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Adapting to Diet - No Results?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created March 16, 2013 at 2:20 PM

I was eating strict paleo for six months and dropped over 20 pounds (I'm 5'9 and I went from 185 to 155 at my lowest) and felt great. Started doing leangains and that went well, but I wasn't eating paleo anymore (introduced rice, grains, etc.) for another few months. Then I went back to school and just completely fell off the wagon. Back up to 190, but probably with a little more muscle than before since I've been doing a lot of compound lifts for over a year now.

This January I did a paleo challenge with my gym. I got almost no results for that month. Dropped maybe two pounds, at a rate of less than half a pound a week it seemed. What gives? I've heard people say your body adapts to a "diet" and your system isn't as shocked the second time around. Is this the mechanism responsible for my slow results? I was disappointed I didn't see the pounds just melting away like last time.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on March 16, 2013
at 06:25 PM

... and yes: definitely get a BF% estimate. Calipers for one reading, and do a calculation with waist size and other metrics for another. Don't trust electronic scales that do BF% (or just count it as an outlier result). I think BF% will tell you how close to optimal health you are in your pursuit, while other size measurements with tape will tell you how effective your exercise is at shaping you up. So, one is more for health, the other is to chart progress for vanity. ;-) But in a good way!

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on March 16, 2013
at 06:23 PM

Oh god, don't count calories. Since you have been in the past, I hope you learned how to eyeball portions - counting calories is good to learn how to do that. Other than that, I truly believe it drives people mad (really). I do think LeanGains style can be done without counting calories and macros, but you have to be generally sure that you are in the ballpark for what they suggest you should be eating. For weight loss, I honestly believe you just have to keep doing what you are doing. LeanGains is pretty strict, but doable (it's much more strict than general paleo).

D05f3050dc3d973b8b81a876202fa99a

(1533)

on March 16, 2013
at 05:52 PM

The challenge was by the book paleo for 6 weeks (just over a month). So lots of healthy fats, meat, some eggs, tons of veggies, limited fruit intake and none of the obvious bad stuff - grains, sugar, artificial sweeteners, etc. I was usually eating a lot of fat, tons of butter and MCT oil with my meals. Less than 50 grams of carbs a day and protein from meat or eggs ranging around 80-120 grams a day. Exercise was CrossFit workout 3-5 times a week and then Sundays I did my own low rep high weight day on squats or deadlifts.

D05f3050dc3d973b8b81a876202fa99a

(1533)

on March 16, 2013
at 05:49 PM

-surplus? It was pretty puzzling. But you think I could eat paleo again, eat whenever I'm hungry, and not count calories this time around? That was what I was trying to avoid. I liked losing weight before without starving myself or counting calories. I'm a little disappointed at the prospective of having to introduce this into my diet to return to a more ideal body composition. I guess you're suggesting I give it another go but track measurements?

D05f3050dc3d973b8b81a876202fa99a

(1533)

on March 16, 2013
at 05:47 PM

I agree to some extent. I experienced this personally when I hired Andy Morgan (he's the closest I could get to a real LeanGains program) and he had me measuring everything for 6 months. I would see my waist go down but the scale stayed the same. Still though.. It strikes me as odd that the weight didn't melt off as quickly as before. I was actually also restricting carbs (before my version of paleo was just to eat green veggies and tons of meat - no carb counting) this time around. I was trying to maintain ketosis and upped my fat WAY up from the first time. Maybe this put me in an energy

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2 Answers

1
Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on March 16, 2013
at 03:47 PM

This January I did a paleo challenge with my gym.

You were likely eating paleo (great!) and getting regular exercise (double great!), however without tape size measurements, or BF% estimates, we really don't know how your body changed. Many, many people "body recomp" without losing weight, even if body mass ratios of lean and fat switch dramatically. This has happened to me in the past.

If you're not okay being happy with how good you think you look naked, then take some measurements, get a few BF% estimates via different methods (caliper and calculated via waist size, for e.g.), and keep on with paleo eating and plenty of physical activity. Every month, take your measurements -- I'll guarantee you'll be seeing changes even if the scale doesn't move one bit.

I've heard people say your body adapts to a "diet" and your system isn't as shocked the second time around.

These people are idiots. I swear I want to punch something when I hear "shocked" in this sense or the term "muscle confusion". It makes me stabby.

Paleo is not a weight loss diet, per se, though it often is factored into a weight loss plan. You're body certainly has adaptive mechanisms an your body will normalize some 2-6 weeks after changing diet, but again the diet isn't designed to "shed pounds fast!^TM", it's designed to get the body optimally balanced in a nutritional and hormonal way.

Without knowing your BF%, I would hesitate to suggest that restricting total consumption may help.

D05f3050dc3d973b8b81a876202fa99a

(1533)

on March 16, 2013
at 05:47 PM

I agree to some extent. I experienced this personally when I hired Andy Morgan (he's the closest I could get to a real LeanGains program) and he had me measuring everything for 6 months. I would see my waist go down but the scale stayed the same. Still though.. It strikes me as odd that the weight didn't melt off as quickly as before. I was actually also restricting carbs (before my version of paleo was just to eat green veggies and tons of meat - no carb counting) this time around. I was trying to maintain ketosis and upped my fat WAY up from the first time. Maybe this put me in an energy

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on March 16, 2013
at 06:25 PM

... and yes: definitely get a BF% estimate. Calipers for one reading, and do a calculation with waist size and other metrics for another. Don't trust electronic scales that do BF% (or just count it as an outlier result). I think BF% will tell you how close to optimal health you are in your pursuit, while other size measurements with tape will tell you how effective your exercise is at shaping you up. So, one is more for health, the other is to chart progress for vanity. ;-) But in a good way!

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on March 16, 2013
at 06:23 PM

Oh god, don't count calories. Since you have been in the past, I hope you learned how to eyeball portions - counting calories is good to learn how to do that. Other than that, I truly believe it drives people mad (really). I do think LeanGains style can be done without counting calories and macros, but you have to be generally sure that you are in the ballpark for what they suggest you should be eating. For weight loss, I honestly believe you just have to keep doing what you are doing. LeanGains is pretty strict, but doable (it's much more strict than general paleo).

D05f3050dc3d973b8b81a876202fa99a

(1533)

on March 16, 2013
at 05:49 PM

-surplus? It was pretty puzzling. But you think I could eat paleo again, eat whenever I'm hungry, and not count calories this time around? That was what I was trying to avoid. I liked losing weight before without starving myself or counting calories. I'm a little disappointed at the prospective of having to introduce this into my diet to return to a more ideal body composition. I guess you're suggesting I give it another go but track measurements?

0
C07939fb80c1f445cbb5b0469d665a8e

on March 16, 2013
at 03:18 PM

What was the challenge? What are you eating? What are you doing for exercise?

D05f3050dc3d973b8b81a876202fa99a

(1533)

on March 16, 2013
at 05:52 PM

The challenge was by the book paleo for 6 weeks (just over a month). So lots of healthy fats, meat, some eggs, tons of veggies, limited fruit intake and none of the obvious bad stuff - grains, sugar, artificial sweeteners, etc. I was usually eating a lot of fat, tons of butter and MCT oil with my meals. Less than 50 grams of carbs a day and protein from meat or eggs ranging around 80-120 grams a day. Exercise was CrossFit workout 3-5 times a week and then Sundays I did my own low rep high weight day on squats or deadlifts.

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