Scared to Go Paleo

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 14, 2011 at 8:14 PM

Hey everyone. So I've made the switch to Paleo and I'm doing a 30 day challenge to see how it affects my body. So far, so great. I made another post about my sugar addiction and as soon as I upped the fat content in my diet, my cravings for carbs and sugar completely disappeared. It's astounding! If I take nothing else away from Paleo, at least I've learned some very positive things about my body that will help curtail unwanted binges. I'm hopefully off sugar and gluten for good.

My fear in fully committing to Paleo however has been a result of some of the comments I've read while browsing the forum- SOOO many people have mentioned how once they go Paleo, they gain weight rapidly anytime they slip and eat even the tiniest amount of carbs, sugar or dairy. I'm only human, and though I'm committed to doing this correctly for my health, I'm also worried that the occasional slip is going to set me back heaps more than if I were on an alternative diet. I travel a lot and sometimes like to try local food, and my quality of life would deteriorate so much if I knew I'd gain back everything after one little juice in Brasil.

How is that even possible? Are they exaggerating to make a point? It takes 3500 extra calories to gain a pound- first law of thermodynamics and whatnot. Are people really gaining weight eating a banana and a glass of milk??? If that's the case, I don't know if I'd ever feel "safe" going full Paleo. It doesn't seem worth it, knowing you can undo all of your effort in an instant. Please share your experience with this, it's really discouraging me!



on July 15, 2011
at 03:49 AM

Isn't it better to be healthy some of the time rather than not at all?



on July 15, 2011
at 12:25 AM

I'm on my iPhone so I can't easily type a lot. But I need to correct one thing. 1 pound of fat contains 3500 calories. That's not the same thing as "it takes 3500 calories to make a pound". I'm working on yet another post to debunk the whole "first law of thermodynamics" nonsense. In the mean time search some of my back posts where I've talked about calories.


on July 14, 2011
at 11:14 PM

well pure fruit and a helluva lot of fructose in there as well, so not the best choice if avoiding weight gain.


on July 14, 2011
at 11:11 PM

I agree on the neurosis, I know someone on another board who is constantly weighing herself and blamed low carb for creating an eating disorder. Eating disorders are a manifestation of an existing mental health issue (not necessarily neurosis though), low carb is just an easy target.


on July 14, 2011
at 11:09 PM

good for you! high fat fixed my hypoglycemia so it sure is effective when dealing with sugar issues.



on July 14, 2011
at 10:41 PM

For a second I was like... I don't remember posting this! :P

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11 Answers



on July 14, 2011
at 08:46 PM

It is a human propensity to exaggerate ;) Slip ups are fine but constantly eating unhealthy food, once the body is used to healthy food is not good and we usually suffer some consequences. As humans we make a choice every time we put food into our mouths. For example last weekend my son wanted pizza (something we have not had in a year or more) so I order pizza, he ate a medium and I ate one myself. Now I am LC or VLC and the next day I had not gained 5 or 10 lbs, in fact no change in the scale. 3 days later after eating normal again the scales had not budged. Upset stomach and bowels? Yes we both suffered! But we chose to chance the consequences based on knowing what we were eating was not the best food choice ;) Sometimes the juice is not always worth the squeeze.

People can gain water weight to to various factors but to actually metabolize 5 pounds of fat over say 24 hours is not going to happen.



on July 14, 2011
at 09:04 PM

People complaining about gaining weight quickly due to deviating from their diet is possibly more about the people that do it than the act of eating foods that are outside of your diet's realm. What I mean is that people that are upset enough to post about how they ate something they shouldn't have and rapidly gained weight are probably a little neurotic and obsessive over their diet and the impact of going off their diet reaches beyond just intake of a less-than-ideal food.

