3

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How is the Paleo diet superior to others when it comes to losing weight?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created May 18, 2013 at 10:51 PM

I'm just curious. From what I have read about the Paleo diet (Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf) it is much easier to lose weght on this diet. I thought the general consensus was calories in = calories out. How exactly would the Paleo diet work in such a way that calories in = calories out doesn't apply? Is it because of the exclusion of inflammitory foods? Sorry, I'm a bit new to nutrition but it's a great interest to me.

3d58b5fb4f9780e2f47d4dcc53338a5a

(2771)

on May 23, 2013
at 05:47 PM

CICO is correct for determining weight loss/gain. It doesn't distinguish between muscle or fat, though, and that's where the paleo part can help, so you lose fat and not muscle. The bogus part is trying to figure out what your Calories Out are, since the types of food you eat can change that number.

3d58b5fb4f9780e2f47d4dcc53338a5a

(2771)

on May 20, 2013
at 12:41 PM

Thanks, Mark A. It's not a lot of unused calories, but I read somewhere that it could be up to 10% of calories consumed. Even if its only 1-2%, it still throws some ambiguity into the formuala. And to echo what Matt said, for the most part, people here have no trouble with protein intake. When it comes to comparing non-paleo plans, you start seeing some crazy diets like the master clense and grapefruit diet that will make the pounds drop off, but could have some long term repercussions. Paleo is more about finding out what's the best things for your body so you're not sidelined at 55.

E121c642c111240a0975531129fd2916

(15)

on May 20, 2013
at 02:34 AM

I love that last part about how not everything you eat is used by your body. Very, very interesting stuff. Thanks for all of the information!

E121c642c111240a0975531129fd2916

(15)

on May 20, 2013
at 02:33 AM

Excellent indeed. Cleared things up in a brief, informative response! I love it. Many thanks.

Medium avatar

(10601)

on May 19, 2013
at 10:28 PM

happy happy joy joy

Medium avatar

(10601)

on May 19, 2013
at 10:21 PM

I lost weight exercising but lost muscle among with fat. My leg muscles are highly developed, but my shoulders are bony and I lost as much in the chest as in the waistline. Some of that was fat but not all of it.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on May 19, 2013
at 08:57 PM

The insulin theory of weight gain/loss is overly simplistic as well. Having insulin floating around does not mean that one is unable to burn calories, we're constantly using nutrients for energy and recovery.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on May 19, 2013
at 08:55 PM

Oversimplifying weight loss plans of course will lead to failure. "Eat X number of calories no matter what for weight loss" will not work for a large number of folks. "Calculate your BMR and TDEE based on activity, then reduce that by X calories, based on your desired rate of weight loss" works for nearly everybody.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on May 19, 2013
at 08:52 PM

Few people fail to get enough protein or enough essential proteins. The average dieter gets more than enough for nitrogen balance. Lean mass loss during weight loss is expected, it simply is the body's way of reducing energy-demanding material that's no longer used. Losing 40 pounds of fat likely means than 10 pounds of muscle are a bit superfluous, so your body ditches it and you have a weight loss of 50 pounds.

0b7c3e7fd96005f0b2dfd781e512fc2e

(1237)

on May 19, 2013
at 02:46 PM

Excellent post!

Medium avatar

(10601)

on May 19, 2013
at 12:06 PM

Cico is not a bogus idea. It IS about how much you eat. Paleo offers the option of controlling how much you eat without obsessive counting.

A08b210e4da7e69cd792bddc1f4aae4b

(1031)

on May 19, 2013
at 12:43 AM

Hunger is far more subtle than the food industry would have us believe -- they would rather we just keep shoving their products down out gullets and hand over the cash. Once you start to eat "clean" your hunger will give you clearer indications of what your body needs. So instead of being "over fed and under nourished" you'll begin consuming all the different things your body needs, and only needs, not all the crap that swamps the satiety signals and leads to over eating.

E121c642c111240a0975531129fd2916

(15)

on May 18, 2013
at 11:43 PM

Thanks! So, what you're saying is that it's mostly hunger and hormones rather than calories?

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10 Answers

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0
9dd74d3941535d0aaa2c8d3cf454fb7e

on May 18, 2013
at 11:34 PM

It's more complex than what I type here, but basically the consumption of healthy fats (from red meat, eggs, fish, butter, olive oil etc.) and animal proteins act to reduce insulin spikes and suppress hunger - the thing I still notice, even after being paleo a couple of years, is that if there isn't healthy food available I simply don't eat - and get only very mild hunger pangs. Sat in front of a large pile of wheat flour cookies this morning at a place I was at and felt no desire whatsoever to eat them - no longer react to it as food I guess.

Calories in-calories out is about as bogus an idea as so called modern medicine has ever endorsed. It's about how what you eat effects your gene expression, hormone levels, etc.

Medium avatar

(10601)

on May 19, 2013
at 12:06 PM

Cico is not a bogus idea. It IS about how much you eat. Paleo offers the option of controlling how much you eat without obsessive counting.

