In the (paleo) zone

zone plate

I have flirted with the concept of zoning before and I’m not going to lie, its not easy.  Schools of thought about diets have varied dramatically over the years and as science has progressed we have been given contradictory advice on what is healthy for us to eat.  Should I restrict my calories?  Restrict my fat?  Eat lots of red meat?  Cut out red meat?  Are grains good for me?  Is veganism the right choice?  There is so much information available that it is not surprising that we can all feel a little overwhelmed and confused.  As I have talked about before, my personal choice, and the one that fits in best with my personal stomach issues, is the paleo diet.  So what happens when you find that you feel great, you are happy and healthy but you are just not losing weight on the paleo diet?  Old school science taught us that a calorie is a calorie and they were all created equal.  Now, of course, we know that is not true.  There are 112 calories in an individual Weight Watchers Carrot Cake, whilst there are 156 calories in just 1 ounce of cashew nuts.  So does that mean that I should opt for the lower calorie snack?  Personally, no I don’t think so, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone else to do so either.

Here is the ingredients list for the Weight Watchers Carrot Cake:  Sugar,Wheat Flour ,Carrot (9%) ,Pasteurised Whole Egg ,Water ,Vegetable Oil ,Pineapple ,Humectant: Vegetable Glycerine ,Pasteurised Egg White ,Citrus Fibre ,Raising Agents: Diphosphates, Potassium Bicarbonate ,Coconut ,Glucose Syrup ,Skimmed Milk Powder ,Caramelised Sugar Syrup ,Ground Cinnamon ,Tapioca Starch ,Preservative: Potassium Sorbate ,Gelling Agent: Pectin ,Dextrose ,Fructose ,Ground Nutmeg ,Emulsifier: Sucrose Esters of Fatty Acids

carrot cake                              cashew nuts

Cashews may contain more calories but they also contain these nutrients:  Copper, Phosphorous, Manganese, Magnesium and Zinc and they do not contain a plethora of additives, preservatives and chemicals.

Whilst in the short term if you follow a calorie restricting diet such as Weight Watchers or Slimming World you will undoubtedly lose weight, in the long term, it is not sustainable AND if you buy the products that they make you are also giving your body a smorgasbord of chemical crap, entirely devoid of any real nutritional value.  If you decide to do exercise whilst you are dieting, (which I hope you will) these foods will not provide your body with enough energy to sustain even moderate levels of movement.

However, one aspect of the paleo diet that cannot be ignored is the fact that if you eat excessive amounts of calories (albeit of healthy, nutritious, wholesome foods) you will not be able to consistently lose weight.  At this point in my life, having lost and gained weight to varying degrees over the last twenty years, I would still like to be leaner.  That’s not because I think I’m fat.  Gone are the days when I look in the mirror and hate what I see, where I talk about myself in terms of being less than others because I weigh more.  What I do want, though, is to be a more efficient athlete.  I am carrying excess weight and that makes certain aspects of my training more difficult.  I find it hard to run, I am unable to complete an unassisted pull up, I struggle with box jumps.  All of these things would be improved if I lost weight.

So what is the answer?  One diet that is very popular with athletes is The Zone.  The Zone separates food into blocks, the amount of blocks you are advised to eat is dependent upon your size and gender.  According to the chart below I am a small female and should need 10 blocks.  When I had a brief soiree with The Zone Diet I found that with my training that was simply not sufficient food and I had to up it to 11, which was sustainable.  So 11 blocks of food per day, I’m not going to lie, that is not a lot of food and it does take some getting used to.


Many athletes bulk cook zone meals on a Sunday so that during the week they don’t have to worry about their preparing and cooking food.  This is particularly helpful if you are trying to juggle work, training and possibly a family all at the same time.  This kind of practical approach means that your food goes from being something that is regulated by your emotions, to something that is very much a tool to fuel your body.  If you are training for a sport or are trying to mend a broken relationship with food, this could be a good solution for you.  I am going to give it a whirl and see what effect it has on me.  I will let you know how I get on!

