This is my first post. I've been reading around here for a couple weeks and loooove this site, so informative, answers so well-thought-out and based on science and/or deep experience. I've read "The Paleo Solution" a couple of times and have been reading "Primal Body, Primal Mind" backwards and forwards probably more than necessary for a single book. I have a few very specific questions for this awesome community, hopefully my Q's will be ok ones to group together and you won't send me back to FAQs, which I've read completely.
(As a general background I'm a female, 5' 4", weigh 125-130, hoping to lose those last 5-10 lbs of fat but also plan to do Paleo for life as a healthy way to maintain thereafter. My "target" is 1250 cals/day, consisting of about 70-75% fat, 20-25% protein, and 5-10% carbs, with the fats from healthy, nutrient-rich sources, including about 3g of high-quality fish oil per day. I say "target" because I often go over those numbers and end up eating 1500-2000 cals/day but keep the same ratios of fat/protein/carbs. I'm trying to follow all of the Paleo principles, but there are a few unanswered questions for me and a little bit of seemingly contradictory information. I'm also following the food restrictions under "Type O" in the Blood Type diet, which are right on line with Paleo but slightly more restricted like no pork or coconut (except coconut oil, yay!). Full disclosure, I probably don't get enough sleep and I haven't yet completely cut dairy or nuts out of my life but plan to do so. I think I am currently getting the right amount and kind of exercise according to the books.)
Here are my specific questions, hope they are relevant to others as well . . . .
Protein. One of the main thrusts of the books is "meat is good," but I don't want to overindulge in protein, and the best I can discern the appropriate daily amount for a person of my size is only about 40-80 grams. But if I eat one decent-sized piece of meat or fish that pretty much blows my entire day's worth of protein. This is a challenge because I'd also like to consume eggs and veggies like broccoli but when you put it all together that's waaaaay too much protein, especially if I want to stay in ketosis and burn fat. Am I missing or misapplying something? Or do I need to just be really careful about my meat portions? When I eat meat, I find I want to eat a big hunk of it.
Dairy Fat. I'm planning on cutting out dairy pretty much altogether, but before I do . . . what's the deal on whipping cream and creme fraiche, both of which are about 100% fat? Eating those items are/would be helpful to me in having a little variety while getting my percentage of fat up to 75% and keeping protein low (see above) but some people on here are super anti-dairy and maybe the reality is that I should assume that any and all dairy is likely to stall fat loss. Do the dairy-avoiders avoid even the dairy that is 100% fat? Does my being gluten-intolerant inform the answer?
Red wine. I'm reading that the Reservatrol in red wine is highly beneficial on a Paleo and fat-reduction diet so I'm allowing myself about one standard-sized glass of Pinot Noir about 3 times a week. The carbs are relatively low but the remaining empty alcohol calories (100/glass) are high. Dumb question, but do I really have to count those calories in a calorie-restricted diet like this? Smarter question, would it be better to just take a high-quality Reservatrol supplement, or is the real deal way better and worth the cals?
Frequency of meals. I'm reading in some books and websites that under a restricted-calorie, high-fat fat loss program you want to shoot for 5 meals of about 200 cals each. But on this site it sounds like people are more in favor of fewer meals each day. I want my body to always get the message that "the hunt is good" so it can remain strongly in ketosis, and for me it seems that is consistent with the constant low stream of fat, etc. that comes with 5 smaller meals. Do you think it's better to go with 2-3 meals than 5? I guess this question also relates to IF, which I would have no problem doing except I'm afraid my brain will think "the hunt is bad" and start to hold onto fat. Also I seem to be reading differing views on whether it's good to eat right before bed or not.