E121c642c111240a0975531129fd2916

(15)

on May 18, 2013
at 11:43 PM

Thanks! So, what you're saying is that it's mostly hunger and hormones rather than calories?

3d58b5fb4f9780e2f47d4dcc53338a5a

(2771)

on May 23, 2013
at 05:47 PM

CICO is correct for determining weight loss/gain. It doesn't distinguish between muscle or fat, though, and that's where the paleo part can help, so you lose fat and not muscle. The bogus part is trying to figure out what your Calories Out are, since the types of food you eat can change that number.

best answer

9
72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on May 19, 2013
at 02:11 AM

Calories in = calories out in the sense that ultimately, everything you eat has to end up somewhere as something. However:

  • Your body can decide to burn food to fuel metabolic processes, grow muscle, repair joints, etc. It can also break it into materials to build muscle, or store it as fat or glycogen. The food you eat, and the patterns you eat it in, affects which of those it will choose to do.

  • Diet can affect your energy level. Feeling lethargic means you're more likely to sit around and store the calories you eat as fat. Feeling energetic makes it easier for you to turn those calories into intentional activity, whether it's running a 10k or just having enough energy to go out with your friends after work.

  • Different foods affect your body's hunger signals in different ways. Eating food that increases your feeling of satiation means that you'll take in fewer calories over the day.

If you are eating a certain set of foods and change nothing except for the calories, it's probably true that fewer calories = lower weight (until you get into starvation territory) and more calories = higher weight. But if you switch to foods that give you more energy, help resolve chronic health problems, or alter your metabolism toward building muscle instead of storing fat, then you might get a change in weight even at the same level of intake.

0b7c3e7fd96005f0b2dfd781e512fc2e

(1237)

on May 19, 2013
at 02:46 PM

Excellent post!

E121c642c111240a0975531129fd2916

(15)

on May 20, 2013
at 02:33 AM

Excellent indeed. Cleared things up in a brief, informative response! I love it. Many thanks.

6
3d58b5fb4f9780e2f47d4dcc53338a5a

(2771)

on May 19, 2013
at 06:59 PM

First, let's make the distinction between a paleo "diet" and a paleo lifestyle, which can involve exercise, play and relaxation, because they all come in to play as far as health and weight go.

A diet is a diet when you use a lowercase "d," which indicates it's a temporary weight loss thing. Most diets work in the short run, but fail when you stop. When it comes to strict weight loss, I feel that the paleo way of eating is NOT the best for losing weight. It's the best for health, however. Heck, starving yourself and exercising 12 hrs a day like the biggest loser is the "best" for weight loss. It wrecks the body as well.

And let's make a big point here in all caps.

"WEIGHT LOSS DOESN'T ALWAYS MEAN FAT LOSS!"

This is the first point where the Calories in-calories out model breaks down. If I exercise and drink nothing but Gatorade and sugary power drinks, I'm not giving my body enough protein to rebuild my muscles (and cell wall, blood vessels, DNA, life in general), so my body has to break down protein (muscles) to survive. Tada! Weight loss! But it's muscles. Also, if you're drinking sugary drinks and it spikes your insulin, it triggers fat storage and delays fat loss, and eventually leads to you slowing down to conserve your energy, which brings us to the second flaw in the Calories in-calories out model.

"THE NUMBER CALORIES YOU NEED PER DAY IS AFFECTED BY WHAT YOU EAT AS WELL AS HOW MUCH YOU MOVE."

This means your estimate of 2000 calories a day could be higher or lower depending on the foods you eat, not just because certain foods take more energy to break down, but also how it affects your Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT). If you have that pre-lunch crash that most of us have experienced before cleaning up our diet, you're moving less. If I estimate 2000 calories a day and drink 1500 in alcohol, I'm sure I'll move very slowly. It's a cyclical feedback loop, and certain foods can positively or negatively affect your energy levels.

Since I'm on a tear about CICO:

"NOT ALL THE FOOD YOU EAT IS USED FOR ENERGY."

This is why a lot of vegans look skinny and unhealthy (except for those that are aware of their amino acid needs for preserving muscles). Without enough of the full spectrum of essential amino acids, your body will breakdown it's own muscles. If you're not paying attention to what you eat, you may not be providing your body with what it needs to maintain it's structure. I don't care if a carob chip, soy milk organic brownie is sold at the health store, it'll spike your insulin, trigger fat storage and is a wasteland of nutrients.

If we are not getting enough "energy" from the food we eat, our body "eats" it from it's fat stores OR protein stores. What you eat decides that.

And finally:

"NOT EVERYTHING YOU EAT IS USED BY YOUR BODY."

Yeah, I know about the law of thermodynamics. That applies to closed systems. The human body isn't a closed system. I'm sure you've eaten corn before. How about a super greasy pizza that went right through you? There's a ton of calories that didn't get used for energy or building the body. And for those of us that fall into ketosis, where breathing out and urinating out small amounts of potential energy fragments. That's more potential calories lost. Doctors check our stool samples and urine samples to detect how well our body is breaking down it's food, so they check sugar, fat, alcohols (by products of biotic actions) etc. All energy lost. Insoluble fiber isn't digested at all, and we need bacteria to digest soluble fiber. Some fibers block nutrients. You get the point.

