So, I'm very confused and frustrated.
Let me start by giving some background info...
I'm 25 yrs old and a I'm professional dancer on and off Broadway. I've always been active, since the age of 3 when I started dancing. Up until my 20's I was in the 90lb range. Never had to diet, although growing up my mother was pretty strict with what we ate. She was an aerobics instructor and dance teacher and I learned "healthy" habits from her. Being a dancer I have very strict goals on what my body should look like, as it is my livelihood.
I've learned in the past few years that I have a womanly body (think Boticelli), and although I have a small frame and am in good shape, it wants to gain --- especially in the bust and hips. In the past when I've had a big audition that I needed to slim down for, I would just take a lot of class (meaning 1 ballet class and 1 jazz class/day for 6 days straight --- maybe even going to the gym and running for 45 min after class) and eat a little healthier. I.e salads instead of pizza or burgers. And the weight would melt off me. I have never ever had trouble losing the 5lbs I needed to in 1 week.
My boyfriend (Futureboy) went paleo about 2 months ago and it intrigued me. I had always believed in eating organic and cutting out the crummy chemicals and all the crap that causes cancer and diseases. So I started to eat paleo. Not crazy strict at first, just to clean up what I had been eating. About 3 weeks ago I learned I was going to have a photo shoot with Time Out NY magazine, and noticed I had gotten a lil chunky! So my boyfriend suggested that I go strict paleo. I did...In 3 weeks I have lost 2lbs, and each week i get more and more strict with my diet. This week I have cut back so much that I basically go to bed hungry. And my belly is bigger than ever! I have been taking about 3 ballet classes this week and 1 jazz, so not as much as I normally do because Colin said not to go crazy on the exercise.
So here's where I'm really frustrated:
I really want to stick with paleo. It seems great for my overall health, but it seems like its making me gain weight, and I can't gain weight --- not while I'm in the business that I'm in. This is also the first time in my life I've ever done a "diet"...it totally backfired! Now before anyone says... "What did you expect in 3 weeks?" In the past I could've lost 10lbs in 3 weeks. So far w/ paleo I've lost only 2lbs and gained some belly fat...Not cool! I'm also trying to let go of my long-held beliefs in fat-burning cardio (chronic cardio), but since I've begun to do so, my results have made me skeptical.
Males are far more sensitive to fructose intake than females. Considering that most overweight and obesity is caused in large part by fructose intake, simply cutting way back on that makes a huge difference for males. I think estrogen is the specific hormone responsible for the difference.
You should edit your original post to list what you honestly used to eat typically and what you've actually been eating in a day. "Paleo" is far too general and has too many variables that could work against you.
I've given it a lot of thought and I think a lot of people make the mistake of pulling everything out of their diet and replacing most of it with a ton of fat and then overshooting the amount they're able to burn in a day. Nobody in the paleosphere mentions it, but fat calories are actually the most likely to be stored as fat. Most of the protein that an athletic person eats is going to repair, most of the carbs to glycogen, but most of the fat will end up, at least temporarily in adipocytes. High fat, low carb is best for really sedentary obese people who have some symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Doesn't sound like you at all. This is what I recommend you do instead:
Replace the grains you were eating with 150g (of carbs) from rice, potato or sweet potato minimum. I just steam them and add nothing to it. I like my fat to be attached to my meat sources and my carbs to be clean. It sounds like you're depleting a large amount of glycogen, so you could eat more no problem. Carbs stored as glycogen have little effect on how much fat you lose.
Replace everything sweetened you were eating with berries. Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are very low in fructose.
Replace standard eggs with pastured eggs, standard meat with grass-fed etc, as much as is possible.
Replace all industrial seed oils (soybean, canola etc.) with grass-fed butter.
Eat 1/4-1/2 lb of ruminant liver per week. This is absolutely vital for addressing potential micronutrient deficiencies. Smells and tastes bad, but it must be eaten. 1/4 lb isn't much. Make chili or something to mask the taste.
