Why Paleo May Be Better For Weight Loss than Keto

Why Paleo May Be Better For Weight Loss than Keto

Have you had the opportunity to rest and reset this holiday season? Typically, this is not a priority amongst American families, especially this time of year. Winter used to be a time that our ancestors would hibernate, restoring physical and emotional functions after a long summer season involving plentiful social interactions and physical activity. Somewhere, amid the creation of the industrial age, our focus on periods of rest was completely lost. The desire to pack as many activities into a small period of time become the norm. If only we could step back to when rest was a necessity, but alas that is something we all must work on every year. And, unfortunately, sometimes rest just is not possible.

As we enter the new year, I know we will be bombarded with fad diets and weight loss plans, and for myself personally, the only way I can conquer this season with a healthy mindset is by being fueled by rest. Rest while you can, and we will be better armed to take on this nonsense head on! First and foremost, I want to decipher the differences between paleo and keto, and debunk the myth that keto is better for you than paleo. Controversial, I KNOW! Check out the reasons why paleo is best for a whole encompassing healthy lifestyle, below!

What is Paleo?

The Paleo diet is a nutrient-dense whole foods diet based on eating a variety of quality meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices and healthy fats. It improves health by providing balanced and complete nutrition while avoiding most processed and refined foods and empty calories.

The Paleo Diet has become extremely popular in recent years, with some several hundred million google searches on the topic every year. It is an incredible diet for improving energy, mood, and health conditions. Yet it may perhaps be so famous and so beloved because it is an excellent tool for weight loss. Perhaps the best diet for weight loss around today (even the scientific studies say so.)

There is no emphasis on calorie counting in the paleosphere, only eating when hungry and stopping when you are full. Hence why this is such a fantastic option for anyone that may have had a history of disordered eating.

The paleo diet is more than just a diet, it is an encompassing mindset and lifestyle plan. With paleo, eating whole and unprocessed foods is a large part, but also included in this diet are lifestyle modifications to reduce stress and inflammation on the body. These key principles differentiate keto from paleo,  making paleo a great option for those suffering from chronic inflammation, stress, or autoimmune conditions. One of the reasons I was drawn to paleo initially is because getting high quality and adequate amounts of sleep was a pillar. Struggling with insomnia and PCOS, I was looking for help beyond just weight loss, and no other fad diet was providing any successful options.

Paleo helped me maintain my health, sanity, and wellbeing until I was healthy enough to start stemming from the paleo principles into creating a plan that worked best just for me.

What is Ketosis?

I am going to steer clear of giving you a long, technical definition of ketosis. I do however think it’s worth learning the biochemistry if you plan to experiment. In that case, I highly recommend Dr Peter Attia’s posts or Dr Chris Masterjohn’s.

In short, ketosis is a state the body enters when there is an excess of molecules called acetyl groups over oxaloacetate. This happens when there is a shortage of glucose supplied to the metabolic processes that create energy, like when you eat a very low carbohydrate diet. Yet interestingly enough the body will also produce ketones when medium-chain fatty acids enter the metabolic processes.

So then, when there is this excess of acetyl groups relative to oxaloacetate, the body produces something called ketone bodies. Ketone bodies come from fatty acids that the body has liberated from fat tissue, which can be used as an alternative fuel to carbohydrates. This is important because the body (and specifically the brain and heart) literally need carbohydrates or ketone bodies in order to function. When carbs are gone, basically, ketone bodies step in to do their work.

People typically achieve ketosis by fasting or by eating diets very low in carbohydrate (high fat, moderate protein). This calls for at least fewer than 50, and maybe more like 20, grams of carbohydrate a day. This depends on your age, body type, activity level and the like.

You can verify how deeply your body has gone into ketosis by peeing on a stick, which reveals the level of ketone bodies being circulated in and used by your body. Ketosis has blown up recenetly, becoming the top searched for weight loss plan. So what’s the deal?

Similarities Between Paleo and Keto:

Although different, there are a handful of important similarities between paleo and keto.

  • Grains are not allowed, specifically glutinous grains.
  • Both plans emphasis consuming healthy fats like nuts, seeds, animal fats, and coconut oil.
  • Each plan encourages eating quality animal protein (grass-fed, organic).
  • Both plans eliminate legumes like garbanzo, black, and pinto beans.
  • Refined sugar is not allowed on either plan.
  • Both technically encourage eating plenty of non-starchy vegetables and leafy greens, however most non-paleo keto diets do not encourage this because the quantity of carbohydrates in leafy greens.

