Maintaining a healthy, sustainable weight from practicing a Paleo lifestyle requires a plan. Here are five tips to maintain good health, weight loss and a stabilized body composition.
Many people embark on a Paleo diet to improve or reclaim their health. Often, that can include losing some excess weight in a healthy, sustainable and long term way. Even though you may feel better, have fewer symptoms and a renewed energy and zest for life, feeling frustrated that your weight loss results on a Paleo diet are not as significant as you had hoped they would be is normal.
I truly believe that a Paleo-based nutrition plan is the ultimate way to meet all your nutritional requirements to maintain good health and stabilize your weight and body composition. This way of eating, when done right, naturally gives you the body that nature and evolution intended for you to have.
Each meal should be based on well sourced, animal-based proteins, along with some added healthy fats - all complimented by a good amount of seasonal, locally grown (wherever possible) vegetables. Fruits and starches can be added according to physiological need after that.
Consider some of these tips if you want to get and stay lean whilst following a Paleo diet:
Eat Above Ground Vegetables
Your mother was right – eat your vegetables. Fill your plate with a variety of colorful, local and seasonal vegetables. Take up at least half of your plate with these non-starchy nutrient powerhouses. Add some healthy fat (you could use slices avocado, drizzle some olive oil or crumble a little of Pete’s Paleo bacon over), and ethically raised protein like chicken, fish, or beef. Supplementing with some grass fed collagen is an option if you are just starting out. You can add it to a green smoothie packed with above ground veggies to start the day off on the right foot!
Monitor Your Macronutrients
Adjust your carbohydrate intake to align with your physical activity level. If you are not working out and eating large amounts of starchy vegetables (think those that grow below the ground), try eating fewer and see what happens.
Focus on eating more protein in the morning. This is the time when most people are not getting enough. This is especially important when trying to lose some excess fat. Well sourced animal protein provides the amino acid and fatty acid profile to set you up for a balanced, energy efficient day. Protein is extremely satiating and will keep your body feeling well nourished for hours to follow.
Eating fat supports losing fat. Eating fat also helps with appetite control and allows you to feel full and satisfied for longer; reducing the physiological need to consistently snack. Enjoy ample fats at every meal and use good, whole food based sources like coconut oil, olive oil, avocados and olives liberally.
Drink water and enough of it. Although not an exact science, on average the body needs to consume approximately 2 liters of water per day. Water is essential for metabolic processes, detoxification and flushing of waste products; all major factors in weight loss.
Limit Your Treats
(and be aware of foods that are easy to over consume)
Avoid the Paleo version of treats. You do not need another muffin! Paleo treats are just that – treats to be enjoyed mindfully and occasionally. Paleo muffins and cookies are great to toss in the lunchbox as an alternative to a packaged processed food, but remember, they are to be eaten in strict moderation, especially if your goal is weight loss. Just because flour is gluten-free or an ingredient is unprocessed or in its natural form, does imply it is free from calories or nutritionally equal to vegetables, proteins and healthy fats.
It might also be wise to go easy on the fruit and nuts. It is very easy to overindulge in healthy foods, because, they are healthy. With some foods, fruits and nuts especially, it is important to monitor your portions. Nuts especially are easy to over consume without triggering your satiety hormones and fruits should be considered when evaluating your carbohydrate needs.
Eating Too Much Or Too Little
If you eat too much of anything, your weight loss efforts will be sabotaged. Be aware and conscious of how much you are eating. Although the Paleo diet does not focus on calories, when you first begin, tracking is a way to understand your energy needs and requirements, along with giving you physical numbers and visible ideas of what this may look like. This, in turn, will give you some space to tap into the exact needs of your body and listen to its signals more acutely.
Similarly, it can go the other way! Look up your healthy calorie range and try to be sure to eat your minimum daily requirement of calories. Too few calories will send your body into a panic and perhaps even starvation mode. That means it will begin to hold onto the exact fat you are working so hard to get rid of.
Get Adequate Sleep
Sleep more. You need approximately 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Period. I know this may sound challenging and even impossible, but if you are doing everything right and your body composition is not shifting in the direction you would like, sleep on it! Engaging in and practicing some good sleep hygiene could be the prescription you need.
Having some patience is by far, in my experience, the hardest and most challenging aspect of weight loss. Sticking to the plan and feeling your fat loss is not progressing is frustrating, especially when the eat less/move more template worked really well initially. Remind yourself that in that instance, weight loss was never sustainable. Fat loss may be rapid at times and slow and steady at others. This will begin to regulate as your body finds its way back to health followed by its own natural weight.
Keep reminding yourself that your way of eating is now more nutritious than when you ate all those Standard American Diet recommended refined and processed foods. The weight WILL go, you WILL gain control of your appetite and you WILL succeed. There are many benefits (in addition to weight loss) that eating a Paelo diet brings. Enjoy and appreciate each one as your body naturally finds the weight at which it functions optimally.