I have been devouring the various discussion threads on PaleoHacks and have found a lot of great information regarding a variety of Paleo related questions. This is my first time actually posting a question so I hope I provide enough information to receive some insightful answers :)
I started my Whole30 challenge on January 2, 2013 as an introduction into the Paleo lifestyle. I have always had issues with dairy and grains and though that this way of eating would really work for me. This past month has been pretty easy for me and I have been really enjoying cooking new and healthy foods for myself. I went through the whole detox period where i felt insanely foggy, irritable and disconnected from reality. I recovered from that and have felt really good the rest of the month. My only issue thus far with this style of eating is the excruciatingly slow weight/fat loss. At the beginning of the month I cheated and weighed myself everyday for the first few days. I did this because I was really excited that I had lost 4 pounds so effortlessly, even if it was just water weight. I didn't weight myself for a week and then I just had to check and see how much I had lost. When I stepped on the scale I was surprised to see that I had not only not lost anymore weight, but that I had gained back a pound. Feeling frustrated I vowed to see the rest of the challenge through with no more weigh-ins until the end. It was nice to not think about the scale and it's stupid numbers. Unfortunately another issue started nagging at me. My clothes did not feel different. Even here at the end of the month I am not feeling smaller and my clothes only fit slightly better. I am a pretty seasoned veteran when it comes to dieting, and I know my body and how long it takes for it to respond to changes. This is not normal. I have cut out everything that I was supposed to. That alone should have been enough for me to start losing. I am very concerned that this is just how its going to be and I will not see any weight/fat loss from this way of eating. I have tried to look this problem up online and have only found the frustrating success stories of people just losing massive amounts of fat and how they feel so much better. A few of the threads I have read on this forum have offered a little insight, but no real answers. I realize I may not find the exact answer I am looking for on here but it's worth a shot :) Please see below for a general look at my daily meals and exercise. !
- 2-egg veggie scramble with about 1 handful of onions, spinach and mushrooms sauteed in 1 tsp of coconut oil
- 1/2 Avocado
- small black coffee (about 8oz)
Snack ( I sometimes get hungry around 1100 but don't feel like eating my whole lunch)
- 1 hard boiled egg
- 1/4-1/2 sweet potato or about 10 almonds
- Large serving of veggies usually a big salad or leftover Brussels sprouts, roasted carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers or cauliflower (I would say about 2-3 cups total of veggies), if it's a salad I will have it with olive oil and organic balsamic vinegar
- Serving of protein usually baked chicken or organic ground buffalo (8-10 oz)
- Again, lots of veggies, 3/4 of my plate is filled with veggies (rarely starchy veg, mainly the same veg as I have at lunch)
- Green olives, because I absolutely love them (about 3-5)
- Protein- usually steak, chicken or fish (8-12 oz)
I have fat at every meal. I work it in somehow either in coconut oil, olive oil, or 1/2 of an avocado.
My exercise consists of 4-5 days a week of 1 hour gym sessions. I do HIIT 3 of those days for about 20-30 minutes and the rest of my time is spent doing weight lifting or calisthenic exercises.
I am drinking plenty of water and getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night. I have not cheated ONCE (except for the weighing part).
So there it is. For a while I thought I was eating too much of this or too much of that but I think my eating is fine, especially for how much I am exercising.
Sorry for the long post. Just wanted to make sure i got everything :) I really appreciate any help and thank you in advance for any advice or information!
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To be completely honest, your diet looks pretty great. I can't really say that anything stands out as being "wrong". It is truly a well executed paleo diet. I did notice however that you consume between 16oz to 24oz (a pound to a pound and a half) of meat every day, and while you are quite active, you are probably eating around 140 to 200 grams of protein each day. I am not saying this is the cause, because quite simply I can't be sure, but it does seem to be a large amount of protein for someone trying to lose weight, as opposed to gaining it. If you were trying to get bigger, then it would make sense to eat this much protein, but losing it? Not so much.
I think the Paleo diet triggers significant weight loss primarily in people who 1) are overweight, 2) eat too much processed carbs, grains, sugars (where "too much" might not really be a lot), and 3) have metabolic problems associated with insulin spikes / resistance.
This describes me when I went Paleo and I lost about 27 pounds. This might not describe you though. You may have been relatively low carb, at a good weight, and healthy before you started.
You didn't give your height/weight or your calorie intake but it could be that you're simply at a good weight for your body and are eating enough to maintain that weight. In my experience, intense exercise is a good way to burn fat up to a point, but after that point, it is more likely to make you larger than smaller, though you'll look and feel a lot better no matter what your weight is.
In my case I started at 6' 230#, I was running 12-15 miles a week and hating it, eating a decent diet but with too many grains and sugars. I went full-on Paleo and started Crossfit and lost about 27 pounds down to 203#, and 7 inches off of my waist. However as I kept with the diet and exercise I gained back about 20 pounds up to about 220-225#, though I gained only 1 inch back in my waist. I look a million times better, more muscle, thinner waist, less fat, even my face looks thinner. However, even at 203# I was borderline obese according to the BMI calculators and such, and at 220-225# I'm definitely "obese". If you looked at me you would think I was in pretty good shape but statistically I'm overweight. My point with all this is that a good, healthy weight for me is higher than what "they" tell me it should be, so I've learned that the weight all by itself isn't a good metric of anything in particular.
If you want to lose weight and/or get leaner from where you are, you can try some fasting. Skip a few meals per week. I will often skip breakfast or lunch 1-3 days per week. With the paleo diet I find this pretty easy, I just don't get that hungry except after workouts.
You can also try working out fully fasted, i.e. no food for 6-12 hours before you work out. This can make the workouts tougher but your body will gradually learn to draw energy from your stores and this can trigger fat burning and fat loss. I think it is possible to retrain your body to draw energy from its own stores rather than expect it in nutrition.
Some people at my gym follow a diet where they eat all of their daily food in a period of 8 hours and fast for the other 16, this is intended to burn fat. When I first started Crossfit I worked out fully fasted and fasted for 1-2 hours afterwards. This definitely helped burn fat, but the workouts were excruciating, because I was recovering very poorly by not feeding my body after workouts. You might try this for a while just to see if it triggers something but I wouldn't stick to fasting after workouts too long since it's tough on your body.
Because I was on a low carb diet when I switched to paleo, I didn't find much success. I lost some weight when I went high-fat (Kwasniewski's Optimal Diet), but then gained it back plus more after a while while sticking to the forumla. I had already lost 80+ pounds on low carb. I lost more iwth a protein-sparing, modified fast, then did the potato hack and lost another 20 pounds, so I was down 100 but then I was just super-stuck there. After reading Stephan Guyenet's blog and reading Seth Robert's book, I realized bland foods and flavorless calories would work, and it did. I lost nearly another 30 pounds using bland paleo foods and MCT oil shots in flavorless windows. After several months of this, I landed in the doctor's office, very cold, tired, had trouble sleeping...I was sleeping in sweats and double blankets and could not get warm. He ran labs including full panel thyroid (my doc is paleo). Nothing wrong with me. He said my symptoms are those of someone that is either anorexic or eating a fat-free diet. I was doing neither. Stress hit with layoffs at work and personal stuff, the sleep issues worsened, I felt depressed, it was horrible horrible.
I started to eat more food again and dropped the MCT oil shots out of sheer sheer misery, and I am super-sad to report I am gaining weight. I think there is no answer to this in my case. I have read everything. I've been overweight since I was a baby. I was an obese toddler. Maybe my hypothalmus is just never going to get the full leptin signal. I have done everything, anti-inflammatory I can find. I have the fish oil, I dropped the fish oil, I tried the curcumin, I have the bone broth spiked with grass-fed gelatin, I gave up grass-fed meat for just wild-caught salmon, I tried the chia seeds, I have supplements (I would have to check my cupboards to tell you what all I tried)....I am exasperated.
I have even started reading the gastric surgery sites. I saw myself. The people that have lost a great deal of weight there are sometimes complaining of severe cold no matter the weather or how much clothing they wear, fatigue, depression. This is me. I am suffering from losing too much weight. It looks like people like me have to do a duodenal switch to get to normal weight and keep it off but risk osteoporosis and teeth rotting and falling due to mineral malabsorption are issues. Depression is a big problem too. It is hard to find anyone to do a duodenal switch in the US anymore. Anyway, I can't risk these effects.