Key Differences Between Paleo and Keto:

  • Paleo is not a strictly low-carb diet. Although, it is easier to accidentally end up low carb on paleo .
  • A crucial part of keto is limiting and understanding exactly your macro-nutrient quantities. Often keto strips are used to test levels of ketones in the body, a somewhat simpler way to understand if your body is in ketosis or not. This testing can result in encouraging negative patterns for those with a history of disordered eating.
  • Paleo is eating and embodying a lifestyle similar to that of our ancestors to reduce inflammation, promote healthy circadian rhythms, and encourage a healthy physical and emotional lifestyle.
  • Keto is often utilized as a tool for weight loss or to assist in reducing symptoms or effects of medical disorders or conditions. See my post here for more info on this. 

Why Paleo is Better, IMO

Sustainable Paleo Weight Loss:

Because the paleo diet provides general guidelines for an overall healthier lifestyle, people tend to have more luck sticking with it long term. One of the most important things I learned when I embarked on a paleo journey was understanding the composition of my food, how different foods effected my energy levels and sleep patterns, and learning what micro-nutrients my biochemistry needed from the food I was consuming.

I really took the time to learn all about macro and micro-nutrients, the different chemical compositions of foods, and gaining a general knowledge on nutrition. This evidence based knowledge helped me continue to make choices I was okay with, even when it felt like I wanted to eat a million cookies – I didn’t. The fact that I knew I could have the cookies, but that they really made me feel awful, was the clear difference between holding onto paleo as a fad diet versus incorporating it as a lifestyle change.

I know I am not alone in this field too, many of you have reached out to me to share your stories on how understanding our food has made it easier to consume what makes us feel better in the long run. Paleo, for us, is about understanding balance and your bio-individuality, not just loosing weight.

Because You Are Eating High Quality Food, Healing Inflammation, and Eating When Your Hungry:

The best ways to keep any unwanted weight off is to reduce inflammation. If we are inflamed, our bodies lowest priority is dropping any weight. If anything, the body holds on to weight when inflamed and stressed as a way of protecting us. By consuming high quality food and eating when you are hungry, two important pillars of the paleo diet, you are working towards reducing overall inflammation in the body. Kept as lifestyle factors long-term, both of these are easy ways to not only feel better, but to maintain the weight your body is supposed to be.

We have all seen the pinterest keto diet pics, showing cheese and bacon breakfasts, bulletproof coffee, etc. It seems like it is too good to be true, does it not? Well spoiler alert, it is. Keto does not always emphasize high quality foods, and often people will stick to processed foods that are low carbohydrate but high in fat and protein. These types of foods are often full of unhealthy saturated fats and processed chemicals that increase the bodies levels of inflammation. Therefore those on the keto may loose weight from this low carbohydrate approach, but the results often are not sustainable as inflammation is prominent most of the time.

Restriction Freedom:

I am known for my honest opinions on “diet freedom” AKA, this doesn’t exist when you are on a fad diet. With paleo, I believe this is a true possibility. When I first started a paleo protocol, I had all of my food groups planned out precisely, but quantity was not an guideline. I was not limited to one apple a day; I ate as many apples as I wanted which allowed me to grow a healthy and non-restrictive mindset towards food. Food was no longer something I controlled, but rather I consumed when I wanted too, and it had the potential to make me feel good! Which was such an unknown concept to me at the time.

Paleo set me up for a long-term, sustainable healthy relationship with my body and with food, and that is something that I do not believe keto is capable of. I believe this because the obnoxious amount of monitoring that must be completed to understand when the body is in ketosis reallly forces you to track every single detail, which in return is known for enabling restrictive eating habits.

Learning More About What Foods Actually Work For You:

Instead of setting little strict boxes around various macronutrients quantities, paleo emphasizes overall food quality without restriction (at least these days it does. At one time, paleo was very restrictive but the community has grown to eliminate this dogmatic approach). Because you are able to experiment with higher carb, lower fat, or high fat and lower carb while using high quality foods you are able to understand which foods really work best for you without judgement. If you want to eat starchy carbs in the morning and higher fat at night, you CAN. And because paleo gently forces you to be in tune with your biochemistry it becomes a bit easier to understand which foods may not work for you.

For instance, I went a long time eating higher carbohydrate in the morning because it was what I had been taught on the standard american diet protocol. I also coincidentally struggled with extremely low energy levels in the morning for many years of my life. After understanding how my body processes carbohydrates in the morning, I was able to switch my macronutrient levels and discover I maintain much higher energy levels with a lower carbohydrate diet.

Instead of restricting your intake to just high fat and low carbohydrate, you are given the freedom with paleo to experiment with what actually works with your physiological needs.

Focusing on Lifestyle:

Important researchers in the paleo community have shown us the importance of exercise, sleep, and stress reduction in unison with eating whole foods as a trifecta for success. For instance, Sarah Ballantyne, the Paleo Mom, dedicated much of her time pulling together research on why sleep quality is absolutely necessary for a healthy lifestyle.

