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Primal diet - Pros and Cons?

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  • Primal diet - Pros and Cons?

    When I started Primal initially the impact was so positive that I thought I had stumbled upon the second secret of Fatima... I was sure miracles were going to happen. Now it's nine months later and I have to admit that, while I have had some amazing results, it hasn't been all rosy.

    There was recently a nice "This is working for me" thread, which counterbalanced the growing low carb grumble, but I'm really interested to know what people's overall experience of Primal has been? What are your positives and negatives? Has it helped you resolve specific ailments, or has it given you new things to worry about?

    (I'm defining Primal as a diet with a focus on good fats, and unrefined food. For various reasons (weight / blood sugar control etc.) complex carbs are limited, making the diet moderate to low to very low carb.)

    Here's me:

    I was a vegetarian suffering from chronic insomnia, brain fog, low energy, and severe hypoglycemic reactions. I used to need to lie down a couple of times a day because my energy levels crashed so badly. I came to Primal hoping to improve my energy, my mood, and my insomnia.

    Pros:
    - Energy initially improved a lot, and I don't have thrice-daily energy crashes anymore
    - Eczema has vanished and I barely even need moisturizer!
    - Never get spots any more (though I think this is because I stopped drinking tap water)
    - Brain fog has completely lifted. I'm very sharp now, and even my reflexes have improved!
    - Became waaaay more flexible (I'm assuming due to all the anti inflammatory foods I've been eating)
    - Need to do a lot less exercise to maintain fitness levels
    - Irregular period has regulated
    - Blood sugar control definitely better - don't get the shakes anymore, and BS does not drop as low as it used to
    - Body scent has changed completely - dont need to use deodorant and never have bad breath in the mornings!
    - Random aches and pains have vanished
    - Discovered the simple joy of coffee with cream

    Cons:
    - Insomnia got significantly worse
    - Diet triggered a relapse into binging behaviour
    - (subsequently) put on weight: went from 18-19% body fat to probably 21%
    - Have had some of the worst digestive problems of my life since going Primal - bloating, and severe constipation.

    Nons (No change in):
    - Rosacea
    - Daily energy crashes are gone, but still have big energy crashes every couple of days
    - Mood has stayed the same
    - Never experienced the satiation or the lack of appetite that many people report. Even though I have better blood sugar control and can fast without much effort now, does this mean I never became "a fat burning beast"?

    Overall, more pros than cons, but the cons are bigger issues so I think it's balanced out for me...!
    "I think the basic anti-aging diet is also the best diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes, scleroderma, and the various "connective tissue diseases." This would emphasize high protein, low unsaturated fats, low iron, and high antioxidant consumption, with a moderate or low starch consumption.

    In practice, this means that a major part of the diet should be milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, fruits and coconut oil, with vitamin E and salt as the safest supplements."

    - Ray Peat

  • #2
    Rosacea was from nightshades for me. Once I cut out all tomatoes and peppers, it went away.

    Lack of appetite varies. Increasing protein really made the difference for me on that front! Now I'm just wondering if it's too much protein for my long-term good.

    You are a fat burning beast by now. I promise. Unless you poop out the fat you're eating, it's being utilized!

    Bloating and severe constipation? You still eating dairy? Have you tried going without for a week or two?

    Insomnia might stem from adrenal issues if you IF. Maybe more frequent meals are more ideal for you.

    I'm on your wavelength. I was like "OMG, Holy Grail!!!" and now I'm more like, "This is totally awesome, but I think I need to change SOMETHING." And it's probably my sleep schedule, but I'm eating more carbs for now and cutting back on coffee.

    I've never felt better, but I'm not yet at my best, I'm sure of it. Whatever I can change, I'm positive it will fit into the Primal paradigm, anyway.
    Crohn's, doing SCD

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Knifegill View Post

      I'm on your wavelength. I was like "OMG, Holy Grail!!!" and now I'm more like, "This is totally awesome, but I think I need to change SOMETHING." And it's probably my sleep schedule, but I'm eating more carbs for now and cutting back on coffee.

      I've never felt better, but I'm not yet at my best, I'm sure of it. Whatever I can change, I'm positive it will fit into the Primal paradigm, anyway.

