Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Why I Quit Primal, and Why I Might Try Again

The presents are all opened, the lights are sparkling on the tree for one last night, and the kids are tucked into bed (or staying up late playing video games, as the case may be). I'm full of thankfulness for my family and the time we've spent together enjoying Christmas this year. In between wrapping presents, baking Christmas cookies, and making the traditional ham dinner, I've been mulling some things over in my head with regards to weight loss. I am obviously once again stuck and frustrated with how it is (not) going, although this time I know I haven't been doing a whole lot to make the scale move and haven't really put forth enough effort to *expect* much. So I get it.

Lately, the emails and comments I most often receive point to going grain free, or lower carb, as a solution to my issues. And I kind of think they are right. But part of me is doubting that, too. Over the past 3 or 4 years, I've low carbed in one fashion or another (Medifast, Primal, or just counting carbs) most of the time and yet have stayed in the general vicinity of 217 pounds with a swing up or down ten pounds here and there. Recently I started thinking I'd like to eat from a Primal menu again, and couldn't remember exactly what went wrong the last time I did it. Well, that's one good thing about blogging: I have a record of all my efforts. So I went back and looked, and read. I'd gone Primal in the summer of 2012 without good results. I figured it would not make sense to do the same thing again now, unless I could decipher what went wrong and what I'd do differently this time.

Back in May of 2012, I weighed 215 pounds and was eating mainly from a whole foods template, including things like wheat and other grains and white potatoes. I also was having the occasional candy or chips while dealing with a lot of stress. It wasn't working to lose... only to maintain... and on June 1 I weighed 217 pounds. That's when I started counting calories again, starting at about 1700/day and then lowering it to 1600 max. Some days I ate closer to 1200. I was walking a mile or so a day, cutting out grains, but still eating potatoes and starches. On July 1 I weighed 216... a one pound loss.

That's when I went for a strict Primal template. No grains, no legumes, etc. I was eating about 1600 calories  and 50-75 g carbs per day. For the first two weeks I had a constant headache, felt sluggish and "icky", and finally developed stomach pains that wouldn't leave. The nurse at my doctor's office told me I was eating way too much fat (about 50-65% of calories from fat) and too much meat. At that point, I cut back on the fat and the stomach pain did go away. However I was still very tired and had the headache and had only lost one pound total. I stuck with it for another week or so, felt horrible but noticed when my carbs were higher I felt a little better, so I added beans back into my diet (which are NOT Primal) and I felt a lot better, the headaches went away, and I had more energy.

Of course right at that time I had a crisis, stopped blogging while dealing with that, didn't stick with the Primal program 100% but stayed with whole foods. September saw me at 219 pounds. After that I stayed about 90% grain free, ate whole foods and went to the gym regularly for months but still got no results on the scale... as I wrote about here: Mad. All in all, I was doing some form of low carb eating for about five months straight and got nowhere with the weight loss, even when I added a lot of time at the gym. Then in November I went back on Medifast, and that didn't really do much for me either. I found it pretty hard to stick with completely. I weighed 218 pounds in December AND January and 216 in February.

So that's the extent of my Primal journey. A couple of weeks being strict, which led to physical issues and no loss. Is it worth another go? Maybe with leaner cuts of meat, *less* meat, more fish? Not sure how to reconcile the lack of energy and feeling crappy for weeks. I dunno. But I need to do something, am not going to do any kind of a plan that involves meal replacements, and at my core I know I feel so much better eating a lot of produce. I am torn on whether the whole grain-free, gluten-free thing is just a fad or not, whether beans and legumes are really bad for me or actually healthy, and how much animal fat I should be taking in for weight loss and good health. Guess I might try it again, with less fat and more produce, and see how I feel this time.


Anonymous said...

Just throwing this out there as a spitballing sort of thing. Everyone has to find what works for their bodies.

But from this vantage point it seems like you've tried every possible version of low carb over the last few years, and that that's stopped working for you.