Figure out your underlying issues by taking stock of your body. What symptoms do you experience? When? For how long?  How long have you had them? Take your answers to google and to the doctor. Get some tests done. Paleo is fantastic for healing, but a more targeted approach can help heal you all the faster. Then, the faster you heal your underlying problems, the faster you can lose weight.

Not Contributing to Negative Society Ideals of Weight Loss:

Paleo no longer is about “Loosing Weight” and more about how to maintain some balance amongst the world we live in today. How do we eat, live, breathe and move in a way that is about taking care of ourselves and our bodies, instead of damaging it to the extent where it looses weight out of pure stress? If you are ready to close the door on unhealthy lifestyle patterns and disordered eating, keto may not be for you.

In Conclusion:

In sum, keto is a restrictive diet approach that lacks informative long term studies proving its sustainable effects on weight loss. Those on keto most often will loose weight at the beginning of the diet; this is typically from water loss not fat loss. While having some positive benefits on physiological symptoms of disorders like epilepsy, we don’t have enough research to know that keto is safe long term. Keto also lacks the lifestyle factors that makes paleo the best and most sustainable option for weight loss. Paleo takes into account your lifestyle, encouraging mindset changes that make a long term impact vs the short term fad diet approach of keto.

I am always in favor of doing what is right for your body, and maybe keto is that option. However, for myself and most women I talk to, paleo teaches you the tools you need to live a healthy life, outside of making loosing weight the ultimate priority. When we step back, is the reason you are considering keto purely for weight loss? If so, I encourage you to understand where this need or thought to loose weight is coming from. Is it your own ideals, or are you listening to what society is trying to tell us to do? If it is the first, then I suggest checking out my program before diving headfirst into keto. You can read every one of my weight loss accelerating tips in the program I finally packaged together for you, Weight Loss Unlocked, here.

Why Keto May Not Be For You

Why Keto May Not Be For You

Here we are, with another popular diet generating a huge amount of buzz, promising things like sustained weight loss, increased energy, decreased inflammation, and more. When a fad diet surfaces I always err on the side of caution, especially when it seems like a magic pill that can take all of your worries away. In my experience, and over all of the years of research I have conducted, a balanced diet with real foods and ingredients always triumphs over a fad diet for long term sustainable weight loss and decreased inflammation. Now I know that keto may benefit some, just like paleo benefits some people. I encourage you to fully do your research before jumping into a diet like ketosis. Ketosis may have serious consequences on your metabolism, weight, and mood. Frankly, keto may not be good for you.

What is Ketosis?

I am going to steer clear of giving you a long, technical definition of ketosis. I do however think it’s worth learning the biochemistry if you plan to experiment. In that case, I highly recommend Dr Peter Attia’s posts or Dr Chris Masterjohn’s.

In short, ketosis is a state the body enters when there is an excess of molecules called acetyl groups over oxaloacetate. This happens when there is a shortage of glucose supplied to the metabolic processes that create energy, like when you eat a very low carbohydrate diet. Yet interestingly enough the body will also produce ketones when medium-chain fatty acids enter the metabolic processes.

So then, when there is this excess of acetyl groups relative to oxaloacetate, the body produces something called ketone bodies. Ketone bodies come from fatty acids that the body has liberated from fat tissue, which can be used as an alternative fuel to carbohydrates. This is important because the body (and specifically the brain and heart) literally need carbohydrates or ketone bodies in order to function. When carbs are gone, basically, ketone bodies step in to do their work.

People typically achieve ketosis by fasting or by eating diets very low in carbohydrate (high fat, moderate protein). This calls for at least fewer than 50, and maybe more like 20, grams of carbohydrate a day. This depends on your age, body type, activity level and the like.

You can verify how deeply your body has gone into ketosis by peeing on a stick, which reveals the level of ketone bodies being circulated in and used by your body.

Who Keto May Be Good For:

Those with Epilepsy disorder.

Those that struggle with seizures have been studied and proven to benefit from the keto diet. This is the only disorder that has been studied and proven to help with symptoms. No other conclusive research has been conducted on keto’s effects for any other condition (studies are happening, they are just in infancy). So tread lightly with all of the articles that tell you WHY keto is good for you, because a lot of this research has not been studied clinically.

When Keto May Not Be Good For You:

