How I Gained 5 Pounds While Eating Paleo/Primal

April 25, 2011

Photo by La Flaf

I keep hearing from various paleo adherents that you can eat however much you want, as long as it’s paleo/primal, and you’ll lose (or maintain) your weight. I think that’s generally true, except it should come with an important caveat…

My weight has been stable for several months, after leaning out since stating paleo/primal. But in the past month or so, I actually gained about 5 unwanted pounds. During this time, what I ate hasn’t changed, but how much I ate has. Thinking back over the past month, it’s quite clear that I’ve been overeating, and I was also aware of it while doing so. What’s unusual is that typically, if I overeat for a meal, or even a few days, it generally tends to even out. This month was an exception. A few things happened to line up consecutively, resulting in some continuous overeating. And by overeating, I don’t mean eating more than some specific amount, or by somebody else’s rules. I mean eating past the point of satiety – continuing to eat after already feeling full.

Some examples:

  • For breakfast, I often have two sausages from Whole Foods. I recently switched to sausages from Oyama, and I continued mindlessly eating two, even though they’re much larger. I did that every day for a week or so. The following week, I realized that one sausage was more than enough.
  • I started having beef broth with dinner, along with some of the meat/bones from the broth. Yet I didn’t adjust the portion size of my dinner, and kept eating my typically fair sized meal in addition to the broth/meat (even though I was full).
  • I began making after-work snacks (custards, fruity jelly, carrot halwa, etc.), in what I realize now were fairly large portions.
  • I was going away on a trip, but I didn’t down-size my batch cooking enough, and made something not really suitable for freezing. My dinner and lunch were easily 1.5x the usual for a week straight.

None of the above alone would make a difference… but all those things put together resulted in my first weight gain since I started paleo/primal almost a year ago.

What’s my point? First of all, I’m not at all concerned about this weight gain… it’s quite clear to me why it happened, and I know that now that I’m eating “normally” / mindfully again, the pounds will fall off effortlessly.

The thing is, though, I was always aware that I was continuing to eat even though I was full. Various circumstances like my trip, incorporating broths into my diet, feeling inspired to try some new snack recipes, etc. all happened to occur around the same time.

What about people whose satiety meter is broken? People that have been overeating for years, who no longer get that fullness signal from their stomach? What if you’re so used to feeling full from eating tons of carbs that you overeat habitually, even with paleo/primal food?

My caveat to the oft-heard, “as long as you eat paleo/primal you can eat however much you want”, would be to reflect on “however much you want”, because there seems to be an underlying assumption there that you will stop eating once you’re full. And I think that a lot of people regularly eat beyond that point, either out of habit, mindlessness, or because they’ve simply lost the ability to pick up on those satiety signals.

If you’re happy with your weight loss progress or maintenance, great. But if you’re not, it may be worthwhile to be mindful of not just what you’re eating but how much.

What has your experience been with how much paleo/primal food you eat?

Shared with Food Renegade and Real Food Wednesday.

Leave a Comment


{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Lynn May 1, 2011 at 12:35 PM

I can relate. I think I had become a compulsive eater, a binge eater over the years. I think food has always been my friend, there for me, to compensate for bad things, something to look forward to, etc. I even had a compulsion to eat out all the time. I think, in a way, it’s always been the center of my life. Weird as that sounds.

So I too noticed that even on low carb, I tended to eat a lot for no reason. I think it helps to just finally be conscious of this tendency. I’m doing better for the most part and am pretty used to low carb at this point; but on birthdays or holidays, I’ll still have the tendency to overdo whatever is there, even if it’s eggs or meat.


[email protected] May 1, 2011 at 3:28 PM

Hi Lynn,

It totally helps to be conscious of eating for no reason. I catch myself eating regardless of whether I’m hungry or not – often just out of habit or boredom. The past few days I’ve waited until I was actually hungry to eat, and then made sure to not overeat – it’s interesting, feeling slightly hungry for a change actually felt good. I think it all comes down to being mindful of what we’re doing and why.


pjnoir May 6, 2011 at 5:33 AM

Intermittent fasting seems to even out the week. I do one day a week, best if it can be unplanned and something like a famine. day on the road, short on money, anything as log as you don’t plan on it the night before. Toy don’t wamt the body to go into a defense mode. I gained weight with Paleo after a low carb, Atkins bur my clothes size continued to shrink. I think given a choice, people would rather LOOK Leaner regardless of what the scale says since we don’t glue that number to your forehead. just my two cents….down from a nickel.


pjnoir May 6, 2011 at 5:35 AM

typos sorry, I hate them. YOU don’t want the body to go into a defense mode…

mobile typing isn’t my forte .


[email protected] May 6, 2011 at 8:14 AM

I’m all for spontaneous intermittent fasting, especially if the alternative is eating crap because there’s no better options available (travelling, etc.) – as long as you don’t feel like you’re starving yourself. Also read that it’s best to keep fasts <16 hours. Oh and I guess I should've specified that the 5 lb gain wasn't just a number on the scale – I felt like I gained weight, so it wasn't just a positive change in body composition. But that's a good point, some people are too focused on the scale rather than paying attention to what their body looks and feels like.


Stephanie R. June 10, 2011 at 5:25 PM

Good article!
Over the last year and a half, I’ve lost about 80 lbs but recently, I’ve plateaued. Similar story, I was inspired to make snacks and even had a few carb heavy meals that while not fast food or anything, were too much for me. I’ve still got a little weight to lose so I need to be pretty rigorous with how strict I am about even natural sugar from fruit and not having cheat meals.
Eating a Paleo/Primal diet, I never ‘suffer’ with being hungry like a typical dieter but if I eat high carb (like a meal with plenty of sweet potato), I crave carbs like crazy.
I’m not worrying either and I’ve really enjoyed learning how to listen to my body and hear how it reacts to things clearly instead of ugly, muddled signals wrongly labeled ‘no-fault’ diseases.


[email protected] June 10, 2011 at 6:40 PM

Congrats on the weight loss, that’s impressive! :)

I don’t know how you’re eating right now, but if you’re not doing this already, have you tried doing a 30 day period of strict paleo, or something like the Whole 30, or even an elimination diet to try to break through your plateau? I’m doing an elimination diet right now to try to see if I react to various foods, mostly eggs and dairy. And there’s really not much left to snack on :P Breaking the snacking cycle has been a nice side effect of the elimination diet.


Helen T July 15, 2012 at 11:34 PM

I find the only thing that’s often left is to snack on is: rice crackers. Not exciting, is it? But I recently found ones that are orange glazed…..it hits the sweet spot, but then you want more!

Sarah Smith July 1, 2011 at 5:30 AM

I, too, find that I can gain weight on a grain-free, starch-free diet. I find I can overeat because I never get that bloated, ready-to-pop feeling like I used to when eating grains (and I seem to have associated that feeling with being full). So yeah, I guess my satiety meter is somewhat broken too. The good thing is, like you said, it is easy to lose the weight again by just paying attention to portions.


[email protected] July 1, 2011 at 7:31 AM

Yah, thankfully it really is easy to drop the weight again. I find that I’m especially likely to overeat if I include more carbs. But that could just be because my main source of carbs is yams (sweet potatoes), which I have a major weakness for, and tend to over-indulge. But I will also over-eat other stuff, simply if I’m not paying attention to how much I’m eating.


Julie July 1, 2011 at 11:24 AM

Interesting post. I have been reading about intermittent fasting at Mark Sisson’s website–I don’t know a whole lot about it, but from experience I have found that periodic fasting can play an important role. There certainly is no need to keep piling in the food just because it’s meal time and the food is paleo–you got to go by your “gut feeling” (pun intended). If a person has no natural limiting sensation with the appetite, the fast itself may help a person realize the feeling of hunger versus appetite.


