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5 paleo weight loss tweaks speed up lose weight plateau paleo diet primal

5 paleo tweaks to speed up weight loss

For the vast majority of people, transitioning to the Paleo diet will often see dramatic improvements in their personal battle with weight loss. However, on some occasions, you may hit a plateau with your weight loss and find yourself struggling to reach your desired weight.

Before I go any further, I must stress that it vitally important not to worry about that number on the scales. If you’re looking and feeling your best, then ignore what the scales are telling you. Chances are, if you’re eating right and training well, you may well have added a little weight in the form of muscle mass.

If, however, you still have that last bit of body fat that you want to lose in order to look, feel, and perform at your optimum level; then you may wish to consider the following ‘tweaks’:

Watch your carb intake

Whilst it is a lot harder to take in excess carbohydrate on the Paleo diet, (largely due to the removal of grains and processed foods) it is still possible – and especially so if you’re not active. You may want to look at bringing your carb intake down to see how this helps you with your weight loss goals. Try cutting back on starchy vegetables like yams, hard squash, parsnips and beets, and replacing them with dark leafy greens like spinach, kale and broccoli. It may be worthwhile limiting your fruit intake as well to one portion per day. If you do eat fruit, berries are a very good choice. Otherwise, snack on hardboiled eggs, jerky, nuts and coconut to see you through between meals.

It’s important to tailor your carbohydrate intake to your activity level. If you’re relatively sedentary, then roughly 50g of carbs per day from vegetables is more than adequate. If you’re training more (and especially if you partake in high intensity exercise like Crossfit), you’ll be looking at probably double that. Time your carb intake as well – straight after a heavy workout to replace glycogen stores, and in the evening to increase melatonin and ensure a healthy sleep.

5 paleo weight loss tweaks speed up lose weight plateau paleo diet primal

Try Intermittent Fasting

Proven to break through even the most stubborn weight loss plateau, I can’t recommend Intermittent Fasting enough for fat loss and general appetite control. Try exercising when fasted, so your body turns straight to the fat stores for energy.

Move more

Sometimes, conventional wisdom does get it right. If you’re not seeing the fat loss results you’re after, it could be a case of not exercising enough. Just make sure it’s the right kind of exercise and you’re not slipping into chronic cardio territory. HIIT Training, sprints and Crossfit are excellent fat busters.

Sleep more

When you’re deprived of sleep, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol, which has been proven to increase fat storage. And, in case you needed any more reason to get a solid 8 hours sleep every night, the biggest spike in growth hormone occurs during sleep – which in turn, burns fat. Try sleeping more, and sleeping better too.

Stress less

As with sleep, if you’re stressed, your body will be releasing cortisol. Try meditating, exercising more, or increasing your sunlight exposure to help you manage your stress levels.

These are just a few ideas to help you break through your fat loss plateau. Do you have any other tips for fellow readers?

Power outage power cut electricity off the grid paleo network 2-min

The suprising things a long power cut taught me

Last Monday was really rainy and windy, so I wasn’t that surprised on Tuesday when I woke up to find we had no power. Other than missing a morning cup of tea and breakfast, I wasn’t that bothered and assumed by the time I got home in the evening, normal service would be resumed.

Power outage power cut electricity off the grid paleo network 2-min

Well during Tuesday, the storm continued. On reflection I shouldn’t have driven. With traffic lights out, multiple roads closed due to fallen trees and flooding, it was not a fun day to be out on the roads. That evening the power still wasn’t back on, but luckily I managed to find some matches and candles by the light of my phone.

As I’ve written about before, I’m a chronic night owl. Even if I go to bed early, I’m just not tired – I can lie there for hours, willing sleep to come. I’ve tried everything. For months I’ve been waking up early to an alarm, the theory being I’ll eventually be so tired, I’ll have to start getting sleepy at an earlier time. I stopped using my computer in the evenings. I turn off all but some dim side lights in the evenings. So I assumed on Tuesday, the unusual feeling of deep sleepiness at 7:30pm was due to the stressful driving conditions. But on Wednesday night, still with no power, I spent the evening reading by candle light – and was hit by the unusual feeling of tiredness at a similar time. And the next day – and the next. By the end of the week – after just a few days, I was waking up before my alarm. This never happens.

