Q: I do have some questions about the diet… In some of my readings for weight loss, it suggested that I avoid fruits, eggs (limit to 6 per week), and nuts (less than 1 ounce per day), and others say stock up on eggs. I’m like everyone else trying to lose weight and just need some clarification about the eggs. I’m using egg whites in place of whole eggs (protein content) – do I still need to stay under that 6 eggs per week for weight loss? Also, is it normal to be hungry after just eating a meal?? Or am I not taking enough protein in (which is my guess). I appreciate your response, and again thanks for helping me better understand the Paleo way.
A: The egg question is a good one. Loren Cordain says to limit eggs to 6 per week because he’s not in love with their fatty acid/protein ratio – not because of anything having to do with weight loss. Robb Wolf just says don’t eat them for every breakfast for the rest of your life, but to limit them if you have autoimmune issues.
Eggs are a pretty good source of protein, and that protein lives in the white AND the yolk – about 4 gm in the white and 2 gm in the yolk. There are incredibly important nutrients in the egg yolk, and the fat content helps you stay satiated. I would almost never tell anyone to only eat egg whites unless they were trying to bake something fluffy (using almond or coconut flour, of course).
Eating fat does not usually cause weight gain unless you’re over-consuming calories, and the Paleo Diet does a good job of mediating that by eliminating excess calories in the form of grains, refined sugars, dairy and beans. Eat your eggs – just don’t eat like 10 a day, as eating anything that much can contribute to food sensitivities. Plus, meat is a better source of protein than eggs. When you do eat eggs, try to make sure they’re organic and full of Omega 3’s – ideally pasture raised. Yes, they’re more expensive, but even at the highest price, they still come out to be about $.35 per egg. You can’t really beat that for a Paleo protein source.
It’s not normal to be hungry after just eating a meal, but it happens a lot when people are first starting the Paleo diet. Because people are generally not used to eating 4-7 oz of protein and a healthy serving of fat per meal, they end up with their tiny, “normal” servings of protein and fat without the grains, dairy and/or beans to fill in for calories. So here’s my advice: don’t be afraid of fat (olive oil, meat fat, egg yolks, avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, coconut milk). Fat will help satisfy your hunger, curb your cravings and mellow out your detoxification symptoms (fatigue, headache, body aches, etc.). Your body will eventually get used to using fat as its main source of energy, instead of carbohydrates.
And don’t be scared of the protein, either! This topic warrants another blog post (coming soon), but for now, I’ll just say that our Paleo ancestors lived on a diet that was (on average) 50% animal products, and they weren’t generally dying of heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Despite what the media has told us for half a century, meat is satiating, it balances blood sugar, fuels muscle repair and growth, maintains proper hormone function and increases metabolism for weight loss, among many other things. If the animal product comes from a farm where the animal was given proper food, i.e. grass as opposed to corn, the fatty acid content of the meat/fish/eggs/organs will be much healthier for you. This is just another way for us to mimic our ancestors; don’t eat factory farmed animals or eggs.
So how much protein do you need? Anywhere from .7-1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass. For instance, if a woman weighs 100 pounds with %15 body fat (so %85 lean body mass), she’d need 85 gm of protein per day if she’s getting 1 gm per pound of lean body mass. And that’s a small person. As a man, you’ll probably need a lot more than that.
If you’re into numbers (and maybe even if you aren’t), I suggest going to the USDA Food Database where you can look up the nutrient content of individual foods. Or you could sign up for a free account with www.fitday.com, log your food intake and see how much protein, fat and carbs you’re getting. If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ll want to eat at MOST 150 gm of carbohydrates per day (unless you’re a VERY active athlete, in which case you may need more). That’s why, instead of taking out the eggs, you actually want to take out most fruits and your starchy veggies like sweet potatoes, yams, and tapioca. Stick to the dark leafy greens and crunchy veggies for now, but eat a lot of those veggies or you’ll have energy crashes at first.
So, in summary, eat plenty of protein, plenty of fat, lots of veggies but very few starchy veggies and fruits, and you’ll be losing weight in no time. Oh, and as for nuts, yes, stay under about an ounce or two per day, as they’re very calorie dense. You (or, at least, I) could easily eat your whole day’s worth of requisite calories in one sitting with nuts! Harder to do with meat and veggies.
Paleo Plan does a great job of keeping you on track for losing weight, getting enough protein and fat, and staying within the Paleo boundaries. But if you notice that the meals are just not enough for you, increase the fat and protein amounts on your grocery list, or decrease them if you feel like a stuffed pig every time you eat one of our recipes. Listen to your body, use the Plan as a road map and take detours if you need to.