2

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Is the Paleo Lifestyle Sustainable For Most People?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 28, 2012 at 3:01 AM

I've been on a Paleo diet for almost 4 months now. By far, the Paleo diet has been the easiest to stick to. I've lost 17 lbs., have all sorts of energy, and just had the best lipid panel of my life. As many of you know, 90% of diets fail and according to what I have researched the Paleo diet is no exception when it comes to falling off the wagon. I really don't need to lose much more weight now. My goal is to build some more muscle and work on taking a few stubborn pounds off the old midsection. My fear is; will I be able to stick with this long term and if so what words of wisdom do the long term Paleo's have for me? I just want to make sure I can sustain this new way of life. I feel I'm in a real good place now and I want to keep it that way...

Dc6407193ba441d1438f6f0c06af872b

(4400)

on September 29, 2012
at 09:10 PM

Paleodude, I don't know exactly how much carb I eat. On non-workout days, I tend to eat very few. Maybe some berries, carrots or tomato sauce or something, and of course usually non-starchy veggies. On workout days I am more likely to have say half a sweet potato post-workout in addition to the above. I'm probably 50g/day average? But if I have 0g, or 100g, I don't sweat it either way. I do notice that eating more carbs stokes my appetite a bit, which is why I keep them that low.

E2d885a66875eb01e931d369fac7353c

(427)

on September 29, 2012
at 04:35 AM

that sounds like the right plan. good luck.

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 11:30 PM

Thnaks Amy...You really reinforced the fact that I should have no problem sticking to the Paleo Lifestyle. I admit, I will veer off course slightly and sneak a little treat but I limit the quantity of the "bad" food and am able to get right back on track. I highly doubt most people don't cheat. Cheating as long as you can control it helps, I believe the compliance. If the diet is too restrictive it's hard to stick to....CHEERS!!!

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on September 28, 2012
at 09:04 PM

90% of diets fail because they are diets ie temporary and radical changes without lifestyle integration.

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 06:52 PM

Great idea Janknitz!! Your body knows best--love it!!

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 06:49 PM

Thanks miked... I appreciate you sharing all the details

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on September 28, 2012
at 05:47 PM

That being said, I did one time do a analysis of a day's worth of food, here's a typical day for me: https://sites.google.com/site/themikelinks/figures/sample-food I may be a bit higher carb now because my glycolytic output has increased lately, but in general this is what my day looks like.

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on September 28, 2012
at 05:46 PM

I don't believe in "maintenance mode". You adjust food for your goals. For losing weight, that may mean low carb, for higher glycolytic output that may mean higher carb. Paleo is about not eating crap (of which sugar counts), and eating real whole foods. Look at your goals and adjust your food (and training) to meet those goals. Don't think in terms of phases or modes, it's a continuum of striving for your goals.

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:58 PM

Thanks Diane I appreciate the carb tips. And, yes, I have increased carbs and even cycle them on workout days post workout to feed muscle. I stay in the 75 to 125 gram range which seems to suit me fine.

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:48 PM

BJ, In the first two months I was eating 50 grams. That's when I lost the majority of the weight. I only exercised lightly in the first two months as well. After the first two months, I increased carbs a little with sweet potatoes and increase to 100 to 125 a day. I stepped up my workouts to HIT. On my HIT days I increase my carbs a little to feed muscles post workout. Gaining muscle so it seems to be working while weight is steady.

F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:38 PM

Paleodude, this diet doesn't require carbohydrate restriction.

E2d885a66875eb01e931d369fac7353c

(427)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:29 PM

Paleodude, are you VLC? I found that staying VLC or even LC wasn't sustainable for me, and since I have allowed myself to eat as much fruit as I please, paleo has become much easier and more natural. I also do sweet potatoes, so I'm prob btw 75-200g carbs a day. After giving up sweets, my tastes seem to have recalibrated themselves and a peach or orange can satisfy my sweet tooth. I'm about 6 months in, and it's almost effortless. I'm not 8% BF either (prob around 12 or so), but I'm healthy and satisfied.

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:54 PM

Thanks for the encouragement Michael. May I ask how many grams of carbs a day you eat?

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:52 PM

Thanks Miked! I'm curious, how many grams of carbs do you consume a day? I assume you are in maintenance mode.

8634d4988ced45a68e2a79e69cc01835

(1617)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:24 PM

90% of diets fail due to lack of compliance.

4b5be253ac1981c690689cab7e4bf06d

(3043)

on September 28, 2012
at 01:45 PM

90% of weight loss diets fail, because people gain weight back. Paleo is more about health, and people stick to health based plans regardless of weight loss.

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 01:21 PM

Well said CD, well said. Thanks for the encouraging words!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 28, 2012
at 06:23 AM

Not measured in pounds :)

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on September 28, 2012
at 05:09 AM

wait. Pistachios aren't paleo???

