Is the 4 Hour Body DIET the start of a Paleo LIFESTYLE?

by Stephen

I was watching the Paleo Summit last night. It is too bad I didn’t know this was a free seminar with videos expiring in 24 hours. I would have been logged on every night.

I was lucky enough to catch the the talk by Dr. Cate Shanahan titled “The Paleo Diet vs. Top-Selling Drugs: Who Wins?”

This of course hit home, given I prescribe many of the top selling drugs. I plan on writing a summary of this webisode later tonight. I thought it was quite good!

After watching the video I started thinking more about the differences between The 4 Hour Body diet and the Paleo diet. Brian from the 4HourBody Zone has a great post on this with a simple chart comparing the two.

I realized something though.

With the 4 Hour Body cheat day and the lack of fruit and milk, the 4 Hour Body is definitely more of a DIET.

In other words it doesn’t transition well into a long-term lifestyle solution for healthy living.

Although, I do believe it plants the seeds.

“Paleo” itself is more of a way of life. It is also not set in stone (although it would be written on one). It seems to me that the Paleo movement is actually less about living the way our ancestors did and more about combining the best of the two.

This makes sense. I mean in Paleolithic times people did not have vaccinations or computers or Garmin wrist watches to track their runs during their hunts. That doesn’t mean following a Paleo lifestyle requires throwing these devices in the garbage.

Also, there have been wonderful and valuable innovations in healthcare and science which have the opportunity to make our lives better. This should not be overlooked.

The success of a Paleo lifestyle revolves around a fairly low carb diet. Less than 150 carbs per day is probably a sweet spot. I can say this because I have had the opportunity of seeing 1000’s of patients and lab values and different metabolic types.

People who reduce their carbs trend toward better health… It is just that simple.

No matter what your feelings are on carbs, I can tell you one thing is true: The modern American lifestyle is just to high in simple carbs.

So say you are on the 4 Hour Body diet. You cut, your carbs, you cut your fruit, you stop drinking milk, you start eating more meat, more beans (not allowed on Paleo) and more veggies.

You probably lose some weight and you start feeling better. Over time if you combine this with physical movement and appropriate rest you are likely to find yourself in a much healthier place.

But having weekly binge days probably isn’t a healthy way to live in the long run.

So you give up the cheat day, add back in some milk (depending on who you ask), continue to eat a diet high in meat, fish, eggs and veggies. You decide you don’t love beans so much, but you love nuts and a piece of fresh fruit now and then… Bam… PALEO!

Also, maybe you found yourself researching grass fed beef and organic produce. You learned more about your food and you started going to farmers markets… Bam … Yuppie!

I joke here, because I understand the health benefits of this. I also understand that depending on where you live the idea of organic and grass fed may get you some seriously interesting looks.

I happen to work in one of these areas.

Cost of course is an issue, and although I am a proponent of both of the above, grass fed and organic is not always realistic or readily accessible to everyone. And this needs to be respected with new solutions made by yuppies to help make this more cost effective and readily accessible to everyone.

The 4 Hour Body in this sense is like a Gateway Drug… One that will pave a pathway for healthier living and exploration into a LIFESTYLE.

Is this a PALEO Lifestyle? Or is it something different entirely?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Justin March 4, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Milk isn’t Paleo, ever tried to milk a wild animal?
Raw milk is recommended by the WAPF. But skim milk is bad bad bad, and casein has been show to cause cancer.

Ghee and butter are border line paleo. These kind of things depend on how well each person tolerates it and if they have leaky gut or things like that.

Have you listened to Tim on Robb’s podcast from last year?

Also I wouldn’t call Paleo low carb or give it a specific number like below 150 grams. Carbs should be eaten as needed. An elite athlete or someone that works a labour intensive job should eat more carbs than a sedentary person. The quality and timing of the carbs is the important part.


Stephen March 4, 2012 at 8:24 pm

I feel like compared to the standard American’s diet following a Paleo approach is definitely low carb. Although I guess the term “low carb” is actually relative based on what you mentioned above. If you are an elite athlete low carb is not the same as for someone who typifies the general population. I would also suspect that an elite athlete would probably know this and would balance her meal plan accordingly.

Having a labor intensive job also does not really allow for the ingestion of more simple carbs. Just ask all the farm workers I treat who are appearing in droves with diabetes. But again like you said, this is probably not specific to a number like 150. Since many drink 1-3 soda’s a day and 8-12 tortillas after a bowl of cereal in the morning, any cuts will have drastic effects.

I have not really done much research milk. Besides breast milk which I think we can all agree is good. I actually thought it was “outlawed” on the Paleo diet until listening to yesterdays webinar with Dr. Cate who was talking about goat milk.

I know my Grandma drank 2% like it was going out of style and she had a bowl of cornflakes every morning. She passed away at a very healthy 95. But this is also the same Grandma that gave us Port wine when we had the sniffles.

Kids drink a ton of milk… and it is served daily in most cafeterias. Do you give your son milk?

Should we start making changes to this? I would be interested to hear your take.

Either way, we need to devise simple “rules” that can give people some guidance. Help them to establish healthy habits, based on routines that provide real rewards. That is if the goal is for a healthier longer and more satisfying life… I think Paleo as a principle is headed in a good direction led by some pretty smart people.


Justin March 5, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Yeah I give my son milk. Probably not for very much longer though as I think he has a casein sensitivity which shows up as eczema. I only give him raw or organic whole milk, and I make the WAPF formula with it, see I don’t follow it exactly, making liquid whey is a pain in the a$$ and acerola powder is had to find, and I haven’t ordered it online yet, but I will.
Dairy is not Paleo per say, but dairy is usually allowed, if tolerated, in the ‘primal’ ideology. Robb generally says this as well, he says he is more primal than paleo too LOL.

To me the Paleo concept is more about eating whole and minimally processed foods, and not worrying about macronutrient ratios. You can eat yams and sweet potatoes in excess like the kitavans and be on a high carb paleo diet.

In order to fix issues like hyperinsulinemia then a low carb and low GI approach would make sense. Macronutrient ratios should be specific to each persons situation and goals.


Andrew March 14, 2012 at 4:29 am
This diet looks good, pretty simple, balanced, realistic variation of Paleo. By Kurt Harris MD. What do you think?


Justin March 14, 2012 at 9:34 am

I would say that is standard paleo. Most people state paleo is flexible depending on each persons situation, if they are sick or not, if the are active or not etc. Nutrition is not one size fits all.


Stephen March 14, 2012 at 9:52 am

I agree Andrew,

This sounds like a good way to live.

I like the very first statement:
1. Get plenty of sleep and deal with any non- food addictions.
If you’re drinking a 12-pack a day, or chain-smoking, diet may help but is hardly your first priority.

I have so many patients (and friends) who become obsessed with cutting carbs, exercising 5x per week, but often continue many of the unhealthy habits that would negate many of the benefits they realize from lifestyle changes.

But what I find is this is a process. It is like placing your body through a strainer… or multiple strainers. Each lifestyle change leaves a little of the bad behind and more of the good comes out on the other end.

I do like this rule set a lot though… Thanks for sharing!


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