Random Reader Progress and Experimentation

I seem to have hit another of my occasional slumps where not only do I not have anything originally passionate to write about, but I’m not even that happy with some of my latest posts — so why add self-inflicted insult to my own self-inflicted injury?

Why? Well, one thing I have been doing for my Twitter followers (@rnikoley on Twitter) the last few days is a tour through the blog archives. Three tweets per day, roughly, of some of the best of the best, typically by topic. I just queued up a couple of day’s worth of vitamin K2 posts in chron order that will begin tomorrow morning. I have uniformly good feedback and lots of re-tweets.

So I thought I’d let readers who email me write the posts for a while. This is progress, and tomorrow will be questions. Man do I get a lot of email, which I do love to get. I have unanswered stuff going back to early February. I am deeply sorry that I can’t personally answer all emails. I just can’t. I could not have a life outside of that if I did. Perhaps feeling guilty is not the right description but I do tend to torture myself by leaving everything I have not responded to in my inbox, to look at occasionally, for purposes of self loathing and I suppose, to remind myself that there’s a there, there.

Onward. First, Joseph writes about how a suggestion of mine helped him.

Hey, this is Joseph, we’ve interacted a bit on Twitter. I mentioned I was eating a bunch of ground beef and you told me about your meatball recipe… which includes eggs. Well, I added eggs to my ground beef… and guess what? Eggs + ground beef = zero craving ketogenic diet.

You know, I’ve tried MANY times to go ketogenic… but the cravings were always too strong. In fact, I’ve never heard ANYONE say they had a ketogenic diet that DIDN’T require you to push through major cravings. …

Anyway, I have a very long history of struggling with "food intolerances." Symptoms include major energy deficit, IBS, etc etc etc. I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say I’ve been self-experimenting for years, trying to find a stable cure.

Joseph has a blog in which he documents some of his experiments.

Matthew appears to have stalled with lots of fat loss to go.

Just wanted to check in again. Unfortunately, not much has changed in the last six months. I still weight over 300 lbs, despite my much better bloodwork. I’ve been exercising 30 minutes a day 5 days a week and generally eaitng primal. I’ve also been counting calories.

Regular menu:

2-3 eggs breakfast with bacon

6 oz tuna salad with 3 tbspn mayo

8-10oz beef with cup of veggies.

Unfortunately I still end up going off primal on the weeknds – I can’t seem to quit my addiction fully, despite having toned it down from pizza and 8 litres of diet coke a day six months ago to a bottle on the weekend and maybe a slice on Saturday. Part of it is long -term biological dependence and the rest is emotional eating and other psychological issues. I started taking 5-HTP about a week ago and this is the first week I’ve gone 7 days without binging, so this may be a huge step.

I had some questions I hope you could give me the answer to.

Veggies: When I started I was told the importance of a bedrock of vegetables. Unfortunately, I still have trouble eating enough – eating too much of them makes eating a chore and I get disgusted with my food and reach for pizza. How many veggies should I be eating, and can 2-3 cups a day (the atkins approach) be enough?

Exercise: I do low state cardio – walking, swimming – and the Primal Blueprint bodyweight exercises. Is this eough or should I be doing isolation exercises for strength?

Calories: My body loves to eat, and I’ve found that if I count what I eat on myfitnesspal without limiting it I can eat 3-3500 calories a day on primal foods (and thus gain weight). Should I be counting calories? Should I not? I feel like if I don’t count calories I will just eat and eat and gain weight. I read 4 hour body and he suggested not counting calories but rather just recording what I eat visually. I started a tumblr blog for this goal – – and wondered if this might be enough or if I still need to count calories.

VLC: I am still more than 100lbs overweight. Should I consider going sub 20g carbs – ketosis – until I am much closer to my weight goal? If so, can I get buy eating eggs, tuna, flank steak, everyday for a year or do I need to add some variety? I am still poor so I can only afford tallgrass beef about once every other week (had some tonight in my first ever tartare which was fabulous.)

Any suggestions? Offhand, intermittent fasting comes to mind, as does resistance training.

Alright, number three and final for now. Tyler writes:

I came across your blog just over five months ago through Mark Sission’s website. I quickly took a liking to your brash, unapologetic style of writing and being able to spread the primal word without watering it down for the "paleo pussies". I am twenty three years old and switched to the paleo/primal lifestyle last November. I have never been over weight, but I did have irritable bowel syndrome that was quickly eradicated once gluten was cut from my diet. I have never felt healthier in my life. I love cooking primal dishes and eating large portions of meat in one sitting. My only issue is that I am in the delayed entry for the United States Marine Corps. I leave for basic training on November 15th.

I’m not naive, I realize that at basic there will be bigger concerns than sticking to a 100% paleo diet, but I don’t want to feel like shit during the hardest 13 weeks of my life either. With your prior military history and being a pillar of the paleo community I figured you would be the best person to turn to. I don’t know how to go about this. Should I attempt to eat as clean paleo as possible and risk running a calorie deficit or should I eat the grains, sugars, and garbage that will be offered just to break even with the calorie expenditure? If I do go the grain route should I attempt to readjust myself back to them prior to leaving and if so how early? I’m also going to be doing long intense cardio sessions that don’t exactly fit into Mark’s Primal Blueprint. Again do you think it would be best to stick to a more HIIT workout plan until I leave, or continue with the long runs and marches for boot camp preparation? I also run in Vibrams, but those will not be at basic either, again would it be best to use them now or adapt to using a boot?

I want to be a Marine and will become one, but the military in general is steeped in conventional wisdom. I know after basic training is over I will be able to go back to my old ways for the most part, cooking my own meals and back to my own workout regimen. I know that is a lot of questions to throw at you, but I’m really at a crossroads at this. So far I decided that I would stick to my own diet and every Saturday eat some grains to get used to them again, but I really think all it does is irritate my gut. I did switch over to the long runs and body weight exercises though, but I still do them in my vibrams or barefoot. What do you think?

Keep up the great work and don’t let the idiots keep you down. If someone can’t take an F bomb in an article they have no business on the internet. The officer corps goes through a bit different deal but, I always look back to those six weeks of Gunny’s kicking our asses 24×7 in Newport, RI as one of the most challenging and memorable of my life.

I’ll never forget it.

I’d say to Tyler, just enjoy basic training and never forget it. Do what you need to perform and come out the other end proud of yourself.

OK, commenters: weigh in on any or all.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Joseph Dantes on April 5, 2011 at 22:10

    I’ve been in 100% ketosis for months now. Zero carbs. No food of any kind but meat and fish and water.

    My debt of gratitude to Robert for suggesting eggs remains. It was the only thing that allowed me to push through the cravings wall while in my disease-weakened state.

