Author Topic: New to the primal diet and have some questions!  (Read 2988 times)

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Offline HoneyBadger

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New to the primal diet and have some questions!
« on: June 24, 2016, 03:18:48 am »
Hello all!
I am a 27-year old female from the U.S. who has recently embarked upon this raw journey! 

A little background info first: I grew up here in the U.S. and was raised on a traditional SAD diet.  I have always been highly interested in health and fitness which is, in part, what lead me to the primal diet.  Prior to adopting this way of eating, I was working out in the gym (weight-lifting and some cardio) while consuming what I thought to be a healthy diet of cooked veggies, carbs in the form of rice or sweet potatoes, and high amounts of lean, cooked protein in order to meat my caloric and macronutrient goals (because I was trying to reach a degree of leaness seen in female bikini bodybuilders).  I had done this for at least 2 years and noticed that while being able to stay relatively lean, my health, especially my digestion, were becoming increasingly poor.  I started searching online for possible solutions for my poor digestion (constipation, slowed transit time, bloating, etc) and came across HCLF raw veganism.  I tried this for about 2 months coupled with a 14-day mixed water/juice fast and found it to be very cleansing. However, I also noted that my energy was slowly declining and my hair, nails, and skin were becoming increasingly dry and brittle. I realized the importance of incorporating animals in my diet and came across this site after realizing that cooked meat was only going to undo all the progress I had made from going raw with fruits and veggies.  I have only been incorporating raw animal meats for about 2 weeks now.  So far I consume raw, wild salmon, raw grass-fed beef (liver and muscle meats), and raw eggs as it is difficult to find anything else unless I order it online.  I am still consuming some veggies like Spinach, lettuce, zucchini, tomato, carrots, and sweet potatoes (cooked).  I am also consuming fruits but in MUCH smaller quantities. I tend to consume papaya, watermelon, mangos, and bananas.  I usually try to split up my food groups so that my breakfast consists of fruits followed shortly by raw eggs (3-4), my lunch is typically a salad of some type with some nuts (sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, pistachios, or pumpkin seeds), and then dinner is usually 4-6 oz of raw meat that I occasionally combine with sauerkraut or some leafy greens.

I have found that while my digestion is better on a raw diet and bloating seems to be pretty nonexistent nowadays (aside from "that time of the month"), I still seem to suffer from indigestion at times, some constipation...although I term constipation more as my ability to only go 1-2 times a day as opposed to having a BM after each meal (which is how I used to be before my digestion went south), and some occasional gas and excessive gurgling noises in my GI tract. I am sure that it will take some time for my system to totally adjust to this diet though and am hoping to see continued benefits in this area.
So far, I LOVE this way of eating! It feels SO natural and right and I feel I have a great balance of mental calm and physical energy from eating this way.  During my short stint of raw HCLF, I did feel quite euphoric (from all the sugary fruits I'm sure) but found that the sugar crashes were quite terrible and I had to eat ALOT of fruit and veggies to feel full.

Here are a few questions I have that I am hoping some of the older, more experienced forum users might be able to answer:

1. Physical fitness has and continues to be a HUGE focus in my life. Working out has helped me balance some mental issues (diagnosed bipolar a few years back) and just helping me feel better overall. Therefore, I am a bit wary of consuming so much animal fat and fewer carbs.  I am currently still trying to stick to a caloric deficit in order to achieve my body composition and counting my macros.  After reading through some of the posts here, I understand that animal fat is very beneficial for regulating hormones and whatnot but my fear is that if I up my animal fat intake while lowering carbs more, I will gain fat.  Would it stand to reason then that IF I maintain my current total daily caloric intake WHILE increasing my fat macros and lessening my carb macros, would I still be able to efficiently cut fat and build muscle. I know that in the exercise forum, there are males there that talk of eating moderate protein and high fat/low carb with good results aesthetically and strength-wise.  I am a female though and am wondering if I can expect similar results. I was thinking of making out my macros to represent the following split: 30% protein, 50% fat, and about 20% from carbs.  I have always been on the thin/slender side and have a decent amount of muscle on me already. I am currently at 125 lbs and I am 5'6".  I am about 16-17% bodyfat but would like to continue cutting until I'm at about 13-14%. I would honestly love to incorporate more raw animal fat but am just needing some reassurance that upping my overall fat intake will not cause me to gain more fat.

2. Besides proper food combining, is there anything else I can do to help with my digestion/bowel health?  I understand, as mentioned above, that healing is a progress and will take time and I have only been doing this diet for about 2 weeks. I am just asking to see if there is anything I can do to speed up the process as I really don't want to go backwards in terms of progress (like not eating veggies for a bit or reducing fruit intake even more, etc.).

