Loving this site, this is my first post.
I've been Paleo for exactly a month, I've read Robb Wolf and Loren Cordain as well as Sisson's book and I've been a bit confused regarding fats (Cordain favoring lean meats, Sisson favoring high fats). Basically I've cut all grains, dairy and sugar and have not cheated once. I really don't feel comfortable eating lots of animal fat (that's a hard habit to break, accepting that animal fat won't kill me), plus I just don't like it at all, it's even hard for me to eat all this meat, I'm more of a fish lover. I have been eating avocados and olive oil, flax oil and coconut oil every day, in salads and for cooking.
I've been eating tons of vegetables (a lot of kale, broccoli, cauliflower, no tubers), bison, organic chicken and wild salmon and sardines, coconut oil and olive oil/lemon in salads, some nuts (walnuts mostly and not many) and some fruit (though not much carby or high sugar fruit), and I've been exercising with a trainer (doing intense stuff, not quite Crossfit but pretty intense for me, kettle bell, weights, jump rope) plus a bit of running, climbing stairs, walking squats, some yoga, essentially way more intense that I have done in the past.
Also taking fish oil, vit.D and a multi vitamin.
In the first 2 weeks I lost a few pounds (water I assume) and I felt really good, more energy, more positive (I suffer from depression and anxiety so this was an exciting change), bloating lessened and just an overall feeling that this was great! My biggest issue has been unfortunate stool (TMI), not formed and much less (which is the exact opposite of what my vegetarian/fish/whole grain life used to produce) and that is kind of freaking me out, feels unhealthy!
But, now, at one month later, I feel flabby, bloated, exhausted, grumpy and depressed because I feel like I look terrible and I have very little energy. It's like everything suddenly changed and I don't know why. I could barely run up the stairs today, I felt like I was 99 (I'm 37). The only thing that is different is that my cycle is supposed to start soon and maybe it's PMS but seems too extreme for that.
I know there will be many opinions and I'm sure this has already come up before (if so, please lead me to the thread!) so sorry if I'm being redundant, I'm just frustrated.
Always had trouble losing weight, I've fluctuated from 138 to my current 147, always thought I ate well (very little processed stuff and little sugar, but I did eat whole grains and dairy). I was also on an antidepressant that definitely got me fat but I've been off of it for 7 months.
Any ideas? Sorry for the long note! Any advice would make me happy! Thanks!!
As I'm sure you have realised by now, if you ask a question like this here you will get a whole rariety of often conflicting opinions :) Different books also give conflicting advice. These are my thoughts.
Eat foods that you like to eat. Making yourself eat lots of animal fat if you don't like it is not sustainable and will not make you happy.
Olive oil, coconut products and avacados are fine to get your fat from if you like them.
Eating fish and chicken is fine. You could also eat some eggs if you do not already. Keep eating the bison but try eating smaller portions to get use to it.
There is no need to take fish oil supplements if you are eating sardines and salmon.
Low-carb diets require you to eat fat instead. Otherwise you need to eat carbs. So don't be afraid to try eating starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, squash etc. Even eating all these you are still likely to be eating less carbs than the average person.
Eat a range of other vegetables, kale and broccoli are great but there are many others. Onions, leeks, carrots, beetroot, olives, peppers etc.
Eat fruit if you want too, even sweet fruits.
Make sure that you eat enough calories to give you energy for the amount of activity you are doing. Most of what you are eating is realtivly low in calories.
It can take a while for you digestion to adjust to any drastic changes in your diet.
You are only just starting out so:
Eat enough food and calories.
Eat foods you enjoy.
Don't be afraid to try new foods as your tastes will probably change over time.