Without going into everything, I saw Stephan Guyenet at a book signing for Chris Kresser. I asked him about my severe cold/fatigue problem. Stephan suggested being so cold and fatigued could mean I am below my body's fat set point.
So, it seems, I have to live with being obese. I made it to just overweight for a while, but can't hold on to it. It is not worth it.
The only suggestion I can make is IF you can live with going bland with your food and do it long term, you might try that, but I would caution against going with Seth Robert's Shangri-La oil shots long term. If it works for you, which it did for me, it could knock your appetite too low and make you feel ill.
I have had a similiar experience but found while the scales were not going down, I was looking/feeling leaner (perhaps due to bloating going down?). I was a bit disheartened to be honest because you hear all the stories about fat loss with paleo, but to be honest, as I was feeling tons better, there was no way I was going back to my old ways anyway.One day recently (I've been Paleo for 6 months now) I decided to check my macros on cronometer.com and discovered although my percentages were 50% fat, 15% protein 35% carbs (or thereabouts), on average I was consuming 2500-3000 calories of paleo-foods a day with a pretty sedentary lifestyle - no wonder it wasn't happening! I cut my intake to 1300 cals a day for 5 days, and lost 5lb, but I was hungry, that's for sure! While I don't believe in counting calories I think it might be worthwhile just popping your daily intake into such a site and just seeing what it tells you.
I have had a similiar experience but found while the scales were not seeming to go down, I was looking/feeling leaner (perhaps due to bloating going down?). I was a bit disheartened because you hear all the stories about fat loss with paleo, but to be honest, as I was feeling tons better, there was no way I was going back to my old ways anyway.
One day recently (I've been Paleo for 6 months now) I decided to check my macros on cronometer.com and discovered although my percentages were 50% fat, 15% protein 35% carbs (or thereabouts), on average I was consuming 2500-3000 calories of paleo-foods a day with a pretty sedentary lifestyle - no wonder it wasn't happening!I cut my intake to 1300 cals a day for 5 days, and lost 5lb, but I was hungry, that's for sure! While I don't believe in counting calories I think it might be worthwhile just popping your daily intake into such a site and just seeing what it tells you.
I'm very interested in knowing how it's going for you since your first posted this. I in exactly the same situation as you. been paleo for 7 weeks, I didn't lose anything the first 4 weeks, so I started tracking calories. The first week of tracking I lost 1.6 kg, the second 200g! I've been on way too many diets too over the years, I'm wondering if my body is just holding onto this weight for longer than the average person because of that...
Did you play around with your diet? Are you seeing better results?
I'd love to hear from you!
@AndrewLale Oh and by the way, your body doesn't start eating it's own muscle mass until it is down to about less than like 7-5% fat. The whole idea of starvation mode is a myth. As someone who likes to fast every once in a while, both for religious and diet reasons, I can tell you that if you still have a decent amount of body fat on you and you can discipline yourself to eat a controlled amount of food coming off a fast (like what you would eat in a regular paleo meal) then you will not gain back all the weight (plus some), your metabolism will not slow down, and your body will not eat itself. Why would your body go through all the trouble of storing fat if it's not going to use it and why would it waste its energy metabolizing muscle when it would be so much easier to metabolize fat anyway? Nature is lazy. It will always use the quickest and easiest form of energy it can get first before it goes after the more complex forms.
@AndrewLale Yes. Because the all the "scientifically proven" weight loss methods like Low-fat and whole grains have made Americans so ridiculously healthy over the past few decades. Oh what's that? They haven't? Go figure. If what you are saying is true then the human race would have gone extinct millions of years ago. It's only been about the past 10,000 years that we started eating more carbs and starchy foods like grains and legumes and whatnot in our diets.
I am a type 1 diabetic and I have blood work done every 3 months. My doctor actually hugged me back in September when I had been on this diet for about a month and my numbers all came back nearly perfect for the first time since being diagnosed with my disease back when I was 13.
You say that scientifically proven methods know what is best for us but our bodies seem to tell a very, very different story.
