6

votes

"Easy" vs. "Simple" and Paleo Fat Loss

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created November 28, 2011 at 11:25 PM

Clearly, many people want to lose fat by eating/living paleo, get frustrated when it doesn't happen, and feel like they've been duped or that they must be uniquely messed up* because this lifestyle is supposed to allow one to "easily" and "simply" lose fat, and yet here they are, unable to do it.

I'm wondering whether the problem might come from the definitions of "easy" and "simple" and the fact that we tend to apply the terms interchangeably.

I would define a "simple" fat loss prescription as one that has a few basic rules requiring minimal analysis, i.e., don't eat grain/sugar/veg. oil, eat whole foods when you're hungry, sleep a lot, move around, don't stress. If there are many rules or if following them requires a lot of complex thought, then I wouldn't consider it "simple."

I would define an "easy" fat loss prescription as one that requires minimal effort, whether to change a habit, give up a pleasure, expend a lot of time, etc. That is, an "easy" fat loss solution would be one that garners minimal internal resistance from the body or the brain. If you have to plan a lot or do things you don't consider pleasant, then I wouldn't consider it "easy."

So here's the question: if you were advising your average person looking to shed some pounds, would you refer to the paleo lifestyle as a "simple" or "easy" way to go about it? Both? Neither?

Do you think the framing matters? Clearly the question of whether something is easy/simple doesn't answer the question of whether someone should do it, but maybe the framing would affect people's adherence or expectations.

*Note: Of course, some people are uniquely predisposed to defend fat, I just mean that most people who give up trying to lose fat on paelo probably aren't compared with the general population.

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on November 29, 2011
at 03:32 PM

i am envious of you all as this approach has never worked for me. i guess i am the minority that has to consider the consequences of what i eat carefully.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on November 29, 2011
at 03:32 PM

Also, obviously, I love the "healthy way to get to a healthier weight" phrase. It frames it perfectly, keeping expectations in check while emphasizing that health is the most important function. Beautiful!

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on November 29, 2011
at 03:29 PM

Well, honestly, I think some people just need help reigning in their food, and not everyone's satiety meter functions properly, especially if you're trying to lose -- of course you'll need to eat less than when you're maintaining, but how much less? Plus, there's a difference between "calories count" and "counting calories." Calories matter, too much, even of the good stuff, will add fat, but once you get a general sense of the calorie density of most foods, then you might be able to wing it. But try not to be so hard on people who count, I think it can be a really valuable tool.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on November 29, 2011
at 12:25 PM

Oh, I was hugely into behavioral economics in grad school, it's so interesting!

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on November 29, 2011
at 10:54 AM

I thought that was the whole point, that calories are not created equal. We may or may not agree with everythign Taubes says, but the bulk of scientific proof says that we don't process calories from fat, protein, carbs and refined crap the same way. Why bother counting all that stuff and going OCD when you can just plan your meals according to a healthy range of foods?

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on November 29, 2011
at 10:51 AM

I find there's almost always a lag time, for me. If I binge or overeat, it usually doesn't show up on my body until the following week. ANd then when I cut back - say a fast or something - it also doesn't show up for about a week.

Ce762ef3660ab44dbc72fdd7ff8fb168

(290)

on November 29, 2011
at 07:49 AM

47kg down without counting anything.

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on November 29, 2011
at 04:57 AM

I guess I must be in the "very small minority", too. I don't count or measure anything. I eat when I'm hungry and I stop when I'm full. I just get full much faster now on a paleo diet and I stay full longer. I've lost about 50 pounds. Everyone's experience with paleo is different and not everyone loses weight, but it does seem to result in weight loss for more than just a very small minority.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 29, 2011
at 12:33 AM

It's not a straight line of weight loss, is it? Some weeks I noticeably lose weight and think, "How did I do that based on what I ate?" Other weeks I think I've been really good but there's no change. Over time, though, as you said the healing continues and good changes happen when the body is ready.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 29, 2011
at 12:31 AM

Respectfully I disagree with the "very small minority" part. I'm a 64 yr-old woman and I've lost 35+ pounds without counting a calorie. My sense based on reading here and elsewhere is that some have to count calories but many don't.

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6 Answers

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2
B6114a1980b1481fb18206064f3f4a4f

(3924)

on November 29, 2011
at 04:32 AM

I think stressing the improved health aspects and improved energy that most people experience by following a Paleo life-style, with weight loss as a possible bonus, is the best way to frame it. In other words, I would frame the Paleo life-style as a healthy way to achieve a healthier weight, not a simple or easy way.

And yes, framing is extremely important in people's decision-making and problem-solving processes. As an environmental economist, I study a lot of behavioral economics theory and framing effects are easily one of the most fascinating subject areas I've studied.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on November 29, 2011
at 12:25 PM

Oh, I was hugely into behavioral economics in grad school, it's so interesting!

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on November 29, 2011
at 03:32 PM

Also, obviously, I love the "healthy way to get to a healthier weight" phrase. It frames it perfectly, keeping expectations in check while emphasizing that health is the most important function. Beautiful!

3
13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on November 29, 2011
at 02:42 AM

I think it depends a lot on the person and what their dietary habits are prior to starting on a paleo/ancestral diet. It has been very easy and simple for me to switch to an ancestral diet, but I was already eating a whole foods diet, buying most of my food from local farmers, and was open to the healing power of foods. My problem was that I was looking to vegetarian-esque diets for answers.

