6-Years of Self Experimenting: My Fully Integrated Approach To Paleo / Primal Eating, Real Food and Vibrant Health

It’s been quite a ride over these last six years.

Every experiment is a success, because you either know you’re right and it’s effective, or you know you’re wrong and can move onto something else. You learn things in the process either way, such that an ultimately failed experiment still gives insights. The journey has been an overall a success for me, with a number of setbacks along the way. Before I begin, though, let me assure those that poke fun and insult me here and there—like those showing up in my comment queue regularly, whose commentes never get published: you are wasting your time. No further comment on it is necessary. You ought just read this and do an honest self-assessment of what little I think of you in comparison to myself, and what levels of self-confidence I possess in the face of you as a pip-squeak and clown. Or, TL;DR on that link, and see if I care.

I likely would not have done much beyond a simple low carbohydrate, Paleo / Primal diet—combined with intermittent fasting, some supplementation of fat soluble vitamins and a mineral or two, and brief workouts at the gym—if it had worked as anticipated once I had dropped from the 235-240 down to 175 in the first couple of years. But I didn’t feel right. Cold hands & feet, mostly. A dulling of the sheen on the thing. Less well being, not more. Back at around 185 I felt better, kinda ideal, actually. Anyway, that’s when other troubles began. I took up the Leangains protocol with Martin Berkhan, but due no fault of his, of course—and I was making good progressI injured myself pretty badly and worlds came tumbling down. In spite of a desire to manage it better, recurrences of the thing over the next two years just kept me out of much of the game, both physically and mentally.

Lots of problems and drama resulted and ensued. Oh, well. The one thing I did, however, was take the opportunity to do a lot of experiments of short duration. Here’s a look at my general take on everything going way back, in several categories from most effective to least.

Most Effective Self-Experiments

  • paleo / Primal Eating. It just works: meat, fish, fowl, vegetables, fruits, nuts. Cook only with natural fats (butter, ghee, lard, coconut oil, palm oil, olive oil, etc.). Dump processed foods, especially stuff in boxes, bags, most cans, frozen stuff. Eliminate most grains, refined sugar, vegetable/seed oils.
  • Intermittent Fasting. Big one. Just allow yourself to go hungry fairly regularly. Try to have a space of 12 hours daily between last eating at night and first eating in the morning. Extend it to 18-30 hours once or twice per week. Use it as a way to consume less calories on average when trying to improve body composition (gain or keep lean, lose fat) and as a way to put your body into a state of autophagy once you have your desired body composition. You do this by simply shifting all your average required feeding into windows. It’s not about chronic under feeding.
  • Supplementation. Vitamin D. Vitamin K2 (MK-4). Magnesium. Small list. Get as much sensible bare skin time in the sun as you can.
  • Lift Heavy Things in Compound Ways. Just not too much. Not too often. Short duration of no more than 30-40 minutes when you do. Combine weight lifting and intermittent fasting (lift near the end of your fast); if not every time, lots of the time.
  • Corn Tortillas, Rice & Potatoes. Grains & Evil: redundancy. But none are anything like a staple for me—I dislike the whole notion of staple food, actually, which just means “cheap, so we eat it all the time.” All work for me very well and makes it easy to stay away from wheat and other grains that make me feel awful. I probably do more corn tortillas (ingredients: corn, water, lime, that’s all) than rice or potatoes in total carbage, but the tortillas are so awesome as a substitute for bread or crackers and can be used as a reasonable carb delivery vehicle for almost anything (even sauerkraut & tuna salad, or sardines, or smoked oysters). I’m sold on them; never touch flour ones, ever. Get those in your diet and watch how little bread or pizza cheats you do—you can even make corn tortilla pizzas…open face quesadilla, basically. 
  • Resistant Starch. This is really my final experiment I know of. I’m still doing it, and will always be doing it. It’s a dicey deal to get started with, however. Two posts so far, here & here. I’ll be kicking off a couple of posts very soon, so I’ll leave discussion for that.

