Time for one of my favorite kinds of posts; those kind where readers get to chip in and lend a hand.
I received an email the other day from a reader.
I’ve been doing Paleo for about 10 days now and have lost 0 lbs!! What can I be doing wrong? Any suggestions? I’ve read the suggested diets in the book, and I have altered it somewhat to be more to my liking of veggies and fruits, but still no weight loss.
Can you make any suggestions??
I replied asking her for some information as to her current body comp and an idea of diet.
Thank you for helping me! I logged a typical day of what / how I have been eating:
Breakfast: piece of salmon, strawberries, honeydew melon, grapes.
Lunch: 1 avocado, boiled shrimp, orange.
Snack: 1 apple, strawberries and 2 oz walnuts.
Dinner: broiled flank steak, sauteed’ mushrooms, onions, red pepper in about 2 Tbs. olive oil, romaine salad with lemon juice and 1 tsp olive oil.
Snack: 2 oz pecans
I drink lots of water daily as well. I am 53, 5′ 2" and 190 lbs. I am a caregiver so my activity is the normal running around stuff – had to stop the gym 6 mos. ago due to time constraints with the aforementioned. I am miserable at this weight and am also a weak link if my emotions get the best of me as I am an emotional eater. It’s easier for me to eat simply as opposed to prepare a recipe; since I am a chef (used to be) I get carried away and before too long it’s not "diet" or "clean" anymore.
So here was my suggested approach.
At first glance I would suspect way too much fruit. I’d initially cut out the melon, apple, orange, grapes. Keep it to blueberries and strawberries. Augment with more meat or non-starchy veggies. That alone might do it but if not here’s a more intense approach.
1. Estimate your caloric requirements. I suspect it will come out around 2,500 per day.
2. Begin tracking everything you eat via FitDay.
Then, put yourself into a good 500 calorie per day deficit or more if you can take it, and I’ll show you what to do so you can. 1,800 calories per day ought to be a cinch if you do it right. You can easily kill the hunger by upping your lean & moderate-fat protein until you just can’t eat any more. If you get in 150g per day of protein, then:
Protein: 150g = 600 cal (4 cal per gram)
Carbohydrate: 50g = 200 cal (4 cal per gram)
Fat: 110g ~ 1,000 cal (9 cal per gram)
But if you find yourself getting too hungry then simply up the protein and make up for it by cutting carbs and/or fat. Also, feel free to go as low as you want on the carbs. Feel free to up the protein to 200g and you’ll probably have a tough time getting it all down, especially if you use leaner cuts like lean ground beef, tuna, and so on. The reason for using leaner cuts of meat is that when you ingest that much protein you can easily blow the caloric limit from fat content. For example, for regular ground beef (80/20) it would take about 21 ounces cooked weight to get your 150g of protein and the fat yield would be 110g. That would leave no room for additional fat you might get from veggies, a salad or whatever. Of course, you could choose to eat 1 and 1/2 pounds of ground beef per day and just be done with it, but that would get old fast, I’m sure. So, it’s better to use leaner sources at this point in order to give you the flexibility to cook your veggies in butter, dress your salad and so on.
Many people find that they don’t have to count anything and weight just starts coming off. But for you and some less fortunate others, you may have to take a more technical approach. The key is to induce an energy deficit while maintaining your lean mass and keeping hunger in check. And you do this with lean & moderate-fat proteins, lots of them. This isn’t long term but we need to get you moving in the right direction.
There’s a lot of debate about a claimed metabolic advantage with low-carbohydrate dieting and by extension, Paleo which limits carbohydrate intake. But I say that if you want to get the weight off and there’s a way to do it without undue hunger, then why not go with it? Moreover, there’s a definite metabolic advantage to high protein and I don’t believe there’s any dispute about that.
The high-protein diet produced a greater weight loss (-8.3+/-1.2% versus -5.5+/-2.5%, P = 0.012) than the control diet. Interestingly, an activation in the mitochondrial oxidation was found in the high-protein-fed group. This stimulation was positively correlated with the final resting energy expenditure and negatively associated with the final fat mass content. CONCLUSION: Low-carbohydrate high-protein diets could involve specific changes in mitochondrial oxidation that could be related to a higher weight loss.
Translation: high protein speeds up your metabolism.
Speaking of metabolism, have you considered fasting? Two ways to do that.
In the weight loss phase, two 24-hr fasts per week. Try to eat normal the day after, but this would be a good time to really up the protein sky high those days.
The second way, the one people have the easiest time with is to fast every day in an "eating window" of some period of time, typically a 5-8 hr eating window. I’ve done them all, using 24-30 hour fasts initially to lose weight, and now I usually practice an eating window regime and occasionally go a full 24-hrs. Personally I prefer 12pm – 8pm, then I have only water, coffee or tea from 8 to noon the next day. I consume all my food in 2 meals during the eight hour period. I find it very easy. Usually the only time I have any significant hunger is on some days from 10:30 or so until noon when I eat.
Unfortunately there’s currently a lot of misinformation around about fasting and how it will "destroy your metabolism." Nothing could be further from the truth. I quote from Brad Pilon’s excellent book, Eat Stop Eat.
In one study, researchers found that when they made people fast for 3 days, their metabolic rate did not change(7). This is 72 hours without food. So much for needing to eat every three hours!
In another study by a different group of researchers, people who fasted every other day for a period of 22 days also had no decrease in their resting metabolic rate(8).
In addition, people who were on very low calorie diets and on a resistance exercise program (i.e. lifting weights) did not see a decrease in resting metabolic rate, and these people were only eating 800 Calories a day for 12 weeks!
In another interesting study, women who ate half the amount of food that they normally eat for 3 days saw no change in their metabolism either(9).
In still more studies, there was no change in the metabolic rate of people who skipped breakfast, or people who ate 2 meals a day compared to 7 meals per day(10, 11).
7 Webber J, Macdonald IA, The cardiovascular, metabolic and hormonal changes accompanying acute starvation in men and women. British journal of nutrition 1994; 71:437-447.
8 Heilbronn LK, et al. Alternate-day fasting in nonobese subjects: effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2005; 81:69-73
9 Keim NL, Horn WF. Restrained eating behavior and the metabolic response to dietary energy restriction in women. Obesity research 2004; 12:141-149.
10 Verboeket-Van De Venne WPHG, et al. Effect of the pattern of food intake on human energy metabolism. British Journal of Nutrition 1993; 70:103-115
11 Bellisle F, et al. Meal Frequency and energy balance. British Journal of Nutrition 1997;, 77: (Suppl. 1) s57-s70
In fact, your metabolism will eventually slow, and hopefully quite a lot. But why? Will it be the caloric deficit or the fasting? No, it will be caused by weight loss. Your body mass is the chief factor that determines your metabolic rate. Indeed, you do want to slow your metabolism. At 120 pounds, 70 less from where you are right now, you better believe you’ll have a lower metabolic rate.
OK, this is just one set of suggestions. Other ideas from readers?