Ingesting very little carbohydrate and predominantly fats and protein plus exercising will over time cause you to lose muscle mass. This is harmful over a lifetime, and will almost certainly result in premature death. It will also not induce large-scale weight loss, although this is not a concern at all unless you are currently obese. If you are obese, you are much better off using Lipotrim or one of the other scientifically proven weight loss systems to reduce your weight to normal, and then eat a balanced diet with very few sugar/fat combo foods.
Not losing weight? Consuming too many calories for how much effort you're expending day-to-day. I know paleo folks don't like to admit that (in fact, they're openly hostile to it), but that's the only thing that has support in the scientific literature. It's not about obsessing over calories, it's being knowledgable and in control. Ignorance is not the answer!
Unless you are tracking your intake, I would be surprised if you post more than a pound or two per month. Paleo can induce a caloric deficit without tracking, but it's going to be mild at best. Often folks will overeat on paleo, particularly when you start looking at fruit and nut intake, which are calorically dense. And you're less than 4 weeks into your diet… the most you realistically can expect to lose in that time is maybe 4 pounds. You give no personal biometrics or goals, so it's hard to evaluate what you're doing.
Along with @RonBurgundy above, you also might be running into issues of consuming too few calories. I ran the numbers for the food above in MyFitnessPal, and I took some liberties (eg., using the max portion sizes and using, for ex. with "10oz of baked chicken," I substituted half a rotisserie chicken not knowing if you ate just white meat, dark meat, or a mix.) and came out to a little over 1700 calories. Given that I went on the high end, you're probably consuming less than that, probably realistically in the 1500+ calories range. If you're working out significantly on top of that, you might be only netting in the neighbourhood of 1000 calories a day. Your body just might be trying to hold on to every energy store that it has given that you have an established history of dieting (which may or may not have included major calorie restriction). It's really, really easy to eat excessive calories when consuming crap food... but it can actually be a lot harder to eat enough calories when eating a super clean diet. What you're eating definitely falls into the category of healthy, but perhaps not enough. You might have to swap some options for more calorie dense versions, like out with the tuna and white fish and in with mackerel and other oily fishes, or maybe eating sirloin instead of fillet, etc. Just some thoughts...
Additionally, remember that you very well might be building some muscle given the frequency of your workouts and protein levels. We can't judge that here, but body composition changes don't necessarily make themselves evident overnight (or even in a 30 day period). I had a very, very difficult time sticking to my Paleo guns over the first month or two as I wasn't losing as much as I "thought" I should, nor did I "think" that I was changing all that much physically. It took others to notice what I couldn't, and photos speak volumes. Stick to it and give it some time. The worst thing that could happen is that JUST end up eating healthy foods and you end up nourishing and taking care of your body. Doing that, eventually everything will eventually fall into place... it just takes patience! That's actually the hard part. ;)
I wonder if the answer might be in the fact that you are a seasoned dieter. If your body is used to periods of essential "famine" as is commonplace with many diets, it may be reluctant to shed fat and in fact be desperately keen to hold on to the bounty it finds itself now enjoying. I'd see how things look at 3 months, then start tinkering with ratio's and ingredients. Also, it's worth baring in mind that you want the weight loss to be slow and sustainable, not the radical ups and downs of traditional yoyo dieting.
@Laura 48 I have undergone extensive hormone testing in the past 6 months and all of my levels have been pretty normal, with the exception of some slightly low progesterone levels.
@TheGastronomer thank you for your insight! I haven't thought that I was eating too much protein. I may try and dial back my servings and see if that helps.
@samc I have been keeping a journal documenting everything during this month. I feel like my food choices have been very consistent and congruent with Whole30/Paleo. I have thought I may be consuming too much food, but I do only eat when I am hungry, and only eat until I feel satiated not overly full. My caloric requirement to lose weight is between 1200-1600 calories a day. The one thing that I have enjoyed about this new lifestyle is NOT having to obsess over calories. Plus, I am not even sure how many calories are in my meals since they are all whole foods and don't necessarily come with nutrition labels. I have definitely done the calorie counting to obsessiveness and it honestly drives me insane and makes me a very irritated and unhappy person. Maybe you are correct about the exercise? I could try toning it down a bit.
Have you run your height/weight/age for caloric requirements to lose/maintain weight? Track your daily food intake for a week to see what you are consuming? Exercising and weight loss don't always work, yes I said that. I lost my first large amount of weight with barely any exercise other than a slow walk.