About the Post

Author Information

I am a New Zealand registered nurse and nutritionist (Grad Cert Sci: nutrition, Massey Univ). I am a Certified Zone Instructor, and have worked teaching Zone diet principles to hundreds of clients over the last 10 years. More recently after finding that eating Paleo food choices was the "icing on the cake" health wise, I have become a Paleo enthusiast and teacher. Follow me on twitter @juliannejtaylor

CrossFit and low carb paleo, why isn’t this client losing weight?

Case Study and a challenge for you

I’m going to outline a case study, and I’d love to get your feedback as to what you think is the problem and how we solve this weight (or rather FAT) loss problem.

This is a case study on a type, rather than one person. I have had a string of clients over the last 6 months who are so remarkably similar, I’m doing a kind of composit case study.

This client has a goal for fat loss, increased performance, better energy and sleep. Despite eating a low carb paleo diet and doing 5 – 6 sessions of CrossFit (or similar high intensity training) she is not the desired results in fat loss and performance.

Note: The following is all the information I collected from this client on her first consultation with me, she had put herself on a low carb diet because she had read and been told this is the best way to lose weight.

Client: Female

Age: 28

Weight: 68 kg (150lbs) Height 5’6″ BMI 24.1

Measurements: Waist at navel: 32″, smallest 30″ Hips at widest point: 40″ Shape: pear, waist to hip around .75

Body fat: looks high 20’s – 30%, would like to be closer to 20%, would like to lose about 8 kg fat, and retain strength

Here is a picture of a woman with similar measurements:

Woman 150lbs 5'6" pear shape

Woman 150lbs 5’6″ pear shape

Exercise: 5 – 6 sessions of CrossFit or bootcamp / boxing per week. Maybe some cardio as well, like running. Making slow progress, but feels a lack of energy when training, recovers fairly well after a session.

Reason for consultation: Failing to lose body fat despite eating a low carb paleo diet.

Typical complaints (For a list of questions I usually ask in a consultation – link to a simple version)

Cravings: Constantly craving usually sweet food, often immediately after a meal, worse on days with hard workouts – eating nuts between meals to stave of cravings, or more often give in to cravings and eat biscuits, chocolate, might binge then feel guilty.

Sleep: Disturbed sleep, difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep. Sleeps 6 – 7 hours, has a busy job and social life

Feel fatigued / Tired in the afternoon

Gut: tends to get bloated on wheat / gluten, but no longer eating it so not an issue (except if gives in to biscuits)

Skin: prone to breakouts / pimples

Otherwise healthy, does not get sick easily.

Type of person: successful, driven, happy, motivated to succeed.

Weight loss: hit a plateau (for weeks or months)

Diet: Cut down carbs lower – below 50 g per day to try to lose weight, but feels tired in afternoon, not sleeping well, finds workout quality reduced.

Typical days food:

Breakfast: Eggs and non starch veggies plus coconut oil

Snack: nuts

Lunch: Salad plus chicken or tinned fish, avocado

Snack: nuts or paleo nut bar

Dinner: Meat / fish or chicken, selection of non starch vegetables, plenty of healthy fat

Weaknesses: Alcohol, (can’t stop at one, drinks a lot 1 – 2 times a week), biscuits, chocolate, chips (caves in at least 2 times a week)

Sugar: does not have sugar unless craving (chocolate) 1 diet coke day, no drinks with sugar in them

Caffeine: 1 -2 coffees plus 1 diet coke

Supplements: fish oil capsules, occasional magnesium. Gets sun on skin without block so Vitamin D levels likely to be okay.


By all accounts – this diet is the perfect low carb one to give weight loss, although this woman has been following it or months her weight has not budged.

If you were the nutritionist – what would you do?



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94 Responses to “CrossFit and low carb paleo, why isn’t this client losing weight?”

  1. Ben #

    Seems too low carb for that much activity. I’d feel fatigued for sure. I would definitely add in a decent amount of starch post workout.

    February 10, 2013 at 12:56 pm Reply
    • Agree with you, Ben. Carbs are fuel and an active person or athlete needs to have ready fuel available. Yes, the body can convert, but as he said, too low carb for the activity level stated.
      That said, everyone’s metabolism differs, not everyone will respond to the same type of nutrition – in otherwords perhaps a Paleo diet does not suit her metabolism and activity level. As advisors we need to understand that advocating only one type of diet defeats our stated purpose.
      Also, what suppliments is she taking? RDI’s are not enough for her stated activity level, review PDI’s instead. Has she had a vitamin D deficiency test? It could be a deficiency, or perhaps she is not adequately reporting her consumption levels.
      Helen makes a good point too, stress could be a factor, stressors can be addressed with proper supplimentation, yoga, and/or some guided stress relieving meditation practice. Good luck! <3

      April 22, 2013 at 6:01 am Reply
    • Ann #

      Low carbs are fine for this activity. My first thought…cut out the nuts and nut butters. And if cheating cheat for a small chocolate candy not biscuits, bread, rice, cereal etc.

