I'm wondering if the more low carb you go, the less tolerant you are to sugar, even from fruit? And in what cases would strict paleo cause fat gain?
Sorry for the following long explanation, but any insights on how VLC paleo could possibly cause sudden fat gain (when there is clearly fat to be lost, not for an already leaned out individual bordering minimum body fat) would be appreciated!
I'm a 19yo female who has been doing paleo for almost 2 years.
2 YEARS AGO:
When I started, I ate all the paleo "allowed" foods (no dairy), including nuts and fresh/dried fruits in copious amounts. Nevertheless, the fat flew off easily and I got to a somewhat-lean 115lbs (at 5'1" tall, currently chubby at 125lbs).
7 MONTHS AGO:
One time after a period of stagnation in weight loss (at 115), suddenly paleo stopped "working" and I gained 15lbs in 4 weeks! I switched to eating only veggies for carbs, cutting out nuts, seeds, and fruit.
6 MONTHS AGO:
Veggie-only-as-carb paleo didn't work, so I went to "zero carb", like in www.carnivornehealth.com, eating only pemmican, eggs, bacon, coconut milk and avocados for 1 week. Going "carnivore" finally got the body back into fat-burning, and I was able to go back to veggie-only-as-carb, and then add occasional fruit, while losing weight. But the rate of fat loss was slow. Since 125 is the current weight (down from 130), that means losing only 5 lbs fat over 6 months! (Okay, maybe 6 lbs fat if we account for ~1lb muscle gain from starting crossfit 2 months ago..)
Starting last week, have been not been able to eat any fruit (even low sugar ones like blueberries) without bloating up, especially the cheeks/jaw area. Switched to all fat+meat with very little veggies, and still fattening up noticeably over one day's time.
Typical foods are grassfed beef, eggs, nitrate-free bacon, roast duck, coconut milk (not canned, no preservatives/guar gum), marrow soup, and some veggies (but the meat dominates every meal).
Are these possible reasons:
-too high protein?
-messed up metabolism from fast-food childhood and subsequent years of dieting?
-too many calories?
-petite, small frame?
-Asian descent, tendency for higher fat percentage?
Just throwing some stuff out there that may or may not be plausible.
Since 5/30, I have developed a scratchy/sore throat, it doesn't seem like one from the common cold because it feels swollen. Barely noticeable, but progressively worse over 3 days. No cold/illness symptoms otherwise...as suggested by some, maybe thyroid problems? Hashimoto's?
Already stopped eating fruit and started 16-20hr fasts (5/31). Will stop eggs and coconut milk immediately, and avoid poultry when possible (not fully in control of meat selection while living with family). No more exercise except for walking or low-intensity biking for transportation purposes.
Out of curiosity, fingered the throat and felt a distinct lump on each side. They're not getting any smaller, esp after breaking a 20hr fast with bacon, duck, broccoli, and fish oil.
Throughout the last month, a host of symptoms have appeared, including:
-difficulty falling asleep, waking at night, when formerly a very heavy/quick sleeper
-feeling extremely hot when in 80 degree (not humid) weather
-emotional excitability/1 episode of depressing thoughts-->crying
-lightheadedness when standing (low blood pres. runs in family but it's worse than normal)
-slow healing of cuts/scrapes
Went to see three doctors including an endocrinologist. Upon hearing the symptoms, they immediately ask if I have family history of thyroid problems (1 cousin does). They suspect hypothyroid at first glance. Other possible causes are Cushing's and growth hormone deficiency. Interestingly, both Cushing's and GH def are caused by problems (eg.tumor) in the pituitary gland.
Polycystic ovarian cancer and Hashimoto's were also briefly mentioned but unlikely, but I was tested anyway just in case. Waiting for blood, urine, and salivary test results to come in, and scheduling an MRI pituitary scan.
UPDATE 7/22: (Some) Test results are here!
Ferritin (rules out anemia)
AB and TPO antibodies (rules out Hashimoto's)
B12 and Folate (rules out nutrient deficiency)
TSH (many interpretations possible)
cortisol (decreased likelihood of ACTH-dependent Cushing's)
Vitamin D (need to supplement/get more sun)
free T3 (low end of normal)
free T4 (low end of normal)
IGF-1 (indicates growth hormone deficiency as possible cause of symptoms)
High values: Total cholesterol
Sudden dramatic weight gain despite a healthy diet can signal the onset of hypothyroidism or possibly another medical condition. I think a visit to a doctor is in order before you start endlessly monkeying around with what you're eating on the advice of strangers on the internet.