      I'm three months in and this is where i am, i feel like i should be better off, i think my sleep is the issue, i've cut wine and coffee up to two hours before bed. I guess i need to do more

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      • #4
        Primal has saved my life but I do have the binge eating problem and it has gotten worse. I've gained back 20 lbs that I lost in the first year. I think that, for me, very low carb has to be coupled with high fat (70%+) and controlled calories. Once I upped the fat, the binges stopped.

        That said, Primal for most people is not supposed to be very low carb. Moderate carb might be a better definition.

        PS Since I upped the fat, sleep has also improved.

        You might want to take a look at our "Eat More Fat" challenge on the Nutrition Board.
        Primal since 9/24/2010
        "Our greatest foes, and whom we must chiefly combat, are within." Miguel de Cervantes

        Created by MyFitnessPal.com - Free Weight Loss Tools
        MFP username: MDAPebbles67

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Pebbles67 View Post
          PS Since I upped the fat, sleep has also improved.

          You might want to take a look at our "Eat More Fat" challenge on the Nutrition Board.
          Interesting thanks, i will

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Pebbles67 View Post
            Once I upped the fat, the binges stopped.

            PS Since I upped the fat, sleep has also improved.
            Personally, upping the fat did not help me with either of those. I went from a very low fat diet (veggie/borderline vegan) to eating about 150gs fat per day.

            Originally posted by Knifegill View Post
            Rosacea was from nightshades for me. Once I cut out all tomatoes and peppers, it went away.

            Lack of appetite varies. Increasing protein really made the difference for me on that front! Now I'm just wondering if it's too much protein for my long-term good.

            You are a fat burning beast by now. I promise. Unless you poop out the fat you're eating, it's being utilized!

            Bloating and severe constipation? You still eating dairy? Have you tried going without for a week or two?

            Insomnia might stem from adrenal issues if you IF. Maybe more frequent meals are more ideal for you.

            I'm on your wavelength. I was like "OMG, Holy Grail!!!" and now I'm more like, "This is totally awesome, but I think I need to change SOMETHING." And it's probably my sleep schedule, but I'm eating more carbs for now and cutting back on coffee.

            I've never felt better, but I'm not yet at my best, I'm sure of it. Whatever I can change, I'm positive it will fit into the Primal paradigm, anyway.
            That's so great your sorted your Rosacea! Unfortunately I adore nightshades... but I'll try cutting them out after Christmas and see what happens.

            High protein didn't satiate me. And adding greek yogurt back into my diet has helped hugely with my digestive problems! Just goes to show how different we all are.

            I think the insomnia is from glycogen depletion which I can't adapt to. The only drug that allows me to have a good night's sleep is... sugar! I had a couple of desperate nights where I ate a jar of nutella and then slept like the dead. Starches / lactose / fructose don't have the same effect at all. Saying that, it's been such a long time since I've had a balanced diet (8 plus years of being veggie) that I have no idea how my body would react to getting a little bit of everything. That's what I'm aiming for now. Excluding wheat, of course

            Btw, I went a year without drinking coffee, and it never helped with my insomnia!
            "I think the basic anti-aging diet is also the best diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes, scleroderma, and the various "connective tissue diseases." This would emphasize high protein, low unsaturated fats, low iron, and high antioxidant consumption, with a moderate or low starch consumption.

            In practice, this means that a major part of the diet should be milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, fruits and coconut oil, with vitamin E and salt as the safest supplements."

            - Ray Peat

            Comment


            • #7
              increase in carbs helps the insomnia...and maybe nothing is wrong with a little sugar before bed if it helps---I would agree that it helps me too. Also, having been a vegetarian, you might need some mega doses of probiotics to re-inoculate your gut with the right helpers to break down and assimilate your food. I was veg for many years and experienced some issues reintroducing meat into my diet...had to go on digestive enzymes for awhile...but not anymore. I still take probiotics daily though.

              I, too, have to avoid nightshades...no rosacea, but dry itchy skin.

              And for a woman...18% BF is really quite below average...so perhaps your body is finding is happy and healthy point!
              Check out my blog on nature and nurture!
              http://thewoodsygal.com/

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              • #8
                I have noticed that my hair no longer falls out in the shower when I wash it. It feels thicker and so I'm hoping that I will be able to get it to grow beyond my shoulders at some point! I can dream, right?! I very rarely fart anymore and I haven't had the intermittent skin infection in the corner of my mouth for a while either, come to think of it.

