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  1. #1
    Ciri's Avatar
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    Primal for female athlete not working??

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    Hello all,


    I am at the dead end with primal, weight loss/gain, performance on the court and am hoping for some senior members to help me out here.

    I have been primal for 8 weeks now. No weight loss, no inches loss, on the contrary I gained 10lbs and added 3 inches in all. The only positive thing that has happened is that I am not as moody and have no cravings as before (minus this weight loss frustration). Negative things are weight/inches gain, inability to fall asleep, and a joint pain - none of which affected me before.

    I am 5'8, female, 29yrs, was 137lbs before going primal and ripped, 17.2% body fat, 6-pack and all. I ate very healthy SAD diet and I train quite a bit - training 6 days a week, combination of crossfit and regular sand practices. I went primal because many folks at crossfit recommended paleo/primal diet for easier recovery and better results at any sport. I am competing on the highest level possible and anything that can give you the edge over other athletes is crucial at my sport as the tournaments are only for 32 best teams in the world.

    I am now 147 - 150lbs, definitely gained some abdominal fat and fat on my legs. I tracked my calories vigorously (always done it) through Fit Day. I ate 1700cal on SAD and eating them also now, but I eat higher protein and fat as before I would eat 60% carbs, 25% protein, 15% fat (mostly mono). Now I am about 80g carbs, 120g protein (eggs, bacon, steak, salmon, chicken - all organic, grass fed), 100g fat. Body fat measurement (I get those done in the same lab) says 19.9% which is about 7lbs increase in FAT which reflects in the fact that my clothes are tighter or dont fit. I eliminated nuts, occasionally splurge on cream for my morning coffee, nearly no friut (once/twice a week berries). I dont drink alcohol and never liked any sodas, eliminated sports drinks altogether since going primal so now I drink only water and coffee. I am a sugar burner (had lab tests done on me in the past).

    For training: Crossfit training sessions vary between 5 - 35mins, I do them 3 times a week. My sand training about 2hrs/3-4 times a week. Tournaments are all day Saturday but amount of playing is probably 7hrs total in a day. My speed, endurance, jumped had not improved enough to actually talk about improvement. If I push carbs below 80g, I am unable to fall asleep even though my body is completely wiped out from training. I tried IFs and it did not work so well with sand practices - my first IF (14hrs) went great but starting from the second one about a week later I was totally lacking energy during a practice and was slightly lightheaded.

    I am so frustrated with this and I just don't know what to do anymore. I may stick to primal for couple more weeks and see if anything happens. What I was hoping to gain from switching to primal was to improve my game while staying the same lean mean machine but now I also have to worry about losing some weight on top of playing so I am just not sure if this is working. Any suggestions please?

  2. #2
    yodiewan's Avatar
    yodiewan is online now Senior Member
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    Hi and welcome to the forum. By sand training, I'm guessing you mean volleyball. If you're doing 2 hours 3-4x a week on top of the crossfit workouts, and ~7hours on Saturday, I'd say you could definitely benefit from higher carb intake. The book (Primal Blueprint) and a lot of the blog posts concerning carb intake are geared towards people who are less active and have weight to lose (not you). You can get get Primal carbs from sweet potates, winter squash, even white potatoes and white rice can be acceptable. Lately there has been more acceptance of higher carb intake int he Primal/paleo community. Just keep away from the grains and seed oils and you will be fine.

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    Keep the carbs primal. There should be no worries going a tad north of 150g. Of course lowering the fat to balance.

    Seriously though only 1700 cal for all that amount of acticvity?

    Cortisol may start to become an issue.

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    Ciri's Avatar
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    Thank you both! I did eat sweet potatoes, and had much higher fruit intake before switching to primal. I will try to lower my fat and up my carbs for next two weeks and see what happens. I did notice that if I eat more carbs I am able to fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. And I forgot to mention that with primal, I am much of aware of a sweetness of any food...carrots, cherry tomatoes, and occasional berries have now this incredible sweet taste so I do believe that primal helps with a food awareness and appreciation and everything that Mark says makes complete sense, I guess I am still learning how to properly apply it to my case.

    As for the calorie intake, I have been told that it may be too low but that's the level my body feels the best as far as training and overall living. While still on SAD if I ate more than that I felt "heavy" and "slower" on the sand next day (@yodiewan: yes, it is beach volleyball). Probably all the bloating from grains. And yes, there were numerous cravings before switching to primal but the fact that you spend most of the year in bikini makes female players think twice about giving in. Now with primal, 1700cal feels even better, nearly zero cravings, no feeling of heaviness other than the weight gain and tighter fit of clothing. I will test next two weeks and see, thanks!

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    Pink Grokoddess's Avatar
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    hopefully those tips help it would be a shame to give up the primal life style ..
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    Some people adapt well to VLC and some don't. Primal isn't a VLC by definition but definitely lower carb than SAD. I would guess that your 10lb weight gain (well, actually just 7 pounds unless you want to lose the 3 pounds of muscle you gained) is likely a result of your body needing more energy than you're giving it. 1700 cal isn't much energy for the amount of work you're doing.

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    doesn't matter how awesome the food you are eating is, if you aren't eating enough to fuel adequate recovery, you are going to stall. I'd at least try throwing in an extra sweet potato on training days, and see what happens. At this point, it can't hurt, right?

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    js290's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ciri View Post
    I am now 147 - 150lbs, definitely gained some abdominal fat and fat on my legs. I tracked my calories vigorously (always done it) through Fit Day. I ate 1700cal on SAD and eating them also now, but I eat higher protein and fat as before I would eat 60% carbs, 25% protein, 15% fat (mostly mono). Now I am about 80g carbs, 120g protein (eggs, bacon, steak, salmon, chicken - all organic, grass fed), 100g fat...I am a sugar burner (had lab tests done on me in the past).
    Back off on the protein. Protein requirements are actually quite modest even for genetically gifted body builders Excessive protein will either get turned into glucose or wasted. 1g/kg, so about half of what you're eating now, which I guess may have been what you were eating before. Swap carbs for fat which should help convert you to fat metabolism.

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    Quote Originally Posted by profdjj View Post
    Some people adapt well to VLC and some don't. Primal isn't a VLC by definition but definitely lower carb than SAD. I would guess that your 10lb weight gain (well, actually just 7 pounds unless you want to lose the 3 pounds of muscle you gained) is likely a result of your body needing more energy than you're giving it. 1700 cal isn't much energy for the amount of work you're doing.
    Agree with all of this.
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  10. #10
    Ciri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by js290 View Post
    Back off on the protein. Protein requirements are actually quite modest even for genetically gifted body builders Excessive protein will either get turned into glucose or wasted. 1g/kg, so about half of what you're eating now, which I guess may have been what you were eating before. Swap carbs for fat which should help convert you to fat metabolism.

    Running Times Magazine: Running on Empty
    Archevore - Archevore Diet
    Ok, now I am confused - some of you are recommending to eat more carbs and eliminate some of the fat and now I need to cut back on protein and eat less carbs?? With 19.9% body fat puts me within 120lb of lean mass so I thought I should eat about as much protein in grams. So go less than that <100g? Carbs more or less? I'd like to figure protein/carbs first and fill the rest with fat depending on my satiety levels but I am thoroughly confused now.

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