Skip to content

What does Kate Moss have to do with Primal Bodybuilding?

May 17, 2010

“To lengthen thy Life, lessen thy meals.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

If you have any background in the basics of the Primal/Paleo eating style, you know that one of the benefits of switching over is its effect of body composition.  Just by adding in real, whole foods, and cutting out the grains and processed food-like substances, most folks experience an appreciable loss of body fat.  Those with higher body fat seem to lose more, though it’s not a “weight-loss” diet necessarily; more like a body fat and body weight regulator.  Those with less muscle and more fat tend to lose some fat and gain some muscle almost effortlessly, while those who are already lean tend to maintain their composition easily.

What if maintaining your current leanness isn’t enough?  You put in the work, changed up your diet, switched to brief, more intense workouts, and now you want a beach body.  It’s not that you’re impatient.  You made the switch to this lifestyle for health and fitness, and you’re in for the long haul.  There’s just one problem.  You’ve got a high school reunion coming up.  Or a wedding.  Or a Bat Mitzvah.  Or a date this weekend.  You need (want?) to lean up quickly, safely, and you’d like to stay as close to your typical eating style as possible.  But how?  I mean the only options for losing weight quickly are hours of cardio and protein shakes, right?  Although the paleo diet strategy is an excellent way to lean out over time, it’s not really suited for circumstances which call for short-term, very quick weight loss.

So what do you do?

Enter the Protein Sparing Modified Fast.   PSMF for short.  It seems like a super simple concept, but I suggest anyone interested to grab Lyle MacDonald’s book, the Rapid Fat Loss Handbook for a more detailed description.  The following is going to be the down-and-dirty version – and please – consult your physician before undergoing any weight loss protocol.

The basics: consume about 1-1.5g of protein for each pound you weigh, and an unlimited amount of non-starchy vegetables. Aside from that, your only additional calories will come from some fish oil pills and whatever residual fat/carbos are attached to the protein sources you choose.  Do this for 5-7 days, take a day or two off and go another 5-7 days.  Larger  (less lean) individuals can withstand a bit longer, those who are already very lean should stay on the lower end of that range.  Unless you are severely overweight, no one should do this more than 2-3 cycles.  At this level of caloric restriction, you are not going to be able to keep up much of a fitness regimen.  Since PBB is about strengthening the body from the inside out, maintaining balanced fitness, health, and aesthetic development, the official recommendation is to use it as a once a year thing.  This is NOT a “lifestyle,” it’s a crash diet designed to elicit a huge whoosh of fat loss in a very short period of time.

The protein-only nature of the diet has a dual benefit.  First, because the body inefficiently oxidizes amino acids for energy, you are technically consuming even less than the 800 calories your body weight calls for.  Second, the massive amount of protein you get, in spite of the low-calorie level helps to spare lean tissue by fighting off catabolism.  Throw in a couple of weight room sessions, and you will be protected from the ravages of muscle loss on this diet. 

So, a 185lb PBB-er will be consuming 185-275g protein each day (or 740-1100 calories).  I think the easiest way to do this is to wait as long as you can into the day to eat.  Almost taking advantage of a condensed eating window.  This has proven to be the easiest way for me to manage the hunger, as I am not usually hungry until 10:30 – 11a despite waking at 6:30a.  Spread them out how ever you prefer, just understand that you will be hungry.  It’s okay because it’s only one to two weeks, and you will be losing a substantial amount of weight regardless of your current “aesthetic fitness” level.  I have personally used this type of eating plan in the past and feel that it works great for shedding weight quickly, while giving you some semblance of “fullness.”  Obviously, you are not stuffed at any point during the time you are eating like this, but in the words of Kate Moss (adapted for our uses):

Nothing tastes as good as being ripped feels

Does it work?  Yes.  Put simply, I have had as good of results from this strategy as any other diet I’ve tried, and it’s short duration makes it easily accessible for anyone.  Even the very leanest folks can expect to drop anywhere from 5-10lbs in a week (mostly water), and it’s possible to drop as much as 2-3 pounds fat.  Hell, 1 pound fat loss for a person with a body fat under 12% in one week is nothing short of a dieting miracle.  Add to that the fact that you are consuming so much protein that you will not be catabolizing much (if any) muscle in the process. 

Lightning fast fat loss and maintaining muscle mass?  Sounds like a win-win to me.

Watch outs are primarily centered around a general lack of energy during the length of the diet, although anyone who’s been on a strict calorie-controlled diet should be well used to that.  You are going to need to be drinking coffee or taking no-doz if you’re planning on being a productive member of the workforce by day 3.  Many paleo dieters skip coffee on a regular basis, but trust me on this, you need both the appetite blunting as well as the energy kick you get from the caffeine – I can’t stress enough how brutal 1000 calories of pure protein and veggies can be after 3.5 days. 

Another thing to be cognizant of is that during this week you must dial back your training significantly.  Three times in a 5-7 day period is the max.  Ideally, I would say that a metcon or complexes would be done on day one, to fully deplete glycogen stores and kick up some additional fat burning, then 1-2 full-body strength workout, to maintain all that hard work you put in the other 50 weeks of the year.

If you make sure to go back to eating solid paleo after the 5-7 day PSMF (no pancake fueled binges after!), you can expect to hold on to all the benefits of your accelerated fat loss.  

May the PSMF be with you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: