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Thread: Need advice - losing too much weight

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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Need advice - losing too much weight

    Does anyone else have the problem of losing too much weight eating paleo/primal?

    Basically I was introduced to Whole 30, primal, and paleo early summer 2011. Whole 30 was recommended by my physical therapist at the time because I've been dealing with a strangely resistant shoulder repetitive strain issue (still persisting - over two years now) and he was confounded enough to see if my diet could be part of the issue. Eating differently than the SAD was new to me but I gave it a try.

    Some quick background info about me - I'm 35, female, 5' 11". Always been very nonathletic and skinny with little to no muscle tone, what I call 'skinny fat'. I did not care about losing weight when I started the new way of eating, as weight was never an issue for me. I was mostly interested to see if it would help with my RSI, or my ever present fatigue, or my digestion issues ( frequent diarrhea and bloating). I grew up on a standard American diet, with the combination of some good food (mom had a vegetable garden) combined with lots of bad food (grains/beans/pasta, commercial meats, vegetable oils, lots of junk food and soda)

    Initially I lost a good 5 pounds and my almost constant stomach bloat that had been around for last couple years completely went away. I've gone through varying versions of primal from then until now, sometimes including dairy sometimes not, symptoms including grains, sometimes not, as I wrestled with my own beliefs and doubts and theories and peer pressures and sugar addiction.

    For the last couple months at least I've been doing pretty much strict paleo, thinking that inflammation is probably a huge part of my problem regarding the RSI and half convinced that I might be celiac, though Dr. was not interested in proving it. I increased my veggie intake (trying to get 6 to 9 cups a day), went out of my way to make sure I was getting organic eggs and organic grass fed meat, avoiding all processed food, and not eating out at all, and limiting my sugar is much as I can. My fruits are limited mostly to berries, though I definitely would sneak in a banana here there.

    Annoyingly, this new healthy way of eating is not really improved my constant fatigue or diarrhea issues. But more important than that, I really cannot seem to stop losing weight. Initially before I started I was about 140 lbs. For my height that was fine, though the muscle fat ratio was not good. Since the initial 5 lb loss I've been losing steadily an additional a pound or two every month regardless of how I vary my diet (as long as it's still minus grains). Every time I think it's as low as it should go, and I hope that it plateaus, it just keeps getting lower. Right now I'm down to 119. I was very concerned around 125, and I don't understand why it just keeps going down. at 119 my BMI is 16.6. This is definitely underweight.. I think I weighed this much in junior high.

    I've always had what seems to be a high metabolism (despite my fatigue and constant lack of energy), my body just never cared about storing fat. And now that I eat healthy I can't seem keep the weight on. I could start eating starches and grains again, but I'm distressed at the idea of doing that because I care about my health, and I don't think adding a bunch of bloated weight is going to really help my situation. my doctor wants me to gain 15 to 20 pounds. I have no idea how to do this without going back to starches. I'm pretty sure I get enough calories. A typical day is around 1500 - 1700. I've been adding shakes that usually include coconut milk, frozen berries and protein (hemp or Garden of Life brand protein) just to try to get some more calories in, but doesn't seem to matter. I've also tried eating more nuts of varying kinds, but they often cause digestion issues for me too - not fun.

    I'd love to add some muscle, but my RSI prevents me from exercising my upper body. My glutes and abs could really use some tone.. But I'm doubtful that exercising them will gain me the kind of weight that I need. I started doing 30 min. of cardio 3-5 times a week a couple months ago to try to help with RSI, and Ive played around with lower body machines at the gym, but so far do not really see a difference in tone. I'm always a little confused as to how much weight I should be lifting when it comes to lower body, and what kind of reps and sets etc to actually build muscle, as exercise is not really something I've done seriously at all before.