    I note that eggs don’t seem to kill cravings on their own, but ONLY when mixed with ground meat. Seth Roberts also published this result of mine:

    Even while going all meat, I found a large number of potential problems with my diet that I had to correct. Some of these problems are exacerbated by paleo rhetoric, such as all the pro-fat propaganda, which doesn’t account for the gross superabundance of fat in our modern meat-purchasing environment.

    This post outlines every problem I encountered, and minimalist fixes:

  2. Ken on April 5, 2011 at 18:01

    Matthew doesn’t seem to be getting much food ~1528 (not counting veggie or mayo) calories for a 300lb person seems to me? Also his protein @ 148g seems a little low as well?

    • Ken on April 5, 2011 at 18:27

      seems low…ooops….

    • batty on April 5, 2011 at 19:18

      Agreed in spades. Especially with all that activity. Of which he definitely needs some resistance training.

      • Bill on April 6, 2011 at 03:05

        I agree he should add resistance training, although he said “isolation”, which I don’t recommend. Stick with compound, heavy lifts, although start a bit slow and get a trainer if lifting is new. He might try some intervals on the bike or in the pool as well if he’s not doing that to rev the metabolism a bit more.

        His calories seem low, although he indicates that he binges, so he could be undoing all the good work in a single bad day on the weekend (trust me, I know how easy that is). I would think that a 300 lb person would be losing weight at 3000 Cals. I weigh a lot less and can eat 2500 without gaining weight.

        I personally like veggies and find that it’s easiest to mix them in. I like to sautee spinach in the bacon fat to go with my eggs and I eat a lot of stir fries (although it’s hard to find sauces without a lot of sugar). Cauliflower makes a really good base for many stir fries in place of rice. We also like to get creative with Spaghetti Squash and use it in Singapore Rice Noodles in place of the rice noodles. 2-3 cups of veggies is 4-6 servings, which meets recommended guidelines (I realize not everyone agrees with these guidelines). I also wouldn’t fret about the beef if he can’t afford it. Eat the best you can. Just dumping the sugar and grains is a big improvement.

        Good luck.

      • Jan on April 6, 2011 at 07:03

        *gasp* Bill, I could KISS you! Singapore Rice Noodles using spaghetti squash???

        Guess what’s on the menu this weekend!

      • Lucy on April 6, 2011 at 07:20

        If his calories are low, and he doesn’t like the veggies, then the answer might be cream 🙂 I haven’t found any veggies yet my veggie hating dh and dd’s won’t eat if I cook them in cream and butter. Lima beans, broccoli, leeks, cauliflower, spinach… it’s all good with a lot of cream and butter.

        I know cream isn’t entirely paleo, but somehow butter alone doesn’t do it for veggies, not for my fam anyway.

  3. jonw on April 5, 2011 at 18:22

    I am a 3-year paleo eater going off to navy officer camp next month. In my prior life I ran an Army basic training company for a couple years, so I think I have a good idea what to expect. For running, they will want you to have “good running shoes,” because that’s what you “need.” (I think these days even the USMC has learned to avoid the injuries that come with running in boots.) If your shoes are judged unsat you will be taken to the nearest store on base to choose from 4-5 selections. Here’s my plan: bring the thinnest, flattest soled shoes I can get away with. Maybe wrestling shoes or converse canvas sneakers, but I think these martial art shoes are very comfortable and have a decent chance of escaping notice. ) If nothing else, wear the oldest beaten down running shoes you have (less cushioning), with no insole.
    I’ll eat as much meat as possible, pile butter on my food, plan to not eat during breakfast, but if sufficient protein/fat is not available the other meals of the day I’ll just stay flexible. I don’t think I’ll need to eat a lot of carb, but if so I’ll focus on potatoes, rice, bananas, and avoid the bread and sweets. I’d say avoid the fried food because of the soy grease it will be soaked in, but there may not be much you can do about it.

  4. Becky on April 5, 2011 at 19:14

    Some thoughts for Matthew
    1) You’re insulin resistant. You may not be “Type 2 Diabetic” but you’re already IR. You need to be extra vigilant about your diet until your body fully heals.
    2) Continuing on with 1, you’re probably weren’t losing because, judging by your Tumblr account, you weren’t following your diet. Cookies and refried beans are not OK, whether you do Paleo or Atkins. For some, specifically the IR, a single “treat” can fudge it up for a week or more. Others who are young and/or healthy and/or already healed can do 80% on 20% off.
    3) Eat your veggies. =)
    4) For the sake of your knees, I’d stick to walking. Exercise adds very little to weight loss and will not be doing your body any favors with the extra weight. I’m speaking from experience – I took up exercise at 250 pounds and my knees have never been the same, making it impossible for me to do the activities I WANT TO DO at 170 pounds.
    5) Don’t count calories. It will only end in sadness and Hagen Daas.
    6) YES. Atkins et al were designed for extreme weight loss. Try Induction for a while and see if you get results.

    • Ruben on April 7, 2011 at 00:28

      I agree 100%. This is highly likely to be Matthew’s problem. I used to be exactly the same: started dieting at 310 Lbs, having come extremely close to being a full-on diabetic, and having little cheats that fucked up all progress.

      Some people just cannot cheat. At all. My, and probably your, metabolism is fucked from many years of eating incorrectly. Normal calculators don’t work for us. I’m still quite muscular underneath the flab (former HW powerlifter) but even so I can only lose weight (now at 255) when I keep my calories below 1600. Every calculator says I could eat nearly double and still lose weight, but calculators work on the average person — and who do you know who is completely average? That’s right: nobody.

      What I’d suggest: take up heavy weight training. Muscle mass is king for increasing BMR. Go do powerlifting, body building, strongman, something like that. Pink dumbbells = wasted time. You don’t have to do a lot of hours worth of lifting weights. An hour of balls to the wall heavy lifting twice per week is more than enough.

      And also: don’t cheat. What you are doing now is especially insidious: you eat relatively cleanly during the week, and reward yourself for this during the weekend with food. Step back and think about what you are doing. You reward yourself for eating right… BY NOT EATING RIGHT! Think about how retarded that is. Rewarding yourself is great. But rewarding a dieter with junk food is like rewarding an AA member with a bottle of cheap vodka. Don’t do it. Reward yourself with a DVD, with a game, with a blowjob from a crack whore, whatever. But DON’T reward yourself with food.

      Does this mean that you can never have food X again? Yes. Grow up and deal with it. I can never have chocolate again. It sucks monkey balls. But I found out that not being able to walk properly at age 36 sucked much, much worse. Pick your poison. If junk food is more important to you than your health, then fine. Everyone has different priorities. But then STFU about wanting to lose weight, because you can’t do both.

