5 Reasons Why Paleo Isn't Working for You


This is a commonly requested topic. People are trying Paleo with mixed results. The first thing to know is there are different shades of Paleo that have been named. These are levels that determine how serious you are or need to be with Paleo.

You can view the list here.

First is the militant Paleo. These are people that cook their meat over a fire made from kindle and logs, pick and freeze their own berries, and gather their herbs and vegetables from the woods.

This is obviously rare.

If you live like this and try to stay Paleo while keeping up with everything else in life, good luck!

I find myself more towards the 5th shade of paleo, the 80/20 person and the low carb Paleo person. My carb intake depends on how much I am training, how much stress I'm experiencing and if my goal is muscle building or purely fat loss.

For muscle building, up to 40% of your diet would come from carbs.

I've mentioned before, counting carbs and macronutrients gram by gram will drive you insane.

Some will have to go to this extreme, others will learn to listen and feel their body. I'll show you an example of a Paleo problem solution thought process.

Problem: Very Tired

  • Did you get 8 hours of sleep in a pitch black room? Yes
  • Did you get some form of exercise today, preferably weight lifting or walking? Yes
  • Did you eat when you were hungry and consume a quality source of meat, fat and carbs? Yes
  • Did you avoid technology near bedtime? No, I was checking facebook! << There's the problem.

Blue light disrupts sleep patterns, melatonin production and efficiency and can cause a restless night of sleep. Install this free program called f.lux immediately on your computer.

If you're a late-night phone user, that can cause problems too.

Search the App Store or Google Play store for Android users. I use a program called Easy Eyez for Android.

Back to Diet

Now, there are huge differences in 80/20 Paleo and the 7th shade of Paleo called the "I Decide Paleo" where your day consists of the following.

Breakfast: Bacon, Eggs, Starbucks Latte

Lunch: A Paleo-ish food or protein bar with a chicken sandwich from your local deli with no bun, mayo and ketchup with your sweet potato fries.

Snack: Gluten-free cookies from the recipe you found last night

Dinner: Carry-out order of boneless wings from Pizza Hut with a "tiny" side of Ranch dressing with bad ingredients such as soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup and monosodium glutamate (MSG). Along with your wings you have 3 gluten-free beers and some Paleo Dessert.

Bedtime: TV blaring while checking facebook on your phone next to your bright lamp.

If the list above this looks like your diet and you are struggling with results, don't feel ashamed. Just realize that you are holding yourself back.

If you recall from podcast #24 with Holisitic Nutritionist Beverly Myer, she discovered that the dust from handling her horse feed gave her gluten issues.

This shows that the smallest particles can offset some people, it's just a matter of sensitivity.

A better day for proper weight management and simply a healthier, less-toxic diet would look like this.

Breakfast: Pasture-raised bacon with local pasture-rasied eggs. Local eggs are everywhere just do some searching online. If not, your grocer's organic omega-3 enriched eggs will be fine. The only thing is, you pay double what a local farmer would charge you.

Lunch:A palm-sized portion of grass-fed beef cooked with coconut oil or kerrygold grass-fed butter with organic mixed greens such as kale, arugula, raddichio, spinach, lettuce or cabbage. These are the more popular greens you can find relatively cheao and organically grown. Round off your meal with a pinch of almonds, macadamias, pumpkin seeds or your other preferred nut or seed and you have yourself a pretty solid meal.

Quick point: Why is a chicken breast or steak with veggies an imcomplete Paleo meal? You're missing the fat! There are some very athletic, healthy and incredibly successful people that are following a diet of around 60-80% saturated fat. This could sound insane if you're new to the paleo diet. I suggest you read this from Mark's Daily Apple.

Snack: Grass-fed Jerky and an apple with Almond butter (people struggling with weight after sticking to a pretty strict paleo diet may not want to eat much nut butter, but they are a very easy and delicious way to supplement your diet in a hurry.)

Dinner: Wild-caught fish or high quality meat along with more vegetables such as broccoli, onion, your preffered pepper, and round it off with a little more carbs, especially if dinner is after your workout. If you enjoy potatoes or white rice, this can be your addition. If you recall episode #25 of the podcast. Paul Jaminet, author of the Perfect Health Diet recommends white rice and potatoes for everyone.