[email protected] July 1, 2011 at 5:06 PM

I heard it’s good to keep the fasting <16 hours.. so basically just have dinner a little earlier and breakfast a little later.. I try not to eat breakfast on weekends until I'm hungry, which typically happens around 10am.. but on weekdays, I gotta chow down before I leave for work.. I definitely notice that awareness plays a big role in how much I eat – i.e. if I'm distracted while eating, I just keep eating, not paying enough attention to whether or not I'm already full..


Kara July 7, 2011 at 9:26 PM

This is totally true!
I lost 9lbs when I started eating primal and I haven’t lost any more since :( I know this is due to the amount of food I’m eating and yet I have such a hard time overcoming the emotional reasons I overeat. I’m still working on it.

At least for now, although I’m still heavy, I feel much better because the quality of food I’m eating is so much better than before.


[email protected] July 9, 2011 at 7:26 AM

It can definitely be tough not to overeat sometimes – primal food is so tasty! I think you have a good approach. You’re recognizing that you’re overeating and acknowledging the reasons behind it, but you’re not being excessively hard on yourself. This journey is different for everyone, and maybe this is the right progression for you. What’s important is that it sounds like you’re not eating crap, but are nourishing yourself. And it sounds like when you’re ready, you’ll start eating less, and lose those extra pounds. Sometimes we need to take things one step at a time.


Food Renegade July 8, 2011 at 2:44 PM

A worthwhile point! I think the key with feasting is that it accompany fasting. So, if we overeat or indulge one day, it helps to have a day of intermittent fasting later on. Basically, it helps to keep your body on its toes! Once you fall into a routine, though, of either always fasting or always feasting, you start throwing off your metabolism and risk weight gain. I’d be interested to know if that 5 lb gain happened gradually over the month of overeating, or if it happened all in that last week or two.


[email protected] July 9, 2011 at 9:12 AM

That’s a great point about the feasting vs fasting! Typically, if I overate, it’d be just by a little, so when I ate a little less the next few days, it’d even out. But this time around, I had myself a prolonged and more pronounced feasting period :) And I agree with it being good to keep your body on its toes – it’s quite easy nowadays to fall into a routine, with food so readily accessible. As for the weight gain, it was gradual, but didn’t really start until the second week.


GiGi July 9, 2011 at 10:14 PM

Yup! I eat VERY LOW CARB/Paleo/Primal like… but I eat HUGE PORTIONS and while I could get away with this for a REALLY long time, I have a feeling it’s starting to catch up with me a bit because I have started to put on a few pounds even though I really haven’t changed anything when it comes to my diet. I have decided that I might reduce an ounce or two here and there, but I am not going to go too restrictive or else eating just won’t be fun anymore! ha ha.


[email protected] July 10, 2011 at 10:09 AM

You definitely don’t want to get restrictive to the point where you’re no longer enjoying your meals! I think it’d be helpful for me to focus more on my food when I’m eating – instead of surfing the web for example. Sometimes I’ve finished my food and felt like I hadn’t really eaten because I was so distracted, which can lead to overeating, or at the very least, a less enjoyable meal. But there’s just so little time to do everything! :P


Frances July 10, 2011 at 7:55 AM

5 pounds is within the range for normal weight fluctuations due to water retention.


[email protected] July 10, 2011 at 12:56 PM

Water retention can indeed fluctuate weight by up to 5 lbs. But this wasn’t an overnight or even weeklong weight fluctuation – it gradually climbed over a month. And it didn’t fluctuate back down on its own. Also, my over-eating didn’t involve much carbs, which along with salt is often the culprit for water retention.


Erica July 14, 2011 at 7:35 AM

Great post! I struggle with mindless eating/snacking a lot. Especially because I love to cook, so there is ALWAYS stuff to eat. I’ve also noticed that a big problem people tend to have is eating unlimited quantities of “sensible vices” which are “primal” but not really healthy. Which is to say, there’s a big difference between sauteeing your veggies in coconut oil versus baking a cake with cups of coconut oil, honey, dates, and almond flour. Plus that stuff is so easy to overeat!!


