Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
6 Mar

9 More Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

scale2A few years back, I wrote an article explaining 17 possible reasons why you’re not losing weight. It was a troubleshooting guide of sorts, aimed at helping people identify some of things they may be doing (or not doing) that’s causing their stalled fat loss. The etiology of obesity and weight gain is multifactorial, and can be complex. Additionally, we’re all unique human beings. So it can be difficult to pin down one simple cause – or even seventeen simple causes. While unwanted fat loss comes effortlessly to most people that eat according to the Primal eating strategy – as the success stories and hundreds of thousands of positive user experiences indicate – sometimes we inadvertently sabotage our best efforts, stray from best practices, or don’t fully grok what we need to do to become efficient fat-burners. So let’s take a look at nine more possible reasons, shall we?

1. You’re engaging in too much mindless eating.

If you asked most people what made them overweight in the first place, it was that sneaky, tricky combination of eating and, well, doing everything else but focus on the food. It’s eating while watching TV. It’s eating while driving (I’ve seen a man eat a bowl of cereal on the 405). It’s eating while cooking (not tasting to stay abreast of the dish; full-on eating). It’s popcorn at the movies. It’s beer and wings and more beer during the game. In other words, it’s mindless eating. Eating that feels like breathing, like something you just do. You take a few chews, rarely enough to qualify as real mastication, and down the hatch it goes, with a follow-up handful close on its heels. Since increased frequency of eating (i.e. mindless eating or snacking) is strongly associated with the United States’ steadily increasing average energy intake, it’s plausible that mindless eating leads to eating more food.

Be more mindful when you eat; practice mindful eating. Eat food with others, sit down to dinner, take the time to appreciate the food you’re eating. Just because you’re scarfing down grass-fed beef and pastured eggs doesn’t mean you can get away with mindless consumption.

2. You’re eating too many “pleasure foods.”

Paul Jaminet really has a knack for coining phrases, doesn’t he (“safe starch,” anyone?)? A lesser known one is “pleasure foods.” These are things like nuts, dark chocolate, and raw honey – all foods that have gotten the stamp of Primal approval in the past, all foods that are calorically-dense and easy to overeat. This is hard to grasp, because these foods also confer some health benefits. Nuts are rich sources of micronutrients like magnesium, vitamin E, and selenium, and multiple studies suggest that nuts help weight loss. Dark chocolate got an entire post devoted to its impressive polyphenol content (and its fatty acid profile isn’t too bad, either), while honey is quite possibly the best sweetener around. At the very least, it and its bevy of bee-related compounds outperform other sweeteners like maple syrup and plain sugar and result in fewer metabolic issues. All that said, these foods are delicious, packed with calories, and can be overeaten, particularly because they have the reputation as “health foods.”

If you’re not losing weight, moderate your intake of these foods.

3. You’re eating too little.

It’s well-established that prolonged dieting – taking in fewer calories than your body expends – will eventually lead to a downregulation in the basal metabolic rate. This is simple stuff, really. Reducing your food intake will lower your body weight, usually, but it’s not a simple matter of dropping them lower and lower as you lose weight. The body isn’t a passive thing that you’re merely adding to and subtracting from. Instead, it’s a living, breathing, reacting, adapting entity that responds to the lowered caloric input by lowering its energy expenditure. Since you can’t lose weight forever (you’re not just going to waste away into nothingness), perpetually lowering your caloric intake will eventually work against your desire to lose weight.

Instead of sitting at a chronic caloric deficit, consider cycling your caloric intake. Eat less one day, more the next. You might also look into periodic refeeds, which may be able to kickstart a stalled weight loss.

4. You’re under “hidden stress.”

In the previous article, I explained how stress can make us gain weight, or stop losing it. Cortisol – which we release as a part of the stress response – inhibits weight loss, catabolizes muscle, worsens insulin resistance, and promotes the storage of fat. Although back then I was referring to the obvious sources of stress in our lives, like bills, traffic, jobs we hate, bosses we hate, relationship strife, there are other “hidden” types of stressors that result in the very same physiological responses as obvious stressors cause. Foremost among the hidden stressors is the lack of nature exposure. In the literature, researchers often speak of “forest bathing,” or spending a day or two or three in a forest setting to reduce cortisol, enhance immune function, and improve glucose tolerance. I prefer to look at this a different way. Instead of nature exposure being a positive anti-stress agent, urban living is an active stressor. Spending a day in the woods is a return to normalcy rather than an “intervention.”