What if you were to go the other direction and eat mostly plant-based, and vegan? You wouldn't have to do it super strictly- a little meat every once in a while probably wouldn't hurt, but I'm guessing this would work well for you and you should at least consider it because:

You feel poorly when you don't eat enough carbs. You also feel poorly when you eat processed sugars. But that's one thing about being vegan. While it's easy to make a vegan version of most desserts, they're not widely available at stores. I suspect you'd limit your intake of processed sugars while upping your intake of carbs and the produce that makes you feel so healthy. The more you could limit processed foods while also being vegan, the better, but you don't have to be a stickler about this. You're already cutting out enough in your diet (meat, dairy, etc- you'll probably have wiggle room, though of course you'd still eat items like nuts and avocados mindfully.)

I think when it comes to health, you can find a professional nutritionist who will advocate almost anything out there. And I have no doubt that low carb diets can be healthful for some people. But there's a lot of great literature out there on how vegan diets result in lower heart problems, diabetes, cancer, various other ailments, and lower weight.

Anyway, worth a try. It worked for me. But I 100% know it won't work for everyone. Any diet boils down to some sort of restriction- the low fat craze of the eighties- the primal or vegan fads today. And you have to find the restriction that works best for your body. I wonder why you're so positive that's carbs?

Lyn said...


I have seriously thought about becoming, if not vegan, vegetarian. The big issue for me at this point is, if not meat and if not dairy, where's the protein going to come from? If beans and legumes are as unhealthy as we read on sites like Mark's Daily Apple (and they may be... he is pretty convincing), then I think it would be nearly impossible for me to get enough protein as a vegetarian (I avoid soy also). I could do lacto-ovo and use pastured cheeses and Greek yogurt in moderation. I could add fish and skip red meats and poultry. But then, that sounds like Primal, with less meat.

Why do I think it's the carbs? I guess because cutting them worked so well for me in the past. I lost weight nicely on South Beach and on Medifast. But it's not working now so... could be something else.

I know 100% for sure that processed sugary foods cause my pain (joint and tendinitis) to go through the roof. I know eating white flour products makes me crave more and more of them. I know I want to avoid soy and corn. The rest I am not as sure about.

Thanks for the interesting comment. Makes me think.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that you've found research that says beans/legumes are harmful. I don't doubt it. I'm pretty sure you can find research on everything.

But I think Mark's take is simply that beans are "okay" and that meat is a better choice:

To be fair, even this reserved endorsement of legumes is coming from a pretty biased position. His diet focuses on high protein and low carb. Of course he'll say meat is better and have some reservations because beans are higher carb.

That said, he admits that beans won't cause insulin spikes, don't generally result in sugar cravings and have protein and plenty of nutrients. Maybe it's a way to eat carbs that wouldn't cause you physical pain? And I love them, cause they make you super full, while cleaning out your system and making you regular.

Anyway, if no beans or soy, you'd be surprised how much protein is in quinoa, veggies and spirulina (your cauliflower pizzas spring to mind here). And you also might want to look at research on how much protein the average person needs. That's another area where at best, the jury is out, because opinions vary widely. But I'd suggest that the RDA ranges you're used to seeing are going to be on the higher end, since the diets you've focused on are so high protein. Maybe that much protein really isn't necessary- especially when you make sure to keep full on plenty of fiber and nutrients. At least maybe look into research on the correlation between animal proteins and cancers and other health concerns? (Forks Over Knives is available for free on Netflix)

No need to post this response. Not trying to be argumentative (I'm always surprised at how good natured you are with some of your incredibly invasive and judgmental commenters.) Again, I haven't found "the way". If anything, after 20 years of yo-yo dieting, the only thing I really believe in, is constant tinkering while paying attention to what your body's trying to tell you. Cause we're all different, have different relationships with food, and make different demands on our bodies. There is no one-size fits all solution. I just figured I'd supply a bit more info in case you didn't have it.

Unknown said...

Lyn, I so hope you find something that works well for you. With your persistence and strength, I'm certain you will. :)

I would suggest you be cautious about following advice from Mark's Daily Apple. He makes interesting arguments, but appears not to link to the relevant research or discuss the evidence against his views, as a solid researcher does. He also appears to endorse many of Mercola's views, which run counter to the great majority of solid scientific research, relies on "cherry-picked" studies that are typically quite flawed, and his opinions are often strongly based in conspiracy theories that not backed by evidence.