                I'm only six weeks in but these changes are great. I'm not a size ten yet, that's my only grumble!

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                • #9
                  [QUOTE=solstice;1038779]increase in carbs helps the insomnia...and maybe nothing is wrong with a little sugar before bed if it helps---I would agree that it helps me too.

                  I agree. This helped me immensely with insomnia. A little carb before bed leads to good zzzz. I usually have a warm bowl of pumpkin puree with an egg white and some spices.

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                  • #10
                    I've been primal for around 14 months now. No real 'cons' that I can think of but a few 'nons' and plenty of 'pros'.

                    After the best part of 20 years either dieting or bingeing, I was really keen to get away from the diet mentality - which means no calorie counting and calculating macro/micronutrient ratios. Lost 10lbs pretty quickly and really lost the mid afternoon energy crashes. Then, for about 10 months, no movement. On the up side here, the bingeing has stopped altogether - I just don't feel the need any longer - and I appear to have taught myself how to eat in order to maintain my weight, which is a huge step forward.

                    Four months ago I decided to stop coasting and take some positive action. First I started heavy lifting and go myself a fabulous (erm, and hot) trainer...best thing I ever did - I love, love, love weightlifting and it has done so much for my self esteem. Then around mid September I started tweaking my diet, decreasing carbs and increasing fat, and the fat loss started again slowly but surely. I'm not super low carb, and I seem to be able to increase carb intake briefly here and there without any adverse affects (as I'll likely do for Christmas day).

                    On the non side - my insomnia isn't any better either, although I've discovered that taking inositol makes the sleep I have much more restful. I ran out recently and quite quickly my sleep quality is poor again. Also, primal hasn't significantly improved my asthma - although being in the best shape of my life, fitness wise, probably has - and I still have awful sinus problems (ditching the dairy helped slightly, but not significantly).

                    So a bit of a mixed bag for me too, but if I had to weight the pros, cons and nons, I'd say that the pros are 80%, the nons 20% . I can't really see beyond feeling great - my energy levels are crazy these days and I'm well on my way to the body I've always coveted...even if it has taken me almost 46 years to get there. No way am I stopping this

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The positive aspect of Primal Diet for me was that I adapted to eating fat, prior to that the smell of butter made me gag. I found the fats that do not cause bad reaction for me and can cook with that. Mostly I use drippings/lard from pork and coconut oil. Every other fat I do not like.

                      My biggest improvement in health (hypoglycemia, hunger, etc) was with moving from LF/HC and very low caloric intakes to Whole Foods Diet. It stabilized my weight and eliminated binges.

                      VLC and trying various macro- and calorie staggering diets, and fasting made me binge and created depressive spells - things I am not normally given to. I am staying away from these methods as successful as they are for other people.

                      My sleep was a disaster, but improved dramatically (I sleep 3+ hours more than before and fall back asleep when wake up) when I gained weight and increased carb intake (got fruit in)

                      Overall, I gained 10 lbs in 3 years after switching from CW to Paleo/Primal variations. Some of this gain was muscle gain, but some of it is fat (I estimate that I went from slightly under 20% BF to about 25% BF). I would like to have less fat on me, but I don't know how to achieve that without decreasing the well-being and impairing muscular development.

                      Overall, my best fit is basically whole foods with no processed grains, not Primal/Paleo per se. Legumes quite often and occasional cooked whole grains do me good for satiation reasons. I am not sure why I can't cross into the happy fat-burner territory, but I can't. I just stay in the fatigued grey zone of misery when I try to go VLC.

                      If I could resolve the depressive problem, limiting sugar/fructose really makes things better for me (mood, performance, energy, shakes, acne). Unfortunately, so far my depressive spells limited my ability to reduce fructose/sugar more. I tried a few times to judge effects of dairy on me, but I do not have a clear-cut answer. Straight dairy is no good, but I cna't figure out if fermented causes problems.
                      Last edited by Leida; 12-21-2012, 09:10 AM.
                      My Journal: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread57916.html
                      When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.