I've had the exact opposite experience with a paleo-ish diet. First, the whole 80-20 concept will do you good. It doesn't really mean anything specific because you shouldn't try to quantify aspects of your diet, it just means that if you have an intense craving for ice cream on Saturday, just have some. If it makes you feel like crap, you're less likely to crave it or eat it next Saturday. The truth is, the "science" of nutrition is highly speculative and mostly unknown, so to pretend that eating something you "know" is bad for you is "making you gain weight" is pretending that you are a nutrition expert.

Since going on a higher fat and lower carbohydrate diet I work out a fraction of the amount that I used to and have improved my body composition.

I went on a bit of a binge last week because it was my birthday, eating completely off diet for 3 or 4 days (a big ass cake, a big ass cheeseburger, lots of ice cream and a general disregard for anything I know about what's bad for me). Yes, when I weighed myself I had gained 5 lbs, but I didn't freak out about it because I knew that I wasn't going to have to build a 17500 calorie deficit to get back to my normal weight. After that I went back on my normal diet which is generally meat and vegetables. I did a little walking and light cycling (which is normal for me because I ride my bike to work and walk a lot, so nothing out of the ordinary). Two days of that and I was back at my normal weight, having lost the 5 lbs that I had "gained". Just let go of everything you "know" about nutrition and take everything that people tell you with a grain of salt. Your body works differently than mine and everyone else's, so the best person to observe for results and effects is you.


on July 14, 2011
at 11:11 PM

I agree on the neurosis, I know someone on another board who is constantly weighing herself and blamed low carb for creating an eating disorder. Eating disorders are a manifestation of an existing mental health issue (not necessarily neurosis though), low carb is just an easy target.


on July 14, 2011
at 09:39 PM

I'm not sure which people you're referring to but I will say that for someone like me who eats low carb all the time as my standard diet I can and will gain 5-10 lbs when I deviate but that's because I normally live in a state of ketosis. When I treat myself to a little carbfest I may gain half a pound of fat but the rest is water weight. It comes on then it's gone again in a few days or a week once I go back to normal eating (low carb paleo). It doesn't freak me out in the least.

Fat loss is fat loss no matter what diet. There is no way that deviating from a paleo diet is going to put fat back on your body sooner than deviating from any other eating plan. It's just not possible.

The key is that when you deviate you come back to center (paleo). That's the part so many of us seem to screw up on, lol.



on July 14, 2011
at 08:31 PM

Hi Katie and welcome! Glad to hear you are making some positive changes!

Just my opinion, but if you eat well on paleo and have an occassional slip you aren't going to gain 10lbs overnight. You will however gain weight if you slip, then slip again, and keep repeating bad choices.

Chances are once you break your sugar and gluten addictions you'll likely not want to digress. Also, an occassional slip might also prove to you that you really don't want/need it.

Think of it as just a matter of making good choices. You should be able to do well while traveling, it does take some thought and sometimes you need to plan some snacks for along the way. Some places make fresh juice right there in front of you and you know its pure fruit, nothing wrong with that!

These comments sound exaggerated, as you said you need a lot more calories than what will come from a banana and a glass of milk!


on July 14, 2011
at 11:14 PM

well pure fruit and a helluva lot of fructose in there as well, so not the best choice if avoiding weight gain.



on July 14, 2011
at 10:21 PM

You are getting a lot of good feedback here. And since you are a newbie, I might suggest that you check the bookstore or library for Gary Taubes new book, "Why We Get Fat - and What to Do About It".

I am thinking especially of the part in the beginning where he basically demolishes the "calories in, calories out", "1st Law of Thermodynamics" argument as it applies to nutrition. Think you might find it interesting and hope it might help to set your mind at ease somewhat.