If you have access to a database of high-impact peer-reviewed science research journals (and the skills to understand and interpret them), I'd suggest using those as your primary information source. Meta-analyses and systematic reviews are typically the most reliable sources of information in science, as they bring together many studies of varying results on a particular topic, evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the research methods used in each study, weigh up the positive and negative outcomes of different studies, and calculate whether there is an effect of a particular thing *overall, across many participants and studies*. No research is perfect, of course, but this is a solid start. If you don't have access to the full articles, somewhere like PubMed can get you the abstracts, although these should be used with caution as you aren't able to examine the details.

Best wishes in finding something that works for you. I've followed you since almost the start, and greatly admire your courage and dedication. I'm so sorry for your recent loss...your friend sounds like a wonderful person.

Karen said...

My 2 cents. Stay gluten and grain free. Consider that dairy could or could not be a trigger or be inflammatory You could also consider getting treated for emotional/ binge eating.

For me, grain free lowered my inflammation and health risks. It also stopped my emotional eating and binging long enough to break the cycle and be in remission.

If I remember, the small amout if cheese you were eating in Medifast seemed to trigger binging.

Good luck. In the past, you had noticed joint pain with the gluten. That's inflammation. Inflammation leads to chronic illness. Walk away from that.

My hs-CRP went from 6.8 on wheat to 2.8 on Medifast , to 0.8 on mostly paleo to 0.4 after I excluded nuts.

I was able to use tools to get the emotional/ binge eating into remission. That included keeping my binge eating in check during 2013- a very emotionally tough year

Both lowering inflammation and dealing with the binge eating we're key for me. Fad dieting for me turned out to be WW. Eating junk food in moderation was the equivalent of smoking a shorter cigarette. ( borrowed from Jonathan Bailor!)

Try a functional Medicine doc and prepare yourself for day in day work- hard mental work. Prioritize your health conditions as life threatening and pick the right support team.

skinnyhollie said...

I'm giving up refined sugar, white carbs and gluten next year... No cheats. I have faced the fact that I'm a food addict and I just can't have those things anymore. I hope you find what works for you!

Lynne said...

You feel crappy for a few weeks because your body is in withdrawal from all the carbs, sugar and processed food. You've got to give it a good month before you are actually living a Primal lifestyle.

Meat,complex carbs, no beans, soy, potatoes, bread, pasta, sugar or especially fake sugar... You should try hypnosis - It works! You can do it.

ErinDoesLife said...

Hey Lyn,
I've been reading your blog and the chronicle of your journey for quite some time. For what it's worth, your example inspires me. Weight loss - and more importantly, a different relationship with food - isn't easy and it's not a check off, one-and-done kind of problem. I admire your tenacity and sympathize with your struggles.

I also wanted to comment quickly on vegan protein sources. As a preface, I've been vegan for a very long time (over sixteen years). I don't want to give you the wrong impression - I don't advocate a vegan diet as a cure-all health solution, nor a health problem. Like an omniverous diet, it can be a very healthy option or not, depending on the choices made. By way of example, even with the vegan diet, until the last three years or so, I was in the obese BMI. Like an omniverous diet, there are healthy ways to be vegan and unhealthy ways - it turns out that processed sugar, oils and french fries/potato chips are all vegan. I'm not saying that a vegan diet is automatically unhealthy, but in my experience it requires the same amount of care and decision-making as an omniverous diet to achieve the health benefits.

Regarding healthy sources of vegan protein - overall, sources include soy (tofu or tempeh; a few servings a day is ok, unless you have a specific reaction to soy); seitan (aka mock duck); quinoa; nuts; and of course beans and legumes.

Broadly, I think a great source of information would be Ginny Messina, a registered dietician who blogs at . I've always considered her approach to be balanced and reasoned. She's not one to claim that vegan diets are the healthiest for people, but rather that vegan diets can be healthy with about as much effort as an omniverous diet.

Ginny also works pretty closely with Jack Norris, also an RD, who has a pretty in-depth resource about meeting protein needs:

And specifically vegan protein sources without soy:

Finally, though I'm vegan myself, I think the idea of eliminating entire food groups for health reasons doesn't have a very good track record. I don't eat meat or animal products in part for health reasons, but more so for ethical reasons - environmental and because I just can't eat other animals, myself. And maintaining a healthy vegan diet is manageable. But I would never claim it's the only healthy diet option out there, nor would I say that simply following a vegan diet is automatically the healthiest diet out there, because (as I've said before) of the multitude of processed, fried, sugared accidentally vegan junk food that's out there. Any diet is as healthy as the food choices you make.

