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Is Paleo/Primal still effective for health maintenance and weightloss if one cheats regularly or has moderate carb intake since ketosis is not maintained?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 12, 2011 at 4:49 AM

My first introduction to weightloss and paleo type diets was through Atkins. I did ATkins for about a year and was very dedicated to it. I lost about 10 lbs and didnt have much more to lose than that. But when ATkins lost its popularity, I went on to try vegetarianism and low fat diets as refining my diet has always been top priority to me.

I now eat primarily primal. I have read alot and recall when I was on Atkins how much better my compulsive behavior with food was, which is why I have moved back to this way of eating again. I realize carbs can be an addiction which is a huge problem for me.

I rarely eat grains, pasta, rice, sugar, bread or foods from the aisle. Maybe 1-2x per month and in small quantities. However I have some regular exceptions that are still part of my diet, primarily dairy. I eat cheese and choose high fat greek yogurt which i eat with berries, dried fruit and raw nuts in the morning along with a sugar-free latte made with whole cream. This I know is probably quite high in carb for primal diets already...

I find in the afternoon I usually crave to have something sweet and sometimes I give in and have a chocolate bar. Othertimes I will eat fruit or more nuts and raisins. I am also pretty sure this is related to my moderate carb intake, my food compulsions and my need to find some level of balance to keep that in check.

Now, my question is, if I am eating this moderate amount of carbs regularly, will I still get the benefits of paleo/atkins/primal or am I totally destroying what I am doing with my diet the majority of the time? If I am not in ketosis and/or eating the occasional chocolate bar or mod carb meal, will eating high levels of fat and meat have opposite results and start to make me gain fat?

I APPRECIATE ALL FEEDBACK AND AM DOING MY BEST TO LEARN THE TECHNICAL STUFF, BUT AS CLOSE TO LAYMAN'S EXPLANATION YOU CAN GIVE, I WOULD REALLY APPRECIATE IT - THANKS! :)

49d18da1ee2fdb861ed5bddbd8c29096

on April 12, 2011
at 02:46 PM

Thank you! I will give fit-day a try!

49d18da1ee2fdb861ed5bddbd8c29096

on April 12, 2011
at 02:41 PM

Thanks! You made me feel much better. :)

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on April 12, 2011
at 05:06 AM

who says paleo is low-carb? Ketosis has some benefits, but it's highly unlikely that our ancestors were in it for long periods of time. It was a cyclical seasonal state.

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3 Answers

3
Cf626d3fba66c18297b3f1116a920e58

(3417)

on April 12, 2011
at 12:35 PM

I eat ~200g of carbs from sweet potatoes and fruit 3 times a week on strength training days. I haven't noticed any ill effects from doing so -- no apparent fat gain, no sugar crash, no loss of energy. On off days, I eat <100g of carbs, often probably <20g.

As Melissa said, Paleo isn't low carb. Instead, it's restoration of insulin sensitivity. The Paleo way to achieve that is generally to lose a ton of weight via low-carb/ketosis and insulin-sensitizing HIT and HIIT. The way to maintain insulin sensitivity isn't necessarily to remain in ketosis or in a perpetually low-ish carb state, but instead to stay away from what broke your metabolism in the first place. A dozen pieces of bread, a couple cups of beans, some Cokes, a plate of spaghetti, and some skim milk every day (maybe >1000g carbs total) broke your metabolism.

Try tracking (livestrong.org/myplate) how many carbs you eat on certain days, one that you feel is high-carb and one that you feel is low-carb. Compare this to an average day in your past life as best as you can remember it. I guarantee you'll find you Paleo "high" carb day is probably only 50-100g different from your Paleo low carb day, but at least 500g less than your typical SAD or vegetarian day.

Moral of the story: Don't feel bad if you aren't eating strict VLC, but if your current goal is to shed fat, try to stick to VLC as close as possible. If you feel the need to eat some chocolate, go for it! The extra 25g of carbs in that dark chocolate bar aren't hurting anyone.

49d18da1ee2fdb861ed5bddbd8c29096

on April 12, 2011
at 02:41 PM

Thanks! You made me feel much better. :)

1
33ca64a09412bed1b47b85a4f1ac6a27

(150)

on April 12, 2011
at 02:07 PM

I don't eat a strict paleo diet. I eat dairy (cheese & yogurt), and try to keep my carbs between 20-30% (I eat rice, potatoes & sweet potatoes, lots of fruits & veggies). I have an occasional slice of toast, so long as it is "old" wheat (spelt or kamut). I eat a small piece of chocolate every day. I am never in ketosis, and like some other people here, I feel better eating moderate carb than low carb. When I want to drop a few pounds, I keep the carbs closer to 20%, watch my fat intake (keep it high -- lots of butter and coconut oil) and count calories using Fitday.

What I've found is that I do have to count calories to lose weight, but that I can eat many more calories on a paleo-ish diet than I can on a standard American diet. I lost 15+ pounds and got back to my ideal weight eating 1800-2000 calories a day; on the SAD I could usually only lose weight if I ate around 1500 calories a day). Plus, trying to lose weight on a SAD, I was always hungry and low-energy, now I'm never hungry. I never snack between meals because I'm not hungry for snacks.

I would guess I would not have to count calories at all if I kept my carb intake lower, but I feel much better (and have fewer "side effects") eating the extra carbs.

Interestingly, I find the amount of carb I eat at breakfast to be VERY important for cravings. If I eat a higher protein/fat breakfast (eggs, breakfast meat, coconut oil), I rarely have cravings later in the day even if there is extra carb in my dinner & lunch. If I eat extra carb at breakfast, I'm certain to be snacking in the afternoon. I don't know why that is.

One of the reasons I'd recommend trying Fitday to track your food intake is that you might be surprised...what you think is moderate carb might turn out to be much higher than you think. I find that my husband, who is diabetic, habitually undercounts his carbs...he'll tell me he ate 30 carbs at a meal, but when I enter his meal into Fitday, it will often be easily double that, sometimes more.

49d18da1ee2fdb861ed5bddbd8c29096

on April 12, 2011
at 02:46 PM

Thank you! I will give fit-day a try!

1
535633b57c4a4940d1e913e7a12ee791

(1013)

on April 12, 2011
at 12:47 PM

I agree with the comments above. My objective is too avoid all grains and all processed foods. I eat no more than 300g of carbs a day. I don't think our ancestors walked around in a perpetual state of ketosis.

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