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  • Gaining Weight on Primal---HELP!!

    Hi all,

    I've been eating primally since mid-April. This is the second time I'm trying this. I went primal for a couple months during the summer of 2010, but I stopped after a while because, after losing two pounds initially, I started to gain weight instead. But back then I wasn't super strict and didn't fast.

    This time around, I'm a lot more strict (though not perfect--I do cheat a little occasionally), but my cheating is pretty in control, I think. Every once in a while I'll have a bit of rice when I'm at a Thai restaurant or have injera at an Ethiopian restaurant. (Thai and Ethiopian are my favorite cuisines so it would be a bit brutal to expect me to never eat them again). My only really bad cheat days were four days at the end of June when I went out of town for a friend's wedding. It was a reunion of sorts, and several of my college friends are primal. But we decided that we won't diet during this reunion. We're all foodies and routinely gorged ourselves on obscene amounts of food when we were in college. Anyway, let's just say that we ate a lot during those four days.

    So I'm a 30-year-old female, 5'4", and weighed 132 lbs when I started. When I first started, I just cut out most carbs (still ate fruit and yogurt in moderation). I lost some weight (probably mostly water weight) almost right away. I did that for a while, but then the weight started creeping back. Then I started IFing--16 hours at first--and started losing again. Then the weight started to come back again. I started doing 24-hour fasts twice a week. The weight went down again. The lowest I got to was 126. Then it started creeping back up again, and I thought that it might be because I tended to "fall off the wagon" after 24-hour fasts because I get mad carb cravings at the end of those and psychologically, it's hard for me to resist because I also think that I've been so good, having just fasted for 24 hours, so surely I can have a few bites of [insert really bad carb item].

    So recently I've been doing 16-to-20-hour fasts a couple times a week instead of the 24-hour ones twice a week. I just weighed myself this morning, and I'm 133! Yikes! (By the way, I use weight as a shorthand, but I don't rely solely on the scale--I also measure my waist circumference since my waist/ab area is my problem area and that's where the fat usually comes off from/goes onto when I lose/gain. And I can tell too, just by how well certain dresses fit, whether I've lost or gained.)

    So now I'm officially fatter than I was when I went primal in mid-April. I'm really annoyed and am seriously about to get off the diet again because I can maintain my current weight pretty easily on a conventional diet where I'm at least allowed to eat delicious, delicious carbs.

    I'm also physically active--I lift weights twice a week, do sprint intervals once a week, and do one short run and one long run a week. Only the long run can really be considered "chronic cardio," and it's not even that long (7-8 miles only) so please don't tell me that my one long run a week is making me fat. (Quite the opposite, I'm almost certain that I'd be even fatter if I hadn't been running.) I'm a runner and am not about to give up something I love because some other people think it's bad for you. Running is also the one reliable thing that has ever helped me lose weight and keep it off. I used to run a lot more but decided to reduce my weekly mileage after completing a 10-miler in May because of this whole primal thing. And now I'm wondering if that's why I'm gaining. I thought the whole point of primal is that you could work out less by eating better.

    I don't really know what to do at this point so if anyone has any insight, I'd really appreciate it.

    (Sorry if I sound bitter--I'm feeling a bit bitter right now.)

    My journal

  • #2
    unless you have a very small frame, i don't know how low on the scale your body wants to go. you may just need to work on body recomp, which is slower.

    fasting isn't mandatory and not all women have success with it.

    Paleo For Women | Shattering the Myth of Fasting for Women: A Review of Female-Specific Responses to Fasting in the Literature

    you don't say what or how much you're eating, so i'm not going to throw spaghetti at the wall for you. any idea how many cals/fat/carbs/protein you typically eat?

    if you spent some time binging on vacation and going off the rails after fasting, i think you need to seriously spend a few weeks eating clean and see what happens. don't worry about fasting and just eat when you are hungry.

    eta: btw, a serving of cooked rice is 1/2 cup and 25 carbs. not much food for a big carb bang. how much do you eat when out?

    Last edited by noodletoy; 08-12-2012, 08:47 AM.
    As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

    – Ernest Hemingway

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    • #3
      I agree with Noodle, IF isn't exactly great for women. I, too, experimented with IF last spring, and I believe it was a contributing factor to my eventual 8 pound weight gain. I also went from a size 0 to a size 4. I'm the same height as you, and can totally empathize with the freaking out about gaining even a pound. It really shows on shorter women. Somehow 5 pounds of fat ends up looking like 15.

      I noticed you used the "D" word a lot. That's a problem. Is your mindset wrapped around weight loss first, then health? Because with PB, the weight loss tends to be secondary to healing the body. You read stories about people who lose shitons of weight with paleo, and figure that's the norm. Um, not really. Especially not if you're a young, relatively healthy female without a significant amount of body fat, which sounds like to way you described yourself.