      Also, biological dependence on junk food? Yes, it exists. I had to quit diet Coke cold turkey too. Yes, you feel like crap for 2-3 weeks. You’ll live. What you are doing now is much worse: going off for 5 days, then get your fix again, then go off again for 5 days, etc. This isn’t just keeping the addiction alive, this is strengthening it! Just man up and quit for a whole month. That will do the trick permanently. Is it hard? A bit. But let’s not go all Oprah on each other. It’s just caffeine and sugar you are addicted to. It’s not like you are addicted to real coke. The two don’t compare, trust me on that.

      Some, including Richard, have mentioned intermittent fasting. Do this, it works well for people like us, who always have the urge to binge. But include a shitload of leafy greens. No matter how much leafy greens you are envisioning now: much more than that. You need volume to fill your stomach, which is probably much larger than normal. Eat only tiny portions of high-calorie food, and it will keep feeling empty, and keep you feeling hungry. My salad bowl is actually a large mixing bowl, and I will normally munch through a head of lettuce or cabbage as a side dish to my main meal. (very light dressing only, of course) Fill that fucker up with low-cal greens.

  5. julianne on April 5, 2011 at 19:22

    Sweet craving – caused by choline deficiency?
    From Paul Jaminet’s post
    “The sweet taste evolved primarily to encourage the eating of fatty, energy-dense meats; and of essential fat-associated micronutrients such as choline and inositol.”

    Interesting for me – my 12 year old son has developed a big sugar craving – as in addicted to sweet drinks.
    He stopped having eggs for breakfast a few months ago.

    I’ll get him back on them and see what happens.

  6. Austin on April 5, 2011 at 19:34

    Looking at his tumblr, I agree with Ken that Matthew’s food intake is too low. My meal portions are around twice of what I see in those pictures and I weigh roughly 150lbs.

    My suggestions are:

    1. Try some intermittent fasting. Martin Berkhan’s 16/8 protocol comes to mind.

    2. Increase meal portion sizes. (did Matthew mention if he felt satiated or hungry on his diet?) He should not be fighting hunger all the time.

    3. Get rid of the diet soda and sugary snacks altogether(at least until he is lean. then he can decide if he wants to add them back in moderation on weekends).

  7. Austin on April 5, 2011 at 19:37

    4. And he might want to get some help or counselling with regards to the emotional/psychological issues.

  8. Walter on April 5, 2011 at 20:19

    What you need is some good paleo music:

  9. Bob Connors on April 5, 2011 at 20:21

    Richard: Sorry you’re not feeling it , but from my perspective you’ve written some really good stuff lately. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and just love when you go after the vegans. Sorry, but I love a good fight. Big UFC fan and all.

    For Matthew: agree with the other folks above. No way you’re eating enough judging from those photos on tumblr . Also, I have recently started losing some long-standing belly fat by upping my fat intake pretty dramatically and going very low carb by cutting out all fruit. I’m under 20g a day for carbs and feeling fine. Lots of good quality protein and fats as well as tons of mixed greens and other raw veggies help keep me feeling satisfied with portion size. I eat at least 3-6 cups of mixed greens per day. Dr. Eades mentions in one of his books how we have an automatic “off” button for protein/fat intake. I’d say to eat until you’re satisfied and full as long as you’re sticking to lots of proteins, fats, and veggies.

    Also agree with the advice on the intermittent fasting. I eat my first meal around noon and keep the eating window open til about 8pm. Drink lots of water as well to stop the mild cravings mid-morning before the first meal. Try to walk before your first meal as that has helped me.

  10. julianne on April 5, 2011 at 20:21

    My observation with some people is – if they go very low carb – they get what I call rebound hunger. I.e, body doesn’t like it much, can only stand it for so long. Then big cravings. I’ve also heard a number of stories of people increasing carbs (from VLC to about 75 – 100 g per day) and fat loss starts up again

    I find personally I like moderate carbs, about from 50 – 100 or so a day. Try upping carbs and see what happens, using a bit of starchy veg at meals, maybe some berries too.

    • Austin on April 5, 2011 at 20:33

      I’ve found that I simply had to up my carbs once I leaned out. I’m currently consuming anywhere from 100 to 200 grams of carbs daily. From vegetables, starches, fruit and rice. Little or no sugar most days. Before that I could do 50-100 daily.

    • Sue on April 5, 2011 at 23:07

      I agree. Julianne did you change your pic or hair colour?

      • julianne on April 6, 2011 at 16:11

        Pic and hair colour. The last photo was a couple of years ago and I had dyed it light auburn. I still dye it but more strawberry blonde which is close to my natural colour. I’m very non caveman in my love of hair dye, makeup, clothes (from designer sales) and high heels for going out! So I love paleo eating and crossfit to keep the body looking good in the clothes. I have no problem admitting my vanity! After all we love our computer etc. technology, why not love fashion technology.

        On the other hand – I love feeling fit and strong, and being lean and beating all the health issues that I had with SNZHD (standard NZ ‘healthy’ diet).

      • Sue on April 6, 2011 at 23:44

        Thought so – looked at pic then name and it didn’t look like you. Yeh, I dye my hair too.

    • Bill on April 6, 2011 at 03:08

      Julianne – good advice. I tried very low carb several times and was starving by the end of the first week. I could eat 4000+ Cals of fat and protein and still be hungry. I found that using tubers, such as potatoes / sweet potatoes stopped the hunger without going back to grains or sugar.

    • rob on April 6, 2011 at 05:04

      I went from 225 to 172 eating very low carb (less than 20g per day) for seven months with no cheating whatsoever (have since gone back up to 187 due to weight training). Your body most definitely does not like it … there were a few times when I felt like I was going to slip into a coma. Also I had to use deodorant three times a day cause I stank, was pretty constipated for the first few weeks, initially had very low energy, would get dizzy every time I stood up, etc. etc. etc.

      But I consistently lost pounds per week.

      Changing your life isn’t always easy or pleasant.

      In Matthew’s case: 3000 calories a day is WAY too much, not even close to where you should be. Given your level of physical activity 1600 calories a day is plenty. You MUST count and limit your calories. As far as eating more vegetables, fuck the vegetables, eat a cup of broccoli or cauliflower every day if you feel you need some carbs, no more than that. Try to skip them altogether if you can.

      Up the walking by 2 minutes per week until you are doing an hour a day. Adding 2 minutes per week isn’t that hard.

      Stop the cheating on the weekends … YOU CANNOT CHEAT AT ALL … ZERO, ZILCH … once you have lost 70 pounds then you can cheat once in a while. If you feel like you are going to slip into a coma you should eat a piece of fruit … NO GRAINS. If you feel a little weak and dizzy every now and then just sit down until it passes.

      Fuck the primal blueprint resistance exercise, just walk and swim, you are not concerned with building up muscle, you are concerned with losing weight. Once you have lost 70 pounds then you can start with the resistance exercise.