    I'm frustrated... I'm looking for any and all advice regarding ways to gain weight without compromising the health of my diet. thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    add in some carbs

  3. #3
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    You need to eat more.
    You glutes and legs are the biggest muscles in your body, so exercising them will add muscle. In addition if you did weight squats in a 5x5 style they stress your whole body and you will grow. Perhaps not as well as a whole body routine but you will grow.
    As for the weight you start light to work on form adding weight each session.
    In a few weeks you will get to a weight where you can just manage 5 reps - rest 3-5 min and do it again, then rest and do it a third time. You can do sets of 3 or 5.
    Next session in a couple of days you add a bit more weight. As soon as you can manage 3x5 or 5x5 the next session y ou add weight again...simples.
    Eating primal is not a diet, it is a way of life.
    PS
    Don't forget to play!

  4. #4
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    You need to find out what's behind the constant fatigue and digestion issues as it could be something really serious. If you're not eating gluten then it isn't celiac. It could be anything from Chrohn's to h.pylori so you really need to go back to your Doctor. If he still doesn't take you seriously or investigate further then find yourself another Doctor.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by StoneAgeQueen View Post
    You need to find out what's behind the constant fatigue and digestion issues as it could be something really serious. If you're not eating gluten then it isn't celiac. It could be anything from Chrohn's to h.pylori so you really need to go back to your Doctor. If he still doesn't take you seriously or investigate further then find yourself another Doctor.
    Agreed, but that's much easier said than done. I've tried for years to figure out the cause behind those symptoms, but so far I'm left playing my own detective and not getting very far. unfortunately fatigue and digestion issues are symptoms of pretty much a million different things. I've been to a number of different Drs, they've done a bunch of tests and they're always 'normal'.

    I just got back from a follow-up with a new doctor yesterday (I've only been seeing him a couple months now). He did some blood work, but like usual says everything appears to be 'normal'. looking at the labs myself, I'm not thrilled with vitamin D at 39, or ferritin at 27. as for thyroid, he only ran FT4 and it's within the normal range. He probably didn't run more because I've had it my thyroid tested from the last Dr. within the last couple years, and it always shows within the normal range. I know there are more extensive tests to run, but all of the doctors Ive had are unwilling to do more unless the first set looks abnormal.

    as for the celiac possibility, I find it impossible to come to any firm conclusion. I know that gluten gives me bloat. that alone is enough to avoid it because it means of the very least I am gluten sensitive (that still can do lots of bad things to your body). My previous doctor did some of the blood work, but again only a couple of the tests, not all of them. getting diagnosed for celiac is one of the hardest conditions to accurately diagnose because American doctors tend to know very little about it and celiac manifests itself in many many different ways -not just digestive.

    The thing that really throws me for a loop about my blood work is my ferritin is low/normal but my iron is very high. I've never had my iron be this high before and at 209 it's actually outside of the normal range (normal is 40 -160). frustratingly he thought this was okay for now. he didn't think much about the fact that I had a bout of strange persistent vertigo for two weeks last month. And he only recommends seeing a nutritionist to make sure I'm eating okay ( he did not seem very familiar with paleo/primal at all). now I have to do more of my own detective work to find out if that high iron number is actually okay and how to get my ferritin up without making the iron higher.

    surprisingly the doctor says the blood work shows that I probably don't have malabsorption issues, and the markers for systemic inflammation were good. I was sure all the bathroom issues would mean that I wasn't getting anything from my food. Along with that and the constant pain I'm in I figured I had inflammation issues too... But apparently not? It should be good news.. but it just leaves me more confused really.

    I doubt I will ever find out what causes my fatigue/digestive issues.. And now I am tasked to finding a nutritionist who is actually familiar with primal/paleo. I'm guessing this won't be easy

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by devotchka View Post

    I just got back from a follow-up with a new doctor yesterday (I've only been seeing him a couple months now). He did some blood work, but like usual says everything appears to be 'normal'. looking at the labs myself, I'm not thrilled with vitamin D at 39, or ferritin at 27. as for thyroid, he only ran FT4 and it's within the normal range. He probably didn't run more because I've had it my thyroid tested from the last Dr. within the last couple years, and it always shows within the normal range. I know there are more extensive tests to run, but all of the doctors Ive had are unwilling to do more unless the first set looks abnormal.

    as for the celiac possibility, I find it impossible to come to any firm conclusion. I know that gluten gives me bloat. that alone is enough to avoid it because it means of the very least I am gluten sensitive (that still can do lots of bad things to your body). My previous doctor did some of the blood work, but again only a couple of the tests, not all of them. getting diagnosed for celiac is one of the hardest conditions to accurately diagnose because American doctors tend to know very little about it and celiac manifests itself in many many different ways -not just digestive.

