The Paleo Miracle: 50 Real Stories of Health Transformation

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Celebrity chef and TV host Pete Evans is one of the staunchest advocates of the paleo diet. Chronically low carbohydrate intake could lead to an overuse of fat for energy, or ketosis, and anyone on the paleo diet should be medically supervised , she said. Australian researcher Associate Professor Sof Andrikopoulos from the University of Melbourne last year published results of a study of the diet, which used mice to examine the so-called benefits.

The Medical Journal of Australia wrote that any strong conclusions about the long-term health benefits of the paleo diet were difficult to make. A panel of experts assessed 35 different diets, examining factors from nutrition and safety to weight loss effectiveness. Paleo failed to meet the grade. As well as an ineffective weight loss method, many experts are concerned about its potential health impacts. Prominent nutritionist Rosemary Stanton told Daily Life in that the high content of red meat and lack of wholegrains promoted by the diet were risky.

American nutritionist Bridget Hastings Komosky agreed, saying the paleo-recommended amount of saturated fats could increase the risk of kidney and heart disease. And Melbourne nutritionist Lisa Renn concluded that the diet had a few pluses.

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While cutting down on processed foods is good, particularly white bread and sugary cereals, Ms Renn said eliminating all cereals and legumes means cutting out fibre. Renn said diets varied wildly depending on geography and season, as well as basic access to sustenance. My beautiful, elegant, angelic mother was not pleased with my behavior. Coming from a family of doctors, she was, and has always been, health-conscious, keeping up with the latest developments in medicine, diet, exercise and overall wellbeing.

She always provided my brother and I with the freshest, best-est, most incredibl-est food any kid could ever ask for. I would regularly push her plates away from me in the hopes that she would cave-in and go buy me something from the McDonalds near our home.

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In fact, in elementary school, I even went so far as to toss her packed lunches in the garbage so that I could walk over to the daycare, where hot meals with mac and cheese and hotdogs were prepared for the kiddies, and tell them that my mother forgot to pack me a lunch. My mother had no idea until she got a phone call from the school office inquiring as to how a mother could send her child to school without food! As punishment, my mother served a can of whoop-ass that night! She was and is an amazing cook! After the whole school lunch incident I knew I had messed up. Big time! I was a rebel!

Maybe not, but I did develop a pretty bad street-rep as the kid who would throw out lunches if he wanted to thuglife. But now, there was nowhere for me to turn and no hope in sight. Where would my next unhealthy, carb-loaded, fat-infused, sugar-soaked meal come from?

I was gonna make it my damn self! But how! I was at a loss, doomed to walk the face of this earth forever hungry. And then, like a chorus of angels chanting the most perfect of harmonies from a choir in the sanctuary of food, I heard it: the Food Network on channel It was glorious! It was as if Andrea Bocelli himself was singing them to me and me alone!

The words were accompanied by images of slowly drizzled olive oil overtop steaming bowls of pasta with different varieties of sausages and cured meats. Snowfalls of grated cheese followed, enough to blanket the entirety of a two-car driveway. I rushed to the kitchen to discover that there were a few ingredients with which I could create the dish the chef was cooking. I ran back and forth between the kitchen and the family room so that I could gather all of the ingredients and follow along with the steps he was giving.

I set a pot of water to heat on the stove, ran back to the TV. I salted the water when it came to a rolling-boil, ran back to the TV.

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In a separate pan, I heated some olive oil and garlic, ran back to the TV. This continued for some time until, at one point, I had the ever-so-clever idea to turn up the volume on the television! Now, I could just follow along in the kitchen through audio alone. Commercials were my only moments of rest! In the end, from following the chef-angel from the other room, I created a penne pomodoro.

I sat down to eat the pasta, grin on my face and all!

