Friday, February 11, 2011

My Primal Blueprint Experiment - Week 3

So week 3 is done and before I report the numbers I should mention that I was feeling under the weather all week so I only went to the gym on Thursday night (I am writing this Friday morning). Whether or not a week of the gym can skew the results is a bit debatable but there it is. Of course that means I was also less active in general because lying down felt a lot better than moving about.

First the weight. Yesterday I weighed in at 211 with 25.1% body fat, today 210.6 with 24.4% BF. So essentially, no change given the margin of error for my scale and BF device. The average 2 day weight dropped from 211.2 to 210.8 and BF went up from 24.4% to 24.8%.

Now the diet. I did not eat berries at all this week. No particular reason, just didn't feel like it. I also skipped lunch both Tuesday and Wednesday. These were particularly low calorie days (1014 and 1208 respectively). My highest calorie day was yesterday at 2258.

Here are the averages for the week:

Calories 1756.3
Fat 127 g or 65.1% of calories
Protein 107.8 g or 24.54% of calories
Carbs 32.9 g (8.3 fiber) or 7.49 % of calories

So, if calories in - calories out and a calorie is a calorie is to be believed, if what the nutritionists keep telling us is true, then my body needs roughly 1800 calories to remain weight stable. Does that seem low to you? It does to me. Why did my weight remain stable at this number of calories? I have a few possible explanations:

1. Too few calories - So my body decided to slow down it's metabolism to compensate.
2. Too little exercise - So my body was able to conserve energy more.
3. Too many carbs - It may be that 24.6 net carbs is more than I can handle and lose weight.

I am aware that this is just one week worth of data but if the 'you must eat less than you expend' crowd is to be believed, it shouldn't be possible to eat less and still maintain weight. You HAVE to admit that either my body does need only 1800 calories to maintain it's weight but I think that's hard to argue that a 211 pound man needs only this number of calories. A quick calculation of BMR from a web site puts my BMR (the rate where I am just sleeping) at 1718.55. If I use's calculator with the lowest setting (sedentary), I get a value of 2280 calories a day. So given that, I should have burned roughly 500 calories a day more than I took in on average. That should result in a pound of weight lost. Nope.

Ok, so maybe I'm being too hard on the 'eat less than you expend' crowd. Let's see. This week I'm going to try to get the average calorie count up without changing the absolute number of carbs (still aiming for an average of 30ish grams of carbs). Let's say I'll aim for an average of 2000 calories a day. That might be challenging as I'm also planning an intermittent fast on Tuesday (skipping breakfast and lunch for a 24 hour fast) but I'll give it a try. I am going to exercise, but primally so I probably won't burn enough calories to make up a difference with exercise.

Let's see what happens...

Until next week!


  1. I've been doing this for a couple of years now, and my experience is that I actually experience a fairly significant fat loss boost from just 1-2 sessions of 30 minute primal exercise a week - way more than can be explained by trying to quantify the calories burned during those 30-60 minutes.

    I believe it ramps up the metabolism for days after the exercise session has ended.

  2. Hello, it's me, mr. anonymous again (author of the previous exercise comment).

    I wanted to add that not seeing big results on the scale during week 3 is almost a given - it's happened to so many people I know.

    I don't have a good explanation for it, but have seen it over and over again.

  3. May I ask what you do for those 1-2 sessions? My primal routine has been to walk on the treadmill for about 40 minutes 3 days a week. Do 3-4 fast intervals (30 seconds) with walking rests (as long as it takes, maybe up to 2 minutes) 1 day a week and 2 days a week do a 20 minute intense functional resistance training workout followed by 20-30 minutes of walking. On top of that I walk to work (15 minutes each way).

    I am using the treadmill right now because it's been very cold out (I live in the middle of Canada) and I don't like doing that much walking outside.

  4. I don't really do any "traditional" cardio work anymore. I did for a while, but I experimented with doing it a lot, doing it a little, and never really any difference so I just cut it out entirely.

    I honestly think any benefit I got in terms of energy burnt was canceled out by increased appetite.

    On average, I do some intense, short duration (tabata style) sprinting once a week, and lift weights 1-2 times.

    For the weight lifting component I focus on achieving muscle failure within 40-90 seconds using very slow movements (generally 4-7 reps). 1 set only per exercise!

    The idea behind this is that it's the only way you're actually exhausting all of your muscle fiber (slow, intermediate and fast twitch).

    I only do one set per exercise, and I strive for big compound movements rather than a bunch of isolation exercised.

    Don't aim to go for an especially heavy weight here, it's a LOT more difficult than it sounds to go slow than it is to go fast (you lose all the benefits of momentum).

    I have been incredibly pleased with the results I get by doing this, but my attempts to convince other people to do it have mostly failed - not because it doesn't work, but because most people seem to be uncomfortable pushing their muscles this hard, they'd rather hammer out dozens of reps for some reason - I find that boring and less effective.

  5. Thanks for this very complete answer!

    I will add to my goal for the week that the 2 weight workouts will be at a slow pace with light weights, 1 set per exercise. I'll try to to do only enough exercises to fill 20-30 minutes. And I'll do some research on Tabata and make that my sprint day.

    I'll post on my update next week how things go!

  6. Cool, good luck with that.

    It can take a while to 'dial in' the weights for this method, but it's worth it.

    Essentially, you just want to go slow enough that you're not benefiting from momentum. At least 10 seconds per (5 seconds up, 5 seconds down), up to 20 isn't crazy.

    Don't count reps. Rep count doesn't matter. Amount of time your muscle spends resisting the weight is all that matters.

    During a set, don't take any breaks, this includes "locking" muscles at full extension or letting go or letting the weight rest at the end of a rep.

    If you can't do 40 seconds, go lighter next time. If you can do more than 90 seconds, go heavier next time.

    One thing that a lot of people don't talk about is that strength builds faster than recovery time gets.

    This is counter intuitive for some people, but if you're lifting to exhaustion, the stronger you get the MORE time you need between lifting days.

    This method should lead to noticeable results every session. If you notice that you haven't made any progress, or are even doing worse than your last session in more than one exercise, consider more rest days in between next time.

    For more information on this technique, you can check out "Slow Burn" by Fred Hahn and the Drs. Eades.