[email protected] July 15, 2011 at 9:33 AM

I totally agree about the primal vices. So far I’ve refused to use any flour substitutes, which for the most part means no baking (with the exception of an occasional flourless treat, like flourless cheesecake or chocolate cake, usually for a special occasion)- it’s a slippery slope. And although I guess ingredients like coconut or almond flour qualify as primal, I don’t necessarily consider them healthy (eg omega 6 in excess almond consumption). I’d just rather not head in that direction. Although I must admit that the treats I see a lot of paleo/primal people making do look incredibly tasty (which is the problem – it’d be super easy to spin out on that stuff). Opting to not use flour substitutes for example has greatly limited what I can bake, and thus my consumption of treats in general.


A Nad July 20, 2011 at 9:04 AM

I think that even with perfect adherence, your body gets used to the calorie/carb restriction of paleo and you have to eat less and less, and the super low carb nature of the diet increases your appetite.

I was eating paleo and doing crossfit for about a year and was not satisfied with how lean I got, and even gained some weight at the end (I’m smallish, 5’5″ 125 lbs.). I was gaining muscle but retaining the same amount of fat, so I was just get bulkier (yea i know “women can’t get bulky, lack of testosterone, blah blah blah. but more muscle+same fat=more total=bulkier. simple math.)

I realized that part of it was the un-cycled restriction, and part was that it was unstructured. You’re never allowed to cheat but you’re a human and have a psychological need to indulge sometimes, or to go out for sushi, or to just let go for a day. Cheats are going to happen, but paleo doesn’t structure them or use them to your advantage. Every time one happens you have to feel guilty about it and go up in bf%.

I’m doing something similar to the 4 hour body, where you eat very strictly paleo but with legumes added (which you can ferment/soak and skim to reduce phytates to a level below nuts/seeds even) six days a week, and the seventh you eat whatever you want, just go nuts. Knowing I can eat whatever I want on Saturday helps me stay super strict, and as much as the primal community hates on legumes, they keep you extremely satiated for long periods of time, and as I said can have less anti-nutrients than nuts and seeds.

I’m seeing great results right away, and got over my plateau. I’m getting leaner and having a much easier time than I did with paleo, hunger and cravings-wise. I never though I’d being saying this a year ago, as I was a truly dedicated member of the paleo hoard and tolds loads of my friends/family to do it. Looking back, I stuck with it too long knowing it wasn’t working for me. Never be afraid to question!


[email protected] July 22, 2011 at 9:27 AM

Hey, thanks for sharing your experience. If something’s not working, then it’s time to experiment. I think it’s easy to stay in a rut, holding onto the notion that it should be working..

I think it’s a good idea to mix things up and not always be eating the same things or amounts – keep your body on it’s toes a little seems natural.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but have you considered switching up your cheat day? I personally don’t really believe in cheating with non-primal foods – it’s either healthy or it’s not, and if it’s not, I try not to eat it. But if you are cheating, with whatever, might your body also become accustomed to that one day of the week being a cheat day, negating the effects?


A Nad July 25, 2011 at 9:31 PM

I use my cheat day to eat real foods that aren’t primal, Weston A. Price-esque organic raw milk and cream and butter, lots and lots of raw cheese, and some salty ass nuts, but also for random “crap” that I crave occasionally. I’m admittedly a huge food snob so the things I crave are usually pretty good quality and don’t contain scary ingredients–they’re just filled with cream, covered in honey, and have 150 carbs. =P

And I think paleo is kind of a sledge hammer, it eliminates all the bad things, but some good things too. I think the WAPF stuff is worth reading and looking into.

Emily @ Butter Believer July 20, 2011 at 8:32 PM

Drat. I thought this was going to be a how-to! Haha. I actually am *trying* to gain weight, one of the main reasons I’m still eating grains!

