It seems like everything in the fitness world is some big controversy nowadays, and the topic of “Paleo” is definitely one of the hotter topics out there.
On one side, you’ll hear that Paleo is the only way anyone should be eating. On the other side, you’ll hear that Paleo is too extreme and will set you back in the long run. Which should you believe?
We’ve got Tony Federico, editor of Paleo Magazine and author of Paleo Grilling, on the show. Here’s what he has to say about this ongoing controversy:
“There are all these different voices that just lead to a lot of confusion. Paralysis by analysis.”
Tony Federico is the host of the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast and is a full-time writer, personal trainer, and wellness consultant. He earned his degree in Exercise Science from the University of Florida and is an American College of Sports Medicine certified Health and Fitness Specialist. His book, Paleo Grilling: A Modern Caveman’s Guide to Cooking with Fire features over 100 High Protein, Flavor Packed, Paleo, Gluten Free, and Coal-Fired recipes for beef, chicken, pork, and much more.
Be sure to catch the next episode by subscribing to the GMB Show:
- (00:20) We have Tony Federico on the show!
- (03:43) Why Tony’s dedicated himself to Paleo
- (04:50) What exactly is Paleo?
“I was able to find fitness success without really being an athlete, at least not being an athlete at the time.”
- (09:41) How does Tony eat with Paleo?
- (13:20) How do I know which version of the Paleo diet is right for me?
- (14:50) The original Paleo diet was first…
- (19:45) Carbs vs. no carbs
“It’s not just one persons opinion. It is what humans have been doing for thousands of million of years.”
- (26:50) What can you expect from the Paleo Diet?
- (31:18) How did Tony find the Paleo Diet?
- (37:00) The 5 principles of Paleo
- (41:42) The Paleo starter kit
“Any diet or exercise program technically works for some people. But that is not the goal.”
Be sure to catch the next episode by subscribing to the GMB Show:
Ryan: All right, hey everybody, welcome to this episode of the GMB Show. Now, in this episode I’ve got a buddy of mine named Tony, and Tony Federico, a really neat guy.
Tony: What’s up?
Ryan: How you doing, man?
Tony: I’m good.
Ryan: Now, Tony is a personal trainer and he’s also wellness consulting. He’s out of Florida. He’s the editor of Paleo Magazine. Also, the host of Paleo Magazine podcast. He’s been a speaker of both Paleo f(x) and the Ancestral Health symposium. He’s even written a book on Paleo Grilling. Tony, wonderful to have you here, man. This show I want to talk a little bit about the Paleo lifestyle, a little bit about Paleo fitness, and the secret to grilling the perfect steak. Hey Tony, if you could just give us a little bit more about yourself for my listeners out there, and again, welcome to the show, man.
Tony: Hey, thanks for having me, man. It’s pretty cool. I’m over in Jacksonville, Florida and you’re in Osaka, Japan, and we’re able to have this conversation thanks to the, kind of, revolutionary power of the internet, which of course I don’t think you’d want to call this Paleo, but maybe it is. Maybe we’re having a face to face conversation, good authentic, old fashioned human interaction.
Ryan: Yeah, man.
Tony: My background as you mentioned, personal training. I’ve been in the fitness business for about 10 years. I first started really working seriously in the fitness industry at a gym in, I think it was 2006. Prior to that, studied exercise science at the University of Florida, had an associate’s degree in psychology, so I was always just, kind of interested in behavior and the way the mind worked, and then obviously the way the body worked as well.
I had some experience with sports and stuff as a kid growing up. Was not great at them, but when I discovered exercise and I discovered working out with weights specifically, I liked the self determination aspect of it, I liked the progressive nature of it, so that appealed to me a lot more than the typical team based sports, and that’s why I ended up working in this arena professionally. I was able to find fitness success without having to be really an athlete, or at least at that time was not athletic, and through practice and determination was able to develop that myself and now have the opportunity to share that with clients, which is awesome.
It’s my bread and butter. I’m in the gym training people many hours each and every day still. Then, as I expanded outward and looked for more ways to express myself creatively, to challenge myself professionally, do things that I find interesting and fun, and maybe spend my free time, where I’d otherwise be watching TV, in perhaps more purposeful and useful ways, that’s when I got into blogging and podcasting, writing for Paleo Magazine, and ultimately hosting the podcast for them, which we’ve released over 100 episodes at this point. I feel like that’s been a really cool experience.
I’m actually editing Paleo Fitness Magazine at this point. Cain over at the full print publication is still in charge over there, but definitely keeping myself busy and really enjoy being able to dive into this piece of the fitness world where I think things are becoming a little more progressive and thoughtful and considered, and that’s one of the reasons why really … Like what you guys are doing, that’s what I’m here for, man. Just rap about movement and kind of geek out on some of that stuff.
Ryan: Well, that’s cool. You’ve been very cool to feature me and GMB on your stuff that you’re doing too. Today though I kind of want to take a look though really at what you’re doing. First though, I want to start off and talk a little bit about, you know … You’re a big believer in the Paleo lifestyle. There might be some people, some of our listeners out there, who don’t really know too much about the Paleo lifestyle, so maybe if you could give us a little bit of a primer on that and just let us know why you just really think it’s the bees knees out there.
Tony: Great question, man because I forget that there are people out there who don’t follow the Paleo diet. I think that as a trainer I’m often times a voice of authority frankly, and clients look to me and really kind of value what I have to say. That’s kind of insular in a way. That kind of puts you in a bubble in a way where you think that everybody thinks that what you have to say is important, which is not the case. Then, in the Paleo world I’m writing for Paleo Magazine and podcasting for Paleo Radio, so really just, kind of being in that world a lot of the time. Sometimes I have to reconfigure my mindset and say, “Oh okay, let’s start from the basic assumption.” which is that somebody has no idea what Paleo is. So, if somebody’s out there listening to this, maybe they’ve never heard the word Paleo used before.
