Looking Into The Paleo Diet by Stephen Cooper

A client asks...

Hi Stephen, 

I hope you are well.  I was curious if you were going to do another Paleo Challenge?  After over a year of 'healthy' eating and intermittent/steady workout, I have yet to lose weight.  I've never had to 'diet' before, so I did weight watchers for the last 3 months and still no results.  In any case, looking into Paleo and thought of you.

Would love to hear your thoughts and would love the challenge. 

Thanks so much


My response...

I am doing well thanks for asking. 

No plans for a challenge right now. 

I like the Paleo style of eating as it makes sense (eating as close to natural and whole foods) plus my immunity has never been better.

Some of the Paleo sites I like are,


http://robbwolf.com/  (If you have specific questions, or would like to arrange a consultation with Amy who is my registered dietitian and also work with Robb, contact her here.) 

If you can make it for 3 weeks eating strictly Paleo, you will see excellent results, plus you'll get over the "hump". There may be cravings and headaches for a while, but they will pass, and you should lose weight and feel better. 

Other than Paleo two other options that I believe are effective are Tim Ferris' 4 Hour Body, which is sensible...and intermittent fasting such as Eat Stop Eat. 

Knowing what type of workouts you had been doing, and if you were getting sufficient sleep each night would also help me with suggestions.



Updated response...

Discipline when it comes to eating and training is one of the most important keys to the fat loss game. 

In my case I love to train hard.  I look forward to and "crave" the challenge.  Like today...I know that I'm going to train jiu jitsu at noon...and I can't wait.  It's tough and draining...but I so look forward to challenging myself.
Also with the eating...I often tell clients that I could really care less about eating.  Don't get me wrong I love and appreciate great food and the care it takes to prepare...but most of the time, I'd rather just eat quick to get some "fuel" and get on with things.
There must be something in our DNA which "pushes" some people to train as hard as possible, and have this attitude towards eating.



Questions: Struggling with Food? by Stephen Cooper

Client question:

"Hi Stephen, 

My goals are to lose weight and be more fit.

I think my bigger struggle is food outside of class, especially when I get stressed I tend to eat, and when I do eat the wrong things it is usually sugar. 

I have gotten better in some ways, but I still find myself eating too much of the wrong stuff. I think some of it might be knowing the better times to eat, and eating the right stuff before and after exercising. I usually eat the wrong stuff at night or right after work. 


Boot Camp Client "K" 


My response: 

When it comes to food, there is no easy answer. 

Through my experience over the many many years I've been in this business, I can tell you that the best method or "rule" I know of is to eat as close to nature as possible. 

The farther we stray to packaged stuff, with man made ingredients, the worse our health and the more weight we gain.

As far as timing of meals...this too varies.

It used to be "religion" to suggest that clients eat every 3 hours for the "thermic effect", and so forth.  Yet, I've had many clients and friends lose weight by eating just one great big meal at night. 

(Did I add to your confusion?)   

I'd suggest that you eat according to your energy output, meaning lean towards eating a little more (even fruits) on days that you've trained. If you know that it's been a pretty sedentary day, then slow down the eating...maybe have more green tea or something. 

Hope that helps

Sharing by Stephen Cooper

This morning one of my clients asked when I began personal training.

I trained my first paying client in 1984.  

I just found these pictures of my first boot camp which was in 2003.  This was up at Don Benito School in Pasadena.

2003 First Boot Camper Group


2003 First Boot Camp ClassTraining is all about relationships...and I have a lot to be thankful for.  So many years, so many great clients.

Thanks.  I really appreciate you all.

Honesty, and Client Questions by Stephen Cooper

I received a client's question on changing her diet.  Here is part of my response...

"Honestly I'm 46 and I've tried so many "diets", pills, potions, etc., to get lean and muscular. 

There are no shortcuts, none.  I would have discovered them by now.

What I do know that does work is eating the basics.  Lean proteins, fish, chicken, vegetables, some fruit, some nuts/seeds, and healthy fats/oils.  If you eat a combination of these at each meal you should feel full and "fueled" for your training. 

Sleep is a biggie!

So many of my female clients struggle with sleep issues.  Too much worrying and the brain doesn't shut off.  Make sleep a priority.  Get in the habit of shutting off the electronics and preparing for sleep.  Turn off the computers, cel phones, iPads, laptops, etc..  Take a warm bath and slow down...maybe drink some comforting tea too."

A Frequently Asked Question by Stephen Cooper

Client question...

