Stats: 350lbs, 5'5", Male, 25 y.o.
I started down the Paleo path right around Christmas 2009 when I found Mark's Daily Apple. Being a poor college student I did my best to eat Primal with the occasional meal out with friends. I focused on a diet of meat, vegetables, some rice, and lots of fat. I exercised occasionally but not much since I am very heavy and want to avoid stress injuries.
2 years later I weight only 10 lbs less than I did. I haven't asked too many questions of my own, instead focusing on absorbing what I can, but there seems to be very little consensus. One side tells me to eat more rice, so I do and nothing happens; one side tells me to give up fruit, so I do and nothing happens; one side says eat out once a week after 5 days of IF so I do and nothing happens.
The only thing I have tried is Zero Carb since I've read repeatedly that there are a lot of long-term risks. Couple that with the fact that my monthly budget for food is less than $200 (I make about 1250 a month after taxes and pay rent plus $500 a month for health insurance since I am obese) I thought it would be too expensive to get the various offal and broths needed to make it a complete food choice.
Can someone, anyone, give me some straight answers on what to eat so I can finally be the weight I am meant to be?
How long did your IF/NoFruit/ETC last?
Each experiment lasted about 4 weeks. I would go about 5 days eating these clean and then spend one day eating out. Normally for the 5 days I'd eat roughly 1800-2000 calories and then 3000 on the weekend. The problem is that even eating 2000 calories a day during the week I would remain very hungry and could only stop eating my sheer force of will. My stomach would be full but my body would be hungry. On the weekend I'd feel satiated, but net weight loss would be near nothing
What do you eat?
During the week I eat coffee with some butter and coconut oil (600 calories) then a Big Ass Salad with Coconut Oil Dressing (800 calories) and for dinner I will have meat with veggies and a green smoothie for dessert (400-800 calories)
On the weekend I often break down and eat junk food, but I try and keep it to low carb (no bun) hamburgers and things like loaded baked potatoes.
This post comes with some trepidation. I am going to say some things that a lot of people are going to disagree with - but I was in your shoes as well and I would like to share a few things with you.
You are 5' 5" and 350lbs. You have a broken body. Rice won't heal you, it is holding you back.
Carbohydrates in general, may help with energy after your body is healed, but while your body is broken, it's just going to continue to affect your insulin in a negative way.
I know many people out there have had success with weightloss while eating carbs. Great! This guy obviously isn't.
Here are my suggestions for what you put into your face.
Ditch the rice.
Don't eat potatoes (yet)
Avoid fruit (for now)
Avoid cheese (for now)
Avoid nuts (for now)
Eat green veggies.
Here are my suggestions for how you put it in your face.
Get a slow cooker/crockpot to cook roasts so you have pre-made portion control as well as an easy time in the kitchen preparing good food.
Get some good butter to cook your food with. Organic Valley grassfed or Kerrygold, preferred.
If you are on a budget, head over to iHerb or Vitacost or where-ever, and get yourself a tub of ex. virgin coconut oil. Use that stuff in/on everything you eat.
$200/month is "ok" to work with for one guy. $350/month would be much better (you could actually source some ethical, healthy food).
Sourcing your meat might suck, you may have to eat commercially raised food for now, but I'm guessing that you expect your situation to change eventually, so just grin and bear it for now...
(That comes out to $204/month - and you should get around 2000-2100cals/day eating this way)
A $20/54oz tub of coconut oil lasts me about 2 1/2 months. Every month or so, I scour the organic meats looking for liver, chicken hearts, etc... depending on the store this can cost from $2/lbs chicken hearts/livers, to $6/lbs for grass-fed calves liver.
Final stuff (sorry this is long, your post resonated a bit):
1. Calories count, but not in the way you think. I've never lost weight and still felt good on a severe caloric deficit while being lower carb. It's not until I've bumped up the calories over 2k/day that I've seen successes. Eating over 4k in a day can/will be troublesome too, so I would figure out a rough estimate of your lean body mass, then eat an approximate intake (+200 calories or so) according to your lean mass BMR. At your height, I would think it's safe to say that going over 2500 calories a day would be too much, but going under 1800/day would just make you hungry and pissed off all the time.
2. Get physically active, but don't over-do it. Stress will affect weight loss severely. Walking, swimming, maybe some light work with dumbbells or just plain lifting stuff up.
3. Sleep until fully rested. If this means going to bed at 9:30pm so you wake with the sun, so be it. (I'm being a hypocrite here, as it's 2am, but I'm working so it's all good).
4. Get some sunlight. Gradually, of course (burning sucks).
I've been there. I was 430lbs at one time, and I lost 100lbs by following a basic Paleo template from the book "Neanderthin" by Ray Audette. When I started experimenting with carbs I shot back up to 360lbs, I'm guessing my body was still broken.
In November after a stunning 362lbs weigh-in, I went back to following a lower carb Paleo/Primal. I'm now 300lbs. I'm not going to change anything significantly (with the exception of lifestyle/mobility) until I'm at a weight I can deal with. Experimenting with "safe starches" was an epic failure for me.
I know this can work for you. There are people who have been successful with a higher carb approach and it's hard to deny that success, but in cases like ours, it's probably not the best solution. Keep us in the loop on your progress.
A few points here:
While I've been anti low-fat for some time, I think in paleo it's gone way too far the other way, EG, add massive amounts of coconut oil/butter/cream to everything. Paleolithic humans were able to process grease, but not in such extravagant amounts. I know some people lose weight on diets with massive amounts of added fat, but for people with broken satiety signaling, it can be a bad idea.
