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Paleo but not weight loss.

 
Posts: 17
Location: Northumberland fells, UK
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I need to change my diet, I eat pretty well (lots of veggies, good quality meat) but also lots of sweets, sugar, cheap white bread and coke.

A lot of what I’ve read about paleo seems like it would be good for me.  I’m very lethargic, get tired easily, struggle with my dental health. And I think that paleo will help with all of those things.

My only issue is that everything I read talks about weight loss and I really can’t afford to loose any weight, I’m very light for my height and, although I eat, have never put weight on (sorry - you have no idea how much people object to that!).  I also have no muscle mass to speak of, I walk a lot, do so much gardening, lifting, work in a pretty manual job but just do not put any muscle on at all.  Even when I walk 10 miles a day, 2 or 3 days a week I don’t build any leg muscle.

I guess my question is, is there any way to ‘do’ paleo without loosing weight?  And, will ‘doing’ paleo help me build muscle mass, be stronger and less tired?  
 
pollinator
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I think paleo is a great way to lose weight, but you don't have to lose weight on it.  I've found a high fat, low carb, moderate protein works best for me.  The protein is key in maintaining muscle mass, or growing it, but you've got to do the work.  It doesn't have to be in the gym, but you don't gain muscle through diet.

I find the Low Carb Down Under channel on Youtube has some great presentations.  There's a lot of info there, but it's worth getting a good handle on it.  

I linked a few videos in this post but they're farther along the learning curve.  
 
Sam Allison
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Thanks for the reply.

I know that diet doesn’t build muscle but was wondering if changing my diet might help. I exercise so much, I’m outside all the time, walk for miles, cycle regularly, spend all the time in that garden carrying sacks of animal feed and soil. It just seems that no matter how much exercise I do I just don’t build any muscle, and I’m always tiered (probably a side effect from too much sugar!).

I’ll check out those YouTube videos, thanks
 
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I wonder if you would do well on one of those really high fat diets where you burn fat instead of sugar. It's something they use for diabetics. Some diabetics are very slim despite exercising, so you could be undiagnosed. This might explain your lethargy and affinity for sugar. I think it's called keto. Some consider it a fad diet because a few celebrities have gone on it. But those people have to eat something.
 
gardener
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I’m female, so this may work somewhat differently for you, but I find that if I am doing my normal ranch work and eating a crummier and/or more carb-based diet, I have much less muscle than if I am doing the same work, eating a high protein, high-ish fat, maybe higher calorie diet. Weirdly enough I don’t notice a ton of strength difference, since the work rarely challenges my total strength (I lift stuff in the 50-70 lb range a lot, but rarely anything more than about 150 lb), but my physical muscle mass is greater and harder, for lack of a better word. So while I’m sure the exercise contributes, the determining factor is definitely diet for me. My weight doesn’t usually change much, but does tend to redistribute itself from fat to muscle or vice versa depending on macronutrient composition. I can easily eat Paleo and gain muscle without losing weight. I may lose fat or just add muscle underneath the existing fat (actually resulting in weight gain) depending on calories and/or how much protein vs fat is in the diet (for me, more fat and more calories usually go together, and result in weight gain).
 
Jennifer Richardson
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Also, ketogenic diets like Dale mentioned are a valid option. They are often prescribed as therapeutic diets. When my uncle had brain cancer a couple years ago, they put him on a ketogenic diet to essentially starve the cancer. The problem is that you truly have to be strict and consistent. Not only can you not eat sugar, bread, rice, etc. but in many cases fruit and even many starchier vegetables. I knew one guy who actually managed to throw himself out of ketosis by consuming too many carbs in the form of broccoli. If you just add in a bunch of fat and then cheat even a little on the carbs, you’re often worse off than if you didn’t do it at all. Most people (including my uncle) can’t follow it even to save themselves from cancer or epilepsy, much less for general diet/health purposes. Some people do regular Paleo with occasional cycles of ketosis and/or intermittent fasting .
 
Timothy Markus
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Jennifer Richardson wrote:Also, ketogenic diets like Dale mentioned are a valid option. They are often prescribed as therapeutic diets. When my uncle had brain cancer a couple years ago, they put him on a ketogenic diet to essentially starve the cancer. The problem is that you truly have to be strict and consistent. Not only can you not eat sugar, bread, rice, etc. but in many cases fruit and even many starchier vegetables. I knew one guy who actually managed to throw himself out of ketosis by consuming too many carbs in the form of broccoli. If you just add in a bunch of fat and then cheat even a little on the carbs, you’re often worse off than if you didn’t do it at all. Most people (including my uncle) can’t follow it even to save themselves from cancer or epilepsy, much less for general diet/health purposes. Some people do regular Paleo with occasional cycles of ketosis and/or intermittent fasting .