Moderately Effective Self-Experiments

  • Low-Carbohydrate Dieting. Sorry folks, and I know many swear by it and diabetics may require it; but for me the whole strict LC deal as a lifestyle just leaves me wanting. If you have to, or it just works for you and you love it, no beef. That said, it’s an effective method for fat loss because of its propensity to satiate, such that you eat less energy—at least up to the point of the 20-30-pound-from-goal stall that’s so common. I also eat plenty of zero to VLC meals and they are some of my favorites (lunch yesterday was a plate of leftover fatty ribs…done!). On average, I think most will do better in a more moderate milieu of 100-200g carbs per day—on average!
  • Cold Thermogenesis. This was attractive to me long before I even blogged about it, since I had a gym with a 45 degree cold plunge and I’d worked myself up to 12-15 minutes post-workout. Invigorating. Improves recovery time. Makes you feel like a fucking Viking, ready to smash in heads with large heavy mallets! But as a daily deal? Nah. Bags of ice cubes in your bathtub? Nah. Profound body composition improvement? Nah. Use Intermittent Fasting for that. Nowadays, I go over to the pool almost every day and lightly tread water in the deep end until it gets boring (10-30 minutes, usually). Then I walk laps around the pool in the sun. All that said, zero harm or risk in it. If you like laying in ice water every day, do it. Pour in a bottle of JD and bring a straw!
  • Leangains. It’s a great program, but more designed for the young & restless. It’s less of a whole lifestyle, to me, than it is a regimented body-building program (the best on the plannet for natural body builders; and Marin Berkhan is the smartest asshole taskmaster around for that sort of thing—he takes no shit or excuses from anyone, any time, which is what you need). It’s not just the grueling workout protocol, it’s also the eating, especially the high protein. You have to count calories, or you have to go home. …So, if I was a 20 or 30-something focussed mostly on my appearance and being at the top, LG is the way to go. No doubt. I’m not, so for me, it’s in the moderately effective category.

Low-Effective Self-Experiments (but high on learning)

  • The Potato Diet. This is really more of a hack and I always referred to it as such. If you love potatoes and want to get over your love of them in a hurry, then this is the deal for you. It’s simply not a total way of eating for most. But, it is a way for most people to drop a lot of weight fast while eating as much as they can eat. Very effective in that regard. Short term hack at best, so low-effectiveness if our aim is sustainable lifestyle.
  • The Milk & Kefir Diet. Basically the same issue. It’s not a long-term lifestyle, just a hack. It’s for this reason alone I place it here, and not in the other categories. Because, I learned a ton doing this. 1) The bioavailability, perfect macro-nutrient proportions, and micro-nutrient profile all combine to make one understand what it feels like mentally to be truly well-fed qualitatively. 2) It crashes cravings for typically addictive substances like alcohol. I really think someone ought to use a whole raw milk & kefir diet in addiction intervention. 3) It’s very hypertrophic. Toss out all the powders. Whole milk is where it’s at for me. I watched my body composition change back to where I basically was, and I wan’t even hitting the gym much. You can grow lean mass sitting on your ass if you do it right (use milk as a substitute for normal food calorie-for-calorie).
  • Beans / Legumes. I didn’t actually blog about this much or any, and it was very short term. I’m on the fence (same as with milk) on the suitability of legumes in a paleo / Primal context. They have decent nutrition, good protein, decent prebiotic fiber, including resistant starch. You can use traditional soaking methods to reduce fartage. All that said, I find I like beans in small doses intermittently, not as a staple food. Dose makes the poison, eh? For me, the breakfast portion of about 3″ diameter on a plate, along with eggs & breakfast meat is perfect, gives me zero trouble. Take that to a big bowl, and it becomes unpleasant generally.

So What Now?

Pretty much full circle with more knowledge and experience. In one sense, there’s perhaps not much need beyond the basic template of paleo / Primal, some IF, a few supplements, and intermittent lifting of heavy things. On the other hand, I see and believe things will be better and more sustainable for me going forward by incorporating in measure some of the stuff I’ve experimented with. So, my own take on Pareto’s Principle or, “The 80/20 Rule.” Your mileage may vary, of course.