I was kind of surprised to find that you have "untreated hypothyroidism"--a fact that should be in your question, and not buried in a comment to one of the answers. It's almost like not revealing diabetes or somehing--the thyroid has everything to do with metabolism, and your metabolism is fairly deranged. Now we have a clue why, at least in part.
I'm just going to be blunt: you simply have to find a way to get your thyroid addressed, or you can pretty much forgot about losing weight. But weight loss isn't your only problem. Untreated hypothyroidism will ravage your body over time. You are young now, but this is the time to deal with it. My thyroid wasn't adequately treated until I was well into my mid-30's, and by then, significant damage was already done that I still struggle with in my 40's. You can expect a long list of ever-worsening symptoms and it can kill you in the end, after years of needless suffering and disability, by heart disease if nothing else.
If you are one of the lucky ones for whom T4-only medications work, you can get levothyroxine for $10/month. If you need a mix of T4 and T3 (many, if not most probably do), like Armour, it's more expensive, but it's so worth it in terms of how you will feel, you will gladly scrimp and save to afford it. Getting hypothyroid under control is a life-changing, game changer. I'm not exaggerating.
It does seem like from your income situation you should qualify for some sort of assistance, but I admit I am ignorant of how these things work. You mention paying $500/month for health insurance--does that get you a prescription benefit?
I recommend browsing previous questions here on PH for lots of threads with great advice on thyroid issues, and plenty of links for more info.
I was 325lbs when I started a year ago on paleo. I've lost more than 100lbs. Why are you eating rice? I read Sisson regularly, and he doesn't advise it at all. He says if you're lean, you can eat white rice occasionally. Rice will have a big impact on your blood sugar at your weight.
I don't eat rice or starches at all. I have eggs everyday, bacon a couple of times a week, meat, fresh greens and vegs everyday. I usually eat twice a day, but randomly IF. I would suggest reviewing his diet plan again, tracking your food, and seeing what your caloric intake is.
Also, walk. It's low stress and enjoyable. Walk everyday, and track your progress on gmaps pedometer. It will be hard at first, but take it in small bits. Do a mile everyday for a week, then up it to two, and so on. After few weeks, it will be habit.
The food doesn't have to be expensive. You can buy frozen meat and veggies like spinach and squash in bulk. Frozen is almost as good as fresh.
Please don't give up, or feel bad about where you are. Just keep trying
Try zero carb and IF. A good friend of mine dropped 135 lbs in less than a year by eating this way. Virtually no carbs and only a 2 hour eating window. No exercise at all. He went from 385 to 250 in about 9 months. He's maintaining at around 230 currently. This method is also very easy on the wallet.
I am sure other Paleohackers can help you better with their personal experiences with successful weight loss. But I am trying to understand why you've lost only 10 lbs after two years of Paleo. Has your weight been fluctuating? Paleo is not necessarily a diet designed for weight loss. I personally gained some on Paleo. Weight loss is just a positive side effect of restoring the endocrine system (insulin resistance) and learning to eat for true satiety from whole foods.
Calories still count! How many calories are you eating a day? You said you eat lots of fat. How much fat are you eating?
New dietary changes have to be sustained for fairly a long time to see effects. How long did your experiment with no fruit/IF/higher carb last?
I recommend the Shangri-La Diet. This is really a technique which is supposed to lower your set point. It is very compatible with paleo. I was also low carb paleo, and I weighed out portion sizes on a kitchen scale. I'd eat one portion and give myself permission to eat another portion twenty minutes later if I was still hungry. I was able to stay around 1500 calories this way.
If I knew then what I know now I'd avoid zero carb, intermittent fasting, and probably have a few more calories a day. I had a massive temptation to lose weight as fast as possible, but zero carb and intermittent fasting just didn't give enough return on investment.
What's your average daily temperature? If your thyroid is low, you won't lose weight no matter what you eat
I have a blog post on losing weight which I have seen great success with. It might seem counter to what paleo leaders claim but it works and is based on science. http://co2factor.blogspot.com/2012/04/practical-ways-to-lose-fat.html
I'm still rather new to Paleo, but I've been around/aware of the diet for quite a while (I have 2 coworkers who are die-hards and my twin brother went paleo over a year ago-- I had to learn about the diet so I could give him lots of sh**). It sounds to me like you are not really eating paleo. Have you tried going all out STRICT paleo for a month? No cheating, no fasting, no binges, no rice/potatoes/dairy/veggie-oils/(at this point, I'd say no fruit either)?
Stop counting calories and macro nutrients. Eat (strict paleo/low carb) until you are full. Then stop eating. Eat again when you are hungry. High fat/protein diets are super filling, so it will be very difficult to over eat. If you concentrate on leafy greens, colorful veggies, and no sugars/starches it's very difficult to get more than 80g carbs a day, but you will get all the vitamins that your body needs. Cutting the carb sources out will reduce your blood sugar and move you toward ketosis.
It may sound crazy/difficult/unfun to eat this way, but it isn't at all. Here is an example of an average dinner/meal for me:
Chicken in a white wine/cream/mushroom sauce, steamed (and buttered) cauliflower and asparagus, a spinach salad with bell peppers and tomato (honey dijon dressing), and avacado. It's tasty, filling, and took only 35 mins to prepare (and I started with frozen chicken).
Try it out if you haven't. I'd also advise you walk for 20-40 mins a day. While HIIT is better for a number of reasons, at your weight I cannot see it being possible/advisable. But you need some exercise, so walk-- it's super natural and you'll just feel good after doing it.