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Plant Paleo Body Composition Update at 42 Years Old

Plant Paleo Body Composition Update at 42 Years Old
Angelo Coppola

Today’s my 42nd birthday, so I figured I’d share a bit about how this old geezer’s doing. My birthday also marks 9-½ months of practicing The Plant Paleo Diet. I won’t rehash my entire history in this article, though. To learn more about how I went from life-long obesity to where I am now, check out my previous body comp update.

In that last update—almost 6 months ago—I weighed 163 lbs. This morning, I weighed in at 161 lbs. So, it’s safe to say I’ve been in a fairly stable energy balance with Plant Paleo. My lowest measured weight in the last 6 months was 157 lbs and my highest was 163 lbs.

Food

When it comes to food, I’ve fallen into a consistent eating pattern. It looks something like this:

First meal at 10:30 or 11 a.m.

In the last six months, I’ve learned there are a lot of ways to make steel cut oats and a cornucopia of mushrooms and vegetables. That’s my typical breakfast, but variety is still the spice of life. So, sometimes we prepare it as a curry. Sometimes we’ll mix it with other sauces. Occasionally, I’ll throw an egg on top. And once in a while, I’ll skip the veggies and shrooms and just mix in nuts and berries with a touch of maple syrup.

Wait! Oats aren’t Paleo?! If you’re not familiar with my stance yet, read Plant Paleo Part 2 when you get the chance. More evidence keeps coming in, so I added a Further Reading section at the bottom where I can list new studies and articles, like the recent findings indicating oat consumption in the Paleolithic era. You can hear my take on Latest in Paleo 142: Paleolithic Porridge. Incidentally, the cave in question is less than 150km from the town where both my parents were born.

Between meals

Back when I was on more standard versions of Paleo, I rarely ate between meals. Nowadays, it’s common, and I choose fruit, carrots, raw or cooked vegetables, roasted nuts, seeds, baked potatoes, etc. These are simple, whole foods that are filling, fiber-rich, and can provide a way to get more variety in the diet.

On Plant Paleo, it’s difficult to overeat during meals. In fact, squeezing all of my caloric and nutrient needs into two meals is pretty tough, so the mid-day snacks are helpful. Three squares would work, too, but I don’t like eating in the early morning.

Evening meal at around 7:00 p.m.

Dinner varies, but it always includes a very large salad. Sometimes, it’s just a large salad…and when that’s the case, it usually includes a small amount of a whole grain (like wild rice or barley), legumes, mixed vegetables, some avocado, etc.

I’ve also started drinking a glass of red wine with dinner. Typically an inexpensive Malbec, which has a full, rustic, earthy, smoky flavor. We get ours at Costco, Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, and they’re all under $10/bottle—even at Whole Paycheck. Red wine has been shown in many studies to positively affect the microbiome. A few times a month, I’ll have a kombucha.

After dinner

Amy and I usually get a chance to chill out together after our 4-year old goes to bed. Recently, we’ve been enjoying the crap out of 6 Feet Under. HBO rarely disappoints, right? But, I digress. This is about the food…

At night, I’ll I enjoy some good dark chocolate with about an hour of storytelling…I mean, TV.

Cheats…for lack of a better word

I rarely eat anything that doesn’t fit into The Plant Paleo Diet as outlined on this site. But I don’t deprive myself, either. For example, if we’re out at a Farmer’s Market or out visiting Seattle, I may have a small piece of a bakery item or a gelato. Or not.

If someone offers me a taste of something that actually looks good, I’m happy to have a bite. At this point in my life and my relationship with food, I don’t worry about the slippery slope, anymore. I can take a bite of anything without feeling like I have to eat…it..ALL. NOM!

The other day, we were in Tacoma and we picked up some Legendary Donuts. What a name. I chose a lemon-coconut. Well, 1/4 of a doughnut is the perfect serving size for me, so the thing lasted nearly a week. I would have to force myself to eat a bigger portion than that…way, way too sweet. My palate is just not used to it. Nor would I want it to be.

Again, this is rare. The poison is in the dose. I mention this because I don’t want to give off the impression that my diet is completely rigid, when in fact it has lifted nearly all of my food restrictions and it’s quite flexible, encouraging mindful choices.

Fitness

In addition to being full-on with Plant Paleo in 2015, we also became YMCA members this year. It’s a great gym with everything you can imagine: weights, machines, classes, an indoor track, swimming pools, a rock wall, racket ball courts, personal trainers, kettle bells, mats…you name it.

All I use is the track.