If you’re not doing this already, take a day or two out of the week to get outside, preferably amongst unkempt, wild nature. It needn’t be a forest or a craggy cliff. The beach, the desert, or even a park will do just fine. In a pinch, you can even listen to nature sounds and look at nature scenes on your computer.

5. You’re too focused on diet to the exclusion of all else.

When you realize the wool that’s been pulled over the collective eyes of society regarding nutrition, it’s easy to become obsessed with your newfound knowledge. It’s easy to stay up late, night in, night out, perusing nutrition blogs, reading comment sections, devouring PubMed articles. You’ll hear about some arcane but totally essential nutrient and think that it’s the Answer. Am I getting enough magnesium? What about boron – I need some boron, right? How about vitamin A? Should I go for the preformed retinol or rely on the conversion from beta-carotene? Should I drive fifty miles out of town to get goose liver, or should I just take a vitamin K2 supplement and call it a day? Choline – that’s the stuff! Nothing but liver and egg yolks from here on out!

Diet is the obvious primary arbiter of body composition, but there’s more to life than worrying about what you put in your mouth. It’s counterintuitive, and there aren’t any randomized controlled trials showing it, but you might have more success just enjoying life, getting some exercise, and hanging out with good people instead of micromanaging your nutrient intake. Relax.

6. You’re getting too much exercise.

Although regular exercise is a necessary component of a healthy lifestyle, and smart training that includes lifting heavy things, walking lots, and sprinting occasionally can speed weight loss and improve body composition, there is such a thing as too much exercise. After all, effective exercise is effective because it’s stressful, because it challenges our physiology and propels us to rise to the occasion and improve ourselves by getting stronger, faster, and with more lean mass and less body fat. Taken to the extreme, exercise becomes a chronic stressor and a steady source of cortisol release (which as we discussed above makes us insulin resistant and promotes the accumulation of belly fat). Chronic stress in any form can also induce a hypothyroid-like state, where metabolic rate is lowered and weight loss slows or stops altogether, and exercise-induced chronic stress is no different.

Try to stick to the 4,000 calories a week (soft) limit, especially if you find your weight loss stalling.

7. Your macronutrients and training are mismatched.

For most people who stay reasonably active, doing lots of low-level movement as well as some lifting, a low-carb Primal way of eating is generally the most effective way to lose body fat. It tastes good, it’s easy to stick to, and, most importantly, it works. But some people like to push the envelope. They like waking up early and going for a run, then coming home at night and hitting the weights. They’re avid CrossFitters. They like seeing how far their bodies can go. They’re concerned with performance, above all else, and they want to maximize every last drop of physicality their bodies can muster. In that case, more dietary carbs are probably called for – especially if they’re trying to lose weight at the same time. Certain activities just require glycogen. I do plenty of activities that use up glycogen, but I’m not doing them day in, day out, so I don’t need to eat a lot of carbs.

If you are, if you’re doing WODs every day and playing in a basketball league on the weekends and doing jiujitsu twice a week, you’ll need to replenish those glycogen stores more often or else risk that chronically-stressed state that stops weight loss.

8. Your eating schedule is too disordered.

I tend to get hungry at different times throughout the day, and I have no issues eating meals at different intervals depending on when hunger strikes. That seems to be pretty typical. Although many Primal eaters relish the freedom from having to keep snacks on hand in order to stave off hunger and enjoy the fact that they can skip a meal or two and just rely on their hunger signals, there is a considerable amount of evidence that maintaining a regular eating schedule can improve the metabolic response to meals in some people. Women in particular seem to benefit most from a “regular meal pattern.” In one study of lean women, an “irregular” meal pattern resulted in lower postprandial energy expenditure than a regular meal pattern. In another study, lean women who ate meals on a regular schedule had better insulin sensitivity and improved blood lipids. And in one other study of healthy obese women, regular mealtimes increased postprandial thermogenesis, insulin sensitivity, and blood lipids.

Sometimes, you might need a little order to your eating, whether you’re IFing or not. And that’s totally fine.

