Is Paleo Bogus for Weight Loss?

by (748) Updated April 24, 2013 at 9:34 PM Created October 14, 2012 at 4:37 PM

When I first went Paleo and starting losing weight, I thought it was because there was something magical about taking out grains and sugars, but when looking at my old diaries, my calories were lower than the way i was eating when I was eating grain and sugars. If I lost weight on Paleo because of the calorie deficient, couldn't I theoretically just eat "regular" food on a calorie controlled diet and lose weight like so much of the media prescribes? I'm not supporting doing that, I'm just seriously stumped and confused on it. I know there has to be an answer out there to this. If Paleo works because of the lowering of your insulin levels and carbs, then why can people lose weight on something like the "Potato Diet" when the carbs (and thus insulin levels) are spiking so high? Which makes me think hey, it really isn't about the carbs or insulin spikes but about the calories...? Or am I really off? I always understood not to eat grains or sugars because they put your body in fat storage mode and don't let your body access it's adipose tissue, but if you were in a calorie deficient even while eating grains, then wouldn't the body access body adipose anyways? I'm just really confused on the whole thing. I'm not supporting other diets, but I'm close to just not being Paleo (which I WANT to be Paleo because I know it's healthier) if it's all about that calorie deficient. Someone PLEASE RE-INSPIRE ME, IS there something TRULY key to not having grains and sugars for weight loss or is it just the fact that it reduces calories in most cases? Because I am so close to being like my sister and following "it's about portions, you can eat whatever you want in small amounts" theory (who eats normal food and is thin). I never thought that could work for me because when I was trying to lose weight on "normal" food I never could, even when counting calories, but maybe I was just underestimating my daily intake? Or was there something key about taking those grains and sugars out when I finally started losing weight? I would also like to know the answer to this not only to myself but when OTHER people ask me why I don't eat grains or sugars.

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429 · October 14, 2012 at 7:05 PM

Removing sugar and most starches from your diet reduces cravings resulting in feeling fuller. That's why it is simple to fast while eating a Paleo diet as you can go long times between meals before hunger strikes. So to answer your question; a calorie is NOT a calorie for the simple fact that your body can burn off sugar without much energy but protein and fat require more energy to digest. Since Paleo is mostly protein and fat your body's metbolism will be higher. A recent side by side study put Paleo at 300 calories a day higher in metabolism versus two other diets. So in other words, when eating Paleo diet you are burning an additional 300 calories a day.... That's equivalent to 30 minutes of cardio with no work involved!!

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26354 · October 14, 2012 at 7:35 PM

The diet is not magic. You have to be at a caloric deficit to lose weight. But your logic is off -- Paleo is not about weight loss, it's about health. However, a healthy person is typically not obese. So by eating for health you will lean out (if you were heavy to begin with).

Every single clinical study has shown that the group which eats according to paleo principles eat fewer calories than the control group. This is without any prompting. The reason is that the paleo group is eating food that is more bio-available and satisfying. You can get the energy from what you eat and from your internal fat stores. You don't have to keep feeding yourself to overcome the sugar crashes.

You can eat fewer calories while eating according to a paleo template without sacrificing energy. This is not true for "regular food" -- If you ate a comparable caloric diet with "regular food" you would be at an energy deficit. To put it another way, X calories from paleo foods will provide you with more energy than X calories from "regular foods"

9387 · October 14, 2012 at 7:42 PM

Aside from all the non weight loss benefits of paleo that may apply to you (healthier digestion, less auto-immunue disease, better vitamin/mineral intake, etc), i think there also can be a clear weight loss benefit, but I look at it from a different perspective. Yes, you can lose weight on any diet as long as you restrict calories. That is a fact. However, why should humans have to count calories to maintain a healthy body comp? Shouldn't that happen naturally, at least in most normal, healthy individuals? I think, yes. However, I think much of the SAD diet involves foods engineered to have specific tastes, textures, etc that humans would not have been exposed to through much of our evolution. I think these foods throw off our own internal regulatory mechanisms, forcing us to count calories to maintain the right equilibrium. I think by avoiding refined grain and refined sugar, you avoid much of the engineered food problem. I think for many, the paleo eat to satiety approach ends up being easier to maintain long term than the count calories approach.