There was maybe a month or so early on when I was enjoying the weights, but it got old fast, and I switched back to body-weight exercises. I basically go when the girls or Amy have a class, walk around the track and listen to my audio books. Even though I don’t use all of their facilities, I still love the place. It has a great vibe, the people are awesome, and it really helps me keep the kids active and socializing.

My “workout” routine consists of

  • walking every day that I possibly can, minimum 2 hilly miles
  • body-weight routines consisting of standard body weight exercises, two 10- to 15-minute sets a few times a week
  • occasional hard work around the house: shoveling tons of rock, chopping wood, carrying wood, digging fence posts, loading and unloading a ton of heating pellets, etc.
  • occasional Yoga (I haven’t had much time for it recently)

That’s it. And without question, the walking is the most important. I feel it positively affects my body composition, my health, and my mental well-being. Besides, my dog Juno loses her mind when I miss a day with her. And without walks, I’d never find time to listen to podcasts and books.

Pictures

I guess these are worth thousands of words, so I’ll just shut up now. Here are a couple in front of the mirror and a couple out back. More after the photos…

angelo-coppola-plant-paleo-1

Like the buffalo in the rain? He comes from an exotic land called Ikea.

angelo-coppola-plant-paleo-2

angelo-coppola-plant-paleo-3

angelo-coppola-plant-paleo-4

Amy won’t snap the pics unless I smile.

Although my body weight has stayed pretty much the same over the last 6 months, my body composition has noticeably improved. I feel absolutely fantastic, too. Energy levels and endurance have been at all-time highs. And I even gave up coffee.

The only time I feel fatigued is from computer work, and that’s 40 hours a week. Minimum. Usually more.

Seriously, I can work in the garden, hike for hours, dig, or haul heavy stuff around…and I feel fine. No real soreness to speak of. But, sit in front of a computer for a couple of hours, and I feel stiff for a few steps when I get up. I have to stretch my back. Standing and squatting aren’t much better.

Soon, I’ll publish Plant Paleo Part 3: The Pros & Cons soon, and I’ll go into more detail there.

That’s it. 42 years old. I don’t know if what I’ve been up to is The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything…but it’s been working out all right! I’m feeling very fortunate.

  • Tim Steele

    I’m always amazed at the typical 40-50 year old male who eats whatever and does not exercise…skinny arms, big belly. You’ve certainly turned that around! Good job.

    Have you not discovered oat groats yet? They are my new favorite, I actually like to cook some oat groats for about 5 minutes, then add steel cut oats, then oat bran at the end. I find them chewy and delicious, sweeten with a handful of blueberries. No milk or butter, just plain.

    • Hi, Tim! I’ve had Bobs Red Mill groats, and I agree; they’re great. All in all, I still use the quick cooking steel cut oats more—http://amzn.to/1UWKJ20—because of the cook time. 5 or 6 minutes versus 30.

      While Amazon’s price on these aren’t horrible for home delivery, I suggest checking Costco. Ours carries the Quick Cooking kind for 1/2 the price of Amazon. When they have them in stock, we pile up.

  • PapaJuju

    Angelo. Are you no longer eating as many potatoes? Or do you eat them in between meal 1 and 2?

    Also, I would love to know how you make curried steel cut oats. 🙂

    • Recipes coming soon, PapaJuju! 🙂 In the meantime, this one looks pretty good. Just add your favorite stuff. http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/meal-ideas/16-savory-oatmeal-recipes/slide/8

      And, The Oatmeal Artist, is an entire website devoted to oatmeal recipes. I’ll have peruse some of these! http://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/meal-ideas/16-savory-oatmeal-recipes/slide/8

      I do still eat potatoes. All kinds, white, purple, sweet, yams, you name it. In fact, I edited the article to include them in my between meal snacks. Sometimes, I have them with the breakfast curry. Amy makes this Forks Over Knives recipe from time to time: http://www.forksoverknives.com/recipes/spinach-potato-tacos/ — it’s delicious! Especially with homemade pico and a bit of guac or avocado.

      • PapaJuju

        Thanks!

      • PapaJuju

        Angelo,

        I love the way plant paleo makes me feel, but sometimes my food seems bland.

        What do you do to flavor your foods or spice them up?

        • Hi, Papajuju. Really, I use the same things that I used to use before Plant Paleo. So, for example, I made a tomato sauce this weekend, I seasoned it the exact same way I normally do (garlic, onions, Italian seasoning, fresh basil, parsley)—and it turned out great without the olive oil. The sauce can be used in a number of ways. Instead of pouring over pasta, I poured it over a bowl of barley with cooked kale in it. Delicious!

          Also, this weekend, I made some lentil soup. Again, same way as always (onions, garlic, celery, crushed tomatoes). This also turned out delicious. I made it with bone broth, too.