9. You’re actually at a healthy weight and your body is “keeping” you from dropping any more.

I know, I know: your body is a huge jerk and he says mean things to you. But sometimes the body knows best. Sometimes, our current body composition is where we’re supposed to be, even if we only have a four or a two-pack (or none at all). Recall the natural bodybuilder who, upon dropping from 14.8% body fat to 4.5%, also dropped his metabolic rate, his body temperature, his heart rate, his testosterone levels, and his moodiness. Recall that women deposit fat differently than men and actually need some body fat for optimum fertility and health. Instead of obsessing over a few more percentage points on the body fat scale, think about how good you’re feeling, how your health issues have cleared up, and how you enjoy movement more. And if you want to alter your body composition, focus on addition – lifting heavy things, sprinting – rather than subtraction. You might be right where you’re supposed to be.

One final point: Note that I’m not saying eating too few calories or exercising too much or focusing too much on diet to the exclusion of all else will make you gain weight. I’m saying that it can lead to or exacerbate a stall in your weight loss. It’s a small distinction, but an important one.

That’s it for today, folks. Anything look familiar? Anything jump out at you? What have I forgotten? Be sure to skim the last article after reading this one to make sure it’s not something I’ve already covered.

Thanks for reading!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Or….maybe it’s all the toxins in the environment these days. We need lots of detox, or the fat does us a favor and stores it away from our vital organs. Forgive me if others have made this comment~~don’t have time to read them all today! ;-)

    Elizabeth Good wrote on March 6th, 2013
    • “all the toxins in the environment these days”

      Only young people say this. The rest of us remember the unbreathable air of the ’70s (even inside, thanks to smokers) and there may be a few around who recall when street lights had to be on all day in major cities because the pollution didn’t let sunlight in.

      The fact is that we live in a much cleaner environment than our city-dwelling grandparents and great-grandparents.

      And if you’re really convinced that our bodies are being taken over by “toxins”, feel free to name those toxins and cite your documentation.

      michael wrote on March 6th, 2013
      • +1

        Amy wrote on March 6th, 2013
        • +1. Growing up in So. Cal. in the 60’s I could not even see the mountain right next to our house. The smog was just horendous back then.

          Nocona wrote on March 6th, 2013
      • Today, the air is cleaner but the food is much dirtier. GMO corn and GMO soy and dwarf hybrid wheat and pesticides galore.

        But that’s CW food. Don’t know how much of the crap makes it into Primal.

        oxide wrote on March 7th, 2013
      • Read the 100 Year Lie by Randall Fitzgerald and Fluoride Deception By Chris Bryson.

        There are worse things out there than Lead and DDT nowdays

        rachel wrote on March 17th, 2013
  2. I’ve been doing interval training for a pretty long time – 6 days a week at the gym (Body for Life type of stuff).

    With the high-stress industry I was in, about 2 years ago I gained 30 lbs that I could never quite shake off. I went from never being able to gain weight and shot up from 165-195 – to the point where the middle of my thighs started touching and it REALLY pissed me off!

    Then I recently switched from lifting weights to the exercises you recommended and haven’t felt any pain since I started this new regimen. Next, I went from sprinting 3 days a week (every other day) to jumping rope – eight intervals for 60 seconds each (1/min rest in between each set).

    It also forced me to eat less (cause I’m not working out as hard) and still feel just as great!

    As of right now, I shed 15 of those 30 lbs I put on – the best I felt in almost 2 YEARS! Even better, I don’t have any pain in my body (joint or otherwise) and spend less time in the gym. Thanks Mark!

    Jared wrote on March 6th, 2013
  3. Another great one Mark! Definitely struck a chord with 1, 2 and 6. I’ve definitely decreased my mindless eating but I still catch myself completely absorbed in something else while I’m eating. As for #2, my love of chocolate and nut butters might be the death of me. Combine those two and forget it! In fact, sometimes #1 and #2 go hand in hand (ie: mindlessly dipping my spoon into the sunflower butter jar over and over and sadly realizing it half way through). As for #6, I started CrossFit about six months ago. At first I went practically everyday and could feel myself running ragged and my weight loss was stalling. Now, I do 2 or 3 days and 1 day off where I do some steady state cardio and yoga.