I feel that the whole Primal craze should fall into the same camp. The Primal aversion to beans and legumes, especially, strikes me as quite silly. Just anecdotally, entire healthy cultures, from the Japanese to the Chinese to Mediterranean diets, all use legumes extensively in their diets. That said, I don't mean to oversell beans and legumes, either. They can be relatively calorie dense - calorically equivalent to pasta, for example - but are often high in fiber and other nutrients, and low in fat (with notable exceptions like peanuts.) But that just means that they should be consumed in moderation, not cut out entirely.

Anyway - less important than eliminating entire food groups seems to be managing calories and overall sticking to more veggies, some fruit, some lean protein, whole grains if you're going to have grains, and a moderate amount of fat each day.

Finally, Lyn, you've been working more closely with medical professionals than most folks in managing your diet and weight. This probably doesn't seem especially insightful, but you should do what seems to work best for you.

Hayley said...

I’m so excited that you are considering low-carb again!

I’ve been doing Swedish LCHF (basically Atkins) since Dec 1. The first 3 weeks I said to myself, I'll just wing it, eat meats, fats and vegetables and don’t count anything.
See that didn’t quite work out. I started at 223 pounds and 3 weeks later I was 227!!
Plus I felt quite awful, had carb withdrawal – weak, exhausted, headaches, sore throat. But after reading the website, I still believed that this diet will work.
So the last few days I have been tracking everything and keeping my carbs strictly under 20 g. I diligently weigh my lettuce and celery and bacon and butter. I use fitday to track.
Today morning I was 218 and all those nasty side-effects are gone, no headache and got plenty of energy.
I’m also tracking my Skaldeman ratio. Which is: fat grams divided by carbs plus protein grams.
For example 200 g fat/100 g protein+20 g carbs = 200/120=1.66

To lose weight that ratio must be as close as 2.0 as possible.
I’ve been eating over 2500 kcal daily and still losing weight.

It is extremely important to know that this is not a high-protein diet, my meat portions are 4-5 oz cooked 3 times a day. The rest is fat. And little vegetables.

Ok this was my update. I’ve been only doing it for 3 weeks. I’m not telling that you should do the same. Maybe Primal with more carbs will work for you. I know I have to keep mine under 20g per day to lose.

Once I tried vegan. I gained 10 pounds in a week and was constantly hungry and exhausted.

Hayley said...

One more thing. Here is Tommy's website:

He has lost 193 pounds in 4 years. I watch what he eats and he also explains the Skaldeman ratio much better than I do.
He's my inspiration!

Kaki said...

I found that I DID feel bad when I first stopped eating carbs. I think my blood sugar was adjusting. After a week or two, I felt better. I do not believe that too much fat is bad for you, but if it makes you feel lousy, then listening to your body is smart. This journey takes a lot of trial and error, as you know, and I am confident you will find what's best for you. It's frustrating, but you are worth it! All the best to you i 2014!

CatherineMarie said...


I wrote a whole comment, but Blogger ate it. Maybe what you should consider, instead of eliminating huge food groups, do an Unprocessed Challenge. I did one in October. I thought I was doing ok with my eating, but this made a real difference. Basically, if it has ingredients that you wouldn't have in your kitchen, it is processed. ( I eat veggies, LOTS of fruit, some carbs, a small amount of meat, (still a little too much cheese). I'm gluten-free, but you can get an extraordinary amount of fiber and nutrition from wheat, rye, etc. I would suggest you keep gluten/grains/carbs in your diet, just try and make them "whole". Read some Mark Bittman, who is vegan before 6. Carbs are not necessarily bad. It is the empty carbs that are icky. Things like tapioca starch, or white rice. White flour.

Taryl said...

