2

votes

starting out: better to be strict or ease into it?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 23, 2011 at 2:54 PM

when your body is just learning how to use fat rather than carbs for fuel, is it best to be on your strictest paleo behavior to better train your body, or is it actually best to ease your body into it by gradually decreasing grains/sugars?

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on May 24, 2011
at 04:35 PM

The idea is to go super strict for 30 days, and afterwards gradually re-introduce things that you took out. Didn't eat butter/cheese/milk for 30 days? Try it again, and be super observant to see if you notice any bad symptoms all the sudden 'appear'. That would be a hint that maybe you should keep eliminating dairy. Etc. So it's more like an elimination diet - eliminate any potentially bad things, gradually reintroducing them to see if they are, in fact, bad.

7b439bc3c2033329fc3c64937825ac6c

(255)

on May 24, 2011
at 02:55 PM

so the whole30 is a cleanse of sorts, and you can go back to your dairy-eating ways afterwards?

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on May 24, 2011
at 02:29 AM

im just finishing my whole30 (here is where i link to all my frothing-at-the-mouth, obsessive cheese posts on paleo hacks this month) and it wasnt as bad as i thought it would be. mostly, i missed yogurt. i make my own using heavy cream and its GOOOOD. but, it will be there when this is over. i had to give up coffee, too because i cant drink it black. been on the green tea wagon, and let me tell you- its NOT the same. i dont think ill go back to eating as much dairy as i was before whole30 though.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on May 23, 2011
at 11:02 PM

Strict is the only way to combat carb addiction.

6a7a84ad71fbc6d73d8d3acfee543e54

(40)

on May 23, 2011
at 09:59 PM

I actually don't believe that salt should be limited, as some who follow paleo do. We would have had salt, provided we lived near a salty body of water. Animals are always seeking salt and will gather around "salt licks" naturally occurring deposits of salt. We would have known and used salt. It would have been precious, since we know how precious it still was to agricultural societies. I really don't get why some paleo people think we wouldn't have had it.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 23, 2011
at 08:58 PM

No problem, Matthew. Your input is always appreciated.

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on May 23, 2011
at 07:55 PM

I tried to go without heavy cream in my decaf coffee and made it about a week :) These days I don't have a problem leaving it out if I'm IFing in the morning, but I'll always return to it for my weekend breakfeasts.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on May 23, 2011
at 07:40 PM

Sorry for the Braveheart reference :) I like your points.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on May 23, 2011
at 07:36 PM

I like your points :)

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on May 23, 2011
at 07:35 PM

They may take our fruit, but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM!

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on May 23, 2011
at 06:50 PM

But it can also be the psychological crutch. I was part of the derail group. When it was cheat day, donuts with extra chocolate cream ! Like 7 of them.

7b439bc3c2033329fc3c64937825ac6c

(255)

on May 23, 2011
at 06:46 PM

yeah, I was just thinking, what would I do with the brick of kerrygold I just bought? maybe I'd better delay... ;)

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on May 23, 2011
at 06:41 PM

I did my Whole 30 with butter and heavy cream, but no cheese. I made it two weeks. LOL.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 23, 2011
at 06:08 PM

I feel very strongly about it. People LOVE to give up their freedom to gurus and dietary theories. Some would argue that Paleo is the final word, it's not. The case is not closed on fructose. The case on carbs is not closed. Sorry, but it's all open to question still. You still have to think and "work out what works for you."

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11488)

on May 23, 2011
at 05:49 PM

Also see this related thread: http://paleohacks.com/questions/181/paleo-lifestyle-changes-all-at-once-or-phase-in#axzz1NCOH2ynH

6f2c00fcbf48c69f0ea212239b3e1178

on May 23, 2011
at 05:45 PM

Interesting advice.

6a0f15fbbfed36fe7a24a00c5e868f58

(45)

on May 23, 2011
at 04:54 PM

Lisa, I'm on month three and when I'm craving chocolate, I mash a banana and mix maybe 1/2 tsp of unsweetened cocoa in it, and it tastes like choc. pudding.. can add a touch of maple syrup if you want, but I don't think it needs it!

7b439bc3c2033329fc3c64937825ac6c

(255)

on May 23, 2011
at 04:50 PM

arrg, if only they didn't make me feel so guilty!