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:38 AM

The weight loss about 26-28months. I wasn't Paleo the whole time but most of the weight loss was while on Paleo.

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:40 AM

WOW LLM, Congrats on your weight loss. How long have you been Paleo?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:37 AM

"Smoking Candy Cigarettes" from Kurt Harris. Worth checking out along these lines.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:36 AM

I went from 450+ to 270 with significant increases in strength and muscle. That's from a 62 pant to a 42 pant. Still losing and the only thing I am religious about is no gluten, and almost no grains. They make me sick so I don't cheat there.

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:20 AM

It's good to know that it's okay to cheat now and then as long as you can get back right on track!! You guys are an inspiration! thanks!

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:17 AM

Thanks Jean, I appreciate the support and encouragement

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:15 AM

Totally agree. My goal isn't to be a flawless Paleo diet ambassador, it's to live a healthy life, and an enjoyable life. I too enjoy a sneaky piece of garlic bread once in a while, and sometimes eat pizza when my mates order it and white chocolate too. It's not gonna kill me cos my body is strong and in good working order. Before going paleo, I always ate a 'healthy' diet, according to my best knowledge, and I sometimes ate 'bad' foods like eggs and bacon, and pork crackling.

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:15 AM

So True Matt, great point! Thanks

Eedf46c82d0356d1d46dda5f9782ef36

(4464)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:13 AM

This. 3 years here. Don't sweat the small stuff.

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:13 AM

Thnaks! that's the type of encouragement I am looking for. Go figure, you feasted and lost weight...BRAVO!!

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11 Answers

best answer

5
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:09 AM

Yes, it is easy.

If you want some corn tortillas, eat 'em. If gluten doesn't wreck you have a piece of cake now and again.

The point is not perfection. I like the 90/10, 80/20 rule. I know that even though I'm trying to lose weight when Christmas comes around I'm gonna drink lots of Apple Cider (hard), eat lots of chocolate and love every second. January 1st I'll be back on it with no regrets.

It's just an unplanned lil cheat.

I'll say this...I ate a few pounds of cheese over Christmas last year, probably 20-30 truffles, a few cookies (gluten free) a bag of Pistachios, lots of rice and nut crackers and several large feast type meals with friends. At the end of the two week period I'd lost 1lb. So...YMMV

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:13 AM

Thnaks! that's the type of encouragement I am looking for. Go figure, you feasted and lost weight...BRAVO!!

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:20 AM

It's good to know that it's okay to cheat now and then as long as you can get back right on track!! You guys are an inspiration! thanks!

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on September 28, 2012
at 05:09 AM

wait. Pistachios aren't paleo???

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:40 AM

WOW LLM, Congrats on your weight loss. How long have you been Paleo?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:36 AM

I went from 450+ to 270 with significant increases in strength and muscle. That's from a 62 pant to a 42 pant. Still losing and the only thing I am religious about is no gluten, and almost no grains. They make me sick so I don't cheat there.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:38 AM

The weight loss about 26-28months. I wasn't Paleo the whole time but most of the weight loss was while on Paleo.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 28, 2012
at 06:23 AM

Not measured in pounds :)

Eedf46c82d0356d1d46dda5f9782ef36

(4464)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:13 AM

This. 3 years here. Don't sweat the small stuff.

81348acb7b886e2b32ca915d250268f3

(1022)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:15 AM

Totally agree. My goal isn't to be a flawless Paleo diet ambassador, it's to live a healthy life, and an enjoyable life. I too enjoy a sneaky piece of garlic bread once in a while, and sometimes eat pizza when my mates order it and white chocolate too. It's not gonna kill me cos my body is strong and in good working order. Before going paleo, I always ate a 'healthy' diet, according to my best knowledge, and I sometimes ate 'bad' foods like eggs and bacon, and pork crackling.

best answer

4
06ca9c524c28bc3fba95d4d90f8f43c6

on September 28, 2012
at 03:13 AM

It worked for thousands of years . . .

Matt
PhysiqueRescue.com

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:15 AM

So True Matt, great point! Thanks

best answer

0
7e36094a0f7a2fbad24290225405220b

(2064)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:15 AM

If you're in a good place now, keep doing what you're doing! I avoid all grains and tend not to look for substitutes, while my other half makes bread now and again, but he rarely gets to eat it as I keep him full on meat, veg and fruit! This is a totally sustainable way of life but don't obsess about it or think you can 'fail'.

Just do it!