Everyone's a little different, but generally you can eat about 35g carbs (after deducting the fibre) and still stay in ketosis.  That's about 1.75 lbs of broccoli.  You have to cut out most fruit, all root veggies and max 1 pepper a day.  You can make kick-ass salads, though, with spinach or lettuce, onions, mushrooms, some pepper, cucumber, a lot of bacon and a lot of full fat, no sugar dressing.  You get a lot of your calories from nuts, too, if you're not losing weight, but some nuts are lower carb than others.  Berries are good in moderation and you can have high cocoa chocolate.

If you're over on the carbs, you may not get full ketosis all the time, but I don't think it's anywhere near as bad as other diets, let alone worse for you to get even 70 carbs.  I find I only eat once a day, usually, but you can intermittent fast just by eating in a 6 or 8 hour window.
 
Jennifer Richardson
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Yeah, this dude was eating like multiple heads of broccoli every day. He was a little weird. It would be hard to do!

I also think that there are degrees of ketosis where you are producing more or fewer ketones, not sure if it varies more with length of time on the diet or amount of carbs or what. I haven’t seen really anyone stick to it successfully for the long term, but tbh most people I have known do it for weight loss and already have poor control of their eating habits, or are in highly stressful and uncomfortable medical situations which do not lend themselves comfortably to big dietary overhauls.

When I say people are “worse off” if they don’t stick to the carb restrictions, I am mostly thinking about people who add gratuitous amounts of butter and coconut oil and bacon to their diet and then moderately reduce their carb intake (while deluding themselves that they are eating “very low carb”). This is like 80% of the people I know on a “keto diet.” So basically they just end up with a much higher-calorie version of their normal diet, minus a couple of bagels, and get fat and feel like crap. But this shouldn’t be a problem for the OP.
 
Timothy Markus
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Oh yeah, I totally get that.

I tried out a ketone breath meter a couple of years ago and it was interesting, but it crapped out on me.  The insinuation was that the more ketones you are exhaling (or peeing out with the urine testers (don't mix them up!)) the better.  In a couple of the videos I linked in my Insulin, Ketone, Glucogon thread talk about the meters a bit as well as buying ketones, which you can now do.  The guy said that they're now thinking that it doesn't matter if you're at 0.5 ketones per whatever metric or higher, but that it's probably the same if you're at 0.3 on the scale and maybe even lower.

People are buying the ketones and drinking them, thinking that more is better, but they're not producing them, so I don't think it works that way.  I've read several sources that say that the ketones you can measure are waste products because your body doesn't need them.  In essence, if you are in ketosis, your body takes fats and breaks them down to ketones to use, and actually pisses away or exhales the surplus.  It's the mechanism that allows you to take in more energy (only while in ketosis) than you need and flush it out.  Ketones are little bits of fat, so you're getting rid of extra fat when you can't use it and it can't be stored because your insulin is low.  They think this is why, in part, you can take in more energy than you expend and not gain weight.
 
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The diet protocol is irrelevant to weight loss or gain. It comes down to caloric surplus or deficit. If you don't gain muscle it is because you are in a caloric deficit. And Visa versa if you are over weight. The most useful tool is understanding your caloric demands and tracking your meals. I recommend cronometer.com. the diet protocol is really just a tool or a means to an end. Paleo will be helpful for you by breaking bad habits. If muscle gain is your goal try eating 200-300 extra calories every day for 3 weeks and see what happens and adjust as necessary. Load bearing exercise will help with muscle gain as well
 
Timothy Markus
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Andrew Brock wrote:The diet protocol is irrelevant to weight loss or gain. It comes down to caloric surplus or deficit. If you don't gain muscle it is because you are in a caloric deficit. And Visa versa if you are over weight. The most useful tool is understanding your caloric demands and tracking your meals. I recommend cronometer.com. the diet protocol is really just a tool or a means to an end. Paleo will be helpful for you by breaking bad habits. If muscle gain is your goal try eating 200-300 extra calories every day for 3 weeks and see what happens and adjust as necessary. Load bearing exercise will help with muscle gain as well



Andrew, have you looked into the Endocrine model compared to the Calorie In, Calorie out model that I think you're talking about?  One video presentation that talks about is it the first one in this thread.

I'd like to hear your thoughts about it.  
 
Dale Hodgins
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I have a friend who is not able to build muscle, despite consuming lots of calories and protein and doing weight-bearing exercises. It is something unique to his makeup and not based on his caloric intake. We can do the same physical job and I come out ripped at the end, with additional muscle. He comes out super ripped, like a featherweight boxer, but unable to turn any of it into muscle gain.

It sounds like Sam has something similar going on.
 
steward
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Um, the best advice I have for this, Sam, is to try eating more. I have more of a tendency to eat less than to eat more. Also, I am quite active, too. So, putting and keeping on weight is a bit hard.

