The Skinny Bitch Diet vs. The Paleo Diet

Introduction

This is a match-up that involves two diets that are as restrictive as they are commitment requiring and interesting.  The Skinny Bitches (and I use this term as a complement) present a highly entertaining case for a strict ‘vegan’ life style as a means to lose weight and improve health. Dr. Loren Cordain promotes a diet that will help you not only find your inner caveman, but in doing so, you will likely drop unwanted pounds and improve health, strength, and endurance. Both diet strategies have gone well beyond an introductory book. The Skinny Bitches use mom as the gateway to the household.  In successive books, they go after each and every family member… kids, dad, and even unborn children (Skinny Bitch Bun in the Oven).  Dr. Cordain has created a movement of sorts. The popularity of the Paleo Diet has spawned thousands of blogs, websites etc. It is seemingly the preferred diet of today’s super endurance athletes and cross fit junkies. The big question is, are either of them right for you?

‘Skinny Bitches’

Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, the authors of the Skinny Bitch Diet Book are nothing short of ruthless as they rightfully assault some of the food and beverage institutions and industries that have marketed their way to becoming ‘healthy options’ in the United State. They go hard at the meat industry…and this is all meats, they get passionate about carbs (Complex vs. simple), sugar, and artificial sweeteners, and last but certainly not least, they really rip into the dairy industry and the institution of milk. Although some are seemingly turned off by their tact of combining a diet with a social agenda, I actually appreciate it. They are willing to make bold statements based on uncovered truths that ultimately should at least make you think about what you are consuming and why you are consuming it… and on top of that, why are we constantly fed misinformation about health and nutrition by accredited/government affiliated institutions.

Skinny Bitch Diet – Enter the Vegan

To the diet…where many diets have required a fair amount of revamping over time as the understanding of nutrition and its relation to health advances improves, due to the strictness of this program, my guess is there will be very little change to this diet over time…or a complete overhaul depending on where you stand on healthy living vs. a vegan lifestyle. In any event, if you are motivated to go vegan and you can stay with it, you will surely shed some pounds pretty quickly and will settle in at a comfortable weight such that you won’t have to regularly revamp your wardrobe.
So, the hard part…for most it is just such a drastic change in lifestyle… if you are not totally committed to the ‘feeling good is largely dependent on looking good’ mentality… this one is going to be tough… Logistically speaking, I am not quite sure how manageable this diet is. Undoubtedly, if you are single and you live in LA where vegan eateries are relatively plentiful, and grocery stores are pretty well stocked for those with a vegan life style, the inconveniences are not quite as noticeable. On the other hand, finding vegan food in the suburbs or outside any of the larger US metropolises is known to be a pretty significant inconvenience, not to mention expensive. Another issue in terms of manageability is that the commitment to a vegan lifestyle really has to go beyond an individual commitment. If you live in a family setting, it is really tough to satisfy both a vegan and carnivorous lifestyle under the same roof.

Putting manageability aside for a moment, with a diet change as drastic as this… would it not be prudent to actually try a few vegan dishes before diving in? Well, I did and not so surprisingly, there were some really tasty meals and some meals that didn’t quite live up to their meat containing rival. I had a tough time working through the vegan version of Shepherd’s Pie but I did find the Red Wine ‘Beef’ Stew to be interesting. I am actually thinking it would be better to not include or incorporate the traditional dish’s name in the vegan dish because it always makes me compare the vegan dish to the similarly named traditional dish… and for one reason or another, the vegan dish always seems to come up a little short in a taste comparison. For example, I like veggie burgers…but why do they have to call them burgers?

In terms of health and wellness, there are definitely ongoing arguments as to whether or not a vegan or a vegetarian lifestyle is healthy or shall we say as healthy as a well-balanced diet including meat. One thing is for sure, it is a healthier lifestyle than the average American who still eats fast food burgers and fries to grease up after a night where they may have consumed one more adult beverage than was necessary. The big question is whether or not this diet is as efficient as some of the other diets we have covered in terms of lifestyle change vs. weight loss vs. improved health, heightened performance etc. The Skinny Bitches claim that you will feel so good you will have more energy to exercise as a result of following their diet plan… but it would take some serious convincing that this diet functions as a feasible diet system for avid exercisers or even those who work in high physical activity environments.
That being said, the bottom line is, if you go into this with an open mind, you can last at least until you drop a few unwanted pound which may be enough sway your opinion on the socio-agenda as well. My guess is that there will be a pretty low percentage of true converts (long time practitioners).

