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What happens when a naturally very thin man goes primal?

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  • What happens when a naturally very thin man goes primal?

    Question on behalf of my dh, he may chime in at some point if he gets round to signing up (I have the opposite body type- gain both fat and muscle easily).

    My dh has always been very slim, like 115lbs at 5ft 9. He really has very little fat on him at all and obviously is not muscular. He's considering going primal, for health reasons mainly (energy levels, family history of syndrome X etc) but also wondering if it would affect his body composition.

    He currently eats a reasonable amount of protein, probably moderate fat, wholegrains, beans, lots of veg, some dairy, very little junk. Typical "healthy SAD", or rather SBD probably, maybe a bit higher in protein.

    He isn't very active though he's the type that can get up from the computer and cycle off into the distance. He does use his bike to get around and has been known to do a bit of weight training and yoga or go swimming but he has a sendentary job.

    Would he gain muscle if he ate primal, or would he need to train hard to gain muscle with his body type? Would he gain a little fat because that wouldn't go amiss really? I'm concerned about his activity levels especially with his family history (and my dad having died of a heart attack when only 53). If he had more energy he might find it easier to exercise more maybe.

    What do you think? Any info or adivce very welcome, many thanks .
    Gluten intolerance and hypermobility syndrome http://www.cfids.org/pdf/joint-hypermobility-guide.pdf

    Eat food. Mostly real. Enjoy life.

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  • #2
    Hey...my husband is very thin too. 6'0 125-130 pounds depending on whether or not he's wearing his boots. (lol!)

    He has muscle tone though, and isn't "skinny" just very thin.

    He started primal after being diagnosed prediabetic, 2 weeks ago. He is feeling good. Hasn't lost any weight though. I was worried that he might since carbs were his main source of fuel before.

    I asked your very same question not too long ago. A few skinny folks chimed in with the advice to "shock" his muscles once a week in order to gain lean muscle mass. There is not much fat for hubby to burn, so I make sure that he has fatty meals and snacks throughout the day.

    He has reported nothing out of the ordinary when switching over...mild headache, anxiousness. He has not gotten "carb flu."

    Good luck. We have a journal together called the HappyPrimate Family Journal. We only started tracking yesterday...but will be tracking weekly weight, daily meals and moods for Hubby, Me, and our two small children. I will also post Hubby's fasting blood glucose whenever he remembers to take it.
    Our primal family journal.

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    • #3
      Well, I'm a naturally skinny woman so I'll share. I was really worried I would lose weight from primal and eating lower in carbs. I had a BMI of 15 or 16 since puberty until age 24, only since starting the primal way of life have I been able to get it up to 17-18 (where I am hovering now), and it's not like I'm stuffing myself. Much of the weight I've gained is muscle and I am much, much stronger and able to perform better athletically, as well as feeling better physically than I ever have in my life in many other ways. And I look so much better, that's just a bonus but it's nice.

      My main advice is to make sure you eat plenty of food (I don't have this problem, but some thin people aren't very hungry on primal and lose weight because they aren't making sure they get enough calories), and to not go very low-carb. Moderately low-carb, yes - 100-150 grams is perfect for people without weight to lose. It's where I feel my best.

      And lift heavy things. It's great for everyone, but it's essential for us lanky little people. You have got to try and build muscle and strengthen your bones when you are tiny.

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      • #4
        I was 5:11 and 150 before going low carb and then primal and I dropped to about 142. No matter what I do my weight wont budge, even when I am averaging over 3000 calories (so much for calories in/calories out). My carb intake runs pretty low usually (40-60 net carbs) because that is where I feel best. I do a 20 minute workout with weights couple of times a week and some interval training and a lot of walking/biking in the summer. Oh yeah, I am almost 60. I feel fantastic.

        Other than my girlfriend complaining about me being "too thin", no problems. Not sure what else I could do to gain weight.....I tried upping the carbs a bit but my weight never changes more than .5 pounds either way.

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        • #5
          when i first started primal, i did drop too much weight, but i've gotten to the point now where i'm able to maintain at a comfortable level. if he has no problems with it, dairy is a pretty significant part of my diet. lots of butter, cream, full-fat yogurt and lots of different cheeses. i also eat a lot of starchy veg, like taro, potatoes and sweet potatoes, with very occasional rice. both the dairy and the starch keep me from dropping too much weight, and i still feel satisfied because i eat plenty of fat with my meals.

          i tend to follow paul jaminet's perfect health diet (http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?page_id=8), which is "primal with safe starches". so far, FWIW, my energy has definitely gone up with the inclusion of a little more carbs. but it's really a personal thing; i suppose you'll have to adopt a "wait and see" attitude. good luck!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Loco Moco View Post
            i tend to follow paul jaminet's perfect health diet (http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?page_id=8), which is "primal with safe starches". so far, FWIW, my energy has definitely gone up with the inclusion of a little more carbs. but it's really a personal thing; i suppose you'll have to adopt a "wait and see" attitude. good luck!
            I have to admit that I don't really understand the concept of "dropping too much weight". Generally speaking, you can be VERY healthy at single digit body-rat percentages, as long as you have a decent amount of muscle mass. All skin and bone isn't good.....but on a Primal diet, the protein intake should ensure that you don't lose muscle as you lose fat.

