By Frank Vascellaro

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When it comes to diets, it seems there’s always a new fad or trendy way to lose weight.

I started a new a diet a little over a month ago. It’s popular, but it’s not a fad. In fact, its ancient.

The Paleo diet is based upon on how our ancestors ate back in the stone age. I turned back the clock 10,000 years, and here’s what happened to me.

I put on some pounds over the summer and during the Minnesota State Fair. Then I went to T.J. McNiff at the Firm to do something about it. He weighed me, measured me and challenged me to come into the cave.

“Because you’re basically eating like a caveman,” he said about the diet. “It’s all meat, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.”

McNiff uses the Paleo Diet himself, and you really do eat like a caveman, focusing on the foods we could have hunted and gathered thousands of years ago.

“The caveman didn’t have a liquor store,” I joked. “No,” said T.J. “Nor did he have pasta.”

I also went to my doctor for baseline blood pressure and blood work, and his advice.

“If you can adhere to it and get the exercise in addition, you’ll be successful,” said Dr. Ron Kaufffman of Metropolitan Internists. “If you cheat or eat more fatty foods or fried foods or processed foods, then you’re going to regain the weight.”

He said this diet has actually been around since the mid-1980s, and in general, it’s a healthy way of eating. You don’t need to count calories, but if you follow It correctly, about 55 percent of your calories will come from lean protein, with the remainder from vegetables, fruit and good fats.

“The Mediterranean Diet is probably the ideal diet,” he said. “The longest living people in the world abide by that diet, and it’s not so different from the Paleo Diet.”

So, I started working out with McNiff and after months away from the gym, it was a struggle. Between the gym and home, I’d work out five days a week for an hour, usually four days lifting weights and one day of cardio.

And I’d do a whole week’s cooking on Sundays. Planning the meals is crucial. My grocery bill went up, but I rarely bought lunch or dinner at a restaurant, and I’ll admit, the grilling really did keep me in the caveman mood.

It’s also hard to feel hungry on this diet, eating five times a day, every two or three hours.  But is it healthy?  We took my food log to a registered dietitian.

“It’s a lot of food,” said Heidi Schmidt of HealthPartners. “But it’s also dense calories, and it’s very satisfying, so calorie-wise he probably isn’t eating that much.”

In general, she said it’s a healthy combination of food, but wonders whether I’d be able to do it long-term. Still, she likes the simplicity of the caveman concept.

“People have a lot of nutrition messages coming at them from all angles,” she said. “So if you find a way of eating that’s easy for you to understand and healthy, I think the packaging is fine.”

My workouts got better by the week, and so did my energy, but what did my most important critic think? Amelia noticed that my face got thinner, and my jeans were looser. In fact, I think I convinced her to step into the cave.

“Just watching you eat,” she said. “I actually think I want to try the diet.”

After five weeks, I went for the weigh-in. I dropped 17 pounds and my measurements were really exciting. I was down 2.5 inches around my hips, up 1.5 inches (meaning more muscle) in my chest and down five full inches around my waist.

I was excited, but it turns out my results weren’t unusual at all.

“I think it’s pretty standard,” said Kali Ofstehage of The Firm. “We’ve had a bunch of the trainers do it here and they’ve been right around the same.”

I also had a few changes in my blood work. My blood pressure stayed the same. It was very good to begin with. The doctor checked it again Friday.

However, my total cholesterol actually went up 24 points, which is something the dietitian predicted after seeing my food log. I was eating too many eggs. Our paleolithic ancestors would find them occasionally, and the book said you can have one every few days. I misunderstood that and was eating three every day, or 21 eggs a week. I went out and got egg-whites only this weekend.

Check out Franks’s Food Log during the diet
Here is a link to more information on The Firm
Here is more information on the Paleo Diet

Comments (27)
  1. high fiber, higher water. says:

    To bad in this country this is considered a diet! For me and many others it is a way of life. Nothing new here. Eat healthy, eat often, eat smart at night and you to will feel great. No soda, no junk food, and once a week have your cheat meal. Yep, what ever you want to eat! I have deep fried walleye, or pizza, or that “out to eat” meal with friends and family. It is like a pat on the back for keeping clean and eating healthy. Drink your water, and drink some more. When summer comes around try to keep your head from exploding because the compliments will be heavy.

  2. Amy_C says:

    Congrats, Frank. But it makes me wonder with how much you were working out, if that alone might not have produced great results. Of course we’re all for eating healthier, but I would have liked to see you on this diet WITHOUT the workouts and measure your results that way. Any takers?

  3. iopa says:

    I still with the Italian diet. You only live once and I am living well.

  4. Mike says:

    My grocery bill went up, but I rarely bought lunch or dinner at a restaurant, and I’ll admit, the grilling really did keep me in the caveman mood.

    Grilling meat is definitely not healthy. It produces very high levels of carcinogens in chicken, fish and red meats.

  5. Mr. Fast says:

    I think that’s great that people can do this and stick with it.
    And THAT is really the main issue with “diets”.
    I’ve tried them all…Atkins, South Beach, etc….
    The problem is…I could never stick with them long term.
    I WILL NOT give up junk food.
    Ice Cream.
    I’d rather be fat than miserable.
    Then I found a new way of eating called Stop Eat Stop.
    Yup, it’s called Intermittent Fasting or “IF” for short.
    This has been my miracle and THE ONLY diet I’ve been able to stick with long term.
    Here it is in a nutshell…
    Let’s say you eat your last meal at 6:00PM on Sunday.
    You simply only have water until 6:00PM Monday.
    That’s a 24hour water fast, twice a week.
    Since Jan 1st of 2011 I have lost a total of 25 lbs.
    And I still eat and drink whatever I want the rest of the week.
    It’s a miracle, and no, I am NOT affiliated with Eat Stop Eat in ANY way.
    Check it out if you’re curious.
    If you’re diabetic then this diet is NOT for you.
    However if you’re healthy please don’t hand me any garbage about how unhealthy it is to fast for 24 hours.
    Heck, if Jesus made it 40 days in the desert then what’s your excuse?