7b439bc3c2033329fc3c64937825ac6c

(255)

on May 23, 2011
at 04:48 PM

hmm... whole30, I may have to look into this. goodbye, cheese... (tear)

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on May 23, 2011
at 03:43 PM

Indeed. I've read other people never starting because they just can't handle the idea of going 'cold turkey' - and let's face it, carbs can be a real addiction! So if that's you, then by all means start off by dipping your toe in the pool first.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on May 23, 2011
at 03:36 PM

Excellent answer Kent! You have to know yourself and what works best for you. I would recommend attempting a strict Whole 30 type approach, but if it makes you anxious or causes you to binge/cheat, then restart with a easier approach. #1 don't be hard on yourself. There is NO RIGHT WAY, only what works for you to lead to better health.

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15 Answers

4
07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on May 23, 2011
at 03:09 PM

I was an all or nothing kind of guy, so going strict from the get-go worked for me.

Others report success weaning themselves off grains and sugars.

I think it really just comes down to: do what you think works for you. And you can always switch to another approach if the first one doesn't seem to be going well :)

7b439bc3c2033329fc3c64937825ac6c

(255)

on May 23, 2011
at 04:48 PM

hmm... whole30, I may have to look into this. goodbye, cheese... (tear)

7b439bc3c2033329fc3c64937825ac6c

(255)

on May 23, 2011
at 06:46 PM

yeah, I was just thinking, what would I do with the brick of kerrygold I just bought? maybe I'd better delay... ;)

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on May 24, 2011
at 02:29 AM

im just finishing my whole30 (here is where i link to all my frothing-at-the-mouth, obsessive cheese posts on paleo hacks this month) and it wasnt as bad as i thought it would be. mostly, i missed yogurt. i make my own using heavy cream and its GOOOOD. but, it will be there when this is over. i had to give up coffee, too because i cant drink it black. been on the green tea wagon, and let me tell you- its NOT the same. i dont think ill go back to eating as much dairy as i was before whole30 though.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on May 23, 2011
at 03:36 PM

Excellent answer Kent! You have to know yourself and what works best for you. I would recommend attempting a strict Whole 30 type approach, but if it makes you anxious or causes you to binge/cheat, then restart with a easier approach. #1 don't be hard on yourself. There is NO RIGHT WAY, only what works for you to lead to better health.

7e746be2f0e550a8cd7df881322ae705

(18701)

on May 23, 2011
at 06:41 PM

I did my Whole 30 with butter and heavy cream, but no cheese. I made it two weeks. LOL.

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on May 23, 2011
at 03:43 PM

Indeed. I've read other people never starting because they just can't handle the idea of going 'cold turkey' - and let's face it, carbs can be a real addiction! So if that's you, then by all means start off by dipping your toe in the pool first.

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on May 23, 2011
at 07:55 PM

I tried to go without heavy cream in my decaf coffee and made it about a week :) These days I don't have a problem leaving it out if I'm IFing in the morning, but I'll always return to it for my weekend breakfeasts.

7b439bc3c2033329fc3c64937825ac6c

(255)

on May 24, 2011
at 02:55 PM

so the whole30 is a cleanse of sorts, and you can go back to your dairy-eating ways afterwards?

07ca188c8dac3a17f629dd87198d2098

(7970)

on May 24, 2011
at 04:35 PM

The idea is to go super strict for 30 days, and afterwards gradually re-introduce things that you took out. Didn't eat butter/cheese/milk for 30 days? Try it again, and be super observant to see if you notice any bad symptoms all the sudden 'appear'. That would be a hint that maybe you should keep eliminating dairy. Etc. So it's more like an elimination diet - eliminate any potentially bad things, gradually reintroducing them to see if they are, in fact, bad.

3
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 23, 2011
at 05:33 PM

Start out strict. After a month or less, you will begin to notice some positives and some negatives. Then it is VERY IMPORTANT you don't ignore those negative and that you DO widen your diet to address those negatives. DO NOT make the mistake of thinking when negatives show up that you need to become MORE STRICT. The keepers of the faith will tell you that you need to become more strict, DON'T. The reason you should go strict for a while is that it will make it easier to identify the good and the bad. If you don't go strict, it will be more difficult to identify what in the diet doesn't work for you.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on May 23, 2011
at 07:35 PM

They may take our fruit, but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM!

