The widely reported Paleo message is that if you follow a strict Paleo diet, you will effortlessly lose weight. I'm reading more and more comments on Paleo forums from disappointed people, reporting that they have not lost weight – and in some cases have even put on weight. This was my experience too, until I finally understood the missing piece to the Paleo weight loss puzzle.
When I initially changed my diet, at that time to more of a Primal diet, I very quickly lost a lot of weight and several dress sizes, effortlessly. Looking back, I think a large part of this was due to replacing high calorie, refined foods, with more satiating whole (Paleo) foods. However, without apparent reason the weight loss reached a plateau after a few months. I remained strictly Paleo, I reduced my fruit intake and stopped eating nuts. I continued to work-out. Yet my weight would not budge; very frustrating.
Over Christmas I began to think more and more about portion sizes – the one variable I had overlooked before. Most of the key Paleo bloggers and experts did not come to Paleo overweight. They were often unhealthy and unwell, but rarely overweight. Whilst not expressly stated, the “Paleo message” that could be construed is that provided you eat the right things (i.e. Paleo foods), you can eat as much as you like (perhaps even “the more you eat, the more beneficial the effects become”). From what I've read, it appears that when you are overweight the hormones and signalling in your body become distorted – meaning that what works for someone of a “normal” weight, will not work in the same way for someone who is overweight. At least, not until they restore the balance and signalling. I've been particularly interested in reading Dr Jack Kruses Leptin Reset ideas in this regard.
For the last six weeks I've been challenging and significantly reducing my portions. I've not been weighing and counting calories, nor have I changed what I eat. I've simply been eating a lot less. For example, where I’d have had three serving spoons of soup or bean'-less chilli, I now have two – and I don’t have seconds. Where I’d have had three rashers of bacon and two eggs, I now have two rashers of bacon and one egg. When I Intermittently Fast, I’m careful not to expand the size of my first post-fast meal to compensate.
I've lost 7kg in the last six weeks (15 pounds) and finally smashed through that plateau. I think this is proof enough that a Paleo diet – with reduced portion sizes, is the essential combination for weight loss.
I don’t know what happens at the right body weight, but I am expecting to find (when I get there) that I will be able to eat as much Paleo food as I like, with no adverse effect on my weight or body composition. In the meantime, it’s clear that reducing portion sizes is the right approach.
Essentially, I think the Paleo diet needs are very different for an athletic individual, compared to an overweight individual.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – have you had similar experiences? Do you agree that portion control is essential for weight loss, on a Paleo diet?