          I wonder what spices are you finding that you are not able to use under the Plant Paleo paradigm? They’re pretty much all in play. It’s just the refined fats that are completely avoided or greatly restricted, opting for whole-food fats, instead.

          • PapaJuju

            It is more that I am unimaginative. 🙂

            I tend to use the same seasoning over and over until I get tired of it.

            The barley, kale, and tomatoe sauce sounds delish.

          • Oh, it was wonderful. In fact, I’ve eaten tomato sauce on barley and on Kamut (a type of wheat berry)…and I prefer the whole grains to pasta. They cook up with a perfect al dente firmness and mouthfeel that I really like. Plus, they taste great (especially the Kamut). It’s hard to imagine deciding to grind the grains into a flour, making dough, shaping into pasta, and then cooking. So many steps when the whole grains are so good!

            I’m working on a Plant Paleo book, and I’ll be sure to include several tasty recipes. When I get to that point, I may even send out a bat signal to see if anyone would like to help test the recipes and provide feedback. Stay tuned.

          • PapaJuju

            Thanks Angelo. I would love to be a recipe guinea pig.

          • PapaJuju

            Also, do you use pearled barley, or go with barley groats?

            Thanks for the patience in answering. 🙂

          • No worries! It’s my pleasure. I opt for groats. Or, I also like the hull-less barley that Bob’s Red Mill sells. Check out the store page I made here: http://www.humansarenotbroken.com/amazon-store/ — you’ll find quite a few of the products I use there. For the groats, I typically buy those from the bulk bins at Whole Foods.

          • PapaJuju

            Thanks Angelo!

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  • Brian Klein

    Congrats on the progress Angelo! And happy birthday!

    You mentioned a stiff back when sitting at the computer… Have you come across Katy Bowman’s work by any chance. I’ve just started reading some of her materials, and they seem to be very well thought out and applicable to “modern” situations. She just released an ebook called Don’t just Sit there through Mark Sisson’s site. It seems like you get plenty of movement, but she may have some tips for dealing with the computer flexion issue. katysays.com is her Web site and she just started a new Facebook page called Nutritious Movement. Maybe she’s changing her Web site to that too? Catchy name anyway. Thought I’d throw it out there in case you were interested.

    • I’ve been hearing a lot about Katy’s work from listeners, lately. I’ve read her book and am a fan of the principles. I’d love to have her on the show. I reached out to the Nutritious Movement people, hoping they’d pass along my email to Katy, but I never heard back. And I agree…I like the analogies between nutrition and movement. Get a variety and mostly from real, natural, whole activities! 🙂

  • Happy birthday Angelo! Looking great!

  • Jeff Borden

    Love the shower curtain! It makes me think of Chevy Chase in the movie FLETCH:

    “Can I borrow your towel for a sec? My car just hit a water buffalo.”

    A classic 80s movie.

    • Hahah! Haven’t thought about that movie in AGES. 🙂

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  • vasras

    Nice to see your progress. Been listening to the podcast for some time now, thank you for all the insights.

    The smile on your face is the biggest indicator for me. That’s telling me you’re in a good place 😀

  • Jon W

    Cool stuff, keep experimenting and figuring out what works best for you. Your journey has inspired me to try something similar(less meat, more plants), thank you for sharing with us!
    One last thing, you’ve been in Washington for a few years now and I keep on thinking that you are going to start talking about your new life(style). Finally you have started talking about it more and I really appreciate it. Don’t think for a second that we don’t want to hear about it!
    Thank you for continually putting out high quality episodes, I look forward to each one.

  • Francesca

    Angelo, love this post and am floored by your progress. My question: have you ever suffered from binge eating/disordered eating induced by orthorexia or other obsessive/compulsive tendencies? I imagine it must be common in the paleo world, and at least for me, it’s what has prevented me from losing weight even though I’ve eaten some variation of paleo (be it low carb, high carb, plant-based, etc., potato-diet, etc.) for the past 3 years.

    It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that there’s no one “right” way of eating, despite what the beautiful, fit veganism/high carb/low carb/Zone-touting people on Instagram and the other social media outlets say. 🙂

    • Hi, Francesca. Thanks for your comment and question.

      I’ve never suffered from binge eating…at least the way I’m thinking that is defined. I have, however, been a mindless eater for most of my life. By that I mean, eating when not hungry, eating for the sake of having something to do, and I’ve always had the need to have something in my mouth, although I’m not sure it qualifies as clinically compulsive. For instance, even these days, I keep a toothpick or piece of licorice root in my mouth. I used to chew a lot of gum, but gave that up.