Paleo Diet – Enter the Caveman

Dr. Cordain enters the diet world literally from the polar opposite side. Where Ms. Freedman and Ms. Barnouin derived their inspiration from the world’s most famous catwalks, Dr. Cordain’s inspiration hails from his studies of prehistoric man… yes, cavemen. I am not going to go through all of Dr. Cordain’s credentials here, but suffice it to say that he has become the most authoritative voice, perhaps in the world, when it comes to the actual diet of ‘hunter-gatherers’ and the progression of their diet as our species evolved. Now where it gets kind of interesting is… Dr. Cordain started down this path because he was initially looking for a nutritional means to improve upon his performance as a collegiate athlete.  Studying ‘prehistoric nutrition’, it was almost natural that he decided that this type of diet was worth testing on himself. It is a lot more complicated than saying ‘the rest is history’, however, after a few decades of research as a doctor and a teaching professor, he puts an extremely convincing case together supporting a diet dating back to those who inhabited the earth tens or even hundreds of thousands of year ago.

The Caveman Diet

Perhaps we should start with… What did cavemen eat and why would I want to eat like them if they had a significantly shorter life expectancy than we do now? As hunters and gatherers, they ate meat, poultry, fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables, nuts…and that’s it. Not a single morsel of food going down their gullets had sugar, flour, salt, honey, maple syrup, ketchup, a single preservative… nor did it come neatly packaged in a can or a box, with a side of pasta, garlic bread , or fries.  As for the life expectancy question, infant mortality rates surely skew the numbers and my guess is that there were quite a few external contributors beyond diet to the slightly shorter life span… remember…they didn’t have Obama-care. Truth be told, if we were responsible for running down our breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, even if it was just two miles to the supermarket no hunting required, my guess is the population would thin out a bit.

So, the question should not be about their life expectancy as much as it should be about the ability to achieve one’s physical and mental potential as a result of their nutritional intake and active lifestyle. Dr. Cordain firmly believes that the closer you can stay to the actual diet and active lifestyle of the hunters and gatherers, the more benefits you will enjoy… And we are not just talking about shedding a few pounds or the psychological high we get when we can wear our ‘skinny pants’ again… we are talking about major health benefits like the eradication of major illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, chronic diseases like irritable bowel syndrome, joint and internal inflammation, and even certain forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease. According to Dr. Cordain, the average American diet runs at a ratio of about 65-70% complex carbs such as sugar, white flour, and grains…meaning that only 30% of the calories consumed are from proteins, fat, and simple carbs. Our healthy descendants, according to Dr.Cordain, had a calorie consumption comprised of 30-45% protein, 30% fat and the remainder simple carbs. Properly consumed, according to Dr. Cordain, there is no need for any supplements. You will get everything you need if you stick to the plan as long as you live in an area where you can get a little sunlight (best source of vitamin D).

On the surface, it would sound like you will be sick of this food in less than a week… I mean how many times can you eat plain chicken, beef, eggs, or leafy green spinach without the Caesar’s dressing? Alas, you will be pleasantly surprised at the number meals, sauces, and flavors your predecessors have come up with to help make your journey to the past… a lot more than bearable…actually pleasurable. I do have to warn you here though… there is a lot of pseudo-paleo documentation out there that should be disregarded. According to the good Doctor, legumes, alcohol, and dairy are out of bounds. That is not to say that allowances can’t be made within this lifestyle… Dr. Cordain recommends that in the worst case scenario, if you follow the 85-15 rule, meaning that even at the worst of times like the holidays or the start of BBQ season, you stay Paleo 85% of the time then you will continue to reap most of the benefits.

So can there be a downside to a lifestyle that has proven to help you drop some very serious weight in a short period of time, get down to your ideal weight, body mass…ripped up even, and will rid your body of the toxins that are responsible for major and chronic diseases in the long term. Well, again, it really comes down to desire and discipline. There is a certain amount of prep work related to the Paleo lifestyle…reading the books and doing the research, you will definitely need to become a meal and snack planner, and you are strongly encouraged to ramp up your physical activity. Your food bill is also probably going to increase to certain extent. Where pizza, pasta, and sandwich meats are relatively inexpensive, grass fed meats and organic vegetables are not… and unfortunately, fresh fruit cost more than cookies, cakes and ice cream. It is accurately stated that if you can get through the first thirty days, then you are well on your way to the most suitable diet known to man… but there is a tremendous amount of sacrifice for one who has become accustomed to the typical American diet and health habits.

Conclusion

As stated in the opening paragraph of this treatise, both of these plans are very restrictive… they require full buy-in. I mean you really have to passionate about you…or animals. In the end, unless you have a religious, ethnic, or moral obligation that keeps you from consuming meat and seafood, the benefits associated to the Paleo lifestyle are really hard to compete with!