A year and a half ago I decided to see what it would take for me to be buff, and I had to eat an inordinately absurd amount of food to make that happen. I was 230 lbs and 6'4" then, and even though I was told by others I looked pleasantly muscular, I felt fat, became leaner and toner, and then dropped even more, because long stories short- having anything on my bones is both a mental and physical challenge for me. So, I'm at 185 lbs and 6'4" now.
 
pollinator
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As the original post describes Paleo and  keto  diets are so highly touted for weight loss that doing them for health and endurance is lost in the clamor.
I have very little fat reserve so if I start my day with a carb breakfast and go out to work in the field with in an hour the sugar I am burning and that being converted to fat by insulin drops me into low blood sugar and I cant work any longer.  If I start my day with a high fat smoothie using avocado, nut flours, high fat yogurt,and my fruit fiber [I extract the juice to make kombucha vinegar] I remain in ketosis and can work 4 hours with out getting tired.
To keep a fat reserve I need to eat an evening meal with high carbohydrate vegetables like carrots and potatoes. If I have neither a fat or sugar reserve I cant do much of anything.
I am in my 80th year and 25th year as a massage therapist and my observation is that muscle mass does not correlate with ability to work. Bulked up muscles tend to be strong only over a short distance and not over the full rage of action needed for permaculture type work. So even if you don't see much muscle definition but you can swing a scythe in 180 degree ark for 2 hours at a time you are in great shape.
 
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Sam Allison wrote:I walk a lot, do so much gardening, lifting, work in a pretty manual job but just do not put any muscle on at all.  Even when I walk 10 miles a day, 2 or 3 days a week I don’t build any leg muscle.



These are all low intensity activities performed during hours. For building muscles, you want to perform the highest intensity workout possible for you. I lift weight once per week until my muscles reach failure. Then eat a lot, and eat well - lot's of things have been said already.
Look up on Youtube the videos of the 21Convention, specially Doug McGuff, they have some excellent, science based content on diet and exercise.
 
gardener
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Yep the diet (as in eating habits, not eating for weight loss) has little to do with actual weight loss, it's very much calories in and calories out, and whether a person gains or loses weight as fat, muscle, or just water depends on hormone sensitivity, activity, and the type of calories eaten.

Keto diets promise initial weight loss thanks to a drop in glycogen which is typically supplied by carbs, and glycogen binds water as well. So a drop in carbs causes a drop in glycogen and water, and you get a weight drop. It typically also forces a limitation in the types of foods eaten, and since fats and proteins are more filling than carbs, the combo results in a caloric deficit for a while, so you get some fat loss. As you get used to the foods eaten, it's easy to eat more if you aren't tracking total calories (as some diets claim you can "eat as much as you like") and you weight loss stalls.

If you properly train with weights to maintain muscle mass by doing heavy lifts, then muscle loss is minimized. High rep weight training doesn't require as much muscle as low rep, 5 rep max type lifts, so on a caloric deficit you will lose muscle mass as well over time. If you are limiting carbs, your body will use protein calories/amino acids to convert into carbs via gluconeogenesis. So if you don't eat enough protein to rebuild muscle tissue while on a deficit, you will lose muscle mass.

In limited circumstances like a person new to lifting who has significant fat to lose, it's possible to gain muscle and lose fat for a while by lifting heavy while on a caloric deficit (Starting Strength or Stronglifts are good options, focusing on compound barbell lifts). Going with higher reps or lots of cardio will tend to lose more muscle mass along with fat, assuming it causes a higher calorie deficit.

If already fairly lean or with plenty of lifting experience/muscle mass, a person is going to be limited to either gaining mass (both fat and muscle) or losing mass (preferably fat with minimal muscle loss). It's my opinion that different diets will work better for different people based on their hormone sensitivity. Insulin, leptin, ghrelin, and others are affected by the types of calories eaten and meal frequency.

I personally did very well with an 8/16 intermittent fasting diet (essentially skipping breakfast, then 3 meals between noon-8pm) and eating most of my carbs after heavy barbell training (to replenish muscle glycogen and the carbs would also retain water so less middle of the night bathroom visits). But it took about a week or maybe 2 until my body was used to that meal timing. If you have a routine you'll notice your body comes to expect that routine, after some time your body gets used to the new routine. I would feel hungry in the morning until my body became used to the 8/16 routine.

Also the "eat breakfast or you go into starvation mode and burn fewer calories" hasn't been born out by research on the subject, it's actually shown your body will burn more calories during the first 24-48 hours of fasting probably as an evolutionary response to needing to hunt for food and bringing your "A Game" to catch that game.
 
pollinator
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I've lifted weights off and on for years and tried a lot of diets.  Paleo will get you lean and hard.  But, you'll hit a plateau without carbs especially if you lift heavy or do high intensity work either in real life or the gym.  I think a varied diet of meat and fish that is raised well and fed a natural diet (or wild harvested), fresh plant food raised naturally and nutrient dense, good carbs and good fats, is the best long term diet.... or, in other words... the typical diet most folks ate for thousands of years before scientists and doctors (who are so notoriously in vibrant and rude good health... right?  Nope!) gave us diets.  Cook your own food and bake your own bread.... grow it yourself or buy from people who do things the right way... avoid processed foods... work hard... don't worry.
 
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