Clean Diet With No Results

This is, like, the longest question ever, but here goes:



I’ve been following the blog and podcasts for a few weeks now, and love the work you’re doing, and am doing my best to follow along with your recommendations. In the past 12 months, I’ve transitioned from being a 90% raw foodist (still ate free-range eggs, but very little dairy, and very few nuts. Basically was super high veggies and some fruit. Avocados and organic butter for fats), to eating meat, to learning about the paleo diet, to doing a Whole-30, to the slow-carb diet a la Tim Ferriss, and now to the Bulletproof diet. Around the time I realized I needed to add meat to my diet (i.e. my body started craving it after 8 years of being vegetarian with zero interest in animal products) I had also started exercising intensely in an effort to lose some weight and train for some competitions. I was running intervals for 20 minutes 3x per week, and doing HIIT weighted workouts 2-3x per week while cutting calories. This was great for a while, I lost weight! I a te high-quality food! I was feeling awesome. Then the holidays came, travelling, eating, sugar overload, and I gained back about half of the 10 lbs I had lost.



Since January, I’ve done the Whole 30 cleanse, the slow-carb thing, and now focusing on the Bulletproof diet. I’m also training for a triathlon in September and running, biking and swimming, each twice a week. This week I’m adding weights to my routine twice a week in an effort to mitigate the strain of the extensive endurance work. My diet is 85% bulletproof at this point. I give myself two meals a week to eat in a more relaxed manner, but the rest is greens, grassfed meat, and pastured eggs. I even started doing the bulletproof intermittent fasting last week, with butter and coconut oil in my coffee and no other food until 1-2 pm.



It’s been about a month since I really cleaned up my diet, and I’m not counting calories, but I’m not losing any fat at all. I supplement with a probiotic, iron, vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium in addition to my one-a-day multi (started iron and vit D after blood testing confirmed they were low). I had a DEXA scan about 6 weeks ago that showed I’m at about 24% bodyfat, and I’d love to shed some of that before the triathlon in September, just so I don’t have to carry it with me. I’m getting pretty frustrated since I feel like I’m doing everything “right,” with the exception (maybe) of the intense cardio.



I’m 32 and female, 5’7” and 150 lbs, and I want to maintain my health and fertility to the greatest extent possible. Is there something key (other than the cardio, which will drop off after the race) that I’m doing wrong? Is it possible I’m eating too much? I’m actually finding it hard to keep my macros in line with those recommended in the bulletproof diet when I put the butter/coconut oil in my coffee in the AM, the veggies are just so low in calories that even if I eat 6 cups a day they can’t make up the 25% they’re meant to. According to MyFitnessPal my diet has been up to 75% fat in the past week since starting the IF.



I feel like the raw food diet really cleaned me out of toxins, and it’s been years since processed food was a large part of my diet, but could it still be a toxic load issue? My body seems committed to hanging on to 5% body fat that I’m trying to ditch. Or am I just being impatient and expecting too much too soon?



Basically, if you could recommend one or two diagnostics to me that would help me ID the sticking point and convince my body to lose fat again, what would they be? I wish I could say money was no object, but it is, and I want to get at the most effective test or monitor the most significant variable.



Thanks for all the info and insight, peeps!

Sarah
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Comments

  • Sarah- Great post. I see a lot of my history in there and feel for you in your quest to pull things together just right. If I had one piece of advice, it'd be to try to find some acceptance for where you are and the journey you're on...if your real goal is to be healthy, it will take a bit of time to get there...and you may have to be willing to let some things go (like the cardio) and really take a chance on starting from scratch. Keep with it. Keep asking questions. And remember that you are (at least from what you described) pretty healthy already...from here it is maximizing health and optimizing all aspects of your life. Give it time. You can do it image/smile.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' /> And it's worth the journey as you go through it...
  • Hey sarah, Im going through exactly the same thing at the moment. I thought i was doing well eating a vegetarian diet not too long ago and boy was i wrong. I havent been working on the bulletproof stuff for that long, 2 weeks or so, and im hoping to lose some weight as well. I need to lose a fair bit more than you. One thing i have definitely noticed is that having the meat and fat has made me put heaps of muscle on rather quickly. Not exactly what i want, but I wont complain too much. I was vegetarian for 5 years and i think it took a real toll on my body. I ended up with thyroid problems! You might want to ask your dr to test your TSH levels in your blood. Just to make sure everything is going okay. I messed my system up with a vegetarian (with the occasional egg thrown in there) diet and now i have to take medication. So another useful test might be for thyroid function...



    Best of luck



    Kittyk
  • Because I'm new to REALLY digging into the physiology of paleo, this kind of thing is fascinating. Unfortunately, it's normal.



    Just about every single woman I know who is relatively lean (let's say 25% bodyfat or so or less) and does paleo in the "usual" way, which is to eat clean and not count calories, gains a good 5lbs. If their boyfriend/husband starts it at the same time, they generally lose 10, 20, 30lbs. Or if they are fairly lean, they just stay the same.