I feel like my “satiety meter” is busted in an opposite way. Ever since I was quite little, I would get full off of practically nothing. It’s still that way — I eat a bowl of fruit for a snack and if it’s not timed right, I won’t be hungry enough for the next meal time. My appetite has gotten better since I started eating real (traditional) food, but it’s still not what I would consider normal. Different ends of the spectrum, similar struggles, IMO. :(


[email protected] July 23, 2011 at 7:27 PM

That’s really interesting.. I imagine you’re not finding as much in the way of resources for gaining weight, relative to info on weightloss – or as much sympathy :p

Since I eat paleo/primal, my main piece of advice would be to drop the grains – since those could potentially be contributing to the problem (although I’m assuming you’re at least soaking them, etc?). Are you eating enough good fats? If it’s carbs you’re after, I’d recommend sweet potatoes. If you want more carbs, some paleo peoples eat rice or regular potatoes.

But I’m sure you’ve tried a bunch of things already.. Good luck with finding what’s right for you :)


sarah July 29, 2011 at 6:45 PM

The primal blueprint clearly advocates intermittent fasting, and a specific limit to the amount of carbs consumed (from vegetables/ fruit/ etc.). I don’t know who told you that you can eat as much as you want, but next time you try a nutrition plan, you should read it yourself first.


[email protected] July 30, 2011 at 9:11 AM

Thanks for stopping by. Next time though, you might want to consider actually reading my post and blog before commenting. Nowhere on my blog does it say that I solely follow the Primal Blueprint. As well, throughout the paleosphere, intermittent fasting is merely a suggestion, and not a requirement. In fact, some say not to IF if you don’t consider yourself fully healthy, as it can cause unnecessary stress on your body. And nowhere in my post does it say that I felt I overate carbs. In fact, most of my overeating revolved around protein and fat.


Tara August 3, 2011 at 10:15 PM

Excellent article, and a very good point re: satiety. I think it’s very easy for people to misread ‘as much as you want’ as ’til you pop a button,’ with resulting confusion when the weight creeps up. I absolutely heart Gary Taubes, but I think his books are so influential that many people are coming to this way of eating believing calories don’t count at all. They sure do!

From what I see, the majority of discussions surrounding weight and Paleo revolve around the idea of universal, effortless weight loss, which may not happen to everyone — especially if you’re not eating mindfully. Thanks for posting on a topic that more people new to Paleo should hear about.


[email protected] August 17, 2011 at 11:05 AM

Thanks for the comment. Like in many other areas of life, being mindful is key..


Diane @ Balanced Bites September 12, 2011 at 10:17 PM

Great post! So often I coach clients on these little details that DO add up over time. If we think we’re aware, but rationalize things away, we can easily pack on 5-10 lbs without much effort, even eating healthy Paleo foods.



[email protected] September 13, 2011 at 10:18 PM

Hey Diane, thanks for the comment! Sometimes it’s all too easy to rationalize away those little extras… but they certainly do end up catching up with you sooner or later!


Bob Massarella November 22, 2011 at 10:29 AM

This is a great log! As for this post, I had a similar experience a while back, but reached a different conclusion.

After doing a detailed food diary for a week, I realized that while I was indeed eating “primal” I had unknowingly allowed a large amount of carbs to creep into my diet. So, when I read your line item – “I began making after-work snacks (custards, fruity jelly, carrot halwa, etc.), in what I realize now were fairly large portions” – I decided to analyze those recipes. If you breakdown the amount of carbs/sugars in each of those “snacks”, you’ll find that it is quite high. Sure carrots and fruits are primal, but they contain lots of sugar. Primal man did eat them, but not daily. They were just too scarce. I propose that that is where the trouble was…not the broth or the sausage. I have found the while “over-eating” fats will stop weight loss, it is not the culprit to weight/body fat gain. It’s the carbs, even primal ones.