  • If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes: Keto can trigger a very dangerous condition in those that have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. The body essentially starts to hoard ketones which can cause an acid overload, damaging the kidneys, liver and even brain. This condition can be fatal. 
  • You are looking to not regain weight back: The keto diet is generally known as not being easy to stick to long-term. It is in the same category as other fad diets; people will often use to loose a few pounds, and then quickly see the weight come back after stopping the diet. It is also known that most of the weight loss attributed to keto is from removal of access water, another common reason the weight resurfaces rapidly after stopping the diet.
  • You are not willing to eat lean meats and fats: There is a lot of red meat, butter, and foods generally high in saturated fat and that are common for those to eat on the keto diet. That is part of the allure right? What other “diet” allows you to eat cheese, eggs and bacon all the time? (Note to self, you can not be on a diet and eat this way 🙂 ). A lot of people forget to add in lean meat and healthy fat, resulting in adverse health affects.
  • You are trying to reproduce: Women of reproductive age who are attempting to conceive or are pregnant should probably not undergo low-carb ketosis, as carbohydrates play an important role in A) pregnancy, and B) assuring the hypothalamus that the body has been properly fed. In fact, insulin is actually an important satiation hormone. For women who want to conceive, it may be best to err on the side of caution and make sure you get bountiful carbs.
  • If you have a sensitive reproductive system:  If you have a history of low hormone levels, hypothalamic amenorrhea, dieting, or irregular menstrual cycles, the hormone changes involved in low carb ketosis as well as the uptick in stress hormone levels may hinder your reproductive hormone production.
  • If you have thyroid Issues: People (mostly women) with sensitive thyroid systems may also be in jeopardy from low carb ketosis. Ketosis is well known to down regulate thyroid production. T3 (the form of thyroid hormone that is actually active in cells) decreases, and reverse T3, a molecule that blocks the activity of T3, increases. Ketosis advocates may bend over backwards trying to make this phenomenon seem hunky dory, but I would advise anyone with thyroid issues to step carefully around ketosis. If you have clinical hypothyroidism I would consider consulting a doctor first.
  • If you are stressed out:  People with adrenal issues or a lot of stress are not great candidates for this diet. Adrenal glands may become more active with low carb ketosis, which can exacerbate  feelings of being wired, stress, and all the attending symptoms that come along with it.
  • If you are having trouble sleeping: Low carb ketosis may up-regulate the production of stress hormones, which can have a negative impact on sleep.
  • If you’re an athlete:  If you are trying to gain muscle mass or improve performance as an athlete, keto is not a great option. The bodies preferred fuel source is glucose or glycogen, not fat. So when we force the body to run on fat, whether adipose or dietary, we are inhibiting athletic performance because it is a slower and more energy consuming process to burn fat.
  • If you’re trying to maintain and moderate inflammation: Some of our cells lack mitochondria, meaning they are dependent on glucose from carbohydrates to survive. When in ketosis, we are basically starving these cells that can be found in our blood, retina, corneas, testis and renal medulla. These are not just aesthetic cells, we need our blood and eyes for instance, to be fully functioning.
  • You are not willing to commit to gradual transitions: When you transition off of keto, it has to be a gradual transition or you can damage your metabolism and most likely gain back any weight you have lost. It is not the best idea to jump right back in to processed refined carbohydrates, it is better to slowly introduce carbohydrates. You can start by adding a few carbohydrates to one meal a day, and slowly work up towards incorporating them into your diet.
  • If you struggle with restrictive eating: If you have a history of punishing yourself for falling off the wagon, feeling guilty about food, engaging in cycles of over- and under- eating, or confining yourself to strict dietary rules, I would not recommend ketosis. In order for someone to truly achieve wellness, then psychological health must be prioritized, perhaps above whatever ketosis-based goals you may have (and of course this varies by the individual. If you have brain cancer then please feel free to try ketosis regardless of how much you love your body).
  • If you seek any of these things:
    • Self love
    • Body acceptance
    • Overcoming an obsession with food
    • Overcoming cravings
    • Eating intuitively
    • Eating guilt-free
    • Keto is NOT diet freedom.

Then I would never recommend a set of diet rules – and again, especially one where you can’t eat for days or one where you have to pee on a stick —  to help you.

Side Effects of Keto

I completely understand wanting to try a particular type of eating to see if it may have any benefits for your metabolism, energy levels, and overall well-being. I know that some of you are, or have, tried keto. One unfortunate side effect of keto, as with any diet where you are trying to manipulate your bodies biochemistry, is that there are going to be ways our body lets us know that change is occurring.

  • Keto Flu: There are no solid facts to what is causing keto flu, but it is speculated that keto flu is caused by changing the metabolism and experiencing sugar withdrawal. There are also speculations that the body is purging toxins from fat storage during the transition into a fat burning state. While purging the toxins the body may experience the following:
    • Fatigue
    • Cravings for carbs and sugar
    • Dehydration
    • Loss of appetite
    • Constipation
    • Diarrhea
    • Heartburn or other symptoms of indigestion
    • Low motivation to exercise and poor recovery from workouts
    • Brain fog
    • Dizziness
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Moodiness or irritability

This is a huge less for little promised returns. Ask yourself, is it truly worth it to hop on a new diet bandwagon, and experience this obnoxiously long list of side effects?

Still Not Sure?

