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Troubleshooting Your Paleo Plan

April 14, 2014

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Are you one of the millions of people who are rocking a Paleo diet these days, yet not seeing any results in your body?  Let’s talk about some of the deeper reasons as to why you’re not making the progress you’d like, and what you can do about it. A number of causes could be at play, but here are some of the most common culprits:

You’re Toxic.  Because we women carry more body fat than men, we make better storage houses for toxins. Fat is where they like to hang out. And the more toxic we are, the more fat we store in an effort to dilute those toxins. Work with a nutritionally-oriented MD to get a workup done if you suspect you’re toxic.

You’re Intolerant.  In simplifying your diet and purging processed carbs from your pantry, you can overexpose yourself to staples like meat, eggs, and fish, and then develop intolerances to those foods. This can cause low levels of inflammation throughout the body, making it difficult to drop body fat. Eggs, nuts, soy, corn, wheat, and dairy are the most common allergens found in food, but make sure you rotate all your proteins, fats, fruits, and vegetables as much as possible to avoid developing intolerances.

You’re Overdoing Cardio.  Excess cardio jacks up your cortisol, the hormone that enhances excess belly fat storage and keeps your stress hormones elevated for hours after a workout. Keep it simple with walking, hiking, yoga, sprinting, jumping rope, and plyometrics. 

You’re Eating Too Many Carbs. Most of us don’t tolerate eating carbohydrates well.  We may also have low-level insulin resistance and not be active enough to justify scarfing down bagels, juices, and pizza throughout the day. If you want to lean out, cut down on carbs. 

You’re Eating Carbs at the Wrong Time. If your body fat is above 20 percent, I suggest that you eat 75 to 100 grams of carbohydrates from sweet potato or winter squash (1 cup cooked) with your nightly meal or post-workout. Or, skip starchy carbs for three days and then on day four load up with four starch servings throughout the day and post-workout. 

You’re Eating Too Much Fat. If you’re sitting on your tush all day at work and flopping down on the sofa at night to watch three more hours of television, you’re not burning as much fat as you think you are. So keep your portions of fat to around ten nuts at a time or a heaping teaspoon of nut butter. If you don’t see changes in your body composition, then you’ll need to eat less fat.

You’re Not Eating Enough Protein. Women need to eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight every day. So a woman who weights 140 pounds should eat 140 grams of protein, which equals 20 ounces of protein (there are 7 grams of protein in one ounce).  This shakes out to 5 ounces of protein at meals, plus another 2 ounces of protein at two snacks throughout the day. Protein will keep you sailing through your day with energy and will help you get lean. 

You’re Drinking Too Many Protein Shakes. If you’re struggling to lose body fat and you’re having more than one shake a day, cut back. Whey protein raises insulin levels, which is exactly what you want to accomplish immediately following your workout. The trick is to keep that surge encapsulated within a 30-minute window post-workout. 

You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep. Under conditions of sleep deprivation, your insulin sensitivity decreases while your cortisol shoots up.  Eight hours of deep sleep improves everything: muscle gains, appetite control, fat loss, mood, and cognitive function.

If you’re on or have tried the Paleo diet, have you recognized any of these issues in yourself? Share with us in the comments!

Esther Blum is an Integrative Dietitian and bestselling author of Cavewomen Don't Get Fat, Eat, Drink and Be Gorgeous, Secrets of Gorgeous, and The Eat, Drink, and Be Gorgeous Project. She was voted Best Nutritionist by Manhattan Magazine and has appeared on the Today Show, the ISAAC show, ABC-TV, FOX- 5's Good Day NY, Fox News Live, and CW11 morning news.  You can get your free daily dose of Gorgeous at