  • Minimize indulgences, especially eating in restaurants.
  • Minimizing indulgences—to include so-called “paleo indulgences”—is best accomplished by incorporating a few non-Paleo foods for better variety and for me, satiation and diminished desire to indulge: potatoes, corn tortillas, white rice, fruit juices in sane doses (e.g., 4-6 oz OJ in the morning, mixed with kefir), raw milk, kefir, intermittent beans/legumes in small portions.
  • Reduce meat portions and protein in general, made up for by the increase in these sane carbohydrates. I quite like two of the small, 5″ corn tortillas with a total of about 4 heaping teaspoons of 80/20 ground beef taco meat between them. The taco meat is cooked low & slow, with the seasoning taking up all the fat. No skimming the fat. Keeps me going for many hours.
  • Keep typical staples like potatoes, corn, white rice, and beans to small portions not eaten every day. Mix things up a lot.
  • Prefer getting good amounts of exposed skin in the sun over supplementing D. Do both, just don’t sacrifice sun time because you take a pill. Trust me. No pill will give you the sense of well being that comes from 20-30 minutes full sun exposure if you can get it.
  • Focus on nutritional density. Big portions of meat, lean or fatty, is not it. Organ meats are it. Sardines, oysters, mussels, clams, raw milk, kefir.
  • Prefer stews, soups, braises, slow-cooker dishes to grilling all the time.
  • Get a true feeling of hunger regularly, then go a few more hours. Extend that to 24-30 hours sometimes, but probably at least once every couple of weeks. This is easy when otherwise well fed, with attention to nutritionally dense foods (the Real “Superfoods.”)
  • Focus on a handful of good compound exercises that are moderately heavy for you, 1-2 sets each; 1-2 times per week at the upper end; once every 2-3 weeks at the lower end. I do deadlifts, leg press, seated upright cable row, pulldowns (done as chin-ups), chest press machine, and shoulder press machine. It’s all I need. Do it fasted sometimes or as often as you go.
  • Get in the pool as often as you can. Tread water lightly instead of swimming vigorously. Swimming vigorously kills fat burn and goes to glucose/glycogen, according to Ray Cronise. Don’t take a hot shower after, or get in the Jacuzzi. Don’t even towel off. Air dry while walking laps around the pool in the sun, as though you’re on a rotisserie. Bonus if you go when a breeze is blowing.
  • If you tolerate dairy and in particular milk, use milk & kefir as your go-to daily nutritional density supplement (liver once per week, too). 20 oz per day should be plenty, twice or three times that after a workout and over the proceeding 24 hours.
  • Pay attention to your gut. This is the big blind spot and missing link in paleo. “”probiotics” give you expensive shit; that’s all. You need prebiotics, primarily of the sort that can get all the way through your colon (large intestine) without having been previously digested in the small intestine. Resistant starch is the ticket for that. Moreover, resistant starch taken with a probiotic like kefir will actually protect the bacteria through the stomach and small intestine, such that they can actually get to your colon and take root. But this is the topic for my next two posts.
  • Ditch the scale. I haven’t stepped on one in a couple of months, instead focussing on various markers of body composition. I’ll eventually step on the thing but not until I’m satisfied with my body composition. I don’t need any distractions.

OK, that’s about it. My next post will be about the tons and tons of research into Resistant Starch in the last 30 years that’s not financed by someone with a financial interest. I’ve collected a veritable shitload, thanks to the help of commenter, retired Air Force, Arctic Circle living, lay digger upper of research papers: “tatertot.” Following that will be a post cataloging my own results over the last couple of months, as well as that of many others including my T2D mom.

Both tatertot & I firmly agree that resistant starch is an enormous blind spot in paleo. Go look at what they find in human shit fossils (coprolites). Hint: not a full rack of ribs and a side of salad dressed in olive oil and balsamic.

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. Ballomar on June 19, 2013 at 01:56


    very interesting take on it all.

    Just one question. You said you don’t use scales, just bio-markers for body composition. What actually do you do?

