I have been on the Paleo diet since March 2013. I have been great except for one caveat, I am underweight and can't seem to gain at all. And also I am Vitamin D deficient. I saw a nutritionist and she told me I should not be exercising, but she also told me that I should be eating grains too even though I am on this diet because I cannot digest the "forbidden" foods properly. So I don't really know what to do.
I am a 24 year-old woman and my husband and I have been talking about conceiving in the near future, but two doctors told me that I would miscarry if I was not able to get up to a "normal" weight. I am 5'3'' 102lbs. So I'm concerned. I think that crossfit is too intense for me right now unless there are some moves that are less taxing for me to do.
Any suggestions for a good meal plan/exercise plan I should follow? I used to run, but I am literally skin and bones and am afraid I'll seriously harm myself if I drop anymore weight.
Exercise does not make as much difference to your weight as you think in terms of calories burned. As long as you are not running or doing heavy cardio for hours a day, I cannot see a problem. Exercise has benefits beyond weight control and doing some activity will also increase your hunger. I recommend gentle walking (all round healthy activity) every day plus strength training 3 times a week. Sprints or HIIT if you like but not too much, maybe just once a week.
The main thing you need to focus on is eating. I am a 5,3" woman and I was extremely underweight a few years ago - less than 90 pounds. In order to gain weight I had to consume thousands and thousands of calories. It took about 5000 calories for me to start gaining weight. Then I would have to switch up the amounts I ate to encourage my body to continue - it was like my body had needed the calories for so long, it used them for other stuff before fat storage.
My routine was to eat three meals a day plus a morning snack, an afternoon snack and an evening drink. I got a lot of extra calories from nuts, but beware that nuts do have phytic acid, omega 6 and other not so fab stuff and can be hard to digest to knowing what I do now I wouldn't over do it like I did. I did almond butter mixed with honey or date syrup and chopped pistachios for a snack. Also, tahini mixed with grape syrup, halva (sesame seed sweet), etc. Don't get me wrong, a handful of nuts is great for you now and then but I ate a lot. I also consumed a lot of sweet stuff like honey and unrefined sugar - again not the healthiest thing in the quantities I had. Short term it may be necessary though, so a hot drink with honey in the evening is good. I recommend coconut milk or whole milk as a hot bed time snack. I ate a lot of Indian sweets (home made so unrefined sugars and high quality milk with pure homemade ghee) Avocado, full fat dairy in drinks, ghee and coconut oil are all good. Add egg yolks to EVERYTHING for nutrients, fats and calories. A great snack I used to eat a lot of which is good for gaining weight is a banana mashed up with a big spoon of ghee and a pinch of cardamom. Another great thing is the milk solids you get left over when you make ghee mixed with unrefined sugar. Starchy veg like sweet potatoes, yam and taro are great. Cassava, yams (the real kind not the American kind) and taro are very high in calories and very tasty too. Put liberal amounts of fat on them. Liquid calories from tea with cream or coconut milk, fruit juice (limit - very sugary, even if it's not added sugar) can be a lifesaver. Top all your meals with full fat strained yoghurt if you tolerate it.
You will also need to check how you got underweight. Do you have any unresolved thyroid issues? Are your vitamin and mineral levels (other than D3 which you know about) good? Check the B12 for sure. Are you not good at eating meals when you should? Sort it out now so that the weight gain will stick!
It will be hard work. You will not feel like eating, but you have to. Exercise will actually increase your desire to eat and that is good. If you sit around all day you will not feel like eating. Also, the exercise will help your digestion. You are lucky that you probably will see good results just gaining 10 pounds or so, maybe less depending on your frame size. At one stage I was struggling to stay at 80 pounds and had to really slog at it for months to get up over 100 pounds. I know a lot of people struggle to lose weight, but actually it is really no fun to be overly skinny. Your health suffers and people feel free to make all sorts of comments about how awful you look that they would never say to someone who was overweight! Plus good luck finding clothes outside of the children's department! And you eat and eat until you can't eat any more but it takes so much time to make a difference.