    Ashlys Gone Primal wrote on March 6th, 2013
  4. Mark, I switched to the Primal Blueprint way of eating last year and lost 10 lbs but then gained 10, lost 10, gained 10. I got nowhere (although, my energy is certainly better!) So, I decided to do something sacrilege and joined Weight Watchers again two weeks ago this past Monday. Since then, I’ve lost 2 lbs. Before you think me a defector from Grok’s camp, not true. I’m following Weight Watchers “Primal Style” or, as I like to a say – I’m following the Primal Blueprint while on Weight Watchers. Fortunately for me, Weight Watchers has stepped into the present and no longer allows for processed carbs to be low-point options. In fact, the only way I can stand this go around on such a gimmicky diet is that they encourage fruits/veggies, protein and healthy fats before everything else. They now ding you hard on the points if you eat wheat products, sugar and processed foods. Gone is the “low fat-low points” philosophy they used to espouse. For the past two weeks, I’ve had less than 5% processed food (I admit to eating some canned soup and frozen yogurt). I truly think it’s the mindless eating that messes most of us up. We think we’re eating less than we do. If you journal everything (EVERY.THING) that goes into your mouth, you’d be surprised how easy it is to simply take in too many calories. I can’t wait to be thin again and tell folks that I followed the Primal Blueprint while on Weight Watchers. Their expressions will be priceless. :)

    Mary wrote on March 6th, 2013
    • The best thing Weight Watchers did for me was teach me to pay attention to why I am eating, and portion control. I would eat because I was bored, or sad, or for a reward, or celebration, or grieving, etc. Food was the go-to for emotions. I had to break that. It’s still hard when emotionally, I want something unhealthy, but I know better.

      Beccolina wrote on March 6th, 2013
  5. I always worry about #4. I’ve taken to setting myself a bedtime this month as well as taking time at least a few times a week to meditate for 10-15 minutes. I think this is helping with my overall stress levels and wellbeing.

    Brent wrote on March 6th, 2013
  6. #9 – I have lost 43 lbs. in about a year and a half and my body seems to like it here, although I still weigh about 27 lbs more than I did when I married 25 years ago. =/ This discussion, however, has made me hungry!

    Kimberley wrote on March 6th, 2013
  7. Whatever you do, don’t stop trying. I followed every bit of advice that floated past, but when I finally pried my stubborn fingers off dairy products, I started losing again after a seven-year stall. Also make sure I have a protein breakfast.

    gibson wrote on March 6th, 2013
    • I tend to think the reason why veganism works for people at the beginning is precisely because they are forced to pry those stubborn fingers off the dairy. Dairy is one of those foods that I think more people react to at a low level than medical community will admit.

      Amy wrote on March 6th, 2013
  8. #2 is the reason why I plateaued and couldn’t lose weight for the longest time.I made some changes to my diet and have dropped 19lbs in the last 8 weeks and still going. Thank you for this great article!

    Hassan wrote on March 6th, 2013
  9. 4 and 5 for me… actually think I have finally hit 9… not sure how to feel about that.

    Joe wrote on March 6th, 2013
  10. I think I am a walking example of #4. My husband had a bone marrow transplant in January and we have been in isolation ever since. Spending time in nature is challenging since he can’t even leave the room without an industrial filter mask! I appreciate the idea of listening to nature sounds. That’s something we will definitely try to relieve some of our stress!

    Missy wrote on March 6th, 2013
  11. I went primal about 6 months ago and lost 13kg in about 11weeks… From there it’s been a battle and I’ve been yoyoing. I have Lupus, SLE, I’m on medication, deal with fatigue daily, pain daily, insomnia at times….. It sux. It is so true that stress, eating too little, and other factors mentioned (my memory is crappy too thanks to my Lupus, lol) I try my best…. If only I could kickstart the weight loss again, I’d love to drop another 7 to 10kg! Not exactly where I’d like to be but close enough :-)

    Carolyn wrote on March 6th, 2013
  12. What a great post. I’m going to have to think more on this and will probably have to write something up as well to help me process it all.

    I think #3, 5, 6, and 7 apply to me.

    Not sure I’m quite ready for refeeding yet!.. but I guess in life sometimes it’s necessary to take a step back to go two forward!

    bjjcaveman wrote on March 6th, 2013
  13. As usual, I appreciate the MDA postings very much. However, I’m a little surprised at #3. Gedgaudas points to research that shows slightly lower intake as extremely beneficial, particularly in ‘jumpstarting’ the anti-aging capabilities of our own bodies. The information appears in Chapter 22. Our Primordial Past.

    What say you, Mark?