      Weighing more than 300 pounds is more than an inconvenience, it just isn’t viable in the long term ….. you need to do whatever it takes to change. Don’t concern yourself with eating paleo, living primal, blah blah blah … try different approaches until you get the results you want. What you are doing is not working so you need to alter your approach.

      • Paul C on April 6, 2011 at 08:01

        Rob, you have an iron will, which is the only way to make a starvation diet work. That does not sound like good advice for Matthew.

        Sorry to cite Ancel Keys here, but his Minnesota starvation experiment is valuable science (unless someone can correct me). 36 men were subjected to restricted calories of 1560 per day, resulting in the conclusion: “prolonged semi-starvation produces significant increases in depression, hysteria and hypochondriasis”. ” Participants exhibited a preoccupation with food, both during the starvation period and the rehabilitation phase. Sexual interest was drastically reduced, and the volunteers showed signs of social withdrawal and isolation.”

        That is not a situation in which a weak person should be placed.

        Most here will recommend eating more, not less, because we all want Matthew’s internal engine to get stronger and rev up, while keeping him sane.

      • Mike on April 6, 2011 at 10:08

        Macro-nutrient profile matters a great deal. Keys experiment was 1560 calories consisting of mostly carbs. Keep carb very low and you won’t get the same results that Keys got, even with less calories. Hell, I remember reading about a study of fasting that lasted longer than keys study and had no mental effects.

      • rob on April 6, 2011 at 12:15

        Yeah most here will recommend eating more, not less, but imo that is unmitigated bullshit. I know that’s not what the people here think is the truth, but it’s what I think is the truth.

        1600 calories a day is not a starvation diet for Matthew, it’s a LUXURY. Dude is over 100 pounds overweight, if he can lose it on a 1600 calorie a day diet he should be thinking “My cup runneth over!”

        The answer on all the Paleo blogs is “YOU NEED MORE FAT!”

        Yeah if he feels like he is going to keel over and die he needs more fat, anything other than that he has enough fat to work with, try eating the tuna straight out of the can, and try eating 1600 calories worth … I promise you will feel plenty full WELL short of the 1600 calorie mark … you will have to force it down your throat that’s how full you will feel .. try eating even four small cans of tuna back to back, I’ve done it and when you are finished all you can think is “Can I please stop eating?”

        I’m not ragging on the guy, I’ve been there myself, needed to lose a lot of weight … it is not easy and it is not pleasant, and imo anyone who tells you different is selling you something.

        Can he eat as much as he wants? Hell yeah, eat as much as you want AND THEN some … so long as it is tuna straight out of the can or chicken breast … nobody can eat more than 1600 calories a day of that crap, you have to shove it down your throat and force yourself to swallow to get beyond 1200 calories.

      • Paul C on April 6, 2011 at 14:15

        Rob you are right. Your method works. But it isn’t effective. And by that I mean most people can’t do it because they don’t have the will.

        I keep picturing you as the albino guy in the Da Vinci Code, self-flagellating with can o’ nine tuna.

        Mike, I agree Keys’ macronutrient composition was horrible in paleo terms during that experiment, but many consume almost the same diet in non-starvation mode without the scary psycho effects. Or do they…. hmmmm…. reflecting on various family members’ behaviors now.

      • Ruben on April 7, 2011 at 00:36

        You must have a tiny stomach. 1600 kcal of chicken breast is a problem for you? I call that lunch. 🙂 Which is why I’m not allowed to have it any more.

  11. CG on April 5, 2011 at 20:40

    A few thoughts for Matthew:
    1. Get rid of the beans, and ALL forms of sugar (honey included) and dairy.
    2. Are you counting the calories in whatever you put in your horseradish, etc etc? Might want to replace those with a bit of butter or something else.
    3. As Richard said, resistance training.
    4. Remove all dairy until you find out if it causes inflammation.
    5. Also, those buffalo wings probably aren’t the best for you.

    You mentioned being ‘poor’ so you can’t get grass-fed beef. That’s fine, focus on getting leaner cuts from store when you can’t get grass-fed. Or leaner ground beef. In any event, good luck!

  12. perkinskit on April 5, 2011 at 21:41

    For Matt-

    Drop the beans (Tim Ferriss has some stuff right – but not “The Slow Carb Diet”).

    Eat as few veggies as you please.

    When you get hungry, EAT! Here’s the catch: eat something paleo/primal. If you’re still hungry after a bun-less bacon cheeseburger (with NO beans), then *^&%ing eat another one – don’t have a cookie.

    Also make sure lifestyle factors like sleep and stress are dialed in.

    Not required at all for fat loss at your stage, but ou could do the simple approach to IF – eat when you’re hungry and don’t when you’re not. Once you repair to the point where your fasting insulin is relatively normal, you should rarely get hungry, due to your large storage of fat cells.

  13. Al Ciampa on April 5, 2011 at 21:51


    I did Army Infantry school with similar circumstances to you. You literally have no control, and even less time, over what you eat. If you stay away from grains, you won’t be eating enough calories. There is no “pile on the meat and butter”. I had bad IBS with bloating and constantly loose stools. Prepare for those to come back, if that’s where you were at. I shit my pants more than once: no one gives a fuck, just drive on. The most control you’ll have is in the field: swap out the candy and breads for meat with you’re buddies that are craving it. Not the best source of meat (MRE’s), but better than sugar/wheat.

    The good thing is that you don’t get enough food anyway, so unlike being a civilian and eating until content (and beyond), the reduction in food coupled with the enormous increase in physical activity (no, you have no idea), tend to even things out, so you don’t ever feel as horrible (constantly tired, but never horrible) from food borne problems.

    I echo the shoe recommendation, get the lowest sole shoe that “looks” standard. However, the Marine Corps as an organization has adopted the CrossFit mentality more than any other branch of service, so you might be surprised at Paris Island.

    I’m Richard, enjoy the time. It goes fast; when it sucks, it sucks bad, but when its good, its really good. My general advice: take a step back from time to time and see the big picture. It’s not moving as fast as it seems, and things are much easier than they seem.

    Thanks for serving.


    • Jules on April 6, 2011 at 08:37

      My boyfriend was 25th Infantry; he’s regaled me with many stories of Infantry & ranger schools, and I am always amazed. Thank you for your service 🙂

    • Jill on April 7, 2011 at 06:16

      Yes, this is about what my husband told me of his time in boot camp for the Marines – stories of chugging milk to get some calories because there was no time to eat and that’s all that was left. I’m glad someone put in a “reality check” comment about just eating whatever you can get your hands on.

