Finding it impossible to lose weight- is low fat better for some people?

Answered on January 15, 2016
Created November 10, 2015 at 3:55 PM

Sorry to be another one of the billions of people who ask about struggling to lose weight on paleo - I know its a bit dull!

Im a mum of one, breastfeeding still baby is 18 months and just cant shift the last 7-10 pounds I would really love to. Ive tried fasting, really low carb, eating less, cutting out dairy. I just cant shift it!

Im wondering if Paleo whilst fab for my health doesnt work for me for weight loss. Before I got pregnant I was gymming tons and really low carb with no dairy and could not seem to shift any weight either - looking back I was pretty fit but I definitely had some flab that could have gone. When I do a conventional calore restricting, low fat high carb diet I seem to lose weight easier. Has anyone else experienced this?

any advice please?

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4 Answers

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on November 11, 2015
at 02:15 PM

This may be the case for some people, depending on genes.  The majority of people for whom generic paleo works tend to lose weight on a lower carb diet, because the SAD is inherently a very high carb diet.

But keep in mind, paleo is not a low fat, nor a high fat diet.  It's more of a template.  We get rid of things that are toxic and harmful primarily.

All that said, if you are breastfeeding, you are still eating for two, and you should consider that it's in your baby's best interest to keep breastfeeding, and any diet you try may cause the baby malnutrition, so perhaps it's best to not worry about the last 10lbs, which is more of a cosmetic thing than anything else.  You could revisit this after your baby has switched to solid foods.


The big factors are always going to be insulin, and insulin is triggered far more by carbs, than anything else.  If your insulin is high, you won't lose fat no matter what you do because it prevents fat cells from releasing their stores via lipolisys.

Hormones are usually the most important part, next gut flora plays a huge part, and finally genetics.  One of the biggest factors is sleep quality - you want uninterrupted nightly sleep, where you wake up refreshed and energetic.  If you go to bed around 9:30pm, you should naturally wake up at dawn or just before dawn and feel great.  If you don't, you'll need to find out what's interrupting sleep or interfering with it.

You'll want to sleeep in a totaly pitch black room, which means getting black out curtains, taping over any blue or white LED lights, especially from things like alarm clocks and the like, you'll want to avoid electronics at light (iPad/pod/phone/TV) a couple of hours before sleep.  Even room lighting should be dimmed.  You can use orange sunglasses or F.Lux to get some of this fixed, but any bit of blue or white light will prevent our internal clocks from realizing it's night, and will keep cortisol high.  When cortisol is high, melatonin will be low, and you'll have poor sleep.


Speaking of cortisol, when we have chronic stress, no matter what the cause, we will tend to hold on to fat and even gain more when we are trying to diet.  Eating a low amount of carbs and fat (i.e. starvation as opposed to fasting once or twice a week) will increase cortisol, and prevent fat loss.  If you're doing both low carb and fasting, this is a huge problem.


One of the big things with paleo is elmininating foods that have exogenous hormones, this includes dairy and soy.  Estrogens and phytoestrogens interfere with our normal hormone balance and will cause issues with fat gain as well.  You've mentioned eating dairy.  It's probably not a good idea.


After that, the gut flora balance is the most important for fat loss.  You've said you've tried fasting and very low carb, but these two tend to damage the gut flora and cause issues later on.  So if you were doing a low carb version of paleo you needed to ensure you were getting plenty of leafy greens and the right kinds of starches, especially those containing resistant starches to feed them.


on January 05, 2016
at 09:44 AM

sorry for the late response - thanks for the detailed response raydawg - really kind of you

I think I definitely need to work on my gut flora balance. Im going to try and introduce more fermented foods, ideally at each meal and maybe a probiotic too

Argh, Im so reluctant to give up dairy. I know they say the thing you find hardest to quit is the thing you most need to quit so you could be right., I also have big problems with eczema. I have tried cutting dairy out before and not noticed a significant difference in either weight or eczema symptoms but maybe I need to give it more time.

My boy is 20 months now so well onto solid foods, he breastfeeds just 3 times a day for extra nutrition and immune support.

I am thinking that maybe fasting isnt a good idea at the moment. I went on holiday two weeks and ate much more than usual and lost weight - same over xmas period. Will be interesting to see whzt my body does with the extra 10 pounds once I stop breastfeeding

Thanks again for taking the time to respond


on January 15, 2016
at 10:56 PM

It depends on what kind of low fat diet you are talking about.  Dr. Pepper and wonder bread are no fat or low fat foods.  I see people gaining weight on those kinds of low fat foods.  On the other hand, I also know some people who eat low fat foods that are relatively unprocessed.  Like oats and beans and rice.  Sometimes I think we focus too much on protein versus fat  versus carbohydrate and don't dig into the details of food.  Eating an apple is different from drinking apple juice, even though both are low fat and high in carbohydrate. 


on January 11, 2016
at 01:45 AM

make sure you are consuming ENOUGH calories, if you have put ypur body into starvation mode, no amount of cutting back or working out will budge those pounds, add 500 kcals to your daily total if ypu are still breastfeeding


on January 11, 2016
at 08:34 AM

Thanks for your help Laura, have always been scared to increase calories given im gaining/not losing on low calorie but I guess it makes sense so Ill give that a try

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on November 12, 2015
at 04:12 PM

I did best on calorie restricted lower carb, with heavy restriction on high glycemic carbs sugars and starchy foods. As I lost weight exercise became more and more important to keep losing. Finally weight loss stopped, at a balance between exercise and hunger.

So get out and push that stroller. Do your best to stay off starchy sugary foods.


on January 05, 2016
at 09:46 AM

Thanks thhq - this is my issue though. Ive tried calorie restriction and very low carb and I couldnt seem to shift a pound, in fact I seemed to be gaining weight - wondering if its my body conserving fat for the breastfedding- who knows. I had the old diet mentality of if its not working just try harder and harder ie eat less and less but at the moment that just doesnt seem to be working for me so i do wonder if its hormonal. particularly as I dont have a lot of weight to lose its mainly cosmetic

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