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Old 08-31-2012, 02:43 AM   #1
Jeff Sprunger
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Paleo Plateau

Hey guys,

Been doing Paleo for a few months, at first I dropped weight like crazy. dropped about 17 pounds in 8 weeks. But, the last few weeks, I've plateaued. Haven't really changed anything. I thought it was a few cheater meals I had, but I didn't go that crazy, only a few beers and a bratwurst (I live in Germany). Even have ramped up my cardio again after knee surgery 5 months ago...my starting weight was 217 lbs. I dropped to 200 almost immediately and have hung out there the past few weeks.


anyone else experience what I describe above?

any tips? I have just a little belly fat left that I want to shred...
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Old 08-31-2012, 09:32 AM   #2
Paulo Santos
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Re: Paleo Plateau

It doesn't matter if you are Paleo or on the McDonald's diet, it is all about calories if you are trying to lose weight. Start tracking your calories and eat less than your maintenance, or eat for maintenance and use your workouts to burn the calories to put you at a deficit. FYI: You will need to be at about 300 calorie deficit per day just to lose 1# per week.

If you track your calories, you can have the cheat meals, just as long as you don't go over then calories. And yes, I had the same problem you had.
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Old 08-31-2012, 10:10 AM   #3
Jeff Sprunger
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Re: Paleo Plateau

thanks Paulo,

I did track my calories for about 2 months, so I have a very good idea of how many I'm taking in a day. I will give it a try. thanks for the advice.
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Old 09-01-2012, 02:16 PM   #4
Brad Allen Jones
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Re: Paleo Plateau

Don't forget that its possible that you have gained weight in muscle. A better measurement than weight would be a BF% or waist measurement.
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Old 09-02-2012, 06:21 AM   #5
Luke Seubert
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Re: Paleo Plateau

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Originally Posted by Jeff Sprunger View Post
Been doing Paleo for a few months, at first I dropped weight like crazy. dropped about 17 pounds in 8 weeks. But, the last few weeks, I've plateaued. Haven't really changed anything. I thought it was a few cheater meals I had, but I didn't go that crazy, only a few beers and a bratwurst (I live in Germany). Even have ramped up my cardio again after knee surgery 5 months ago...my starting weight was 217 lbs. I dropped to 200 almost immediately and have hung out there the past few weeks.
Jeff, very likely you need to take a break from dieting.

I am going to assume that your Paleo diet was a low-carb diet, and that it was also low-calorie. If this assumption is wrong, please let me know in your reply so that I can modify my advice accordingly.

Anyway, overweight people such as yourself can effectively lose fat through low-carb, low-calorie diets for around 6 to 8 weeks. It's great while it lasts. However, after that much chronic mild starvation, the body's metabolism drops and various hormone levels change quite a bit. You stop losing weight so quickly, and fat loss rates decline while muscle loss rates increase. You didn't mention if you feel tired and haggard, but I am guessing this is so. It can creep up on you - hard to notice.

To counter this problem, you need to take at least a two week break from dieting. Go high-carb by introducing some carb dense foods into your diet. Increase your protein and fat intake too - enough to achieve roughly daily caloric balance. If you want to stick with Paleo foods, then sweet potatoes are your most carb dense choice. Otherwise, add some legumes such as lentils, or potatoes, white rice, or oats. While these aren't Paleo foods, they are the less "objectionable" high density carbs according to the Paleo hypothesis.

When you go into caloric balance and substantially increase your carb intake, your bodyweight will shoot up quite a bit. Don't worry - most of that weight is glycogen and retained water. Low-carb diets deplete the liver and muscles of stored glycogen. When you carb up, your body starts storing lots of glycogen once again. And every 1 gram of glycogen requires 3 to 4 grams of water, so that adds even more weight. Glycogen and retained water depletion are why people lose so much weight in the first week of a low-carb diet. Some of that weight lost is fat, but a lot of it is water. When you bring back the carbs, you bring back the water.

Anyway, take a break for a few weeks. Your body needs it - it has been starving for two months, albeit slowly starving. Your metabolism is depressed, and quite a few hormone levels are out of balance. Normal caloric intake with plenty of carbs for two or more weeks restores your metabolism and hormone balance.