I can only repeat my recommendation of reading through either the Gary Taubes or Phinney and Volek texts, and their evidence, before you make any dietary decisions. If you're showing a propensity for fattening, your tolerance of sugar and starch, even in their naturally occurring forms, is likely lower than 50-70 carbs per day, not higher. And a vegetarian diet is a poor choice for such a metabolism, unless it is executed with extreme care. It's possible to be vegetarian or pwscatarian and control your carbohydrate, but exceedingly and unnecessarily challenging. So unless you have a moral reason for eschewing animals, why add more dietary restrictions than are absolutely necessary?

So, too, with Paleo. It is so much more about food purity and a moral narrative about nutrition than endocrinology. And I have a hard time taking nutrition advice from never-obese, wealthy young men that is being aimed at obese, realistic middle aged women. The lifestyle issues, dietary complications, and real world results don't often align.

For the most cursory overview of the logic and support for carbohydrate reduction, whatever the nutritional specifics, please acquire a copy of Taubes. It's quick reading, I can even manage it with four small children and homeschooling. But I think it will clear up so many of the issues you expressed in your post and your primal stint as well. And as for the primal community, I take the meat and spit out the bones - some recommendations are excellent and sound based on both personal experience and reasonably well executed nutritional experiments. Some is bull hockey. Your mileage may vary, but I'd argue the appeal of primal is less about diet and more about a fantasy of purity or 'idealogy' with the perfect human diet, rather than what works for real people now, with real budget constraints, in real and metabolically deranged bodies. For that, relying on something tested, sound, and lacking pretension is a wiser move :)

Amy said...

Whatever you do, it has to be enjoyable and sustainable or you will never be at peace. And that is what the bigger journey is about right? Self acceptance and inner peace. No matter how many tries it takes to get them, it is worth it.

Primal Gwen said...

I echo what Karen says. And I agree that perhaps in your case, two weeks wasn't enough to full get the grains and processed foods out of your system, and that's why you felt bad, then better when you included them back in again. This time, go for a full month. Watch for processed foods and hidden grains in things like soups, sauces, condiments. It's hidden everywhere and can derail you. I do believe grain-free is 100% the way to go. Sometimes we just have to be a little more patient to trust the process and ride out the withdrawals. :) good luck in whatever path you choose to take!

Anonymous said...

Okay. I haven't read the comments because my computer issues are making it hard for me to read, so someone may have already said what I have to say. If so...sorry.

As I've said a billion times, everyone's body is different. I think there are so many different "best" food plans is because each different plan works...just not for everyone.

Having said that... I'm thinking there's some throwing the baby out with the bath here--along with some unnecessary keeping of dirty water.

It does sound like you function better with carbohydrate in your diet. BUT that does not mean you have to eat processed and/or gluten-laden food.

You can load up on fruit and veggies and unload the bread, crackers, chips, pancakes, whole-wheat, etc.

You can go easier on fat without cutting out meat and eggs.

You like beans? So, eat beans.

In my humble opinion, low carb is about removing unhealthy carbs like gluten,overly processed food, and sugar more than it is about eliminating ALL but 20 grams of carbohydrate intake.

You have listened to your body, and it seems to be saying that eliminating produce is a bad thing, that very low carb makes you tired, and that fat is hard on your stomach. (Gallbladder trouble, maybe?)

So, take that info and craft your plan. Eat lots of fruit and veggies, welcoming the carb grams that the fruit brings. Eat lean meat and fowl and fish. Eat beans. Eschew gluten and added sugar.

Sounds healthy to me. Keep track of your calories to make sure you don't run amuck. :}

Again, my thoughts. May not be for you.



dlamb said...

Dear Lyn, you always get a whole lot of good feedback, based on people's experience with successful and effective interventions. I always just hope you find whatever works FOR YOU.
I think it may be good if you could keep as part of your eating and living plan, what has worked for you in the past and consider carefully, if you wish to revisit approaches that have 1. Made you miserable 2. Were unsustainable for the extended periods of time, let alone a lifetime and 3. Have resulted in serious rebound.
It would be so good to see you find some peace with whatever you decide to do. I just remember the times you've tried to follow plans that reduced or eliminated certain foods or food groups. You mentioned, once you stopped MF, that you will not do this to yourself again.
I would suggest that you consult a nutritionist, consider getting your BMR checked and eat at that level. You will lose at a slow rate but it will be steady and sustainable for a lifetime. Within the number of calories at your BMR level, eat what you think nourishes your body, find some PEACE as well as JOY from your food as well as your balance. As your physical injuries heal, you may also recover your pleasure of favorite physical activities, such as training your dog, playing with your daughter, hiking, yard work, or going to the gym. At this point, even if you lose 1-2#/month, in a year or two, you'll be in a better place than you've been in the last two years, while you stressed and suffered.
I hope you find some serenity, Lyn. You have been struggling for some time now and it would be nice to know you can relax a bit, while also doing what you need to do in order to regain your health, mental, as well as physical
As always, wishing you the best of everything.