    Mary Anne wrote on March 6th, 2013
  14. Mark, I love your website and I love all the articles you have written. I am subscribed to your daily apple and read almost every article. I love learning about PB… but with that being said I STILL HAVE NOT TRIED IT! Why you ask?? What am I waiting for? I simply CANNOT GIVE UP CARBS. I love love looooooove bread. ALL kinds of bread. If I’m being honest, I look forard to the bread/butter at restaurants more than the meal sometimes. (eeeeeek, yup, that bad). I dream about bread (ok ok this is an exaggeration but you get the point). I also love pasta, rice and fruit (but not as much as bread). And, worst of all, I LOVE chocolate (and not just healthy dark chocolate)… I’m talking ALL kinds of chocolate, including, the devil, white chocolate. Chocolate cake, chocolate cookies, chocolate brownies… you name it. In fact, my boyfriend took me to Hershey Pennsylvania on Valentine’s Day just so I can get all the chocolate my little heart desires at the Hershey factory, etc…

    Sooooo, I’m a carb-lover and choco-holic. You’d think I’d be morbidly obese… but I’m also a marathon coach and probably engage in “chronic cardio” 6 days a week. After reading more of your articles, I’m starting to think that I “loooooove” bread/pasta/rice BECAUSE I run so much/train so hard (and I do interval training 2-3 times a week so not just monotonous training). What really backs up this thought is that I didn’t really care for chocolate UNTIL I started training for my first marathon (but the bread/pasta/rice obsession was always there).

    Soooo…. I visit your site and read your articles and think “maybe one day I’ll stop running/coaching marathons… start with your fitness program (walking/weights/sprints)… and then maybe, just maybe, I’ll stop craving carbsssss allllll the time… and then I can make a major life readjustment…” but, until then, the mere THOUGHT of giving up carbs is like being damned into a world of ETERNAL HELL. Seriously.

    But, alas, I still read along and learn… ANY ADVICE FOR PEOPLE LIKE ME OUT THERE?!?!??!?!

    Tara wrote on March 6th, 2013
    • If you are not overweight don’t try to lose weight.

      lemmy caution wrote on March 6th, 2013
    • Tara, I would say just stop eating one thing at a time and give yourself time to get ready – think about it for 2 or 3 weeks, research what it may be doing to your body, etc. Then when you are ready get rid of say, only grains and give yourself 30 days on that before going on to the next thing….. like beans. Get rid of the chocolate last, muhwahahahahahaha, it’s not as hard to find balance with that after the grains are gone. That’s how it’s worked for me at least. I try to note what I eat/drink the day before when I gain a pound or my knees hurt going downstairs – everyone has a cronic problem usually, unique to themselves. Then eliminate that for a few days before I try it again. You have your own chemical make up so you can find out what your body doesn’t like by the reaction you get after eating something that may be wrong for you. Eat as clean as you can w/o processing other than cooking foods, and when you add something new your body will yell at you or not. The carb craving/addiction withdrawls will come but muscle through and you will be happy to be a free person – woo hoo!!! Ok, enough rambling.

      Steph wrote on March 6th, 2013
      • Hi Tara, my latest mantra: Read Nora Gedgaudas, “Primal Body, Primal Mind.” If Mark’s “Primal Blueprint” didn’t answer your question(s), Nora’s book should. It’s really not always about weight. Cheers to you!

        Mary Anne wrote on March 6th, 2013
    • Tara, I used to be like you when it comes to bread (pasta/rice I almost never eat and don’t crave). Bread, especially warm pita bread or crusty restaurant sourdough served with butter or olive oil, is something I try to avoid at all costs. Every once in awhile it’s in front of me and I either cave or I refrain, but the desire to have it never goes away. I ride a bike (a lot), so I do allow myself bread if I’m out riding and have no other food choice (which is rare). Instead, I’ll eat a couple of non-GMO corn tortillas the days I ride for extra carbs. That sometimes works in tricking me into thinking I’ve had bread when I haven’t.

      Mary wrote on March 6th, 2013
    • Just check http://www.weatbellyblog.com hosted by Dr William Davis.
      You are addicted to wheat, and if you think you LOVE bread (as I used to, being half-French who grew up on tons of it), no you don’t, you are just addicted. The gliadin protein in wheat binds to your opiate receptors in the brain and make you crave for bread. Go cold turkey with wheat and after a withdrawal period, you will find out that you don’t care any longer for bread. Easy to say, not so to do …

      James wrote on March 7th, 2013
    • Tara, I can relate about the addicted to bread/butter part. Then I found out I was gluten intolerant and read “The Paleo Answer” by Loren Cordain and Wheat Belly as mentioned above. (I also read Primal Blueprint later) That is what convinced me to go paleo/primal. Just knowing what the food does to your insides makes you think before eating it. I haven’t had one grain of wheat in 8 months and can turn up my nose at it.