    I’ve used an Omron composition monitor, but it’s hopeless, swinging between 8% and 12%. Then I use calipers (using Scooby’s calculator), which gives a consistent reading of 8%, but it is too low, I know I’m not 8%.

    The best proxy seems to me, just seems to be waist circumference, but even that depends on what I’ve eaten…

  2. Darcy on June 18, 2013 at 19:52

    Thank you Richard, great summary of all your experimentation!

  3. Marc on June 18, 2013 at 20:27

    Richard, Thank man!
    It’s been awesome following along all these years. Looking forward to the RS posts.

    I’ve learned much here and continue to do so, THANK YOU!

    As such, I’ve been looking a bit at historic poop now thank you very much AND
    Holy shit, I can’t believe the protein levels.

    Keep going my man! Gambatte!


  4. Lucy on June 18, 2013 at 21:13

    Great post. Thanks.

  5. James on June 19, 2013 at 01:19

    Great summary!
    I have not experimented as much as you, no potato hack, no dairy hack. I stick to primal food, IF (one big meal a day) and reasonable workout + outdoor time. I vary my meal composition from 0 carb to 60% carbs (rice or potatoes, I am no fan of corn) but always high quality real foods (on one meal a day, I can afford 🙂 ).

    Best health I have ever experienced: body re-comp done, lean and full of energy! Will stick to it I think 🙂


  6. Alan Andersen on June 19, 2013 at 02:12

    This is very good. I’ve followed you and others for a long time. No one thing in particular has ever seemed to work. This summary is the best overall.

  7. […] 6-Years of Self Experimenting: My Fully Integrated Approach To Paleo / Primal Eating, Real Food and … […]

  8. Jens on June 19, 2013 at 04:02


    My practical tool is … clothes I could not wear for a LOOOOONG time (I was a very slim young man). My weight has stabilized pretty much during the last 6 months but 6 months ago, I still could not wear these old clothes. Today, at around same weight, these clothes start to be too large around the butt and waist. I had to change the belt I used for many months (and to which I had added holes …). That’s the cheapest method I can think of. And the way I look as well (take pictures of yourself before and say after 6 months at least): I have broader shoulders and upper back muscles, and much much less belly, thighs, hips and ass. My calf muscles have also increased in size, which I thought would never happen in my life … all it took was IF (one big meal a day) and some regular but not grueling workout sessions (body weight training and biking 20 miles a day), good sleep and recovery time.

  9. Kayumochi on June 19, 2013 at 06:11

    Thanks for that Richard.

  10. Kayumochi on June 19, 2013 at 06:25

    Thought I would actually share something for a change: I started self-experimentation way back in the late 1980’s when I was in my 20s yet I have no great wisdom to share with you other than anything CAN work but nothing works forever. When I look at my contemporaries who have never self-experimented I can see the difference in our appearances: I never got fat or out of shape and still retain a youthful appearance. So maybe all that matters is the willingness to experiment and the awareness not to get dogmatic/moralistic about food and being able to let go of what seemed to work past …

  11. Richard Nikoley on June 19, 2013 at 07:30


    Basically what Jens said, particularly clothing.

  12. Troy on June 19, 2013 at 08:42

    Excellent post Richard. Thanks.

  13. Richard Nikoley on June 19, 2013 at 10:46

    Apropos to ways to focus on body comp without focussing on the scale, and not having to do expensive BF measurements (or HIGHLY inaccurate calipers or those ridiculous resistance meters where “BF” can change upwards of 4% in a day in my experience), here’s a post by Ned Kock:

    In playing around with theoretical numbers, you definitely want to multiply by 1000:

    “Based on the experience of HCE (1) users, variations in this ratio are likely to be small and require 4-decimals or more to be captured. If you want to avoid having so many decimals, you can multiply the ratio by 1000. This will have no effect on the use of the ratio to find your optimal weight; it is analogous to multiplying a ratio by 100 to express it as a percentage.

    “Also based on the experience of HCE users, there are fluctuations that make the ratio look like it is changing direction when it is not actually doing that. Many of these fluctuations may be due to measurement error.

    “If you are obese, as you lose weight through dieting, the waist / weight ratio should go down, because you will be losing more body fat mass than lean body mass, in proportion to your total body mass.

