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Hack my diet! Struggling with weight loss - calories? Macros?

by (5)
Updated about 18 hours ago
Created June 05, 2013 at 8:39 AM

Hi!

I've been following all the great questions and answers here since starting Primal (admittedly with some major slip ups!) six months ago. I'm hoping you guys can give me some advice and lead me in the right direction with my training and diet! Sorry for the long post, I want to be thorough.

I began at the beginning of the year at 154 lbs. I'm 5'7"and 29 years old. My trainer measured my body fat 3 weeks after I started paleo at 18.5% with calipers but I actually suspect it's a little bit higher (maybe 20-21%?). I carry most of that in my hips, thighs, and lower belly.

When I'm home, I train with a personal trainer 3x per week (a mix of heavy weights, circuit training, cross fit and boxing), and do spin classes 3 - 4 times per week. Other than that my job is pretty sedentary and I work from home, though I try to force myself out for walks and bike rides, too. I usually categorize my activity level as "moderately active" - not sure if that's right or not. This has been my routine (except when I travel for work, which is a lot) for 1 year.

I definitely know I'm gaining muscle, which is fantastic, but I can't seem to lose the weight I want to at my waist and below! I've mostly ever had success with this when I go super low carb, but now that I'm training harder and lifting heavier, I don't want to inhibit muscle growth.

My only real slip ups tend to be a bit of alcohol 1-2x per week (2-3 glasses of wine, whiskey). And there have been a couple weeks of travel where I let it all go. I gave up nuts a few weeks ago because I think I was eating too many and relying on them when I should have been eating vegetables.

My macros are usually around 35/15/50 protein/carbs/fat. Most protein comes from chicken, ground pork, beef. Fats are usually high quality, either naturally occurring or olive oil, coconut oil, and I just added in avocados. Carbs are primarily vegetables. I hadn't cut out dairy yet, but for the exception fo some cream in my coffee, a little hard cheese, and sometimes butter to cook with (though I've been weaning it out), I don't think I have that much of it.

My calories tend to be about 1600-1900. I'm realizing this might be too low. I usually try to keep them a little low so that maybe if I go out one night and am drinking a bit, I have some leeway, I'm considering upping them to around 2200. The problem is that on paleo I'm actually pretty full around 1700 calories and I'm not hungry anymore! I usually eat about 400 calories for breakfast, 600 for lunch, and around 600-900 for dinner.

For three months this year I did heavy traveling for work, and my diet was not always the best then, since I couldn't control what I ate - and two weeks of vacation that involved a lot of booze, gluten, etc!) so I know that has stalled me but I feel like I should have lost SOMETHING by now!

I'd appreciate any thoughts you have! I'm not too concerned about weight, just changing body comp around that midsection!

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3150 · June 06, 2013 at 2:13 PM

And yes I live in Barcelona! hehe. Last thing. Beware of IF. It does not seem to work so well for women as do with men (reported by many paleohacks women). I'd not take it to the next level, just more window between meals and skipping one occasionally (maybe every 3 or 4 days) I think could be a safe bet to start with.

048dd52752c45129c1212bfffb37ca72
3150 · June 06, 2013 at 2:11 PM

Well this is a controversial topic, some might say that as the fat digestion ratio is slow and probably also the carbs if they're not fast acting ones like simple sugars, the mixing thingin the meal does not matter a lot and that you should just focus on total calories. But many people plays with high carb days and low carb days for carb cycling and seems to go well for many. And IMHO a coconut oil spoon plus a donut seems a pretty fattening combination to me, it depends a lot on what exact foods and the context, really. I personally prefer to do either protein+fat or protein+carbs...

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5 · June 06, 2013 at 7:52 AM

Thank you! I read this yesterday before posting, and it really convinced me that I need to up the calories. I just wasn't sure that my workout was quite as high intensity and I find it weird that I feel so full. But it's a journey! Thanks for the response!