5 weeks

Weight: 67.3 kilos/ 10 stone 6 pounds (- 3 pounds)

Body fat percentage: 34.9%  (+ .4%)

BMI: 27.6 (- 1.5)

Dress size: 12/14 (same)

Bust Size: 34 DD (same)

Waist measurement: 82.55 centimeters/ 32 inches (-.5)

Height: 154.94 centimeters/ 5 foot 1 inch (same!)

The way I look at it is this: over the last 5 weeks, which have been incredibly emotional for me, I could have binged on all sorts of foods and gained a lot of weight.  That is what I would have done in the past but this time I took control, to some degree, about the kind of foods that I was eating.  Now to get serious about actually losing some weight because lets face it, who doesn’t want to look good in a bikini!

Thanks for reading, I’m now blogging over at come and join me!


6 thoughts on “In the (paleo) zone

  1. I enjoy reading your blog but now I am confused, why are you doing all this weightlifting, obviously building muscle and now you want to lose weight?? everyone knows muscle is heavier than fat, so weight doesn’t reflect much if you are muscly, so if you are trying to lose fat why would you restrict what you eat but keep training? The first thing to go will be muscle! (and bone density, teeth etc.). Look at the runners they gobble all the carbs they can so they can burn that, and not the important stuff. I know weight loss is like an enigma but surely dieting can not be related to sustained fat loss, no matter how scientific or “right” it purports to be? Health, on the other hand is attainable, as you have shown us, but not at the whim of a number on a scale!

    Apologies if this has come in twice i think it disappeared somewhere for a bit x

    • Hello, thanks for reading and for your comment, I guess when I say I want to lose weight, what I really mean is I want to lose body fat. I strive to be strong but I also strive to be fast, agile, supple and body confident. Aside from my weight all of the other indicators (BMI, Body fat percentage, waist measurement) show that there has not been a lot of change with regards to my body of late and I would like to change that a little. If my weight stayed the same but all of the other things changed then I would be happy with that. 🙂

  2. Hi, well maybe it will just be a slow process. I think it is a worry that your body fat stays the same but weight decreases, but how accurate can these measurements be? I think you are doing well with the exercise, that seems to be the key, good luck x

    • I think you are absolutely right on the reliability front. Unless you have incredibly expensive equipment I’m not sure how accurate home scales are and BMI is notoriously unreliable. I guess what you have to do is just stick to safe, healthy exercise and eating patterns and trust yourself that you know your body. I have just cycled for about 40 minutes and had a big dinner of steak and veg so I am feeling pretty good right now. Thanks again for your interest. 🙂

  3. Hey lovely,
    I havn’t read all your stuff so I don’t know if you’ve already covered this.

    The best diet advice I ever seen is: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” ‘Food’ in this context meaning stuff that is little changed from its original alive state. I think its from a guy called Michael Pollan.

    When I had a mini-blip recently on a year of no sugar ,(no refined cane and beet; maple syrup – drink from the bottle), I ate 2000 odd calories of chocolate in about 2 hours and then was still hungry come dinner. Using your example of the ‘carrot’ cake and the cashews – yes the natural thing has more calories but you’re unlikely to eat 2000 calories worth of them as your body gives up after a bit. I could eat all 5 of those carrot cakes without it really touching the sides of the hunger feeling. So overall I’d end up smashing heaps more calories into me.

    I think the overly manufactured ‘food’ targets your mouth rather than your stomach/body satiety. I would imagine that its super hard to eat 2000 calories worth of anything that is not in a relatively natural state/shape. There’s just too much bulk.

    I think all calories are created equal as they are a measurement scale – like centimetres. But they don’t come in the same packages. The 200 calorie package in the cake leads to wanting more calories, the 200 calorie package in the cashews lead to wanting to run and jump and swing. (zero scientific back up for that last sentence – but I like it)

    But yeah – I’ve got no good round up statement now. Apart from: love ya!!

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