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on May 23, 2011
at 07:40 PM

Sorry for the Braveheart reference :) I like your points.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 23, 2011
at 06:08 PM

I feel very strongly about it. People LOVE to give up their freedom to gurus and dietary theories. Some would argue that Paleo is the final word, it's not. The case is not closed on fructose. The case on carbs is not closed. Sorry, but it's all open to question still. You still have to think and "work out what works for you."

6f2c00fcbf48c69f0ea212239b3e1178

on May 23, 2011
at 05:45 PM

Interesting advice.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on May 23, 2011
at 07:36 PM

I like your points :)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 23, 2011
at 08:58 PM

No problem, Matthew. Your input is always appreciated.

1
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on May 23, 2011
at 05:52 PM

Be strict on the poisons (gluten, sugar, phytates, lectin, etc) - so that means NO, grains, legumes, dairy. No exceptions. Often one exposure can re-damage your gut for 6 weeks.

Be less strict on amount of carbs. If you want an extra sweet potato here or there to give you a little boost while you're transitioning to fat burner, it won't hurt you. It may make the transition take longer and will surely limit weight loss, but if helps you get to your goal it may be worth it. It's better to take longer to become a fat burner than it is to just give up and go back to eating crap.

You're human, sometimes you need to bend the rules. You can't be perfect, but on the other hand you can't always be making excuses ("well I'll cheat today because I'm feeling crappy"). It's all a delicate balance and it's up to you where you're strict and where you leave it open to interpretation.

Edited to add: Yikes, looks like someone else was reading my mind, blog post from today: http://knitfitter.blogspot.com/2011/05/reality-check.html

1
Ed983a42344945b1ff70fd9597a23493

on May 23, 2011
at 04:10 PM

Strict from the start is better physically, but some people just need baby steps to avoid feeling so deprived that they lose the necessary discipline to continue moving forward. I am strongly an all or nothing type, so I do what works for me, but a vast majority of my clients wouldn't stick with something that they perceive as super restrictive, so we ease into it for success! L-glutamine is wonderful for the transition from using carbs for fuel to using fats.

1
24fcc21452ebe39c032be6801d6bbadd

(9812)

on May 23, 2011
at 04:08 PM

Easing in worked well for me- started off going gluten free and as I learned more about paleo, I eventually dropped the other grains & the legumes. It felt like a natural progression, not like I was forcing myself into something I didn't want to do. Definitely depends on personal preference, and probably depends on what your needs are; if I were in a health crisis I may have decided to go whole hog right away. You'll find out what works for you; good luck!

0
78f4a1b90814931891179fca3b987292

on May 23, 2011
at 09:00 PM

I'm new to this, but I did mostly all-at-once, but with some caveats. No grains, legumes, dairy, at all. I've been using only coconut oil, bacon fat, and olive oil (though the last is questionable to some).

The one thing I have eased into more is carbs. I continue to eat sweet potatoes and apples, and I don't restrict sweet vegetables (carrots, parsnips, squash) as some do. I've eaten beef jerky with added sugar too (not to mention bacon). So far I feel fine, other than a few headaches the first week. I don't have much weight to lose (5-10 pounds max) so I thought higher carbs would work better for me.... slower weightloss but no carb flu.

What I have not reduced at all is salt. I made a few recipes from Everyday Paleo and thought they were disgustingly bland. Since there is very little consensus on how bad salt is, I figured I might as well enjoy my food during transition. Maybe once I'm really used to it (in a few months) I'll start to scale back, but for now my food tastes good and I'm happy! I would definitely recommend "salting to taste" for all newbies... you don't want to quit just cuz your food is bland.

6a7a84ad71fbc6d73d8d3acfee543e54

(40)

on May 23, 2011
at 09:59 PM

I actually don't believe that salt should be limited, as some who follow paleo do. We would have had salt, provided we lived near a salty body of water. Animals are always seeking salt and will gather around "salt licks" naturally occurring deposits of salt. We would have known and used salt. It would have been precious, since we know how precious it still was to agricultural societies. I really don't get why some paleo people think we wouldn't have had it.