    No, it's not "fair", but I am trying to make some empirical sense out of it. Even thinking of writing a book.
  • edited May 2012
    The advice to get blood testing done is good advice just to make sure everything is fine there. Also you say you are eating 85% Bulletproof, what are you eating for the other 15%? I am assuming it is not pizza, cake etc, but you probably want to make sure that you are not eating something that does not agree with you. Maybe having a little more protein would help seeing as you are preparing for a triathlon.
  • Abquandrea- why do you think this weight gain for women is "normal"?



    In my experience, it has seemed to have activated the more mesomorphy side of me and i have not gained weight, but have changed body composition. More muscle. Is that what you are saying about women in general? or something else?



    Kittyk
  • 'kitty' wrote:


    Hey sarah, Im going through exactly the same thing at the moment. I thought i was doing well eating a vegetarian diet not too long ago and boy was i wrong. I havent been working on the bulletproof stuff for that long, 2 weeks or so, and im hoping to lose some weight as well. I need to lose a fair bit more than you. One thing i have definitely noticed is that having the meat and fat has made me put heaps of muscle on rather quickly. Not exactly what i want, but I wont complain too much. I was vegetarian for 5 years and i think it took a real toll on my body. I ended up with thyroid problems! You might want to ask your dr to test your TSH levels in your blood. Just to make sure everything is going okay. I messed my system up with a vegetarian (with the occasional egg thrown in there) diet and now i have to take medication. So another useful test might be for thyroid function...



    Best of luck



    Kittyk




    Hey Kittyk,

    Thanks for the reply. I had my TSH levels tested at the same time I had my VitD and iron (and a bunch of other metobolic factors) tested, and it was at 1.43 (with a "standard range" of .34 - 4.82), so maybe that's low, but I'm not sure what an 'optimum' level would be.



    Listening to a podcast this morning, Dave mentioned a supplement to help process the increased fat content of the diet during the first 6 weeks of transition. It may simply be that my pancreas hasn't caught up with the increase in total fat intake? I think dpwdan is right to remind me that I'm playing a long game here, and that it's easier to lose 10lbs when you have 80 to lose, than to lose 10 when you only have 12 to lose. And the truth is that I have been scattered about my goals. For the next 4 months I'm focusing on endurance performance, and the absence of illness and injury. After my race my goals will shift and maybe I'll be able to just concentrate on improving body composition and optimizing mental performance and health.


  • The advice to get blood testing done is good advice just to make sure everything is fine there. Also you say you are eating 85% Bulletproof, what are you eating for the other 15%? I am assuming it is not pizza, cake etc, but you probably want to make sure that you are not eating something that does not agree with you. Maybe having a little more protein would help seeing as you are preparing for a triathlon.




    Hi earlyriser,

    The other 15% is made up of farmer's market "treats" that include organic scones and milk in my coffee (once a week on Saturday) and a meal out on the weekend. Last weekend that was a flatbread with walnuts and dates, a piece of baklava, and organic ice cream (apparently I have a sweet tooth.) So, it's generally high quality, but not gluten, dairy, or sugar free like I eat the rest of the time. And frankly, those treats on the weekend are a huge contributor to my quality of life so I don't want to cut them out for more than a month or two if possible.



    I also have upped my consumption of grassfed meat and eat lamb, beef, or buffalo almost every day now, which would have been unthinkable to me even 6 months ago. I know that the grassfed fats are super healthy for me, but I just wonder if, perhaps for women, the balance of protien and fat needs to skew leaner in order to really optimize body comp and performance, and get down to 15-18% bodyfat.



    Any other female perspectives on this? I just know that since I started adding butter to my coffee last week, I have increased the fat pinch at my abdomen from ~15mm to ~22mm. I'm willing to see this out for another 6-8 weeks if I know this is a temporary adjustment. I'd just like more insight from other women or athletes that don't have huge amounts of fat to lose.



    Thanks!

    Sarah
  • 'Sarah wrote:


    Hi earlyriser,

    The other 15% is made up of farmer's market "treats" that include organic scones and milk in my coffee (once a week on Saturday) and a meal out on the weekend. Last weekend that was a flatbread with walnuts and dates, a piece of baklava, and organic ice cream (apparently I have a sweet tooth.) So, it's generally high quality, but not gluten, dairy, or sugar free like I eat the rest of the time. And frankly, those treats on the weekend are a huge contributor to my quality of life so I don't want to cut them out for more than a month or two if possible.



    I also have upped my consumption of grassfed meat and eat lamb, beef, or buffalo almost every day now, which would have been unthinkable to me even 6 months ago. I know that the grassfed fats are super healthy for me, but I just wonder if, perhaps for women, the balance of protien and fat needs to skew leaner in order to really optimize body comp and performance, and get down to 15-18% bodyfat.



    Any other female perspectives on this? I just know that since I started adding butter to my coffee last week, I have increased the fat pinch at my abdomen from ~15mm to ~22mm. I'm willing to see this out for another 6-8 weeks if I know this is a temporary adjustment. I'd just like more insight from other women or athletes that don't have huge amounts of fat to lose.



    Thanks!