"Hi Stephen,

I have a couple of concerns with my ability to do some of the exercises and the expectations I have.  I have attended 6 out of the 8 sessions and I know I'm really out of shape, however I was expecting to at least improve on some of the exercises.  I may be doing some things wrong and perhaps you can help me identify how to get the most of the sessions and see results.  I'm still unable to do the side plank and the I can barely do a forward plank for a minute :(.  I'm up to 5 push ups (and I don't mean girl push ups), but I'd like to develop upper strength.  I'm working on my diet, and doing my best to limit my sugar intake and empty carbohydrates.  Is there anything else I should be doing?  I mentioned I'd like to lose 20-25lbs by February, so please let me know what I need to do to achieve this goal, and maintain it.  I started doing cardio and what's working for me is doing 45 minutes 3 times a week at a steady pace.  I appreciate any advice you can offer.  Thanks and have a wonderful day!"

My response...

That side plank is one of the most challenging exercises that we do.  So many times I see the same challenge with many women.  The combination of female hips and not used to doing theses type of core exercises can make the exercise frustrating.  You are not alone.  I can think of so many who have said the same thing...it does get easier, I promise. 

With the cardio I'd actually prefer that you do sprints 2x a week, and maybe the 45 min session for the 3rd workout. 

When I say sprints, I like a 4 minute warm up, then 20 seconds of sprinting (your version of sprinting) and 10 seconds of rest. 

You'll repeat this 20/10 method 8 times (4min) 

Then you'll "cool down" by slowing your pace for another 4 minutes.

Thanks for the questions and the feedback. 

Be patient.  Think of this like a martial art.  Mastery doesn't come in less than 6 hours of work.  Keeping showing up, train consistently, and eat according to plan, and the results will come. 



What helps keep you motivated to workout besides that it's also your business? by Stephen Cooper

Question from a client..."What helps keep you motivated to workout besides that its also your business?"

My response...

I believe this has changed over time.  When I first began lifting I was about 13 or so.  During that time it was a great way to deal with family issues.  I could train hard and my mind would become blank.  My only focus was on lifting.  As I lifted, my body improved and I began to get compliments...this fed my ego and it just felt good. So during this time I would say that it was easy to have the time to train and the pay off was that I got positive feedback.

These days my motivation mostly comes from three areas.

One, it is my job to be fit.  I need to set an example for my family and my clients.  I have to walk my talk.

Secondly, I want my body to be in top shape so that when I ask it to do something like run up a couple of flights of stairs, my body responds and it happens.

I don't want to be in a situation where I want to have fun and experience life to the fullest, but because I haven't trained sufficiently, I'm not capable.

Lastly, it just makes sense.  I want to live a long and healthy life, and all signs point to exercise and smart eating to achieve this.

Another client made a good comparison the other day in boot camp.  We may not be motivated to brush our teeth each day, but we want to avoid problems with our teeth and our health, so we brush, floss and go to the dentist regularly.  We aren't necessarily motivated to do this, we just do it.

Women Only, How to Lose The Annoying Belly Fat by Stephen Cooper

I'm writing this today as I respond to a boot camper who's major goal is "to lose the ever annoying and unhealthy---belly fat."

I'm often asked this question, so here is my exact response to her. 

"In looking at this goal, I always come back to the basics.
  • Eat clean.
  • Train consistently.  (Three times a week at boot camp, and one nice long walk, bike ride, etc. on the weekend.)
  • Sleep enough.
  • Supplement to ensure success.
Let's start with eating clean.
The closer you stay to eating lean proteins, vegetables, a little fruit, and some healthy fat...the better off you will be.  It's simple...but not easy.  The more you stray from this "blueprint" the more you will struggle.
Train consistently.
This one is pretty basic too.  Plan your schedule so that you fit YOU into your schedule.  Our sessions are only 45 minutes, three times a week...so commit.  (I realize like in your case, that emergencies do come up...but in general do your best.)
Sleep enough.
I've written a lot about this on my site.  In order to lose the fat, you've got to get good quality sleep, there is no other way of getting around this.
Shut down the electronic stuff at least an hour or more before bed.
Make sure that your room is cool and dark.
Try using a sleep mask...this a life changer in my opinion.

Supplement to ensure success.
There are many supplements out there, but one company that I rely on is Prograde.  I know the owners and I trust the products that they put out.
The two that might be useful to you are their multi vitamin for women
and their Krill fish oil.
Only by putting these suggestions into action, will you reap the results."