      I found I still love the butter, probably more than the bread, and when I have a good workout, I look forward to a sweet potato loaded in Farm fresh butter as my once (sometimes twice) a week splurge!

      Cindy wrote on March 7th, 2013
  15. I truly believe in the hidden stress tip and the under eating tip! I notice that when I lack in calories for a little while, I tend to feel a bit heavier (and in my eyes look heavier too)… Of course no one else sees it, but I can tell. The second I start noshing a little more of the good stuff though, bring on the salmon, I feel a different in my weight, and feel lighter :)

    The stress tip also hits home. I do feel as though I have a lot of hidden stress and I know I am stressing when I start to feel heavier too. I just try to calm myself down and think about how my life is NOT going to end if X & Y don’t get done in time!

    GiGi wrote on March 6th, 2013
  16. #10 your intestinal biome is damaged and you need a more targeted dietary intervention (like GAPS) to rebuild your leaky gut and get rid of your small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
    #11 you have an intestinal parasite and don’t know it.
    #12 you are forgetting the importance of sunlight

    KD wrote on March 6th, 2013
    • #13 something may be out of whack with your endocrine system, especially if you have been overweight for a long time. Endocrine system probs not limited to just thyroid, of course — could include adrenal and sex glands as well as pituitary, hypothalamus and others. A great resource is http://stopthethyroidmadness.com.

      Barbara wrote on March 6th, 2013
  17. #9 is probably the case with me. According to BMI scales, I’m slightly overweight. (160-165lb, 5’6″) I work out several days a week, and have a mostly clean diet (celiac, so can’t touch most grains; also never touch soda/anything deep fried). I used to weigh about 190lb, but after losing weight quickly, I stagnated at the “slightly overweight” range. Sure, I could probably afford to drop 10-15lb, but just not getting the constant cramps and headaches I used to before cleaning up my diet is worth doing what I’m doing now.

    Emmy wrote on March 6th, 2013
  18. Here’s a trick that works to shift off top-dead-center and restart weight loss. Each AM — skip breakfast and continue fasting until noon/lunchtime. Meanwhile, drink “ketosis essentials”, one scoop, (www.heathy directions.com)dissolved in a glass of water. Next, do your daily exercise routine. After all this, eat paleo-normal the rest of the day. Works really well.

    maidel wrote on March 6th, 2013
  19. Stress can really hold a person back from their weigh loss goals. When you are stressed you try to find comfort in food or alcohol (for some)…so mindless eating=mindless calories.

    Twin Fitness wrote on March 6th, 2013
  20. I totally agree on all the things that you have mentioned here especially in number 4. I truly believe that stress plays a huge factor why we are not losing weight. We tend to find comforting foods when we are stressed out to feel better which trigger weight gain than loss.

    Jess wrote on March 6th, 2013
  21. Great points. The only thing I would add is that men if you are climbing into your thirties or forties it helps to get some blood tests for hormones. Men start losing testosterone levels quickly as they get into their thirties and if you have “low T” – as they say – it is extra hard to lose stomach fat. I boosted the testosterone and growth hormone naturally a bit after blood testing found lower than optimal levels and noticed huge improvements.

    Brian wrote on March 6th, 2013
  22. Great read pleasure foods are always the hardest to lose. It just makes you feel awful about yourself and your diet

    Jerry wrote on March 7th, 2013
  23. I read an interesting quote from Lyle Macdonald which agrees that the metabolism is slowed down on low calorie diets but that this is NOT significant enough to stop weight loss, which contradcits what Mark is saying.
    Lyles quote,
    “In general, it’s true that metabolic rate tends to drop more with more excessive caloric deficits… But here’s the thing: in no study I’ve ever seen has the drop in metabolic rate been sufficient to completely offset the caloric deficit . That is, say that cutting your calories by 50% per day leads to a reduction in the metabolic rate of 10%. Starvation mode you say. Well, yes. But you still have a 40% daily deficit.”

    greg grok wrote on March 7th, 2013
  24. Wow, your blog is amazing! I’ve been reading for a while now and just thought I’d comment. Love the pics and am thinking of getting into this lifestyle… just working on an understanding first!

    Chris wrote on March 7th, 2013
  25. One of the things that keeps me from being at my goal weight and mind you I am not too far off is my mindless eating at my kid’s bday parties. There are always pizza and cake and although I don’t eat much cake I do have a slice or 3. Actually now that I write this I am thinking it’s not mindless of me because I know.

