Our guest today is well known primal diet blogger Richard Nikoley of
documents Richard’s journey from an unhealthy 235lbs at 33% body fat to the 60lbs lighter, stronger, healthier and happier person he is today.
Richard is the definition of a busy person, he runs a number of blogs, a full-time business, hang glides, flies aeroplanes yet still finds the time to workout and cook real food!
There’s much we can learn from Richard so without further delay…
Please welcome Richard Nikoley!
Skye: Richard, firstly thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk with us today.
You’re well known as an advocate of the Paleo or primal diet which focuses on eating natural foods such as meat, fruit, vegetables, nuts, basically foods our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have ate.
Before you started eating paleo, were you sceptical and what was the turning point that convinced you this was the right way for you to eat?
Richard: No, I was never skeptical of an evolutionary basis for a human diet. In fact, the number of times I had given Atkins a try and had some success I always attributed to some measure of evolutionary logic (high carbs are hard to come by in nature).
The turning point was integrating the other things to do with an evolutionary basis for diet beyond low-moderate carbohydrate, such as vitamin D deficiency, things that may cause inflammation like grains and omega-6 fats in excess (even when low carb), ditching the craving for sweet altogether and other things.
There were also the integrations having to do with non-dietary elements like: sleep, movement and exercise, and natural hunger (intermittent fasting).
Skye: You recently followed an intermittent fasting diet where you’d alternate low carb paleo diet days with high carb refeeds on your workout days.
Were you anxious about reintroducing carbs into your diet and did your results change your outlook on how you should eat now?
Richard: Yes, you are referring to my Leangains.com experiment with Martin Berkhan. This was an experiment for me, one that got me leaner and stronger, which was my goal. While it was very paleo friendly in terms of diet, it is still a regimented, disciplined program designed for those who really want to take thing to the next and top level.
So, no, I was not chomping at the bit to eat more carbs any more than I looked forward to going to the gym and squatting for 250 or doing dead lifts for reps at 325. I just turned 50 and while those numbers are not particularly impressive in the world of pushing iron, they represent gains of 200-300% over the last few years for me.
Unfortunately, I did sustain some sort of shoulder injury through my own fault right before the end of 2010 and so have been off the Leangains method since, and back to roughly the way I did things before. Whether I’ll reinitiate the Leangains program remains to be seen.
Skye: My favourite aspect of intermittent fasting is the luxury of eating huge meals whilst losing fat, without that oppressive on a diet feeling.
Before you discovered paleo and fasting, did you also follow the eat small and often advice too?
Richard: No. I was pretty much a reasonable breakfast, lunch & dinner guy and I wasn’t that much into sweets except around Xmas with all the baked goods and candies. For me, I think it was a combination of to much crappy food (fast food, pizza) and also grazing in front of the TV nearly every night (I ate sunflower seeds almost non-stop).
Skye: You don’t advocate many supplements, presumably because a healthy diet should be plentiful and provide most of the vitamins and minerals you need. Aside from fish oils and vitamin D, do you take or recommend any other supplements and if so why?
Richard: Right. That’s pretty much it, except for vitamin K2 and in particular, the MK-4 subform, menatetrenone. I have a number of posts on the topic and people can find them just by searching my blog for ‘K2.”
Skye:: I’m a big advocate of basic movements and short, intense strength focussed workouts for fat loss. I know you had great results following a similar type of workout routine; do you still use this type of workout today?
Richard: Well, let me put it this way. The wife & I are contemplating a potential move to a place where we now have a vacation home in the mountains. In wondering what I might construct for workouts (other than just the trees, boulders and trails in the surroundings) I figured I’d have 2 bars, with enough plates for the squat rack and for dead lifts without having to switch around, and then simply a chin-up bar with a belt to add weight: DLs, squats, weighted chins.It’s all you need. Just do it heavy.
Skye: You’ve blogged that you deadlifted an impressive 315lbs aged 50, how do you stay injury free while lifting heavy and how’s your deadlift progressing?
Richard: Well, see above. It’s not conclusive what actually cause my injury or if it’s something else (see my post on TMS). I’m pretty sure the DL had nothing to do with it. At any rate, the pain is now nearly gone and I am looking forward to getting back to the gym and moving forward again.
Skye: People always claim they’re too busy to eat properly or exercise. You have a number of commitments which make your schedule very busy, how do you balance these responsibilities with a healthy lifestyle?
Richard: The way people get anything done is by priority. The job is a priority because most people have to work to sustain their lifestyle. Sometimes, however, it costs a lot more than a long and stressful job in order to have the “great lifestyle.” Sometimes it costs health, body composition, sleep, mental well being. It often costs good, wholesome relationships with one’s kids. It costs relationships altogether, or at least the quality from what they could be.
I’m generally coming to the belief that what we have done in America since the50s to get everyone into the workforce in order afford bigger houses, two cars, a travel trailer, jet skis and all manner of other stuff is, frankly, insane.
My wife & I both work, both enjoy it. We have no kids, nor would I unless one or more parent was generally home – to home school. No way I would ever send a child to one of those Zoo Human domestication and indoctrination centers.
Skye: Thanks again for your time Richard. How can readers find out more and stay in touch with you?
Feel free to interact in our often very active and lively comment threads to many of my posts.
I hope you enjoyed the interview and I hope it gave you an insight into paleo nutrition and the benefits of following a primal diet.
I’ve been following Richard’s blog for around six months now and there is much that can be gained by spending some time reading Richard’s posts and pursuing the archives.
is one of my trusted sources of nutrition advice because Richard doesn’t rehash tired dogma, he simply tells you how it is based on tangible scientific evidence.
I wholeheartedly recommend EVERYBODY head over to
and take a look around and familiarise yourself with paleo nutrition. Whether you decide to implement a paleo diet or not, you’ll certainly find tonnes of useful and informative information.
It’s also worth pointing out that Richard’s advice is not driven by profit or any agenda, just good wholesome information that will change the way you think about food.