The Paleo diet was originally a way to, I guess, frame dietary recommendations. There are some early writers, S. Boyd Eaton, Loren Cordain, scientists with different backgrounds. I think S. Boyd Eaton was a gastroenterologist and Loren Cordain was an exercise physiologist. For one reason or another, they started to think, “Well, why do we spend all this time investigating the architecture of ancient peoples and the skeletons of our ancestors, and try to understand how did they live?” Did they hunt with spears or knives, or what did they do?
We have all this information. We’ve done some good science to paint a reasonably close picture I think of what our ancestors were doing, and then we also have information from contemporary hunter-gather groups that give us a little bit of a sneak peek or a real life example of what it might have been like when human beings were wild, and I think that that’s a thing that we’re interested in and curious about because right now we’re “civilized.” So we live in this society that’s far from basically living outdoors and camping 24 hours a day, having to fight, seek out and kill your own food, gathering things, and maybe getting poisoned along the way. Really, an extreme lifestyle if you think about it.
Tony: I think that’s interesting to us. There’s been some good science to give us really a pretty clear picture of what that looked like, but the gap was taking that information and then saying recreate that, or reimagine that, or apply that in some way in your modern life. So, you have researchers who studied the lives of ancient people, but there’s never any talk about taking that information and turning it around and saying, “Well, this is actually going to be a road map for how we could live.”
The reason why that’s such an important thing and such a significant change in the thought process is that we’re facing some major issues. While your audience is probably super engaged in terms of movement, and not the average sedentary American, which I guess is kind of … or sedentary Japanese person or whoever, we’ve got some serious issues with rising health care costs related to chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure. People are suffering from chronic disease states now at epidemic levels. Top killers of people hands down, biggest cost to society hands down, biggest thief of quality of life for many people, fed by multinational companies, food companies, entertainment companies driving us towards moving less, eating more, consuming more, becoming less engaged, questioning less, and just kind of going down that path.
When this ancestral health perspective was first offered up, I think it solves a lot of chronic problems, because there’s certainly advice, there’s certainly been dietary advice, and there’s been lifestyle advice from many different sources, fitness professionals among those sources, medical professionals, etc.
I think what the Paleo lifestyle did is it kind of ties a lot of these different pieces together, so rather than have a nutritionist say, “Well, eat X, Y, and Z.” and then having your personal trainer say, “Well, move your body and burn calories and do this.” and then having your doctor tell you, “Well, cut salt and do this other thing.” “Well, Why?” “Well, because there’s a study and maybe the study is true, but maybe it’s not.” and maybe there’s other factors that weren’t questioned, but there really isn’t anything connecting them. It’s sort of like, you have to take it at face value, this advice.
Then, of course this conflicting advice, because how many times have we heard that eggs are bad for us and then that they’re good for us, or that cholesterol is bad, or that fat is good or fat is bad, or carbs are bad. There’s all these different voices that just lead to a lot of confusion, paralysis by analysis, and the needle hasn’t been moved. Our global health problems have not been reversed in many ways. We have more food and now we’re dying sooner than our parents are going to die. Bad situation.
Tony: Paleo brings a lot of those things together in a sense that it provides a whole lifestyle framework. I don’t personally look at the Paleo diet as a very strictly regimented diet. I look at it as a holistic lifestyle template, and by that I mean food wise. This is kind of really, after all that stuff, getting back to your original question.
Food wise it’s eating things that I can recognize by sight. If I can look at an apple, if I can look at a piece of broccoli, or even read an ingredients label and understand it, and look at something and say, “Well, okay, it makes sense that there’s 5 ingredients in this.” versus something where there’s 50 ingredients and you need a chemistry degree to decipher it. I think, really, the first start is whole unprocessed foods as much as possible, drinking water, fruits and vegetables, quality meats, things of that nature. So, whole natural food.
I don’t even worry so much about the macronutrient breakdown. I don’t even think that that’s super essential at that first level, and especially for someone who’s first coming at it from a basic health perspective and coming off of perhaps a processed food conventional diet. That diet is that first piece, and that’s only because we would have only been able to hunt and gather things for 99% of our time here on earth. Most of our evolution we didn’t have refrigeration. Most of our evolution we didn’t have food processing technologies. Most of our evolution we didn’t have other people making, preparing, selling, shipping food to us, and then we just kind of eat it for a small effortless exchange of dollars or even bits and bytes on a computer.
You take just that one piece, the food piece, and now it starts to click. We can start to say, “Okay, well this is why it makes sense for us to eat this way.” It’s not just one experts opinion, this is what human beings have been doing for thousands if not millions of years. Then, you can take that same thought process, “Well, what did people do and how does that mesh with, how does that make sense for me today in my modern life, and does that give me some ideas for solving some of the issues that I’m facing?” perhaps my own personal health, or on a larger scale if you’re trying to make a bigger impact in the world. You can see that, whether it’s movement, sleep, food, stress, there’s some kind of tangible piece of the health puzzle that can be solved with this perspective.
Right now people might be looking at this video and wondering why there’s this yellow aura. I’m sure you can see it. That’s because in my office I’m using a light that is low in blue light, so it’s a yellow light that is … It’s 6:30 right now. If I look outside the window it’s dark outside, so instead of having a light that’s blasting my eyes with the frequency of light our brains associate with high noon, with daytime, and promoting cortisol excretion and dampening melatonin production, I have the light in my office, and then the monitor on my computer is shifted towards what would be dusk, sundown.
