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What does it mean when diet ISN'T the silver bullet?

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  • #16
    If I stop working out like crazy my weight zooms right back to where it was.

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    • #17
      This reminds me of something my wife went through a while back.

      While eating a pretty restrictive CW diet and exercising 3-5 times a week, with Yoga thrown in the mix, she had trouble dropping dress sizes in a way she didn't previously.

      Then, due to an accident, the only exercise she could do for a while without causing her neck pain was use the stairmaster, which the boy aptly named the staircase machine. She started doing that for up to an hour at a time - often at high settings.

      And over a few months, down went the dress sizes!

      Prof. Mark talks about a small group of people being in a position where, what would be over-training for others is just right training for them. He even mentioned that thing (obliquely) in today's blog post. Some people just have the sort of makeup which both responds to what would otherwise be excessive training and which, in order to work at peak performance, probably needs that excessive training.

      I think you (Heatseeker) might be in that category - particularly if you easily put on muscle as a woman. If you are looking to make composition changes, and the only thing (after your apparently long list of controls!) that seems to work is excessive exercise, then that would seem to be fine in the pursuit of your goals.

      In fact, for those who wish they could engage in such volumes of training, perhaps it puts you in an enviable position!

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      • #18
        Originally posted by heatseeker View Post
        Because: the only time I see significant body comp changes is when I work out a LOT. Exercise is the silver bullet for me. If I'm not working out, my body comp will not budge a speck. If I'm working out PBF-style, I see some slight slimming/leaning. If I'm working out like a beast (i.e right now, doing Crossfit 3x/week and a lifting class 2x/week), THAT'S when I see actual changes in body comp. My eating in all these modes is the same (with caloric intake relative to amount of exercise).

        So my question is: anyone have any idea why? Why does diet make no difference for me, and the only thing that makes any real difference is lots and LOTS of working out?
        Amen sister, you are echoing my own personal experience. No change. Exercise is the silver bullet, and not a little bit, not body weight exercises or sprinting or any of that. I haven't done cross-fit but what actually works for me is to strap 25lbs on my back and go for a long walk in the wilderness. At least it worked this summer. I got 5lbs off easy on a 5-day walk this summer, and I ate candy for half those days. It has worked in the past, too. But it comes right back. Why does it take SO MUCH exercise? And then what can I do to keep it off?

        Originally posted by heatseeker View Post
        My question is less about advice on HOW to make it work for me than it is a general call for brainstorming on the topic. Because I'm honestly just really curious as to why diet has no effect on me.
        Yeah, I'd be interested to know the why of it.

        Is it that whole endomorph thing?

        Is it that people like us should be lifting huge weights? I had a body-builder chick tell me once if she had my body she could win competitions.

        Maybe we have an unfortunate combination of male/female hormones.

        I have a hard time believing it's a thyroid thing because I don't feel like a thyroid problem lives inside me at all.

        I have a hard time believing it's a CICO issue since when I was on a big long 3 month walk, I could not physically carry as much food as I needed to eat. I walked 30 miles a day and had reached a weight that is about the same as I am now, maybe 5lbs less. And nowadays I'm at this strange place where it doesn't matter if I track my calories and get down to 1200 or below or jack them up to 2000 and above. Nothing changes except how much energy I have and how much I feel like expending.

        So, is it the whole set-point thing? Are they ever going to find a cure for that? Even as a child I looked as chubby and rounded as I do now. Am I doomed because I was a fat kid?

        Originally posted by heatseeker View Post
        To those saying "it's hard to lose those last few vanity pounds"--this is not that. I sit between 28 and 30% body fat, and could visibly stand to lose 20 pounds, even 30 if I wanted to be called "lean". And I've never been heavier than this, either. I have literally been at this weight and body comp for a decade with no ability to change it.
        This is my experience, too. Because even though a good 1-3 month walk gets the weight off, I'm still vastly heavier than most other women out there doing as long a walk as me, I am still embarrassed to be seen in a bikini, I'm still probably at least 25% body fat. I don't know if that is your experience, or if cross-fit gets you to look like one of these cross-fit babes, but it's never been my experience to look like any kind of babe. Never in my entire life. Even when I was 17 years old and weighed 110lbs I still looked fat. Big giant rolls of fat on my belly, arms too big to wear blouses with short sleeves that buttoned around the upper arm, legs too big to wear tight jeans or tall boots.