    Jai Catalano wrote on March 7th, 2013
  26. I’ve definitely stalled out…hmmmm, sunflower seeds, check. Mindless eating, check. Thanks, Mark!

    Cathy Johnson (Kate) wrote on March 7th, 2013
  27. Hi Mark! Love all the articles you have written, they’re really informative and applicable!

    I have been eating (about 90%) dice a month ago, and I jumped straight in because I was already eating a ‘clean diet’ and controlling carbs. The first 2 or so weeks were great, I incorporated IF with a split of about 14/8, had constant high energy levels and was slowing losing fat. I have been sprinting 1-2 times a week and lifting (currently using Stronglifts 5×5 method) 1-2 times a week. Last week, somehow my energy levels dropped and fat loss stalled/slowed down quite a lot.

    My diet consists mainly of veg, meat, nuts, fruit and occasionally some natural Greek yogurt. I also take whey protein (sweetened with stevia) about once every two days, but don’t rely on it for my protein. So far I have cut carbs to about 40g a day after my fat loss stalled. My stamina had been great, but I realize that it’s slowly dropping.

    I’m really at a loss now, could anyone give any advice? Thanks!! :)

    Chloe wrote on March 7th, 2013
  28. Has anybody read “The China Study”? It has a lot of proof that eating a lot of animal-based protein leads to all our “western” diseases like heart attacks, diabetes and cancer. In the 80s in rural china, there was very few cases of cancer, and it was because their diet was mostly just vegetables and rice. No cheese, and milk and steaks.
    I am not a vegetarian, and I do love primal living, but I have cut way back on meat and eggs and dairy since reading the book. I try to eat nuts or a spoon full of natural peanut butter if I am hungry, and not meat.
    I am afraid I will never be able to go meat free, but I will try to get it way back.
    I am a powerlifter, 39 years old, 5’11”, 195 pounds, and I do have a weakness for the occasional burger.

    Does anyone else have the same dilemma?

    David wrote on March 7th, 2013
    • Here’s the deal: The China study is the type of study used to come up with promising new ways to research. It has no scientific validity other than to encourage more research. Even one of the original researchers abandoned the China study when he realized what the intent was to market it as “conclusive science”.

      There are many other reasons poor Chinese villagers aren’t afflicted with chronic diseases other than their diet. One of most obvious is that they simply do not live long enough to have chronic diseases. There’s no cancer because most of the poor die very quickly when faced with that or any other serious health issue. It’s called survivor bias and it’s one of the many issues with the China study.

      My advise would be to Google some criticisms of the China Study. (There are many out there, including one on Protien Power by Dr. Micheal Eades) Then start listening to your body. You are an omnivore and there’s great deal of evidence that humans are heavily carnivorous omnivores. You’re craving meat because you need it, not because of personal failure.

      Amy wrote on March 7th, 2013
      • Thanks, Amy.
        I think you are right, I should eat meat when I crave it, but not just eat it when everyone else is. What I mean is, I want to try to maybe go 1,2 days a week without meat. For one, it is cruel, of course, and I want to avoid delivering suffering to animals, but for another thing, a lot of meats are not healthy for us. I also believe cavemen probably had times when they weren’t able to get any meat, so they just ate berries, roots and vegetables. Who knows?
        I just think eating the bare minimum of animal proteins is probably a good idea. What about you?

        David wrote on March 8th, 2013
        • If you think the meat industry is cruel, you should take a look at the agricultural industry and how many gofers, squirrels, rabbits, hedgehogs, possums, wild boars, deer, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects die every day so you can eat your spoonful of peanut butter.

          rachel wrote on March 17th, 2013
  29. Okay, I really liked the part about eating more carbs if you’re doing a WOD every day, because I started this a month ago. How do other Crossfitters add more carbs? Do you guys eat them before or after your WOD, or just steadily throughout the day? I have not found the right balance for this yet, but I am really enjoying adding Crossfit to my life. I want to stay true to primal too though. How many rest days does everyone else do?

    Sarah wrote on March 7th, 2013
    • I do Crossfit 1 day, then 3 days of “active” rest where I go have fun. Anything more makes me cranky and tired. I also run out of time to actually have fun if I do more than 2 times a wekk.