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It was piping-hot and I can remember the feeling of the steam rise to hit my face. Not only had I created something that was partially edible, I knew that with some practice I could make this more delicious and not have to holdout for the fast food my mother would no longer buy for me. I had solved my own problem and I enjoyed the process of doing it. I think not! Instead, it was fate or destiny or whichever other term you prefer. As time went on I cooked and cooked often. Very soon I fell in love with Italian dishes.

Perhaps it was because of my first encounter with cooking. Perhaps it was because Italian food was less about measuring ingredients and more about the romantic creation of food that required a constant seasoning of love. I became particularly enamoured with the hearty recipes from northern Italy.


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I must have made ragu at least times between the ages of 11 and I convinced myself that in order to become a good cook, I had to perfect the art of ragu something I am still practicing to this very day. It also probably had something to do with the fact that a good ragu made great lasagna. Northern Italian dishes in general appealed to my sensibilities, my tastebuds and my girth.

Oh yes, my girth! I was a growing boy and boy did I grow — both in height and width. Northern Italian food was hearty and full of flavor, satisfying both my palate and my stomach! My family encouraged my cooking. My mother even grew proud of how tasty my food was. At least homemade pastas, sauces, stews, soups and casseroles were much better than junk food — even if they did involve sticks of butter and the occasional sifting of flour. On days when my family would have guests over she would ask me to help in the kitchen!

Then, one summer afternoon my mother announced that some friends were coming over and that she wanted me to prepare the entire dinner! I was overjoyed! Quickly, I donned her coveted floral-patterned apron with the utmost pride! I put pen to paper and hashed-out a menu off the top of my head. At that moment I was the only human in the world and nothing else existed except for the task-at-hand.

For the first time in my life I experienced a state of pure focus. It was summer time and they would be dining outside. I knew that I wanted the food to be easy enough for me to manage preparing on my own but with enough flavour to wow the guests. It would also have to be seasonal. I decided on a simple but fresh caprese salad, homemade bruschetta and grilled chicken marinated in olive oil, rosemary and garlic. Some boiled new potatoes with garlic, butter and dill an ode to my Russian heritage would round out the meal and satiate even the hungriest of guests.

Rustic, delicious, casual, Italian fare with a twist; it checked off all of the boxes. Everyone said that they loved the food and it made me very, very happy — even if they were just being polite! Some more years passed and I continued to cook for my family and myself. My culinary passion grew in tandem with my weight. Before I knew it, I was quite hefty. No, morbidly obese was the term the personal trainer used. The accuracy of that body fat machine is debatable, however. I was the last to be picked for sports during recess.

Finally, in my later teenage years, I decided I wanted to make a change. At the advice of everyone around me I started to exercise regularly and I went on a diet. I followed the advice of Mike, a friend-of-a-friend and my first true fitness mentor. Mike was a lean, mean, muscle-building machine. He was a bodybuilder and knew the ins-and-outs of the local gym. Which machine worked what muscle and in what order they were most effectively used. The diet he suggested to me was a variation of the same one many bodybuilding enthusiasts continue to follow today:.

The meals were very low in fat and flavour , high in protein and loaded with carbs. Each meal was to be measured and consumed in 3-hour intervals. It was brutal! Sure, you could switch it up every now and then and have the beef for lunch. But, overall, I hated every minute of it. It was bland, dry and repulsive. I went from years of savoring rich and creamy Italian dishes to force-feeding Styrofoam 6 times per day. But I did my best to follow the plan and continued to work out with Mike whenever he would let me. He knew everyone in the gym and introduced me to all of the coolest guys.

They too encouraged me to keep working out and were always friendly. Instead I expanded and gained quite a bit of muscle. I soon had large biceps and the calves of a young ox. I grew stronger, lifting heavier and heavier weights. My bodyweight rose from to in a few short years.

