Living Primal: Paleo Insights With Ben Law
Fascinated by the prospect of the paleo (caveman) diet?
Well, at GymTalk, so are we.
But let’s face it, eating paleo seems to come with a lot of sacrifices, and presents a bunch of questions.
I mean, I’m pretty sure cavemen didn’t drink 15 pints of Guiness down the Rose ‘n’ Crown on the weekends.
Hi Ben. First up, can you tell us a little about yourself and your brand?
I am 35 years old and currently live in Hertfordshire.
By trade I am a web developer, but I never really liked working in a strict office environment or for anyone else for that matter.
Having always been massively into health and fitness I thought I would look into starting a business in that area.
Supplements was a natural choice as I already had expertise in the area, but also felt there was a gap in the market for high-quality, natural supplements that didn’t break the bank.
This is basically how Love Life Supplements was born.
High-quality supplements using only natural non-allergenic ingredients where possible, manufactured to the strictest possible standards, which don’t cost an arm and a leg.
Our products cover most aspects of health and we have recently moved into the sports performance arena developing products that follow the principles of the Primal/Paleo/Ancestral approach to nutrition and fitness which is something I feel very passionately about.
What drew you to the ‘Primal’ style of training and diet?
It was kind of a wonky path.
This led me to a whole host of websites, blogs, articles, videos, etc and eventually to Primal and the prominent figures in that area.
I soaked information up like a sponge and started applying everything I learned to my everyday life.
And I felt great – improved and more consistent energy, hunger control (no fear of dying if I hadn’t eaten for a couple of hours!), greater mental clarity and focus, better mood and a big drop in body fat down to around 5.5% at the lowest with little loss of muscle.
I had turned from a sugar burner to a fat burner, or ‘fat burning beast’ as Mark Sisson calls it, where your body switches to burning long, slow-burning fat for fuel instead of sugar.
What was your diet and supplement regime like before you started eating Primal?
Carbs and more carbs!
But seriously it was quite carb heavy to say the least and very frequent.
I would have a big bowl of porridge for breakfast with a massive amount of fruit in it, a source of protein for lunch with either bread, pasta, potatoes or rice and the same for dinner with more fruit for dessert.
I would often have carby snacks between those meals too.
As I was a sugar burner with little access to stored body fat, I had to eat that frequently to maintain energy levels and control hunger.
I actually started to feel very faint if I hadn’t eaten for a few hours or skipped a meal and became ‘hangry’.
But about 30 minutes after eating I would experience a massive dip in energy, which I later discovered was called Rebound Hyperglycaemia, where your body rushes to reduce your recently elevated blood sugar levels but overcompensates by making them too low.
Food coma anyone?
As I said, I’ve always been fairly health conscious so never ate much processed or fast foods.
I would, however, fuel my sweet tooth on occasion with desserts and chocolate bars and consumed quite a bit of alcohol at the weekends.
In terms of sports supplements it was mainly just a vegan based protein shake after workouts because vegan is healthy right? Hmm…
What’s it like now? Is it more expensive now?
Now it is completely different.
I start the day with a coffee with 2 tbsps of MCT oil, 2 tbsps of cream, cinnamon, vanilla and cacao powder to make a delicious, brain boosting, fat burning, satiating drink that powers me through the creative part of the day where I like to read and come up with ideas.
If I work out early I will not have anything apart from the coffee beforehand but if I work out later in the afternoon I will normally have my daily ‘Wondershake’ around midday.
This is a low-carb, high-fat, moderate protein power house of a shake with plenty of micronutrients from whole foods such as broccoli, avocado, raw eggs, nuts and seeds and various types of fats and proteins.
It has about 15 ingredients in total.
I will normally then have a much simpler post workout shake of fats and protein made with raw milk as the base.
In the evening I have various low-carb, high-fat meals of mainly a protein and veg/salad.
I probably have fish three times a week, chicken twice and red meat twice.
I love a salad, which might sound quite boring to some but mine are pretty epic with about 20 ingredients and rich with extra virgin olive oil.
On Saturday evening though all bets are off and I dive head first into ‘carb night’!
This is actually a protocol developed by John Kiefer, who I am also a big fan of, whereby during the week you eat low-carb and one night you allow yourself to eat as many carbs as you can stomach.
This not only alleviates any carb cravings you may be having but it also stops your metabolism from down regulating from eating so few carbs and actually increases fat burning in the following few days.
Now you can have your cake and eat it!
[For a good example of foods Ben is eating, check out his Instagram feed]
In terms of supplements, I take our Krill Oil, Multivitamin, Vitamin D, Probiotics and Collagen for general health and Creatine, Essential Amino Acids, Whey Protein Isolate and our Primal Energy MCT Oil and Primal Power Whey Protein Concentrate for strength accumulation, muscle building and fat loss.
The foods I eat and supplements I take are more expensive now but as the quantity of food I eat now is a lot less due to the change in metabolism, it kind of evens itself out.
I can easily get away with only eating twice a day now with one of those meals being a shake.
Do you think those looking to pack on mass would be able to do so using the more Primal or Paleo style diets?
When I first started eating like this I dropped from around 77kg to 68kg as I quickly shed body fat.
I then increased the protein slightly, started adding in Creatine and Amino Acids, and changed my training to focus more on strength training, and I started packing on muscle to where I am now (83kg) with only a slight increase in body fat.
Still very low-carb/high-fat unprocessed foods all the way (apart from carb night!).
How would you recommend people go about starting this kind of diet?
You could start the way I did and as per The 4-Hour Body by swapping all bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and all other grains and starchy carbs for legumes (beans, pulses, etc).
They still add bulk to a meal but are significantly lower in carbs than the usual suspects.
You can buy pre-soaked legumes in cans so it is pretty easy.
My staple breakfast to begin with was lentils, eggs and spinach prepared in about 5 minutes.
I did the legume thing for the first couple of months before ditching those as well and the transition was easy.
Much easier than going completely cold turkey to begin with!
Are there any tips for beginners?
Don’t fear the fat!
If you are getting rid of large amounts of carbs from your diet you MUST replace them with healthy fats or you will fail.
If you don’t you will be hungry all the time, unhealthy, miserable and hate food.
Fat keeps you full, healthy, makes everything taste great and does NOT make you fat!
My meals consist of around 50-60% fat, sometimes more and I never count calories.
I did say healthy fats though so coconut, nuts, seeds, grass-fed butter, ghee, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, macadamia oil, mct oil, raw milk, raw cream, etc.
Were there any mistakes you made that we can learn from?
I perhaps went too low on the protein to begin with for my activity level and lost a bit of muscle, so just keep that in mind, particularly if you start eating less.
I now aim for around 2g per kg of body weight per day.
Any more is unnecessary and can lead to fat gain.
And the most important question on everyone’s mind: Do you drink booze?! If so, what can be considered Paleo?
Yes and no really.
I now mainly drink dry red wine as it is fairly low in sugar and wheat but no alcohol can really be considered Paleo despite people’s best efforts to convince you and themselves otherwise!
I used to drink quite a bit at the weekends and anything would go but I now value my days and health too much and enjoy feeling great all the time to want to mess that up.
Perhaps I’m just getting old!
I still have a few glasses of red at the weekend and will occasionally go all out on a special occasion but definitely regret it the day after!
For more from Ben Law, make sure you check out his website Ben Law Primal and follow him on social media:
Are any of you attempting a paleo/primal lifestyle or thinking of starting?
What have been your results?
Share in the comments or hit us up on social media!