Finally power returned late on Saturday night – and I’ve still not turned my tv on. I’ve realised it had become a habit turning the tv on, I wasn’t putting it on because there was something special I wanted to watch, but because that’s just what I did in the evening. I haven’t missed it at all – and I wonder how much part this has played in my new sleep pattern? I’m not sure if it’s the light, or the stimulation – or perhaps both, but tv and artificial light have clearly not been helping my sleep pattern.

I’ve realised how much I really, really appreciate my washing machine, hot water, oven and fridge/ freezer – but the other things – perhaps I need to do without.

 

Are you a severe night owl LSPD late sleep phase disorder insomnia

Are you an extreme night owl?

In my quest to understand more about my slow metabolism, I’ve been looking more and more at my circadian rhythms.




I’ve always been a night owl and tend to come alive late at night becoming super productive and creative, when everyone else is asleep. When I’ve worked long hours in the city – and had to get up early, I would often try to go to bed at a sensible time. But I’d just lie in bed feeling wide awake and frustrated that sleep didn’t come. Until much, much later.

When you Google struggling to sleep, you come up with lots of hits for insomnia. Insomnia didn’t quite feel right, but what else could it be? Insomniacs often wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to get back to sleep. Once I’m asleep, I don’t wake up until my sleep is abruptly ended by an alarm, or I have the rare luxury of waking up naturally.

I noticed when I wasn’t working, and was able to follow my natural routine, I’d eventually feel tired in the early hours of the morning, and wake up around 11:34am. When I say around, I mean precisely. Every single day. So I was getting a decent 8 or so hours sleep. It just wasn’t at a socially acceptable time. Doesn’t sound so much like insomnia.

Are you a severe night owl LSPD late sleep phase disorder insomnia

It has a name?

After researching this further, I eventually found out about other people who sleep like this too. And it has a name: Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPD – but most definitely not to be confused with the other DSPD – Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorder). DSPD is exactly what I have been experiencing. A complete shift of the socially acceptable sleeping time several hours to the right. Core body temperature, hormones, alertness, energy levels – all happening at the “wrong” time.

Jetlag reset

I recently travelling halfway round the world from Australia to the UK. I had expected to be able to use jetlag to my advantage and “reset” my sleep times. The first few days it all went to plan, I’d be unable to fight off the tiredness by 8pm – and would be wide awake by 5am. But, after just a few days I fell back into my middle of the night to 11:34am routine. After researching DSPD, this seems to be the same issue across the board. Changing time zones is not a fix.

Curing DSPS?

It’s all quite gloomy on most sites, as many people believe there is no cure. They suggest getting a job to fit in with your natural sleeping times, rather than trying to work a conventional job with a 6am alarm call. The most common “cure” recommends you force yourself to stay up for an extra hour or two each night, with the idea being that after a few weeks you could stop adding on the time when you get to your preferred new bedtime, perhaps 10pm? But that seems like a bit of a hard core solution. In the middle of that transition you’d be sleeping over the entire daylight hours. That can’t be good!?

My solution

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been trying out my own method of solving this – and I’ve made some really good progress.

The answer seems to be in Circadian Rhythms. We get our cues from daylight as to what time of day it is, and crucially the early morning sun is completely different to late afternoon sun. There is far more blue light in the mornings, which I simply never got to see. Also at night, all the artificial street lights come on, TV’s, computer screens, smartphone – and we’re bathed in artificial blue light signalling to our brain that it’s morning and we should be at the peak of our alertness!

So it was clear to me that I needed to get natural sunlight as early as possible in the mornings. As soon as I wake up, I now head straight outside, barefoot, and walk for about an hour. I’ve also stopped wearing sunglasses, to make sure I’m getting as much natural light in as I possibly can, particularly in the first half of the day. After sunset, I try to reduce artificial blue light as much as I can.

Whilst I’m not at conventional sleeping hours yet, I am definitely slowly shifting my times to the left.  I’m starting to feel sleepy earlier and waking up naturally quite a lot earlier too. The biggest improvement has been my energy levels. I feel so much more alert and energetic during the morning and daytime. I’m also feeling a lot warmer during the day, which I think is a good indication that I may be on the track to normalising my circadian rhythm.