timothy said...

everyone seems to be saying low carb isn't working for you but from my vantage point 50 crabs isn't low that's above my maintain point of 45 (that's mine and I'm a big 6 ft man) to lose I have to keep it under 30. you have to cut back far enough for a loss and the induction is around 20 then you bump it 5 grams a week till you stop losing when that happens then you know your thresholds and you cut back below that.

Margaret said...


I'm 5'4" tall, 44.5 years old, two kids, female, 164.7 pounds as of this morning, lifelong yo-yo dieter, sporadic exerciser at best, maintenance at this weight for seven years.

So, my experience after gaining, losing, gaining and losing again 70+ pounds was the research, find the meta analysis approach suggested above. And the research was in agreement that Volumetrics was the most effective for losing and maintenance for the long term.

I found once I hit my forties that the most I can lose is 1-3 pounds a month. So that makes those ten pound gains in one week totally devastating. If I can't lose, I have to stay where I am. So I follow the Volumetrics principles and use the trays from Nutrisystem for portion control for any high density foods (like pasta.) This isn't glamorous, but it works in the long term for me.

My concern is to control blood sugar (I'm insulin resistant for 17 years, since my eldest was born), so I eat beans every day. They are a great source of soluble fiber which keeps my blood sugar numbers from soaring and crashing which causes terrible cravings.

Just wanted to chime in with the results I found from searching for meta analysis. It got my off the yo-yo cycle. At least something to think about for maintenance.


Lyn said...

Thank you all SO much for the comments! Even though you don't all agree on one approach, the info is very helpful to me and gives me hope. I am actually starting to get excited about focusing and getting myself back in a good routine again. It has been HARD to snap out of this last 2 months of struggle... the pain and the grief has made it seem so hopeless at times. Finally, I am getting back a true desire to change. Thank you for encouraging me.

Susan said...

Lyn...something happens in our forties....we dont produce as much progesterone...and we become estrogen dominate..increasing a risk for a whole host of problems...including the inability to lose weight and the ability to gain easily..also to have little energy. A friend introduced me to arbonne..natural progesterone cream. My daughter doctor started her on progesterone cream because hers was very low and she is only in her twenties.. she eats whole foods and mostly organic and follows Matt Stones eat for heat. She is losing weight.
I have been using the cream for almost two months abd it is amazing. There are other creams available and they are available on amazon. You know how to eat healthy. But your body needs a fix so you assimilate your food more efficiently. I also use a rawl liquid b complex and a raw b12 and raw d3. It has made a huge difference for me.
I know you like to blog and it is helpful to you. But it seems the weight blogging is becoming counterproductive. Like it is putting to much stress on you. Which is counterproductive. Worry everyday about your weight is counterproductive.
Maybe a vacation from weight being the central theme of your blog is what upu need til you figure it out.
People cut things out of their diet (carbs) perhaps because they dont understand how to properly prepare their grains. There is a place for properly prepared is not normal or smart to cut out whole groups of food and you know this.
Btw...I get my progesterone from my chiropractor and she also sells the saliva test kit to monitor your progesterone...Amazon also sells the kits.
You had mentioned a change in your sleep habits which is another sign of a hormonal imbalance..doctors rarely check progesterone and give their patients estrogen, something they dont need. I do not use the cream with the phytoestrogen added.
Just something to consider..

Moosecat said...

Go to the "Go Kaleo" web page. She recommends eating food (yes, really!) and moderation (yes, really!)

Monique Noel said...