And make sure you reread Shari's comment where she points out that IF you get a lot of weight gain from a couple of days off the wagon, it is probably water retention and will come right back off again as soon as you go back to eating better again. That should make you feel a bit better too.


on July 14, 2011
at 09:11 PM

Hi Katie, hang in there! It's ok to feel discouraged or worried. I agree with what Josh M said that there may be other factors afoot, such as exaggeration :)

My partner went out of town for the weekend and what did I do? I ordered a pizza, something I have not done in over a year. It was a conscious decision that I backed up with a slew of fish oil, digestive enzymes and probiotics. Was it worth it? Not really as I felt like I was coming down with a sinus infection afterward (luckily that crisis was averted) but I felt like I had to do it. For me is was a affirmation that yes I am doing the right thing by following the paleo lifestyle. And no, I didn't gain a pound. And my clothes are continuing to fall off.

I also eat lots of berries. And on occasion partake in our local gelateria.

You have started a journey with yourself and the wisdom your body can impart is astonishing. I just ask that you take one day at a time and allow yourself the quality of life you want. Partaking in foods from cultures around the world can be so satisfying for the soul. You have this one life. Leave the anxiety behind, learn from your own body and know you have support from all of us here!



on July 14, 2011
at 09:00 PM

I am constantly starting over! As a very busy Mom of two, working out at least 4 days a week and having a daughter who is very hesitant to give up milk, cereal (at least it is gluten free) and bread (gluten free also), it is a struggle everyday. Sometimes I go several days spot on, some days I do not eat enough, some days I eat too much...it is a balancing act and only works when you know what you can tolerate and what you can't.

I hope I haven't discouraged you because it is so worth it and if you start when you are young, when you have a family, it will be so much easier to train them from the beginning to eat properly to have the best health and body they can.

Good Luck on finding what works best for you because that is what it is all about :)



on July 14, 2011
at 11:23 PM

I think there is no one size fits all answer. I doubt a carb-intensive day could make somebody gain 3 pounds of fat (it'd be mostly water usually), but I think it's probably true that people become more carb sensitive in the short term if they follow a LC paleo diet. Less incentive to stray, eh? But, then again, who said paleo had to be LC? Sweet potatoes, plaintains, bananas, fruits, etc....they're all considered to be paleo by mainstream advocates. You could do paleo without ever doing LC, though it would admitedly be lower carb than SAD simply by nature. Different degrees of metabolic damage, different epigenetics, different nutrient profiles...these could all factor into why some people water-balloon after carb-binges. I can do LC paleo for weeks and then eat a huge tub of blueberries without gaining a pound--it really just depends on the person. If you are afraid of oversensitizing yourself to carbs, I'd recommend a moderate carb paleo diet. Maybe even look into the Perfect Health Diet!



on July 14, 2011
at 08:40 PM

I would think if you fell off the wagon for enough time to desensitize yourself to gluten and sugar again you could get back to where you are coming from.


on July 14, 2011
at 08:39 PM

Welcome to the group Katie!

One thing that helped me immensely right off the bat was to throw my scale in the garbage. Will there be days that you gain a coupel of pounds? Yes. Do those days matter in the grand scheme of things? NO.

Also, remember that this is not a weight loss plan, its a health plan for the rest of your life. You want to lose weight to fit into that dress or lose 10 pounds, go do Atkins. If you want to look better, feel better, live longer and perform better, then youre in the right place. We all slip up from time to time. Dont beat yourself up, just get back on the horse.

When youre 80 years old and doing pushups, that banana you have 60 years ago isnt going to matter.



on July 14, 2011
at 08:33 PM

I think your fears are valid, however the claims that a little fruit or dairy can bring on weight is not true for everyone. not by a long shot.

this way of eating is about eating real food. that includes all manner of fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, fat...and i just can't see anything bad about that.

i do believe there is a period of adjustment. cutting out grain and sugar is dramatic, however after your guts adjust, there is a lot of room for experimenting. BUT, i have found that my system is more attuned and sensitive leading to louder feedback regarding choices that may not be serving me now.

so, about your fears, i read into it a sense that you will be going through the rabbit hole of n-1. eating clean definitely will lead to greater sensitivity and your bod will respond in kind when it gets fuel that isn't so great.

the question is do you want to commit, knowing that you will be responsible for your health in a new way? only you can decide what's best for you now.

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