0
6a7a84ad71fbc6d73d8d3acfee543e54

(40)

on May 23, 2011
at 07:27 PM

I find that you have to be strict. I have found that eating ANY poor carbs just makes it harder to stay with it. I find I have to avoid most fruit too for a while. My naprapath, who has a lot of experience with this, said that it take 3 weeks before you can stop being on your guard about carbs. After that it can be really easy to stay with it. But then you reach another plateau, after 12 weeks, which can also throw you off course, if you are not careful. It does get easier. Eventually someone could put a box of donuts under your nose and you just won't care, you will not be interested. It is so cool when THAT happens!

0
5266ac5977ec9d80ac8047697dbbe55b

(738)

on May 23, 2011
at 06:39 PM

I am, and have always been, a very all-or-nothing person. It has its pros and cons and has led me quickly to both success and failure. When I started paleo, I knew enough to believe that it made sense, but did NOT know the true ins and outs, which I am still learning every day. The more I read now, the more I know that paleo will be different for every person, due to genetics, lifestyle, activity, stress levels, goals, etc. - there is no "one size fits all", and I think that is one of the best things about it.

For me, I knew that if I PERSONALLY were to succeed at this, I would have to "ease in" in my own way. For me, this meant completely eliminating the "absolute no-no" foods - zero processed, grains, legumes, sugar, artificial, etc etc. I definitely had some relatively intense sugar cravings, and I eased them almost entirely with organic berries. I consumed those relatively heavily during my first few weeks of paleo, and although I was not eating them by the ton, I did not put any limits on my consumption. I normally ate them with some coconut oil/milk, cinnamon, and cocoa. Truth be told - I believe I THOUGHT I was an extremely strict paleo during this time, which would depend on whose definition I would use, but I am definitely a different "strain" of paleo now than I was in the beginning. While I don't currently consume even a fraction of those amounts, I truly believe it helped me to transition into paleo as my body recognized the quality of the foods I was eating and the vastly smaller quantity of sugars that I was consuming.

Although I did not necessarily "limit" my berry intake while weaning off of sugars, I did limit my consumption of a few gray-area paleo foods. I did not completely eliminate dairy until an experimental period a few months later - I initially stuck with full fat Greek cow and goat yogurts, raw-only cow/goat/sheep cheeses, and cow/goat kefir, and made sure I took it easy on consuming these. They did not present any problems during my trial period. I did not consume dairy every day and consumed very little on the days when I did consume dairy. This was a huge transition from my earlier days having many bowls of cereal with skim milk, skim milk protein shakes, multiple coffees with skim milk, etc. I also limited myself to a square or two of dark chocolate and a glass of cabernet per day, if I wanted.

The berry phase with limited dairy/chocolate/wine really helped ME to transition. Now, I consider myself to be strict paleo. I rarely eat fruit and have completely different habits with regard to dairy/wine/chocolate. I have heard a few other stories of people being able to "wean" themselves off sugar, but I have also heard stories of people who were unable to realize a single benefit from paleo before going at it full throttle. I personally avoided the low-carb flu through my relatively high berry consumption, and just naturally stopped buying them a few weeks later. They would end up going bad as I was eating fewer meals per day and loading up much more on quality fat/protein. It also helped me begin a new fitness program at the same time, so I don't find it surprising at all that I was craving more sugar. It was just tougher to overdose on berries than it ever was on cereals, pretzels, breads, pastas, etc., and I leveled off in about four weeks.

This worked for me - I think the key is steering very clear of the no-no foods, reading a little more on paleo (from varied sources!) each day, connecting the dots between what you've consumed and how you feel, and trying out a few more "elimination" rounds once you're comfortable with where you are with it. It is incredibly personal. Be open to new ideas, but realize that you DO need to give them time, and that this post is not just an excuse to "break the rules". Good luck!