        It really bums me out because I really really want someone to say to me, Wow, you look great! What is your secret? And then I want to tell them all about paleo and convert them. But alas, I'm no paleo poster child and it looks like I probably won't ever be one.
        Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Damiana View Post
          You've eaten pretty much what you've listed in all your time doing primal? Perhaps try other foods? I had to switch things around a bit, going from high protein/fat to lower fat to see results as I've dropped the weight.
          This has been my experience. I lost most of my weight pre-primal w/30-40% dietary fat. Then I went high fat with primal. The higher the fat, the lower the weight loss. Calories were always in a deficit but it seemed to make a difference as to the macro breakdown in regards to fat. Carbs didnt seem to matter and protein has pretty much been consistent. But for me, and I have been tracking for 10 months but I was afraid to jump the fat train, but the fat seems to be making all the difference in my progress, or lack thereof.

          This is rough off the top of my head but I had it figured the other day but it went something like this:
          30-40% I lost 10lbs a month
          50-60 - I lost 4-5lbs
          60-70 - I lost 2-3
          over 70, maybe more like 75%, I actually gain but then fasting takes it back off. So I had less than a 2lb loss last month. I finally had to jump the fat train. It just was not taking me anywhere for weight loss.

          I read Perfect Health Diet, and he is normally a high fat guy, 65% but for weight loss he said to cut the fat. He also said to eat starches which I have been afraid to eat since trying to stay low carb/high fat. Doing this started my weight loss again, further proving my carb (clean good carbs) intake was never the issue for my weight loss. I might have to eat more often of low cal carbs because I am not satiated for as long as I am with fat, but that's okay for now. And then I have been experimenting even further but bottomline is reducing my fat% made the difference.

          And I have a considerable amount to lose, so may not even be talking the same thing.
          65lbs gone and counting!!

          Fat 2 Fit - One Woman's Journey

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          • #20
            How much protein do you eat each day on average? If you're eating too little while working out your body will hang on to whatever it can
            Four years Primal with influences from Jaminet & Shanahan and a focus on being anti-inflammatory. Using Primal to treat CVD and prevent stents from blocking free of drugs.

            Eat creatures nose-to-tail (animal, fowl, fish, crustacea, molluscs), a large variety of vegetables (raw, cooked and fermented, including safe starches), dairy (cheese & yoghurt), occasional fruit, cocoa, turmeric & red wine

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            • #21
              heatseeker, I feel you totally. Been primal about three years. I've done every iteration of Primal that's come along with no weight loss. Only way I can lose weight is through calorie restriction. My situation, I'm sure, is far different from yours but frustrating none the less. I take five meds a day to compensate for a zero pituitary function.

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              • #22
                I noticed that your name is "Heatseeker" so I'm guessing you haven't spent much time playing around with cold thermogenesis. There's quite a few threads on it around here, and it seems to have helped some people a fair amount.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by heatseeker View Post
                  I'm honestly surprised that no one else has experienced this phenomenon, and now I sort of feel like a freak of nature... I figured all kinds of people would crawl out of the woodwork and admit that diet has little to no effect on their body comp, too.
                  winencandy crawls out of the woodwork...

                  Sounds like me. (but I DON'T do crazy workouts)
                  2+ years. 16 lbs in the first 8 months.
                  Nothing since.
                  And by every chart in the known world I need to lose another 20 lbs.
                  Tried Whole 30, counting calories, you name it.
                  Presently I'm trying wine and chocolate

                  At least I don't gain on Primal.

                  I have no answers.
                  If you are a freak, so am I
                  "Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be." Kurt Vonnegut
                  "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." Douglas Adams
                  "Moderation sucks." Suse
                  "Wine is a vegetable." Meaty
                  "Every decision you make, from what you eat to what you do with your time tonight, turns you into who you are tomorrow and the day after that." Cmdr Chris Hadfield


                  Winencandy

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                  • #24
                    Prof. Mark talks about a small group of people being in a position where, what would be over-training for others is just right training for them. He even mentioned that thing (obliquely) in today's blog post. Some people just have the sort of makeup which both responds to what would otherwise be excessive training and which, in order to work at peak performance, probably needs that excessive training.
                    Very interesting. See, this is what I was hoping to uncover with this thread, not yet more hacks I could try out to see if they work. I'm done trying hacks, and I'm tired of obsessing over food. What works is high levels of exercise, so I do high levels of exercise.

                    On the one hand, it's disconcerting that once I hit an age/condition where my body can't handle what I put it through right now, I will almost certainly go back to being pudgy. Frustrating. On the other hand, I can legit eat only about 50% clean and not gain. So that's nice to know, I guess.

                    Amen sister, you are echoing my own personal experience. No change. Exercise is the silver bullet, and not a little bit, not body weight exercises or sprinting or any of that.
                    Oh thank god, I'm not alone. I was seriously starting to wonder.