    “It would arguably be wise to stop losing weight when the waist / weight ratio starts going up, because at that point you will be losing more lean body mass than body fat mass, in proportion to your total body mass.”

    Good stuff, Ned (if you’re listening).

  14. Billy on June 19, 2013 at 12:14

    I’m sorry for not keeping up with the context of this thread, but I just wanted to say that I’ve been evangelizing this way of life a lot lately. Although I’ve kept it simple (meat, fish, poultry, veggies and no grains), it’s done wonders for me. And, I don’t really consider it experimentation. It just looks to me that this is the most sensible way to eat/live. FFS, I fit into a size 32 now vs. a size 38 and I have a lot more sex.

    Thanks to my former GF from high school and Richard for showing me the way.

  15. tatertot on June 19, 2013 at 12:15

    I have to put the Potato Hack near the top of my ‘List of Things That Work’. I know that I can use it to lose 5-10 pounds any time I want. Having this knowledge makes me more willing to experiment. I like to do things long-term, never was one for hacks. But the potato hack is like a ‘reset button’ for me. I find it so incredibly hard to lose 5-10 pounds. It can take months of increased exercise and/or hardcore calorie counting or macro-tweaking. With the potato hack, it’s nothing but spuds for a week or two and I’m right where I want to be.

    I see it as a thing to do once a year (or less) as a means to correct some long-term excesses that lead to fat accumulation. It’s also a good reminder to keep your weight in check so you don’t have to do it–kind of like when I was a kid and Mom would say, ‘Don’t MAKE me get out the belt’.

    I was reading a body-building website a few weeks back, and the guys were talking about using the ‘potato diet’ to cut fat after a bulking phase. It’s all over low-carb forums. All the paleo bloggers talked about it. Vegans naturally love it. I think it’s effects go deeper than some superficial fat loss, there’s a whole insulin-sensitivity correction twist to it as well for low-carbers.

    My last go on a potato hack was just after Christmas, where I quickly lost all my holiday weight. As I’m not doing any progressive muscle building hypertrophy programs, I should be able to keep my weight in a stable 5 pound band year round. Experience tells me this won’t happen. The potato hack is my go-to method of keeping within that 5 pound band.

  16. Kayumochi on June 19, 2013 at 12:24

    Like you tatertot short-term hacks don’t really interest me but instead am quite interested in things I can introduce for a long-term trial … still, haven’t done the potato hack yet and may give it a shot b/c while I am slim, lean and muscular I have this little bit of fat on my flanks that I just can’t shake …

  17. Ned Kock on June 19, 2013 at 12:51

    Thanks Richard.

  18. Dan Linehan on June 19, 2013 at 13:29


    What exactly do you eat on your version of the potato hack? Do you include butter / sour cream, count calories, etc?

  19. Kayumochi on June 19, 2013 at 13:40

    Margaret Thatcher lost 20 lbs in 2 weeks in 1979 by eating only 28 eggs a week along with cucumbers, spinach, tomatoes, steak and a swig of whisky.

    There were once monks in Japan who mummified themselves while still alive by first eating only what they could gather in the forest for several years. Then after becoming sufficiently thin, they drank a special tea made from the bark of a local tree. When they finally died from malnutrition the insects would not eat their bodies and the bodies would not rot. The bodies were then dressed up and put on display. You can still see them in Japan today. Scientists later discovered there is a chemical compound in the tree bark that literally mummifies and protects the bodily tissues.

    So here we have the egg hack and the tree bark hack. Any takers?

  20. tatertot on June 19, 2013 at 14:20

    @Dan – My version of the Potato Hack is nothing but spuds. Just potatoes cooked in a variety of ways, served hot or cold, with salt, pepper and vinegar. Sometimes a dab of ketchup if they are particularly dry. I eat to satiety, which ends up being about 800-1000 calories or 2-3 pounds worth per day. I drink as much water as I want and a couple cups of coffee in the morning. I’m never really any more hungry than normal and lose nearly 1 pound a day. It’s usually a lasting weightloss–not water weight. Back when I used to do 48 hour fasts, I’d lose 4-5 pounds in two days but it would all come right back once re-hydrated and full. The weight lost from a calorie-restricted potato diet is, I would guesstimate, 80% from fat mobilization.