Even something like how do you set up the lights in your office, if you look back to how did people live before? Well, they had a camp fire and when the sun went down, they might have stayed out for a little while, but for the most part the lights were pretty low. So, something as simple as that can be a launching off point for health intervention, and you don’t even really need an expert to tell you that, but it can be helpful to have the expert sort of explain the why.
Ryan: Absolutely. Something that I use on my computer and … All of us in GMB, what we’re using is … We all use MACs and so what we use is called F.lux.
Ryan: Basically, I’m sure you know of this, it’s really great. For those of you who don’t know about F.lux out there, I’m not a representative of F.lux or anything like that, I just think it’s a great app for your computer. It adjusts the lightening on your computer based on what time it is outside, and it’s wonderful.
Tony: That’s what I have running on my computer right now.
Ryan: Yeah, me too man. Got to love it.
Tony: I’m not paid by them either.
Ryan: So, I want to go a little bit deeper into this. I want to come back and ask a little bit about some of the results and things that you’ve gotten with your clients with Paleo, but I want to go just a little bit deeper and talk about the diet itself, because I think it can be confusing because … especially recently you see there’s a lot of variations of the diet. You might have the very strict Paleo. You’ve got, oh goodness gracious I don’t even … like, normal Paleo, and you’ve also got maybe Primal. Right?
Ryan: Thing is, I’ve even heard people say that it’s okay to maybe have rice or potatoes with this.
Ryan: I was Paleo. I was on the strict side of Paleo for 2 years, did that pretty intensely, working out, doing all that, and ended up adding potatoes and rice to my training. That I found just worked better for me, but I’m a little confused though with how do we pick what’s good for us in these Paleo diets. Like I just said before, I’m thinking those are the main 3. Am I correct in saying that? The strict, the normal and then Primal? What’s going on with that? How do we decide where we should be or what we should be choosing for our Paleo diet?
Tony: Great question. The original Paleo diet, based on the Paleo Diet book by Loren Cordain, was basically a diet free of … I think sometimes it’s helpful to know what’s not Paleo before we say what is Paleo, even if we’re just looking at this particular iteration of the Paleo diet. That original Paleo diet from Loren Cordain was free of grains, so rice, corn, wheat, and things of that nature, legumes like peanuts and soy beans. It was free of industrial seed oils like canola oil, cottonseed oil, hydrogenated oils. It was free of refined sugar, so that would be high fructose corn syrup as well as added cane sugars, and even too much dried fruit and things of that nature. Then there was also dairy free, so no cheese, no milk, no yogurt. What you’re left with was lean meats, fruits and vegetables, sweet potatoes, things of that nature. Fish, eggs. There’s some allotment for nuts, seeds, water, and don’t use salt, although herbs and spices, and things like that would be considered okay. If you are going to use oil, maybe use olive oil or coconut oil.
Ryan: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tony: Try to make your meat grass fed meat if you can. That was the original prescription. That was what most people start with and that’s what was advocated by some of the Paleo challenges that have floated around, like the Whole30. Some people say, “I’m doing the Whole30.” “Well, what’s that?” “Well, it’s kind of a strict version of Paleo.” Although, it’s worth noting that since that original iteration of the Whole30 even, they’ve added an allowance for white potatoes.
Ryan: Oh, really? Wow.
Tony: They’ve added ghee, which is more or less clarified butter. So, you can see how as time goes on that original version of Paleo presented by Loren Cordain, people started to say, “Okay, well why not potatoes and why not dairy?” The dairy piece is, some people are sensitive to casein and there’s a particular type of casein in the industrial milk that most of us are drinking. If casein is the issue, a dairy product free of casein might not be an issue, right? That’s ghee, and that’s kind of the thought process there. It’s not just all dairy’s bad and anything that’s ever had contact with a cow is automatically bad, it’s looking at it from a scientific rational perspective. What are the problematic constituents of that food?
So, we’re starting with whole foods but then we’re kind of breaking it down even more because whole food has a lot of different things going on in it. It has fat, it has carbohydrate, it has protein. Is there a specific aspect to that that’s problematic, and with some minimal processing, I guess you could say it now becomes safe to eat. We’ve been doing that to food for a long time. There are a lot of foods that we cook and we don’t eat raw for that reason. Whether it’s neutralizing toxins, making them more palatable or increasing the availability of nutrients.
That strict original version of Paleo started to get a little bit of a gray area around things like high fat dairy, and that’s where Mark Sisson with his Primal diet primarily diverged. He opened up things like butter to the Paleo diet. So, adding butter in. Although Loren Cordain did acknowledge in Paleo for … I think it was Paleo for Athletes which was a follow-up book to the Paleo diet, there was an allotment for more carbohydrate intake for endurance athletes and white potatoes and, I think it’s co-author Joe Friel even said, “Hey, if you want to drink a Coca-Cola on race day or something, go for it.”
Tony: So, there’s that beginning of contextualization and if somebody’s a particular type of athlete, well okay, now their Paleo diet has to change to fit that. Then again, continuing with carbohydrates as a deviation from that main version of the Paleo diet, you had Paul Jaminet come in and put forth this notion of safe starch, because with the original Paleo diet there were no white potatoes, and it was kind of a lower carbohydrate version of Paleo. There weren’t really, outside of squash and fruits and things like that, a lot of carbs in it. Paul Jaminet said, “Well, most of the hunter-gatherer groups in the world actually subsist off of a starchy staple.” If you look at New Zealand, it’s sago palm. If you look at Asian countries it’s rice. It could be plantains in some parts of the world. It could be potatoes in some parts of the world, chestnuts, whatever the case may be.