                    And nowadays I'm at this strange place where it doesn't matter if I track my calories and get down to 1200 or below or jack them up to 2000 and above. Nothing changes except how much energy I have and how much I feel like expending.
                    Exactly. Five years of trying every body hack known to man has done nothing except make me extremely knowledgeable about body hacks. I've stopped tracking my food, because I eat pretty much the same thing most days and it always comes out to about 1500-1600 calories, and I know now that that's where my body is satisfied and not hungry. So I just eat when I'm hungry, stop when I'm full, and toss in a sweet potato or some sushi on heavy lifting days. The end. On the one hand, it's very nice not to stress about food tracking; on the other hand, it's disappointing when Science things that are supposed to work because they're Science have zero effect.

                    Is it that whole endomorph thing?

                    Is it that people like us should be lifting huge weights? I had a body-builder chick tell me once if she had my body she could win competitions.

                    Maybe we have an unfortunate combination of male/female hormones.

                    I have a hard time believing it's a thyroid thing because I don't feel like a thyroid problem lives inside me at all.

                    So, is it the whole set-point thing? Are they ever going to find a cure for that? Even as a child I looked as chubby and rounded as I do now. Am I doomed because I was a fat kid?
                    YES. These are the kinds of questions I was hoping we could discuss in this thread. It's not about what I've tried or what I haven't tried or how long I tried them or whatever. Starting from the assumption that caloric intake and macronutrient breakdown has ZERO effect on my body comp, but high-volume exercise does have an effect, what can we hypothesize? What can we come up with to explain this?

                    To drive this point home, this hasn't been true only as long as I've been Primal. This has been true my whole life. I once took a month-long bike trip across Italy, was cycling 30-40 miles a day and eating maybe--MAYBE--2000 calories a day, and guess what? I stayed exactly the same weight the entire time. Didn't lose, didn't gain. CICO is just not a factor in the way my body works.

                    It really bums me out because I really really want someone to say to me, Wow, you look great! What is your secret? And then I want to tell them all about paleo and convert them. But alas, I'm no paleo poster child and it looks like I probably won't ever be one.
                    I'm actually on track to getting the body I want right now by working out at the volume I'm currently maintaining, which is far beyond anything I've ever done before (mostly because people on this forum and elsewhere had me so freaked out about overtraining). The concept of overtraining is out the window now. It took some adjustment but I'm definitely happy and not depleted/wiped at this volume, and I'm finally seeing results. It's a TON of hard work, but it's only been six weeks and I've seen big changes in body comp. I'm going to keep going as long as I can without getting injured or burning out. We'll see where I'm at in a year.

                    ETA: I want to make clear that I'm a huge proponent of the Primal diet and lifestyle and continue to eat very, very cleanly, even though it doesn't help me lose weight/burn fat. I eat this way because I honestly believe it's the best fuel for my body, mind, and life. I very much doubt that I could work out and play as hard as I do and keep (to quote Schmidt from New Girl) CRUSHING IT if I ate a crappy SAD diet.
                    Last edited by heatseeker; 10-10-2012, 07:01 PM.

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                    • #25
                      my body is highly responsive to exercise.

                      my husband makes a joke about it, but the reality is that if I basically do nothing (walk, light daily yoga for about 30 minutes), then diet helps me maintain a certain weight/body fat percentage (body type, yeah?). But, if i do *any* exercise: sprints, derby practice, parkour, more intense yoga, whatever -- then I look leaner the next day. Yes, that quickly.

                      When I am exercising harder/regularly/more (whatever), then I tend to just stay leaner and eat more (as you say, calories based on what a gal burns).

                      I think it's just how I am.

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                      • #26
                        also, it is my personal belief that if you stay active and healthy, and work on your *mobility* (such as yoga/mobility WOD, etc), then you will be able to lift and do a lot of these things as you age, no matter what. There are a lot of senior women who do, and they look great. So, yeah.

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                        • #27
                          maybe it's just your body type?
                          Not to jump down your throat, because I appreciate any addition to the discussion, but what the hell does this even mean? I mean really, what does this mean, in a specific, scientific sense?

                          The whole concept of the Primal Blueprint is that our bodies evolved to be lean fat-burning machines, and that our recent Western environment of high-sugar, high-grain, high-PUFA diets and low-movement lifestyles render our bodies incapable of self-regulating things like fat storage and blood sugar--use of energy, basically--in the most efficient way possible. And that by returning to the style of diet and movement by which our bodies evolved, we can fix these problems and turn our bodies back into the lean fat-burning machines they were meant to be. Saying "maybe it's just your body type" is contradictory to the Primal Blueprint, because if some people are fat because, well, that's their "body type" and they're just meant to be fat, then the whole supposition that humans evolved as a model of fat-burning efficiency is moot, and the Primal Blueprint becomes a thing only certain "body types" can benefit from. Which I refuse to believe.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by heatseeker View Post
                            YES. These are the kinds of questions I was hoping we could discuss in this thread. It's not about what I've tried or what I haven't tried or how long I tried them or whatever. Starting from the assumption that caloric intake and macronutrient breakdown has ZERO effect on my body comp, but high-volume exercise does have an effect, what can we hypothesize? What can we come up with to explain this?