    Lots more credible science to the potato hack than an egg and tree bark diet, it’s main mechanism is fat calorie restriction, not a serious lack of protein or carbs. The huge glucose/insulin spikes that occur are also advantageous to fast fat mobilization.

    We talked the hell out of this a while back!

  21. John on June 19, 2013 at 14:40

    Excellent post, Richard. I’ve enjoyed reading about your experiments, and trying them out in my own life.

    I tried to do the Milk Diet twice, and could never get beyond a week. Guess that hack just isn’t for me. However, I really enjoyed getting more milk into my diet, and making kefir regularly as well, and yeah, I think they are going to be a mainstay in anything I do going forward. I’ve really been into making kefir and fermenting other foods, and really want to explore that more. I have also been doing resistant starch as well, but haven’t been nearly as consistent with that. I did get a few of the mind-blowing vivid dreams that you mentioned when I first started out, however. Looking forward to the next few posts, and will probably get serious on the resistant starch, this time.

    One other thing I’ve been doing- I have been lowering my iron stores (like Anthony Colpo talks about) via blood donation and IP6 this year, when I found out that I had quite a high iron burden. I mention this because it may have played a role in some of the milk/kefir/resistant starch benefits that I am about to mention.

    One of the biggest surprises to me is that I haven’t had a drink in two months, and I’m not even sure I miss it. Part of the reason for this was to decrease iron absorption (alcohol increases it), but not drinking felt like something more I “wanted” to do than “had” to do. I remember looking forward to a drink, or even sometimes craving one, and that sort of desire is just gone. It could be that anyone who craves a drink is craving something fermented (seeing as beer and wine are probably the biggest source of fermented foods in the American diet), or it could be craving energy due to poor nutrition, as I know Richard has mentioned before. I think a lot of that has to do with milk, and especially kefir.

    Second, I’ve noticed an overall improvement in my mood. I’m sure this is due to many things (a lot of great things have been going on in my life recently), but I’ve noticed that I easily brush off things that used to frustrate me to no end, or that a year or more ago I would have looked at as a disaster. Iron reduction could play a role (they mention that you should pay attention to your moods and overall well being while undergoing it), but I think milk, kefir and resistant starch certainly played a part.

  22. Weedon on June 19, 2013 at 16:10

    Just wanted to add a thank you. Your site has been a blessing overall. You’ve helped a lot more people than you know, I suspect.

  23. Jim on June 19, 2013 at 16:29

    Yep, great stuff Richard. Looking forward to the conclusion of the potato series, too.

  24. lachlan on June 20, 2013 at 06:07

    Brilliant post. I love your no bullshit approach, how you’re not tied to any one ideology.

  25. Bradford on June 20, 2013 at 06:52

    “Nowadays, I go over to the pool almost every day and lightly tread water in the deep end…”

    This doesn’t fit very well with your “no shampoo, no soap” posts. I don’t use shampoo/condtioner, but when I get into the pool it feels exactly the same as washing my hair.

  26. Kayumochi on June 20, 2013 at 09:26

    Over the last 24 years I have gotten a lot of question about what I eat even though I learned the hard way not to advertise it and keep my mouth shut and the most common response is (regardless of what I was eating/doing) was “I can’t do that because ______. At that point I simply smile and end the conversation but my thought is often the theme that ran through many of Mr. J Krishnamurti’s talks over his decades long career: everybody wants to change but few people ever do.

  27. Kayumochi on June 20, 2013 at 09:27

    @ tatertot

    Do you continue to take PS during the potato hack?

  28. Cauliflower Mash | Man Bicep on June 20, 2013 at 10:40

    […] since I’m into self-experimentation and have actually tried a number of the diets on Free the Animal’s list (and happen to agree with his findings), I thought it was interesting to share. What diet have you […]

  29. Cori on June 20, 2013 at 10:46

    I really agree with your statement about eating corn tortillas. When I ate a ton of tacos and stuff this past summer, I never craved pizza or bread or crackers.