I’m never going to be an “Early Bird” naturally waking up at 5:30am everyday, weekend or weekday. But I hope to be able to shift my sleep and waking hours to something far more reasonable – and in turn increase my daytime metabolic rate and energy levels.

I’d love to hear more about your natural sleeping patterns in the comments, below. Are you a severe night owl (DSPD) too? Do you just live with it, or have you had any success in changing it? Any nuggets of information you have on circadian rhythms – I’d really like to hear!

Are you suffering from Adrenal fatigue signs symptoms what is paleo diet-min

Are You Suffering From Adrenal Fatigue?

Tired, washed out and exhausted, even when you had enough sleep? Feeling tired, weak and incapable of doing things? Could you be suffering from adrenal fatigue?




What are the adrenals?

The adrenals are like two caps on top of the kidneys which play a key role in the endocrine (hormonal) system. They produce more than 50 different hormones, such as adrenaline (epinephrine), noradrenaline, cortisol, progesterone and testosterone. These hormones are involved in energy production, water-salt balance, blood pressure, metabolism, heartbeat, liver function, the immune system, blood sugar level, fat storage and dealing with stress.

When we’re under stress, the adrenals should react by releasing adrenalin and noradrenalin to cope with physical danger, typically called the ‘fight or flight’-reaction. Whenever the ‘danger’ is gone, the adrenals make sure that the hormone levels are back to normal. Cortisol is produced in this situation and the release of DHEA is suppose to ‘un-stress’ the body.

And, who isn’t faced with stress these days? Work, family, pressure from friends and our eating pattern put us under constant stress. This stress on the mental, physical and emotional levels, ensure that the adrenals are constantly overloaded with the amount of hormones they have to release. When these processes are prolonged, the adrenals can become exhausted; adrenal fatigue. We start to feel tired and are not able to cope with whatever comes our way any more.

Are you suffering from Adrenal fatigue signs symptoms what is paleo diet-min

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue

Because the adrenals play such an important role in the endocrine system, the symptoms of adrenal fatigue are expressed in various forms. This long list makes it more than clear that the right balance of hormones is crucial to us.

  • Appetite for salt
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Dizziness
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Inflammations
  • Headache
  • Unstable blood sugar
  • Excessive thirst and urge to urinate
  • Swellings
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Varicose veins
  • Bad digestion
  • Heart disorders
  • Asthma
  • Infections
  • Behavioral and memory problems
  • Allergies
  • Hyperpigmentation

Some other symptoms are

  • Mood swings
  • Irritation
  • Low energy level
  • Depression
  • Painful bodyparts
  • Low bloodpressure
  • Anxiety attacks
  • And many more…

What to do if you’re suffering from adrenal fatigue?

Change your nutrition! When you have adrenal fatigue, the time you eat becomes very important. You need to keep the cortisol in your blood at the right level. If you don’t have the right amount of cortisol in your blood, it’s hard for your body to keep the right glucose levels. The result of this could be hypoglycemia.

People with exhausted adrenals often tend to choose the foods and drinks which give them energy at the expense of the adrenals, such as fast food, soft drinks and coffee. The fats in fast food are the wrong fats, the carbohydrates are often refined and the nutritional value is low. This way they withhold their body of the nutrients it needs more than ever, to function and recover. And this will make the adrenals more and more exhausted.

Eat immediately when you get up, to refuel your body. This is not the time for intermitant fasting.

Eat a strict Paleo diet, with enough protein, healthy fats, unrefined carbohydrates, vegetables and enough fruits. You may choose to experiment with increasing your carbohydrate intake in the form of things like pumpkin and sweet potato.

Stress is a huge factor, with sufferers of adrenal fatigue simply truing to do it all. When trying to heal, it’s really important to reduce stress, and take time out to meditate and relax.

Have you suffered from adrenal fatigue? What helped you to heal? Please share your stories and tips in the comments below, and help someone out!

Is your bed bad for your health mattress paleo natural-min

Is Your Bed Bad For Your Health?

