3

votes

Why do some people need more carbs/starch than others?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created February 22, 2012 at 2:07 PM

I'm three weeks in to a 30-day Paleo challenge, and I'm finding that I have to eat LOADS of food to feel satisfied. And then a couple of hours later, I'm hungry again. I'm mainly eating meat and vegetables, with a bit of fish, a fair amount of fruit, and almonds every other day. Sweet potatoes are the only starch that seems to satisfy me, but I don't eat them every day (maybe I should)?

My husband, on the other hand, who eats the same things as me, is never hugely hungry and seems to have even energy levels.

Does it have anything to do with body fat percentage? I'm 26, 5'6", 108ish lbs, between 18-20% body fat, and pretty active (I'm a yoga/Pilates teacher). My husband is 5'11", 180ish lbs, not sure of body fat percentage.

I'm pretty sure I need more starch than I'm getting, but just wondering why I seem to need more than my husband. I don't want to lose weight btw.

Forgive me if this is a stupid question, I'm just trying to understand why some people seem to feel great on VLC and others don't.

71af3866ba45915e06061a627b40f31d

(235)

on February 24, 2012
at 10:34 PM

Warren - I'm averaging roughly 40-50% fat, 15-30% carbs and 20-30% protein. I think my calorie intake varies widely - anywhere from 1700 (not enough) to 2500+. We don't have a scale, but when I weighed myself last week at my in-laws I had lost 2 lbs - but it had been a particularly bad couple of days in terms of not getting enough to eat. I think I do struggle to replace the calories I would normally be getting through dairy and grains (mostly rice, very occasionally bread or pasta).

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 23, 2012
at 07:44 PM

What are the percentages of carbs, protein and fat you eat? How many calories do you eat now? Do you know how many calories you ate before? Has your weight stayed the same?

71af3866ba45915e06061a627b40f31d

(235)

on February 23, 2012
at 05:28 PM

J. - Just edited my question. I'm not eating loads of carbs, I'm eating loads of food (or at least it feels like it). In fact I'm hardly eating any carbs. I think I probably need to eat more carbs/starch, but my husband seems to be fine on the amount we're eating.

71af3866ba45915e06061a627b40f31d

(235)

on February 22, 2012
at 09:38 PM

I wish I could eat more nuts, but I have a severe allergy to most nuts, and even almonds make my throat itchy so I try not to eat too much of them. I've been trying to stay strictly Paleo for these 30 days, but after that I'll try adding white rice.

00c8eb3f6e6a1884216044ca29cf868a

on February 22, 2012
at 09:37 PM

Can you quantify what "loads of carbs" means? How many grams per day of starch and sugar are you consuming? If you're only eating fruit most days, and only eating sweet potatoes some days, you may not be consuming the "loads of carbs" you think you are.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on February 22, 2012
at 08:11 PM

I cut dairy out at one point but needed to add a fat back in to keep everything working normally, brain to toes, and it was the missing link that I needed. N=1 FTW! I have a mild allergy to coconut oil, I can do very small amounts, so now maybe a tb of butter when I make an omelet, my sheep yogurt, and a little dairy in my coffee and I'm optimum again. Very rarely cheese/cottage cheese, etc. Not much but enough to do the trick - so interesting. So I'm Paleo with a side of Primal :)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 22, 2012
at 07:20 PM

I do hard physical work on a construction site 5-6 days per week and havn't eaten carbs in ages so I'm pretty sure a yoga teacher can manage.

71af3866ba45915e06061a627b40f31d

(235)

on February 22, 2012
at 06:03 PM

My major reason for trying Paleo is that I've had bad stomach problems for the last 4 years or so. GI doc diagnosed it as IBS-D & visceral hypersensitivity. Without meds (citalopram & desipramine) I feel very nauseous after I eat anything, but especially rich or fatty foods. Surprisingly I've felt okay on Paleo eating a lot more animal fat than I used to.

71af3866ba45915e06061a627b40f31d

(235)

on February 22, 2012
at 05:56 PM

As far as fat goes... I've been eating a moderate amount of animal fat (bacon, pork belly, beef & lamb fat). I'm not eating any dairy as we're doing a strict Paleo challenge - before Paleo I did eat a lot of Greek yogurt, and it fills me up nicely - definitely looking forward to butter and yogurt after the 30 days! Other fats... I'm eating several avocados a week. I'm also making coconut milk smoothies, which are very filling, but my problem with that is I'm mildly allergic to coconut! (Throat gets itchy) I'm eating a fair amount of fatty fish like smoked salmon and mackerel...