    It’s funny how it isn’t even always about how something tastes, but just about the type of food you can eat. Since you can eat something like a sandwich or a pizza, you don’t crave those things as much or at least I found I didn’t.

  30. Richard Nikoley on June 20, 2013 at 10:59

    “This doesn’t fit very well with your “no shampoo, no soap” posts. I don’t use shampoo/condtioner, but when I get into the pool it feels exactly the same as washing my hair.”

    Noted. Dismissed.

  31. Gordon on June 20, 2013 at 11:27

    One thing missing from your list of experiments, at least explicitly, is some form of cyclic ketogenic paleo diet. With all of the Leangains IF and the potato hacks and other variety over time I’m sure you have at least approximated such a diet at some point.

    I’ve tried a lot of the various experiments over the last few years (very low carb, autoimmune, IF, low FODMAP, low histamine, adding raw milk and kefir, etc.) endured the negative side-effects of each, and ended up with the Jaminet way of eating which makes a lot of sense. However, I have not been able to escape from weekly sinus migraines and crappy energy. After a doozy 2 weeks ago I finally decided I need to go back to an explicitly ketogenic diet to see if it would be therapeutic for the migraines. But I don’t want to end up in the same lethargic and underweight rut I was in during my previous VLC phase. Plus, after reading the Perfect Health Diet, I’m fully aware of the necessity of a decent amount of carbs for health.

    Instead of committing to the demands of implementing a full-time ketogenic diet while trying to avoid the pitfalls, I’m trying the cyclic approach, eating the same overall amount of carbs per week as before, but spending 5 days on VLC ketogenic and then eating the carbs over the course of two carb days.

    No migraines since I started, best no migraine streak for a long time, but still too early to know for sure. Other interesting changes too, including a surplus of energy.

    Anyway, for me, it’s like the cyclic ketogenic paleo idea has been hiding in plain sight. Robb Wolf has been mentioning it for a long time. Mark Sisson was talking long ago about carb refeeds. It seems to make a lot of sense, but I never really tried it until now. Some interesting ideas about it in out Robb’s podcast with Kiefer btw.

  32. Graham on June 20, 2013 at 11:48

    Awesome read—thanks! I’ve been doing 3 T potato starch in my post workout smoothies for a few weeks now—great results of every kind!

  33. tatertot on June 20, 2013 at 12:03

    @kayumochi – I did my last potato hack just after New Years, started the potato starch in March.

    Next time I do a potato hack, if I ever need to, I plan on using tons of potato starch along with the potatoes just to see what happens. In fact, when I harvest my potatoes this year in October, I may do a week or two just for fun. I’m growing a row of Peruvian blue potatoes, an heirloom breed that are supposed to be just like the ones the ancient civilizations in South America grew.

    I have a theory about resistant starch and the anti-oxidants found in blue potatoes–the RS should preserve a lot of the antioxidants that is normally gone before it reaches the large intestine.

  34. Kayumochi on June 20, 2013 at 12:26

    @ tatertot

    You have convinced me to start a potato hack using PS. Will keep you updated.

    Have eaten the Okinawan purple sweet potato but never the Peruvian blue. The Okinawan isn’t very sweet at all and suspect it is an heirloom. I think the hogs in Okinawa are fed these same purple sweet potatoes which may account for the quality of pork there and the longest lifespan in Japan.

  35. […] SEE OUR RECOMMENDED BOOKS, FILMS, KITCHEN TOOLS, FOOD, AND DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS AT AMAZON.COM ← 6-Years of Self Experimenting: My Fully Integrated Approach To Paleo / Primal Eating, Real Food and … […]

  36. […] I posted the other day in a pretty popular post on what I've learned—6-Years of Self Experimenting: My Fully Integrated Approach To Paleo / Primal Eating, Real Food and …—I have incorporated a number of things that's aren't considered daily Paleo. I thought I'd give a […]

  37. Carl on June 23, 2013 at 08:12

    Interesting summary – seems sensible, rational, and consistent with my own experience.