                            To drive this point home, this hasn't been true only as long as I've been Primal. This has been true my whole life. I once took a month-long bike trip across Italy, was cycling 30-40 miles a day and eating maybe--MAYBE--2000 calories a day, and guess what? I stayed exactly the same weight the entire time. Didn't lose, didn't gain. CICO is just not a factor in the way my body works.
                            I walked out my front door and basically walked to Canada. I walked a total of 3000 miles over two summers. I hiked a marathon or more every day. I felt great. I find the whole blog post today about not doing more than 4000 calories of exercise per week ridiculous. I felt fully alive walking a marathon a day, like I was doing what humans are supposed to do. But was I a skinny little stick? Hell no! I was about exactly what I am now! Was I muscle-wasted and full of cortisol? Absolutely not. I could go out there tomorrow I could work myself back up to daily marathons in about a week. It was not even a super human thing for me to do. It was literally no big deal.

                            I even sent Mark a request for him to find some photos of what real primitive paleolithic women looked like because I have a suspicion that they didn't necessarily look like Cross-fit girls or like Mark's wife. I think maybe I just don't know what a real woman is supposed to look like.

                            So what about that set-point thing. Did they ever figure that out?

                            Is it just a Leptin thing? Is there any way to fix your Leptin without having to read impenetrable blogs and follow insane voodoo protocols?
                            Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by heatseeker View Post
                              The whole concept of the Primal Blueprint is that our bodies evolved to be lean fat-burning machines, and that our recent Western environment of high-sugar, high-grain, high-PUFA diets and low-movement lifestyles render our bodies incapable of self-regulating things like fat storage and blood sugar--use of energy, basically--in the most efficient way possible. And that by returning to the style of diet and movement by which our bodies evolved, we can fix these problems and turn our bodies back into the lean fat-burning machines they were meant to be.
                              I guess your posts have touched a nerve in me. I totally relate to it all.

                              Yeah, so I was posting in the potato diet thread that I went for a run at lunch today and somebody responded how could you possibly have the energy to run eating just potatoes? And I'm like what? Why not? If you are a fat-burning beast you ought to be able to run without eating anything at all. In fact, I did exactly that weekend before last. I went out without breakfast and ran for 5 hours. Came home around 3pm. Sat around for half an hour and then had breakfast. No big deal. I obviously can tap into my body fat for energy. So why the hell does it just stay there?

                              So basically, I am a fat-burning machine, but not a very lean one. Does this mean that I'm particularly gifted for endurance activity? If so, is that the effect or the cause? Is carrying all this energy what makes me good at endurance or is it the result of being good at endurance?
                              Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by heatseeker View Post
                                I've done IF in various forms, including a long stint (3-4 months) of Leangains. No effect. Right now I fast Saturday mornings because I don't work out Saturdays and usually don't get hungry until the afternoon. I like fasting, and I think it probably has other non-fat-loss benefits, but it does nothing to help me lost fat.

                                Anytime I try a tweak, I give it at least three weeks before deciding it's not doing anything. I've calorie restricted down to 1000/day and all it Reid was make me feel tired and starving, and my workouts sucked. Body comp remained unchanged.

                                The only times in my entire life that I've visibly or measurably lost fat was when I was working out hardcore. As I am now. And like I said, I don't mind working out hardcore. I just want to know why food has no effect on things. And when I say food has no effect on things, it goes both ways--based on past experience, I could eat a cheat meal every single day and it'd also have no effect. I don't know what would happen if I gorged on SAD food constantly, though. And let's just say it's doubtful that I'd ever do that experiment.

                                To those saying "it's hard to lose those last few vanity pounds"--this is not that. I sit between 28 and 30% body fat, and could visibly stand to lose 20 pounds, even 30 if I wanted to be called "lean". And I've never been heavier than this, either. I have literally been at this weight and body comp for a decade with no ability to change it.
                                Hmmmm...I've noticed something similar in that the macro cocktail doesn't really work as well for me. I was trying to keep the carbs low, fat high, protein, moderate and nothing. Finally, I went with my intuition, which I've been ignoring forever, trying these different and fascinating approaches - I can eat 50 bowls of veggies, which probably blows my carb count higher than suggested for fat loss, lower my fat to moderate and have a little protein with each meal and there it was...my body started changing immediately. Who knew - that tiny stupid tweak? Also, at least for me, if my body transforms, I only start noticing in month 3 -nothing at all until at least 3 months have passed from the first day of my latest effort.

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