No Weight Loss on the Paleo Diet
Weight loss is a common motivating factor for embarking on the Paleo Diet, and there is certainly no shortage of testimonials of incredible weight loss transformations that have occurred by following a Paleo template. However, not everyone experiences effortless and steady progress when it comes to budging the scale.
If you begin the Paleo Diet with high expectations of weight loss, it can be disappointing and frustrating if you don’t see results as quickly as you had hoped. In this “Ask the Paleo Nurse” question and answer segment, Katy helps a reader get to the bottom of what may be the cause for no weight loss on the Paleo Diet shortly after its implementation.
Question: My husband and I started a Paleo eating plan 12 days ago, but neither of us has seen any results on the scale yet. We have NOT cheated and we also joined a gym. We have been exercising four times a week. Is there a reason for not losing weight yet or will the weight loss eventually come?
Answer: Congratulations to you and your husband on investing in your health! Paleo is much more than a diet—it is a lifestyle and the benefits extend far beyond weight loss. Even if your ultimate goal is to shift your body composition, it is often more beneficial to focus first on your health and how you feel when following a Paleo template.
This change in perspective can help to take the pressure off of quickly seeing results on the scale or other forms of outward validation. It can make it easier to stick with a Paleo template long-term, increasing the likelihood that you will eventually achieve your goals.
There are numerous reasons why you may not be seeing a change in weight at this stage of your journey. Twelve days is not a significant amount of time and it’s not uncommon to see a lack of progress within the first few weeks of beginning any healthy lifestyle change. You may need to give it much more time in order to allow your body to finish detoxing from your previous dietary and lifestyle choices.
Another factor to consider is if you have any underlying health issues that need to be addressed. Weight loss may be your priority, but it may not be at the top of the body’s priority list if you have hormonal imbalances, underlying infections, remaining food sensitivities, or other health concerns.
Part of what makes Paleo a “template” versus a “diet” is that it can be customized to suit a particular individual’s needs. There are many different macronutrient combinations of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that are possible when following a Paleo template.
It often takes some experimentation to discover what version of Paleo will work best for you in order to achieve your goals. It is also important to remain vigilant about the nutrient-density of the foods that you choose to include in your Paleo template. There may be a place for rare or occasional Paleo treats in your long-term eating plan, but these treats typically do not support fat loss efforts.
Since you have started an exercise plan in addition to following a Paleo template, it is possible that your body composition is in the early stages of shifting, but it has not resulted in any change on the scale. Muscle is denser than fat, which is one reason why body weight and body mass index can be poor indicators of body composition and overall health.
Nutrition is the most significant factor when it comes to fat loss, but exercise can certainly be helpful in changing body composition and speeding up weight loss efforts, provided that it is the right type and amount of exercise. Four days per week sounds reasonable, but you want to be sure that you are avoiding or minimizing chronic endurance exercise.
Chronic endurance exercise is viewed as a stressor to the body and it can disrupt the body’s hormonal balance and contribute to weight loss stagnation. Instead, opt for a combination of low-intensity exercise, weightlifting, and a small amount of high-intensity interval training (under the direction of a qualified professional, if you are not knowledgeable in this area). Also, make sure that you are getting plenty of rest in between your workouts. Adequate sleep, in general, is incredibly important when trying to lose weight or otherwise support your health.
Despite your lack of results on the scale, you and your husband are definitely headed in the right direction. It often takes a bit of experimentation, patience, and focus, but if you stick with it, I am confident that you will eventually achieve your goals!
In the new feature, “Ask the Paleo Nurse”, Katy Haldiman, Health Director of Paleo Movement Magazine, registered nurse, and certified nutritional therapist will be answering your health and nutrition-related questions. Have a question of your own? Submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For overweight people who have been living a Paleo lifestyle for a good while but are still overweight, there are three good sources to investigate that will help you with particular food choices and vitamin-, mineral-, and amino-acid supplementation: “The Paleo Approach” by Ballantyne, “The Diet Cure” by Ross, and “The Mood Cure” by Ross. Ross does allow for grains, however, so just eliminate grains and the rest of her advice is extremely good.