Started Paleo today, feeling hungry: eat more or adapt?

by (667) Updated May 02, 2011 at 2:01 AM Created May 01, 2011 at 8:19 AM

I started eating Paleo today. Only had breakfast so far (10:00 a.m.) but I'm feeling pretty hungry (not starving, but not satisfied or 'full'). Now, I know the Paleo-approach is to eat when you're hungry, but I realize that this early in the process your body just needs to adapt to not having carb-overload, but protein/fat instead.

For breakfast I had: a frittata with 3 eggs, plenty of olive oil, broccoli, tomatoes and spinach on top. I had a hard time shoving all that in (I don't like breakfasts), but I made it. But then some minutes later I started on: an apple, a pear and eating a capsicum now. A slight headache started about half an hour ago.

So what do I do? Get eating? Or live with it and let my body adapt? Or more fat?

By the way, I kinda jumped into the diet, without slowly reducing carbs et cetera.


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15334 · May 01, 2011 at 9:31 AM

Why, if you had "a hard time shoving all that in" did you then start eating an apple, a pear and a capsicum immediately afterwards?

First observation is that the fruit won't have been particularly filling. Indeed they might have been unfilling insofar that fruits interrupt hunger signals (the plant's intent being to get us to eat more of the fruit). This isn't to say that fruit are completely paleo-unacceptable, merely that they probably won't be very sating and might just stimulate your appetite

Secondly, your breakfast as it stands does look quite small. The 3 eggs are 230kcal and 19g of protein probably a fifth or less, of your daily requirements. The protein is quite necessary for satiation, lots of olive oil just won't cut it. Plus, I know from experience, that it's quite difficult to include a genuinely large amount of olive oil calories in a meal (from back when I was avoiding animal fats). The huge amount of brocolli, tomato and spinach will very temporarily fill you up, simply because they're full of water and fibre and few calories- no doubt this made it harder to 'shove it all in.' Of course, given that these foods have little caloric content, as soon as they're not literally filling up the stomach, they'll not really be satiating. Your headache might perhaps be from the discomfort or ill-digestion caused by forcing yourself to eat this volume of food, particularly since fibrey, watery foods will disrupt the rest of your digestion.

As to your actual question:

So what do I do? Get eating? Or live with it and let my body adapt? Or more fat?

I would note that in my case, having a small meal, especially of protein or carbs (fat doesn't really have this effect simply because it's digested so much more slowly) tends to generate an appetite more than anything. Fasting is relatively easy, but having a small appetiser can serve simply to prepare your body for food. I tend, therefore, to have most of my calories in one big meal, but this is, of course, a matter of personal preference.

If I'm hungry in the morning or at a meal time then I would exhort you just to eat until you're not hungry any more. This ought to simply lead to you eating less in the future and I can't see any reason to instead wait, while still being hungry, before eating at the next meal time. If you want, work out roughly how many calories/food you want to eat per day, then you can be sure that you're not overeating when you eat to satiety in the morning. In at least some cases where people aren't satisfied after a meal they do need to adapt to appropriate hunger signals, but this is particularly the case where they're eating protein and fat heavy meals and are missing the usual 'hit' of fast-digested carbohydrates (for example, here). In your case, it sounds rather that you probably could do with eating more and specifically with eating more protein and fat. Not getting enough protein is the quickest way to be unsated, in my experience. When eating mostly fat and protein and few carbs, then not eating between meals is relatively easy. When I was eating many of my calories from fruit and vegetables, then eating to satiety essentially required eating constantly.

25197 · May 01, 2011 at 12:31 PM

dirk congrats on deciding to save your life with this choice. Few pointers ......when I have patients start a paleo lifestyle I strongly recommend that you never go hungry because it will stimulate Gherlin from your stomach which drives your hunger and in turn stimulate NPY which drives your carbohydrate cravings. To stop this at the switch of fuels always have three things ready. Have a pound of bacon cooked and place in a zip lock bag in the frig or in your briefcase. Have a jar of coconut oil at home and work, and a bag of unsalted and unfrosted macadamia nuts handy. When hungry eat until satisfied with these foods to supplement your meals. I put the coconut oil usually a heaping tablespoon directly in coffee. Remember the carb craving and bad feelings most have when they fuel switch is due to the immediate drop of serotonin that occurs in the body. 60% of serotonin is stored in our proximal small bowel in enterochromaffin cells. It is the main storage depot. The second spot is our pineal gland when serotonin is enzymatically changed to melatonin with darkness. When you go paleo you immediately drop your dietary sources of serotonin because your dropped your carb load by definition. That will cause a transient fall in serotonin and make you feel "bad" for 2-8 weeks.......here is my little pearl for you. You can shorten this mood change or eliminate it. All you need to do is take 200 mgs of 5HTP in the AM with breakfast. This is the substrate that serotonin is made from. It will take care of your issue with the fuel switch. Again I congratulate you on saving your life and optimizing your stem cells!