    • Chris on April 10, 2011 at 21:02

      Agreed 100%. I too have gone through the Army Basic, not to mention Airborne, AirAssault, and SF selection for about a week before I got hurt and my cousins are all Marines. In basic you have no choice as to when you eat, nevermind WHAT you eat. And if your experience was anything like mine, you won’t care what it is. They feed you plenty, if not always(ever) delicious, but they give you about 3500cal/day. You will be so busy you won’t care. And to Tyler, like Richard said, enjoy it. I had a great time. You just have to realize it’s all a game and do what you’re told. It’ll be over before you know it and the “real” military is nothing like training, especially basic and the schools.

  14. james on April 5, 2011 at 23:44


    I’m going off to Basic with the army in 35 days, from what everyone’s told me they work you until you break, on purpose, especially in the first 2-3 weeks. I’m sure they work the Marines harder. You’ll need every bit of energy you can get, if you were an animal it’d be no different, picture it as you in survival mode, don’t be thinking about how unhealthy something is, because in the long run you’re liable to do things that will be much more risky than eating grains and sugar for 10 weeks

  15. Karl on April 5, 2011 at 23:49

    For Matthew,

    I think he’d be better off taking the focus off the carbs and putting it onto just eating real food. A meat heavy, paleo style diet that includes 50-150 grams of ‘real food’ carbs per day should be fine. There’s no real point in going lower. He could try an 8 hour feeding window (Leangains) along with a Body by Science type workout once a week. John Little did an experiment where people looking to lose weight lost more of it with just 2 of the ‘big 5 exercises’ per week than with more. Their hypothesis was that the subjects bodies could only make so many metabolic adaptations so extra exercise was actually counterproductive for losing more weight.

    Matthew doesn’t mention anything about his sleep habits, stress levels or vitamin D levels, but getting out in the sun, looking for ways to cut stress and committing to getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night would all be extremely helpful if any of those areas are problematic. I think it was Robb Wolf who wrote that people who are sleep deprived have the Insulin Sensitivity of a Type 2 Diabetic. Again Matthew doesn’t mention that that’s a problem, but if it were it seems sort of silly to worry about +- 50 grams of carbs when you really just need a good night’s sleep.

    Through Richard, Dr. Harris and some of the other great people around the blogs I’ve gradually come to the conclusion that the real key is lowering the overall level of stress our bodies are subjected to. Our bodies can deal with a certain amount from a combination of diet, emotions, exercise, sleep and so on, but when the overall stress levels get too high our bodies start to break down. Weight gain is a symptom of this.

    Diet is clearly a culprit for excessive stress in the US so many people see great results from just fixing their food. However, excessive focus on diet (grain fed meat is poison!) can be counterproductive if it ramps up emotional stress while trying to deal with dietary stress.

    Diet is incredibly important, but it isn’t the only thing. If Matthew is largely paleo already, he may find more value in looking to dial back the stress from other areas of his life rather than trying to go from a B+ to an A- on diet.

    • Ruben on April 7, 2011 at 02:00


      A sound approach. Over-analyzing everything only creates more stress. Good thing you mention vitamin D. Many people are quite deficient in this vitamin without realizing it. I’m taking 10,000 IU per day with great results.

  16. Tyler on April 6, 2011 at 04:40

    Thanks a bunch for the response Richard and all others who left a comment. I might even be leaving sooner than November, but won’t know for awhile. I suppose I will go into “survival” mode and just eat whatever I can get my hands on. As for the shoes I was told that all civilian clothing will to stored away and that we have to buy new ones from the exchange. In fact the only thing I was told to bring with me was a social security card and my recruiter’s business card. We shall see.

  17. Matthew on April 6, 2011 at 06:00

    Matthew (different than me)…

    You need to cut those 3 Tbs of mayo per day. The pufa’s kill you. I’d also lower the carbs and up the fat. Instead of ground beef go steak. Walking 30 mins. a day is perfect until you lean out.

    So increase your good fat intake, decrease pufa’s, and keep the excercise the same. Also lower the carbs, you can do all fat and protein for a long time, you’d be surprised.

  18. Jonathan Vaudreuil on April 6, 2011 at 06:30


    Having lost nearly 100 lbs myself (270 down to 178), I can say that a huge part of my initial weight loss was cutting out the junk food entirely. Don’t buy it at all, and whatever you have in the house either give it away or throw it out. Buy only foods you should be eating. Your willpower will fail you, trust me as someone who knows what it’s like to want soda and cookies every night. Winning the war means giving it up entirely in your home.

    Cheating and Slow-Carb: you cannot – repeat, cannot – mix Paleo and Slow-Carb. I did Slow-Carb for 2+ months before shifting to a more Paleo diet, and both work for weight loss. There is no cheating on Paleo, and there is ONE cheat day per week on Slow-Carb (not an entire weekend). If you don’t follow either diet the way they’re designed then you won’t get the results you’re looking for. Worry less about organic and grass fed, just get the fundamental food down and eat nothing more than that.

    As for the tuna w/mayo – skip the mayo unless it’s home made. I personally add mustard and a 1/4 avocado to one can of tuna to make tuna salad (along with some other things) instead of mayo. It’s delicious.

  19. Michal on April 6, 2011 at 07:28

    Sounds like the first guy just needs to eat more and cut out the high fructose cheat stuff. You can get by with almost no servings or of vegetables per day. Get some liver, it is cheap and natures multivitamin. Also when you go vlc eat more. Then chill your metabolism will fix itself. You will get cravings at first. Tim Ferris suggests bcaa to calm them.

    Whenever I got a craving for food I would cook a pack of bacon and some eggs. The carb cravings go away, but the easiest way to deal with them is with more food.

    Never count calories only carbs.

    • Ruben on April 7, 2011 at 02:06

      Sorry Michal, but this is bullshit advice. Well, it may work for some. But anyone with an appetite will gain serious amounts of fat doing this. I see more comments here that hint at this, and it pisses me off somewhat. Please realize that not everyone is the same. Maybe you can eat to satiety and automatically not ingest too many kcal. Good for you; in fact I envy you. But that doesn’t hold true for everyone. If I eat to satiety on only proteins and fat, I’ll easily ingest 3-4000 kcal per meal. From experience I can tell you that this does little for fat loss — to put it mildly. So yes, I, and others like me, MUST count both calories and carbs.

      • Michal on April 7, 2011 at 10:00

        yeah not everyone is the same. I get leaner if I eat like a human to satiety than if I hold back. So no its not bs.

      • Ruben on April 7, 2011 at 23:29

        At least it is asinine of you to assume everyone is exactly like you.

  20. Sean on April 6, 2011 at 07:50

    “Unfortunately I still end up going off primal on the weeknds – I can’t seem to quit my addiction fully, despite having toned it down from pizza and 8 litres of diet coke a day six months ago to a bottle on the weekend and maybe a slice on Saturday. Part of it is long -term biological dependence and the rest is emotional eating and other psychological issues. I started taking 5-HTP about a week ago and this is the first week I’ve gone 7 days without binging, so this may be a huge step.”