0
98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

on May 23, 2011
at 06:39 PM

I really like the Tim Ferris/Lyle McDonald/etc-type "cheat meal" idea for people starting out or going through difficult times. It's the psychological break that many need to stay the course. If you know you can have some of your favorites at the end of the week or in a couple of days it is much easier to hang in there as opposed to thinking you can never eat your favorite whatever again. I think it's a brilliant strategy and seems to work well for many. Surely for some it can derail them especially the Ferris cheat day which can turn into an all day smorgasbord d'crap that can be hard to pick yourself up from the next day. As well, if weight loss is your main goal the weight gain the next day can send some into a death spiral that is unrecoverable. I tend to think cheat meals are better than entire days.

I say get rid of the grains and crappy oils to start and give yourself an out once a week or so and see how that works for you. Once you are comfortable there you can start fine-tuning the program and making the cheats a little less frequent and/or a little different (eg gorging yourself on fried potatoes instead of a bowl of pasta or pizza)

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on May 23, 2011
at 06:50 PM

But it can also be the psychological crutch. I was part of the derail group. When it was cheat day, donuts with extra chocolate cream ! Like 7 of them.

0
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on May 23, 2011
at 06:00 PM

I think it would be very hard to ease into some parts of it, like weaning yourself off of sugar and grains. Having your coffee a little bit less sweet every day would be torture.

For me, when I went strict Paleo, within maybe 5 days my tastes started to change. Fruit suddenly started to taste really sweet, almost unpleasantly so. I tried a few different coffees and teas until I found some that tasted good plain or with cream, and now have no interest in putting sugar in my coffee. Fatty foods actually have a sweet taste, something that I didn't notice so much previously, and now I partly satisfy my sweet tooth by chewing the fat off of a piece of meat.

I would take this a step further and avoid sweet drinks that have no calories like diet sodas and such. I think the sweet taste messes with your system even if there are no associated calories. Seth Roberts believes that sweet foods raise your "set point". Basically, just don't eat anything that tastes sweet at all. This sounds horrible but once you do it for a while it is completely natural.

As I've noted elsewhere, a low-carb Paleo diet is a natural appetite suppressant for me. I think this only occurs because of the complete lack of sugar and simple starches. I was not a big sugar-and-grain eater before I went strict, but it looks like just a few servings a week is enough to keep the insulin-and-appetite merry-go-round turning.

I don't think any of these things would have happened without a strict diet. I'd go strict for a good while, say 30 days, and then maybe adjust to be a little more flexible depending on how close to your goals you're getting.

0
1568416ef28477d1fa29046218d83ddd

(6235)

on May 23, 2011
at 03:59 PM

I have done both and was much more comfortable and had fewer side effects easing in. Being extreme is a stressor my body doesn't need or like.

0
8515be19faab037d37a788633e32b9f1

(290)

on May 23, 2011
at 03:58 PM

I'm only starting and on my 14 th day but I went all out and so far it's been great and have not had many cravings at all. Yesterday I was craving something sweet so I gave into chocolate bday cake and today I'm regretting it!

6a0f15fbbfed36fe7a24a00c5e868f58

(45)

on May 23, 2011
at 04:54 PM

Lisa, I'm on month three and when I'm craving chocolate, I mash a banana and mix maybe 1/2 tsp of unsweetened cocoa in it, and it tastes like choc. pudding.. can add a touch of maple syrup if you want, but I don't think it needs it!

0
Ef9f83cb4e1826261a44c173f733789e

on May 23, 2011
at 03:40 PM

Try to start off strict, but don't worry about cheats in the beginning. I had a couple cheats a week when I started.

7b439bc3c2033329fc3c64937825ac6c

(255)

on May 23, 2011
at 04:50 PM

arrg, if only they didn't make me feel so guilty!

0
246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on May 23, 2011
at 03:30 PM

It's all about elimination of the foods that cause you problems.

So, start safe, start strict... and once you start feeling fantastic, you can then "ease" back into some of the foods that are grey area/not paleo, (if you feel like it).

Personally, any time I eat unPaleo food - I have a pretty major trepidation because I know it is not going to end well... so on all points I'd say start strict and stay there.

0
1da74185531d6d4c7182fb9ee417f97f

on May 23, 2011
at 03:15 PM

You should go strict from the very beginning. At least that's what I had to do. I couldn't just have a little bit of carbs. Doing a VLC "induction"-like phase really killed my carb addiction in a matter of weeks. Why draw it out longer than you have to?

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