D31a2a2d43191b15ca4a1c7ec7d03038

(4134)

on February 22, 2012
at 05:46 PM

Also, how much of a change is the way your are eating now from the way you ate before you started the Paleo challenge? Three weeks is still very much the adjustment time if one was previously eating grains, legumes, sugars, processed foods, etc.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on February 22, 2012
at 05:36 PM

Matt-she is saying she is hungry, so yes, I really did.

D31a2a2d43191b15ca4a1c7ec7d03038

(4134)

on February 22, 2012
at 05:35 PM

Maria, perhaps it has to do with genetic make-up, mitochondrial function, blood sugar regulation, insulin signaling, as well as exertion, age, etc. I eat 20-30g/CHO/d and really enjoy it. How much animal fat do you eat? There is no way I would feel full without beef fat and butter. I also make yoghurt from cream. I wish you success in finding a food plan that suits you very well. :)

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on February 22, 2012
at 04:10 PM

And heck I shouldn't even say VLC....if OP has only been doing this for 3 weeks its reasonable to expect that she may still have a fear of fat in general. I don't see anything in her question indicating that she gets much of it (no mention of fatty cuts of meat, coconut oil or butter) and we all know that fat can be quite satiating.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on February 22, 2012
at 03:59 PM

Matt- This... "I'm just trying to understand why some people seem to feel great on VLC and others don't".....hardly indicates OP is just looking for a way to add more carbs. The answer Annie gave is quite appropriate as most newbies to VLC simply don't get enough high quality fat calories.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on February 22, 2012
at 03:37 PM

Did you really end up saying 'eat more fat' to somebody who wants to include more carbs in their diet?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on February 22, 2012
at 03:35 PM

Individuals are individual. Humans are not some equation that can be solved. A lot of paleo folks like to think they've got it all figured out, but paleo is hardly one-size-fits-all.

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7 Answers

6
Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on February 22, 2012
at 03:05 PM

I don't know your goals but VLC doesn't work for me - I must to have carbs to maintain or I literally can't keep the weight on and my muscle growth stalls. I also do not subscribe to "fat will solve everything" way of thinking, it doesn't work for me - tried and felt horrid, so after much tinkering have managed to find a good spot.

Sweet potato with breakfast in addition to lean protein, veg, fruit. Dinner is usually tuber with veg, lean protein. Fruit before bed. A sheep milk yogurt. Snacks will consist of jerky, avocado, chopped veg, maybe a hard boiled egg. I cut out nuts, dried coconut, and dried fruit except for the occasional dried fig or date. Fats that I use for cooking/dress salads with a very light hand: avocado/mac/butter/tallow/duck, et al.

I can't tell you want to do as every body is different, but IMO play with amounts and ratios, add some carbs in. Squash, beets, carrots - mmm.. roast them! I eat a_lot and am now satisfied with my current combos. But I still definitely tinker, I think it's fun, and am happily fed. EDIT --> Forgot to add that dark chocolate is in there somewhere :)

Note: I'm 5'7 and 126ish, low body fat, muscular, CrossFit and lift 4 days a week. AKA: lean, strong, fast, and mean :) (not really mean but it sounds good)

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on February 22, 2012
at 03:35 PM

Individuals are individual. Humans are not some equation that can be solved. A lot of paleo folks like to think they've got it all figured out, but paleo is hardly one-size-fits-all.

Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on February 22, 2012
at 08:11 PM

I cut dairy out at one point but needed to add a fat back in to keep everything working normally, brain to toes, and it was the missing link that I needed. N=1 FTW! I have a mild allergy to coconut oil, I can do very small amounts, so now maybe a tb of butter when I make an omelet, my sheep yogurt, and a little dairy in my coffee and I'm optimum again. Very rarely cheese/cottage cheese, etc. Not much but enough to do the trick - so interesting. So I'm Paleo with a side of Primal :)

2
35ba1f50dad25c85ac1aa2599fe5c5cb

(2485)

on February 22, 2012
at 03:57 PM

It's probably a combination of activity level, insulin sensitivity and inherent biochemistry.

Personally, I'm like you, I do better on moderate carbs, and not a whole lot of carbs from fruit (maybe 1-2 servings a day). I eat lots of sweet potatoes and plantains, a good deal of root vegetables like turnips, carros & beets and some white potatoes and sometimes rice or tapioca. Theoretically I'd be OK with a little bit of starchy corn (like an occasional corn tortilla), but in practice it bugs my stomach to no end. Experiment and find out what works for you.

2
6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on February 22, 2012
at 02:29 PM

There is no reason to be VLC unless you are trying to lose weight or correct disease or metabolic syndrome. You should eat the amount of food that satisfies you. Try upping your fat intake and see what happens.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on February 22, 2012
at 03:37 PM

Did you really end up saying 'eat more fat' to somebody who wants to include more carbs in their diet?