Robb Wolff provides this super handy quiz  that you can take to determine whether keto is a great option for you. I definitely recommend consulting with your primary care physician before making any transitions, even if the handy dandy quiz says keto may be for you. Check it out here: Quiz

I know my thoughts on the keto diet are controversial, but I am coming from a place of love and education, and hoping the best for you. I would never want you to embark on a diet journey that has negative long-term consequences for immediate returns. It does scare me that the long-term research is not available for the keto diet, meaning we really don’t know how it effects our metabolism and biochemistry, ultimately. I have heard that Arctic nations have actually developed a gene that blocks ketosis. Arctic indigenous people have a much different climate, diet and lifestyle than us, yes, but doesn’t it seem a little strange that a culture would develop a gene to block ketois, a state that so many people are trying to live in?

 

How to Stay Fit Indoors This Winter

How to Stay Fit Indoors This Winter

As the weather gets colder and preps us for the holiday season, it becomes easier and easier to stay indoors. In my home state of Michigan, we typically get brutally cold winters accompanied with ice and snow, which I definitely avoided as much as possible when I could. I love exercising outside so much, and not being able to partake in the same activities in the winter month really messes with me. I have a sneaking suspicion this could contribute to Seasonal Affective Disorder too. So what are the best winter fitness tips to keep us happy and fit through the colder months?

This year I am going to try hard to continue to move my body in ways I don’t hate (read: hours on end on the treadmill or elliptical). I have made it my mission to try different interesting new exercise classes to see if I find anything I like. For instance, did you know that dancing classes are offered year round? Check out my whole bucket list of interesting indoor activities for staying fit this winter, below!

1) Acro Yoga

I have been told this is a combination of Pilates, acrobatics, dancing, and yoga. If anything, I know it makes a great Instagram photo opportunity from what I have seen. To be honest, I love dancing and the feeling of being weightless and the movement surrounding that, which is why I wanted to try this. A lot of the moves are partner based, resulting in a great way to get your social interaction and indoor exercise all in one.

2) Rock Climbing

I was always a tree climber as a kid, and I wish this transitioned more easily as an adult. The idea of taking on a rock climbing gym is slightly intimidating, it has a CrossFit clique aura around it. Not to mention the equipment, where do I even start? However, my love of climbing and primal desire to get back into this sport are stronger than my fear of rock climbing gym hipsters. I will conquer my fear!

3) Tai Chi 

This long-standing tradition of slow and controlled movements has roots that extend back centuries. I have seen a lot of almost miraculous injuries healed from the power of Tai Chi, and I know this practice is used commonly amongst those that struggle with chronic pain or depression and anxiety. The slow pace does intimidate me, but the patience and strength required for this practice is something I want to learn.

4) Naked Yoga 

Yep, I went there. This practice is something where you need to find a legitimate and qualified studio to practice. It’s probably like a nude beach when you first try it, the awkwardness and trying not to look at everyone. I really would like to become in tune with my body and practice only in this form. I am also hoping the movements won’t be too strenuous, because sometimes sports bras are necessary.

5) Forza

Looking for a combination of self-defense and a workout in one class? Look no further than forza. In this exercise class you use an imitation samurai sword to imitate movements used by traditional samurais. I want to take this class because not only does it sound badass, but you know wielding a large sword like a samurai takes patience, skill and finesse. Definitely looking forward to this class!

6) Silk Yoga

With silk yoga, think of the acrobatic goddesses in cirque de olel that manage to dance in an ethereal manner with only hanging pieces of silk strands. The relationship between the person and the silk is whimsical to watch. I can only imagine how much body strength it takes to lift and lower your body into positions like that. It seems like it would take the same strength as rope climbing, yoga, and pole dancing all in one. Which brings me to my next class…

7) Pole or Burlesque Dancing

These classes were made popular a few years back. A lot of people thought these classes were controversially and objective to women, but the more I learn about them the more empowering they seem to women. This is one of those classes that allows you to bridge the brain body barrier and become in touch with your strength and your sensuality all at once. From those I know who have taken these classes, they see an immediate surge in self-confidence by partaking. These are a beautiful way to become in-touch with your feminine energy.

So these are the most appealing classes to me, what about you? Do any of these strike your fancy? Do you have any interesting classes near you that you are thinking about taking? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Or, if the idea of taking one of these strange classes seems intimidating, you can always start with my program, Weight Loss Unlocked.

In this program I give several recommendations on exercise quantities and types based on the results you are looking to achieve. Definitely start here if you are looking for a way to start incorporating exercise into your life!

 

Reasons Why You Aren’t Losing Weight

Reasons Why You Aren’t Losing Weight

So I believe there are two generally allocated camps of people out there. Those that want to lose weight because they believe they should weigh and look a certain way, and those that need to lose weight for health related reasons.

The first camp is often fueled by society’s ideal body type, and the standards women have placed on their heads regarding what their bodies should look like. We have all heard stories of women that just want to lose that LAST FIVE POUNDS. I used to be one of them. But I would like to ask you, how important is that last five pounds really? Will it truly bring you happiness? Probably not. Will it make a difference in how your clothes fit? Most likely no. So why do we put ourselves through hell to lose five pounds which is already just an arbitrary number?

