Joe Chalhoub busts a few myths of the paleo diet and explains how it helped turn his life around.
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Rod: Welcome everyone! Rod from Sports Adventure here today. And today, I would like to continue our fantastic interview series where I interview inspirational people from around the world to share their expert insights on Mountain Biking good nutrition in Men’s Health. My guest today, he has started on the paleo diet many years ago. He found that he not only lost weight, he gained more energy, and also reduced the anxiety and stress levels. He created a fantastic website PaleoDietAustralia.com.au. And at that point, I would like to welcome Joe Chalhoub also known as Paleo Joe. Welcome Joe!
Joe: Thanks. Thank you. Thanks Rod. Thanks for having me.
Rod: No worries at all. Thank you for your time mate. I really appreciate.
Joe: No problem.
Rod: Mate we get rolling then. For you what’s a good about being Paleo Joe?
Joe: Okay. Like you said Rod, I started off… I didn’t know that much about paleo but when I started, I just wanted to lose weight. I wanted to do what everyone else did: get close to that 6-pack as you want to as you can. So, that was the reason why I started. And then I just started losing this weight but I have been on different diets before. You lose that in a way but you feel fatigued to be, you just look a bit sick in the face like that weight watchers kind of diet you use. You lose more muscle then fat. But with this diet it was really really different.
I used to suffer from anxiety and a slight amount of depression as well. Then I go to Paleo because of that reason I had no idea but that was the things. I lost 20 kilos on it. It took me about, I think, 6 months.
Joe: 6 months I lose around about 20 kilos. But not only that. Well people were just complementing me on how healthy I look, my skin improved not just the eyes everything. I just looked really really good. I am not saying that from a egotistically point of view either. It was just like the health thing. That’s what I mentioned about. Like weight watchers like I said. You see these people, they lose muscle and they look very unhealthy but I really lost the weight. But I also looked really really healthy.
My ex-wife said that I used to always be that kind of guy that looks to be stressed. And not sleep well as well. And then I started noticing those differences. I used to sleep really really well. I am not sure if you have read up on it Rod but you do get better quality sleep on paleo. I am not sure what the science behind it is, but I seriously started sleeping like a baby at 40 years old. I used to get a best sleep. And another thing you just wake up and bang. No tiredness, nothing just everything changed. And my anxiety completely reduced.
Joe: But, I wasn’t started getting stressed about it. I mean I am not sure what the science exactly was behind that but I started rating up, panic attacks gone. I started doing a little bit of research on the net and d the lot of people saying it panic attacks gone, depression improved. So, and there is a lot research around inflammation and depression as well. Now yes that’s why in I am in love with paleo and what we spoke about earlier. Before the interview you never go back when you go paleo, you never go back.
Rod: I couldn’t agree more.
Rod: As I mentioned, during my period of little health one of my doctors suggested and highly recommended to me to go at paleo and I went with it at the point I was prepared to trying anything and when I won’t might need any other way it is a very important part of my life and my routine. My family have been very supportive in all of it and accommodated all my unusual request at times. But even they started to listen to things that I had to say and started to make a few changes on their own which is great to get that flow and affect.
Joe: Yeah, absolutely. Well that’s another think I forget to mention my wife at that time had no choice but to eat paleo with me. And she was overweight she lost about 20 kilos as well.
Joe: She loved it. She really really transformed as well. And the only challenge I had was getting kids on the paleo and that didn’t work unfortunately. And just the important, I am not sure I won’t mind saying my age, I am on 42 when you hit that 40 mark especially for men you really started to get that pot belly and type-12 diabetes it is really important for men around that age to starting control of their health otherwise they will just spiral downwards and it is easy. It is easy, especially, even after 30-35.
Rod: Yeah that’s terrific mate. What are the 3 top things that you would say that someone should know about paleo if they were just giving it half a thought?