    Long-term “biological dependence”? It’s called insulin addiction. Kick the addiction or not, but stop using pseudo-scientific bullshit as an excuse.

    Emotional eating? Seriously? Psychological issues?

    It’s difficult to lose a sugar/carb addiction, but buying into this whiny psychological pseudo-science is just an excuse to give up.

    • Ruben on April 7, 2011 at 02:23

      Good points. One thing to keep in mind is that Matthew might not yet be psychologically ready to lose weight. The rationalizations, the baby steps forward and leaps backward, the ‘help me’ attitude, the focus on minor points instead of the gist of the matter, all suggest to me that he ‘kinda’ wants to lose weight, but his heart isn’t in it yet. And as long as that’s the case, results will not come. So I don’t think Matthew has given up. I think he has not even started yet.

      Not trying to be a dick here, although I might come across as one. It’s what I do best. 🙂 But the above description is me, 6 months ago. Always ‘sort of’ dieting, but never enough to be effective. So I’d feel miserable with nothing to show for it, always hoping to find some secret pill or formula that would magically make me lose weight.

      It took me years to realize that nobody will help me lose weight. Not because people don’t want to help, but because they CAN’T help. People can give you tools, but they can’t make you want to be a carpenter. Same thing here: I know more about diets than everyone I know, and have known more for years. But actually implementing a diet is something completely different. Retards around me were losing weight on the most absurd diets, while I, armed with a lot of knowledge, was getting fatter and fatter.

      Matthew, and all others like him, KNOW what they shouldn’t be doing. They just aren’t motivated enough to stop doing those things. And nobody can get them to that point but themselves. There has to be some epiphany that makes it clear that losing weight isn’t optional, it is the most important goal in your life. For me that was the realization (not rationally but emotionally) that, being so overweight, I would grow old not being able to help my disabled wife. For someone else it might be that they won’t see their grandchildren grow up. Or that they will never be able to go on that world tour. Whatever it is: until that epiphany comes, nothing we say and do will help.

      • Sean on April 7, 2011 at 02:42

        Excellent points, Ruben, totally agree.

        Frankly I’m far from a puritan or even a well disciplined adherent to what I know I should be eating, and I don’t think psychology is bullshit, even though I frequently mock it.

        I just think that these pop psychology terms can be an easy excuse. I’ve known people who throw around self- or quickly diagnosed terms such as ADD as an excuse for having no mental discipline or focus. And the way Matthew tossed them around set my spidey sense a-tingling. Of course since I’ve never been bitten by a radioactive spider I could just be acting like a blowhard.

  21. Matthew on April 6, 2011 at 09:45

    A once per week cheat is NOT going to kill you, if your eating high quality fats, very low PUFA, low gluten, low fructose for the rest of the week.

    If your not losing weight, your metabolism is probably still very broken so you need to cut out all carbs including vegetables until you start the fat burning process again.

    You might also want to lower the protein a bit to interfere with insulin secretion as much as possible. On a fat loss diet it’s useful to get up to 70-90% of your calories from fat. More butter, heavy cream, fatty cuts of meat.

    Breakfast looks fine, you should do fattier meats for dinner, and for lunch I’d cut the tuna and try to do more with avacados, eggs, butter and cream.

    Try to focus on the science behind weight loss and how it relates to your own body. Not so much “oh you can’t cheat on so n so a diet.”

  22. HeMan on April 6, 2011 at 12:49


    Lots of good suggestions here. Quick blurb: I lost 200lbs about 10 years ago and have kept it off, using ideas similar to what the paleo/primal folks advocate (but before I’d ever heard of it). These guys have helped me backfill why certain things I did worked.

    Most valuable asset: Information. Go to the doc, get the workup. Just need the numbers. Liver function, thyroid, fasting glucose. If you have an underlying condition it’ll help.

    TRACK EVERYTHING. These days there’s plenty of handy websites that help you track calories/macro/exercise/etc. with fancy graphs and such (lucky, don’t have to do it by hand). Once you start getting some info in there, look for trends… see what is working FOR you. Be honest — if you pig out one day, track it, who cares … the only way it works is if you’re honest with yourself.

    Besides info, what seemed to help me was taking up weekend mountain biking, and biking to work. I walked a lot before and still, for pure pleasure reasons, but it never quite seemed to make much difference, at least in terms of body comp.

    Do something you like. Cheat once in a while. But understand what that cheat will do to you. Like me and beer. Good at the time, but I pay the next day. Wine’s better.

  23. jerry on April 6, 2011 at 17:23

    hey richard, sorry to bother with this question as you may have been asked numerous times already, but after swimming in chlorine water at a water park or public pool, do you just wash off with only water still?

    i just started going no shampoo or soap a few days ago based on your experience and love it

    • Richard Nikoley on April 6, 2011 at 18:05

      Only with plain water ever, no exeptions.

      • jerry on April 6, 2011 at 19:54

        awesome, thank you

  24. Marcel on April 6, 2011 at 17:37


    Having gone through Army basic training years ago (wow…1996 to be exact) I can tell you that you will not have any control over, nor much time if any to eat. They have chemical heaters (activated with water) in MREs now…don’t bother, just eat the shit cold, you otherwise will miss meals while training. Trade for stuff with others that want the candy to get what you can meat and protien wise. Your physical activity level will go beyond anything that you have ever dreamed of, and many times you may literally feel like you are going to die, but you’ll make it through.

    My personal experience was that I was pretty big when I went in. Had lifed weights daily for 3 years prior to joining, but had also gotten a bit pudgy from nervously eating before I left. A drill sergeant took some odd interest in me and followed me through the chow lines and made sure I was eating what he wanted me to. Seemed like torture at the time, but looking back he only allowed me to have meat, vegtables, some starches and milk or water. I went from about 215 to 165 in 8 weeks. I looked RIPPED, and quite frankly I’ve never looked that great sense. The guy was a genious in disguise. I went from running about 5 miles struggling to running 10 like it was nothing in those 8 weeks and I could walk in full gear and 80lb pack and a 23lb machine gun for 20+ miles like it was nothing.

    All in all, just make the best choices that you can in the situation, and you will come out much stronger physically and mentally. But make no mistake, there will be times that you’ll want to eat dirt because you’re so hungry 🙂

  25. Dave, RN on April 6, 2011 at 20:13

    You spoke of “reaching for pizza”.
    Why is there pizza in your house? And cokes?
    Stop buying them.

    • Jon on April 7, 2011 at 06:55

      Yep, you have to keep all the garbage out of the house. Cheating needs to be something special, not just reaching into the pantry.