Some concerns about eating. I've been back and forth with different routines. From no carb to cookie and now I just want to eat better. by Stephen Cooper


"I looked through the site and you have great advice.

Just some concerns about eating. I been back and forth with different routines. From no carb to cookie and now I just want to eat better. I read this book that talks about the way we eat and what we eat for a life change not temporary. So the last few weeks I been shopping for healthy food and no junk. What I am having difficulty with is balancing what I need to have for my daily intake. So I started drinking 200 calorie smoothie in the morning, a go lean bar for mid-afternoon snack, a salad with a chicken breast for lunch, peanut butter on Ezekiel bread around 4, and cottage cheese with drizzle of honey at night. I am aiming for about 1,500 calories a day for now since I want to drop weight. I drink plenty of water, I loveee it. My problem is that when I get stressed out it is hard for me to control my intake, I recognized that lately I have been using food for comfort and want to get out of that. Do you have any suggestions what to do? For example, I kept celery around for such scenarios, but sometimes I rather reach for the chocolate. So I am trying to come up with alternatives, even things like going for short walk, waiting 5 minutes, keeping busy. 

What do you think?  

Sorry for all the questioning, I just really need someone who knows better than I do. I read a lot but feel like most of it is just market advertising, and I don’t know how to decipher right from wrong; its like someone always has something to sell and the truth is covered. Hence, I want to find healthier way of living without all this experimentation with no results. 

Thank you,"

"A" - via email


My response:

I totally agree that whatever diet/plan we use it has to be reasonable...and that it can be done without a lot of thought.  I choose the Paleo plan just because it emphasises whole foods.  Chicken, beef, turkey, fish, lot's of vegetables, some fruit, and healthy fat.  No sugar, no white stuff like bread or pasta. 

What's in the smoothie?  I saw the 200 calories, but is it high in sugar?  Artificial flavors?  Try to eat your calories, not drink them. 

I know in the morning it is a challenge, but do your best to eat real food. 

I'd like to know what's in the bar too? 

The rest of your day looks good.

As far as stress and cravings, you may want to add some fat such as almond butter, almonds...you can add that to your celery.  Dark (80-90%) chocolate is one of my favorites.  Not Paleo, but yummy. 

Increase the balanced meals of pro, veg, and fats and your cravings may subside some.  It seems that when clients "dabble" in carbs, the sugar cravings are always near.  I suggest that people stay away from simple carbs for 2 weeks...this usually is a good amount of time for the cravings to subside. Drink sparkling water too...no sugar of course, this may help fill your stomach and stave off the cravings. 

Take it step by step, and do your best at each meal. 

I appreciate what you said in that I'm not a "sales" type person.  I really want people to see results, and will help however I can.  The basics work, 1. Exercise, 2. Smart Eating, 3. Proper sleep and recovery.  It's the discipline that is tough to "sell".   

Stick to it, the basics, and you will see results.  It may be a little be slower, but the results should last a lifetime. 

Keep the questions coming,


"I feel stronger, have more endurance, but I don't feel thinner." by Stephen Cooper


I feel stronger, have more endurance, but I don't feel thinner.  I've been trying to eat more Paleo-like, cutting things out but occasionally slipping.  I eat more salads, protein, lots of eggs, veggies and fruit.  No rice, beans, limited breads, limited dairy.  I seem to be going wrong though since I feel like I'm not losing weight.  Any suggestions or assessments would be much appreciated.


My response:

Did you take before measurements, and before photos?

Tell me your typical day of eating "Paleo-like".






How many hours of sleep do you get each night?

Do you measure this? 

Is your bedroom dark, cool, and free of distractions? 

Let's start with these, and get back to me. 

I'm glad you asked,


Day 18 of the Paleo Challenge, and a FAQ by Stephen Cooper

Sorry for the slow update, just had ATT come out and replace my router.  All systems go now.

I've been hearing some great feedback.  Cravings have subsided, and anywhere from 9 - 13 pounds lost since the beginning of the challenge.

I'd love for you to post your pounds lost here in the comment section.  It inspires others to see real results.

Question:  "Should I supplement my workouts on the days I'm not attending boot camp?"

My response:

Your question about adding exercise is a common one.
Most of us are time and sleep starved.  Trying to add more exercise is not the answer.
Focus on the basics.
Get to sleep on time.
Train hard during our 3 workouts per week.
Eat on target at least 80-90 percent of the time depending on your fat loss goals.
Master these...