After all this, I will say that the idea of weight loss equals eating less calories than you need is basically true. But it doesn't say if you're losing fat and/or muscle, feeling like crap, blocking your arteries or anything about health. It also is an impossible number to determine because the volume of variables that go into determining your caloric needs.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on May 19, 2013
at 08:57 PM

The insulin theory of weight gain/loss is overly simplistic as well. Having insulin floating around does not mean that one is unable to burn calories, we're constantly using nutrients for energy and recovery.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on May 19, 2013
at 08:52 PM

Few people fail to get enough protein or enough essential proteins. The average dieter gets more than enough for nitrogen balance. Lean mass loss during weight loss is expected, it simply is the body's way of reducing energy-demanding material that's no longer used. Losing 40 pounds of fat likely means than 10 pounds of muscle are a bit superfluous, so your body ditches it and you have a weight loss of 50 pounds.

3d58b5fb4f9780e2f47d4dcc53338a5a

(2771)

on May 20, 2013
at 12:41 PM

Thanks, Mark A. It's not a lot of unused calories, but I read somewhere that it could be up to 10% of calories consumed. Even if its only 1-2%, it still throws some ambiguity into the formuala. And to echo what Matt said, for the most part, people here have no trouble with protein intake. When it comes to comparing non-paleo plans, you start seeing some crazy diets like the master clense and grapefruit diet that will make the pounds drop off, but could have some long term repercussions. Paleo is more about finding out what's the best things for your body so you're not sidelined at 55.

E121c642c111240a0975531129fd2916

(15)

on May 20, 2013
at 02:34 AM

I love that last part about how not everything you eat is used by your body. Very, very interesting stuff. Thanks for all of the information!

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on May 19, 2013
at 08:55 PM

Oversimplifying weight loss plans of course will lead to failure. "Eat X number of calories no matter what for weight loss" will not work for a large number of folks. "Calculate your BMR and TDEE based on activity, then reduce that by X calories, based on your desired rate of weight loss" works for nearly everybody.

Medium avatar

(10601)

on May 19, 2013
at 10:21 PM

I lost weight exercising but lost muscle among with fat. My leg muscles are highly developed, but my shoulders are bony and I lost as much in the chest as in the waistline. Some of that was fat but not all of it.

4
355ae559fc7c4038c63b5897d74e8a40

on May 19, 2013
at 08:51 AM

In my case, no hunger, no food obsession, feeling more alert, sleeping better than I ever did when trying to count calories. The lack of hunger is the biggest thing.

1
Cf08ad26759fdd206a2c9f9385080a57

(995)

on September 07, 2013
at 12:44 AM

It's like running on an entirely different fuel source. Look at the ingredients in diet soda or low calorie processed foods -- what the hell is that stuff? Or think about if you just started eating a lesser amount of garbage, while still living on a garbage diet (maybe with the occasional Real Food supplement.) Compare that with a paleo diet where it's 100% organic plants and vegetarian animals, and it's pretty obvious that everything is going to be better. Not only is the food healthier, the food's food is healthier.

From there, you have a starting point to figure out an optimal energy in / out plan (low level cardio, etc.)

1
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on May 19, 2013
at 09:02 PM

Calories in verus calories out: that's the first law of weight loss/gain.

That's the reason that paleo really isn't superior to any other weight loss diet for the purpose of weight loss. All that matters is CI vs CO. The advantages of a paleo approach are things like, to point out a couple examples: improved satiety on a caloric deficit, increased nutrient density. Neither are necessary for weight loss, but certainly I'd like to be well fed and not hungry when eating to lose weight.

1
7a6529ea25b655132fe58d793f95547a

(2040)

on May 19, 2013
at 05:55 PM

It's superior to others because more of the population can use the diet to lose weight. If your at all insulin resistant(which is a significant proportion of people) then a higher carb diet is going to make it difficult. In the same respect if your insulin sensitive a higher carb or lower carb diet can work for you. I should point out that paleo is not necessarily low carb but it is generally lower in carbohydrate than other diets. So, in terms of weight loss I think the biggest value is the diets ability to be successful for a greater number of people.

Having said all that I don't think we should be eating a certain way just to lose weight. Eat for health first and the weight will follow. Unless of course there is a medical reason to do so.

0
2e1591c76896828077b930de5107f1af

on May 19, 2013
at 09:23 PM

simple anwser, overall it is NOT superior, unless you feel more satiated

0
415a1da470f0a73906b6833dbf773cad

on May 19, 2013
at 06:41 PM

also Boobies!

Medium avatar

(10601)

on May 19, 2013
at 10:28 PM

happy happy joy joy

0
8d386bf2c5ba20fcc1a2a0c805b217c9

(743)

on May 19, 2013
at 03:53 PM

The big thing for me was carbohydrate intake. Seriously, my appetite is so much easier to control without having huge insulin-spikes multiple times a day.

I never get that "I just ate but now I'm hungry again"-feeling, anymore.

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