Healthy Weight Loss

Those in the second camp are looking for weight loss based on a health based need. This may have been a conversation you have had with your doctor or based on your physiological bodies language to you such as underlying illnesses, you may have been able to determine this was a proper course. To you, I absolutely recommend my program, Weight Loss Unlocked. In this program I detail the following:

  • Healthy Weight Loss Goals
  • The Metabolic System Basics
  • How to Accelerate Weight Loss
  • Developing Your Own Personalized Plan
  • Quantity and Quality of Exercise Needed
  • And so much more.

Get Weight Loss Unlocked here

If you have been dieting and are consistently not experiencing weight loss, the following items could be contributing.

1) You are not healing underlying issues

 

No matter how hard you try to lose weight, you might not be able to if you suffer from an underlying health condition.

Thyroid diseases like hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are super common problems for people trying to lose weight, especially women.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), and leaky gut are all gut health problems. They might not seem like they are important for weight loss, but they are some of the most important. Without a healthy gut, you cannot absorb nutrients well, or have a healthy hormonal response to food.

Autoimmune diseases are also very important to tackle. The best guide for overcoming them, in my opinion, is Sarah Ballantyne’s, here on Amazon.

Figure out your underlying issues by taking stock of your body. What symptoms do you experience? When? For how long?  How long have you had them? Take your answers to google and to the doctor. Get some tests done. Paleo is fantastic for healing, but a more targeted approach can help heal you all the faster.

Then, the faster you heal your underlying problems, the faster you can lose weight.

2) You are Under Eating

People are not wrong when they say that you need to be in a calorie deficit in order to lose weight.

This is one of the reasons paleo can be so great for weight loss: it spontaneously helps you eat less, by being more simple and satisfying than processed foods.

But there is such a thing as over-doing it.

If you undereat, and especially if you do so for an extended period of time, your thyroid gland will slow down. The body starts to burn body fat more slowly because it detects an energy decrease. 

Depending on how restrictive you are, your body might even stop burning fat altogether, or will gain it. This is especially common for women. The female body is so much more sensitive to body fat levels (which you can read more about at my post here) than the male body is.

This is a weight loss plateau. The solution? Eat when you’re hungry! If you need more specific advice than that, do not eat below 1800 calories a day, and if physically active, then at least 21 or 2200.

3) You’re stressed out:

Stress, for a third, is also incredibly important. Many studies show that stress, like fitness level, is more important than body fat percentage in promoting health and longevity. For example, some studies show that implementing Healthy At Every Size practices, which means ignoring weight regulation in favor of intuitive eating and living, significantly decreases mortality in overweight adults, and promotes better lab results, health behaviors, and self-esteem than weight loss treatment. For those who are stressed out about losing weight this can be a never ending cycle, try not weighing yourself and paying more attention to how your body feels. You can read more about how the parasympathetic and sympathetic states of the body are influenced by stress and can influence your weight loss.

4) You’re not getting enough sleep:

In 1960, a survey of over 1 million people found a modal sleep duration of 8-9 hours. In 2002, polls conducted by the National Sleep Foundation indicated that the average duration of sleep for Americans had fallen to 6.9-7 hours.  Recent data indicate that a higher percentage of adult Americans report sleeping 6 hours or less. In 2005, in the US, more than 30% of adult men and women between the ages of 30 and 64 years reported sleeping on average less than 6 hours each night. This decrease in sleep duration has occurred over the same time as the increase in the prevalence of obesity and diabetes. These studies have shown correlations with hormone leptin, sleep, and weight loss.

Leptin has a distinct diurnal and circadian rhythm.  It has minimum values during daytime and a nocturnal rise with maximum values during early to mid sleep.  The amplitude of the circadian variation averages approximately thirty per cent. Leptin levels rise during the night to suppress appetite while sleeping.   

Moreover, with sleep deprivation, the reduction of leptin at night spells bad news for the rest of the day: it sets the individual up not just with lower leptin levels in general but also decreased glucose tolerance and an increased craving for carbohydrates. So not only are our bodies hungry, but they are craving foods that are less nutrient rich.

Putting away electronic devices or wearing blue blocking glasses before bed can help melatonin production which will help you fall asleep easier as well. You can learn more positive sleep hygiene tips here.

5) This is the weight you’re meant to be:

Just because your body might not burn through fat as efficiently as someone else’s doesn’t mean they are more healthy than you.

If there isn’t an underlying health condition associated with fat storage, it may be a simple matter of genetics, the quality of nutrition and a body type you had as a child growing up, or of having a history of dieting (which so many of us do), which leads to slower fat burning mechanisms in the long run.