Joe: Well my biggest recommendation and I got this from Tim Ferris. He is not completely paleo but he has got the foundation of the paleo. Something that he said to me… I’ll go into what I think is the most important thing about. He said “Be your own guinea pig, try things out for yourself.” And the three most important… it’s just give it a go. You’ll notice that when you follow the rules there’s a lot more variety than what you think. And a lot of people say “I can’t live without bread” but if you notice when you eliminate bread out of your diet you’re not feeling bloated, you’ve got a lot more energy. But what I’m trying to say is those people that are scared of paleo – not scared but they don’t wanna try it because they don’t want to give up their breads and pastas, but there’s a lot of substitutes. Cauliflower rice is just beautiful. Zucchini spaghetti, that’s just awesome. And you find out with pastas and all that it’s the flavor of the sauce that actually make the meal as well.
Rod: Yes so true.
Joe: So, if you can replace that… Oh a bit I’m probably going off of the question but yea, the three most… so what was the question again?
Rod: The 3 top things that someone should know if they’re thinking about getting started.
Joe: You’re gonna lose weight on it. Actually that I was answering the question. It’s not as hard as you think, and you’re gonna feel younger as well. And for guys, I think there’s a bit of science behind it as well. It does improve your sex drive as well and just not only that, and the energy behind it. So, get onto it. I recommend it and like Time Ferris said try it out. Just try it. Give it at least 30-60 days. And it’s not as hard. You can still go to restaurants and just order your steak and veggies and leave out the chips. It’s not that hard. I mean you don’t have to go organic all the time. We’re not Pete Evans. We’re not our own chef. We don’t have millions of dollars. But I’d rather you go out to a restaurant and still have a steak and veggies. It doesn’t have to be organic, but it’s better than having the chips and something fried and all that. So, just get as close to it as you can. And you don’t have to be 100% paleo. You can, you can do an 80/20 kind of thing. 80% paleo is just enough for people; because, you can get realistic about it. Sometimes you wanna go paleo and have a couple of beers and stuff, see that’s not gonna spoil your whole diet either. So it’s not as hard as people think, that’s the main thing I want people to know about paleo. It’s not as hard. And you’re gonna reap the rewards from it. I guarantee you.
Rod: Certainly, I think you’re spot on. As I mentioned, when I first got started and it was all a bit overwhelming. To me when you’re going to a supermarket and virtually you can ignore every aisle except the fruit and veg and the meat aisle. And you think what is there gonna be left for me to eat? But once you start to work through it – as you said you made some great suggestions with the cauliflower rice and the zucchini spaghetti and things like that. My wife came home with some of that just the other day from the supermarket.
Joe: How good does it taste?
Rod: Mate it’s unreal. My family wee having a bit of a dig and they thought oh yea this is gonna be good and I had a try and couldn’t believe how good it was. They thought it was great.
Joe: Yep. Exactly. And just another thing when you try paleo for the first week, you are going to feel a bit different, you get a bit tired. It’s probably all the toxins going out of your body and all that but it’s just that persistence. You need to at least do a minimum of that for 30 days. And then when the sugar craving and the sugar goes out of your body, you won’t go back to it again, do you? I used to drink coke more than water. Now I can’t stand the taste of it. So persistence I guess is the key.
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Rod: I think you’re right, you’re spot on. And I found also I regained my taste for food without smothering it in sauces and all of these packaged things that we buy, you get to re-enjoy food again which was quite a pleasant surprise.
Joe: Yea, absolutely. You tend to cook your own meals, that is what I do now, and like there’s so much information out there on Facebook. I mean even Pete Evans. I don’t know him personally so I am not trying to boost him but he’s got a lot of books out there now so it help you cooking, give you those ideas. And you’ll begin to lose weight and you reap the rewards definately.
Rod: Well done. What would be the best way to get started? Someone’s gonna make the commitment, “Okay let’s go. Let’s give it a crack.” What’s the first thing they should do?
Joe: I think I will leave on my website there’s a bit of information. First thing you do is just get a list of paleo approved foods.
Joe: And then like I said earlier, just hop on our website and just try out my website paleodietaustralia.au.com that I use. It’s got a few recipes on there and some info. And just Pete Evans books, he’s got heaps of books now, just paleo foods. Just look it up. Mark Sisson has got a really in depth list of what food you can eat. And yea, I’d follow that list, that’s what I did. And it was all easy.