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on February 22, 2012
at 03:59 PM

Matt- This... "I'm just trying to understand why some people seem to feel great on VLC and others don't".....hardly indicates OP is just looking for a way to add more carbs. The answer Annie gave is quite appropriate as most newbies to VLC simply don't get enough high quality fat calories.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on February 22, 2012
at 04:10 PM

And heck I shouldn't even say VLC....if OP has only been doing this for 3 weeks its reasonable to expect that she may still have a fear of fat in general. I don't see anything in her question indicating that she gets much of it (no mention of fatty cuts of meat, coconut oil or butter) and we all know that fat can be quite satiating.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on February 22, 2012
at 05:36 PM

Matt-she is saying she is hungry, so yes, I really did.

1
Fd8cf1696bb79f053b2e02037c1be724

(100)

on February 22, 2012
at 02:53 PM

I would think it would be pretty hard to be a yoga / pilates instructor without carbs...I can't even manage being a yoga student without at least 25-30% carb, (although I did eat less when I was still trying to lose weight). Obviously your mileage may vary, but I wouldn't go to VLC without a good reason. I eat potatoes nearly every day, and lots of veggies & fruit.

But still, you can experiment with different foods to find what satisfies you. I personally find that breakfast (and particularly eggs) makes a huge difference in my hunger levels for the rest of the day -- if I eat 2 eggs + meat + fruit in the morning, I'm much less likely to be snacking in the afternoon, regardless of what I have for lunch. That might not work for you, but play around with different foods and see what happens. And as Annie suggested, make sure you're getting plenty of fat.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 22, 2012
at 07:20 PM

I do hard physical work on a construction site 5-6 days per week and havn't eaten carbs in ages so I'm pretty sure a yoga teacher can manage.

0
360fcaf60855a8d410edaab30d54928e

on February 22, 2012
at 07:03 PM

When I started Paleo I had no issues switching over because I already ate high protein and medium amounts of carbs and vegies so I was able to cut back on the carbs and eliminate the grains, leumes easily. My wife on the other had was a huge bread/tortilla eater so it took her a few weeks to transition over to a healthly paleo diet. Since your only 3 weeks in, I would say give it more time and ensure when you do eat carbs it is only the healthiest. Stay away from those nasty grains, legumes and sugar especially high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

0
7d3a7b532811b6cfa2de09acdf52d145

(610)

on February 22, 2012
at 03:56 PM

You also can eat more high caloric food, like nuts. You could increase your almond intake, but better maybe add other types of nuts (walnuts etc). And eggs are good, like the previous poster said. I eat 2 per day and I can live on that for half a day if I have to.

I do a lot of sports, 10 till 15 hours a week of yoga/dancing/acrobatics/strength training etc, and the only way for me to don't lose weight is to eat nuts. Other foods like fruits also help, but my stomach can only handle a certain volume of food, so in time of high caloric needs, I eat 100 to 200 grams of nuts a day (which make 500 to 1000 calories).

Sometimes I still feel hungry though, but it is more an 'emotional hunger': I just want to eat something because something is bothering me, or I'm doing things I don't like.

If you have lots of muscles (I haven't got them :( ), you need more calories to sustain them, that might also be a difference with other people. Then you might have the need for things like potatoes & rice, and that is ok. If your body uses it right away and relieves you of hunger, you can add some.

71af3866ba45915e06061a627b40f31d

(235)

on February 22, 2012
at 09:38 PM

I wish I could eat more nuts, but I have a severe allergy to most nuts, and even almonds make my throat itchy so I try not to eat too much of them. I've been trying to stay strictly Paleo for these 30 days, but after that I'll try adding white rice.

0
Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

on February 22, 2012
at 03:30 PM

People have different reserves and different hormone levels and different genetics (and different expression). There's so many reasons not to expect people to react the same to a given situation. Plus it can take weeks to adapt so flexibility can play a big part in how different people appear to cope in the short term. From what you've said, it sounds like you're probably missing out on fat. You don't have as much available as your husband, and you may not be as well-adapted to burning what you do have, and it's quite possible you're just not eating enough. Are you putting on weight? A lot of people who think they are eating loads actually aren't eating as much as they think. Maybe you're just misintepreting the cues and you're not actually that hungry. If you stop eating earlier, are you struggling to get on with your day? If you're hungry a couple of hours later do you eat more then? If not, does the hunger go away? Depending on how dramatic a change in your diet this is, your body may just still be working these things out. Also, a lot of people get stuck between eating lots (100-150g) of carbs and eating none (less than 30g). Regularly eating just some will make it very hard to adapt as your body will know they are available and keep demanding more. Still, 3 weeks really isn't very long. I wouldn't over-generalise about how either you or your husband will feel next week!

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