51502bcb2840dd764ca033cd6a61ca57
5 · June 06, 2013 at 7:48 AM

Thanks so much!! This is a huge help. I thought about doing more calories earlier in the day and I think it's a great idea. Also thought about toying with IF. I'm being super strict for a month (another two weeks to go) to get back to a baseline after vacation and then I'll play around with IF. I never thought about isolating fats and carbs from the same meals - can you explain that? So you have one meal with protein + fat, and another with protein + carbs? How much of a calorie deficit did you aim for? Also random, but are you in Barcelona? I live about 2.5 hrs away in France!

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3150 · June 05, 2013 at 9:24 AM

Your plan seems pretty solid to me, I'd just give it time. For me, it took a year to get just barely "normal", two to get some decent body composition, and 8 more to deal with extra fat so I could consider myself fit. Yet I still have room to improve. So you see, a full body recomposition takes time, fat mass it's like an organ when it comes to complexity and metabolism shifts are slow. I think you're doing good on the low carb side, just do blood work as much as possible to keep track of things, in people struggling with weight loss first things that come into mind are sex hormones, fasting blood sugar, lipid profile and thyroid status.

Youd could benefit from maybe going pretty low or almost zero carbs for a day or two, then do a little bit higher on other days, I'd also try to isolate fats and carbs from the same meals. I know most people will say that some carbs with the fats slow down their absorption and that might be right but in my N = 1 experiment I think that I do better when not mixing fat and carbs, it seems to be the most fatty enhancing combination to me. Something like IF but maybe just not need to go so far, BTW 16/8h fasts are nice and easy to do, I'd not skip breakfast thought. I'd do a very high protein based breakfast, with some equal fat and low carb, then let other meals fall into place according to your plan the rest of the day. You seem to be doing 3 meals a day which I think it's fine, I'd switch the calorie density for breakfast and lunch though, but just my opinion.

I'd also try not to have more meat/dairy/egss than I do have seafood/fish/seaweed.

Well, just some layman's advice, there are a lot of strategies to fat loss / good body comp that could be just one of them.

Good luck!

51502bcb2840dd764ca033cd6a61ca57
5 · June 06, 2013 at 7:48 AM

Thanks so much!! This is a huge help. I thought about doing more calories earlier in the day and I think it's a great idea. Also thought about toying with IF. I'm being super strict for a month (another two weeks to go) to get back to a baseline after vacation and then I'll play around with IF. I never thought about isolating fats and carbs from the same meals - can you explain that? So you have one meal with protein + fat, and another with protein + carbs? How much of a calorie deficit did you aim for? Also random, but are you in Barcelona? I live about 2.5 hrs away in France!

048dd52752c45129c1212bfffb37ca72
3150 · June 06, 2013 at 2:13 PM

And yes I live in Barcelona! hehe. Last thing. Beware of IF. It does not seem to work so well for women as do with men (reported by many paleohacks women). I'd not take it to the next level, just more window between meals and skipping one occasionally (maybe every 3 or 4 days) I think could be a safe bet to start with.

048dd52752c45129c1212bfffb37ca72
3150 · June 06, 2013 at 2:11 PM

Well this is a controversial topic, some might say that as the fat digestion ratio is slow and probably also the carbs if they're not fast acting ones like simple sugars, the mixing thingin the meal does not matter a lot and that you should just focus on total calories. But many people plays with high carb days and low carb days for carb cycling and seems to go well for many. And IMHO a coconut oil spoon plus a donut seems a pretty fattening combination to me, it depends a lot on what exact foods and the context, really. I personally prefer to do either protein+fat or protein+carbs...

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8574 · June 05, 2013 at 9:30 AM
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5 · June 06, 2013 at 7:52 AM

Thank you! I read this yesterday before posting, and it really convinced me that I need to up the calories. I just wasn't sure that my workout was quite as high intensity and I find it weird that I feel so full. But it's a journey! Thanks for the response!

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