I've tried losing weight in the past (Weight Watchers, McDougall, vegetarian, vegan) and it has always been a spectacular failure. I gave up dieting and focused on healthy eating (mostly vegetarian). I was pretty healthy, but my weight was unchanged. It wasn't until I dropped the grains and upped the healthy fats and protein that weight started to fall effortlessly from my body. But, I know that has not been everyone's experience--nor will it necessarily continue to be mine all the way to a "normal" weight (whatever that is). Everyone is different. My weight gain story is different from most, too, and that may be an important factor in this as well.

If a friend were asking me about it, I would play up the healthfulness of the diet and point to weight loss as a possible side benefit. And, if they are coming from the SAD, I would definitely want them to understand the depth of commitment required. It's not just a matter of adding or subtracting a few things from your diet. It's a whole new way to view food. Shopping, cooking, and eating will all change for them.

3
96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 28, 2011
at 11:33 PM

I would have to say, "Your experience may vary." For me, it's been both easy and simple. I just had to learn that the neolithic treats I was previously addicted to now don't taste good and make me sick.

I eat very simple meals that are easy to prepare. I eat as much as I want and I'm gradually losing weight.

Easy and simple. For me.

2
66974b2cb291799dcd661b7dec99a9e2

(11121)

on November 29, 2011
at 12:09 AM

Paleo is a Lifestyle not a fad weight loss diet, once an individual's body has had time to heal (which can take months / years) then it may decide that it needs to she weight, we cannot force the issue, the human body is smarter than the brain. One needs to become healthy over time and if a side effect of that is weight loss then great. Unfortunately people will always look for an easy 'fix', it took decades for most of us to damage our bodies so bad and it may take years to begin to reverse that.

Paleo is neither simple or easy, it just is. We humans with our self-centered view of things make it complicated.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on November 29, 2011
at 10:51 AM

I find there's almost always a lag time, for me. If I binge or overeat, it usually doesn't show up on my body until the following week. ANd then when I cut back - say a fast or something - it also doesn't show up for about a week.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 29, 2011
at 12:33 AM

It's not a straight line of weight loss, is it? Some weeks I noticeably lose weight and think, "How did I do that based on what I ate?" Other weeks I think I've been really good but there's no change. Over time, though, as you said the healing continues and good changes happen when the body is ready.

1
Aebee51dc2b93b209980a89fa4a70c1e

(1982)

on November 28, 2011
at 11:36 PM

Mark Sisson calls it "effortless," which maybe it is for some people, but I imagine they are in the very small minority. My answer would be, calories still count, no matter what your style of diet, so, you have to be willing to do that. For most people, counting calories is tedious, more than it is "hard" or "easy."

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on November 29, 2011
at 03:32 PM

i am envious of you all as this approach has never worked for me. i guess i am the minority that has to consider the consequences of what i eat carefully.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on November 29, 2011
at 10:54 AM

I thought that was the whole point, that calories are not created equal. We may or may not agree with everythign Taubes says, but the bulk of scientific proof says that we don't process calories from fat, protein, carbs and refined crap the same way. Why bother counting all that stuff and going OCD when you can just plan your meals according to a healthy range of foods?

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on November 29, 2011
at 03:29 PM

Well, honestly, I think some people just need help reigning in their food, and not everyone's satiety meter functions properly, especially if you're trying to lose -- of course you'll need to eat less than when you're maintaining, but how much less? Plus, there's a difference between "calories count" and "counting calories." Calories matter, too much, even of the good stuff, will add fat, but once you get a general sense of the calorie density of most foods, then you might be able to wing it. But try not to be so hard on people who count, I think it can be a really valuable tool.

Ce762ef3660ab44dbc72fdd7ff8fb168

(290)

on November 29, 2011
at 07:49 AM

47kg down without counting anything.

13a44ea00b0c9af0b6d0f3d5f5c2cfca

(7223)

on November 29, 2011
at 04:57 AM

I guess I must be in the "very small minority", too. I don't count or measure anything. I eat when I'm hungry and I stop when I'm full. I just get full much faster now on a paleo diet and I stay full longer. I've lost about 50 pounds. Everyone's experience with paleo is different and not everyone loses weight, but it does seem to result in weight loss for more than just a very small minority.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on November 29, 2011
at 12:31 AM

Respectfully I disagree with the "very small minority" part. I'm a 64 yr-old woman and I've lost 35+ pounds without counting a calorie. My sense based on reading here and elsewhere is that some have to count calories but many don't.

0
C116f7e54620c6003b67cd4450a298cd

on November 29, 2011
at 05:43 AM

My experience has been pretty easy and simple. I too ate "healthy" for the last 15 years. The big issue was the grains! Done with them. Maybe a little rice with the sushi once a month when we go out, but that's about it. I've never looked better! I'm working out less now than ever before, but pump out 150 push ups every couple of days and do 100+ pull ups and sit ups the same. Zero running or sprinting for the last 6 months, as I'm recovering from a soccer knee injury. I'm gonna cruise through the holidays and then hit it for the spring as I'd like to attempt to get cut and lean...though not bad now for 43. Still, no crap/wheat for these holiday times.

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