How many calories / carbs do you eat right now on average? What's your d3 level?
I lost too much weight when I was sick and started the diet and upped my intake to 5 meals for a while. It was pretty common sense for me, as I was thin and ravenously hungry. No need to eat forbidden foods, just double up on what you do eat. Right now I'm back down to 2 meals a day. I think I liked the vibe more of eating all day long, but it was too much effort to keep that up (ain't nobody got time for that.)
D3 isn't going to be modulated by food (and in some, not enough by sunlight), so you'll want to look into supplements and figure out how you want to go about correcting that.
Crazy nutritionist. Exercise is great, crossfit may be overdoing it. I'd do some lift weightlifting and walking at this point. Don't know what you are eating, but add some carbs like potatoes to your diet. Eat a good mix of nuts, as they pack on the calories rather quickly. What does your doc say is a normal weight? This having trouble adding weight is a foreign concept to me and yet my son is a super skinny teenager. I've had good success with him building some muscle easily and adding a few pounds with a light 15 minutes twice a week lift plan.
@samc Weight lifting might be a good idea. I sorely lack muscle. When I started to lose weight really fast once I cut out all the foods that were making me sick, my body lost basically all fat and muscle. Hence why I am skin and bones.
I am currently eating white potatoes even though I know they're not strictly paleo. However, they're a food I can tolerate that adds some of that starchiness into my diet. It hasn't really helped me gain any weight though either. And as for nuts, my body is sensitive to them so I can only have them every once in a while. They make me sick if I overdo it.
As for normal weight she said the BMI scale. I should be around at least 110llbs. That would be a good weight for me in general, and especially if I was going to get pregnant any time soon. I feel like the whole BMI thing is pretty skewed though...
@paleot Yeah the nutritionist told me that I needed to eat 6 meals a day consisting of "special" food groups. Basically paleo food but will certain grains in there. I couldn't do it though. I have a slow emptying stomach on top of all my digestive issues so I am unable to eat that often. Likewise I am unable to have large meals because it essentially gets stuck in my stomach and causes discomfort. So I have no idea how many calories I consume, but clearly not enough.
My Viatamin D is 20.8 but it should be at least 30. My doc told me to take a D3 supplement of 2,000 IU everyday. I just started that. But I'm not sure if that will help me with the weight problem though.
@basherwo Wow, interesting. That does make it difficult. I see what you mean. 2,000iu might do it, you'll definitely want to retest after a month or so and check. I take double that just for maintenance.
I think the extra carby meals are going to be what you want to do (maybe they don't have to be larger.) Are you able to do dairy or hemp? I'd start chugging hemp protein shakes and lounging around the house. Maybe eat breakfast a little earlier and dinner a little later to squeeze some extra food in there.
I am curious how many calories you take in to stay at 100lbs. (How much < 2k are you?)
Best activities to gain weight? Sitting on the couch, watching TV and eating. ;)
Cheetos, potato chips, chocolate covered almonds with dried cherries, ice cream, french fries, gucamole & chips and yoplait. j/k
I'm not sure I agree with your doctor or that nutritionist. When my wife was in the hospital she was visited by a female nutritionist who was grossly over weight.... "physician heal thyself" came to mind. If my wife had followed her suggestions she would have gotten worse. :(
When I met my wife ~40 years ago, she was 5' 3-1/2" and about 105. Six years later she was heavier but probably not much more than 110 and we didn't have much trouble.
But back on gaining weight...ignore the nutritionist.
Exercise is fine... put Moves app on your phone and shoot for 10,000 steps per day (total).
If you tolerant dairy well, full fat milk & yogurt is a weight adder so are macadamia nuts & avocados too. Since you appear to have stomach volume issues... calorically dense foods should be your choices. That means fats.
Oh.. and BMI sucks as a metric. Check out http://home.fuse.net/clymer/bmi/
Play with the calculator... much better model & read the references
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