sounds like not enough carbs to me. did you analyze your average daily macro-nutrient intake already (for example on http://nutritiondata.self.com - create an account and add the average foods you eat on a day to "my tracking"). if you're training almost daily and mostly high-intensity you easily can go with 125g carbs, or more. not eating enough carbs can also create the grumpy and depressed feeling you describe. would be cool if you could do an analysis and report back. (btw, do u take any additional magnesium? MVs usually don't have enough)
So much of what you wrote rings true to me! This is my first time writing here too. I'm just over 1-month into paleo living and also just starting my menstrual cycle, 2nd since making the change to paleo. I had been feeling great - really good energy, positive, upbeat, energetic until a day or two before my period started. Even started my first Crossfit class earlier this week and was flying high. My weight started creeping up, and bodyfat too (as measured on a Withings bathroom scale, possibly not accurate but hopefully consistent to me). A negative mood is now dampening my objectivity. In no way at all am I tempted to change the way I'm eating, but I'm frustrated by the weight gain showing on the scale (as a primary goal at this point is to lose belly fat) and this floppy feeling of no energy is wearing me out. I am willing to chalk this variation in mood/energy to my period as I can only imagine the symphony of hormones in my body rushing around doing their thing - and my body doing its best to sort out all the reactions going on. I'm not sure if this is comforting for you to read, or just annoying (the idea of maybe waiting it out, or just listening to your body's cues) - for me, my plan has been to take it easy (focusing on full night sleeps - I have 2 little boys who keep me very busy during the day and wake up early!) then I'll start making nutritional changes in my fat/protein/carb percentages if I'm feeling bad after the weekend. I have my 2nd Crossfit class tomorrow so I will be pushing it there and hope my muscle pains subside enough to really kick it there.
Bit of backstory, I struggled with digestive issues (I'm 38 now) and it reached a fever-pitch over 6 months ago when I found myself with an impacted bowel (had been eating a low-fat, whole-grain diet - barely any wheat, but plenty of brown rice, quinoa, oats. I had lost over 35 lbs eating that way but my skin was awful and my bowel health was poor). I sought help from both my MD and naturopath and ended up going for colonics. After a bunch of tests the MD suggested irritable bowel syndrome, the ND clearly said "QUIT EATING WHEAT, NOW!", and the colonic therapist educated me about how sensitive womens digestive health (mainly 'excretory' functioning) is during menstruation. (btw she agreed that wheat/grains are horrible for the colon). If you think of that (stool containing toxins that need to rid the system) and how you may be feeling (i.e.: toxic!!), it makes sense that you may be feeling so sluggish. I think that after several consistent months of treating your body to a paleo lifestyle, your hormones will get the memo each month and know what to do. I'm hoping so at least ;-) I've read very encouraging posts on Paleohacks about periods getting frequent, shorter and less painful. Also the colon therapist said many of her female clients come back for colonics when they find their periods getting painful - they shouldn't be. I'm in no way suggesting colonics to ease menstrual symptoms (I went that route out of necessity for my impacted bowel), but using the logic of having properly functioning bowel & lack of cramps - it makes sense that healthy digestive & endocrine systems lead to a state where periods are non-disruptive to the rest of your body's systems.
There are many other similarities that you wrote about, sorry for going on & on here. I don't know if I can email you directly but I can share other tidbits too that may make sense. I hope that your energy returns to you soon. I have made this switch to Paleo with my husband so he's been a great support. The message boards are great too - but it helps if you have a personal support.
My first two menstrual cycles on primal were ROUGH. I always had a pretty unpleasant and painful period, but these were unusually bad in many ways. Especially the digestive problems which were standard for me in the past around my period, but holy diarrhea (and constipation for the first time in my life at one point!).
So that might be a factor for you right now as well, along with some low-carb flu. Maybe eat some starch and see if it makes you feel better?
Primal/paleo can have a huge effect on your hormones. Mine were extremely messed up pre-primal. My cycles had ]lengthened on average, I was having irregular cycles for the first time ever (up to two months between sometimes), horrible cramps and ovulation pains, short luteal phase, missing some ovulations altogether, painful cystic breasts, bad PMS symptoms, digestive disturbances around ovulation and my period, and had acne for many years as well as increased body hair growth more recently. I was really afraid I was developing PCOS, although I know for a fact I'm not insulin-resistant. My gyn's answer was 'just take the pill' of course.
One of the first things I noticed primal was that my body hair was getting sparser and finer. :O Hairs around nipples and on my stomach just stopped growing, arm and leg hair is still much finer and less of it. That was followed by no more extra-long cycles, regular ovulation, huge reduction in menstrual pain and PMS symptoms, no more cystic breasts and much less tenderness, lengtheing of my luteal phase from 8 to 14 days, CLEAR SKIN for the first time since I was 15, and after over a YEAR primal, I am back to the 27-31 day cycle of my earlier youth, as opposed to 32-36.