Fiber. I have been traditionally (before Paleo and now) constipated and addicted to laxatives. (Sorry to be gross.) I have been concerned that by restricting fruit and even veg to a large extent I'm consigning myself to more of the same, for life. So I've made a very strong effort to get 20g of fiber per day in the form of avocado, veggies, ground flax, and ground chia. I don't count the fiber-specific calories from those foods in my overall count of calories or carbs. Does that sound right? Or should I be counting the calories/carbs in certain types of fiber (soluble/insoluble)? And in theory does the RDA of fiber actually go down for a Paleo diet for some reason? I don't see a lot of discussion of fiber in the books except to say you don't need to eat grains for fiber reasons. I have this hope/belief that fiber will keep me feeling satiated, which is sometimes an issue for me.
I know I probably should have broken these down into 5 separate posts but maybe together these are specific questions that go together as specific "pain points" in understanding how all this works. Be gentle it's my first time! :) Cheers.
Protein. Sure, 80 grams from animal sources is fine.
Dairy - dump away. Especially for celiac. Casein is very similar to gluten in structure and can cleave the intestinal lining under certain conditions. You won't miss much nutritionally speaking either.
Red wine. Nothing magic about resveratrol. It's no different than any anitoxidant from plant sources. Your body treats it as a toxin and releases it's own antioxidant defenses(hormesis). Drink it for taste, if anything.
Meal frequency is total crap. Eat when hungry and until you're satisfied. THIS IS IMPORTANT: If you obsess and stress over food and hunger, cortisol goes up and kills a ton of the health and body comp benefits.
Fiber - you don't need that much of it. Most of the human stool volume (>70%) consists of bacteria, and they don't require that much fiber to thrive. So stool quality depends on the bacterial environment of your large intestine. A great way to improve stool quality, aside from eating plenty of COOKED vegetables, is starch - sweet or white potatoes, yams... As for bacteria, there are fermented foods like Kim Chi or traditionally made sauerkraut. But, unfortunately, it's a matter of time, different foods and/or fecal transplant from a healthy person(yes, you heard it - look it up). Also Dr. Ayers makes a point of eating unwashed organic produce and even some soil to restore gut flora - check out his blog. But massive quantities of fiber are not necessary.
In general, stop reading the blood type stuff - it's total bs. Sleep, on the other hand, is very important, as I'm sure you've learned from Robb's book. Don't count calories and don't go for ketosis! Just as with sleep, the cortisol will stall all your efforts for leanness, health, performance, longevity and overall happiness. You don't need a 'caloric target' to be in great shape. It'll only stall you. Food quality and your own hunger will take care of calories. Hope that helps.
I'm sure other will chime in, but my two cents is to stop obsessing about calories and grams of macronutrients.
One of the wonderful things about a healthy metabolism is that it will tell you how much meat to eat, for example. You should be able to be in ketosis with plenty of vegetables so you shouldn't have to worry about your fiber. Also, the blood type diet seems to have been pretty much debunked so I wouldn't take those suggestions too seriously.
Here is a great post about what makes a diet ketogenic.... To quote from it:
So we have three ways to make the diet ketogenic:
1) Make Wilder’s “ketogenic ratio” high by eating a lot of fat, very few carbs, and not too much protein.
2) Supplement with the ketogenic amino acids lysine and leucine.
3) Supplement with coconut oil or another source of short-chain fats.
If we do (2) or (3), then the diet can be ketogenic even if it has a fair number of carbs.
Oh and p.s. as far as eating before bed, I personally find my sleep is much better if I don't eat after around 6pm.
Others are doing a superb job at tackling the individual questions, so I have only crumbs to add. You and I are pretty different (you a 5'4" female, me a 6'5" guy), but as far as our common goal -- ditching the last five to ten -- I can say that resistance training what was began to inch me off of my months-long plateau in scaring the stubborn (i.e. midsection) fat away.
You alluded briefly to exercise but didn't make it clear what you were doing. I hear it said all the time that weight loss is "90 percent diet." I think that might be true -- right up until you've dumped everything off except for stubborn fat.
Play around with your macros, play around with your workouts (try them fasted). Heck, even play around with your calories. I sympathize neither with the self-starvation crowd nor the trolls who castigate you for suggesting counting calories. These, inevitably, are the people who quote Gary Taubes after reading the back cover of Good Calories, Bad Calories.