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:17 AM

Thanks Jean, I appreciate the support and encouragement

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:37 AM

"Smoking Candy Cigarettes" from Kurt Harris. Worth checking out along these lines.

best answer

4
510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:06 PM

Yes, the paleo diet is sustainable. First, as @PhysiqueRescue said, we've been doing it for a while, it's only relatively very recently that we haven't. But beyond the that, let's think about the history of "diets". Diets in recent history (as long as I can remember) have always been about restricting "fatty" foods. The reason they always fail is that your body NEEDS fat to survive, so no matter how hard you try to restrict yourself, at some point your brain wins and you "give in" to "temptation" and quit the diet.

The paleo diet, on the other hand, cuts out the things that are physically addictive, but not necessary for life (sugars, grains, etc). So the transition is hard, and that's why you're probably thinking about sustainability. It's like a drug addict in rehab, you think you can't live without your fix. However, once you break those addictions, you will be properly nourishing your body, so you'll feel better and it'll be sustainable because all of the "allowed" foods on the "diet" provide you with everything you need.

Edited to add: I've been doing this 4 years with no "cheats" (I hate the word cheat, but I'll avoid the rant right now), and have no intention of ever quitting. I've never felt or performed better than I have eating paleo.

F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:38 PM

Paleodude, this diet doesn't require carbohydrate restriction.

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on September 28, 2012
at 05:46 PM

I don't believe in "maintenance mode". You adjust food for your goals. For losing weight, that may mean low carb, for higher glycolytic output that may mean higher carb. Paleo is about not eating crap (of which sugar counts), and eating real whole foods. Look at your goals and adjust your food (and training) to meet those goals. Don't think in terms of phases or modes, it's a continuum of striving for your goals.

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 06:49 PM

Thanks miked... I appreciate you sharing all the details

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on September 28, 2012
at 05:47 PM

That being said, I did one time do a analysis of a day's worth of food, here's a typical day for me: https://sites.google.com/site/themikelinks/figures/sample-food I may be a bit higher carb now because my glycolytic output has increased lately, but in general this is what my day looks like.

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:52 PM

Thanks Miked! I'm curious, how many grams of carbs do you consume a day? I assume you are in maintenance mode.

2
Dc6407193ba441d1438f6f0c06af872b

on September 28, 2012
at 03:09 PM

I heard Jimmy Moore interview Mark Sisson about three years ago, and I've stuck with it. I'm not 8% body fat like some around here, but now I'm at a good healthy weight, and it's almost effortless.

Almost effortless. What I mean is that my addictions are broken. I see candy and I couldn't be less interested. I see bread and am not tempted in the least. I see a glass of tequila and soda and I drink it :-), but I'm moderate about it. I still do find that I begin to go off the rails at times. It can be short term, like when I go to a party where I'm starving and there's a gigantic supply of almonds and thirty minutes later I've eaten a pound and a half of them without even realizing it. Or it can be longer term, where I try a Christmas cookie one day, two the next, three the next, etc. But at this point I've learned to catch myself quickly and regroup and it's completely not a big deal. Almost effortless.

It did take a while to get to this point. Probably the first year I was paleo, there were any number of times where I went really off the rails and had to reign myself in after a week or two. That part was not "almost effortless". In fact, it took a lot of discipline. The next year was easier. This year really easy.

So my point is that though you'll probably encounter bumps, they'll be fewer and more manageable over time. This is in stark contrast to traditional dieting, where since you don't deal with the underlying hormonal issues, your body will just get hungrier and hungrier, so the bumps in the road get harder and harder to handle and as you point out 90% of the time it at some point becomes too much to bear.

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:54 PM

Thanks for the encouragement Michael. May I ask how many grams of carbs a day you eat?

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:48 PM

BJ, In the first two months I was eating 50 grams. That's when I lost the majority of the weight. I only exercised lightly in the first two months as well. After the first two months, I increased carbs a little with sweet potatoes and increase to 100 to 125 a day. I stepped up my workouts to HIT. On my HIT days I increase my carbs a little to feed muscles post workout. Gaining muscle so it seems to be working while weight is steady.

E2d885a66875eb01e931d369fac7353c

(427)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:29 PM

Paleodude, are you VLC? I found that staying VLC or even LC wasn't sustainable for me, and since I have allowed myself to eat as much fruit as I please, paleo has become much easier and more natural. I also do sweet potatoes, so I'm prob btw 75-200g carbs a day. After giving up sweets, my tastes seem to have recalibrated themselves and a peach or orange can satisfy my sweet tooth. I'm about 6 months in, and it's almost effortless. I'm not 8% BF either (prob around 12 or so), but I'm healthy and satisfied.

E2d885a66875eb01e931d369fac7353c

(427)

on September 29, 2012
at 04:35 AM

that sounds like the right plan. good luck.