Carnivore isn't paleo. There is no culture that is 100% zero carb. Even the Inuit living in the high polar regions, a neolithic settlement, eat some plant matter. I've known so many people who have fallen into the carnivore trap and end up insulin resistant with food allergies, and with adrenal fatigue (Hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis dysfunction). I've gotten large amounts of of flack for disliking carnivore, but I just can't support it. A few dude who have been eating this way for a couple of years do not prove anything about the safety of this diet. "The Bear" has had a heart attack and he shows his ignorance of basic science by blaming it on broccoli he ate as a child.
I know way more people who have done badly on this diet and it's going to give paleo a bad name despite the fact that it's not paleo. Matt Stone has in particular has made a career out of such people. I have lived in the Arctic and while I ate meat in the winter, I would also eat large amounts of greens, berries, and mushrooms in the spring and summer.
Then there is the issue that you are Asian, and there is some genetic evidence that Asians are better adapted to carbs.
Frankly, the fruit allergy thing is more worrying than weight issues. Health trumps all and weight isn't always an accurate indicator of that. Weight can be an indicator of epigenetic changes, environmental toxins, and the way you were raised.
Either way, you are my size when I started paleo and I think it would be possible for you to slim down. My family in total has lost 95 lbs on this diet. My strategy is three meals: vegetable meal (with seaweed and some tubers), fish with large amounts of supplemental fat like coconut oil/ghee/butter meal, and grassfed ruminant meat meal. Every couple of days a pork meal can sub for any meal.
No eggs (digestive irritant), no coconut milk (digestive irritant, though I've been able to add in small amounts, coconut oil is OK), no poultry (omega-6), and limited nuts-mostly macadamia. Butter and ghee are allowed. 100 grams of carbs a day. I would supplement kelp if you don't like seaweed. It's basically the Okinawan diet before they had Malthusian crisis and it got misinterpreted as a low-fat diet- their diet was yams, seaweed, goat, greens, and pork.
I would exercise only twice a week until you start feeling better. Exercise can help with stress, but sometimes it is stress. It also does make you hungrier.
There's my advice. It's controversial.
My initial thoughts/recommendations/questions:
You are working out WAY too much in my personal opinion. 3 days of crossfit, 3 sets of sprints, and 2 hours of swimming and biking? Honestly, I would drop the sprints and swimming/biking immediately.
I would also decrease the amount of protein from animal sources, and REALLY crank up the saturated fat from butter/pemmican/coconut. Avoid all fruit (other than avocado), and nothing but GREEN veggies.
Remember the body has a decent sized insulin response to protein, it might be time to give that pathway a break. I'd try this for 2 or so weeks, and see where it puts you.
Are you still training for a triathlon? If so, you will have to decide on your end game and goals and stay the course. But my initial thought on trying to redo body composition and train for the holiest of endurance events, will REALLY peak your cortisol levels on a regular basis. Higher cortisol levels, the more fat you will retain.
Are you getting enough sleep as well, and whats your rest schedule that you follow?
Being a tri-athlete is probably not healthy long-term, but Brad Kearns did a great post on MDA about endurance training while living primal/paleo ( http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-blueprint-endurance-training/ ). The fact that you are not reaching your body composition goals is most likely due to chronic inflammation and high cortisol levels. You're certainly over-training, as others have noted.
This sounds like classic adrenal fatigue to me. Based on your lack of carbs, excessive workout routines and symptoms I have to think that adrenal fatigue would be a possibility. Remember that the adrenal's can also affect Thyroid function. Personally I would take a period of reset from all workouts. Burned out adrenals can take months to repair to normal, or almost normal operation. Mid term start supplementing with Vitamin B Complex, and Natural Medicine to boost of assist the function of the adrenals.
Here are some symptoms of adrenal fatigue.
Humans are omnivores. I don't think it is right to see paleo promoted as "low-carb". Fruits and vegetables should be eaten in abundance. The focus of paleo is not restricting carbs, but not eating grains, which is something that all hunter-gatherer cultures have in common, whether the majority of their calories come from meat, or from plant foods. Humans do not need a certain ratio, but humans do need a balance of (the good kinds) of carbs, fat, and protein, instead of being deficient in any of the three.