[email protected] January 5, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Hi Bob, thanks for your comment! I agree that carbs/sugar are especially prone to inducing weight gain – which would’ve been the case with the carrot halwa. But on the whole, I feel I was overeating primal foods more than the primal-ish snacks. I still believe that overeating anything, even “primal” foods will result in weight gain. For example, Nora Gedgaudas makes a very interesting point in Primal Body Primal Mind about our bodies actually converting excess proteins to sugar (resulting in fat). But you do bring up a good point about questioning if the foods we’re eating really are “primal”.


Andrea March 5, 2012 at 2:45 PM

Thanks so much for this post! I needed to hear it. I’m a teensy bit overweight, I think – not unhealthy looking, but it’s easy to see that I have some uneeded fat. It’s a bad testimony of the paleo diet to my friends, who know that I’m a health nut…and it’s not how I want to look. I’ve recently been doing full-day fasts a few times a week, and then totally pigging out on my one meal. ‘Mindful eating’ does sound pleasant! I’m going to do that from now on.


[email protected] March 5, 2012 at 5:49 PM

Don’t worry too much about your friends.. all that matters is that you’re making healthy choices for you, regardless of your current weight.. one note of caution about fasting.. I hear it can be good, but only up to 16 hours, after which the body starts to eat itself – which is really only as long as a night’s worth of sleep + skipping breakfast.. also, I’ve heard that if you’re not in perfect health (and really, how many of us are?), it can be very stressful on the body… I know Robb Wolf in his podcasts recommended getting everything else dialed in first before doing too much intermittent fasting..


Simon James March 25, 2012 at 1:06 AM

I’m glad I found this post. After 18 months of Paleo (cheats: some potatoes, occasional bowl of Devon clotted cream based vanilla ice cream) where I rarely go above 150g of carbs in a day, usually about 80g per day, I have still managed to gain a further 14lbs :-(
Admittedly, during that time, I stopped running 30 miles per week (due to acute knee problems) and gave up playing rugby, since I am 47 years old now, and don’t recover fast enough between games to be able to train harder.
I have recently started doing high intensity interval training on a Concept II rower (and plan to do the Spartan Run at the end of July), but the excess weight (42lbs including pre-Paleo padding) is a big problem.
Last week, the latest episode of “The Truth About Fat” aired on BBC TV discussing the role of Ghrelin and PYY as hunger control hormones. Amongst their findings were that it was not unusual to find amongst identical twins, that one twin got fat while the other remained slim. Long story short, they concluded that some people’s full-o-meter is broken and they never really get the signal that they are full.
So I guess I have no alternative now other than portion control.


[email protected] March 27, 2012 at 2:13 PM

Hi Simon, thanks for sharing your story. I think that at some point it does come down to the calories – it’s certainly possible to overeat healthy paleo food. Paleo should help regulate your hunger mechanism, but in the meantime you may still have to be conscious of how much you’re consuming. Good luck with your journey :)


debbie May 25, 2012 at 5:12 AM

Just came to this post from Kitchen Stewardship. I would love some help… Our family has eaten real/whole foods for five years now. Last fall, I put our family on the GAPS Intro diet. We did great, and I lost the stubborn ten pounds I’d gained after delivering our second baby 2 years before. Even after moving to the full GAPS diet, I maintained my weight through Thanksgiving and Christmas. But about the second week of January, I suddenly gained five, then up to eight pounds. After reading on Cheeseslave about other’s weight issues on GAPS and the options of properly prepared whole grains, I dove back in to sourdough. I have fluctuated since then, but was recently up a full ten pounds from my pre-first-baby weight (today its a mere seven!)
As I read your post, I found myself fully agreeing with what you said about knowingly overeating. Here’s been my challenge: I quickly feel full on very little food. But I don’t feel satisfied. I know it’s hard to explain or for someone else to understand how that can be. But whenever I eat, I always feel like I want something more… Not necessarily volume, but that what I’ve eaten just did not satisfy my desire for something. Trouble is, I don’t know what it is that I really want, except for peanut butter and baked oatmeal (made from oats soaked in rye sourdough starter and dehydrated) slathered in butter. When I eat those, I actually feel satisfied. But I’m afraid those have contributed to my weight gain!
So my current plan is to cut out grains again, and try to lose this stubborn weight. But if anyone has any ideas why I eat and quickly feel full but not satisfied, I would love to hear them. Thanks!