Sometimes the simple things that we use in our everyday routine are things that we don’t think twice about – but can be very dangerous. Even more frustrating, when you follow an otherwise health Paleo lifestyle. Have you ever given any thought to the mattress that’s beneath you as you sleep each night?

Mattresses are often made with ployurethane foam (petroleum based material that emits formaldehyde), formalize (which is linked to asthma and lung cancer), and boric acid (roach killer). Formaldehyde is highly toxic and classified as a probable carcinogen. If you have a mattress like this, when you go to bed at night, you are lying in these chemicals. Mattress companies often claim that they have the best mattress – and they mainly focus on comfort. You will see several commercials advertising that their mattress will adjust to your back and help you get a better night sleep, but they never really mention just how clean and non toxic their mattress is, do they?

In 2005 a memory foam mattress was sent in to be inspected and the lab was able to find 61 different chemicals used in the mattress. Comfort doesn’t mean anything if you are lying in a pile of dangerous chemicals.

Is your bed bad for your health mattress paleo natural-min

What are some of the things that these harmful chemicals can cause?

It has been reported that a toxic mattress can cause respiratory problems, reproductive toxicity, allergies, asthma, SIDS, and many more complications. It’s scary to think that going to bed could be a dangerous activity!

Why would companies add these chemicals? They add them because they are flame retardants. In the 60’s, governments insisted that mattresses had to include flame retardants – and they had to pass flammability tests. It wasn’t such a huge problem when they first passed the law, but now companies are using more and more dangerous chemicals. Arlene Blum, a biophysical chemist stated “Instead of adding new fire retardant chemicals that may ultimately be shown to cause health problems, we should be asking whether we need to use these chemicals or if there are other ways to achieve equivalent fire safety.”

The mattresses that are being made today, especially some of the popular memory foam mattresses are considered to be more dangerous than the ones that were made within the past 50 years.

So what can you do about you mattress?

There are some companies that make organic natural mattresses. Before purchasing a mattress you want to triple check what exactly is in it. Some companies claim that they have a natural organic mattress – but are not willing to back it up. Companies have slowly started to realise the dangers that their mattresses are causing and are changing the chemicals that they are putting in mattresses – but this is not happening fast enough.

You are far better off getting a safe organic mattress. There are companies that sell mattresses that are completely natural and toxin free. Organic wool has natural fire resistant properties and it has been successfully used to pass flammability tests.
When you lie down to sleep at night the last thing you need to worry about is if it is safe or not. Night time is when you need to relax both mentally and physically. Don’t let your mattress ruin your health!

What type of mattress do you sleep on? Will you buy an organic mattress when you replace yours?

Paleo Diet Primal Grounding Earthing Barefoot Health Nature Connect-min

Grounding: When Did You Last Connect?

Have you heard of grounding, or earthing? Perhaps you already do it – maybe without even realising? It might sound a bit new age and made up, but the more I’ve read about it – and tried it – the more sense it makes.

Earthing is where you allow you your body to be in direct contact with the Earth. You can do this by walking around barefoot, sitting outside outside on the lawn or the sand, or sleeping under the stars (in direct contact with the Earth). Advocates of grounding recommended you do it for at least 30 minutes a day for optimal benefits.

So many people wake up in a high rise house, put their shoes on, drive to work, sit at a desk all day in an insulated office block, drive home – and repeat. Even exercise is often exclusively done indoors in a gym. How many people go weeks without any direct contact to the Earth? Our ancestors walked barefoot and slept on the ground – very different.

The idea behind grounding, is that the Earth has a negative charge. When a person, with an excessive negative charge, walks around in contact with the Earth, the excess of electrons will supposedly be absorbed by the Earth’s surface. By balancing out your body chemistry using the earth, the idea is that you will feel more relaxed and at ease – and with improved sleep.

There are (of course!) lots of companies who have jumped on the grounding/ earthing bandwagon to produce artificial products to mimic the effects of earthing. You can get a grounding mat to put under your desk at work, or earthing sheets, to have the same effect as sleeping on the ground. However, with it being so easy to connect to the Earth naturally, why fake it? The only exception to man made products, that I would put in this category is barefoot shoes. Barefoot shoes like Vibram Five Fingers (VFF’s) are a great way to safely walk around, without worrying about stepping in something you shouldn’t.