    1. Mike says:

      Your diet is not nutritionally sound and your pointing out the fictional story of a man who lived in the desert 40 days without nutrition is a good example of why rational people don’t believe in the impossible.

  6. Sue says:

    Here’s my miracle diet, eat less, exercise more. Im writing a book.

    1. PaleoWorks says:

      Otherwise known as conventional wisdom which as history shows, has never worked, nor will it ever work.

  7. Bob says:

    My cardiologist said to me “its not what you eat it is how much you eat. You can eat all the organic, natural and healthy food you want but if you are consuming more calories than you are burning you will gain weight.” I took her advice, I rethick what I eat, and cut down my portions and have lost 15 lbs since Labor Day. I’m still eating pasta, etc., bread but in moderation. It is all in moderation.

    1. PaleoWorks says:

      It is a mistake to consider calories, it is an even bigger mistake to eat pasta and bread per se. It is carbohydrate loading and not fat that determines both how fat you will be and if you will get sick. My father had a trip heart bypass op, the cardiologist told him it was ok to eat fish fingers…fool!

  8. TW says:

    Who Cares? Will you make a TV news story after he gains it all back?

  9. rocky says:

    losing weight is NOT the hard part, It’s KEEPING it off…….We will see what happens!!!!!!

  10. Biff says:

    Way to go Frank! But don’t forget to treat yourself every once in a while to a sack of White Castle hamburgers, or a delicious Mcrib sandwhich.

    1. PaleoWorks says:

      The point is this, when you experience the amazing benefits of this diet your whole life changes. This is because you become interested in food again, eating is an event, food is fantastic, your sense of well being goes far beyond looking as lean as you was in your late teens. The focus of this diet is on naturally occurring foods enabling your body to thrive. Sugar addiction is a thing of the past so you no longer see fast food, soda, sweets etc as a treat. You feel great so you don’t want to spoil it with the huge blood sugar rises and falls. Speaking from experience I recall finding fruit to be boring, this of course was because of the masking effects of ‘high octane’ sugar. Remove this from your diet and once again fruit is just heaven.

  11. Karen Peters says:

    I’m trying to see where the “almost” 20 pounds came off. It seems 228 and three weeks later at 223 isn’t it!

  12. Anondson says:

    Dietary cholesterol is not a problem to health. Total “serum cholesterol” is a worthless measurement. The ration of HDL to triglycerides is what should be looked at.

    There is no proof saturated fats affect blood cholesterol. There is no proof cholesterol affects CVD/CHD. The Cochran Collaboration did a meta analysis of the best studies on the topic and found no link in the best studies done. The author of the book Frank read has changed his mind on saturated fat being bad for you.

    Sodium levels are controversial, with a new clinical study showing low sodium levels was bad.

    On a paleo/primal diet, work out 2 to 4 times a week is enough, and only about 30 minutes a pop.

    The basics of paleo/primal are this. Avoid grains, especially gluten-based. Avoid sweateners, especially with fructose. Avoid legumes, especially modern processed soy. Avoid *processed* meat/dairy/eggs. Tweak as per your own results. There are many variants of pale/primal, since Dr. Cordain wrote his book, more research has been done on the concepts. Many other authors have since been published offering further tweaks to the diet beyond Dr. Cordain’s initial book based on the new research.

    This is not a vegetarian/vegan friendly lifestyle. Many vegans who destroyed their health have found great success with a pale/primal diet.

    1. Patti says:

      Thank you for clarifying! I was yelling at the video all the things you just said. Dr. Cordain should pull his original book and release a revised version so there is no more confusion about fat intake. All I can say is it is sad, sad, sad that people have become so addicted to carbs and processed foods that eating real food is not “doable” over the long term in their minds. You will never know how much better you will feel, how much more energy you will have, and how doable it is long term until you try it!

  13. AP says:

    You’d think a guy that works 1 hour a day would have more time to stay in shape.

  14. Murph says:

    Elect a fascist GOP’er to be POTUS and paleo diets will be all you have left.In the city,it might be eat your pets time.Move now! There is meat on the wing and hoof in the countryside.Until the fascists ban that too! If you are forced to tent in the woods.The nearest refridgerator freezer is 12 to 18 inches under the nearest cedar swamp.Reserve your spaces there now!

  15. Dan Baruch says:

    Way to go Frank! Keep up the great work! If you guys have some question see link.

  16. Diet plan recipes says:

    Here is a basic diet regime for ladies. Fat loss ought to come pretty easy in the event you comply with this or perhaps make just a few modifications. nOthing intricate here… Just take your …

  17. Paleo diet treats says:

    Although above food items assists, vitamin supplements can be quite a wonderful useful resource that may help you combat erectile problems…. The results of adding health and fitness supplements to your diet regime ;Paleo Diet

    1. Anondson says:

      Nearly EVERY large study on the effects of vitamin supplementation show *negative* effects and *little benefit*. Believe it. You should be getting your essential vitamins from food sources, not synthetic sources that fill many supplements.

  18. shooter says:

    Greetings, how are you? I hope you are doing well. I needed to say that I like this article.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

More From WCCO | CBS Minnesota

Good Question
Best Of Minnesota

Watch & Listen LIVE