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Okay, so this doesn’t apply to everyone. Many people go on paleo/primal diets, and find the whole experience to be pretty transformative, health-wise. Then there are those that transition to a paleo way of eating and don’t end up losing any weight at all. I was in the latter group…
…until I figured out what I was doing “wrong.”
Now, I’m not saying you have to lose weight in order to successfully consider yourself paleo, but it can be so frustrating if that’s your goal, and it seems like everyone else is achieving it but you. We can change that!
Here are the common reasons you may not be losing weight (or even gaining it!) while taking a paleo approach to eating.
Your calorie balance is off
Just because you’re eating paleo, it doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all. Many converts say at the beginning that they ate whatever they wanted, and slowly their bodies adjusted to eating less and less on their own. This might not work for you! If your body is accustomed to eating loads of calories, you’ll likely keep that consumption up. This will definitely stall weight loss, no matter how healthy the food is.
Try tracking your intake for a week to see what you eat on a daily basis. If it’s higher than your BMR, cut it down to where you should be. Many apps can do that for you!
You’re eating too much fruit
This is a big one. Do you start your days with a fruit smoothie? Eat a lot of trail mix? Trying to work your way up to 30 bananas a day?
Okay, so maybe not that last one, but fruit does contain a lot of sugar, and sugar tends to be counterproductive to weight loss. Try cutting back to one or two servings (what’s a serving?) of fruit a day, and see where that gets you!
You’re eating too many nuts
It’s almost a joke at this point that people on paleo diets carry around bags of almonds for snacks, and why not? Almonds are a healthy and delicious addition to any diet…but they’re also pretty calorie dense. And you’re right, not all calories are created equal, but if you’re just constantly chowing down on almonds, you might be eating an extra three to six-hundred calories per day! And those do add up…
Try limiting yourself to 1/4 to 1/2 cup of almonds a day. Weigh or measure them out and see where that gets you.
Extra carbs are sneaking in your diet
For every gram of glycogen your muscles store as energy, your body also stores four grams of water. This is partially why people who go on low carb diets lose so much weight at the beginning – a good portion of that is water that is released by their body.
If you’re eating too many extra carbohydrates, you’ll be storing a lot of extra water. Mark Sisson recommends keeping carbs under 150g per day, and I tend to find that I’m the least bloated around that level as well.
You’re a chronic exerciser
If you are a distance runner, or obsessed with your elliptical (especially if you’re a woman), you might be experiencing cortisol overload. That same hormone that is activated if you’re in a fight-or-flight situation tells your body to store fat for the future. It’s really handy if you’re running from a bear (what if you can’t forage for food because the damn bear is still there!), but not so handy if you’re eating regular meals and trying to lose weight.
Chronic cardio leads your body to believe it’s constantly being chased by that bear, and thus leads to elevated cortisol levels and the potential to hold onto fat, despite working out for hours a day. Ironic, eh?
There’s something else going on beneath your skin…
Have you been to a doctor lately? If none of the above apply to you, perhaps there’s a hormone imbalance at play. Talk to your doctor about your lifestyle and symptoms to see if estrogen balance, thyroid problems or adrenal issues are at play! Hormone imbalances could stall your progress, or cause you to gain weight, even if you’re eating at a deficit.