Paleo Diet Primal Grounding Earthing Barefoot Health Nature Connect-min

It doesn’t have to be a huge thing to schedule in your day. Find ways to incorporate earthing with what you already do in your daily life. If you enjoy walking, then walk along the beach barefoot. If you write on a daily basis or read, then just change your environment and enjoy doing those activities while sitting on grass. If you just want some time to relax in your day go outside and enjoy nature for a while.

Whether or not you agree with the science behind earthing – you have to agree walking around barefooted in cool grass feels great?

There are several benefits of earthing/grounding that you won’t discover until you get outdoors and take your shoes off!

Do you regularly connect with the Earth? Does it make you feel better? Please share your experiences in the comments below!

Paleo Diet Primal Sleep Problems Blue Light Blockers-min

Is Blue Light Ruining Your Sleep?

How is your sleep? If you’re struggling to get to sleep – or to get a decent amount of sleep, have you though that the problem might lie with your circadian rhythms? And that exposure to blue light may be messing up your circadian rhythms?

How we’re supposed to sleep

If you go camping, away from towns and cities, you might have noticed you get tired much earlier than you would do normally? When the only light after dark comes from a camp fire, the signal to your body to produce melatonin, the sleep hormone. As soon as the sun rises the next morning, melatonin production slows down, telling your body it is daytime – and time to wake up and get going. For this reason light is absolutely crucial to your bodies internal body clock. The incredible range of sleeping potions on sale is surely proof at how widespread sleeping problems are.

Unfortunately the unnatural, man made lights that we all rely on, give off the same lights as the sun – signalling to our bodies that it is daytime. And most definitely not time to sleep. Blue light is everywhere; household lights, your computer, ipad, laptop, tv,street lighting, alarm clocks – it is hard to escape blue light. As well as messing up with natural sleeping patterns, excessive blue light exposure is also linked to increased cancer risk and an increased chance of obesity.

Paleo Diet Primal Sleep Problems Blue Light Blockers-min

How can we escape blue light?

Fortunately there are measures you can take to limit your exposure to blue light:

  • After sunset, turn off all bright lights in your house (use candlelight or orange or red light bulbs)
  • Stop using electronics after dark…
  • …But if you must use your computer after dark, install the free f.lux program to minimise blue light
  • Make your bedroom as dark as possible, install black out blinds (or go for the cheap option and stick card against the windows at night)
  • Sleep with an eye mask
  • Go one step further and wear blue light blocking glasses after dark (with orange, amber or red tinted lenses)

How well do you sleep? Do you limit your exposure to blue light after sunset? I’d love to hear your sleep tips in the comments below!

paleo diet magnesium supplement vitamin D3 deficiency-min

Magnesium

I spend a lot of time reading about various supplements, trying to work out what I should or shouldn’t take.  I really don’t like the idea of taking supplements – it’s not exactly a Paleo activity we’ve evolved to do!  However, I know it is a lot harder not to get all of the micro nutrients we need today than ever before.  Mineral content in soils is severely depleted due to modern farming methods, meaning the produce that grows in that land and animals grazing on the land are also far lighter on mineral content. I’ve been especially interested in Magnesium.

 I’m fairly sold on taking Vitamin D3 and fish oil, but after reading “The Magnesium Miracle” and researching the mineral,  I recently decided to buy some Magnesium Citrate.

I had a lot of blood work done recently and whilst I don’t appear to have a Magnesium deficiency my magnesium mmol/L levels look to be lower than desirable.  Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in so many of the biochemical processes in the body, it is claimed to help with sleep, stress and help regulate blood sugar levels.  It’s role in insulin sensitivity is especially interesting to me, with my current weight loss objective.

paleo diet magnesium supplement vitamin D3 deficiency-min

There are so many different types of magnesium supplements – I found magnesium oxide, magnesium hydroxide, magnesium carbonate, magnesium citrate, magnesium lactate, magnesium chloride, and magnesium sulfate!  I decided to try Magnesium Citrate as apparently it has a better bio availability, which means it should be better absorbed.   I believe this is the same form as found in the ‘Natural Calm” brand.