Re: your concerns about getting protein, my main sources of protein are chia seeds (2 tablespoons=6 grams of protein), hemp seeds (3 tablespoons=15 grams of protein, I blend them with almond milk and a banana), boiled eggs whites (1=7 grams of protein), Greek yogurt (1 serving=14 grams of protein) and peanut butter (2 tablespoons=8 grams of protein). If I eat meat, it is chicken or turkey. Can't remember the last time I ate a burger or a steak. I also eat whole grains, but feel the most full when I am eating high amounts of protein and fiber. Hope this gives you some ideas for foods you could include or increase in your diet.

Taryl said...

I say this gently in response to Susan - do not assume a lack of know-how on grain and bean prep is the reason some of us had to ditch them. I spent much more time making sourdoughs and soaking all seeds a la Nourishing Traditions than just about anyone I know. I own a grain mill and use organic and heritage breeds of numerous grains (think kamut to whole dent corn to spelt and barley and rye, etc) to make my recipes. All the lactofermenting, grain mashes, slow rises and soaking didn't change the fact that my morbidly obese self has profound carbohydrate intolerance and improper energy partitioning.

Also, caution on progesterone, please. Extreme caution. Even a cursory understanding of endocrinology would relate to you that both sexes function best with a proper balance of their sex hormones, and a recession of estrogen and testosterone is responsible for many of the unique maladies of middle age that plague both men and women. Additionally, estrogen actually signals sex-appropriate energy management for women and contributes to the proper female shape and weight distribution, instead of a thickening middle and fat deposits in organ and muscle tissue. Estrogen dominance has little to do with endogenous estrogen production in a woman, and upping progesterone will worsen symptoms of fat accumulation, depression, hirsutism, hot flashes, low six drive, and other things associated with waning estrogen from one's ovaries after menopause,

I'm not being critical of you, personally, because this misinformation is rampant on the Internet and it takes much skepticism and source literature to overcome it, but these charlatans pushing progesterone do so ignorantly and in contradiction to basic information well established on the function of sex hormones in women. And while I am a HUUUUGE fan of the Weston A. Price foundation and Sally Fallon et al, I cook that way for my (normal weight and metabolically normative) kids and husband, when we're dealing with someone whose body is storing an inappropriate amount of calories they consume and signally for more energy without liberating any of the fatty acids they have already stored in their tissue (insulin resistance and the beginnings of metabolic syndrome) the fix for it is quite a bit different than common wisdom would suggest. As I mentioned to Lyn, the above books by Taubes and Phinney/Volek are really wise consumption on the subject and well evidenced. Making an informed decision on the topic of a dietary change will benefit. Lyn and anyone else, and knowing what is and isn't substantive evidence and an accurate interpretation of a study is incredibly helpful. There's a dearth of bad science and worse statistical analysis in nutrition these days, and I do believe it is worth parsing through before changing *anything* related to diet and exercise.

Again, this is not a personal criticism, but I would feel guilty letting misinformation stand unchallenged, when it could easily worsen the situation Lyn and others may find themselves in.

Anonymous said...

Wahoo, Taryl! :D

Anonymous said...

lyn this is called the 3 pm secret, and basically you stop eating after 3 pm, i usually have a good breakfast and a good lunch and stop there and i dont feel deprived at all while currently losing 7 pounds in 2 weeks, could this be what your looking for ?

David Dane said...

First off: Is your Thyroid Okay? It's just a thought. You might want to try using an iodine supplement. If you go to a health food store, they can give you capsules of dried seeweed. That is more than enough iodine for a daily intake... Second, if you're going to eat those carbs, try doing it later in the day. Eat the proteins in the morning, and then afternoons sneak something a little sweeet. Fruits, can be a good substitute... I buy bananas and those little oranges that are very sweet. For your joints try cold water, and soaking your feet in
water ... Also, calogen is necessary to repair joints. A source that I use is in jello.. Yep jello... Know jello if you don't want the sugar. Women used to drink Knox to grow their nails.. Also protein powders help kick in additional proteins for muscles and tissues...

Anonymous said...

So, now I'm a serial commenter. :}

Re: Timothy's comment.

He's right, of course. From what I can recall, you've never really been consistently under 60 grams of carbohydrate a day--and that is the general definition of a low carb diet. Less than 60 grams a day. Very low carb is, I think, less than 40 grams a day...really, often around 20 or so grams a day.