  26. Draft Dodger on April 7, 2011 at 04:22

    Tyler you need to fight for freedom (Yours). You have signed your freedom away. A marine has the freedom to do what he is told to do, same as a slave.

  27. Tyler on April 7, 2011 at 05:50

    I work in a dead end job now, working shitty hours, with no respect or appreciation for what I do. I have a college degree and can’t even so much as find a job working as a bank teller. Draft Dodger, I already am a slave. I don’t have any financial freedom and where I live bores the hell out of me. Sure I will have some people yell at me, but I already get that.

    If “signing” away my personal freedom for a little while improves my life in the long run and arguably improves the lives of many others, than so be it. I will be that slave. I will be a government tool. The training and memories I will earn from this will be invaluable. How many people can proudly call themselves a Marine? Not many. I don’t care about the politics behind the war or anybodies opinion, I’m doing this for ME.

    • Ruben on April 7, 2011 at 06:18


      You are right: it is just replacing one employer with another. Which is why I don’t understand your remark about pride. You can call yourself a marine after a 13-week basic training course. Doesn’t sound like the stuff of legends to me.

      • Tyler on April 7, 2011 at 06:24

        I totally agree with it being a new employer, but feeling a little pride about a new job is ok. Firefighters and cops have pride. Hell even professional chefs have pride, they cook food, that isn’t that legendary either. I’m proud of myself for some things and this will just be one more, I’m not claiming to be a hero.

      • Marcel on April 7, 2011 at 09:05

        Obviously you’ve never served, because your comments indicate that you have no idea what the hell you are talking about.

      • jonw on April 7, 2011 at 14:55

        Marcel, your attitude is naive. Usually when folks talk about “pride” in military work (inaccurate to call it “service”), it’s the result of the psychological indoctrination that is necessary in getting kids ready to follow orders and face death. Essentially, aside from the actual “training,” military indoctrination is designed to co-opt the natural human urge to look out for your buddies into the service of the US government. The tasks you might accomplish, walking a long way, carrying heavy things, etc, might be novel for a typical American kid, but are all in a day’s work for many folks (including children) in the world.

        I am not a fan of war, and don’t really care who controls the world’s oil fields, but for me being a soldier is just a good way to make a living. I take pride in supporting my family with a paycheck, and when in harms way I have done the best I can for the guys next to me, but there is nothing particularly noble or honorable about killing people for the interest of the folks running the US government. You shouldn’t be surprised to find this attitude in a blog that emphasizes libertarian principles.

        Tyler, enjoy basic training, it is a rite of passage and will challenge you. Keep in mind the big picture and that you are being shaped for a role in a large machine. Use the machine to help you reach your own goals and be proud of that; don’t let them convince you that the machine’s goals are the same as yours 😉

      • Richard Nikoley on April 7, 2011 at 15:14

        Well said jonw. I never considered it any more than a job. And it was a great job. The stuff you get to do, where you can live, how you can travel, and more and more, well, I got paid in many ways.

        The downside was the risk. But I was always willing to undertake it. Closest I got to action was in the run up to gulf war I, but was sent back before commencement. I never thought of it as anything more than a contract where I undertook a risk and hoped I’d get the better deal, and that’s exactly how it worked out.

        I always recoiled over the term “serve my country.” I served myself.

    • Rick Lucas on April 7, 2011 at 12:38

      Sadly, there are very few adequate rites-of-passage left for young people in this modern world. Finishing military basic training and serving a term is still one of them, and no matter what the nay-sayers say there is immense value in doing it. So good on ya Tyler, and good luck. My advice would be to just avoid eating the gluten when you can, and drive on when you can’t. You’ll have to live through periods of misery regardless of what you do or don’t eat.

      One final thought to fan the flames a bit: I’ve always regarded the opinions about military service of those who’ve never done a hitch as akin to the opinions of a celibate priest about sex.

  28. Marcel on April 7, 2011 at 09:06

    @Draft Dodger and Ruben

    Obviously you’ve never served, because your comments indicate that you have no idea what the hell you are talking about.

    • Michal on April 7, 2011 at 10:02

      Does serving make you feel superior?

      • Treespeed on April 7, 2011 at 14:07

        What an amazingly stupid question.

    • Draft Dodger on April 7, 2011 at 16:33

      The draft protesters of the 60’s gave young men freedom from Government conscription. Those that fight for self determination fight the honorable battle. No I didn’t serve. Free men don’t do anything they are forced to do.

      • jonw on April 7, 2011 at 16:52

        DD, you probably don’t hear this enough, but thanks for your service (even if it was for yourself).

        I have mixed feelings about the draft. With taxation, the government is stealing labor anyway and using it to fund expensive wars. At least a draft forces everyone to be aware of it. The current system is essentially mercenary with the rich states outsourcing the fighting to the poor states, letting somebody else’s kids die while they reap the benefits. I’d say a draft is a more just way of doing it and I’d support a draft to the extent it undercuts the war efforts. Of course, “justice” is not the aim of our government and they know very well a draft would awaken too many people to the true cost of war.

      • Richard Nikoley on April 7, 2011 at 18:05


        You fail to account for those who signed up, did it as a risk, and had the time of our lives.

        Look, I don’t think the State should do anything. But to the extent it does I can at least appreciate competence and the US military is the most competent massive organization that has ever existed on planet Earth.

        I had one fucking blast being a part of it for 8 years. Time of my life.

    • Ruben on April 7, 2011 at 23:37

      Stating something more than once doesn’t make it more true. Just so you know.

      Obviously the indoctrination has worked perfectly on you, because you assume everyone has been equally successfully brainwashed. Yes, I have served in the army (infantry). You put in your hours as stated in your contract, you learn skills that you didn’t posess before, and you get friendly with your colleagues. Sounds like my current desk job. Which is nowhere near as risky and pays much better. Food is better too. And I can shout at my boss without losing pay and my stripes. Then again, here we don’t have an obstacle course, which is unfortunate: only cardio I ever enjoyed doing.

  29. Woodwose on April 7, 2011 at 09:09

    Joseph, have you tried L-glutamine suplements? been on it for three four weeks now while eating a vlc diet and L-glutamine works wonder for IBS from a n=1 experience.

  30. Dan on April 7, 2011 at 11:47

    To Tyler;

    I remember when I went through basic training about a decade ago. The best suggestion I can give is to eat everything, twice! The amount of calories you will expend will be like nothing you have done. I remember regularly eating a chocolate bar during long ass marches in full gear. I wouldn’t have made it without that sugar rush…..

