We've all heard many Paleo success stories; they are found all over the place (on this forum, on most blogs and sites, in discussions, etc). People losing tens of pounds, getting ripped, ridding themselves of allergies and other illnesses, generally feeling better, etc.
But how about Paleo failure stories? It can't be that this is 100% fail-proof. Has anyone experienced or heard of someone experiencing:
- Weight gain or other physical symptoms
- Bad blood results & other tests (cholesterol, triglyceride, hypertension, etc.)
- Loss of energy
- Depression or other psychological symptoms
Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge Paleo believer, and have been so for 2 years. I just wonder how come I've never come across failure stories. Nothing in this world is perfect, so why should Paleo be? Share your stories here.
Interesting that no one here seems to have had any failures, because I sure have.
I feel better on the Paleo diet, but I've been Paleo for two years now, living the 80/20 principle but these days I'm closer to 95/5 because every little slip now puts weight on me like nobody's business. I started out fat at around 215. I never lost any weight but my moods are better and I'm less anxious and hungry so I considered that a win. However, any time I have to relax the rules a little and eat more 50/50 for a spell - Bang - that's another 5 pounds on that will NOT leave and two years later I'm up to about 235 no matter how much I low carb it, no matter which way I shift macronutrient ratios, no matter how much I walk, run, lift weights, sprint tabatas, no how much I think positive, no matter how long I spend in whatever level of ketosis, no matter what.
Before the neolithic foods didn't make me any fatter, they just made me tired and anxious. They do that now AND pack the pounds on in a matter of days, and they just won't leave. And if anyone tells me to try harder, I'm going to climb through the screen and choke them.
"It can't be that this is 100% fail-proof."
I don't agree with that -- at least not at face-value. If you are a person with a "normal" metabolic genotype, even saving for some sensitivities or intolerances here and there, the whole of evolution and emerging science suggest that following an ancestral eating plan should lead to the healthy physiology of ancestral humans, assuming other factors like movement are included as well.
No animal's default state is obese, tired, sick, allergic, insensitive, stressed, etc. It seems that an ancestral approach to diet and fitness simulates what promotes general health and prevents metabolic syndrome, and logically so. That's the power of Paleo, that it simply follows from exploiting, or rather obeying, how we evolved, and that's why it works on genetically normal individuals essentially without fail.
Most adherents seem to gauge success as fat loss, but immense genetic diversity exists within any population, especially one as varied as humans. Even if the fat doesn't come ripping away like it often does, then, as another commenter noted, key indicators of health like blood pressure and lipoprotein profile almost always improve substantially.
Side note: This is my first spring eating a Paleo diet. All my friends are mired in allergies, popping pills by the handful. This is my first spring where I'd feel confident breathing out of a scuba tank full of pollen and cat hair.
This stuff works.
The only failures are with people that want to reinvent the paleo book and miss their bread and pasta and doughnuts. A little bit won't hurt.
Also the failures happen when the difficulties of social pressures of not eating the crap that arrives at potlucks get in the way of good etiquette. Or they cannot give up pasta night.
Eating out a lot and not knowing what kinds of oils are being used in the kitchen can sabatoge paleo. Melissa today is at a meet up at Chipotles in NYC protesting them using soybean oil when cooking their meats.
If someone decides to alter their eating habits strictly, they will not fail. But too many people complain of ailments such as arthritic hands or knees and when I propose they give up bread and pasta...they say they could never do that. Or they complain of being overweight, but they will not give up their bread, cakes, and pies.
I've only had failure with conventional "paleo" wisdom. That is: very low carb, very high fat, no potatoes until you are lean, etc. I gained fat steadily and had low energy on VLC paleo, but the basic premise of whole foods, no sugar, no grains, low PUFAs and plenty (but not huge amounts) of healthy animal fats has been the best thing in the world for me emotionally and physically.
I ate paleo for 8 months and was really engaged in the process. In general I did not feel any better on paleo than on my normal diet. I actually felt a little worse.
My period became 5 days longer. I had severe PMS. I was low on energy. Acne improved somewhat but never really disappeared. Weight was stable but I did not loose any kilos. The worst part was that I lost my natural sense of eating, meaning that I became obsessed with food; what to eat and what not to eat. I was on the edge of an eating disorder. It was very stressful for me to eat paleo.
I am now in the process of learning to eat by intuition. I feel better eating this way, both physically and emotionally. My skin problems are better now than on paleo. My biggest problem is that after I stopped paleo I have gained weight like crazy. I eat less and move more, but that makes no difference. It is so annoying :-(
Well, I think this would be a good place to summarize the various problems people have encountered with it that I have read up here:
1) Constipation: I have this one a little bit. I am not buying the "you don't need to poop as much" story that I've read up here. Sounds like a justification. Just like the sick vegan who tells you his poor health is due to "detox symptoms".....three years after he's been on the diet.
2) Chapped Lips. I got this one, too. I just needed to increase Vitamin C. I added a little fruit and added lemon juice.
3) I've read some people started having sleep problems. That's not good.
4) My first week or so into it, I got dizzy. This is apparently a common side of initial ketosis. Need to drink plenty of water and get enough salt and potassium.
What is the definition of success? You probably aren't looking for a philosophical answer, but since you ask us to define failure I think success has also got to be defined.
I am only 3 months in. Lost weight initially, got rid of joint pain. Feel clear. So happy to be off sugar. But not everything I wanted to achieve has appeared through this diet and life style. I don't think I can call Paleo a failure or a success yet. It is a process. I'm happy to be participating in this experiment. It seems to be bringing me in line with what I've always believed about eating real food.
Knowing you are on the right path is a fine feeling, and possibly the highest measure of success an individual can achieve.
Without going too far into the realms of philosophical debate here:
Failure is just another form of success. You can't have success without failure or you have nothing to judge your success by.
If you do not fail, you cannot learn to adapt and overcome and finally succeed in whatever it is you are trying to achieve.
So, in the long run, all paleo followers are winners :)
I had failure to some degree with low-carb paleo and lifting. I did a month of low-carb (besides the night before workouts) and I actually lost ground on my lifts despite the fact that I am still a beginner and I didn't lose any weight over that time. I'm still paleo + dairy, but reintroduction of carbs has helped my lifts immensely.
Define failure. I still have fibromyalgia and joint pain, but it's better. My energy level and anxiety are better, but I'm still an unhappy person in a mad world. I can achieve a normal body weight if I stay away from grains and dairy, except when I get too busy to eat. It's a diet, not a body and mind transplant.
I got my mom to try paleo too, hoping it would cure her lupus. Newsflash: lupus is a dread, incurable disease. Oh well. I had been so excited that it works for some people with problems like ours. I still wish we had randomized controlled trials on how many people with what sorts of problems this intervention is effective for and in what ways. It's a reflection of corrupt incentives (money for drugs, not lifestyle changes) that this gold standard data does not exist.
Health is a product of genetics, epigenetics, environment, and behavior. You can only control so much of that equation. A bunch of online anecdotes are useful for figuring out how to better experiment with being in control of your own destiny. Their usefulness stops there.
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