Oftentimes, if you look at a group of human beings, a society, trace it back to its roots, there’s some sort of super abundance of a starchy food that allowed that civilization to thrive. Corn with the Aztecs. So, he started to open up this conversation about safe starch, and for things like plantains, which are like a starchy banana, or yucca which is a starchy root similar to a potato, or potatoes themselves, what was the ancestral carbohydrate intake, and in some human populations, that could be 20%, 30%.
We start to look at even some of the bones of early people and you can see that the carbon in their bones, because you are what you eat, was from basically almost like a cat tail that had a starchy root in it, so you can look at evidence from ancient ancestors, not just contemporary hunter-gatherers, eating a higher carbohydrate content diet. Then, of course, on the other side of the equator, or on the other side of the pole, you have hunter-gatherer groups that are eating almost no carbohydrate diets, like the Inuit eating all fish, blubber, seal meat, etc.
When you start to look at all of these things, you’ve got a sort of basic Paleo template. You have some allotment for particular types of dairy with Primal, you have an allotment for safe starch with the perfect health diet, and then you have people who are kind of mimicking the Inuit and doing low carb or keto, short for ketogenic forms of the Paleo diet. Here’s the consistent thing, they’re all based on historical food patterns. They’re all based on what people have done for a long, long, period of time and survived if not thrived, because that’s a great case example or great block of evidence for the validity of it, at least for that population.
We as modern humans, after everybody shipped out of Africa, and everybody shipped out of their ancestral homeland and spread out across the globe, and human beings populated all different parts of the earth, and now in the modern era we’re moving around, flying around, and doing all this other stuff, it’s kind of hard for us to know what to eat because we’ve lost our food ways. We’ve lost our food traditions in many societies, and I’m speaking from my perspective as a Westerner. We’ve got Thanksgiving. We’ve got Christmas, but we don’t have grandma teaching us the recipes to cook the food that grows in the garden that her great, great grandfather started.
Ryan: Right. Yeah.
Tony: So, there is some confusion there because there are different ways that you can take that template, but I think as long as you get to that core template and then you start experimenting, kind of like you did. Hey, you started with basic Paleo.
Tony: You started with the hardcore version and then based on how you’re feeling, you’re willing to say, “Hey, rice. People have been eating rice forever.” Potatoes, same thing. People have been eating potatoes as soon as they could dig a potato up. So, why wouldn’t you experiment with that? If you had had a different result where you felt worse after adding those food in, maybe you could have gone down a different path and explored even a lower carbohydrate form of Paleo, or changing up other foods. There’s certainly people that for autoimmune issues for example, have sensitivities to nightshade or nuts, or things that might even be okay in that hardcore Paleo subset of foods, and now you have the autoimmune Paleo protocol.
You can really see that this thing can go in any direction based on your individual needs. Whether it’s performance as an athlete, whether it’s disease treatment, but it’s all coming back to that core of the human foods. The foods that grew from the earth, run around on the ground, swim in the sea, fly in the air, the stuff that you can actually identify, see, smell, touch. It’s not a chemical manufactured at some plant in New Jersey, artificial banana flavor or whatever. I think that’s the core of it.
Tony: If people start there and go back to that, I think that that will lead them down a path of healing and health, and again with the caveat that they’re listening to themselves and responding to how they feel truthfully and honestly when they eat certain foods. I think you have a great example of that where you changed your diet and now are probably feeling better and maybe even look better.
Ryan: Yeah. No, right on, exactly what you said, and I think like anything, in the beginning you do need to test something out and you need to figure out and follow that particular protocol for a certain amount of time, and then once you get that down and it’s set, then you can start either adding or subtracting or figuring out what works for you, just like what you said. I think that’s an important thing here to say because I do know that there’s a lot of people who will stick with a particular diet, maybe it’s not even Paleo, but a particular diet just because they think that is exactly what they have to do, and even though it might not even fit them, they still try and fit that diet into their lifestyle and end up having a lot of problems with it.
Tony: Yeah, we start to wrap up morality and philosophy, and a lot of other things with our diet.
Tony: For anybody who eats the way that they do for religious reasons or for philosophical reasons, more power to you, do you. I think everybody has the right to eat really whatever the heck they want to eat, and I’m not going to be the person to say that they’re wrong because there’s the nutritional perspective, there’s the cultural perspective, there’s religious perspective, spiritual, etc. So, maybe somebody’s eating a vegan diet. It’s not perhaps optimal for their biology but they’re choosing to do that for ethical reasons or whatever, great, do that.
Ryan: Yeah. Do that.
Tony: Exactly. I think if we’re looking at it from the perspective of what is the absolute best thing for this meat skeleton that we’re riding around on earth with, our physical body, what does this animal need? Think about yourself the way that you would think about a pet that you really care about and want to live a long time, be happy, healthy, and thriving, would you give this ideal pet, whether it’s a dog or a cat or whatever, poor quality food and not allow it to express its natural behavior and wake it up in the middle of the night with lights and loud noises, and stress it out all the time and be mean to it? That’s kind of what we’re talking about because we do that do ourselves a lot of the time.
Ryan: A good way of looking at it.
Tony: So, if we think I want to love the crap out of this thing, this body that I have, and I want to treat it the best that I possibly can with all the tools at my disposal, movement, food, sleep, lifestyle, etc., how I sit, how I … all these different things. How I interact with other people, my relationships. Huge stuff. If you look at it from the perspective of trying to do the best that you possibly can for yourself, I think that that’s … That’s what I’m trying to get out with Paleo.
Ryan: That’s good.
Tony: It might not be Paleo Orthodoxy, but I do think that it comes back to that. That’s the baseline, that’s the foundation, and then you layer the context on as you go along, and just like with movement, develop mastery and/or confidence in moving through the world without needing that rigid prescription.