    The thing that really throws me for a loop about my blood work is my ferritin is low/normal but my iron is very high. I've never had my iron be this high before and at 209 it's actually outside of the normal range (normal is 40 -160). frustratingly he thought this was okay for now. he didn't think much about the fact that I had a bout of strange persistent vertigo for two weeks last month. And he only recommends seeing a nutritionist to make sure I'm eating okay ( he did not seem very familiar with paleo/primal at all). now I have to do more of my own detective work to find out if that high iron number is actually okay and how to get my ferritin up without making the iron higher.

    surprisingly the doctor says the blood work shows that I probably don't have malabsorption issues, and the markers for systemic inflammation were good. I was sure all the bathroom issues would mean that I wasn't getting anything from my food. Along with that and the constant pain I'm in I figured I had inflammation issues too... But apparently not? It should be good news.. but it just leaves me more confused really.
    Despite that Vit D being within 'normal' (30-75) it's to the low end and getting it up may indeed be helpful... most people shoot for about 60-65.

    Getting some sub-lingual B-12 might help with your fatigue until you get back on track.

    Sorting out the reason would be better...
    Being short on Vitamin C can cause it... maybe supplement to see if that helps?

    Also... that Celiac's you suspect can cause low ferritin too. (This is where my money would go if I were betting...)

    Thyroid issues can cause ferritin issues too bit it came back normal... and with the gut issues you already have, well, it seems to be pointing that direction.

    Ferritin is the body's iron storage device, a protein, so you aren't making enough of that... thus are probably not storing iron. That would be a good reason for all of the free floating iron in your system if you are eating a good deal of iron rich foods. Your body simply doesn't have storage space to put it until it can be utilized or disposed of.

    Gut healing time. Bone broths... zero grains.
    And you need to keep consuming iron believe it or not... if not you never fill the stores you're creating.
    Don't and go crazy and over do the iron too much, but don't be afraid to keep eating it either. Because you are not storing any for your body to use when you are not eating, you are totally reliant on the free iron in your blood right now.
    And good protein too... building blocks.
    “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
    ~Friedrich Nietzsche
    And that's why I'm here eating HFLC Primal/Paleo.


  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by cori93437 View Post
    Despite that Vit D being within 'normal' (30-75) it's to the low end and getting it up may indeed be helpful... most people shoot for about 60-65.
    I've been supplementing with D3 for a couple months now (inconsistently tho). It's only 1000 IUs as that was the doctor's recommendation. after reviewing the bloodwork he did not see a reason to recommend higher dose for my low/normal level. This is where I get frustrated with doctors.. Especially this one because he was recommended by a friend of a friend as a 'good one' and I had to wait six months to get an appointment with him. Basically I don't understand how doctors can be so number centric. If someone is chronically fatigued and other tests don't explain why, and their vitamin D is at the low end of the normal range, is it THAT inconceivable that may be the normal range is not the same for everyone? that may be I would function better at a higher level of vitamin D? I guess that line of thinking is just too much to ask for from MDs these days...

    And they wonder why so many of us turn to online help and advice for medical problems..

    Quote Originally Posted by cori93437 View Post
    Getting some sub-lingual B-12 might help with your fatigue until you get back on track.
    my B12 was in the middle/high range of normal, so I must be getting good amount from my food. Over the years in the past I've tried various B12 supplements ( including sublingual) but never did anything for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by cori93437 View Post
    Being short on Vitamin C can cause it... maybe supplement to see if that helps?
    ha, Dr. recommended that one too but not based on any lab numbers, just as a shot in the dark. I kind of ignored it as vitamin C seems ridiculous to be low on. its constantly added to foods and they never test my levels when I get blood work done.. so why supplement? maybe I missed a memo

    Quote Originally Posted by cori93437 View Post
    Also... that Celiac's you suspect can cause low ferritin too. (This is where my money would go if I were betting...)
    If it is celiac, I wonder if ferritin lvl will go up if I keep avoiding gluten.

