Help! Starting Paleo and feel overwhelmed!

Answered on November 05, 2013
Created November 04, 2013 at 7:18 PM

So I finally went Paleo but I need help because I'm freaking out that I'm eating too much fat or too many calories. But I'm so used to the low-fat, higher carbs way of life that many of us traditional distance runners follow. I'm hoping to shed a few points and get healthy. Thoughts on the menu for the past few days?


Breakfast: 2 egg "muffins" (2 scrambled eggs cooked with various vegetables and basil in a muffin tin)

Lunch: 1/2 poached chicken breast mixed with 1/2 avocado, cherry tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic eaten in lettuce wraps

Dinner: 1 cup carrots steamed, then cooked in ghee and honey; 1/2 sweet potato roasted in coconut oil and spices; 1 cup peppers and onions sauteed in sesame oil

Snack: 10-15 almonds; 1 cup fresh berries; 2 squares of organic 73% cacao dark chocolate


Breakfast & Lunch: same as above

Morning snack: 15 almonds & 2 tiny mandarin oranges

Afternoon snack: 2 coconut and almond flour crusted chicken nuggets (a recipe I found on a paleo website; the nuggets are the size of mcdonalds mcnuggets)

Dinner (will be): 1/2 chicken breast marinated and pan-cooked in honey, ghee, and spices; 1/2 acorn squash brushed with melted ghee and sage/paprika; 1 cup of the carrots and sweet potatoes described above

Dessert: hopefully nothing, but if I break down, a square or 2 of the above described chocolate.



on November 04, 2013
at 07:56 PM

How many calories a day is that? I'm thinking maybe 1000-1200?



on November 04, 2013
at 07:49 PM

Double the food!

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5 Answers



on November 05, 2013
at 12:59 AM

As a temporary measure, figure out how much you should eat, based on your sex, height, current weight, age, and activity level. From the blog post http://fitpaleo.com/2012/02/22/qa-paleo-for-bodyfat-loss/:

  1. Figure out your basal metabolic rate:
  • Women: BMR = 65.5 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )

  • Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.8 x age in year )

2. Calculate your daily mainteance calories with regards to your activity level:

  • Sedentary (little or no exercise) : BMR x 1.2
  • Lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : BMR x 1.375
  • Moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week): BMR x 1.55
  • Very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week): BMR x 1.725
  • Extremely active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training): BMR x 1.9

3. To lose weight, eat fewer calories than your activity-adjusted BMR, but decrease your calories by a maximum of 200. To eat the paleo way, start with proportions of 50% fat, 20% protein, and 30% carbs. Adjust the carbs and fat to suit your lifestyle. You can track your intake in any number of web or phone apps, such as PaleoTrack or Cron-O-Meter.

Next, get some more complete guidance. Begin with the Start Here page of Mark's Daily Apple. For a more step-by-step introduction to eating paleo, get a copy of Mark Sisson's The Primal Blueprint or Dianne Sanfillipo's 21-Day Sugar Detox, followed by her Practical Paleo.

To counter the headaches, eat more salt. Paleo eating results in less circulating insulin, and insulin tells the kidneys to retain water. Without this hormonal signal, the kidneys pass more water (you might have noticed more frequent urination). Along with the increased water going out are the water-soluble minerals:

  • Sodium
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • calcium

It's the body's sodium that's the most affected by the diuretic effect of the paleo diet, particularly if you're getting less than 50 g of carbs daily. Dr. Steven Phinney, who-co-authored The Art and Science of Low-Carb Living, recommends up to 5 grams of salt daily. Two cups of salty boullion + liberal salting of food will help get your sodium intake to the right level.

Also, on a paleo diet, it's hard to get enough magnesium solely from food. Track your intake in a diet app. (such as Cron-O-Meter) that shows your daily intake of micronutrients, and aim for an intake of 400 mg. of magnesium daily. Supplement as needed with a chelated form of magnesium to maximize bioavailability.

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on November 04, 2013
at 11:13 PM

The entire days eating you are doing sounds like a big snack for some people. 1/2 a chicken breast is nothing. Eat some GF steak or burgers, if you are going to eat chicken eat some dark meat. Poached, why not stir fry it in some butter and coconut oil.


on November 04, 2013
at 09:26 PM

I'm a long distance runner and never performed better than when adopting a paleo nutritional strategy: 2 age group silvers in an 8 miler and a half marathon trail race. Since then I've fallen off the proverbial wagon and gained back all the weight, trying to get back and in shape, but fighting laziness. Don't count calories, count quality.


on November 04, 2013
at 08:47 PM

Honestly, I don't know. I just ate what seemed like a normal amount of food -- and I really wasn't hungry after I ate any of my meals. I snacked a bit in between (also something I'm not used to), but just things like fruit and almonds. I do have a wicked headache today, but I'm wondering if that is just from carb withdrawal...


on November 04, 2013
at 07:51 PM

Seriously? I was SOOOO FULL after eating!



on November 04, 2013
at 07:56 PM

How many calories a day is that? I'm thinking maybe 1000-1200?

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