[email protected] June 8, 2012 at 4:13 PM

I think feeling full is probably a good thing, assuming that you’re not experiencing a lack of appetite, but simply don’t need to eat too much food to stop feeling hungry.

Obviously, being paleo, I’m biased towards avoiding all grains, no matter how they are prepared. I prefer to get my limited carbs through yams. I think carbs are very easy to overeat, and tend to be somewhat addictive. So, I think cutting out grains again is a great step.

Of course, I wasn’t eating grains, and I still gained a few pounds. For me, it was simply a matter of eating too many calories. I just ate because I felt like eating, even after I was no longer hungry.

This sounds similar to your experience. A few idea come to mind.. Are you eating enough fat? It’ll full you up (which doesn’t seem to be your problem), but I also feel that it “satisfies”. Also, are your meals exciting enough to satisfy you? Have you tried making your dishes a little more exotic? Boredom leads to overeating and lack of satisfaction. Perhaps you could try cooking some new dishes or trying new cuisines or spices? (e.g. Indian, Morrocan, Latin, Thai).

Another idea would be to stop eating when you’re full, and get your satisfaction after the meal with a small portion of a healthy dessert (eg berries with cream, cheese and honey, custard, dark chocolate). That way you’re not overeating on the calorie-dense stuff in search of “satisfaction”, and can stop knowing you have a treat to look forward to.

Anyway, those are just a few ideas. Hopefully others can chime in with some more…


CocoaNut January 6, 2013 at 11:02 AM

I’ve been eating primally for about three months now, and I’m never hungry (unless I run out of, say, my homemade sausage or I skip a meal, which is when I’m actually more likely to lose less weight). In fact, I’m often VERY full. My weight’s been going down steadily since I started (I’ve lost about 28 pounds), and I think it’s a combination of factors.

First of all (when it comes to carbs), it’s not just low carb. I am extremely low carb, but more importantly, I’m very low glycemic load. I do have oranges sometimes, but the highest glycemic load foods I usually eat are berries or apples.

Second of all, I’m watching my omega-3:omega-6 ratio. I take fish oil every day, never use vegetable oils (except for olive oil), and do my best to consume some kippers and grass-fed beef pretty much every day.

Third of all, that beef is contributing to my CLA intake, as is the organic milk I drink (organic in the US now requires some grazing time). I’d get fully pasture-fed milk, but I really can’t afford it. Yeah, I know. Paleo (and often primal) people like to stay away from dairy. I don’t.

I suppose a major factor is that, before I went primal, I was actually eating around 1500 calories or so per day (just by virtue of being too distracted to eat), so my stomach has shrunk to the point that I’m stuffed from 1/3rd of a batch of broccoli cheese soup (about 2 servings of veggies) or a couple crepes with berry mash and one 60 gram sausage.

I do want to caution about the fear of weight gain, however. I use a bioelectrical impedance scale to track how much fat, active cell mass, and bone mass (I’m not worried about water mass) I’ve gained or lost. You mentioned in one comment that you ate a lot more protein than usual. In spite of what has become common advice, you can gain muscle mass just from eating extra protein. Weight gain isn’t always a bad thing, and I think gaining active cell mass is a good thing.

That said, I’m losing a little active cell mass (though my active cell mass percentage is rising, as I’m losing more fat) simply because I started at 436 lbs, of which 138 lbs were active cell mass. I can’t afford that much protein and, quite frankly, I’m not sure if I would want to try to maintain that much active cell mass (it should consist of about half your total body weight at ideal health, which would put me at about 275 lbs for a healthy body composition).