    Sarah




    Try cutting wheat and grain entirely. Dave mentioned in one of the podcasts that the inflamitory effects of gluten and ingested mycotoxins can last for 30 days. My wife has been baking fresh bread, baklava, cookies, banana bread AND getting scones from the farmers market. It's driving my a little crazy here in my second week without wheat, but I am feeling an incredible difference. When I hear myself try to justify eating that delicious scone by saying "it's just a little bit and just this one time" I immediately translate that into "It's not okay to poisoin yourself, even just a little bit every once in a while".



    I read Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis who was interviewed on Podcast #25 and it really resonated with me. There's a reason I kept on taking hit after hit of wheat. Even if you could fine mycotoxin free wheat, it still does really wonky things to your body.
  • Hey Sarah,



    I find myself in a fairly similar place as you, but I'm coming from a very different background. I have been on some sort of low-carb diet for the past 3-4 years. I tend to do one, lose some weight, and then plateau. I started eating "primal" (a la Mark Sisson) about 8 months ago and managed to break through a big plateau and get down to around 220 lbs (I'm a 6'4 23 yeard old male, obviously our anatomies are a little different).



    I switched to Paleo (basically cut out dairy) 4 months ago and dropped 10lbs the first month and then had 2 months of plateau. I've gradually been trying to transfer from paleo to bulletproof over the past 2 months. I definitely feel you frustration. I can't seem to get rid of the last 10-20 pounds in order to be lean even though I feel that I'm doing everything "right." I think a lot of what others have said is right and you have to take the long-term view of it. I think when you start getting closer to your goal, you really have to do a lot of tinkering to figure out what's right for you. I think basic things like getting rid of grains and focusing on real food are beneficial to everyone, but when you start to get down to the details, there is a lot more room for variation.



    With that in mind, I recently read this post on the MDA forums and it made me reflect on what I was doing when I dropped 10lbs in a month. That month I happened to be in a weird living situation and some my habits changed. The two major things I think of looking back were:

    1. working out less 2-3 HIIT sessions per week as opposed to 5-6 that I've been doing.

    2. More lean meats, primarily chicken.

    I know the lean meat flies in the face of everything dave says and it's just a personal, anecdotal observation. That being said I'm trying to focus more on leaner cuts of meat and more protein/less fat (less fat still usually means fat is 40-50% of my calorie intake, so not low-fat by any means). Protein is very filling and has less calories than fat. I know it's not all about calories, but at least personally I've never been able to lose fat on a hypercaloric diet. I can not gain fat on a hypercaloric diet if it's along the paleo/bulletproof guidelines, but I can't lose it.



    This is just my personal observation and I'm very much new to all of this. Take a look at that other thread on Mark's Daily Apple and see what you think.
  • @thebear: see Dave's blogpost yesterday...might be specifically targetting this topic...we are all individual studies and minor deviations from the mean...keep tinkering and find what works for you when it comes to the macro %'s while sticking to the anti-inflammation, no wheat, get your vit d type recommendations.
  • Sarah- if your TSH is in the lower range then youre good. Should be good. Getting your T4 levels tested would be good too. (my TSH level was 16.8- 23.2- so my thyroid is not working well). TSH comes from your pituitary which tells your thyroid to release T4 and T3 which regulate metabolism. If your TSH is really high, then your pituitary is trying REALLY hard to get your thyroid to to something, and its not doing much very well. As is the case with mine. Yours is on the lower end of normal so your thyroid should be cool. But in order to be certain it would be better to get the T4 levels tested just to make sure.



    Kittyk
  • 'dpwdan' wrote:


    @thebear: see Dave's blogpost yesterday...might be specifically targetting this topic...we are all individual studies and minor deviations from the mean...keep tinkering and find what works for you when it comes to the macro %'s while sticking to the anti-inflammation, no wheat, get your vit d type recommendations.




    I read Dave's blog post and it was highly relevant. I know part of my problem is still making the diet work with the rest of my lifestyle. When I'm in town and at home, I'm 99% compliant, but visiting friends and family or going out is definitely hurting me. Thanks for the advice Dan.
  • I look at it this way. You're on a journey to get to goal town. You may have gone 95% of the distance already, but perhaps there is a mountain to scale (cheese) and a wide river to cross (cheat day) before you get there. This visualization helps when I find myself camping out on the other side of the mountain saying to myself "I'm so close, if only this damn mountain weren't here I could make some more progress".
  • I have a similar question! I am very interested in how Dave's wife eats as it seems she has been able to look and feel good being bulletproof. I feel great but why can't I lose the extra 10 or so lbs! Gah.


  • I look at it this way. You're on a journey to get to goal town. You may have gone 95% of the distance already, but perhaps there is a mountain to scale (cheese) and a wide river to cross (cheat day) before you get there. This visualization helps when I find myself camping out on the other side of the mountain saying to myself "I'm so close, if only this damn mountain weren't here I could make some more progress".




    Haha, that's a great metaphor Bill! I've gotten that mountain out of the way but that damn river still pops up from time to time. I contstantly tell myself to take the long view and not the short view. I've come a long way from where I was and it didn't happen over night. It happened gradually by staying consistent and not letting my mess ups derail the train. As long as I keep making progress, I'll be happy, even though sometimes I would like that progress to come on faster.
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