Getting the "right" answer from the internet isn't the fun part -- it's self-experimentation.
You could easily go to Zone levels of protein (30%) - and at 1250 cals that's closer to 100 grams. 40 grams sounds way too low, especially if you work out some. I wouldn't be concerned if you got up to 150 grams now and then. Primates in the wild generally eat to their protein requirements, regardless of the nutrient density. So if all they have is low protein food, they eat a lot more. You will tend to eat less by focusing on good quality protein. I know that people say that fat is more satiating (and maybe it is) - but i think it's the combo of the two that really does it.
Unless you are really casein sensitive, heavy cream and butter are good (and easy) ways to add fat. Some people find that totally eliminating dairy can clear up certain issues (acne, IBS, even helps with autism in some cases).
Red wine is a generally decent cheat. You could probably get the same benefit from some red grapes without the alcohol, however. And sometimes alcohol makes weight loss more difficult. There are some health benefits that can be attributed to the alcohol itself, so some wine, perhaps after getting to goal or just once in a while (when you really need it!) is not a bad idea.
Initially, I wouldn't worry about meal frequency. Eat when hungry. Not eat when not hungry. Eventually, 2 or 3 meals will be comfortable for you - but don't force it.
Soluble fiber is good. Insoluble fiber is not good. Veggies/fruit are fine. Cardboard (cellulose), psyllium husk, etc. - not so much. Regularity is overrated, but drink your water, eat your veggies and you should be fine. Paleo will help to undo any damage you've done, although it will take some time. Look into pro- and pre-biotics to get your gut healthy as well.
true that obsessing will hinder your progress!! Since you luckily don't have tons to loose, I'd say take some of the advice above about eating right and enjoying it more!
Just a few added comments from those already given:
a good way to get a small amounts of protein in is making egg white omlettes; I do this when I know I'll be eating my main meal out and can't control my portions, etc.
dairy is something you could try cutting out except for the full fat cream, ghee, it's really up to you to figure out if its a hinderance to fat loss. I've been trying to cut it out but always stay with the full fat stuff and I dont believe it causing any GI issues or weight stalls. (in general I don't eat cheese, drink milk)
Wine: A glass, max two per week, used as a treat after a long week is the max I'd suggest in the beginning. Actually better to avoid the first 30 days until you see some weight loss. just my suggestion!!
Meals, sounds so time consuming to be eating 5 meals per day! I ended up evolving to 2 good meals and one snack and not eating in the evening and IF'ing until next day (18 hrs max). I have GI issues so this actually settled my system down, so for me it is helpful. Again, I'd suggest you play with it, give it 2 wks to note changes and see what is working for you.
If you are using laxatives you'll have a tough time getting regular once you remove them, so be prepared for some issues and try to head it off early by eating naturally high fiber fruits and veggies. You really need to drink lots of water as well. I'd also say, unless you are in severe pain from constipation, you might not actually be constipated. By eating compact nutrient packed foods (no processed) you will actually go less often than if you filled up on bread, pasta, etc. Off dairy will also help this process.
re: Protein - I can tell you that I have a hard time getting 100gr of protein a day and usually end up closer to 80 and I eat animal protein at least 3x a day. If you just eat what you want until you're satisfied, I'm guessing you'll naturally do what your body wants. I also would say that 80gr or more is closer to what you should be shooting for. (I'm 5'6" and 122lbs, so not too far different than you). Also, maybe you're not getting any exercise? But your calorie target seems too low, even for weight loss (definitely for maintenance).
Paleo isn't "calorie restricted" unless you choose for it to be so, although I find that I, much more naturally than ever before, hit my daily caloric requirement on Paleo without either counting or thinking about "restricting." That said, I wouldn't make food choices based on calories, I would make them based on what makes you healthy. For instance, red wine has benefits, but after 40 days off all alcohol, I tried red wine and discovered I am massively allergic to it. So, no red wine for me. Some people tolerate raw dairy, some don't. YMMV, but I wouldn't use calories as the decision point. (This is why many recommend a strict 30-day starting period -- then you can try out certain things and see more clearly what actually works for you or doesn't).