  • Mark Demma

    One of the obvious results of this n=1 experiment clearly is that traditional paleo is superior in regards to beard growth and that one should stick to full on “meat paleo” if you want a long luxurious beard growth. OK kidding aside, I have been lurking / reading / listening to Angelo’s progress with this and as I’ve been attempting to shed the proverbial “last 15 pounds” after going from 340 lbs to 175 lbs … which has now crept back up to 193 on “regular paleo”. I have some steel cut oats cooking in some bone broth in my rice cooker as we speak and I’m going to see how I can shift things to a more plant paleo approach. One of the things I think I’ll need to learn is sautéing veggies without oil in the pan. My cook roommate swears you can do it A- if you have a good frying pan (I’m thinking le creuset) and B- use some stock (he likes to yell “it’s STOCK you (bleep)ing paleo (bleep)s stop calling it “bone broth” they just all it that so they can sell it for $10 to hipsters).

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  • Maddie Ruffa

    Plant paleo!! So cool! How does your wife like eating this way? I am curious about plant paleo from female/hormonal perspective…Weston price puts such a big emphasis on animal fats for fertility. Any perspectives on this?

    Also – what do you include in your body weight circuit? (Is it fun?)

    • Hi, Maddie. Long delay on this response…

      In Plant Paleo Part 1, I talked about how hunter-gatherers have shown by example that we can have healthy diets that vary across the Plant-to-Animal spectrum. I think we each have to find our own sweet spot. As Amy dropped added fats and increased plant consumption she started losing weight, too. But her diet has always been a bit higher than mine in fats and meat.

      I won’t go into too much detail here—because privacy—but libido has been very good for both. Also, Amy is now expecting. She’s 17 weeks or so along. 🙂

      Bodyweight exercises…I seem to do them in spurts on and off for a couple of months at a time. When I’m on, I use an app called Mad Barz. It definitely helps make it more enjoyable.

      Cheers!

  • Jeff Borden

    Oh, brother, here we go again:

    http://fatsummit.com/reg-thank-you

    I wonder how long these people will keep banging the “Eat more fat!” drum? I see many of these same participants going from summit to summit and dishing-out a lot of questionable information. For a fee, of course.

    In his book (which, there is a free preview above), Hyman writes:

    “We have reduced fat in our diet from 43 percent to 33 percent of calories since 1970 and cut back even more on saturated fat. Yet we are sicker than ever, with the percentage of people getting heart disease increasing…”

    Does anyone else see a problem with those numbers? That is not a low-fat diet.

    Anyway, I’m glad you’ve stayed-away from such associations and summits. Your transparency and honesty are refreshing.

    • “We have reduced fat in our diet from 43 percent to 33 percent of calories since 1970 and cut back even more on saturated fat. Yet we are sicker than ever, with the percentage of people getting heart disease increasing…”

      This surely comes from the same crowd that constantly (and rightly) admonishing people not to confuse association with causation. In fact, many throw out all of epidemiology (foolishly), regarding it as a pseudoscience.

      Now, let’s not forget, a high-fat diet is the outlier in hunter-gatherer and traditional societies, and there are no known examples of ketotic diets in recorded human history nor clues pointing to such in the archaeological evidence.

      The more I eat look into things, as objectively as I possibly can, there is one way to eat like a caveman (which I’m not saying one should do): eat nothing but whole foods. That’s what all prehistoric diets have in common. If you look at the human diet, you can see a movement from 100% whole-food based to 70% processed food based (today, in the industrialized nations). To blame our health woes on low-fat is silly, when processed food consumption skyrocketed at the same time.

      Cheers, Jeff. Thanks for commenting!

      • Jeff Borden

        Well stated, Sir Six-Pack! 🙂 I agree with your commentary.

        I’m currently watching a video from the Fat(head) Summit that features Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Neal Barnard. Dr. Hyman is trying to get Dr. Barnard to say we should eat more fat. But, Dr. Barnard isn’t having any of it and he’s politely spanking Dr. Hyman with the facts.

        What annoys me is this same cabal of people (Hyman, Perlmutter, Taubes, Teicholz (cribbing Taubes), Sears, etc.) keeps popping-up with new “Summits” to repackage and resell the same information. They have their pet theories and they will not be deterred by something as silly as evidence.

        I made a few polite comments on their discussion boards and all were removed. No dissenting opinions allowed. C’est la vie.

        I’m just cranky and need a nap…

    • Kass Belaire

      Another big problem: a percentage reduction doesn’t tell you about absolute consumption. Fat grams per day might have even went UP.

      • I’m glad you brought this up. I believe total fat consumption has actually gone up or stayed about the same. We just started eating more “other stuff.” And since the American diet now consists of more than 50% ultra processed food…you can guess it’s not good stuff.