1284 · October 14, 2012 at 8:31 PM

Here's the thing, Amber. The way you express yourself and the other questions you've asked rather suggests you don't believe in paleo. You just don't get it.

I would suggest you go and buy yourself a paleo book, a recent thread here showed which people liked which book best. Whichever one it is, read and read it again, until you understand it. Then read it again.

If after you understand it, you still don't believe then go and try something else.

Hundreds of people here are telling you it works, but you still don't get it. In fact you are sabotaging your attempts to not get it. Why is that? Have you been so indoctrinated by the SAD ways that you just can't believe there's another way or do you believe you have to suffer to be healthy? Who are you punishing?

It really isn't at all difficult. Cut out the processed food, eliminate bread, pasta, flour and potatoes, eat meat, seafood & fish, choose whether or not you can tolerate dairy, eat lots of non-starchy vegetables and don't eat dodgy oils.

105 · October 14, 2012 at 7:48 PM

I can eat 2000 calories a day or 1100 calories, or anything in between on Paleo, and not have fluctuations in energy or have stomach issues/joint issues or gain weight like I would if I were eating lots of grains and sugars. This way of eating has been amazing for me. If I work out harder and feel hungry I eat more. I can also skip a meal without feeling deprived. Can you do that on a grain and sugar diet? I can't.

40 · October 14, 2012 at 5:15 PM

With Paleo you're not hungry like you would be if you did a regular non paleo calorie deficit eating plan. Keeping your insulin levels down also prevents those nasty spikes which cause carb cravings in the afternoons and evenings. Plus the food your eating paleo is just better for your and your body and not filled with all that crap that are in "diet" foods.

50 · October 15, 2012 at 7:46 AM

I think your doubts are born of information overload. I think i was in a similar position to you in the past. There is too much competing information available know which causes confusion.

My advice would be pick a diet plan/ nutritional strategy and stick to it completely for at least 4-6 weeks. You don't have to fully understand the diet to follow it. Just do it!

Any restriction of calories can yield a short term weight loss, however your body will recover the fat quickly when the restriction is removed.

Paleo will fill you with nutrient dense satisfying foods. Your body will let you know when you are full, and you shouldn't need to eat calories. The high quality proteins will create a hormonal response which tells the brain you are full. The relatively high water and fiber content of the foods will stretch the stomach and make you feel physically full.

The food that we eat should: Promote a healthy psychological response. Promote a healthy hormonal response. Support a healthy gut. Support immune function and minimize inflammation.

Hartwig, Melissa; Hartwig, Dallas (2012-06-19). It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways (Kindle Locations 351-352). Victory Belt Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Obesity is a symptom of a hormonal imbalance, your body has effectively lost the ability to regulate energy storage. By improving the food we eat we will recover the ability to regulate fat storage optimally.

897 · October 14, 2012 at 6:15 PM

Diarrhea. When I stray I get explosive diarrhea. No joke.

634 · October 14, 2012 at 5:23 PM

This is a really complicated topic and giving a clear answer would be rather hard. In the end weight loss or gain is mostly dependent on genetics and amount of calories that actually end up available to be utilized as energy in your body, which depends on the type of foods, their macro make up, amount of fiber, combination of different foods at same meal, and so on. Sugars are pretty much the easiest thing to digest, they go straight into the blood. Protein on the other hand requires you to actually spend quite some energy just to digest it. So even if the meals you consume have the same caloric value, this doesn't mean your body gets that same caloric value out of them.

77338 · October 18, 2012 at 6:23 PM

I don't think it is at all bogus for weightloss. I went Paleo about 6 months ago, within 2 months I lost 14 lbs and have have remained at 145 lbs since. I do have to admit that everyday I eat a paleofied dessert and more fruit than veggies. So, if I were to reduce those I would lose even more weight. I also do not excercise...like at all. My skin and hair are awesome now and I no longer experienec Crohn's disease symptoms. I love the Paleo lifestyle and never plan on going back!