A lot of people get magnesium through skin absorption, either by bathing in Epsom Salts or apply magnesium oil – I might try this route in the future, but for now, I’ll see how I fair with the supplement.  There are food sources of magnesium, such as green vegetables, bone broths, almonds and fish – but to achieve reasonable levels I’d have to eat such high amounts from the food source, that I don’t think it would be realistic at the moment.

Do you supplement with Magnesium?  Interested to hear what benefits – or even downsides you’ve experienced with Magnesium supplementation!

sleeping pills tablets awake paleo diet health wake up-min

Sleep! Wake Up!

Tired and lacking in energy during the day – then wide awake at night?  I wonder how many people opt to take a pill for that?

sleeping pills tablets awake paleo diet health wake up-min

It struck me as completely ridiculous, when I saw how many sleeping tablets and “stay awake” (anti sleeping?) pills I saw in the pharmacy recently.  They’re even stocked right next to each other (though thankfully they didn’t have a “buy sleeping pills, get caffeine pills free” offer).  I can’t help but think relying on pharmaceuticals to enable your body to rest and repair – and then again to enable you to function during the day is a recipe for disaster.  As well as the start of a chain of reliance on drugs to sleep – and then wake up.

Where the tiredness after lunch is a result of a huge sugar crash (thanks to a refined carb-heavy lunch), surely adding caffeine pills into the mix is only going to make things a whole lot worse?

I also wonder how restorative a sleeping pill induced sleep is compared to a natural sleep?

When people struggle to sleep and stay awake at appropriate times, this is surely a clear sign that behavioural changes are needed (change of diet to Paleo, getting up earlier, reducing stress and exercising perhaps?).  Behavioural changes aren’t a quick thing, but surely they are a better long-term plan than taking one pill to counter act the other pill!

What do you think?  Would you take a pill to sleep, then a pill to wake up?

Sleeping on the Floor paleo diet natural health no bed hammock back mattress-min

Sleeping on the Floor?

The more I learn and think about evolutionary health, the more links I find with every aspect of my life.

Since I went from more of a Primal diet, to a strict Paleo diet, my previous sleep problems appear to have completely vanished.  I’m now tired in the evenings, fall asleep quickly without even noticing, sleep soundly all night – and wake up before my alarm.  This change in sleep has made it very clear what an essential role sleep plays to overall health and well-being.  I’m quite convinced that even with a perfect Paleo diet and a great fitness regime, without good sleep it would be impossible to attain optimal health.

This has got me thinking about where and how I sleep.  I suspect like you, I sleep on a bed with a big mattress and pillows.  This must be very far removed from how our ancestors slept for millions of years!

I’ve found some great resources on sleeping that suggest the body is under strain being upright all day, and therefore needs the resistance of a hard service to enable gravity to help realign and reshape the body.  This makes a lot of sense.  Even a relatively hard mattress won’t have enough resistance to enable your bones to realign – where as the ground clearly would.  It makes sense that when sunk into a mattress the lungs are not in the same position and have a reduced area – resulting in less oxygen, which is crucial, especially in enabling the body to relax and repair overnight.

I also wonder about the effect on the body’s temperature regulation, of sleeping on a mattress and under covers.  Is this another detrimental effect of sleeping on a mattress?

Sleeping on the Floor paleo diet natural health no bed hammock back mattress-min

Every time I’ve been camping and have slept with just a thin foam layer between myself and the ground, I have had a fantastic sleep – but I’ve also woken up very stiff and sore the next morning.  Perhaps the discomfort is due to being used to a soft mattress and will reduce after a few days?  Perhaps a bit of discomfort is not a bad thing?  As with camping, I also slept very well when I travelled to Japan sleeping on hard futons on the floor; again this was not comfortable, but resulted in very rejuvenating sleeps.

Sleep posture also appears to be an important factor to consider, something I’ve not given much thought to in the past.

I’m therefore planning to conduct a sleep experiment, of at least a week, where I will sleep on the floor each night.  I can then compare how I feel each morning, how well rested I am and how my fitness is affected (for example, if it would promote better posture and alignment, I’d expect this to show in my gym sessions).

Have you ever slept on the floor in the interests of your health, or is this a step too far?  I’d love to hear your comments on all things sleep related!