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                      • #12
                        For me:
                        Pros - I lost weight, mainly body fat.
                        I feel more energized, and my mood has stabilized.
                        No afternoon crashes.
                        I can eat too much some days (all Primal, tasty foods even sweet treats) and don't gain weight.
                        I got into exercising regularly and really liking it.
                        I'm in good health overall. No colds or any other issues. Used to be sick a lot - upper respiratory stuff.
                        I really enjoy great tasting foods, all guilt free. Eating is no longer just going through the motions to sustain myself.
                        Body composition looks much better compared to in the past when I was watching calories. No more skinny fat.
                        I sleep very well, 8+ hours.
                        I'm sure there's more, but can't think of it now.

                        Negatives - Having to cook all the time. As much as I like cooking, it just gets old at times.
                        Experiencing binge eating episodes at time, so far without any negative results.
                        Still working on the last few vanity extra lbs. and trying to figure out how to get rid of them.
                        Obsessing over my macros and pre-planing my daily menu every day.

                        I suppose most if not all of the negatives could be blamed on me, not on the Primal lifestyle. All in all for me the pros greatly outweigh all the cons.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by spuggygirl View Post
                          After the best part of 20 years either dieting or bingeing, I was really keen to get away from the diet mentality -

                          So a bit of a mixed bag for me too, but if I had to weight the pros, cons and nons, I'd say that the pros are 80%, the nons 20% . I can't really see beyond feeling great - my energy levels are crazy these days and I'm well on my way to the body I've always coveted...even if it has taken me almost 46 years to get there. No way am I stopping this
                          Amazing success spuggygirl!! I'm with you on the diet mentality - I realised that I've been dieting since I was 18... and it doesn't work. Delighted to hear you've broken that cycle - hope I'll get there too

                          Originally posted by Jesster View Post
                          I have noticed that my hair no longer falls out in the shower when I wash it. It feels thicker and so I'm hoping that I will be able to get it to grow beyond my shoulders at some point! I can dream, right?! I very rarely fart anymore
                          Totally forgot - I had the exact same thing! Even before I started eating meat again, my hair stopped falling out in the shower, and it's defo growing faster. I reckon it's cutting grains.

                          Originally posted by Leida View Post

                          If I could resolve the depressive problem, limiting sugar/fructose really makes things better for me (mood, performance, energy, shakes, acne). Unfortunately, so far my depressive spells limited my ability to reduce fructose/sugar more.
                          Leida, I'm totally with you on pretty much all you wrote. Binging - body crying for what it needs. insomnia - I think it's a nutrition thing, not a weight thing. I've been thinner and sleeping better. I'm trying more carbs at night for it. The depression issue - I'm finding fructose and sucrose aren't helping - but white rice is!
                          "I think the basic anti-aging diet is also the best diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes, scleroderma, and the various "connective tissue diseases." This would emphasize high protein, low unsaturated fats, low iron, and high antioxidant consumption, with a moderate or low starch consumption.

                          In practice, this means that a major part of the diet should be milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, fruits and coconut oil, with vitamin E and salt as the safest supplements."

                          - Ray Peat

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Graycat View Post
                            For me:

                            Experiencing binge eating episodes at time, so far without any negative results.

                            I suppose most if not all of the negatives could be blamed on me, not on the Primal lifestyle. All in all for me the pros greatly outweigh all the cons.
                            Maybe the other negatives could be blamed on you, but the binging seems to be a recurring pattern with people, and I think it's down to the body screaming for what it needs. I started binging when I became veggie (when I was 18). I thought it would get better with Primal but it got worse. My body stopped screaming for protein and starting screaming for carbs. I think if you're binging it's a sign you're missing some macronutrient.
                            "I think the basic anti-aging diet is also the best diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes, scleroderma, and the various "connective tissue diseases." This would emphasize high protein, low unsaturated fats, low iron, and high antioxidant consumption, with a moderate or low starch consumption.

                            In practice, this means that a major part of the diet should be milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, fruits and coconut oil, with vitamin E and salt as the safest supplements."

                            - Ray Peat

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Cons:

                              Severe debilitating inflammation, beginning of gout.

                              Worst sleep of my life, waking up multiple times to pee.

                              Gaining fat on a lower calorie diet.

                              Alienating myself from social gatherings.

                              Looking like a jackass from preaching paleo gospal to everyone around me (thank god i didnt start a blog).

                              Screwing up my view on foods and diet.

                              Inducing subclinical hypothyroid and all the symptoms that come along with that.

                              Pros:

                              None come to mind.

                              You wont find many lists like mine but that is not because there are none. Most just become disillusioned and dont come back.

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