For example, there is a common practice among paleo dieters of drowning vegetables in butter because it is perceived that the addition of fat makes the vegetables healthier. This is false and promoting this practice is in fact very counter-productive to weight loss. if you constantly add a lot of butter to your food you will become dependent on its taste and flavor rather than growing to appreciate the flavor of the vegetables. When I was vegan I liked to add lots of margarine to my food, and I became fat as a result.
It's not that carbs or fat makes you fat. It is mainly, and I do not apologize to anyone who refuses to accept this, an issue with how many calories you are eating. This is why we see tremendous weight loss success on both low-fat raw vegan and zero-carb carnivore diets, despite how extremely different they are from one another.
Add more fruits and vegetables, avoid high-calorie toppings/condiments, and control your portions so that you are eating less. If you can't do that, you could always exercise more. Michael Phelps eats a huge amount of food, the reason he is not morbidly obese, is because of how active he is.
One reason for the weight gain(Robb Wolf touched on this in one of his podcasts) is that your gut may be healing and you are only now fully absorbing the nutrients that you have been ingesting. When you remove all of the gut irritants (gluten, grains, legumes, nightshades, etc) there is a possibility of weight gain, even though your insulin sensitivity may improve. This is just another possibility to consider, if you're gaining most of the weight in you're belly region may indicate a cortisol issue, in which you'd need to get certain things under control. Your high training load, you may need to reduce it even further(I know this is hard). Make sure you're getting plenty of sleep, 8-9hrs/night, and try to reduce the stress in your life. Hope this helps!
Let me recommend before you go to your doctor and ask to be tested for hypothyroid, PLEASE spend a couple hours reading through the Stop the Thyroid Madness website. Most docs have only the most basic (and pretty useless) knowledge and training on thyroid. They usually order the TSH test -- the thyroid stimulating hormone test -- which test they admit is often inaccurate, and ... oh yeah, it's NOT measuring thyroid hormones at all! It measures the pituitary hormone that is sent out to prod the thyroid to work. (Imagine if you will, the pituitary if the farm wife yelling out the window that lunch is ready. The docs say, if your TSH is "normal" (she yelled), then that proves the 'farmhands' have been fed (i.e., the thyroid has gotten the message AND acted on it. This is very often NOT the case!) Stop the Thyroid Madness has a list of the tests you need, and how to understand the results, and even a letter to take to your doc to invite him to accurately test and treat you, if you need it.
Well well well worth your time!
6 hours of sleep with a 3 hour nap is not the same as getting a good night sleep. You should be getting 8-9 hours of sleep or more, preferably during the darkest hours of the night, in a completely pitch black room. Also make sure your stress levels are under control. These two things are very important.
As for diet, you should be focusing on getting yourself back to health and not worry about weightloss right now. This means don't restrict carbs, but keep carb intake to yams / sweet potatoes rather than fruit to control fructose intake. Other than yams / sweet potatoes, eat lots of greens like kale, chard, etc.
Keep up your fat with those sources, it sounds like you are doing pretty well. Make sure you are drinking adequate amounts of water.
Keep out all the potential allergin / inflammation causing paleo foods (nightshades, nuts, seeds). You may want to even look at cutting out eggs for now.
Have you looked into a possible iodine deficiency?
Hold off on the workouts for now. Just walk around or do some light hiking to stay active.
Are you getting adequate sunlight daily, and if not are you supplementing Vitamin D? If so, how much are you taking? What about fish oil?
I am 5'4 so only a little bit taller... my goal is to achieve 120-ish, at the moment I weight 145 so much more than you, but I would not call myself "chubby". I have just a little bit fat around midsection and legs I would like to see gone. Is there a chance that you have unrealistic goals for your body? Are you too focused on weight instead of health and general "look" (can you see strong muscles, defined lines? do you have a healthy, but not too thick fat cushion?)?
I think the body may be really confused when we change too much too often. Most of the times you can see health results only after months, the system needs to have the time to get used to new way of eating/living. Sudden weight lost is not a signal that "finally something's working" but might be a signal of body's shock, some unbalances that cause the lost.
I would focus most on being and feeling healthy, strong and energetic. And let the body figure out what is the optimal weight for it.
edit: oh, and also - if you are a hard core athlete, you must be pretty well muscled-up. Which means that you should weight more to show it! you are not one of the "skinny fat" ones.
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