            Also, I'm not sure that Mark, or Robb Wolf would agree that Potatoes and rice are "safe starches".....but you did say "very occasional" on the rice I guess. For the most part, if you're able to utilize the additional energy from those slightly unorthodox carbs, then you shouldn't have to worry about weight gain.....but the anti-nutrients and Lectins are still a concern.

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            • #7
              I was considered underweight when I started. Was low in muscle and low in fat although definitely had a little around the mid section (carb belly). The first thing that happened post-primal was I lost the carb belly. Next my testosterone started increasing by a very significant amount. Now I'm packing on muscle mass with no visible increase in body fat. It's pretty nice no longer being a "hard-gainer".

              Really overall total weight isn't anywhere near important as where the weight rests on your frame.
              "You can demonstrate the purpose and limits of human digestion with a simple experiment: eat a steak with some whole corn kernels, and see what comes out the other end. It won’t be the steak."
              -J.Stanton

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              • #8
                Originally posted by UndergroundNutritionist View Post
                I have to admit that I don't really understand the concept of "dropping too much weight". Generally speaking, you can be VERY healthy at single digit body-rat percentages, as long as you have a decent amount of muscle mass. All skin and bone isn't good.....but on a Primal diet, the protein intake should ensure that you don't lose muscle as you lose fat.

                Also, I'm not sure that Mark, or Robb Wolf would agree that Potatoes and rice are "safe starches".....but you did say "very occasional" on the rice I guess. For the most part, if you're able to utilize the additional energy from those slightly unorthodox carbs, then you shouldn't have to worry about weight gain.....but the anti-nutrients and Lectins are still a concern.
                well, i just shared my personal experience and what's helped me; you may not agree with it, but that's your opinion. like i said, it's really a personal issue, as everybody's bodies are different. i could not sustain a VLC diet because i had too little bodyfat (sorry, but single-digit bodyfat is not healthy in a small-framed, 5'3 female). i lost my menstrual period and despite eating ample protein and fat, i couldn't gain or maintain muscle. other people thrive on a VLC diet, eating purely meat and fat; i could not.

                i just suggested adding more starchy carbs because it might be easier for the OP's husband to transition to primal that way. dealing with carb flu + trying to exercise more might be too much too soon; idk, i think it'd be easier to take baby steps.

                that being said, i feel good eating what i'm eating, "unorthodox carbs" (?) and all. personally, i think the antinutrients in potatoes are negligible compared to those found in the legumes and wheat the OP's husband is currently eating. i'm not trying to be a b*tch here, i was only offering my advice, based on my experience - no worries.
                Last edited by Loco Moco; 02-08-2011, 11:36 PM. Reason: spelling

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                • #9
                  Erm. The guy that wrote the Primal Blueprint was an endurance runner and pretty thin (whether by nature or self abuse) and he seems to be doing just fine eating primal in his fifties.

                  Just sayin.

                  But yeah, your husband would have to train to put on muscle. But as you say, the higher energy levels associated with PB would make that well easier. And finding an activity he likes would help him stick to it. Me, I turned around when I discovered Kettlebells. Funnest. X-ercise. Evar!
                  Last edited by brahnamin; 02-09-2011, 04:56 AM. Reason: because the word *be* shoud have a *b* in it . . .

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SpecOps
                    even though I saw them laying around the gym
                    Okay, and let me just say I'm just bloody jealous of anyone who has access to a gym that is actually equipped with K-Bells. I called every gym within 35 miles of my home and wasn't able to even get anyone to admit they had ever heard of such a creature (but we have 45 treadmills!). So I own two of my own and I'm saving for the next pair (the ones I have are already a wee bit too light for most of the exercises I'm doing). And I bought a 10 pounder for my son (football junkie) to start practicing with.
                    Last edited by brahnamin; 02-09-2011, 05:23 AM. Reason: to add the treadmill comment

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                    • #11
                      It will be good for him. He'll need to eat a ton and lift heavy things to pack on muscle, but once he gets the energy burst that comes from eating right, that should be an easy sell. This is not automatically a weight loss thing, I am currently gaining weight on PB (on purpose).
                      If you are new to the PB - please ignore ALL of this stuff, until you've read the book, or at least http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-blueprint-101/ and this (personal fave): http://www.archevore.com/get-started/

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                      • #12
                        Whats this "naturally skinny" thing you speak of???? ;-)

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                        • #13
                          It is possible to bulk with Primal/VLC eating.....you just need to eat A LOT (1.5-2 X Maintenance Calories), lift heavy, and get at least 1.5-2 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass per day.

                          Just because someone is "skinny" doesn't negate the whole Primal idea. Just eat more and lift heavy things. If you don't put on any weight in the form of muscle mass, there is obviously an underlying hormonal issue.....

                          Carbs are an easy way to increase energy.....since that's what they are.....pure energy. But, eating less than favorable carbs are only a way to worsen your health and put on the kind of "weight" that you don't want.

                          We were ALL made to eat this way.....not just the chubby ones among us. haha!

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