Paleo vs Four Hour Body: Part 1

As many of you know, I’ve been transitioning the family to Paleo (or primal) for a while now. I would consider my personal transition complete. The only meals I cook are Paleo, and though my kids have been tricky, we are getting there. Big Handsome (BH) is getting there too…eats whatever I cook, so he is mostly Paleo.  If, however, he eats at the office on a day when I forget to pack his lunch (oops!), he eats whatever the “special” is…which is rarely paleo-friendly.

BH started reading The 4-Hour Body a couple of weeks ago. Up until that point, he had gone with the flow, but he generally takes less of a personal interest in this whole “food” thing, knowing I handle it and I do my research for the family.  We are pretty big fans of Tim Ferris and The 4-Hour Workweek. The more I read about Tim Ferris, the more I see similarities in what I do…always experimenting, always seeing what works best for me/us. I’m forever rearranging furniture (much to my husbands chagrin), adjusting nap schedules or which kids sleep in which rooms…I guess just trying to find that happy place where there is less crazy-feeling and more relaxed feelings. The same goes with food.

The Four Hour Body Diet is very similar to Paleo. The biggest difference is Ferris recommends eating a lot of legumes. With the exception of re-introducing dairy in the form of whole-milk grass-fed yogurt (for the kids) and grass-fed butter, we have been basically grain, legume, and dairy-free. I was pretty hesitant to start feeding my husband a plethora of legumes because of known gut irritability and anti-nutrients. That said, Tim Ferris makes some decent points, and even Robb Wolf suggests that once people go grain, legume, and dairy-free, they can start adding a few things back in to see if their body can handle it.

Like the idea behind Chris Kresser’s new Personal Paleo Code, Wolf acknowledges that every person is an individual, and what works for me may not work for you…or specifically, what works for me may not work for my husband, and visa versa.

So, what’s the verdict…will I be switching to the Four Hour Body method, or sticking to Paleo and Primal basics? I’ve decided to continue cooking exactly as I have been- Paleo, family-style meals that are grain, legume, and dairy-free. Personally, I will not be adding legumes back into my diet, because as a person with IBS and chronic cystitis, I can’t handle the inflammatory nature of beans (I know this now, because I went strict Paleo, and it works for me, and I’m not going to mess with a good thing).

My husband, however, has no known gut or autoimmune issues, and seems to tolerate beans just fine; so, I will simply be adding legumes to all (otherwise) Paleo meals I serve my husband.

In order to resolve some of my concern with feeding my husband something that I know to be somewhat toxic, I did some additional research. Although Four Hour Body seems to push lentils, they have one of the highest levels of phytic acid and are NOT soaked before cooking, so lectins are also a concern. Small red beans, however, have one of the lowest levels of phytic acid AND require soaking before cooking. I’ve gone with adding small red beans for most of his meals, which he seems fine with, because the flavor is pretty easy to blend with everything I cook.

Last week, I soaked two bags of small red beans overnight, boiled them, and cooked them until soft. I’ve been adding roughly a cup of beans* to each of his meals from the batch I made, and it’s gone swimmingly.

I should note that the major point made in Four Hour Body (at least from what my husband tells me, and the few chapters I read) is keeping effort minimal so you’re likely to stick with the program. Ferris loves lentils and canned beans because he knows he won’t take the time to cook dry beans. Since I’m not in love with the idea of pumping my husband full of phytic acid or exposing him to the high levels of BPA found in canned beans (except a few organic brands, which break the bank in my opinion, at about $2 per can), I’m okay with taking a few extra minutes to properly prepare legumes for him.

Once hubby reaches his goals, we may decide to nix the legumes, but if he continues to feel great despite consuming copious amounts of beans and discovers they actually help him with satiety, I will keep adding them to his meals.

As of the date of this post, it’s been about a week, and Big Handsome is feeling great on Four Hour Body… and seeing impressive results.

Check back for my next Four Hour Body vs Paleo post, where I will be writing about the controversial “cheat day.”

*I do realize, unfortunately, that by adding roughly a cup of beans to 3 meals a day means he is consuming more than three times the maximum estimated amount of phytic acid that humans can tolerate in legume consumption alone.  That said, if he feels good and looks good, then maybe he can tolerate more than the average human :).  

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