I’m sure that many of you have heard of the paleo diet by now. The idea is that you avoid a lot of the modern foods that are processed and cause health problems.
The common foods that are avoided on a paleo diet are grains, legumes, dairy, vegetable oils and added sugar, corn and many more foods but these are the staples of what you avoid.
These foods you avoid also happen to be some of the most inflammatory foods in our modern diet, and provide roadblocks to improved health.
Many people make the assumption that paleo is inherently a fat loss diet. While many people do lose fat eating this way I think the real magic is that paleo helps people get really healthy.
Someone who is really healthy, and has a better functioning metabolism and hormones is going to have an easier time losing fat and paleo addresses the health first and foremost.
Another part of the equation when people lose fat on paleo is that inflammatory processed foods are replaced with more nutrient dense whole foods.
When you switch from eating tons of bread and pasta everyday to sweet potatoes, squash and yams naturally you will naturally consume fewer carbohydrates which is an effective fat loss strategy for many people.
What's equally important is the lifestyle modifications encouraged by those eating paleo. They start sleeping in a natural rhythm, manage stress, lift heavy weight and exchange chronic cardio for sprints.
The paleo diet is a way for people to get very healthy and remove common inflammatory foods, but there are still foods, treats and mindsets that prevent you from achieving the fat loss you desire.
In this blog we are going to be covering the top reasons why you are not losing fat while eating paleo.
You Aren’t Really Eating Paleo
A lot of people half commit and have a couple slip ups per week later saying that XYZ diet didn’t work for them. The truth is they never gave it an honest chance to work and committed to 30 days of sticking to the plan.
They end up having slip ups every few days followed by a few strict days before another slip up, and will follow this cycle for a few weeks or maybe a month before saying that diet didn't work for them.
I'm not surprised it didn't work, and you shouldn't be either.
If you are having added sugars, bread, gluten free products, legumes dairy, tofu, peanuts or vegetable oils on a weekly or daily basis you are not really really eating Paleo. Partial efforts give partial results.
Eating Too Much
In my opinion food quality is a huge factor, and has a direct impact on your metabolic rate, satiety, hormones and blood sugar regulation.
By food quality I am referring to nutrient dense whole foods: vegetables, roots and tubers, animal protein, healthy fats and limited nuts, seeds and fruit.
However just because you are eating high quality food doesn’t give you the free pass to eat with zero regard, you still need to be mindful about your eating.
It's a funny question to ask adults but I keep asking because it can be helpful for people to think about: Are you really hungry or are you bored and in the habit of eating ?
If you eat far beyond your caloric needs day in and day out you will not lose, but gain it. There are a lot of things that can impact why people overeat. In fact I wrote a three part series on the subject you can read HERE.
Eat in a more mindful state and make sure to put your fork down in between bites to make sure you are chewing well enough and relaxing not wolfing your food down.
Don't stop eating when you are full and need bigger pants, push the plate away when you are no longer hungry. Remember you can always go back fro seconds and there is nor rule that you have to clean your plate.
Center your meals around 1-2 palm sized portions of protein, 2-3 thumb sized portions of fats or oils. When you have earned your dense carbs with exercise have 1-2 fist sized portions post workout.
For breakfast and lunch ditch the denser carbs and have extra vegetables. If you didn’t work out that day, replace the starches with extra fibrous vegetables.
Unrealistic Fat Loss Expectations
There is no magic bullet or hacks for fat loss regardless of what the fitness and supplement industry has told you.
Based on what we all see day in and day out in the media and on magazines people are walking around with comparing themselves to someone who is a fitness model or professional athlete.
Anyone who’s body you admire has been putting in very hard and consistent work for years to look like that. They had to be patient, and so will you.
Gaining body fat doesn't happen over night, neither will losing it. Take a deep breath and realize playing the long game and staying consistent will allow you to continue making progress
When someone has a significant amount of weight to lose in the beginning small changes will yield large results. Simple changes in food quality can cause dramatic shifts for people.
However when you are already lean and looking to get even leaner you will need to get into the nitty gritty details.
The lower the level of body fat you have, the greater the importance of the details such as calories, carbohydrate, protein and fat intake.
You may have to give up some things you enjoy to get that lean. Be honest about what you are willing to give up to the achieve this goal.
You Are Eating Too Many “Paleo” Treats
The idea with a change in nutrition is to create new habits, not put your crappy old habit in a shiny new box and call it something different.
To see change you will need to change your habits there is no way around that fact. A “paleo” cookie is still a cookie, and “paleo” pancakes are still pancakes at the end of the day.
Yes the ingredients may be “approved” whatever that really means. You have a choice to make: you can go 100% all in and commit to the change in habits, or you can give a partial effort with paleo muffins and get poor results. The decision is yours.
If you're having these kind of treats every few days or even every week are they really a treat ? or are they just an old habit you need to break.
At the end of the day you are the only one who can decide which is more important to you; the way a paleo cookie tastes, or your health and fat loss goals ?
Some Paleo Foods Aren’t Great For Fat Loss
The truth is there are many paleo foods that aren’t the best for fat loss. Interestingly enough these same foods that aren't great for fat loss are also some of the most hyper palatable Paleo foods.
It’s amazing how our brain and tastebuds recognize the caloric density of certain foods and drive our desire for those foods. This used to be a mechanism to ensure our survival during times of famine.
It was an evolutionary advantage to gorge on these calorie and nutrient dense foods and gain fat. When winter came and food was scarce we relied on our fat stores to help us survive.
If you are following all the following steps above and still not losing fat take a look at these common foods that people tend to overeat:
Fruit and dried fruit : I’m not against fruit by any means, but people with sweet cravings will overeat fruit to compensate when they are transitioning away from sugar and processed carbohydrates.
Nuts and nut butters: Again not saying these are bad for you, but they are calorically dense and very easy to overeat. When nuts are roasted and salted people can eat them by the handful without thinking twice. Many folks don’t realize they just ate 900-1,000 calories in 15 minutes. The same goes for nut butters too!
Smoothies: If you are looking to lose fat make sure you chew all your calories, don’t drink them.Many people smoothies are a glorified sugar bombs. They usually contain some kind of sweetener, little to no protein or healthy fat and usually have too much fruit and fruit juice.
If you are going to commit to trying a certain diet do a little research and decide whether it is right for you or if you are in place to make big changes.
Make sure you avoid the necessary foods for at least 30 days to give yourself an honest chance of reaping the benefits, and improving your health. Without a full 30 day test drive you won't really know!
Patience and consistency win the fat loss game. No one gets their dream body overnight and neither will you. Be honest and kind to yourself about where you currently are.
Also be honest about what you are willing to give up to achieve fat loss. Some people work VERY VERY hard, and make lots of sacrifices to achieve the bodies they have.
Take a look at how you are eating and realize that paleo treats and some other foods while they still fit into the paleo food paradigm are not the best foods for fat loss, and will provide roadblocks to your success.
Lastly enjoy yourself and how you eat. If you make this lifestyle a chore and something you begrudge your chances of success will be very low. You may need to find another way of eating and living that better suits you.
Fill out the form below if you’re looking for a coach who can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health, fat loss or muscle building goals.
These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained, while keeping you accountable along the way.