Ryan: All right. I’m just going to go back into it. I do know that there are a lot of athletes that are using Paleo to help them with their workouts, but the thing is the majority of my listeners here aren’t athletes. In fact, they have a real job busting their butts living their lives, things like that. Sometimes it’s tough to even squeeze in a workout either before or after work. I’m really interested, though, to hear about what results you’ve gotten with your clients and really why should we? I know we talked before and you explained a really great explanation about how Paleo could be good for us, but what are some of the results that we can see by using a Paleo type diet?
Tony: I’ll start with myself. I’ll start with the results that I got because I think that’s where it really does all start for a lot of people. How did you help yourself? I think is the first case history or first case example most people have. For me, I was a personal trainer. I was well-educated when it comes to diet and exercise. What I was doing for many years was a very high carbohydrate diet. It was whole grains. I knew enough to get off the processed food for the most part, but I still was eating lots and lots of oatmeal, lots and lots of whole wheat, whole wheat crackers with peanut butter and things of that nature. It was a much higher carbohydrate intake. I had bought into this idea that you should never be hungry.
You should be snacking all day. That somehow raises your metabolism. Every two or three hours you should have some snack. I’d have maybe Greek yogurt with some oats and blueberries and maybe some honey and protein powder mixed in, and generally what people would consider super healthy stuff. I think most people out there in the world are maybe eating McDonald’s. I certainly was one of them at one point, but I’d moved past it once I got into my career. If you’re still eating McDonald’s Greek yogurt with honey and oats and all that stuff, that sounds like how do you get any healthier than that? What I found myself experiencing was that by eating every two or three hours and always having carbohydrates really entering into my system, I was constantly on this up and down hunger roller coaster.
I’d eat and then I’d start counting down the time between my next meal. It’s like eat a meal, think about your next meal. Eat a meal, think about your next meal. A lot of my exercise was really geared around burning off “my calories”. Run for two hours. Running for two hours that burns off 1,600 calories. Now, I’ve got 1,600 calories to play with. That was a big part of the thought process. Wake up in the morning, teach a boot camp, do the boot camp, run myself into the ground, drink a diet Monster Energy Drink because sugar is bad, but artificial sweeteners there’s no calories there. I’m feeling like the walking dead using exercise and “healthy foods” to prop myself along, bags under my eyes, falling asleep at the wheel, tired all the time, really not looking great, honestly, in terms of my physique.
Looking fit or thin or whatever and having some muscle definition, but not looking like an Adonis, especially for the hours that I put in. I thought if you just put enough time in the gym you’re going to have a great physique. That actually doesn’t work or it didn’t work for me. I wasn’t one of those genetically blessed people that didn’t have to do anything to look good. Somehow me working out harder didn’t make me look better which was really frustrating. I lived like that for quite some time. How you were saying before with people that follow a diet despite what their body is telling them or follow a lifestyle despite the fact that it’s not working for them, I held on. I held on for dear life because I thought that if I let go, all hell would break loose and that I would loose complete control and I’d go on an everlasting binge that would lead me to obesity.
I thought that our brain is programmed to eat and eat and eat and eat and that we’re just never going to be satisfied and that our body is dumb, frankly, and doesn’t know what it needs and that we need to control it and we have to be a harsh taskmaster of our body. You can see here [inaudible 00:04:34] between my current perspective, which is more of a loving kindness approach for our physical self versus the maybe benign dictator at best and a harsh dictator at worst. Punishing myself with exercise, eating foods that didn’t really make me feel good, although they’re accepted by the conventional wisdom as healthy, maybe high carbohydrate, low fat, whole grain, etcetera, and feeling like crap. When I first began the Paleo diet, it was prompted by an interaction with a client who asked me, “Have you ever heard of the Paleo diet?” I said, “No, but if you are thinking about doing it, I’ll give it a go with you.”
It was just a spontaneous idea to, “Hey, I’ll try this thing out. I’ve never heard about it. I’ll give it a go,” and ended up picking up a copy of Loren Cordain’s Paleo Diet. Me and this client went on a 30 day Paleo diet challenge that first week. After the first couple of days, which I think were a little bit rough, I was almost on this natural high for a week where I felt crazy energy that I hadn’t experienced in recent memory. That was pretty notable and impactful when the 30 days ran out. I think I was too strict with that first version of Paleo because I was still binging and still maybe not supplying myself with enough calories, maybe losing a little bit too much weight getting a little too defined for what my body needs to be healthy. I kept with it. 30 days turned into 60 days, turned into 90 days. I gave Primal a shot.
I started adding back the high fat dairy. I started to experiment with lowering my carbohydrate intake because when I first started doing Paleo, I’m like, “Fruit’s on the Paleo diet. I’m going to do a fruit smoothie.” That’s a gallon of blended up berries and apples and beets and carrots and things like that. I went through that phase. Then, went into this more low carb mode and found that it helped me to put some muscle on. My sex drive improved which frankly it had been flagging. I’m a married man. That’s not something you want to have happen to yourself when you’re in your late 20s. I think that first iteration of Paleo that I went through it was too low fat for me, perhaps a little bit too high carb for me.
As I started to go a little bit more low carb, I started to let go of some of the chronic cardio that I had been doing. I realized that I didn’t have to work out. I didn’t have to pound the pavement. I didn’t have to swim laps in the pool. I didn’t have to do the elliptical machine and the bike and all that stuff every day to maintain my weight. I think for me that was an indicator that for my physiology a little bit of a lower carbohydrate diet works. That naturally led to experimentations with fasting. That actually led to experimentations with some other more extreme versions of Paleo, but that was all that study of one, that exploration of what is my Paleo diet? You start with somebody else’s Paleo diet.