However, if you are going to count calories as some important measure for you, you do need to count ALL of your calories. Just the things you mention that you do not count are probably what are adding enough extra to keep a few pounds on your frame. I don't think you need to count calories. I think it is far more effective and important to listen to your body and eat when you are hungry until you are satisfied and don't eat when you are not hungry. However, if you are going to count calories, you need to stop playing the mind games.
I second (third, fourth) what others have said about meals. And it goes back to listening to your body. It's not about what some book says, or some website. You need to eat when YOU are hungry and NOT when you are not. That might be 5x a day (though I think the collective experience of those here would indicate that is highly unlikely), but you are YOU and there are always exceptions. You might only be hungry once a day. Seriously.
Constipation. . . This is something I have struggled with my whole life. I never actually found fiber to be all that helpful, except in pill form with senna or some other laxative component (so probably not the fiber!). When I went Paleo, I was constipated at first (within first couple of weeks), then I evened out, but was a bit unnerved by the lack of quantity. However, from what I can tell this is pretty normal. I'd never really taken probiotics, so that's what I'm doing now (I'm also on antibiotics at the moment, so that is an aggravating factor). Going Paleo did eliminate the horrible bloating I had, so my "constipation" was really more a case of being less "regular." This gives me some confidence that restoring the flora in my gut is what is called for. I share all that to say that given your similar history, it may be a bit of a bumpy ride at the beginning, but the long-term prognosis is good. You're likely to feel some immediate benefits, but restoring full gut health could take some patience.
Remember, this is really about you learning about your body and your health and what works best for you, not a prescription, not a "diet".
Protein: I'm 5'2 and 116lbs. I eat about 130g + protein a day. Calories are all over the place, depending on how hungry I am that day. My advice? Forget calorie counting right now, and eat to appetite. See what happens, then (if you need to tweak) look at things like calories, protein etc. It sounds like you're overthinking a little (something I am guilty of also).
Dairy Fat: Opinions are all over the map on this. It basically comes down to your body, and what it can/can't handle. If you feel good using dairy, then go for it! If you shed fat while using dairy, then great! I tested as intolerant to casein when I found out I was celiac, so I test various forms of dairy to see how I do... I am fine with goat milk yogurt, for example, So its really YMMV (and personal preference).
Red wine/Reservatrol: meh. If you want wine, go for it... but don't drink it just for the alleged benefits.
Frequency of meals: My rule of thumb... eat when hungry. Don't eat when not hungry. Let your body tell you when to eat, learn to listen to its signals. Relax a little! :) I used to do planned intermittent fasting, until I realized that planned wasn't intermittent... it was planned. So I threw up my hands and just paid attention. This means some days, I eat very little (like 800 cals) and other days, I eat a ton (like 2,500+ cals). My bod works it all out.
Fiber: again, a YMMV kind of thing. Fiber always made my C worse, but then again this was in my grain-days. Many people find fat helps, and if you do have trouble with this in the beginning you can take magnesium, which draws water into the colon and helps things move along smoothly.
Honestly, I get the whole micro-managing and 'perfectionism' thing, because I suffer from it as well! But I think you are over-thinking things just a tad, and combining all sorts of info and advice form all sorts of sources... which can get overwhelming and muddled. Like blood type diet... better to see how pork (for example) actually affects YOUR body than go by what some dude said in his book (I know plenty of type-A bloods who do NOT do well on the type-A diet).
If there's one thing I've learned in 6+ years of eating this way it's this: it really doesn't matter what anyone else says or does, ultimately - it comes down to you knowing your body and what works for you. That's what the journey is all about... not following 'rules' or dogma. Over and above the basics (stay away from gluten grains, industrial oils, etc) it's pretty much n-=1... your own experience, health.