What if going paleo seems to cause negative changes?

by 0 · November 19, 2013 at 03:17 AM

I'm a 50-year-old mom of 5. I have Type I diabetes (39 years), Grave's disease (29 years), and celiac disease (3 years). I've been fanatically gluten free since my celiac diagnosis, and began a quest to find out how to stop all this autoimmune damage, which is how I discovered paleo eating. The problem is, when I began to eat gluten free, I gained about 15 pounds. My GI doc assured me that was because my gut was healing and now could absorb the food I was eating, so this was a good sign. However, while I'm still at a normal BMI, I don't feel good in my clothes! I began eating paleo about a year ago because I was concerned I was reacting to the gluten-free grains I was eating. I've lost 5 pounds, however the weight is mostly around my middle. I've always had weight distributed proportionately, so having weight around my middle doesn't make me happy. My dad is a cardiologist, and feels that this is a sign that paleo is indeed bad for me and my heart health. I disagree, but as my LDL rises (from 110 to 141) and weight settles around my middle, I'm at a loss to explain how this is helping me. My endocrinologist keeps pushing me to take a statin, which is irritating because he's not interested in discovering why my LDL is rising. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

My thyroid function was tested: T3 Free 2.2 (2.3-4.2 pg/mL); T Uptake 1.23 (0.75-1.23 bind index); T4 Total Thyroxin 8.6 (4.5-10.9 ug/dL); Free Thyroxin Index 10.6 (4.2-13.0 ug/dL); TSH, High-Sensitivity 1.416 (0.550-4.780 ulU/mL)

Interesting that I just noticed the flag on the T3. Perhaps since the TSH came back in the normal range, and that's been all over the place, the doctor let the T3 slide. At the time, my calcium level was too high, so all the focus went there. My calcium fluctuates between 9.0 to 10.3, and one came back at 11, so that's almost always run again whenever I have a blood test. My PTH stays around 33, so it's on a "we'll just keep watching this" schedule.

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6 Replies

Medium avatar
1032 · November 19, 2013 at 01:13 AM

  • @bcdriver Perimenopause is certainly an issue, but my usual theory (though, who knows, I may be wrong) Paleo should help regulate your system so its less destructive. You've been doing this for a year, it may not be a bad idea to go to cronometer.com instead of myfitnesspal (unless you can see your micronutrient breakdown there) to make sure you're not fighting nutrient deficiencies.
  • This may end up being unrelated, but here's a blog post from Stephani Ruper that mentions low cortisol issues quite a bit under 'why hypocortisolism bites'. Mid-way down. http://www.paleoforwomen.com/hpa-axis-dysfunction/ Specifically things she says like "Low cortisol also makes catecholamine (epinephrine and norepinephrine) levels go unchecked. These further increase inflammatory cytokines. They also disrupt T-cell signalling. The result is susceptibility to inflammatory diseases, including autoimmne diseases, mood disorders, malignancy, obesity and chronic pain syndromes. This can also increase susceptiblity to assaults by infectious and environmental pathogens" Makes me think low cortisol is just as bad as high cortisol. But I don't know what that may or may not do for fat storage except the general 'funky hormone levels inhibit weight loss' thing.
  • Your Hip-Waist ratio is .84, which puts you in the 'moderate risk' category for heart issues according to bmi-calculator.net . However, some women just don't have a big ratio, and perimenopause is potentially pushing more fat into your belly naturally, which really doesn't have much to do with Paleo.
  • that excersize looks good, imo. Keep it up.
  • Subcutaneous fat is harder to lose (imo) than visceral. Depending on the distendedness of your abdomen, you may or may not be in more risk of heart disease than the bmi-calculator.net can tell, and that's probably a hard call for anyone to 'see'. Would a DEXA scan help sort out how much is around your organs? I don't know the answer to that.

My question here is really, why aren't you losing weight? Maybe your calories are too low? Maybe they're too high? Maybe you're not burning as many calories as you think? I'm personally not as overly concerned with your hip-waist ratio (due to potential perimenopause) as I am just getting the extra fat off your body. Hormones could be to blame, but the next question is what to do about them? I would do more searching at paleoforwomen.com and if you don't find an answer there, I suggest asking Stephani Ruper herself. She's an endocrine-specialist nutritionist and, from my experience, very willing to help via e-mail if you dont' find other answers on her site.

0 · November 19, 2013 at 12:28 AM

@O Siodhachain That's the explanation my doctor seems to favor...perimenopause. I have wondered about cortisol production as well. My endo had that checked in one of my blood test work-ups and it came back low, which I assumed was good? My hips are 37.5 and waist is 31.5. As far as type of fat, it seems a bit of both? I'm not sure. I can grab most of it in my hand. My exercise is usually walking at a brisk pace or a circuit-training routine with cardio, weights, and core work. This is pretty new, maybe since August. Prior to that my activity level was just running after kids, cleaning, laundry...not too sedentary, but not deliberately active either. I AM eating more fat, probably because something had to fill in the gaps from dropping carbs.

Medium avatar
1032 · November 18, 2013 at 10:38 PM

"50 year old Mom of 5"

1. Make sure you're managing your stress. Stress often -> cortisol production often => belly fat

2. Have you been feeling off recently? Perimenopause and menopause encourage abdomen fat http://www.paleoforwomen.com/?s=female+abdominal+fat&x=-1129&y=-106

3: What is your hip-to-waist ratio? Also, do you think it's subcutaneous fat? (You can grab this in your hand) or visceral? (rounded). Or a bit of both?

4. What is your exercise routine?

5. Do you realize that paleo does NOT = high fat? Some people just don't react well to high fat, and that's okay!

0 · November 18, 2013 at 10:13 PM

@JenJen I usually skip breakfast because I'm not hungry in the morning. If my blood sugar is low before or after I exercise, I have a piece of fruit. For lunch I have a salad with meat, avocado, cut up veggies, maybe some nuts. If I've made some recently, I'll have some bone broth. Often I'll have another piece of fruit. Snacks are nuts (although I've been trying to avoid these in case the omega 6s are contributing to inflammation), sometimes two squares of dark chocolate, beef jerky. For dinner grass-fed beef or chicken, sides like spaghetti squash or mashed cauliflower or sweet potato, and broccoli or green beans or asparagus or a salad. At night sometimes I'll have some Coconut Bliss ("ice cream" made from coconut milk). :) That, of course, is a perfect day, but I've been keeping track of my food on FitnessPal, so it's pretty close. Yet, no weight or shape changes. I feel better in general because I've been trying to include exercise most days, but again, no real changes. It's maddening! And insulin wise, that's crazy too. I bolus according to carbs, and even with a meal that's much lower in carbs than before I removed grains, I'm have to take about the same amount of insulin or my blood sugar spikes. I'm not experiencing much hypoglycemia either. Weird.

@Bukowski I wondered about that, too. My last few thyroid blood tests have come back normal, so my endocrinologist seems satisfied that's not a problem. It's tough trying to coax a doctor when you're not satisfied but he is!

Medium avatar
15 · November 18, 2013 at 07:22 PM

I think you should investigate more into the health of your thyroid or the adequacy of your thyroid replacement medication. A rising LDL cholesterol can be caused by hypothyroidism.

60 · November 18, 2013 at 06:47 PM

What is your diet like?

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