Paleo Timing (aka Why Haven’t I Lost Weight Faster on my Paleo Diet?)
“I’ve been strict Paleo for 2 months. Why haven’t I lost more fat?”
“I eat 100% Paleo, but I still have digestive issues. How long does it take these issues to get resolved?”
These are 2 of the most common questions that I get asked on a regular basis. And I understand exactly why these questions get asked.
If you had known me 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago, you would have heard me asking these questions all the time. I simply could figure out what I was doing wrong.
You Don’t Want to Wait Forever
You’ve been working really hard at staying Paleo. You eat mostly home-cooked meals. You religious avoid processed foods. And you’ve been doing it all for some time now.
Still, you see your friends, family, and people at your gym getting results much more quickly than you. So you want to know what they’re doing that you’re not.
I remember talking to a guy in my martial arts class about 7 years ago. Over the 2 months prior to this conversation, I’d seen him go from slightly overweight to ripped, with a six-pack. I’d been trying to get lean for almost 7 years before that time, so I asked him how he did it.
“It’s really easy. I just come to this class 4-5 days a week and then eat mostly chicken and vegetables. Oh, and I smoke a lot of pot.”
I’m not sure if he meant that last part to be a tip (I didn’t take it as one), but I did start eating a lot of chicken and vegetables. Unfortunately, I was NOT able to replicate his results, and I got discouraged within a few weeks.
Is life really just this unfair?
Paleo SHOULD Work Fast
I’m not one of those people who starts by telling you that you just need to be patient. Patience is a virtue in most areas of life, but there are 2 important things to remember in this context:
- Motivation. If you don’t start getting some results pretty quickly, there’s a good chance that you’re going to lose motivation and be unable to keep eating and living healthy.
- Your Body CAN Heal Fast. Paleo does work quickly, because your body is capable of changing itself pretty quickly (within certain limitations).
In other words, you need to start seeing results in pretty short order because it’s necessary to keep you going and because if you’re not, something is keeping your body from healing.
So what are the possible reasons that you’re not getting results more quickly?
You’re Not Getting Everything 100% Right
Stick with me here. I know that it’s hard to hear, but the single most common reason for not getting quick results is because your diet/lifestyle is not actually as good as you like to think.
There are a thousand little things that could be keeping you from losing weight or resolving digestive issues, and they’re not even all related to your diet.
For instance, if you’re not sleeping enough or well enough, that’s the #1 thing that will keep you from healing your body. If you’re overly stressed about work or relationships, then your body is going to expend a lot more energy trying to resolve those issues than it will on healing itself. And even if you’re eating what you’ve heard is a perfect Paleo diet, you may still be eating foods that you’re sensitive to.
The list is endless, and it’s not meant to discourage you – quite the contrary. The good news is that you only need to figure out the things that are hindering you, and once you change those (and keep everything else in order), you’ll start to see amazing results.
Learning is What Really Takes Time
Although most people believe that it’s the healing process that takes time, it’s not. That process can be very fast.
What takes the most time is learning exactly what works for your own body. Are you sensitive to nuts, and therefore slowing the recovery of your digestive tract? Are you very insulin resistant so that even berries and sweet potatoes are inhibiting your fat loss? Do you have a job that forces you to sit for 11 hours a day?
We all have unique circumstances and bodies. That doesn’t mean that anyone is going to thrive on processed sugar and corn oil. But it does mean that you’re going to need to do some tweaking of your diet and lifestyle along the way.
And learning which parts of your life you need to tweak takes time to learn. When it comes to your diet, that means going very strict and then reintroducing foods one at a time. Or, it may mean focusing only on your sleep for a couple months.
You Might Have Damaged Your Body
I HATE when people tell me “this is just the way my body is.” That’s a cop-out 99% of the time, and I’ve seen people do amazing things with bodies that were less than ideal.
Your body can recover from a lot more than you think. Diabetes gets reversed, “permanent” injuries get fixed, and diseases get cured.
However, if you have damaged your body by living a very unhealthy lifestyle for most of your life (eating junk, not sleeping, sitting around, etc.), then some damage may take a little time to reverse.
I truly believe that most people can see great and quick results, but if you’re incredibly insulin-resistant, have a heavily-compromised digestive tract, or experience a number of other issues that have built up over a lifetime, then you may need more than a month or 2 to fix those problems.
And sometimes, your body won’t respond in other ways (e.g., losing fat) until you get some of those issues resolved (vitamin deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, etc.).
Learn to Love the Journey
I really want you to get amazing and fast results. I really want everybody to experience that kind of success.
I never did. It took me many years to get to a comfortable point with my health and body.
In the end, though, it’s the journey itself that is most rewarding. You’re not going to suddenly stop wanting quick results, but you can gradually learn to appreciate the practice of living healthier and of learning about your body.
Next time you ask yourself why you haven’t gotten quicker or better results, remember that being Paleo is a matter of figuring out what works and knowing that once you do, you’ll not only see great results but also be able to constantly improve.
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Images (in order): zoutedrop, nate steiner, and Scorpions and Centaurs.
The day I got this, I had just had a conversation with my friend about being discouraged about my lack of results. I smarted the Paleo diet willingly on 7/20. As of 8/23, I have lost almost two pounds and about 1.5 inches overall. Yippee! I’m being sarcastic. I did level III from the start. I practice Bikram Yoga 4-5 times a week and walk the dog 30-45 minutes daily. I have IT/hip issues, so I haven’t done weights, but I hope to resume soon. I recently took out nuts even though Loren Cordain’s book said that level III can have a small amount of nuts (less than 4 oz). In addition. I still wake tired in the morning. Not sure if that’s because I get at 4:20 am. My joints still hurt. Since I started, I’ve also had the worst severe PMS bloating anywhere from 7 days before my signal. The only positive thing I have noticed is that I am full after I eat and I don’t crave sugar anymore. Loren’s book said I should be experiencing rapid weight loss. Not! I could be insulin resistant. I haven’t been on OTC or prescription meds since 1995. In 2006, I was diagnosed with very mild arthritis in my left big toe that was helped greatly by inserts in my shoes. I am committed to this lifestyle, and trying to stay encouraged. It’s hard with so little progress. I am 49 years old and want to get to my goal by age 50 next summer. Thanks for all your hard work. It’s very much appreciated!