generally I eat Paleo Monday to Friday as my job means I’m office based these days and then I can have treats over the weekend when I’m out and about.

This Paleo means I eat:

  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Veg
  • Potatoes in small quantities
  • Avacado
  • Nuts
  • Fruit
  • Almond or coconut milk

I also drink protein shakes to hit my protein targets.

I don’t eat:

  • Bread
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Sweets
  • Chocolate
  • Crisps
  • Refined sugar
  • Honey or syrups
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yoghurt
  • Processed foods

The three main benefits of this are:

  • It’s easy to hit your protein target for the day
  • It’s hard to over eat and end up in a calories surpluss (in fact I frequently end up in a large deficit on these days)
  • It makes me feel less bloated and more energetic

On the other three days I still try and eat Paleo around 80% of the time but I will add in some other carbs and some treats to satisfy my sweet tooth. I still make sure I hit my protein target.

This means

  • Mentally I don’t feel like binging as much as I used to because I know I am ‘allowed’ foods I like every week
  • I make up some of the deficit built up earlier in the week whilst still not ruining my progress

I use this system to hit a 15-20% calorie deficit accross the week (a safe deficit) and to hit my protein target of 160g a day (2g protein per 1kg of body weight) without having to count calories or track macros obsessively.

It allows me to eat A LOT (my workmates will attest to how much I eat) and to eat a lot of good quality, tasty food with lots of colour and variety. I don’t need to rely on meal replacements or processed foods so much any more (which can make me feel sluggish). Added to drinking lots of water its an eating system that has left me feeling good (and lean).

It’s also a flexible enough system that if someone brings in Cosco Carrott cake (my drug of choice – one word – sugar!!!) to work on a Tuesday I can swap my Paleo days -enjoy some cake and just eat Paleo on Friday instead.

It won’t work for everyone and there’s lots if other ways of managing your eating out there that work for others but this is a flexible, safe and healthy option that is working well for me.