  31. luc on April 7, 2011 at 12:03

    Sorry, perhaps I am missing something but for me eating meat, eggs and some veggies is not all there is to a paleo diet. Matt might be “missing out” on some essential nutrients and amino acides. To me it would also involve eating (more or less) the equivalent of an entire animal and not only muscle meat: e.g. include broth/gelatine made from cooking bones, include offal (liver) in your diet. I would expect these to make a great difference. I am not eating paleo (just a bit) because the family is not ready for that, but since I am supplementing some copper, selenium, and chromium (which might all be found in liver for example; a recommendation from the Jaminets) I am seeing quite some progress in loosing weight without counting calories.

  32. kathy on April 8, 2011 at 03:45

    Hello there,Thank you for the great quality of your blog, each time i come here, i’m amazed.


  33. Naked Paleo on April 8, 2011 at 10:10

    Matthew, you should 100% be eating more food. I lost around 60 lbs. then stalled for the longest time until I INCREASED my calories. Then I started losing again. I weigh 184 lbs. (as of this morning), eat nearly 3000 calories per day (6 egg breakfast, pound of beef for lunch, plenty of chicken for dinner, all meals with veg), and am STILL losing weight. I only do some resistance training (compound exercises and/or bodyweight stuff). Increase calories for sure. Think about doubling them. At 300 lbs., 3000 calories per day is a maintenance level number, and that’s if you’re completely sedentary.

    DO NOT try intermittent fasting at this stage. If you’re eating around 1600 calories a day, at 300 lbs., and not losing weight, IF will only further break you. You’ll dig yourself into a hole and start having major cortisol issues, electrolyte imbalances, etc. Trust me, I’ve been there. NO IF for you at this point.

    Stop cheating. A big part of the reason you’re cheating is because you’re not getting enough calories. You also have to break your addiction to sugar and grains. Eat 3000 calories per day, good, whole, Paleo foods, and do not starve yourself (I wouldn’t even skip a meal until you’re losing weight again and feeling great).

    Finally, don’t make this harder than it needs to be. You’ll only hurt yourself that way.

  34. Annabel on April 10, 2011 at 11:16

    @Tyler, I just came from the Island last September, and here’s the main piece of advice: unless you claim to be vegetarian, or have a religious reason to not eat certain foods, you have basically no control over what you eat. You eat what they tell you, and honestly, you will not have time to worry about it. Nor will you have the energy. It’s gross (tastes like chemicals, even chow hall, not talking MREs), but you shovel it down anyways, and you’ll be more worried about not attracting attention then what’s on your tray.

    Basically, you’re going to feel like shit and like you’re starving no matter what, so diet is the least of your concerns. On the bright side, they usually have two or three varieties on what you can eat, and there’s often one choice with little to no visible grains or bread, and they have veggies as a side option, as well as a salad bar. Don’t count on dressings though–they control that. You do have a very limited choice in what to eat, but if your platoon messes up, the DIs will take control and dictate your choices for a while.

    I would continue to eat grains at least once a week (or something small like a piece of bread at breakfast, since that’s the most carb-loaded meal on the Island)–you’re going to get some form of IBS or shitting problems while there, everyone does, regardless of health going in. It’s just rough on the body, more from physical and mental, less from the food. You won’t die though, and if you’re having serious health issues they send you to the Navy boys and girls or will adjust what you eat (I know of recruits who were allowed changes halfway through).

    The husband is completely lactose intolerant (also went to PI), and hates veggies with a passion, and he drank milk and ate double rats of salad just to get enough calories while there, and he didn’t have problems beyond what everyone gets.

    And hey, about the boots and all that: doesn’t much matter. You get shoes and boots issued when you get there, and they’re all brand new. You’ll have to break them the shoes and boots in no matter what. I’d only practice hikes and marches in boots to give yourself a couple calluses, to give you a couple days of lead time before the blisters start. The running shoes are pretty sparse–Marines more then any other branch likes Crossfit and other ideals like that, so there’s minimal padding in the running shoes (they’re New Balance, if that helps). Keep doing long cardio–but be sure to mix in explosive exercises as well–runs and marches don’t help with confidence courses or getting pitted. And don’t forget the mental aspect–study knowledge (the general orders, etc). You won’t use it too much outside of boot camp, but it gives you brainpower to focus on other things if you already know it going in vs them having to teach you.

    Semper Fi, Tyler. You’ll be fine, just don’t give up.

    • Tyler on April 10, 2011 at 18:26


      Thanks for all the great advice. I go to San Diego for Basic, I might be leaving even sooner than November so I’ve upped the training a lot. I can knock out the PFT already without a problem, now I’m just working on the mental and endurance.

  35. Mike L on April 13, 2011 at 15:27

    I agree that Matthew needs to up his fats. I’ve lost 160 pounds on probably 3000kcal a day and under 30 grams of carbs. And that is with zero exercise. I have a reason for not exercising, but that’s for another time. Also If he’s not losing weight he might need to cut back on the protein. That’s what I have to do when I hit a plateau. He should also have as his primary fat sources are pastured butter, coconut and olive oil. I don’t use store bought condiments and make my own mayo and salad dressings. It’s not rocket science and I highly recommend it. Another thing would be to get a glucometer and check his blood sugar. I’m diabetic, but have an a1c that usually ranges between 4.3 and 4.8, but the last check was 3.9. If you can keep your blood sugar mostly under 100 at all times you will lose weight, because your pancreas will not be pumping out insulin to cover the higher levels of glucose. As most everyone here knows, insulin is the storage hormone and the fat cells will never turn insulin down even when the rest of the cells treat it like a Jehovah’s Witness (no offense meant) when insulin come-a-knockin.

  36. Tamara on April 16, 2011 at 06:49

    To Tyler,

    My husband was at PI 2 years ago(we weren’t primal/paleo back then) but he reports in terms of food, you never have enough. He was starving all the time so you will eat whatever they serve just to get enough calories. And from what I remember him telling me, it’s not a free-for-all with you being able to choose to eat only the meat and not the carbs; it’s like a cafeteria style where they plop the food on your tray and you better be damned sure you move through the line damn quick and eat all your food and you’ll get pitted by your DI. And you will never have time to eat all your food. You will be shoveling it in.

    When you go out to do rifle qual and all that you’ll be eating a lot of MRE’s which are filled with carbs.

    In terms of running, ect you will do your drill in your boots and BDU’s but all your fitness related stuff will be done in USMC issued running shoes(New Balance was what my husband had).

    Just think about this: it’s only 13 weeks(assuming you don’t get dropped back to another platoon for not passing a certain point or put in MRP) and then you can return to your paleo life-style.

    At boot, you are the scum of the earth and your DI’s are your god and you do what they say when they say it.

    Good luck!

  37. Tyler on August 8, 2011 at 17:30

    I’m heading out August 22nd now. I think I’m all good to go. Thanks for the advice Richard and everyone else.

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