      You may want to go all in with a Whole30. It'll help you figure out what specifically works for you. You may have an intolerance or allergy you never expected, something that could be the missing link in paleo success for you. Good luck!
      “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Rumi

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      • #4
        Are you journaling your food/exercise? Can you post what your last, say, three days' meals and exercise were?
        F, 44 years old, 111.8 lbs, 4 feet 11.5 inches (yes, that half inch matters!)

        **1st place sparring, AAU TKD regional qualifier, 2/15/15 - It's damn good to hit like a girl!**

        **First-ever 5K race 11/28/13: 37 minutes, 18+ seconds, no stopping**

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        • #5
          Are you really small framed? 132lbs is well within normal weight range, so it is entirely possible that's where your body is comfortable. I would suggest adding in some strength training to firm things up.

          Why are you so afraid of carbs? Since you're exercising, you should be eating some. Is it possible you aren't eating enough? As crazy as it sounds, I have found that if I don't eat enough I GAIN weight. I'm a 29yo female, 5'4", so I understand where you're coming from. Please post a couple days of what you are eating.

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          • #6
            You can still eat delicious carbs on primal too And it sounds like you may need them-if you're going too low carb and the carbs are what you're reaching for at the end of your fasts, you probably need to up them. Have some fruit, sweet potatos, root veggies, plantains....primal doesn't have to be low carb, and if you're exercising, it shouldn't be.
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            • #7
              hey Serenity, good luck with your journey. I initially lost weight when I went primal (june 2012) and then I have had a major stall/ plateau/ whatevayouwannacallit !
              I have started losing again, firstly by stopping the IFing, and eating protein and fat at breaky, protein and fat at midday, and you guessed it protein and fat at dinner. I thought that I was eating very few carbs before, but I went through a major carb flu episode ( I was obviously eating alot more carbs than I thought). SO......... my suggestion to you is maybe go back to basics. Protein and fat at all three meals. Once you are comforable with this routine, only eat when hungry. Look on the internet for low low LOW carb veges and incorporate them into your day.
              eg 100gm spinach =1.6 gm carbs.
              100gm lettuce = 1.7 gm carbs
              100gm broccoli = 1.1 gm carbs

              I have finally started losing again, and so once in a bit more of a routine, I will reincorporate IF. If it works yay, if not I shall continue to experiment.
              I always take a primal snack with me now, so I am not caught out hungry.
              All the ideas you recieve on this forum will be worth a try, but the key is ...... try one for a few days, before you try something else. You must give your body a chance to get into the groove !!!!!
              Good luck and keep us posted
              Last edited by NZ primal Gwamma; 08-12-2012, 11:07 AM.
              "never let the truth get in the way of a good story "

              ...small steps....

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              • #8
                I just wanted to throw this out there anecdotaly, this last week I lost 2.5 pounds in 5 days eating sweet potatoes with breakfast every single day. This is not normal for me, I've tended towards gaining too. I think my body needs a bit more carbs to let go of the weight. Try adjusting your macros. Not everyone does their best on VLC, or on super high fat, or super high protein, we're all different. Make a change, see how you are after a week and adjust accordingly. I TOTALLY get your frustration!
                Happy Wifey and NEW MOM!
                Pre-preg weight: 130
                Current: 145 (eek!)
                Goal: ??? <-- whatever it takes to get rid of this tire!
                Started Primal in May '12.
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                • #9
                  A little bit of rice here, injera,
                  My only really bad cheat days were four days at the end of June when I went out of town for a friend's wedding. It was a reunion of sorts, and several of my college friends are primal. But we decided that we won't diet during this reunion. We're all foodies and routinely gorged ourselves on obscene amounts of food when we were in college. Anyway, let's just say that we ate a lot during those four days.
                  so surely I can have a few bites of [insert really bad carb item].
                  I think sometimes this is why some folks feel it's just easier to follow the plan. By the time you add up the little off-plan items...
                  "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine

                  B*tch-lite

                  Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.

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                  • #10
                    17 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight | Mark&#039;s Daily Apple

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JackieKessler View Post
                      Are you journaling your food/exercise? Can you post what your last, say, three days' meals and exercise were?
                      I'm not keeping a journal, but I do track my macro consumption on FitDay from time to time. I usually keep my carb consumption below 100 grams/day (the supposed primal sweet spot--effortless weight loss--whatever). Every once in a while I go above 100 but usually don't get above 150.
                      Here's what I had Thursday through Sunday.

                      Thursday:
                      Two eggs, two strips of bacon
                      One hamburger patty
                      Caesar salad with bacon and grilled chicken (with shredded Parmesan but without any dressing or croutons)
                      1.5 cups of strawberries
                      (Although the above may appear to be three meals, I actually ate it all within a 5-hour window because I fasted most of the day.)
                      Sprint intervals
                      Weight lifting--I don't normally do sprints and weight lifting on the same day, but my schedule last week was a bit messed up so I had to squeeze both into the same day.
                      (I do weight-lifting workouts from Rachel Cosgrove's Female Body Breakthrough and try to lift as heavy as I can safely lift.)