I didn't point that out, partly because I had an odd moment of discretion, but mostly because when you did cut down to around 80 grams, you didn't feel well--even after several weeks. Your carb intake really wasn't low enought for the "Atkins flu" and it lasted too long. may just be one of those bodies that needs around 100 or so grams a day.

The deal is the kind of carbs you eat. If it's gluten and starch and sugar, you're sunk no matter how many carb grams you ingest.

I know some "low carbers" who eat only protein to keep their carbs near zero, but THEN use their carb grams for cookies. :o The numbers may say low carb, but the food intake does not.

I figure you can try to craftt a plan of wholesome, starch-free food, using some dairy and fruit as your main carb source, and see what happens. If no weight is lost, ratchet down the number of carb grams.

But, to Timothy's point, you have NOT really tried low carb until you've gotten under 60 gams a day.

One more thing. Around 80 grams of carbohydrate a day is the heartbreak zone. You will continually lose and gain 2 to 6 pounds at that number.

It's because of your liver's glycogen stores. The body draws down these "instant glucose fixes" when your carb intake is low and refills the liver when carb intake goes up.

The magic number, for most people, for spill and fill? 80 grams.

Say you have a couple of under 80 days...the glycogen is drawn out. Maybe 2 or 3 pounds worth. Then you have a cople 80 plus days, it refills. Up and down with those 2 or 3 pounds.

For me, after a while on low-carb followed by a pasta or ice cream extravaganza 6 pounds overnight.

Every time.

At any rate, if your body needs 100 grams a day to feel well, that's what you need to do. But you need to do it without grains and starches and sugar. INHO.

Personally, I'll be watching with interest.

Lyn said...


Long ago, before I ever heard of blogging, a friend and I did Atkins together. That was in the early or mid 90's before we had computers so we got carb books and kept track of all out intake on paper. My friend did great and lost weight (although she gained it back later), while I felt SO SICK. I think we did it for a month or 6 weeks and I lost some weight but felt ill, dizzy, tired, 'heavy' the whole time. I remember later she looked in a book about blood types and diet, and she told me her blood type was suited for more meat while mine (A) is suited for more vegetables and less meat. Not sure how scientifically accurate that is, but I sure felt awful on 20g/day!

On Medifast they say ideal is 80-85g carbs a day, but I almost always was in the high 90's and, at least for the first 8 months, lost weight really well and felt good too. I lost 15 the first month and 5-7 pounds a month after that with almost no cravings.

I am going to have to play with it a bit, like you said maybe start around 100 and ratchet it down if need be, but not to the point of feeling ill. I think carb types and protein types are more important that I thought and I'll be paying attention to that this time.

Anonymous said...

Well, Lyn, it sounds like low carb is NOT the plan for you. You may want to think GOOD carb. :) Good, high fiber, minimally processed, complex cabs. (Please do not think I mean whole wheat!)

It may be the gloom of year's end now, but New Year's coming! :D

My Money Tips 4 U said...

I am currently about 5 stone over weight and am hunting for a diet I feel I can cope with as I have some medical issues. I have read up on the Primal diet at the end of the day surely its all about eating in moderation and be sensible. I really need to this for my own health and to stop feeling the way I do

Sheryl C. said...

I haven't read all the comments, but my first thought was, you have to give low-carb/primal more time before you start feeling better. You're throwing off all the stuff you have been putting in your body for years and it takes time. You definitely go through withdrawal for several weeks.

Sarah said...

Hi Lyn,
I'm also trying to lose weight and can relate to your struggle. A couple of books that really helped my are Whole by T. Colin Campbell and Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman. Or I recommend anything by Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr. and John A. McDougall.
I recommend reading a couple of these as well as other suggestions left in the comments and make an informed decision. There are so many good ideas out there. Good luck finding what works for you.

David Dane said...

I wrote this before, proteins in the morning, and the carbs later in the day... I am not saying a low carb diet, I am saying let the insulin levels build and then consume the carbohydrates later in the day. We really do have too much sugar in our diets. However fruits are an excellent way to consume sugars or carbohydrates... I eat those little oranges, and bananas... I try to avoid sodas, but the other day I did have one... So it's trying to find the balance... The biggest thing is, did we eat, and how much do we really need to live? It's a challenge...