It is also incredibly important to bear in mind that fat cells don’t go away once created. They can shrink, but they never go away. This makes it much easier for people who have been overweight in the past to keep weight or to regain it once they’ve lost it. This has nothing to do with health, and everything to do with the biochemistry of fat storage.

But by and large, you may just be at a satisfactory weight especially if you do not have an existing or underlying health conditions. I know it is scary to approach the thought that you just may not be destined to be a size zero, but that is OKAY. Body types vary, and that is what society doesn’t show us. It also doesn’t show us the extremes that it may take to maintain that size of body.

All I ask, is that you consider this on your weight loss journey: How important is this weight loss to the grander scheme of life and my purpose in life? Will losing weight allow you to achieve your goals and make shit happen? Is this something I am doing for my health or to live up to somebody else’s expectations of who I should be?

 

9 Plus Ways to Activate Your Parasympathetic Nervous System

9 Plus Ways to Activate Your Parasympathetic Nervous System

In a recent blog we really dove into why rest is important not just for the reasons we hear often, but underlying reasons.

When we are relaxed we aren’t consistently shooting adrenaline throughout our body causing an inflammatory response like when we are stressed. Our body is able to maintain a balance that keeps us healthy. Being in a parasympathetic state can reduce stress on our heart, chronic illnesses, and immunity in general.

Parasympathetic states also affect our metabolism. When we are in fight or flight mode our cortisol is spiked, causing the blood sugar to spike. This can lead to weight gain.We know that stress can lead us to carry weight in different areas of our body. This stress weight is often related to being in a highly functioning, yet overwhelming sympathetic state.

If we don’t rest, things start to go wrong. We become exacerbated, exhausted, and fatigued.

How to Find Balance

So now that we know the ins and outs of our nervous system states, how do we achieve balance between them? The first step we can take is being cognizant of what our body and mind is telling us. I find it much easier to recognize cues of being in a fight or flight mode (sympathetic state) in my body than in my mind. These cues like racing heart beat, fidgety limbs, sweating, or wanting to run away (literally), help tell me that I need to reflect on the situation and see if I really should be engaging in fight or flight rsponse.

The more aware we are of our bodies and when we begin to track our varying cycles, the more we will be able to respond to the correct state with an educated and effective response.

How to Activate PNS

There are several ways to activate your PNS system. You can typically hack this by being in the company of others, or self soothing. Some of these items below may not apply to you; or you may have other activities that help you achieve PNS. It is important to take note of your physiological and psychological state to see whether the activity is right for you.

Our paleo ancestors did this. They groomed each other, slept together, communicated to each other in their own ways. This part of being human is ingrained in our DNA.

But sometimes it is difficult to understand how to enter a rest state; especially if this is a state we are unfamiliar with.

Soothing with Others

Some of my favorite ways to soothe around people include the following:

  • Talking nature walks with my friends, either on the phone or together in person
  • Taking a yoga class with a friend
  • A couples massage
  • Reading a book in the same space as a friend or lover
  • Watching Netflix on the couch together
  • Having a picnic with a friend
  • Taking a study break at the library with a friend
  • Sitting on a beach with a friend
  • Massages or general welcomed and consented touch from others. If touch from others isn’t an option right now, check out this personal massager that does an amazing job as an alternative

This may seem counterintuitive if you are an introvert who gains energy by being alone. However. It is important for our mental state to be able to soothe with others around. This fosters connections and allows us to enter a parasympathetic state. Simply, because we are with others and our defenses aren’t drawn, as in a sympathetic state.

Basically, any soothing activity you can do with a friend can be beneficial. A soothing activity is something that won’t push you to create more “should do this” or obligations while completing the task. Notice how I said taking a study break, not studying with a friend. To soothe, it has to allow you to slow down.

 

Self-Soothing

A lot of times when I need to get into a PNS state, I need to be alone and the reason I am in that state is because I exhausted my social capacity with others. The following are my favorite ways to get back in a parasympathetic state all by myself.

We are rounding a full circle here; no pun intended. A healthy lifestyle includes eating proper foods, moving your body, taking care of your mind, and incorporating balance and rest. In the paleo community, and in any western society,  it can be easy to forget that the end goal isn’t always weight loss, physical appearances, or accomplishments, but that it’s sustainable health and wellness over the course of our lives.

In order to achieve this ideal state of wellness, we need to incorporate balance.

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So you Don’t Believe in Resting?

So you Don’t Believe in Resting?

If I had a dollar, or even a penny for every time I have heard that rest is a crucial factor in keeping our bodies and minds stable and functioning, I would be entirely too rich for my own good.

We hear this from medical professionals, our friends and family, blogs, and people we may not even know that well. Everyone tosses around the word “rest”  like it is something easy to obtain. However, I find it quite challenging to hit this idealistic state that is rest. (hello insomnia).