3. Is there a limit to how much meat we should be eating?  Since I came from a high-protein, bodybuilding diet and saw the negative effects of too much protein (albeit cooked protein), is there a limit or guideline as to how much meat we should be consuming daily as I know that meat, even raw, is still acidic and therefore too much could create an acidic/alkaline imbalance?

I appreciate any and all responses and am very excited to be here among like-minded people! I look forward to getting to know you all better! :)
« Last Edit: June 24, 2016, 03:29:54 am by HoneyBadger »
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Offline cherimoya_kid

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Re: New to the primal diet and have some questions!
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2016, 05:08:48 am »
Animal fat does not cause fat gain. Unless you're eating 80% or more of calories from fat, which you're nowhere near.

Fermented food and high meat will improve digestion. So will using smart food-combining.

Offline Eric

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Re: New to the primal diet and have some questions!
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2016, 06:01:58 am »
Greetings HB, welcome to the forum. I do CrossFit so I can identify with your predicament somewhat, although the workouts we do might be a bit more intense than what you do.

As for gaining fat from eating fat, I don't think you need to worry about that. My understanding of fat gain is that our body tends to store excess sugar as fat, so people put on fat by eating carbs, particularly refined sugar. Fat that is eaten is generally used as fuel or broken down into fatty acids that are used as building blocks for tissues and hormones. On that same note though, I'm not sure your pursuit of 13-14% body fat is a particularly healthy one. While I'm certainly not advocating for obesity, having too little body fat can be detrimental too as it can push the body towards various hormone disorders. As an individual, I don't see any practical value in pushing my body towards the ultra-low body fat percentages seen in professional fitness models. I myself don't find those types of physiques particularly attractive, either on men or on women.

As far as your digestion goes, you are right in that it can take time for the body to adjust to a new set of eating patterns and start producing the proper enzymes in the proper proportions. A couple more ideas you might consider: first, take a sip of vinegar before eating. The vinegar can promote production of HCl, which can help with digestion. A lot of people in the US suffer from too little HCl production, and this deficiency is often misdiagnosed. Second, make sure you chew your food very well. Raw foods have a range of enzymes in them that can help to break down the food item. These enzymes are degraded in the highly acidic environment of the stomach though, so the only time they can do their work is while you are chewing and swallowing. So chew your food well and let those innate enzymes do as much work as they can, which will take some of the load off of your digestive tract.

Another point: I tend to have one bowel movement per day and sometimes one every two days. It wouldn't occur to me to say that you suffer from constipation based on the info you provided.

Finally, I don't worry too much about counting calories or calculating my macronutrients. Unless you plan on trying out for the Olympics, I don't think counting calories is necessary. Just trust your body. If you're hungry, eat what you're hungry for. If you aren't hungry, don't eat. I suspect that I probably eat around 2,000 kilocalories per day, with about an even split between protein, carbs and fat. I need the extra carbs because of the highly anaerobic workouts we do in CrossFit, and a lot of these carbs come in the form of raw root vegetables like jerusalem artichokes, potatoes, burdock root, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, etc. I generally work out in the morning, and walk into the gym having fasted since the previous day. First meal after a workout is generally 100 percent raw protein, though it usually isn't a very big meal. I usually eat one or two larger afternoon meals that are dominated by plant foods, particularly the raw root vegetables I mentioned above for the carbs and the dietary fiber that's good for my gut microbes. My final meal of the day is usually a mix of plant foods and raw animal foods, with the latter making up the bulk of the calories. Tonight's dinner, for instance, will be wild-gathered purslane and lambs quarters with sliced carrots and jerusalem artichokes topped with olives and about 6 ounces of raw wild coho salmon. This pattern has worked for me reasonably well, although I am still experimenting and may tweak it yet.
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Offline HoneyBadger

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Re: New to the primal diet and have some questions!
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2016, 06:21:43 am »
Thank you for the replies, Cherimoya-kid and Eric! I am grateful for any and all input!

Eric-I found all of the info you provided to be quite helpful in regards to excercise, macros and calorie counting! I definitely will pursue eating more animal fats to see what kind of reaction my body has to them in terms of building more muscle and cutting fat. In response to the body fat percentage goals, I am fully aware that being at very low bodyfat percentages is not healthy...especially for women because we need more fat on our bodies than men in order for our hormones to run smoothly or so I've heard/read. That being said, I've always been rather slim and low bodyfat percentage and that is why I feel I could achieve a lower bodyfat percentage while still maintaining my health. Of course, if I started noticing that my health was taking a direct hit, I would do whatever necessary to reverse such an effect. Getting to a lower bodyfat percentage is just a current goal that I am working on and feel it wouldn't make a huge impact on my health as it's summertime here in Southern Louisiana and a lower bodyfat percentage would be perfect for the humid, intense heat here. In the winter, when it gets colder, I will probably go back up to 15-17%  bodyfat.