Bedtime: Herbal tea with either Lavender, chamomile, valerian or skullcap included in the blend. This will help you relax into a good night's rest. Avoid caffeine within a few hours of bedtime.

Your carb intake dictactes your weight, energy and strength. When carb intake is too low, you will be lethargic and can create stress from this "starvation". It can take a while to find the sweet spot. A common sign of too low carb would be strong cravings.

Sarah Ballantyne from the Paleo Mom made this chart when testing her own carb intake levels. We did an interview together too. Pay attention to the "too low" point and sweet spots for optimal energy levels.

Carb Levels

What we've discussed are two completely different days of eating. They are both considered Paleo, but one is definitely more strict and significantly more beneficial for the body. Consuming wheat or gluten in the slightest fashion could slow or halt nutrient absorption, create oxidative stress and further promote inflammation of the gut.

Wheat is on almost every processed food label! That's why it's easier just to eat minimally packaged foods.

However, when eating out, it can be nearly impossible to be assured that the entire environment your food was prepared in is "Paleo friendly".

Seek out local restaurants on the Yelp app and look for keywords like "local, grass-fed, farm fresh"

Here's 5 variables to keep in mind when Paleo might not be working for you.

Sleep Quantity and Quality - If you're not getting 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep in a pitch black room, you can wake up feeling restless and like you want to crawl back into bed. If this sounds familiar, reevaluate your sleeping situation. You want your room cool, dark and quiet. This is very important!

Wheat or Gluten Exposure - We've mentioned before, some are more sensitive to these items than others. It's very hard when eating out to avoid these 2 micronutrient depleting compounds. Whip out the crockpot and get stewing! My favorite method is just throwing a massive amount grass-fed ground beef in with tomatoes, chili sauce and veggies. It will last you days and will prevent you from eating something you know you shouldn't.

Carb Intake - Too little carbs can make you feel like you have 100 pounds on your shoulders. You will slump and limp around. Too many carbs won't allow your body to lose weight. Carbs are recognized as sugar by the body. Pay attention to the way you feel when eating every specific food. Write it down.

Exercise Quantity and Quality - Diet is more than half the battle, but if you are breaking down your body in your bootcamp classes, you will not get results. You can do more damage by overtraining your body when it's not ready for intense exercise than you can ever imagine. Start with 20 minutes of walking 3x a week. If that's no problem, add in some weight training with dumbbells. I recommend squat press, chest press and rows.

Complex issues with Thyroid, Adrenals, Pancreas - The thyroid and adrenals work hand in hand to regulate your energy, metabolism and other functions responsible for getting you out of bed in the morning. Your pancreas is responsible for pumping out the insulin to process the amount of sugar (carbs) that you put in. Too much insulin is arguably the largest factor (pun intended) in the U.S. for obesity.

The takeaway from this is to stick to the Paleo diet as close as possible. It helps all of the listed issues.

If you're someone who's constantly stressed, you may never get results with diet or exercise.

Stress elimination should become your #2 priority right after diet.

I have a few suggestions here, here and here.

The main thing is that you don't give up when you're frustrated. The last thing we want you to do is to become stressed trying to digest information, work, have family time, learn to exercise properly and still have time left to cook delicious meals.

I assure that you can do it. Take baby steps each day in different categories for health.

The following are the order of importance for success.

Mindset - With a proper mindset, the willingness to ask questions and the willpower to keep pushing through the tough times will almost guarantee success.

Nutrition - Once the mindset is prepared, nutrition should become easier. You should be able to look at a cookie without any emotional connection to it. It means nothing to you anymore. It offers no value to your mind or body. Try searching for "paleo cookie recipes" if you're desperate. Eat in moderation.

Fitness - Now that the diet is nailed down, a walk doesn't sound so hard anymore does it? A pair of weights is starting to look and feel like your friend. They are their to help you grow in the right way! Keep it up.

Lastly, have fun. This whole journey is a learning process. Feel free to keep up with me on facebook and twitter.

What did this article make you think, feel or wonder? Comment below.