We are culturally and socially programmed to believe rest is not okay. Success comes to those that don’t rest, not those that do. Every seen that quote, Beyonce has the same amount of 24 hours of day as you? I had a therapist at one point suggest I rest more, despite the counterculture characterization that comes with resting.

Well big news loves! It is possible to rest in a way that won’t consume your entire weekend, or force you to cancel plans, and I am not talking about meditating either.

The Truth about Rest and Digest:

Rest and and digest is a common phase thrown around describing the state you should be in when you are eating. We want to be in a rest and digest state to avoid causing digestive issues or inflammation from eating too fast, while stressed, or on the go. But what does this really mean? And why is it important to be in rest and digest while eating?

Rest and digest is a term describing when your body is in a parasympathetic state. This is the opposite of the term “Fight or Flight” which is when our body is in a sympathetic nervous state. Read more about this, here. Like all things with our bodies, we need a balance of both states to maintain optimal health.

When our body goes into rest and digest, which can happen after eating, our body is able to restore and repair itself. When activated, the body has the following physiological responses:

  • Slower breathing
  • Relaxed muscles
  • Heart rate drops
  • Saliva is increased
  • Pupils constrict

Why is the Parasympathetic Rest and Digest State Important?

When we are relaxed we aren’t consistently shooting adrenaline throughout our body causing an inflammatory response. Our body is able to maintain a balance that keeps us healthy. Being in a parasympathetic state can reduce stress on our heart, chronic illnesses, immunity in general to name a few.

Parasympathetic states also affect our metabolism. When we are in fight or flight mode our cortisol is spiked, causing the blood sugar to spike. This can lead to weight gain.We know that stress can lead us to carry weight in different areas of our body. This stress weight is often related to being in a highly functioning yet overwhelming sympathetic state.

To read more on how this can affect our metabolism and other systems, check out this post.

What is Sympathetic State:

Sympathetic state is what we often refer to as Fight, Flight or Freeze. This is the state our body naturally goes into when we sense danger. This can be as minimal as something like seeing a gardener snake on a trail ( so minimal, I know ). Our body may tighten up, we recoil and run or fight. We often feel a burst of energy, or adrenaline as the body initiates this reaction in a moment of danger.

However, we can also be in a sympathetic state in a less obvious moment of danger. Stressed at work? Home? Feeling overly fried? You could be extended out of the sympathetic state. The longer we are in sympathetic state without a balance of parasympathetic states, the closer we creep to what’s known as collapsing.

Sympathetic State Physiological Responses

  • Clenched muscles
  • Fast talking
  • Pupils dilate
  • Heart pumps faster
  • Gut is inactive
  • Thoughts that others are enemies

Why Too Much Sympathetic or Fight or Flight is dangerous

When you are constantly in sympathetic without a return to parasympathetic, your body and mind is put into a state of exhaustion.

Think about a time, maybe work or home, when you supported and cared for everyone else, and met that deadline, only to be followed by a weekend of booked plans, and no downtime in sight. Instead of canceling plans, you pursue on and meet all of your plans and deadlines, but feel yourself wanting to run away and hide to get time to bounce back.

This is your body creeping towards collapse mode. We will get into that in a second.

When the body releases cortisol, it is also stimulating an immune response. If your body is continuously in this state, it is always issuing immune responses. The Paleo Mom has an incredibly in depth article on this that can be found here. She notes that cortisol can affect the way our chemical messengers are transmitting information to our immune system. There are theories that this is contributing to the effect of our immune systems fighting back at us, due to confused signaling from those messengers or Cytokines.

Collapse or Freeze Mode

This system engages when your body is unable to reach a parasympathetic state. I have seen colleagues and students in these positions many times, using caffeine and reducing their sleep quality and quantity to complete as much work as possible.

When you are in collapse mode, your body is forcing you to rest. Collapse is often used interjectly with freeze, in reference to fight or flight. Collapse or Freeze is what happens when Fight or Flight is not engaged fully, but your brain is fully trying to complete the cycle of Fight or Flight. This is your body conserving all energy so when the “fight” is over, you are able to go find help when it pushes more cortisol throughout your system.

Putting it together:

We ALWAYS talk about how stress and lack of rest can contribute to so many dangerous ailments and conditions from autoimmune to physiological distress. There is proof that being in a highly stressed state, even if it is your normal functioning state, can be seriously detrimental to your health.

The Benefits of a regulated nervous system include

  • Lower Blood Pressure
  • More stable blood sugar
  • Better overall energy
  • Better Sleep quality

If you want to read more about hormones, stress, and your health and happiness, I have a whole book on the subject that is – well, it’s the place I went to dump all the knowledge I have about all the things, and what to do about it. You can check it out, here.

Stress is a dangerous thing, and I know it can be overwhelming to manage, but there are ways. Next week we will be discussing easy ways to activate the parasympathetic response system.

 

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