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Beginner- starting questions??

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 21, 2013 at 1:46 AM

Hi everyone! I am new to the paleo diet, although my mom was on it last summer for health reasons. I am still a little confused about how many carbs and calories I should be eating? What kinds of exercise? How to lose weight safely and effectively using Paleo? How much expected weight loss? Will I gain it all back if I stop Paleo in the future? Here is a little bit of back information on me: My whole life I've been a little chubby- not severly overweight mind you. I am 16 years old. I was 5'1 123 pounds. In June of 2012 I got a gym membership, cut my calories to 1200 and over the course of 4 months dropped 13 pounds. I then upped my calories to 1350 and dropped 4 pounds in 2 months and for the two months have lost 3/4 of a pound... To say my progress has slowed would be an understatement. (I am still eating 1350 calories). I am starting to get super frustrated. I am aware that people plateau when there body is at a healthy weight, but believe me I am not ready to stop losing. Right now I am at 107/108 (I'm not really sure which, weight fluctuates) and still have a bit of a 'spare tire' and some minor 'saddlebags'. Additionally, I have never had thin arms and would like to fix that. I exercise 3-5 days a week depending on my homework load for 30-45 minutes. I work out at a moderate intensity and aim for running 8 miles a week at least. For the little amount I eat (1350 calories doesn't get you far) and exersize, I should be a rail-but alas I am far from. Last fall I went 4 months without my period due to very low fat intake and excessive strain from exercise. I have learned my lesson and am aiming for a more healthy lifestyle- I guess that's how I ended up here. I also think it may be important to point out that my family eats only organic produce and organic packaged foods (haha yes it's ironic, but they exist). I am looking to lose about 5 pounds. I DO NOT have an eating disorder before anyone points that out. I have been raised to love myself and have a good head on my shoulders. Thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to read this ridiculously long post and answers it! -Sarah

9b3b1213d04bce3cbfc41d80008c0047

(0)

on February 21, 2013
at 03:08 AM

Thank you! I think I'll start out with 40g of carbs a day : )

9b3b1213d04bce3cbfc41d80008c0047

(0)

on February 21, 2013
at 03:07 AM

Thanks for your input, however I don't think I was clear. I am, not looking to be a rail, I was just saying the way I eat and exercise I should be one. That has never been my goal and isn't. Furthermore, 108 is a healthy weight for my size, but so is 103. I have discussed this with my doctor and am very aware of my BMI and body fat percentage. Even though I am a teenager, I am mature enough to know what is and is not healthy for my body. Thanks again for your time.

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2 Answers

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3491e51730101b18724dc57c86601173

(8395)

on February 21, 2013
at 02:56 AM

You're going to get a lot of answers, but here's my take:

Sounds to me that you are at a healthy body weight. Rail thin should never be the goal (I know you're in high school and everyone around you is obsessed with being rail thin--get over it). Healthy body weight is the goal, sounds like you are there. All women obsess about those little figure things, but dieting to get rid of them when you're already at a healthy body weight is setting you up to develop an eating disorder--don't fight your health. Your slowed weight loss is your body telling you STOP--you need to hold on to what you have now to be healthy and (hopefully in the future) fertile.

You may be doing too much cardio which puts stress on your body that interferes with weight loss. Some heavy weights and some sprints with plenty of rest from exercise and sleep (as a teen, do you get adequate sleep?) may resculpt your body more like what you want, regardless of what the scale says.

There are NO calorie or fat restrictions on Paleo. If you eat good, healthy foods to satiety, your BODY will tell you when you've had enough. You just have to pay attention. Sometimes you will feel more hungry, so EAT. Sometimes your body will not be hungry, don't force yourself to eat. Eat good, clean, nutrient dense foods and your body will take care of the regulation of appetite (unless you are insulin resistant). And it will set your weight where it belongs, even if you think it's 5 lbs too much (the scale is a number, not biology).

Never fear fat. Fat is not only good for you as an IMPORTANT source of nutrients (Vitamins A,D,K, and E), it helps you absorb minerals and vitamins, and it helps you to be satiated.

Some people are carb sensitive and need to limit carbs. You probably do not, since you didn't complain of symptoms consistent with carb sensitivity/insulin resistance. But your carbs should come from vegetables (starchy or not) and to a limited extent fruit. Paleo is grain free. And many of us "cheat" with a LITTLE bit of high quality, high cacoa (70% or higher) chocolate.

9b3b1213d04bce3cbfc41d80008c0047

(0)

on February 21, 2013
at 03:07 AM

Thanks for your input, however I don't think I was clear. I am, not looking to be a rail, I was just saying the way I eat and exercise I should be one. That has never been my goal and isn't. Furthermore, 108 is a healthy weight for my size, but so is 103. I have discussed this with my doctor and am very aware of my BMI and body fat percentage. Even though I am a teenager, I am mature enough to know what is and is not healthy for my body. Thanks again for your time.

0
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on February 21, 2013
at 02:58 AM

I think Mark Sisson's site gives a good overview of the basics:

http://www.marksdailyapple.com

For carbs, if you are trying to lose weight and fat, I'd try around 25-50g per day and see how that goes. Some do well on low carb, some don't. Others do great on it for a while (a few months) but then need to add them back (this happened to me).

Measuring your food with something like FitDay.com is a hassle, but doing it for a week or two can really help you understand the nutritional makeup of stuff you eat and how many grams of carbs and fat you are really eating (sometimes surprising). For example a banana has 20-25g carbs, so if you are eating 25-50g per day, one banana can be 50-100% of your daily intake.

If you post what you eat in a typical day/week you'll get feedback. I would not worry about calories so much as avoiding grains and sugars, being sure that the fats you eat are good, and eat lots of vegetables. If you are eating any refined sugars, drop that completely for a while. Drop all veg and seed oils and maximize your omega 3's.

Veggies get short shrift in Paleo circles sometimes and some use the diet as an excuse to eat a lot of meat and bacon, but to be a healthy, sustainable diet (sustainable in the sense that you can stick with it, not from an environmental POV) and to control and lose weight, you need a lot of veggies. Being low carb and eating lots of veggies means lots of crunchy, low-starch veggies.

I ran for exercise for years but never lost weight or got stronger. I dropped that and instead started doing high-intensity interval training, and immediately saw results even thou I was working out only 30 minutes every other day. Then I started doing crossfit and REALLY saw results. For me and some other people, it really takes brief, high-intensity exercise to lose fat and weight, and nothing else works.

If you are 16 y.o. and around 108 pounds, I am not sure if you are going to lose much weight from here. You are still growing and probably not carrying much extra weight. I think you should focus on building muscle, first good tone and then a teeny bit of additional firm muscle. This might result in you actually gaining weight but you might find that you lose girth around your waist, and look and feel better. The trick for me (admittedly a 43 y.o. male) was low carb, relatively high fat, no sugar, no grains, and very intense exercise 3-4 times per week.

Good luck!

9b3b1213d04bce3cbfc41d80008c0047

(0)

on February 21, 2013
at 03:08 AM

Thank you! I think I'll start out with 40g of carbs a day : )

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