If I want to trim off some body fat, this is what a typical day looks like for me:
Breakfast: 3 scrambled eggs + 1 ~300g sweet potato or a bowl of berries
Lunch: Half of a chicken (I remove the skin if I'm looking to lose fat) + rice and a red bell pepper
Dinner: 1 lb lamb steak fried with a little butter + rice
Can of sardines or some miscellaneous meat if I feel hungry at all before bed.
I never ever go to bed hungry. If you're doing this, your diet is all screwed up.
If you look at the food from a paleohacks POV, it's high carb, high protein and low fat and everyone will tell you that this is horrible, but it's really effective for rapidly losing fat while preserving muscle. There's actually a fair amount of healthy fat present in the egg yolks, the dark meat of the chicken, the lamb and the sardines. You don't have to eat like this forever, just when you want to lose fat. When you reach a bodyfat level that you are comfortable with, you take that template and pad it with a little bit more fat here and there. Maybe add butter to the rice or potatoes or choose a fattier cut of meat or eat the chicken skin etc. As it's listed, it's low calorie, high satiety and while slightly boring, still sufficiently satisfying in volume. I lift weights 6 days a week, so I need a lot of carbs, but I can't imagine that your dancing is all that different.
Anyway, consider giving this a try for a few weeks and see how you do. The typical bodybuilder's cutting diet resembles this composition because it's highly effective. As a recovering vegan, muscle catabolism is simply not an option, so low carb just isn't on the table.
IMO, completely false.
First of all, stop cutting back. You need to eat.
I am a woman. High fat diets are the only diet that have worked for me. I lost 45lbs on it with practically zero effort. Here's the thing - the more I restricted calories, the less I lost. Meanwhile if I put away in excess of 2000 (some days in excess of 2500) calories of mostly fat, the weight fell off me.
I will stop losing if I: 1. Restrict calories 2. Have carb creep 3. Eat dairy 4. Eat fruit
Take that for what it's worth, a study of one.
As for dropping 10 lbs one week and then gain another week is probably possible. I'm not really sure it's healthy, but if I had to do it, I'd go very high fat practically zero carb unrestricted calories to lose quickly. Then, lower fat and add fruit and dairy to gain it back.
You asked: Is paleo not ideal for my lifestyle? A lifestyle where i need to be able to drop 10lbs to be seen as a ballerina for a role...and then a few weeks later gain so I can look voluptuous for a different kind of role? Is this at all possible with paleo??
No, I don't think paleo is ideal for this kind of jumping around with weight, losing and gaining and losing again. Paleo should help your body find it's setpoint, so if you are alrady underweight it is probably not going to help you lose more weight. Dr. K's comments about women's hormones are a good starting point to understanding this.
Unfortunately, unlike men, many women find that they have to cut back on carbs to lose weight on Paleo. This generally means less than 20 net carbs (carbs minus fiber) per day. This does not mean, however, that you should confuse carbs with calories or cut back on portions. There is no reason to be hungry when you are eating Paleo. Keep your fat high, at least 70%, and keep your portions healthy. I frequently eat over 2000 calories a day, but stay under 20 net carbs. My typical day is 70% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbs. I recommend cutting out the fruit and measuring any nuts (a good source of fat) so you don't get carried away with them. I've lost 20 pounds on VLC Paleo without going hungry.
Say what?? Take it from someone with an extensive athletic background: If you are extremely active (i.e. you are a professional dancer) there is NO REASON for you to go low carb. Even if you honestly believe it's the healthiest way to be in the long long term, wait until after you retire. Life is too short to trade your passion/livelihood for some optimal fueling strategy for when you're middle aged. And I'm not convinced it is optimal, but I'm just saying that in case you are.
Anyway, Paleo is not low carb. You do not need a low carb diet and I don't see any reason why you would benefit from it. DO NOT EAT LOW CARB. Eat any kinds of potatoes with the skins removed, white rice if you want. Add those in. If anything I would limit fruit as a carb choice.
And, similarly, "chronic cardio" might not improve your health but if you need to cut weight for a week, do it. Especially if you're used to it, eating slightly less and working out more is a lot more enjoyable than eating a LOT less and trying to squeak by. That kind of cardio is great for cutting weight, just not for improving your fitness.