Also, in addition to being physiologically necessary; it is also psychologically necessary to take a break. An unending diet grind is pretty hard to sustain mentally. Studies show that people perform better on a diet, losing more fat and keeping it off, if they take occasional breaks from the grind. Lyle McDonald's book, "A Guide To Flexible Dieting" (WFS), has more information about the necessity of taking diet breaks.

By way of credentials, I have lost over 165 pounds (about 82% of it fat) over the past 70 weeks - roughly 2.4 pounds per week. See the link to my Workout Log in the sigline below. I consider the two-week, high-carb, caloric-balance diet break to be one of the most essential components of a successful, long-term, fat loss strategy. My personal experience correlates to the research demonstrating the need for diet breaks.
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Old 09-02-2012, 06:28 AM   #6
Luke Seubert
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Re: Paleo Plateau

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Originally Posted by Paulo Santos View Post
It doesn't matter if you are Paleo or on the McDonald's diet, it is all about calories if you are trying to lose weight. Start tracking your calories and eat less than your maintenance, or eat for maintenance and use your workouts to burn the calories to put you at a deficit. FYI: You will need to be at about 300 calorie deficit per day just to lose 1# per week.

If you track your calories, you can have the cheat meals, just as long as you don't go over then calories. And yes, I had the same problem you had.
While the numbers are crude and there are exceptions to the following statement, the accepted caloric deficit necessary to lose 1 pound of weight is 3,500 calories. So, in order to lose 1 pound per week, this requires a daily caloric deficit of 500 calories, not 300 calories.

And while cutting calories is essential to losing weight, it is also very important to change the quality of those calories. Cutting out the junk food and going with a really healthy, nutritious diet such as a Paleo diet or Pescetarian diet is important - not just for fat loss but also for optimal good health and fitness. Manipulating macronutrient ratios, meal size, and meal timing is also important to manipulating the body's hormones, which has a big impact on fat loss and muscle retention.
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Old 09-02-2012, 06:45 AM   #7
Paulo Santos
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Re: Paleo Plateau

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Originally Posted by Luke Seubert View Post
While the numbers are crude and there are exceptions to the following statement, the accepted caloric deficit necessary to lose 1 pound of weight is 3,500 calories. So, in order to lose 1 pound per week, this requires a daily caloric deficit of 500 calories, not 300 calories.
Correct. I actually meant to write 500, not 300.
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Old 09-02-2012, 11:20 AM   #8
Frances Ballesteros
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Re: Paleo Plateau

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luke Seubert View Post
While the numbers are crude and there are exceptions to the following statement, the accepted caloric deficit necessary to lose 1 pound of weight is 3,500 calories. So, in order to lose 1 pound per week, this requires a daily caloric deficit of 500 calories, not 300 calories.

And while cutting calories is essential to losing weight, it is also very important to change the quality of those calories. Cutting out the junk food and going with a really healthy, nutritious diet such as a Paleo diet or Pescetarian diet is important - not just for fat loss but also for optimal good health and fitness. Manipulating macronutrient ratios, meal size, and meal timing is also important to manipulating the body's hormones, which has a big impact on fat loss and muscle retention.
I don't quite agree with your second paragraph. While healthy food is the better option, one can lean out on junk food too. The only problem I see with it, it's that it's a hassle. Controlling hunger with such foods is quite difficult.

Even by eating crap, one's health improve because of the caloric deficit.
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Old 09-02-2012, 04:44 PM   #9
Luke Seubert
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Re: Paleo Plateau

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Originally Posted by Frances Ballesteros View Post
I don't quite agree with your second paragraph. While healthy food is the better option, one can lean out on junk food too. The only problem I see with it, it's that it's a hassle. Controlling hunger with such foods is quite difficult.
In theory, you are right; but not so much as a practical matter. Are there people who can eat all sorts of junk food and lose fat? Yes. But people like that don't really get very fat in the first place. They are naturally lean ectomorphs and don't have to worry much about food quality and caloric intake with respect to bodyweight. That said, their health would be better with a high quality diet instead of junk food.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frances Ballesteros View Post
Even by eating crap, one's health improve because of the caloric deficit.
The contention that life is extended through mild caloric deficits might be overturned. A very recent study showed no difference between normally fed and underfed mice, and pointed out some significant flaws in the original research that showed caloric deficits benefit longevity. So right now, that whole idea is sort of up in the air.

Moreover, these are all animal studies, which while oftentimes providing useful information which likewise applies to humans; also often turns up data which doesn't apply to humans.
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