Abel James is an entrepreneur, real-food crusader and the New York Times bestselling author of The Wild Diet: Go Beyond Paleo to Burn Fat, Beat Cravings, and Drop 20 Pounds in 40 days. As the #1-rated Health podcast in 8 countries, Abel’s award-winning web series, Fat-Burning Man, has helped millions reclaim their health with cutting-edge science, outdoor workouts, and outrageously good food. I met him at the Paleo f(x) 2016 conference after he spoke about the 7 Steps to Rewild Your Habits and Take Control of Your Life. I was so inspired by his practical yet powerful message that I wanted to share his voice with you.
I am pleased to welcome Abel James to Happy Living. In today’s guest post, he shares an excerpt from The Wild Diet about his rediscovery of a wild diet, and how it restored his health following damage caused by years of eating the “fat-free, low-calorie diet praised by the media and health magazines”.
I grew up on a defunct farm in the backwoods of New Hampshire, where there seemed to be more moose than people. What we kids lacked in culture and playmates, though, was made up for in the wild beauty of the 60 acres of woods behind our house.
When we gathered around the table at the end of the day, we always knew where our dinner had come from. The greens, broccoli and carrots had been freshly picked just minutes before; sweet, spicy and savory flavors were grown in our mom’s carefully-tended herb garden; and the eggs were produced by the dwindling flock of chickens that had managed to outwit the neighborhood dogs.
When the parsnips were finally ready for harvest, the whole family would get together in the backyard and pluck them from the frosty ground then gather around dad’s cast iron skillet for a snitch of the spicy, sweet root fried in real butter.
However, despite this fortuitous start, by the time I reached my early 20’s, bacon and butter were off the menu. I’d fallen hard for the fat-free, low-calorie diet praised by the media and health magazines.
I nibbled on fat-free whole-grain crackers, nonfat yogurt, and zero-calorie Jell-O, and I sipped on cholesterol-free soymilk. I swapped real butter for zero-cholesterol vegetable oil spread, and replaced farm-fresh eggs with 100% whole wheat bagels with nonfat cream cheese and zero-calorie jam from the supermarket. I was doing everything the health magazines said I should, but instead of being a strong, vital twenty-four-year-old, I had the flab, high blood pressure and health problems of an unhealthy man twice my age.
Despite the fact that I lived on the impossibly low-fat diet foods recommended by doctors, diet books, and checkout-aisle magazines, I was fatter and sicker than ever.
Something needed to change.
Fed up, I scoured medical textbooks, underground bodybuilding manuals, and the nooks and crannies of the Internet to find the perfect protocol to drop my excess fat and regain my vitality. As I did my research, I quickly discovered that everything I thought I knew about diet was wrong.
When I started a new nutrition plan based upon my research, it looked more like the diet of my wild childhood than my doctor’s strict recommendations. Eager to be my own guinea pig, I gave it a whirl.
When I started my new “diet”, I did the opposite of what most well-meaning nutritionists might tell you and abandoned my fat phobia. I chowed down on the most delicious and rich foods of my life – real butter, scrambled eggs, fresh veggies, rich meats, coconut, aged cheese, steak, and chocolate.
When I stepped on the scale, I was shocked. I had lost 20 pounds of flab in 40 days. This fat loss revealed a lean, muscular body and washboard abs that could have been slapped right onto the cover of a fitness magazine. More important, I had more energy and gusto than I’d felt in my entire life.
In The Wild Diet, you’ll find that we are not meant to starve ourselves or count calories. We’re wired to eat and live well without getting fat. That’s what we’ve been doing effortlessly for thousands of years, in fact, before we started following the wrong advice.
Going back to our roots, The Wild Diet focuses on simple ingredients from fresh plants and healthy animals raised as nature intended. Below I set out two of its core principles.
WHAT TO EAT TO BURN FAT
Prioritize fresh produce, nutrient-dense fats like grass-fed butter, and meat from healthy animals. You should be eating ⅔ plant foods and ⅓ protein and fat.
Fill yourself up in this priority:
- Vegetables should make up more than half of your plate. Eat as many greens and colorful, non-starchy veggies as you’d like!
- A palm-sized portion of animal protein such as grass-fed beef, chicken, turkey, pork, eggs, or wild seafood.
- Round out the meal with good fats (in moderation) from meats, avocado, coconut, avocado, olive, or nuts like almonds, pecans, macadamias or walnuts.
- Eat fresh fruits (in moderation) as treats.
- Ditch added sugars, breads and gluten grains. For breakfast, bacon and eggs are back on the menu!
- If you are an athlete or have a high metabolism, consider a side of nutritionally-dense starch such as a boiled sweet potato to enhance muscle recovery. Note: If carbs slow your fat loss, eat extra protein or veggies instead.
HOW TO STOCK UP ON WILD FOODS
The great news is that just about everything you need to follow The Wild Diet can be found in your local supermarket. Stick to the perimeter of the store where you can find fresh, whole foods. Remember: real food is perishable.
Prioritize the following when possible to get the highest quality foods, raised as nature intended:
- Local and farm fresh
- Grass-fed and/or pasture-raised animals, eggs, and dairy
- Wild-caught fish and seafood
- Virgin, cold-pressed, and unprocessed oils
A plate of real food — like fresh veggies, fruits, nuts, and perhaps a bit of pasture-raised meat — contains the protein, fiber, healthy fat and micronutrients your body needs to satiate your appetite. So next time you feel hunger pangs, stop depriving yourself and fill up on real food instead.
The Wild Diet follows this principle: eat fresh, simple, whole foods from healthy plants and animals and be skeptical of processed food products. Ditching your low-fat diet and going Wild triggers your body to utilize fat as its main fuel source, and many people experience rapid weight loss as a result.
When you reduce your consumption of processed grains, sugars and other simple carbohydrates in favor of healthy plants and animals, you will be shocked by how quickly you can reverse the damage of decades of poor eating and take your health back into your own hands.
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