                      Friday:
                      Fasted during the day, and had a few pieces of grilled lamb around 5 pm.
                      Went out to Thai food for dinner and had half a cup of rice with basil pork--pork, basil, green beans, bell peppers. Also had a few bites of bf's green curry chicken. They probably put sugar in the sauce. I usually ask them not to and some restaurants are accommodating, but the one we went to on Friday was not. (It wasn't the greatest restaurant, probably won't be going back.)
                      Handful of strawberries.
                      Shared a bottle of wine with bf.
                      No workout.

                      Saturday:
                      Three eggs, topped with grated Parmesan for breakfast.
                      Half a peach and 10 cherries.
                      One bratwurst.
                      Went out to dinner and had yummy lamb skewers (lamb shoulder and belly--the lamb belly cuts were primal heaven--fatty and delicious) with mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions. Also had a few bites of grilled sardine. The sardines had too many tiny bones so I'm pretty sure I ended up spitting out more than I ate.
                      Shared bottle of wine with bf.
                      Ran 7 miles; bench pressed 3 sets of 10 reps and one set of 5 reps--I have no idea how heavy because I used one of those bench-press benches (not sure what they're actually called) for the first time and I only used the bar, which is pretty heavy as it is--I would guess it's probably at least 50 lbs because I normally use a lighter 40-lb barbell and don't get sore the next day. I'm sore today so it must have been heavier than 40 lbs.

                      Sunday:
                      Had two chunks of leftover lamb from last night's dinner for breakfast.
                      Salad with arugula, tomatoes, and chicken for lunch with two slices of grapefruit.
                      Made a stir-fry with kale and ground turkey for dinner, cooked in lots of coconut oil. I also ate a tablespoon of coconut oil because I was afraid that the ground turkey was too lean. I prefer the taste of ground turkey to ground beef (probably due to years of SAD conditioning) and so does bf so I often cook with ground turkey instead of ground beef. But I try to make up for it by cooking it with lots of coconut oil.
                      1.5 cups strawberries, half a peach.
                      No workout.

                      I realize that I may be (1) eating too much fruit and (2) drinking too much wine. I've cut out most of my weekday beer drinking--I used to enjoy relaxing with a beer or two at night. I've stopped doing that and just have vodka with club soda if I really need to drink alcohol. But I still share a bottle with bf on weekends--it's just part of dinner.

                      I think I'm going to try to be super strict for two weeks and have no wine, beer, or fruit and see what happens. If that doesn't work, then I'll try to add in some healthy carbs (berries and sweet potatoes) and see if that makes a difference. If that still doesn't work, then, hell, maybe I'll just eat a box of Cheez-Its.
                      Last edited by diene; 08-12-2012, 08:46 PM.

                      My journal

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by SophieScreams View Post

                        I noticed you used the "D" word a lot. That's a problem. Is your mindset wrapped around weight loss first, then health?
                        Yeah, I am more concerned with weight loss than I am with health. The reason is that I'm pretty healthy as it is. I don't have any health issues that I know of. My blood work is excellent, my bp is on the low end of normal, and I don't have any problems with my energy level. I just want to lose some of that annoying abdominal fat. Seriously, I look like I'm four or five months pregnant! That can't be normal. Okay, fine, I've never been pregnant before and have no idea how big one's belly is when four or five months pregnant--I'm only guessing here. But my belly definitely protrudes. The sad thing is--it's been like this for as long as I remember. You know how babies have bellies, but most lose their baby fat when they get older? I never lost that baby fat, evidently.

                        My journal

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                        • #13
                          if weight loss is your primary objective you need to be eating clean, not just for one or two days in a row. for realz. no wine, no beer, no booze, no sketchy sauces from thai restaurants. asian food is a landmine of sugar and starch in the sauces. no injera. what was in the bratwurst?

                          i think your food choices look good and that it's the off-plan stuff that is derailing your progress. if i have wine, i blip up. even though i order carefully at our viet-thai place, the sodium makes me blip up. same with having soy with sashimi. but i know that's just water weight, just like when i am expecting and in tom.

                          commit. it works.
                          As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

                          – Ernest Hemingway

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            oh, and an olympic-weight bar is 44 pounds. you're sore because it works different muscle groups than a dumbbell.
                            As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

                            – Ernest Hemingway

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              The fasting might not be helping as much as you think. For some women it can cause metabolic problems. How long have you been doing that for?

                              I agree with your comment about the fruit, 1.5c of strawberries may be too much sugar for you in a small time period. Wine can also cause weight loss stalls because your body will burn the alcohol first, before anything else. It sounds like you know what you need to do. So once you're willing to do it, you'll see the results you want. You just have to decide if it's worth it.

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