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Gaining weight safely

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  • Gaining weight safely

    First time poster, and relatively new to paleo -- this seems like one of the most friendly and levelheaded forums, and I could really use some advice and support.

    I've been on a primal diet for about five months now (paleo + dairy, though I did a few dairy-free trial weeks too). I've lost about 10 pounds and an inch or two from my waist -- without wanting to. I started at a skinny 5'8, 125 lbs and now I'm 115. I look emaciated, my wife is worried about me, and I've lost what little muscle I had. I'm considering this an emergency -- I've only weighed this little once before, and it brought on a LOT of serious health problems that took me years to recover from.

    I'm eating 2000-2200 kcal/day, which is more than I was eating before I went paleo. But I also get that twitchy, panicky hypolgycemic state every couple of days (despite eating 150-175g carbs), so apparently I haven't yet trained my body to get through the day without burning off a little bit of muscle. I'd love it if I could work out and put some muscle back on, but I have chronic joint problems that mean I often can't do any kind of weight-bearing exercise. I walk a lot and run a little, and that's about all I can handle.

    So, the question is: What's the healthiest way for me to put on weight? I know want to up my calories, but I'd really like to avoid:
    1) Causing long-term problems with insulin resistance or leptin regulation
    2) Putting on abdominal fat and nothing else
    3) Anything that will make it hard for me to go back to eating normal amounts later on.

    I'd also really appreciate hearing from anyone else who's been in this situation. To be honest, I'm upset and scared and would really appreciate any reassurance you can give as well as advice.

  • #2
    Do you have a genetic abnormality or gut malabsorption issue? How did this happen to you?
    Crohn's, doing SCD


    • #3
      Wow that is underweight.
      I'm a little bit taller than you but nearly a 50 pounds heavier.

      You may be seriously underestimating calorie intake.

      Only thing have to say is add say 1000 calories a day to your daily eating - eg a dozen eggs.
      Add carbs : fruit, potatoes, white rice.

      Drink calories - protein shakes with Greek yogurt and milk.

      When you start to feel better then lift weights and adjust consumption as required .

      115 is way too light - seriously eat more.


      • #4
        What do you eat in a typical day, broken down by meals & snacks? Sounds like you may be catabolising muscle, which means you're not getting enough protein, but that is just a guess
        Four years Primal with influences from Jaminet & Shanahan and a focus on being anti-inflammatory. Using Primal to treat CVD and prevent stents from blocking free of drugs.

        Eat creatures nose-to-tail (animal, fowl, fish, crustacea, molluscs), a large variety of vegetables (raw, cooked and fermented, including safe starches), dairy (cheese & yoghurt), occasional fruit, cocoa, turmeric & red wine


        • #5
          Originally posted by Knifegill View Post
          Do you have a genetic abnormality or gut malabsorption issue? How did this happen to you?
          Good question. My best guess is that since I'm still pretty glucose-dependent, when I go too long without eating my body starts doing gluconeogenesis using muscle tissue. At that moment it's starving even if I'm giving it adequate calories over the course of the day. I can change my eating patterns to stop that from happening, but there's still the question of how to reverse the damage.

          Other possibilities are 1) maybe I do have a specific malabsorption issue that affects the nutrient sources in my current diet more than the ones in my old diet; or 2) I might be consistently overestimating my caloric intake, since my new diet includes foods like slow-cooked hunks of fatty meat, which are a lot more variable than, say, tofu.


          • #6
            I've been where you're at.

            The formula for gaining good weight is pretty cut & dry. You need to either eat more or move less. A little bit of both worked for me. Here are some bullets that may help, these tools helped me & I go back to them anytime I want to put on more weight.

            -Before you start huffing down potatoes & "carbs" make sure you can digest them properly. I have symptoms of IBS, gluten intolerance, & overall carb sensitivity. The answer to my weight gain wasn't eating more carbs, it was eating more calories. So I rasied my fat intake.

            -I also found fasting allowed me to retain more of my nutrition when I eat. I eat one meal a day now, but its a giant meal. My body is better @ digesting one big meal, then my immune system taking the rest of the day to heal my body & rest. My one meal is usually around 1-2lb of red meat, 6 eggs cooked in olive oil, 1-2 cups of full fat yogurt, some cheese & a banana. Usually around a 2,500-3,000 dense calories in one meal. As a hardgainer our body burns up fuel quickly, so I eat more meat & dairy to slow digestion.

            -invest in a good probiotic

            -Lift very heavy (4-6 reps) all compound moves. Rest 3-5 minutes between sets. No cardio, keep the heart rate down & save calories. Everything done in the gym is to build & bulk, not cut or burn.

            All this stuff worked for me. Just eat more dense calories, move less & lift to get stronger. I would also add dairy to your menu before piling on potatoes. For me, potatoes & more "carbs" simply inflammed me & all the fiber ran through me.

            I also partake in a non-primal cheat meal once a week. I know its a primal abomination, but hey, I need the calories & can get away with it. so I eat ice cream, pizza, wings, nachos & whatever else is in my way. I've noticed the cleaner I eat all week, the less this cheat meal affects me. I'm now to the point I can eat trash for my cheat meal & never gassy, bloated or inflammed. Seems like I'm handling it pretty well & the sodium-replenishment may be productive to a hardgainer.

            -SLEEP. Sleep more & sleep good. If I don't get a good nights rest, my metabolism is on fire, food runs through me & I can literally waste anyway in a day. Rest the body, burn less calories everyday.
            Last edited by abc123; 08-18-2013, 01:51 PM.


            • #7
              In case you want to see a doctor there are several paleo/primal docs in the Bay Area. Personally I think it would be a good idea. You could have some serious digestive issues.

              California - Primal Docs

              How is your digestion and energy level?
              Life is death. We all take turns. It's sacred to eat during our turn and be eaten when our turn is over. RichMahogany.