By the way, for those wondering just how much of the lost weight is active cell mass, it’s about seven pounds (vs. 17.5 fat pounds).

And, for the record, I still haven’t added exercise to the mix. I’m still rather sedentary.


Blake March 18, 2013 at 9:52 AM

This is one of the not-quite-perfect things about paleo, imho, in that it treats insulin-bumping foods like maple syrup and surgary fruit as if they are okay as a regular part of the diet. Including these foods makes staying at an ideal weight more difficult, and isn’t all that easy on the immune system either.


[email protected] March 18, 2013 at 7:46 PM

I think generally people on paleo approach maple syrup and sugary fruit with caution, or at least they know that they should. But I know what you mean in that if it’s considered “paleo-compliant” then people are likely to overindulge.


Leann Marshall June 28, 2013 at 4:28 PM

When I began eating Paleo, there were so many strange changes with my body/mind. Sometimes when I had just eaten and had consumed plenty of protein and veggie carbs, I still felt a craving. Part of that was for starchy carbs, sugar, etc. BUT–part of that, at least for me, I realized, was that I missed that full, almost bloated feeling too. Food and food cravings are even more complex than we think sometimes.


Tess November 4, 2013 at 3:05 PM

I have been on the Paleo Plan for about 3 months now and have lost almost 25 pounds. More importantly, I feel fabulous. It has made a world of difference in my attitude, lack of aches and pains, and my overall sense of well being. I have found that overeating on the Paleo can happen as easily as with any other eating plan. The body wants what the body wants. The solution for me has been to allow that overindulgence – and then cut back deliberately for a few days following until my weight has stabilized and I’m back where I need to be. I get how quickly the weight goes on, but am thrown by how fast it can come off with this Paleo Plan. Bravo to whoever came up with it.


[email protected] November 18, 2013 at 9:13 PM

Congrats on your weight loss and healthy improvement! Your logic makes sense – letting your body indulge in what it craves and then cutting back to compensate. Assuming that is, that you’re able to stop and it doesn’t spiral out of control, which depending on what you’re indulging with, I could see happening too.


[email protected] July 28, 2011 at 4:35 PM

It’d be much harder for me to eat paleo/primal if I didn’t eat dairy. It’s a source of good fats for me, as well as a bit of an indulgence (especially cheese). I just wish I had access to organic raw dairy.. As for WAPF, that probably best describes how I was eating before I found paleo/primal (although I never did stuff like soak grains).


Christopher James December 8, 2012 at 3:30 PM

(Just my opinion) I’m always surprised at how people don’t mention the amount of protein required on this type of diet. Natural fats have no effect on insulin but protein can. It won’t effect insulin as much as carbs of course but overeating protein can cause weight gain even on a zero carb diet. I have found this out for myself. I am 5 foot 6 so the most I need is about 60-70. I think a lot of people overeat protein unnecessarily when they do the primal thing. For some there’s no weight gain but for others with a high insulin sensitivity there can be. Protein is converted into glucose if there is an overabundance of it.


crystal February 4, 2013 at 5:40 PM

whats the difference between the elimantion diet, whole 30 and strict paleo? im new to all this paleo so trying to figure out what i need to eat etc?



[email protected] February 11, 2013 at 3:30 PM

The purpose of each is different. An elimination diet is temporary – you eventually re-introduce the foods that you didn’t react to. The purpose of the elimination diet is to find out which foods you should avoid. Most people do a Whole 30 every once in a while to clean up their diet. The Whole 30 is a pretty strict paleo diet – perhaps even more strict than “strict paleo”. Really, it’s all relative. Paleo folks agree on most things, but then there’s room for some variation. Most people start with some a stricter version of paleo, or a Whole 30 and decide where to go from there. I typically do an elimination diet instead of a Whole 30 because it doesn’t take that much more effort, but I learn more from it. Hope that helps.


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