Paleo is an amazing lifestyle that can help you to regain your natural shape and reverse many health problems. Primal food plans are elimination diets that lower inflammation by removing irritating foods that will help your body promote it’s own healing and weight loss. As a nutritionist I see a lot of people who try do Paleo their own way and sometimes they stall in their slimming efforts. Here I share common paleo weight loss mistakes due to which you may not be losing weight on paleo lifestyle.
Let me preface by saying that I am assuming you are 100% gluten free. To me there is no 80/20 policy on this issue if you want the best health outcomes and results. Since most people who are going Paleo have health challenges in the first place, gluten is a non-negotiable, irritating food that must be eliminated. If you don’t believe me read more about gluten and why it should be avoided.
Common Paleo Weight Loss Mistakes
Eating too many nuts
Eating too many nuts is one of the major paleo weight loss mistakes that I see with my clients. Most nuts such as almonds are high in Omega 6 oils and one thing we are trying to do on a Paleo diet is balance the ratio of Omega 6 and Omega 3 in balance. According to Dr. Mercola a 4/1 or even a 2/1 ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 would be optimal for reducing inflammation and preventing disease. Lowering inflammation by reducing Omega 6 oils (canola, corn, soybean, and too many nuts) and allergenic foods (wheat, soy, and most dairy) you should lose weight and get healthier. Inflammation and weight gain go hand in hand, like a chicken or the egg situation. If you are coming into Paleo really overweight or with compromised health it may be a good idea to limit nuts to promote gut healing and lower inflammation.
If you do choose to eat nuts I would recommend the Robb Wolf’s way of cracking and shelling them yourself to control portions. A serving of nuts is 1/4 cup, which is what I recommend for my weight loss clients to keep portions in check.
Nuts can also be very hard to digest because of lectins and phytates which help these seeds germinate in the ground. If you are making nuts a large part of your diet it is a good idea to soak them and or sprout them. This method of preparation was common among native tribes during visits from Dr. Weston A Price in the 1930’s. More info here:
Eating too much fruit
Fruit has amazing antioxidants, fiber and phytonutrients, but it also has a lot of sugar which can make you overeat. The fruit of today also does not resemble the fruit of ancient times. It has been hybridized to be very large and sweet. Think about if you ever saw a berry bush in the woods, does that fruit look anything like the huge overgrown fruit at the supermarket? Also there is the issue of fructose, a controversial topic. It has been shown to exacerbate cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s according in many studies and articles. So when you are choosing to eat fruit keep your portions small such as 1 cup of berries or 1/4 of a melon. It is ideal to eat fruit post workout with a meal. Try not to eat fruit alone without fat or protein because it will cause too much of a blood sugar spike and make you hungry.
Eating dry white chicken breasts
Thinking back on how many hundreds of shoe leather, hockey puck chicken breasts I have choked down in my life does not give me the warm fuzzies. Those days are over, thanks heavens. I grew up during the 90’s when fat free marinara sauce and No Yolks noodles were all the rage. Then after college I was on a high carb, low fat diet for 10 years but thankfully I survived. Now I have learned that saturated fats from meat are crucial for satiety and health. Saturated fats are so important that the body actually turns carbs into fat for energy regulation and hormone production. Which means that if you don’t eat fat from meat, you will crave carbs constantly.
Many times clients come to me with their food journals and I see white chicken over and over. This misconception comes from Paleo diet books that instruct people to eat lean protein. These diet book are usually assuming the reader is eating conventional factory farmed meat that is full of toxins, hormones, and antibiotics, which means trimming the fat is a good idea. But ideally people are eating grass fed beef, lamb, and buffalo primarily which are already leaner than their corn fed counter parts. Pastured chicken is also full of healthy fats and has more fat soluble vitamins that factory farmed birds so it is important to eat the skin if you find good sources.
The CLA in the fat of grass fed animals has been shown in many studies to help people lose weight, so eat up! Also organic and grass fed animals will be free of antibiotics and pesticides which are full of estrogen mimickers that can increase fat storage in humans. If you shop from a farmers market or get to know a local farmer you can also get great discounts. Trader Joe’s and Costco have organic and grass fed animals at reasonable prices. So buy pastured and organic, grass fed animals as much as you can, then eat the fat and enjoy! Another great source is online here.
Using olive oil as a main source of fat
Among major paleo weight loss mistakes is using olive oil as a main source of fat. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat which is a longer chain fat that resembles our own body fat stores. I would rather see my clients eating grass fed butter, Grassfed organic ghee and coconut oil. Grass fed butter contains lecithin and Conjugated Linoleic Acid both of which support fat burning and muscle development. Vitamin A in butter is essential for a proper functioning thyroid gland which is a main regulator of body fat. Coconut oil is full of medium chain fatty acids which are used by the body for quick energy and are not stored as adipose tissue. Coconut oil is a very stable fat for cooking that even reduces belly fat. If you want to know more about how coconut oil can help you lose weight click here.
Dairy has good and bad properties. We could argue about this all day long and they did at every AHS Convention. Pasteurized milk has little benefit and there is more calcium in leafy greens than you will from dead overheated dairy products. In contrast raw milk and cheese have amazing vitamins like Vitamin K2 which may be a missing link to why traditional cultures were so healthy. I do think raw milk is a superfood but what I usually see is people overeating conventional dairy and then wondering why they are not losing weight. Dairy is a common allergen so I think most people should eliminate it for 2 weeks just make sure they don’t have any sensitivity (mucus, brain fog, gas, bloating, diarrhea) reactions. One other thing about milk is that it contains a protein called Casomorphin which can have an opioid effect on the brain. If you find that you can’t put down the raw cheese or you guzzle a pint of raw milk in one slurp this may mean you are sensitive to milk and should approach it with caution.
Bonus Tip: Do you get carried away with the paleo desserts?
Among other paleo weight loss mistakes is taking too many paleo desserts. If you read Dr Cordain’s work there is no sugar on the Paleo diet. We can argue that honey and maple syrup are natural and would have been eaten by native people. The main thing to ask yourself is how do you feel when you eat Paleofied deserts and treats? Do Paleo cookies and brownies make you hungrier and then you find yourself foraging all day for more? If you are trying to lose weight it is a good idea to minimize these foods to special occasions.
Are you making any of these paleo weight loss mistakes?
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