In regards to bowel movement frequency, I guess the reason I say I am "constipated" is because when eating the traditional bodybuilding diet prior to PD and before my digestive issues, I would have a bowel movement after each meal and I was eating 4-5 small meals a day! I have read many different older health books (from soilandhealth.com) along with recommendations from Ayurvedic teachings that normal bowel movements are classified as moving the bowels after each meal. I also feel very uncomfortable (like the food is just sitting there) when I go only once or twice a day vs. after each meal so I guess to put it more clearly, that is why I said I was constipated. I like the recommendation for taking ACV before a meal though, I was doing this regularly for a while before I experimented with raw foods and it did seem to help with my indigestion...it's something I will definitely have to re-incorporate into my daily routine.

Eric-I noticed when you mentioned what you are on the daily that you didn't mention eating any fruit, can I ask why you don't eat any fruit or very little?

Thank you again for your replies! :)
"Each of us a cell of awareness, imperfect and incomplete.  Genetic blends with uncertain ends on a fortunate hunt that's far too fleet." -Neil Peart

Offline Eric

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Re: New to the primal diet and have some questions!
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2016, 06:38:32 am »
I do eat some fruit, but not much. Probably one serving per day, on average, and it's never the centerpiece of a meal. Fruit has a lot of fructose in it, which is challenging for my body to process in any quantity. Some fruits balance that fructose with lower sugar overall and a lot of antioxidants, so I tend to eat those fruits more. Examples of my preferred fruits include blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and various wild fruits. I tend to avoid most of the fruits you seem to gravitate to. Just too much sugar for me.
Eric Garza
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Offline TylerDurden

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Re: New to the primal diet and have some questions!
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2016, 06:38:42 am »
One of the big mistakes that newbies make is to eat too much raw food every day. Since raw foods contain much higher levels of nutrients than cooked foods, generally, one does not need to eat as much. Raw minced meat, incidentally, makes me eat more than I should. Better to buy raw meat in unminced form.

Do not eat raw plant foods soon after eating raw animal foods. Other than that, I should add that most of us experience minor detoxes in the initial phase of transitioning to rawpalaeo from cooked. This is necessary as the body needs to get rid of the toxins built up from years of eating cooked. Everyone is different. In my own case, after going 100% RVAF, I immediately had constant green diarrhea for the first 2 or 3 days, requiring me to visit the toilet/bathroom every 30 minutes or less. After that, every 2 to 4 months, I would experience some flu-like symptoms for 2 to 7 days(eg:- hot forehead, extreme tiredness, runny nose) which would decline in terms of severity, duration and frequency until they stopped after c.2 or 3 years.

Also bear in mind that we are all different as individuals, because of our different health, different genetics and different circumstances. For example, I find I am allergic to raw dairy and raw veggie-juice and raw suet  in moderate or high quantities give me instant diarrhea as my body cannot seem to digest them properly. The point being that I suggest you constantly experiment for the first few years to see what raw foods work best for you. For example, you might thrive much better on raw (wildcaught) shellfish  than on raw grassfed meat from land mammals, or you might find that you do much better on a diet with a higher percentage of raw plant food in it than you currently have. Lastly, while diet is one solution to health etc., it is not the only solution, so looking for other options as well might be an idea.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2016, 01:15:28 pm by TylerDurden »

Offline HoneyBadger

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Re: New to the primal diet and have some questions!
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2016, 07:26:22 am »
TylerDurden- I appreciate the input! I should mention that I experienced quite a bit of detox during my HCLF stint. However, I have noticed sinus pressure and a tightening feeling in my jaw that I attribute to detox after starting the primal diet.

In regards to eating too much as a newbie, how is one supposed to know and when too much is, well, too much?  I'm pretty active and therefore have a pretty strong appetite. I am trying to keep my calories between 1300-1500 though so that I don't consume too much (also for my weight-lifting goals). However, I think that once I incorporate some more fats in my diet, I will probably start feeling more satiated with even less food.