And just another thing that viewers need to know with losing that weight, a lot of it they reckon 80% of body composition has got to do with what you eat. But just to let your listeners that I do weight training and sprinting as well. Which is that’s another thing that helped me and that’s another thing I recommend for people to do as well.
That’ll be the easy, that’s how I got started. Start out with Tim Ferris who’s more of a low cab kind of diet, moved on to Mark Sisson – and he’s got all the information you need.
Joe: Yea, an in depth list of what you can eat, and then you can do your own stuff. There’s a lot of substitutes like I said earlier as well. And there’s a paleo bread brand that’s really great, really low cab and an actual paleo food. So, a lot of people have been putting paleo on and then they’ve got grains in their ingredients, but there’s a company called No Grainer. And they’ve got some real safe. If that’s the only reason why you won’t go on paleo is because of the bread, they’ve got beautiful paleo bread. So, you can have your toast with butter on there and it’s awesome.
Rod: Good one. Yea I wasn’t aware of that. Thank you mate. I will put some info on the post for that as well. That’s great, thank you mate. But you gave some examples, obviously your own example of how it’s transformed your life and you mentioned your former wife as well. But the people that have followed your training and advice and seeing same results, can you give some examples of those?
Joe: Absolutely, I have a photo where I had a young kid around 19 really really overweight. Suffered from eczema. But he was nineteen and when you’re younger your metabolism’s slowing and he lost 24 kilos from memory. But he’s one of the few guys that actually listened to me to a tee. 24 kilos completely transformed. And actually I’ll send you the email with the before and after photo, if you want to pop it up on your website.
But he also quit smoking as well and his eczema completely went. Completely! Completely gone!
Rod: How happy would he be.
Joe: Especially at 19-20, it’s a lot easier than us – or myself I should speak to, to lose that weight quickly. And he’s just transformed as well.
Rod: Fantastic. And at those ages, that age is obviously just becoming a young man, he’s trying to get his life together.
Joe: Good to get into that habit now.
Rod: That’s fantastic.
Joe: Exactly. And look this is not scientifically proven but it has been known to improve Type-2 diabetes and as we know that’s a major major issue along with heart disease and all that sort of stuff. So, if you’re heading down that path, this is I definitely recommend. There’s a lot of doctors that back paleo now as well. So, you can still see a GP and have a chat to him about it..
Rod: No, I think as you mentioned the science is starting to filter through and there’s a number of people that are getting on board and enjoying the benefits. And as I said, it may not suit everybody. It’s a bit of a trial and error thing. But if you give it a crack, like you said, and at least try before you dismiss it.
Joe: Absolutely. And of course Loren Cordain is the one that came up with – the professor. They reckon he’s the founder of paleo diet. He’s a great guy to start too. He’s the one that recommends the flexibility. You can do 80/20% so you can still have a dessert once a week or something if you want. And it’s the paleodiet.com his website so that’s got everything in it as well. So, yea, there’s another bit of info for you.
Rod: If you had one secret to give about paleo, what would it be?
Joe: One secret. Be prepared. Just, you got to be organized with it otherwise you fall off the bandwagon. I’m sure people got Facebook and all those fitness gurus you just see photos of them with about 20 plastic containers full of food for the whole week. You’ve really got to be prepared for paleo otherwise you fall off the bandwagon really quick. Because, it’s hard to get takeaway stuff when you’re in a hurry, especially, if you are sales rep example I mean where are you gonna get a healthy sort of bit of food while you’re driving I mean McDonalds KFC and all that. I can get a little for you. I recommend be prepared. Definitely.
And just another thing, another important factor about paleo is grass fed meats. A lot healthier for you as well. Because a lot of the other ones, a lot of cattle are grain fed and that’s not good for them and makes them sick and then you pay the price with the meat as well. There’s a lot. Coles and all that are selling a lot of grass-fed meats so that’s another really important factor as well.
Rod: Good one. Mate with your experience in with paleo and the people that have followed you, we have some of the common problems that some of the people following you have come back with if they’ve just started upwards. What’s sort of word that you’re getting back from them?
