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Gained weight since starting Paleo: healthy or have I been over-indulging my newly discovered inner fat-loving Meat Monster?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 04, 2012 at 11:43 PM

I started transitioning to Paleo about two weeks ago. I try to stick to the guidelines as much as is realistic/sustainable for me. I'd say I'm currently at about 80/20 ("20" being the heavy cream in my coffee, a bit of dark chocolate, some conventionally raised meat/poultry...things like that).

Pre-Paleo, I had a typical "healthy" SAD diet. Tons of cardio, tiny meals every 2-3 hours, lots of dairy and whole grains. I've been trying to break the frequent meal habits and only eat when I'm truly, stomach-growling hungry. Now I'm eating 2 or 3 good-sized meals a day, with little to no snacking. But I occasionally have been guilty of giving into the munchies. Especially before I learned that I cannot be trusted around any large quantity of dark chocolate or nut butter.

I've discovered that I really, REALLY love the foods that the Paleo lifestyle allows me to eat. Bacon, steak, butter, coconut milk, avocados...bacon. So maybe my portions have been a little on the "generous" side. With that said, I've gained about 3 pounds in the last couple weeks--going from a pretty consistent 117 up to 120-121 pounds (female, 18, 5'6'').

My question, should I be concerned or is this normal? Should I cut down on my portion sizes or start counting the calories I am consuming? I don't feel like I've been stuffing my face or anything like that, but I've never hit this weight before.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on August 05, 2012
at 11:30 AM

Agreed about the nuts. If I have a jar of almond butter in the house, it is gone in 3 days. Thats an additional 600 kcal per day just from nuts.

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on August 05, 2012
at 11:28 AM

You sound like you are in a perfectly healthy weight range. Stick with it another month and see what happens.

0611054a36cc2538c48235c60fd55b7f

on August 05, 2012
at 12:34 AM

Totally agree, April. I was just a bit thrown off because I've never seen that number before; my weight tends not to vary more than a pound or so. I'm definitely not going into teen-girl-meltdown mode about it. Thank god--no one needs to see that.

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12
Medium avatar

(10663)

on August 05, 2012
at 12:21 AM

I'm less concerned that you "gained weight" and more concerned that you think 3 pounds is something to worry about, especially in the span of a couple weeks. Weight can fluctuate, on average, about 5 pounds a day.

Stop looking at the scale. Do you feel good? Are you happy with how you look? That's what matters. And 120 is at the very low end of a normal weight range for your height. You are barely above a normal BMI and maybe gaining a bit of weight is your body's way of getting you to a safer BMI. (Although I will say BMI is kind of bogus, so take it with a grain of salt.) It's good that you eat only when you're truly hungry, but stop the snacking and see if it makes a difference if the number on the scale bothers you that much.

0611054a36cc2538c48235c60fd55b7f

on August 05, 2012
at 12:34 AM

Totally agree, April. I was just a bit thrown off because I've never seen that number before; my weight tends not to vary more than a pound or so. I'm definitely not going into teen-girl-meltdown mode about it. Thank god--no one needs to see that.

4
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on August 05, 2012
at 12:28 AM

First couple of weeks I wouldn't worry about it. Get use to your new lifestyle for a while. After a couple months if your still gaining or not happy with how things are going you may consider some adjustments. BTW 3 pounds can easily be fluctuations in water weight.

1
F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on October 26, 2012
at 02:15 PM

If you eat a lot of fatty foods you will get a lot of calories. Enjoy the freedom from restriction for now. You have been deprived for years. Don't worry too much about overindulging for the time being because you'll reach a point where the fat doesn't seem so special anymore. Meanwhile, toss out your scale because eating nutrient-rich foods is going to build bone and muscle which weighs more. Lift some weights, run some sprints, walk and cycle to get around, get some sunshine and plenty of sleep and it'll all work out.

0
D41bd7b3d3b962eb0146f471eb632f56

on October 26, 2012
at 04:00 PM

I wouldn't worry about those numbers. Sometimes a little weight is needed to be gained to be optimally healthy, and 120s is certainly not a big number of 5'6" (I'm 5'7", 24, and 150 lbs, but I've got a large frame).

Fun story: When I was at my lowest weight (and the height of my disordered eating behavior), I was 140 lbs and trying desperately to reduce my body fat percentage so that my hip-to-waist ratio would be in the "ideal" range. I was sitting at .78 (with the "ideal" range being .8 or higher). I have to say I was a slave to conventional medical/dietary advice at the time. I could not seem to lose those extra inches where I needed to. My butt was flat and I'm quite positive there wasn't any more fat I COULD lose from my hips. Well, I eventually gave up my striving and started nourishing myself with real portions of real food. Over the next six months I gained 10 lbs, then I maintained it for a few years before transitioning to my currently high-fat, moderate-protein, moderate-carb WAPF/Primal eating style. I recently decided to measure myself, and while my numbers are up almost everywhere from where they were at my lowest, my hip-to-waist ratio is above .8 now.

Melissa McEwen (huntgatherlove.com) has talked about this on her blog and several places in the community. Even Mark Sisson had a post on this a while back. When women store DHA, it is stored in their lower body, which is optimal for fertility. In fact, when women HAVE this fat (and by comparison little-to-no visceral fat), it is a marker for good health.

Several women in this community (including myself and Melissa) have experienced this "redistribution" of fat to more favorable places since eating this way. This may be what's going on with you.

ALSO! As a last caveat and warning. You're 18. You're not done growing, so the scale WILL go up over the next 5 years or so even if you don't do paleo. It's sad to see so many young 20-somethings worry about the "Freshman 15" as if it's a bad thing, when in reality, it's just part of growing up. I gained 40 lbs in college, but half of it was lean body mass, and I wasn't even exercising! Same happened with my husband. He was athletic (and scrawny) all through high school but once he got to college he hit a growth spurt and "filled out" into a more muscular, adult body.

0
F1f3a256f0f28808f27219cd218bab60

on October 26, 2012
at 09:10 AM

I have had the exact same reaction myself. I just started Paleo two weeks ago, 80-20, being also full cream and chocolate or homemade nut bar. I weighed myself this morning and I am 2 pounds heavier. I am obese btw which makes the scale even more devastating. My portions are considerably lower than pre-paleo as I did not feel hungry after 3 days in so i decreased my portions. My activity is rather light as I am taking one day at a time since starting paleo so I exercise just 30 minutes a day. When I saw the scale today, I immediately wondered what am I doing wrong. But then I listened to my body while working out and honestly I feel more flexible and I am more alert than usual. There is definitely a change going on in my body, I just dont know what that change is. I have decided to let go of the scale for another three weeks and then weigh myself then.

0
Dfeb3c1ef269c5dc03154d1689c14373

(716)

on August 04, 2012
at 11:50 PM

I think the most important thing involving weight is the food reward aspect. If you have any inkling that you're overindulging, try to separate the foods you eat a bit (i.e. if you're eating potatoes and butter don't mix them together, just eat the potato and then the butter separately). I know nuts can cause excess calories to pile up, so you may want to drop that if you do eat them. Otherwise I think you should just ease up a bit and just continue down this road before making any critical decisions. For all you know it could be a minor fluctuation--which is exactly what 3 pounds sounds like. Above all make sure you're enjoying yourself and feeling good. All the best!

C45d7e96acd83d3a6f58193dbc140e86

on August 05, 2012
at 11:30 AM

Agreed about the nuts. If I have a jar of almond butter in the house, it is gone in 3 days. Thats an additional 600 kcal per day just from nuts.

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