Help! Homeostasis or Stubborn Plateau?
Hey, Primal Community--
Need your feedback/ideas. Iím now almost one year into being primal (100% nearly all of the time with a very few 80/20 indulgences and exceptions now and then) and I gotta say I've never felt better energy-wise and overall health-wise and have no intention of going back to my "old, SAD ways." But I do have to say Iím a bit frustrated that Iím not leaner. In line with the PBF curve, I've been keeping my carbs religiously low (around 50-60 grams a day or less) pretty consistently and do primal workouts (including sprints) 6-7 days a week but Iím basically about the same weight and body composition I was when I started. I initially dropped about 8 pounds but then quickly leveled off and even gained a few pounds back.
Now I was fairly trim/fit to begin with (I was a triathlete) and I know Iíve gained a bit of muscle mass (which would account for a higher number on the scale) but I still carry a decent amount of fat around my waist and Iím just not as overall lean as Iíd like to be. What kills me is all the success story e-mails that Mark sends out every Friday and they invariably show pictures of some guy who weighed 275 pounds 6 months ago and now heís leaner than me and has better abs than Iíve ever had. More power to them but it makes me think I'm missing something. I fear I may have reached my homeostasis and this bodyfat percentage is my natural, healthy genetic expression whether I like it or not.
Iím not necessarily hoping to look just like Mark (not that I'd mind) but it would be nice be able to see all of my abs at least once before I die (I didnít have them in high school or college either but then my diet sucked back then). I've done several dietary experiments to try to break through this "plateau" (including zero carbs and periodic carb re-feeds) but nothing seems to move the needle. Iím experimenting right now with cutting all nuts out of my diet. I snack on those pretty heavily (mostly almonds and pistachios) and Iím wondering if that might be holding me back.
In the end I guess itís mostly vanity thatís driving this. As long as I feel healthy and can run around and ride my bike and be active and play with my kids I should be satisfied. But now that Iím officially ďmiddle-agedĒ (at 45 I guess thereís no denying it anymore) I donít want to accept the idea that it wonít get any better than this for the next 45 years. For the record, I'm 5'11 and weigh 175 pounds.
Ideas and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
It may help if you posted a typical days diet? Do you track cals or anything? just curious - I too am working on getting rid of the last of belly fat basically
Chris you're essentially in my exact same position (except I'm half your age). I'm 6', in the neighborhood of 190, and I've maintained the same overall body fat percentage for the duration of my time in this WOE, which is probably around 15% (give or take a percentage point or two). It's frustrating, especially after having tried several different methods of eating (i.e., keeping carbs very low except for carb refeed days) to try and siphon off the last few pounds around the middle. Pretty much everywhere else on the body is fairly muscular -- though I wouldn't complain if I could add a few more pounds of muscle -- but just the stomach area is holding on to some fat.
Are you a college student, trying to navigate college while being Primal? Do you know any other PB college students on a tight budget? Heck, for that matter, are YOU trying to live Primal on a budget? Enroll at Primal University!
For after all what is man in nature? A nothing in relation to infinity, all in relation to nothing, a central point between nothing and all and infinitely far from understanding either.
-- Blaise Pascal
How much weight training do you do? I would think that would make a big difference.
It likely is homeostasis. and you might be working out to frequently.
I remember reading something on Lyle McDonalds site about how to really trim off the fat and get competition ready if you are a body builder. First step is to make sure you are in ketosis, then you drastically reduce your fat intake and just eat a maintenance amount of lean protein a day (1 gram per pound of lean body mass) and no carbs. Seems like a recipe to rip through quite a few pounds of body fat fairly quickly. The effects are probably not long lasting once you go back to eating normal.
Welcome to my world. Simply put, you are the perfect candidate for a carb cycling routine. Check out the link in my signature. It'll explain everything, including why you can't seem to lose body fat. Primal itself did wonders to make me feel better. I have a lot more energy, my skin is better, my terrible allergies are GONE and my mood has skyrocketed...but it didn't really help me lose much body fat. Only when I began regular low-fat high-carb refeeds did the fat start falling off. I'm making great progress now - down from a size 32 to a size 29 in no time.
Originally Posted by happydog
I do primal free-body exercises (pull-ups, variety of push-ups, squats, lunges, planks, etc.) 2-3 times a week. I actually have a fairly "easy" time putting on muscle so I don't hit the weight room much anymore Other days it's a mix of walking, running, cycling and swimming (all below 75% max hear rate) for about an hour or so. Diet is pretty regular. I don't eat breakfast (all my workouts are fasted) and my feeding window is about 12-8pm. My diet is pretty consistent. Almost always a big-ass salad for lunch with plenty of protein (usually chicken) and dinners are right out of the primal/paleo recipe books -- a variety of grilled/baked chicken, turkey, pork, fish and bacon dishes with low-starch veggie sides (with butter of course). I'd estimate my daily caloric intake to bein the 2000-2400 range. I also practice periodic intermittent fasting with 24-hour fasts every other week or so. Feel like I'm doing everything the book and MDA says I should be but just cant shake those last few pounds of body fat. Ideally I'd like to be in the 165-170lb range (which would probably put me at about 10-12% bodyfat) but just can't seem to get there.
Just read your post on carb cycling and it couldn't have come at a better time for me. It makes a lot of sense intuitively and at this point it sure can't hurt to give it a shot. I like tinkering/experimenting with my diet anyway. I'll take a before photo tomorrow and then start my first 48-hour re-feed test this weekend. If nothing else I'll learn some things. Thanks for sharing your info and ideas and will keep you posted!
Originally Posted by ChocoTaco369
No problem. One of the important things to mention - and I didn't mention it in the post because I naturally assumed it would happen - is to calorie cycle. Say your average fat loss caloric intake is 2,000 calories a day. Well, I do three cardio days, three lift days and one completely off day. On the three heavy lifting days, take in, say, 2,400 calories a day. On your three low level cardio days, take in 1,800 calories a day. On your off day, drop it to 1,400. That'll give you an average of 2,000 calories a day, but cycling them between heavy eating days and light eating days keeps the plateaus at bay. Just keep the high calorie days relatively low fat and pretty high carb. It's tough to do since it's a much larger volume of food. I'm pretty conservative in the post and write 40g of fat, but it might not be enough on high carb days. If you have to take in 50-60g, don't sweat it. 60g is really the upper limit I ever see recommended.
Cool. Good info to keep in mind. Time to buy a bag of white rice and a bunch of sweet potatoes and let the experimenting begin!