Question: What Should I be Doing on My Days Off from Boot Camp? by Stephen Cooper

Question: I was wondering if you think it's okay to incorporate something on my off days - nothing too crazy. 

If you think it might help, do you have any suggestions for trustworthy lines/names/ideas that I can look up to supplement the bootcamp at all?  But if you think I should just concentrate on resting on the off days I'm totally on board with that as well.

Thanks again, the boxing last night was fun!

Answer: I would focus on getting the most from this session.  Focus on the training, and the eating.  Make sure that you are getting plenty of sleep.

Master those three.

If you'd like to add some fun activities maybe on the weekend like hiking, biking, swimming...then enjoy.

Don't stress right now on trying to add more.

Related Post

A Question About the Paleo Diet and Acne by Stephen Cooper

Question: I've been trying to stick as closely as possible to the primal (mostly my meals have been something like chicken + greens or chicken + sauteed veggies or salad with little dressing or eggs in some form.  though yesterday was fish and spinach salad).  On rush days I've also been eating yogurt and blueberries with a touch of honey, I can't seem to shake the occasional dairy hit, but I haven't noticed that I feel better or worse during the days which I don't have dairy.

I was wondering if any of your clients have mentioned or 
if you know generally if the paleo diet can results in skin break outs? I've never really had any problems with skin but I'm finding that since dropping carbs and upping my meat I've been struggling with skin break outs.  Is this something you've heard of before?  Should I try to go with mostly vegetarian for a week to see? I'm tempted to do that, though I'm worried about not getting enough protein for the workout days - I still want to lose fat and get strong regardless of the skin, but if possible I'd like to figure out a way to have both. 

Answer: From Amy Kubal, our Registered Dietitian

In regards to your question about paleo and skin breakouts - this style of eating is actually an effective treatment for acne!  Dr. Loren Cordain has an Eating Guide detailing the paleo diet for curing acne. 

I am not sure how much (if any) dairy you are consuming, as this can often result in breakouts, additionally eggs may also be the culprit.  Everyone responds differently to different foods.  If I were you I would try eliminating all dairy, eggs, nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers), and nuts and see what happens.  If your skin clears up add these foods back in one at a time and see how your body responds - if you breakout by adding in nuts - you'll know they are the culprit, if you don't you're good to go with them and then add in the nightshades, etc.  until you figure out the exact trigger!

Paleo is definitely the way to go - keep up the awesome work!  If you have any other questions or would like additional help with your diet - let me know!  You can check out my blog at www.fuelasrx.blogspot.com

A Question About Soreness by Stephen Cooper

Question: I was wondering if what I'm feeling is what I'm supposed to be feeling in terms of soreness/tiredness.  When I was talking with a couple of the other bootcampers they mentioned that when they started they were so sore they couldn't move the next day.  I haven't felt anything that extreme.  I feel like all the muscles are pretty exhausted and, for the muscles we've worked, they feel extra tender/sore enough that I know they worked.   Should I be trying to push myself to feeling the "so sore can't move" feeling vs my "so tired don't want to move" feeling I have right now? (And if so, how would I do that?)

My response:

Your level of soreness depends on various things.  The other boot campers may be sore because they aren't used to our style of training, and more than likely they haven't exercised that hard in a while.  You may be in better shape than you think :)

The way that you described "all the muscles are pretty exhausted and, for the muscles we've worked, they feel extra tender/sore enough that I know they worked" is actually the way I'd prefer that you feel.  you want to know that you were challenged, but not destroyed.  I want your body to change, but I still want you to be able to work and enjoy your other activities.

It sounds to me that you are right on track.

"Should I Have Something to Eat Before My 5:45 Workout? by Stephen Cooper

I'm often asked this question and here is my response...

It depends.

You may want to have a small protein shake of 1 scoop protein powder, some water, and maybe a little full fat coconut milk.  (No low fat coconut milk...what's the point.)

Maybe a small handful of almonds and a half an apple.

For others, it may just be some coffee or my favorite, mate´.

You'll need to experiment to see what works best for you.

For after your boot camp session there are conflicting theories on when and what to eat.

Some say that you should just eat protein and fat...or many say this is a good time to add more carbs such as fruit plus the protein and fat.

I prefer that you have a wholesome breakfast with protein, vegetables, fruit, and some healthy fat.

Skip the complicated formulas...just eat as close to nature as possible and your body will take care of itself.


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