    Quote Originally Posted by cori93437 View Post
    Ferritin is the body's iron storage device, a protein, so you aren't making enough of that... thus are probably not storing iron. That would be a good reason for all of the free floating iron in your system if you are eating a good deal of iron rich foods. Your body simply doesn't have storage space to put it until it can be utilized or disposed of.
    iron kind of confuses me. correct me if any of my interpretations are wrong.
    my understanding is:
    Iron is what's in your bloodstream (so if mine is high, I'm eating a lot of iron rich foods and my body knows it?)
    Ferritin is stored iron that your body takes from your bloodstream and makes usable. This is what your body uses for energy
    TIBC measures the blood's capacity to bind iron with transferrin.. but I stole that definition from the internet, I don't really understand what it means

    I have high Iron, high TIBC, and normal/low ferritin. I googled around and couldn't find exactly what this combination means. Can digestion affect my body's ability to turn the Iron into ferritin?

    I was also concerned about hemochromatosis, as it is in my extended family. I was tested a few years ago, and it turns out I have the gene, but they said I don't have the condition. Is this something that I can still develop? from what I've seen online, I need both high ferritin and iron to meet the criteria. Dr. was not concerned (surprise) and said we will keep an eye on it. is the first time I've had iron labs be outside of the normal range.. So I'm not exactly thrilled with his lack of concern or explanations.

    Quote Originally Posted by cori93437 View Post
    Gut healing time. Bone broths... zero grains.
    agreed! I even have some bone broth I made right now in the fridge. but I've never really got anywhere before with 'gut healing' as simply avoiding grains and following paleo/primal didn't seem to be the magic trick for me. maybe Jendoe's suggestion of the FODMAPS diet will help. I think I need a 'how to heal your gut without losing more weight or going crazy from even more food restrictions' guide. if you know of any point me in their direction

    Quote Originally Posted by cori93437 View Post
    And you need to keep consuming iron believe it or not... if not you never fill the stores you're creating. Don't and go crazy and over do the iron too much, but don't be afraid to keep eating it either. Because you are not storing any for your body to use when you are not eating, you are totally reliant on the free iron in your blood right now.
    And good protein too... building blocks.
    okay I was definitely wondering about that. I will keep eating iron rich foods... but I assume supplementation is out? I'm totally confused on how to get my ferritin up without making my iron go even higher.

    thanks for the help!

  8. #8
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    +1 to what StoneAgeQueen said. Also, it might be a thyroid issue. Get yourself checked out, because you aren't healthy, even though some of your symptoms have gone away.

  9. #9
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    My wife was always constantly tired until she started using butter instead of margarine and drinking cream instead of milk.

    So perhaps you just aren't getting enough calories?
    Disclaimer: I eat 'meat and vegetables' ala Primal, although I don't agree with the carb curve. I like Perfect Health Diet and WAPF Lactofermentation a lot.

    Griff's cholesterol primer
    5,000 Cal Fat <> 5,000 Cal Carbs
    Winterbike: What I eat every day is what other people eat to treat themselves.
    TQP: I find for me that nutrition is much more important than what I do in the gym.
    bloodorchid is always right

  10. #10
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    I was losing weight at a REALLY rapid pace at first. Even more than the honeymoon period most paleo/primal newbies experience. Fasting actually proved to be the lifesaver for me.

    This may or may not work for you, but what I do every now and then is to have days where I consume something like 3,000 calories in a day (almost double my caloric maitinance level) or even 3,500 calories (all healthy primal eating though). Then, I go on a fast for about 48 hours. I end up eating away the fat that that day put on me but not really getting into the weightloss zone. I'm now effectively "leaning out" more than actually dropping more weight which has shown the few times I've bothered to weigh myself.

    After breaking the 48 hour fast, I eat one meal a day for about two or three days in a row that hits my maintenance level (so as not to lose or gain in significant amounts). Then, wash, rinse, head into heavy eating day all over again. This halted the weightloss and turned it into more of a "fat loss" experience.

    Anyway, it worked for me, though your milage may vary! But it's another strategy to consider at least.

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