I have learned every lesson above myself. And honestly, I have yet to meet one person in a similar situation who has not learned similar lessons.
how's your thyroid/iodine intake? i obviously know nothing about you, so this could totally be off base, but as a healthy woman who has never had any kind of serious weight issues, and certainly none by American standards, I was surprised to discover I might have a borderline issue. Still looking into it. In my case, persistent dry skin was what led me to think about it. It seems like you express a bit of a tendency to gain a little weight even though you're young and active. Consider a blood test to see where you're at.
Anyways, I agree with the above posters who said high fat is important, so don't be afraid of that.
How low carb are you going? Low carb can increase cortisol, which may explain the belly fat. You might try shooting for 100-150 grams a day, particularly if you're active. Have you read the perfect health diet blog at all? He has some interesting posts on why low carb doesn't always work.
Another thing to consider is micronutrient deficiencies. Those can cause weight gain, and people who aren't eating very much are particularly susceptible.
The most effective and safest fast weight loss that I know of is the PSMF (protein sparing modified fast). It's completely paleo compatible. Basically, you eat your body's requirements for protein, and nothing else. Long term, you wouldn't want to stay this low in calories or fat, but for a get-the-fat-off emergency, it is probably your best bet.
By the way, from your comments on various answers, it seems like you might not be counting all your carbs. For example, if you add up all the carbs in a cup of coconut milk (even without the berries!), and a cobb salad, you might be surprised how much that can add up to.
I don't want to sound like Paleo is the Holy Grail. It works for me, or I wouldn't be here. But I also have different goals for going paleo than what you do. I have much more weight to lose and am not even close to being healthy as is. Almost 3 weeks and just over 10lbs (4.25% BW ) so far.
An issue I had when switching to paleo is that my plumbing decided to shut off. My stomach got larger because I had what my husband calls a "food baby". Probiotics worked wonders. I swear by them so I make sure my gain isn't from not going to the loo.
Don't go hungry. That's a sure way to feel really crappy, regardless of what diet plan you're trying to follow. Personally, I don't like to eat as much fat as most people here probably. I don't like things drizzled in oil and I despise avocado. I tend to only make it to about 25% fat, 25% carb, and 50% protein. I like meats to say the least. I also don't eat as many calories because of it (typically 1000-1200, though I'm told I should be eating around 1600 as my BMR is in the 2250 area), but I feel great and that's what counts. I don't feel famished or worn out even after a workout that kicks my rump.
Every time I feel like I'm plateauing, I tend to suprise my body and change up the ratios of what I eat. I'll have next to carbs one day, drinking a ton of water, and then a normal (~50-80g carbs)+a tiny bit extra(maybe 10g more) just to let my body know food is abundant.
Listen to your body. If you feel like you need to eat light. eat a BIG salad. Veggies aren't the carb machines that fruits are. Eggs in the salad are a good way to add some protein and fat without it being too much. I love salads and utilize them often. I don't even like dressing mostly. Just the juices from whatever meat I decide to put into it tend to be enough for me.
Lastly, do what works for you. If you want to go paleo, but are restricted by your work, so be it. You have to do what you have to do. I'm probably going to get flack for that, but I understand that this might not work for all people.
stop avoiding everything. stop counting so much, and if you can dont eat before bed so you sleep better(and try sleeping longer). get some sun. Curcumin found in tumeric should help cortisol naturally balance out. make sure your digestion is in order, being a stressed out 'dieting' dancer signals youre prolly deficient in l-glutamine, maybe try taking some mixed with water when you wake up.
it sounds like you have a very odd and disordered habit in your eating/dieting past(ice cream sunday, twizzlers, 'eating everything in site') and that much bouncing around from diet to diet is prolly the worst thing you can do to yourself. you need to work with your hormones and not against them. get in some starch post workout because your a chick, and your body is either gonna fight you on the hormones and you can go to the doc to get meds or you can figure out how to work WITH your hormones and enhance your cortisol(high and low at the RIGHT times) and make sure your providing the vita/min your body needs
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