Another question for all and anyone:  Someone replied above that animal fat does not translate into creating fat when one consumes it. However, does anyone know if plant fats (avocado, coconut oil) cause fat gain or do they follow the same principles as animal fat? The reason I ask is because I currently have beef liver, beef chuckroast, and salmon that I need to consume before buying more meet and I am unsure if there is enough fat in these cuts/organs alone or if I should be adding some plant fats when I eat them.  For future planning, what are the fattier cuts of meat/organs that I should be consuming?
"Each of us a cell of awareness, imperfect and incomplete.  Genetic blends with uncertain ends on a fortunate hunt that's far too fleet." -Neil Peart

Offline cherimoya_kid

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Re: New to the primal diet and have some questions!
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2016, 09:01:59 am »
Coconut oil causes weight LOSS. Avocados do tend to cause very slight weight gain.

Fatty cuts include bone marrow, tongue, brain, brisket, hanger steak, and a few others that a seafood eater like me doesn't eat very often. Grassfed animals have very little fat on them, relatively, so you need to be aware of that.

Offline TylerDurden

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Re: New to the primal diet and have some questions!
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2016, 01:36:44 pm »
It is impossible to tell you how much you should eat every day.We all have different metabolic-rates/different physical builds/weight etc.  for a wide variety of reasons. Just keep on experimenting with amounts and varieties of raw foods until you find what's best for you alone. In the meantime, perhaps you should read the sticky threads in this subsection:-

http://www.rawpaleodietforum.com/important-info-for-newbies/

Once you've gotten used to fresh, raw meats, you might consider reading this thread too:-

http://www.rawpaleodietforum.com/display-your-culinary-creations/high-meat-recipe-preparation-for-more-advanced-rafers/

Offline HoneyBadger

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Re: New to the primal diet and have some questions!
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2016, 06:14:15 am »
Cherimoya-Kid: Thank you for elaborating on the different fats (coconut oil & avocados) and how they each cause different reactions, that wa helpful! Also, thanks for the list of fatty meats...can't wait to pick some up and grub down ;D!

TylerDurden: Thanks for the links! I'll be sure to check them out! I'm looking forward to making high meat actually...that's the next step in my journey for sure! Can I make liver high meat? The liver I have is pretty bloody so I'm worried about it becoming too soupy. Can one make liver high meat without it getting too soupy?
"Each of us a cell of awareness, imperfect and incomplete.  Genetic blends with uncertain ends on a fortunate hunt that's far too fleet." -Neil Peart

Offline dariorpl

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Re: New to the primal diet and have some questions!
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2016, 07:12:56 am »
There's a specific sub-forum for the primal diet. It seems what you're doing so far is more paleo.

From a primal diet perspective (which is the one I agree with the most), yes animal fats will make you gain fat, and that is a good thing. It may not be good for your body image goals, but it's the best for your health. Toxins store in fat cells to keep them locked up where they can't do much harm, so if you don't have enough fat reserves, the toxins in your body must be stored in your marrow, brain and other organs. There, they will do a lot of damage to your health.

The only way for animal fats to not produce fat gain is if you're doing an extremely low-carb, only moderate protein, and very high fat, ketogenic diet.

Also, fermented vegetables in large amounts is a bad idea. As are other whole vegetables on a daily basis. You wanna have vegetable juice instead.

If you have trouble with constipation, there's two good ways to deal with that. The first, if you can stomach it, is to have high meats or fermented eggs. The second is to have more bland fruits, like tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet bell peppers, etc. There is actually a third one, but I won't mention it here as it's highly unlikely you will want to try it as a beginner, and you won't have the elements required for it anyway.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2016, 07:46:30 am by dariorpl »
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Offline cherimoya_kid

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Re: New to the primal diet and have some questions!
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2016, 08:45:19 am »
We have quite a few members here who can confirm that they have zero trouble with weight gain on high-animal-fat diets. Including Lex, including Sabertooth, including eveheart. The general consensus is that total calories from fat have to be over 80% to cause noticeable weight gain.

Not that it matters.

Offline eveheart

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Re: New to the primal diet and have some questions!
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2016, 10:21:24 am »
The weight-gain process is complex, but ingested fat has relatively no involvement. Ingested carbohydrates are the fat-storage trigger because insulin is the body's fat-storage hormone.
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Offline TylerDurden

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Re: New to the primal diet and have some questions!
« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2016, 09:30:19 pm »

TylerDurden: Thanks for the links! I'll be sure to check them out! I'm looking forward to making high meat actually...that's the next step in my journey for sure! Can I make liver high meat? The liver I have is pretty bloody so I'm worried about it becoming too soupy. Can one make liver high meat without it getting too soupy?
All depends on the individual. I myself could only handle the taste of  "high-meat" in the form of raw, aged tongue or raw, aged heart. Raw aged, muscle-meat etc. just made me puke. Maybe, though, you may love raw liver high-meat - who knows? raw liver high-meat tends to be a liquid soup, just so you know...

 

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