Don't know what "unfortunate stool" means. Maybe your stool is less quantity and harder to pass than usual. This is normal on the changeover, especially when it is brusque as yours seems to have been. I did exactly the same and had stool problems for at least a month until my body adapted.
I'm an hombre, but believe me I know PMS from the other side. My thinking is that you cannot trust your thoughts and emotions at those times. Wait a few days to see if you feel the same. Our hormones can really affect our ways of seeing the world.
Runny stool usually means an inflamed colon. I'd try some digestive support in the ways of probiotics and digestive enzymes. Also, I'd cook all my food well and go easy on eating much raw plant material (cook it). Maybe you're eating something that's messing with your colon so try rotating out of what you've been eating. For instance, stop with the broccoli and cauliflower and try to consume some tubers post-workout (since it sounds like you're doing intense exercise). Just mix it up.
It kinda sounds like maybe you're eating high protein. High protein intake can sometimes cause these symptoms so you may need to really look at what % of calories you're getting from each macronutrient (protein:fat:carbohydrate). If you find you're very high protein and low fat and low carb, try adjusting that by increasing fat and/or carbs.
If you like fish, eat more fish. Animal fat from grain-fed critters is usually unbalanced in PUFA and other toxins can be found in the fat. Whether or not this is a significant worry, who knows. Grass-fed beef, wild caught animals, etc, have much better fatty acid profiles and you'd expect low toxins etc so the common view is all that fat is good for you. Since you can argue both perspectives with regard to corn-fed cows, for example, I think that's why Cordain prefers leaner cuts of meat consumed.
I was fighting with some similar symptoms few weeks back... I also posted about it here..
After 3 weeks on Paleo, my symptoms are gone. I have more energy, consistently losing weight and have started strength training as well.
Few things i did back then to improve my conditions,
The supplements I'm using are Probiotics, Cod Liver Oil & Vitamin D. I'm on a ketogenic diet and I'm not eating that much carbs (Just green vegetables).
It is confusing with so many folks promoting their own brand of paleo! That said, I've been eating this way for nearly a year, and like you I battled diarrhea at times. I rat tons of beef and chicken, and some fish (sashimi every few weeks). I love broccoli, but it does cause some gastric distress for me. I would NOT add tubers. What helps solidify things for me are well-cooked greens, and lots of them with every big protein meal. I like beet greens, chard, bok choy, and arugala best. I too would ditch the flax oil for the reasons stated. Coconut oil doesn't agree with me, so you might experiment with that too. I use tallow, evoo, ghee, and some avocado oil and walnut oil. High fat gives some people this problem too, but they get over it within a few weeks, especially if they introduce fat into theory diet slowly. Bottom line: more greens I hope this helps.
From what you describe, I had some similar issues. For me, the fix was to add in some starchy carbs and cut back on the muscle meats. Too much protein and not enough carbs really messes with my digestion and energy levels. I just read the Robb Wolf book last week and I gotta say his recommendations (tons of veggies, lean meat, and plant fats) are exactly what makes me feel the worst. I feel much better with moderate veggies, a good sized serving of something starchy, a few ounces of meat, and animal fat to taste. I know not everyone will share my experience, but I hope I can at least give you another data point!
Allow me to confuse the issue further: you say "tons" of vegetables. I don't know what that means, but here's a theory about what could be going on.
Do you take your blood glucose regularly? As you know if you read Taubes, etc., one theory (and it is not widely disputed) is that insulin regulates fat tissue. If your glucose is high, your insulin may be high, which makes it hard to drop weight.
I know you are eating healthy foods, but here is something most people don't know: Dr. Richard Bernstein of diabetes fame writes about something called "the chinese restaurant effect." It has a more scientific name, but that's the one he's made up for us non-scientists.
This effect can spike blood glucose if a person simply eats too much - even if it is a non-carb food. In fact, he says that if you eat a bunch of sand or gravel it would spike your blood glucose.
In other words, if you are filling up too much at meals - even if it is on non-carby food -you might have a hard time losing weight. This theory isn't per se recommending that you count calories, but simply that you avoid loading your stomach too much at any one time.
The solution here is to go to a drug store and buy a home glucose meter and take it several times/day. Get a baseline on what it is pre-meal and first thing in the morning, and then take it one and then two hours after you eat a typical meal. If it is high, this could be your problem.
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