Joe: What I mentioned before, “I miss my bread.” I get a lot of that. “I miss my pasta.” But that’s where, like I just said earlier, preparation is really really important. And the tiredness, you do get a bit tired. Your body is used to not having as many carbohydrates. And I think you just gotta override that first week or two if your body coping with no sugar and getting that out. But then after that I reckon you’re right to go. Definitely.
Rod: Terrific. I know exactly what you mean with the tiredness, and I felt something of that too.
Joe: If something happens to you, It’s kind of weird isn’t it? You feel lethargic.
Rod: And in even my life as I’ve mentioned prior to being ill, the afternoon slump that I used to feel every afternoon after I had sandwiches and fruit buns and all that sort of things, all the food trying to fill up, and then hit mid afternoon and really did doze off underneath the desk sort of thing.
Joe: it’s your body trying to break down all that sugar, that’s what it is.
Rod: And that’s all that’s pre-paleo. And now going beyond that, those sorts of things they don’t happen anymore. Your body is much more balanced and just keeps plugging on which is a fantastic thing.
Joe: Absolutely. And you find you eat less. A lot of the paleo foods are really really filling. And your blood sugars aren’t going up and down, that’s where they get their tiredness. They’re really really stable.
And there is another thing I want to mention about paleo where the media have gone on about paleo being no carb, no carb at all, that’s absolutely rubbish. It’s not about if you wanna lose weight the lower the carb you go, the easier you’re gonna find it. But paleo is not about low carb. I mean sweet potato, you can still have your sweet potato, it’s got a lot of carb, a lot of the veggies have got carbs in it. So we’re not telling you not to eat carbs. That’s, I’m not sure where they got that from. And it’s not just a meat based diet. Like Lauren Cordain recommended you just do a palm full of meat at every meal. So, everyone’s got their Fred Flintsone point of a view where you’re just eating meat off the bone. That’s not paleo. That’s nowhere near to paleo.
Rod: I’m pleased you pointed that out cause I think that’s a bit of a misconception a lot of people have. You’re exaggerating but you’re eating a piece of steak for breakfast, lunch, and tea, but as you correctly said it’s far from that, so good point.
Joe: Three quarters of your plate is salad and veggies and some healthy fats. And also start cooking with coconut oil. You probably hear a lot of that as well. So it’s the only oil that doesn’t change its chemical structure when it heats up and stuff. So it’s all healthy for you. There’s no dangerous trans fats with that at all. So I even bathe in coconut oil. It is just awesome.
Rod: Is that right?
Joe: Oh, absolutely. It’s great for your skin, great for everything. If I have got any redness or anything and my kids are going put a bit of coconut oil before you know it, it’s gone.
Rod: Is that right? I wasn’t aware of that.
Joe: Yea, coconut. Do a bit of research on coconut oil. It’s just magnificent, magnificent stuff.
Rod: Terrific. Very good. Mate, you’ve mentioned a couple of really good sources of information. Anything else come to mind that we can share for the listeners to get some more info about paleo?
Joe: The combination of all those people I gave you. Dr. Loren Codain, he’s the founder of it. He’s definitely one to go for. Mark Sisson, my site, and Pete Evans for cooking ideas. I reckon we have pretty much covered. Definitely covered. And also like the weight training aspect of it you don’t have to be a gym junky and all that, but you need to maintain some muscle as well and that’ll really help you as you get older as well. And sprinting once a week as well, just transformed my body and stress levels. But Mark Sisson goes into a bit about that. Look, I’m happy to chat to people and tell them what I do on my site. There’s no cost there, they can email me. Feel free to email me. paleodietaustralia.com.au. And I’m happy to give them an idea of what I’ve done.
Rod: Fantastic, that’s great. You beat me to it, mate. I was gonna ask how people get in touch but your details are there and I’ll put a link at the end of the blog to your website. And I appreciate your offer there to take anyone’s questions and to go through your experience and anything you can offer there. Mate, I can’t thank you enough for your time this afternoon. Thank you very much.
Joe: Thank you, thanks Rod.
Rod: Good stuff.
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About The Author
Rod Bucton, mountain bike fanatic from Mid North Coast, New South Wales Australia… helping middle aged men improve their lives with exercise, good nutrition and good health and while you’re at it follow Rod on Facebook or Instagram.
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