Ryan: I like that. If I can just interrupt there, I think that’s the big thing, exploration. Like we were talking about earlier is you do need to start somewhere. If you don’t have that reference point, then it’s going to be difficult to be able to figure out what good is for you. Like I say, like what we were talking about earlier, I think it’s maybe unfortunate sometimes that people get stuck and thinking that it has to be a certain way. I like what you just said about exploration and figuring out what works for you, giving it that first 30 days and taking the time to make sure to see if it’s going to work or not. Let’s be honest. There are people out there who might try it a week or they might try it two weeks.
After one week, they’re still at that phase where nothing’s going to feel good after that first week, but at least give it two, hopefully a month or even a little bit longer before you start tweaking it or trying to explore like you said. I think that’s a very good point that you bring up is you’ve got to find out what works for you. That’s why I think that not just doing something, but being aware of what you’re doing all the time and writing the stuff down and making sure not just what you’re eating, but what kind of exercise that you’re doing, how you’re feeling and things like that. Pardon me for interrupting, but I think that’s really good.
Tony: Oh, no. Absolutely, man. I think that’s right on. What you’re describing is it’s like you pull out a map. First step, find out where you are. I think that basic version of Paleo is a good way to give yourself a starting point. I like it as a starting point because I think that there’s so many options for everybody within the Paleo template. You want the higher carbohydrate intake? There’s a path to that. You need a little bit lower carb? There’s a path to that. Do you want to still enjoy baked goods and things of that nature from time to time? There’s accommodations for that as well.
I think that basic version of Paleo that’s ultimately what I do recommend most people follow, just as you said for 30 days at least. That’s a good testing time. I think I started this in 2010. I was thinking about the date just today and I believe it was 2010 when I first made the transition to eating a Paleo diet in my first explorations in that arena. It’s going to be 2016 soon. This podcast might even come out in 2016, depending on the release date. Six years deep and I’m still modifying. I’m still changing. That’s part of why I don’t just tell people to do what I do.
Ryan: That’s good. Yeah. I like that. Yeah, yeah.
Tony: This is my path and this is my journey and I’m six years deep into Paleo, but I was already 10 years deep into trying to turn my life around and get healthy at that point. It’s a lifetime. It’s a journey. Get comfortable with that.
Ryan: Looking at some general principles then, I think, because this is leading to a good thing, actually about results and things, but if we step back [inaudible 00:10:34], let’s say that we want to go ahead and just look at this as a broad overview then, and look at the some of the just general principles of where do we start is the best way to ask here then. Where do we start?
Tony: Yeah. Basic iteration of the Paleo diet, fruits and vegetables, good quality meats, some nuts and seeds, plenty of fresh water, quit drinking. That’s a tough one because people will do everything else.
Ryan: Then they keep drinking alcohol. Yeah.
Tony: Like, “Can I still have my glass of scotch or my glass of wine?” Yeah. That’s a deal breaker. Get off the sugar. Just do that. Do it for a week. If you can suck it up and do that for a week, I guarantee you’re going to feel different and at least now you’re going to know that there’s another possibility. It’s one of the most overused analogies at this point, but it’s like that scene from the Matrix where he’s offered the red pill or the blue pill. If you go down the rabbit hole once and if you go down the Paleo rabbit hole for a week or 30 days, it’s hard to come back and go back to eating that fake steak or whatever it was the guy was eating in that movie. I think that’s a good starting point, basic version of the Paleo diet. Start there.
In terms of physical movement, get out and go for a walk. Do something. Stretch. Just move your body in some way. Get out of this mindset that you have to constantly be burning calories and that exercise is a way to manage a bad diet. Treat exercise as a way to nourish your body with movement because movement has chemical, mechanical, emotional effects on your body just as food does. It’s just another input. Food’s one. Movement’s another one. Third thing would be sleep. Try to actually get to bed at a reasonable time. A lot of our wake times are inflexible, especially if you have a regular job. Me, I work a 50, 60 hour a week “regular” job and I’m up at 5:20 for sure five days a week.
That doesn’t change. If I cancel clients, I’m making less money and I’m shirking my responsibilities and I’m not going to do that. What I can do is go to bed earlier. That took a long time to cozy up to because I really held on to this idea that I could stay up until 11 and then get up at 5 or 4 or whatever the case may be, and that somehow I was the one person in the world who actually did need 5 or 6 hours of sleep per night and that I didn’t need 7 or 8. What I was doing was I was lying to myself because that is 100% not the case. If you have to, go to bed earlier. You have food, you have movement, you have sleep. I would say the next thing is probably going to be stress because a lot of us don’t have the best coping mechanisms for managing our day to day stress.
I fell into that boat for a long time. Short tempered, easily frustrated. It’s damaging I think to our relationships. It’s damaging to our bodies. Stress eats away at your body like a disease and precipitates many diseases. If you stress out a laboratory animal and keep it awake and make a lot of noises and treat it poorly, it will literally die. Stress will straight up kill you. It can’t be discounted. You could have every other piece of the puzzle in place and if you’re killing yourself with stress it’s not going to matter. I remember one time working a job that I really wasn’t happy in. I’m driving on a major highway pulling into the exit where my job was. The closer I get, the more nauseous I got. I think I actually could have vomited had I gone that little step further, being literally sick to my stomach with stress because of this job.
That was something that when the opportunity presented itself and this was during my Paleo journey, I said, “Let’s go. Let’s ship out and take a chance to do something different. I don’t know what that is, but I’m going to take a stab at it because this isn’t working.” That’s another piece of it. Stress. Then, the fifth part of that spoke or that fifth part of the wheel would be social connection. Are you treating your friends, family, loved ones with the attention and time that they deserve? Then, you can say your intra personal relationships which is your relationship with yourself. Are you treating yourself the way that you deserve? This goes to what I was saying before. If you were a prized pet or if you were a loved one, how would you treat that loved one? Treat yourself like that and then you’ll probably be in good shape. That would be my Paleo starter kit.