I never had my body fat retested but I can tell you that I did not get lean. Yes, I was making strides in the gym. I was still very self-conscious of my body. I tried to convince myself that this was the physique I was destined for. I was in an eternal bulk season! One summer, when I was 19, I visited my grandparents in Florida for an entire month. I found one a few blocks away from my grandparents apartment. It was where all of the greats trained. My legs quaked as I mispronounced his surname while introducing myself and telling him how big a fan I was.

There, in the same strip mall as the gym, was a supplement shop. I remember walking in looking for a small tub of protein powder for my month in Florida and walking out with a bottle of diet pills. I asked the muscle-bound clerk if he could tell me more about it. He said it was a miracle and it worked like a charm. I just had to be sure to drink plenty of water. That month I lost a significant amount of weight. It was from a combination of very intense exercise sometimes two gym sessions in one day , what I thought was a good diet and the diet pills.

Lots of the diet pills. Keep in mind that this was before the FDA banned ephedrine from over the counter supplements. I remember being on cloud nine when I went back home to Toronto. I looked kind of frail, had a lot of excess skin and stretchmarks all over! I lost a significant amount of my muscle — partly because I focused on cardiovascular exercises like running and the elliptical machine.

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In my mind I was lbs of twisted steel and sex appeal! I walked around with my head held high and had a new found confidence. I wore clothes that I had once only dreamed of. It was a bucket list item for me! When the diet pills ran out I began to panic.

My Paleo Story

What was I going to do? How would I keep the weight off? I just wanted to stay skinny. I figured that I would just keep working out and stick to the same diet.


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  7. Soon enough, in about two or three months, I gained back all of the 30lbs. Actually, I put on another 25lbs and climbed to my all-time fattest: lbs at the tender age of 19! I was actually very, very sad. Not depressed, but very sad. Up and down. My weight fluctuated like the weather.

    In the summer months I would lose some weight, especially during month-long backpacking trips to Europe with my beautiful, too-good-for-me, genius, arm-candy girlfriend. But the weight flew back on as soon as I returned back home, sometimes more than others. During the winter I would try to go on diets with absolutely no success. Most of the time I would just fly off the handles and go on a binge. It got to the point where I was so self-conscious about eating unhealthy in front of others that I could only do it in secret.

    It was shameful. I was a liar. Some more years passed and I hovered around the lbs mark for most of them. I was going to need quick meals that were convenient and kept me satisfied. I also started drinking a bit more regularly than before. Whereas I would binge-drink on weekends as a teenager, now I would have a scotch, or beer, or glass of wine or 3 every night.

    It was a much more even-keeled buzz. The itinerary was very ambitious; hours per day of photographing Medieval churches throughout the Midlands of England. My supervisor, a fellow foodie and true connoisseur of fine food, wine and scotch, was the best travel companion I could ever ask for. His gastronomical knowledge put mine to shame.

    Each day began with a Full English breakfast: fried eggs, fried bacon, sausage, hash brown, fried bread, baked beans, grilled tomato, grilled mushroom, and, of course, blood pudding. Before dinner, however, a tall, cold pint of local beer in the lobby bar was in order sometimes two. My most memorable meal was in Ludlow, where I had 2 pints of the local Ludlow Gold Ale before dinner and the most exquisite roasted lamb chops with mint jelly as a main course!

    The nights would be capped with a dram or two of good single malt. When I returned from the trip I fell into a pattern: beer before dinner, wine with dinner, scotch afterwards. When I embarked on my own 3-week research trip to the northern half of Spain in October, , I continued in the tradition bestowed upon me earlier that year.

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    One week into the trip, my girlfriend now wife flew to Spain to accompany me and act as chief navigator, travel-buddy and dining companion. Before she arrived, however, I laid out the agenda in terms of destinations and meals. Lunch, however, was always in order and more than plentiful. Of course, nightly dinners involved beer, more wine and scotch. She bowed out after the first night — adopting a much more sensible approach of fresh fruits and light salads.

    I, on the other hand, took this part of the trip very seriously. It was a truly indulgent lifestyle that I thought I could get used to once I returned home.

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