      Amy wrote on March 7th, 2013
  30. About #9 and some people’s comments above, I used to think I had a ‘solid build’ too for most of my life and that I just couldnt genetically get down below 110 pounds at 5’2. That all changed after I moved to Asia, stopped any kind of weight training or gym workout and started walking for hours a day + a diet of about 1500 calories with 70% of that rice, and 5-10% protein, I discovered my ‘solid build’ disappeared all within 6 months. My size of clothes didnt change at all however, (except for being looser in some strange places like around my knees, chest, or upper back), and I lost about 10 pounds, but turned to basically flab. Im skinny now and more ‘flat’ all over, like the waif-type skinny I used to think was genetically impossible for me, but at the same time Im also far more jiggly, squishy, and hesitate to go out in a swimsuit WAY more than I did 10 pounds heavier.

    If your body is anything like mine your ‘solid build’ is likely just a larger percentage of muscle to fat (it may be even just a few percentage points), which may make you look vaguely more ‘dense’ without actually being bigger in size – and it’s totally possible to lose but would you really want to? Given you’d lose strength, energy, and not get much difference in clothing size out of it.

    Octopus Wrangler wrote on March 7th, 2013
  31. I’m in the #2, #3 and #9 camp. When I don’t eat enough (#3) I resort to eating “pleasure foods” because I’m hungry. I have had to admit/accept (a form of #9) that I need to eat more than I thought was “lady-like” or appropriate for someone my size. Oddly, when I eat enough, and when it’s good healthy food high in protein, low in added fat and moderate in carbs (I do not count them), my appetite quiets down, I feel better, less inclined to snack or eat pleasure foods and I have more energy. Meanwhile, I’ve thrown out my scale and decided to focus on becoming strong. The changes in the shape (but not size) of my body have been very pleasing to me. I accept that I am much heavier than I look, have fairly large bones (my wrists are on the high end of the scale) and that being a skinny waif maybe isn’t actually what I want out of life at my age of nearly 50. Being strong and unbreakable is good. Nobody is going to vote me off the island due to pathetic athletic performance.

    Diane wrote on March 7th, 2013
  32. Confused…in the bodybuilder example in the post, surely “dropping moodiness” is a GOOD thing?

    MissJelic wrote on March 7th, 2013
  33. At first, this was supposed to be so simple: just cut out refined carbs, eat plenty of protein, and get some exercise. Suddenly, it’s not that simple. The process is being hyper-analyzed and getting very complicated. I don’t have time to sit around and wonder which of the nine or combination of the nine is hindering weight loss. Makes me want to eat a Big Carl combo.

    Rex wrote on March 7th, 2013
    • Haha, nice.
      Sounds good right now.

      David wrote on March 8th, 2013
  34. I struggle with 1 and 2. I have trouble watch TV or Reading without feeling like I need to be eating at the same time. Also I have found I have a nut addiction. Can anyone relate? If I start eating nuts, I keep eating them and I don’t want to stop. I try to stay away entirely, because 95% of the time I don’t want to stop if I start! Does anyone have any idea why they are so addictive for me? Has anyone else experienced this?

    Leah wrote on March 7th, 2013
  35. Nice post. I’ve been sugar free for the last five months and have lost a considerable amount of weight. I put it down to not only the lack of sugar but also you look at every bit of food twice before you consider eating it.

    Amanda wrote on March 7th, 2013
  36. Oh well, seems like all the fun stuff is taboo… ;)

    I won’t have problem N° 6, that’s for sure! I could certainly use more exercise.
    But I wonder: If someone really does exercise too much… is that person really having weight problems (apart from not being fashion-model thin)?

    LadyG wrote on March 8th, 2013
  37. Hidden stress… that’s me, except mine isn’t so hidden and is sleeping in her crib as I type this lol ;)

    LisaL wrote on March 8th, 2013
  38. I hit a plateau recently in my quest to lose body fat. I had not seen the point about too much exercise before and I do an aweful lot of walking everyday because I always thought it was going to help me with my weight goals (and save on bus fare :)). I think I am well above that 4000 calories mark a week. Maybe it is time to back it off a bit…

    Donny wrote on March 8th, 2013
  39. I plead guilty to #1, #2 and #4. And the result is unfortunately definitely not #9.

    dennis wrote on March 8th, 2013
  40. Your first comment on mindless eating is so true. You should make yourself dedicate time to eating your meals and by this I mean actually put your food on a plate, sit down at the kitchen table and just eat, nothing else. No reading, watching tv, etc. Train yourself to eat in this manner and you will enjoy your food more and eat less.

    Jessie wrote on March 8th, 2013

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