Ryan: I like that. Yeah, five principles there. I really like that. I think that’s good. It’s for everyone out there, really if you think about it. Just focus in on what you’re eating, what you’re doing with your body, making sure you’re sleeping getting that recovery, and then of course focusing on keeping that stress down, the bad stress. Then, how do you interact with people in the world? That’s wonderful. Yeah. I like that, man.
Tony: That’s the thing, man. This doesn’t have to be a polarizing conversation. I think there’s plenty of people who will gain page views and who will gain popularity by coming out and saying, “You know what? Everybody out there in the world is a stupid idiot and they’re eating the wrong things. If you do what I’m telling you to do, you’re going to have superhuman health, infinite lives and some other Game Genie codes.” Jump higher, run faster, all that stuff, coming out hard with a real specific prescription.
Hey, if I came out with a real specific prescription and put 1,000 people through it, you’re going to have plenty before and afters that you can use because the other 90% you’re going to ignore. Any diet or exercise program technically works for some people. That’s not really the goal. It’s what are the things that we can all do and all benefit from? I think if we look at that stuff, it’s really hard to argue against any of those points as being worthy of practice and time and attention.
Ryan: Cool, man. All right. I keep wanting to come back. Paleo Magazine. You really do a great job on that. We were talking earlier and I was mentioning my boy, Nate Miyaki. It was on the cover. I was pretty surprised by that to be honest, but that’s really cool. Just tell us a little bit about the magazine and what’s going on with that.
Tony: To break down the whole Paleo Magazine family, I think that would be a good way to introduce that to your listeners if they haven’t already come across it. We have a print publication, Paleo Magazine, that goes out and it’s on newsstands and in bookstores. It’s mailed to people all across the world. There’s worldwide distribution of the print publication, Paleo Magazine. It was the first magazine dedicated to the Paleo lifestyle. It might still be the only one that’s actually in print. There’s a lot of digital options out there at this point, but I think it might actually be the only print one still. I don’t know if anybody has even gotten into that space. Of course, there’s gluten-free magazines and CrossFit magazines and things like that, but something specifically dedicated to Paleo, I think we’re still the only person or only company that’s doing that.
Our perspective is more progressive Paleo. We’re willing to look at the whole lifestyle. It’s not this real strict dogmatic approach. If somebody’s maybe a little turned off from the idea of Paleo when they see Paleo and they see it as a label, I encourage you. Pick up a copy of Paleo Magazine and just thumb through it because just like the stuff that I was talking to you today, most of the information in there is stuff that everybody can really get in on, on some level. It’s not about creating an orthodoxy. It’s not about creating a religion. It’s not about creating Paleo fanatics. It’s about getting people healthy and making a difference in this world by putting forth useful information that people can then take and apply.
That’s what we’re all about. That was the start of all this Paleo Magazine stuff. As Paleo Magazine went on and started to grow, they branched out into digital publications. Paleo Magazine Insider is one. If you go on Paleomagonline.com which is just our website and sign up for our newsletter, that’s actually what you get. You get Paleo Magazine Insider. it’s unique content separate from the print publication. It’s totally different stuff. Recipes, fitness tips, etcetera, but just in a digital format. If somebody doesn’t want to sit down and read something and maybe they just want to look on their e-reader or phone or whatever, that’s an option there. Then, recently, 100 episodes ago we started the Paleo Magazine radio podcast. Episode two was Loren Cordain.
We’ve had yourself on the show. We’ve had Mark Sisson. We’ve had people completely outside of the Paleo world. Kyle Maynard. They’re just been a huge variety of guests on this show that if somebody checks it out, we’re on iTunes. We keep it all free. It’s completely available. Nothing’s behind a paywall or anything like that. You can go to our website or go to iTunes Paleo Magazine Radio. Again, it’s all about finding interesting people, people that have a perspective that’s useful. It could be an entrepreneur. It could be a doctor. It could be a scientist. It could be a Paleo blogger or whoever, but I think everybody has a human story that other people can connect to and find value in. That’s our podcast. Then, the newest offering is Paleo Fitness.
Just like the Paleo Magazine Insider, it’s also a digital publication. It’s not free. We’re charging for it. That’s a risk. There’s a little bit of an ask. There’s a lot of content that’s available for free online. You yourself are in that world where there’s content that’s free, and then there’s content that’s paid. We’re putting out content this time that is online. It exists in the digital space, but we’re investing just as much in production values and just as much time and attention crafting this that we do the regular print version of Paleo Magazine. All the quality that people would expect from Paleo Magazine is there in Paleo Fitness. Contributors? Top notch. Again, you’ve got Ryan Hurst in this thing. You’ve got Nate Miyaki in this thing.
There’s so many diverse voices, but it’s all coming back to not just Paleo now, but Paleo Fitness because you know what? We have the conventional food world. We have the processed food and all that stuff, but we’ve got the conventional fitness world. That’s what we’re trying to be an antidote to. We’re showing real people. The covers aren’t Photoshopped. It’s legit information that’s not meant to deceive, confuse and manipulate you. It’s meant to empower you and it happens to be in the fitness space. It could be food for performance, it could be body fat reduction techniques, but we’re shooting straight and trying to make you think a little bit differently and more deeply. Again, Paleo doesn’t mean that this is a CrossFit magazine. Paleo doesn’t mean that this is a run around in the woods completely naked.