    Remarkably, we have a summary of how to be healthy that would easily fit on a couple of typed pages. Hard to build a publishing and weekend seminar empire on something that simple. ( Of course, as Dan John says: simple doesn’t mean easy!)

  38. Landlocked on June 23, 2013 at 08:50

    A few questions regarding sardines, oysters, mussels, and clams as sources of nutritional density:

    1) Are you guys able to recommend a link to your preferred source of definitive information on this topic? (A “Free the Animal” article with its own conclusions would be my preference.)

    2) Where do you guys recommend sourcing these foods? Raw? Fresh? Canned? (Spurred by this article, I went to the store yesterday and bought some smoked oysters which I hadn’t eaten in years. I noticed that almost all of the canned seafood on the shelves (other than tuna/salmon) contained MSG, aspartame, or unhealthy veg oils, like the smoked oysters that I bought, which were in cottonseed oil.)


  39. Kayumochi on June 23, 2013 at 10:01

    The smoked oysters sold at Trader Joe’s are packed in olive oil and are reasonably priced.

  40. Richard Nikoley on June 23, 2013 at 10:04

    Yes, I was going to say the same thing. In addition to water packed canned seafoods all the oil packed stuff is olive oil.

  41. Richard Nikoley on June 24, 2013 at 07:26


    Here’s the last post I did about nutrient density. It was a draft for a chapter in my book and got substantially reworked beyond that.

  42. Weekly Roundup #69 on June 25, 2013 at 02:49

    […] self-experimenting on his back, what results has Richard Nikoley had? In this new blog post, Richard summarizes his results, or lack of thereof, from six years of running various experiments in himself. Furthermore, […]

  43. Martin on June 27, 2013 at 20:58

    Is there a good way of getting probiotics with resistant starch in one go? Would a shake made of kefir and green banana do the job? Any other ideas?

  44. Richard Nikoley on June 28, 2013 at 08:24


    Yes, a green banana smoothie would do it. As some of the research I’ve linked to mentions and shows, bacteria attach to the RS granuals and hitch a ride to the colon without being killed along the way. Another way to do it it stir 1-2 tbs of bobs red mill unmodified potato starch into a glass of kefir.

  45. […] 6 Years f Self Experimenting […]

  46. […] The major portion of the podcast was about this popular post that we cover in detail: 6-Years of Self Experimenting: My Fully Integrated Approach To Paleo / Primal Eating, Real Food and …. But he also asked me to pick a non-Paleo topic for some discussion and sound-biteage to music, […]

  47. kayumochi on July 15, 2013 at 09:22

    Was reading Taleb’s “AntiFragile” the other day and got to the part on food and wondered something and am looking for input: LCHF, IF, PHD and the Potato Hack have all been effective for me and for day to day, long-term eating I prefer a single LCHF meal without any potatoes, rice, etc (but I am okay with the daily PS) but the Potato Hack with PS is the only thing that gets me off my plateau in regards to lowered body fat … keeping in mind Taleb’s antifragle, positive stressors and how they come into play when one fasts, could one benefit from happily eating LCHF or VLCHF day to day, avoiding starch and then, from time to time, eat nothing but potatoes for a week? Am I making sense? Taleb mentions the antifragile benefits of let’s say, eating 3 days worth of protein in a single day and then avoiding protein for 3 days is far more beneficial than eating protein every day … Could the same thing be said for PHD? That is, eating no *safe starch* for a period of time then eating nothing but *safe starch* for a while be more beneficial than eating a little *safe starch* every day?


    6-Years of Self Experimenting: My Fully Integrated Approach To Paleo / Primal Eating, Real Food and Vibrant Health | Free The Animal

  49. clash of clans hack on April 7, 2014 at 23:07

    clash of clans hack

    6-Years of Self Experimenting: My Fully Integrated Approach To Paleo / Primal Eating, Real Food and Vibrant Health | Free The Animal

  50. Leigh on June 23, 2016 at 23:09

    Thanks for summarizing your results. Any revisions to this post 3 years later?

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