366 · October 14, 2012 at 5:19 PM

If I may... take a 2 Week Challenge if you're up for it. Go off Paleo for 2 weeks, eating whatever you desire. After two weeks of going back to eating everything that we shouldn't you're body and mind should tell you whether it feels right or not.

And also, when it comes to weight loss, you should re-adjust your intake roughly every 5 - 10 lbs lost, while you'll still lose weight, it will be at a slower pace than usual which can in turn cause a lot of people to lose their motivation.

10 · October 16, 2012 at 7:02 AM

stop worrying about calories

stop worrying about counting

stop thinking of paleo as a diet

stop comparing it to any other "diet"

look at the food in your hand. could your ancestor from 50,000 years ago have had this food - or something like it - in his/her hand to consume while living in nature? don't consider your ancestor an idiot cavepperson. they were intelligent just like you. they knew nature and everything in it. use your brain and common sense. big macs, coke, and snickers are definitely out.

could my ancestor have eaten this? yes? then eat it - eat enough to satisfy, period. don't eat just one food or one food type - paleo people had a huge variety of plants and animals and insects to choose from.

do not eat ANYTHING that they could not have plausibly eaten - and that includes probably 80% of all so-called food available in stores today. (dairy is a wildcard - eat it if you can tolerate but eat high fat, aged cheese best, fermented if you can, and avoid pasteurized if you can - some of our ancestors may have had it in their diet, some not) do not eat food with preservatives, additives, colorants, MSG or surrogates, anything not probably available in the natural environment. to do this you must learn what those additives are. i find it best to not purchase/eat anything that has ANY additives unless i know exactly what they are. that means virtually no processed foods. don't worry, it is really not that difficult.

when you eat things like grains, you are eating net-negative foods - food that takes more from your body then it give - and what if gives is not particularly beneficial to you especially in large amounts.

if Rob Wolfs book did not do it for you - then read Dr Eades "Protein Power" (lousy title, good book)

try to wrap your head around the CONCEPT of ancestral eating and the rest will fall in line - including your body weight, composition and good health.



Don't go back to sleep


25 · October 15, 2012 at 1:29 PM

I think your question was something lots of people think about, I know I have. I lost 30lbs about 2 years ago on paleo and crossfit and running combined, but I was strict and I was counting calories, getting 8 hours sleep, taking cold showers, eating every 4 hours and not after 7pm, basically everything every paleo person recommeded. On paleo and crossfit alone without counting or running I stayed within the same 5 pounds. If I take time off of paleo and crossfit and eat like a little piggy, I gain 5 lbs, I can hang on to that for about a month-than go back to counting.

Anyway....what I'm trying to say is, for me to lose weight on paleo or weight watchers (which I lost about the same amount of weight on 10 years ago)you have to concentrate and eat super duper clean, with counting and weightlifting, intervel's then some basic arobics for extra credit. No cheat days, no nuts or dried fruits, no uncounted coconut oil and no drinking alcohol. This all sucks because I love to eat and drink everything! Whatever, I know I have to do it if I really want to lose. Its a lot of work!

236 · April 24, 2013 at 9:34 PM

Check this out; it's a free full text. this paper brought together a lot of the concepts I've read about, and does a great job of answering some of your questions.

28 · April 24, 2013 at 7:43 PM

I started Paleo about 6 mos ago; was a ten-year vegan. Now 39, 5'7", about 160 lbs. I was very fit while vegan, rarely went 5 or 10 lbs over/under optimum weight. Practiced IF (skipped breakfast, sometimes lunch), lifted heavy 3 times/wk, did Crossfittish stuff, excellent medical markers, etc. Ate usually black beans, brown rice, lots of EVOO, no fast food except Freebirds-type of stuff. Starting Paleo, lost about 7 lbs quick, looked nice and lean, but have since put back on about 10 lbs (maybe some muscle but not nearly as lean now). Also now have chronic constipation. I've already read Primal Blueprint, Why We Get Fat, the Daily Apple and Paleo Hacks every day, etc, so I'm well-read. I'm going to stick with it longer, but frankly I felt better, and enjoyed the food more, on clean vegan diet.

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