130 · May 01, 2011 at 11:10 AM

The paleo diet is great. But it is not easy. Especially if you are like most of us addicted to the western bad starch diet.

  1. Get some meat in your breakfast. Some lean, gluten free sausage, or a can of salmon with your eggs should help. A typical breakfast for me is 3 eggs, scrambled with a pile of green veggies along with tinned salmon and some spices to zing things up.

  2. If you are trying to lose weight ditch the fruit. Most fruit tends to be high GI giving you that pleasurable sugar rush followed by hunger. If you must eat fruit stick to berries.

The way I think of eating is like feeding a fire: fat and protein are like coal and logs, slow burning and long lasting, eating fruit, starches and sugar is like throng paper on a fire: instantly effective but short lived and pointless.

340 · May 01, 2011 at 3:17 PM

I've made it a point to eat meat with my breakfast to keep me sated, despite my cooking the eggs in coconut oil (or saved bacon grease). My meal was just never filling enough without some bacon or sausage. i typically eat 3-4 eggs and 4-5 links of sausage or bacon. I haven't tried salmon for breakfast yet.. but that sounds yummy. :) On days that I fast, I turn my breakfast into brinner. :)

15261 · May 01, 2011 at 12:09 PM

You didn't say if you are trying to lose weight, or what your diet was before going paleo. I think these would have a bearing on how you feel when changing diets.

I think the paleo diet tends to be lower calorie for a lot of people that adopt it because there are no empty calories. I think it also tends to be less "filling" for the same reason.

Your body's hunger signals may take a while to adjust to the new diet, a lot of people used to eating lots of carbs don't feel full/satisfied unless they do, at least until their body has adapted to the new diet.

There is a saying that it only takes 20 days to change your habits. I find this to be true of dietary changes. That is about 3 weeks. Plan on just sticking to the diet as you are supposed to during this time, ensuring that you eat enough and get the full range of nutrients, and try to ignore your hunger signals. The first 3-4 days, will probably be the hardest, and then get eaaier.

Remember that most people can go completely without food for 3-4 days without any ill effects. Surely then it must be possible to eat a different diet during this time with no ill effects!

841 · May 02, 2011 at 2:01 AM

Adapt! I've come to appreciate being hungry after a year or so on paleo.

5105 · May 01, 2011 at 7:02 PM

Pears have a LOT of sugar in them. If they're ripe, they are uber high in sugars. What happened is you ate a pear, spiked your blood sugar then it fell and you got hungry.

543 · May 01, 2011 at 6:57 PM

Good going Dirk1 I usually have dinner for breakfast and dinner :) - hardly ever hungry enough to eat 3 times a day! A good chick. breast, pork chop, or (a favorite) meat,marinara sauce on a spaghetti squash with chopped veggies or chick livers (not everyone's favorite) :) If you're hungry eat a can of sardines, or meat - better than to resort to the fruit (due to fructose content) - I limit my fruit intake to about one fruit serving a day - I never have hunger - not since my first day - maybe I was lucky, but I needed no adjustment time to paleo (from almost entirely vegetarian) - and that's because I had no hunger - I don't find eggs that filling per se - I start the day with a bang - sometimes have eggs for a light dinner - don't like to end the day with too much in my stomach - hey that's just me - hope you find what works for you - don't worry about over-eating meat though!

77338 · May 01, 2011 at 11:55 AM

Congrats Dirk, on the start of an incredible journey to great health! As the others mentioned, ditch the fruit and veggies. Steadily work towards pushing off breakfast till 11am or even 12noon. Double the eggs to 6 and scramble them in ample amounts of Kerrygold. Add some meat. I usually eat a few slices of uncured pastured pork bacon don't waste the bacon grease!) and whatever meat leftover from the night before. If you are still hungry or get hungry sooner than expected, it merely means you didn't get enough fat. Def hone in on what your body is telling you, and you will learn to tailor your meals to your appetite/goals.

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