Dc6407193ba441d1438f6f0c06af872b

(4400)

on September 29, 2012
at 09:10 PM

Paleodude, I don't know exactly how much carb I eat. On non-workout days, I tend to eat very few. Maybe some berries, carrots or tomato sauce or something, and of course usually non-starchy veggies. On workout days I am more likely to have say half a sweet potato post-workout in addition to the above. I'm probably 50g/day average? But if I have 0g, or 100g, I don't sweat it either way. I do notice that eating more carbs stokes my appetite a bit, which is why I keep them that low.

2
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on September 28, 2012
at 12:49 PM

I've only been at this for about 10 months. But for me, I have first hand knowledge about the physical and mental benefits of eating and living this way. I've done lots of diets, and the grey area always would get me confused, and lead me to cheating. With paleo-style it is easy, eat food that has not been processed. I've experienced the benefits of loosing weight, increased energy, better sleep...

I don't even really think about cheating, sure I drink beer and wine and not everything is grass-fed organic, but the real cheating I just don't think it's worth it. I'm much happier with how my body works now -- why risk it. Plus a medium-rare rib eye with asparagus hot off the grill is so much better than a cheap pizza.

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 01:21 PM

Well said CD, well said. Thanks for the encouraging words!

1
2322566a77baa2d3e03ca73988fb9bc1

(114)

on September 29, 2012
at 12:47 PM

I have lost 55lbs since May. Straight Paleo. I will never go back. I don't miss the way my stomach cramped every time I ate. I don't miss my dry skin and hair. I don't miss my lethargy and foggy head. I feel like I found the magic pill:).

1
Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 28, 2012
at 08:49 PM

Paleodude, you've answered your own question:

"By far, the Paleo diet has been the easiest to stick to. I've lost 17 lbs., have all sorts of energy, and just had the best lipid panel of my life."

That is what makes this sustainable. Why would you want to go back to what you were eating and/or how you were living that didn't have you feeling this positive?

(And if it's just a matter of having a treat now and then because you just really love x, y, or z foods and want to indulge once in a while, you'll find differing opinions on that. Personally, I don't think there's anything wrong with that, barring specific allergies or medical conditions, of course.)

The proof is in the pudding -- you feel great, you're dropping weight, and your health is improving, as indicated by non-subjective markers. Results are the best motivation and encouragement!

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 11:30 PM

Thnaks Amy...You really reinforced the fact that I should have no problem sticking to the Paleo Lifestyle. I admit, I will veer off course slightly and sneak a little treat but I limit the quantity of the "bad" food and am able to get right back on track. I highly doubt most people don't cheat. Cheating as long as you can control it helps, I believe the compliance. If the diet is too restrictive it's hard to stick to....CHEERS!!!

1
3491e51730101b18724dc57c86601173

(8395)

on September 28, 2012
at 06:31 PM

In the past, when I've dieted, I often thought about how I would eat this or that "when I lose the weight". I don't think that way any more. The way I'm eating today is the way I intend to eat always. I love what I eat and I feel great. I don't have any secret plans to start having regular servings of cake and cookies after I "lose the weight". I have a vague weight loss goal, but once I get there I just plan to see what happens, if it's possible to go lower I might. But otherwise I'll just stick to what I'm doing, perhaps tweaking when I decide I don't want anymore weightloss (but I have a feeling that my body will decide that on its own).

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 06:52 PM

Great idea Janknitz!! Your body knows best--love it!!

1
F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:46 PM

Paleodude, you are mixing up carbohydrate restriction and eating a paleo diet. The two may overlap but they don't have to.

I like to eat lower on the carb scale than many people but that is because I have found a level of them that makes me feel good. You do not have to restrict carbohydrates on this diet. It's helpful for you to test yourself to see if you have any carbohydrate intolerance, and if you do, you should determine the level of carbohydrates you should not exceed. If you do not have carbohydrate intolerance, than you don't have to restrict them and you can just eat all the paleo foods you like.

I have been eating this way for over a year. I have lost 30lbs and feel better than I ever have in my entire life, including childhood. What makes this diet sustainable for me is looking at my partner and seeing how sick he is eating like I used to and knowing that if I stay the course, I won't end up like him.

83456bd85c99b73a03dc9ccf7eb44255

(487)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:58 PM

Thanks Diane I appreciate the carb tips. And, yes, I have increased carbs and even cycle them on workout days post workout to feed muscle. I stay in the 75 to 125 gram range which seems to suit me fine.

1
8634d4988ced45a68e2a79e69cc01835

(1617)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:27 PM

I've been Paleo/Primal for a year and a half now, and I still love it! Coming off the damage of a grain-heavy 16 year stint of vegetarianism, I have a lot of gut healing to do. The diet/lifestyle is working for me. I feel better and haven't looked back. I'd says it's sustainable as long as you stay motivated and honest with yourself, and stick to it!

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