That’s not our fitness prescription donning loin clothes and clubbing small animals. This is a modern day lifestyle. This is a legitimate way to create an operating system for success in being a human being in the fitness space or with Paleo Magazine and some of the other stuff in the broader lifestyle space. That’s the things we’re doing. I think a lot of it is ambitious. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about it and feeling very passionate that this is information that needs to be heard and seen and received and shared in the world, because you know what? You might not change the trajectory of the human species as a whole, but you might be able to influence a single person or a couple people or a dozen people. You do that and then you have changed the world. I think that’s a worthy goal and a worthy venture. That’s really what we’re trying to do.
Ryan: I love that. I love that also about what you said about empowerment and letting people know that they do have control over what they’re doing instead of just being like a robot and thinking there has to be some [inaudible 00:23:03]. Good stuff, man. Speaking of empowerment, I want you to empower us. Let us know how can we grill the perfect steak? I’ve been waiting to ask you this the whole time. Steaks, my favorite food out there. I love to barbecue over here in Japan. What’s the secret to creating or grilling the perfect steak?
Tony: Got it. First and first mostly … I don’t know if you ever watch the Kroll Show and Bobby Bottleservice.
Tony: Oh, all right. Never mind. A good piece of meat. The steak itself, the food itself that’s the starting point. For me, I really am going to go for a grass fed rib eye. That’s my choice of steak. The reason for that is not only is the meat very tender, but it’s a cut of meat that’s generally well marbled with fat. Fat makes things taste good. I’m not shy to go for the fatty steak, especially when that fat is from a cow that ate grass and is full of nutrients and tastes amazing. First step, a nice, maybe an inch thick rib eye steak from a grass fed and grass-finished cow.
I want the real deal. I want to taste. I want to know that I’m eating a cow. I don’t want it to taste like inner protein matter. Something that’s got flavor, that’s got substance. Seasoning wise, I’m generally going to go with a good quality extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and maybe like thyme or a little rosemary if I’m feeling a little adventurous. More often than not, it’s good quality olive oil, salt, nice naturally mined salt that’s got some texture and some body to it, and then some good fresh ground black pepper.
Ryan: Nice, keeping it simple. I like that.
Tony: Right, exactly. You get your steak coated with that. Then, you got to pay attention to the grill itself. Charcoal. That’s the choice. That’s the option. I’m not going to do the Hank Hill routine and promote propane and propane accessories. It is a way to grill. If that’s what you have and that’s what you’re using, fine, but if you want the full experience, human beings have been cooking over fire since before we were human beings. There’s actually some good evidence that shows that cooking with fire actually led us to being human beings. Go back to your roots. Get primal on this thing. Get some good lump charcoal. Use a charcoal starter. It looks almost like a tiny chimney with a handle on it.
Ryan: Yeah, a funnel. Yeah.
Tony: Yeah. Load it up. Start it with some newspaper or some paper so there’s no petrochemicals. There’s no lighter fluid or anything like that involved. It will start all of your coals and get them red hot very quickly. Dump that into your grill. I recently treated myself and bought a Big Green Egg which is a kamado style grill which originally was inspired by … I think it might have been rice cookers that World War II GI’s saw in Japan and brought the idea back to the United States. That was the genesis of the kamado grills, one of which is the Big Green Egg. There’s a little Japanese connection there.
I’m using a Big Green Egg. Any grill would do. Hot coals. You want to sear a steak. You don’t want to overcook it. You don’t want it to be well done. You want there to be a little blood. You want there to be a little rawness at the center, but a really ripping hot grill. Throw that steak on there. We’re talking like three minutes a side. Get some char, sizzle the fat a little bit. You want it to be medium rare, I would say is as far as you want to take the steak. Three minutes on each side. Pull that thing off. Let it rest as long as you let it cook and dive in. That would be my recipe for the perfect steak.
Ryan: Yeah, I’m already hungry. Yeah. Now, that’s wonderful, man. Thank you so much. That’s the question I’ve been waiting for the entire interview.
Tony: [inaudible 00:27:16] was just old chit-chat getting to the important stuff.
Ryan: All right, listen. Where can we find more info about you and what’s going on with you?
Tony: Right. I try to make it easy for all my own personal accounts like social media and things like that. You can just go to TonyFedFitness.com. Facebook.com/TonyFedFitness. Instagram at TonyFedFitness. Twitter at TonyFedFitness. Pretty straight forward.
Ryan: We’ll go ahead and put the links in there for everybody.
Tony: Perfect. Make it even easier.
Ryan: Yeah. Yeah. It’s the easy way to do it. I’ve got one final question for you and that is any parting words of wisdom for our listeners out there?
Tony: Yeah. Coming on here and coming to your house, you could say I wanted to maybe think about okay, these are people that are doing gymnastics movements and getting creative with their physical expression. One of the things that I’ve been doing recently that if someone is out there listening to this and they’re not doing this already, here’s a little tidbit that I would like to pass on. Mindfulness cultivated in meditation can be applied to movement. If you’re investing some time each day cultivating stillness in your mind, being aware of your breathing, being aware of your body, perhaps participating in some mindfulness practice, transcendental meditation, Qigong, yoga, something of that nature.
Start developing that present mindedness that deep, deep, deep connection to your body where you dissolve so you are your body. Get to that point and then start bringing that into all the different movements that you’re doing, whether it’s working on the rings or doing push-ups or pushing the grocery cart around the grocery store, because once you start that, you can practice anywhere even standing up or sitting down doing a podcast can become part of your practice. That would be my little parting bit of advice.
Ryan: Absolutely wonderful. I love hearing that. Thank you so much, Tony. I’m looking forward to talking to you again. As always, I learn so much whenever I talk to you. Great talking to you. Thanks, everybody, for listening. Again, we’ll have the links up there where you can find more info about Tony. Until then, keep moving. Thanks for listening.
Tony: That was awesome, man.
Ryan: That was good. Thank you.
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