      November 13, 2014 at 9:09 am Reply
      • Ann #

        Forgot to mention…No Alcohol.

        November 13, 2014 at 9:10 am Reply
  2. Helen #

    I’m seeing some red lights with “driven” and “busy job and social life”. PLUS there’s a lot of HIT and not a lot of relaxing, fun, enjoyable movement. What is the busy job? Sitting in a windowless office under fluoro lights with a 40-minute commute? What happens before bedtime? TV/computer until 10PM? I’m thinking stress is a significant component here. I’d be advising some stress reduction methods like Heartmath or Yoga, try to make the social life involve a fun outdoors activity instead of a club or bar, and switch out a session or two of Crossfit for a walk or cycle in the park.

    I’m also not too sure about VLC. I find that I do better on moderate carbs.

    Lastly the alcohol. It messes with sleep and (AFAIK, recalling info from heaven-knows-where) is metabolized preferentially so will mess up ketosis.

    Finally, I question the need to get body fat too low. A little more maybe, but there’s this thing women have called estrogen… 🙂

    February 10, 2013 at 12:59 pm Reply
  3. Helen #

    oh and ditch the diet coke. Ugh!

    February 10, 2013 at 1:01 pm Reply
  4. Claude #

    If it was me I would introduce a bit more protein with midmirning and afternoon snacks and perhaps even after dinner before bed.
    She could be overtraining and perhaps the body is holding on to fat to store energy. Perhaps introduce a slow long walk at low intensity as a change up or a birkam session .give the body time to recover.

    February 10, 2013 at 1:10 pm Reply
  5. Charlotte #

    This sounds remarkably like me too! It is worth looking deeper into hormonal imbalances that may be impacting the situation. For example if the adrenals are fatgued then you are likely to see a slowing of the all systems of the body, including thyroid being affected. It’s natural for the body to ‘resist’ in times of stress – whether mental, physical etc. So look at adrenal function especially DHEA and cortisol, thyroid function (not just labs), progesterone-oestrogen ratio, testosterone, insulin etc.There may be some clues there. DIM has helped with some pear shaped women I know who are oestrogen dominant. Other than that I would look at hidden food intolerances also. I still havent found my breakthrough but I’m working on it, and I think that hormonal balance is one of the keys to this.
    In terms of the cravings perhaps Chromium is worth trying, as well as looking that she is getting enough fats at each meal. I think she may be one of those, like me, that have to be rigorous about staying away from ‘bad’ foods to really get rid of cravings.
    I hope some of this sparks conversation!

    February 10, 2013 at 1:16 pm Reply
  6. Jennifer #

    I agree with Ben except I think she needs to maybe add some starchy veg to some of her meals. Something like sweet potato. Find an alternate snack to the nuts ie; full fat yoghurt. It would be interesting to know what alcohol she binges on because that sounds like a lot of sugar to me as well as the diet coke ( which tells her brain sugar hit anyway ) and all the cravings she seems to give in to. Hope you do a followup on this case to give us all some insight……I’m going through a similar plateau so this is a wake-up post for me!

    February 10, 2013 at 1:27 pm Reply
  7. As a nutritionist, I see this with quite a few people, mostly women, who are working out regularly. This woman probably tends to hold some extra weight around her middle as well. This to me is a fairly classic example of someone who has put their body in continuous stress mode, taxing thèir adrenal glands and producing excess cortisol b/c their not giving their body enough of what it needs to properly refuel and recover well. I would highly recommend a few things: eat more starches like root veggies! Her body is starving of fuel…even efficient fat adapted folks who are athletic and workout at a high intensity need more starches then the typical low carb, moderate activity individual. This lack of dense carbs is greatly contributing to sugar cravings….including the alcohol which is after in large part a sugar addiction. I would also recommend she re-evaluate her training regimen….is she training for something or training to lose weight and change body comp? She will never do that if she continues to train like that and not allow for proper recovery by proper refueling. Many people think with methods like crossfit, it’s all about protein, but that is wrong. I consider doing crossfit 3-4 days a week and something like yoga the other 2 days or every 3 weeks drop from 5-6 sessions to nothing but yoga etc for one week then back to it. This is crucial for proper recovery, something all athletes or folks training hard need to do. I would also start taking some adaptogen herbs like rhodiola and Eleuthero to give her adrenals the support they need. If this continues she will end up with reproductive hormone issues as the adrenals and repro hormones are very connected. So wrap up: eat root veggies regularly, take adaptogen herbs and switch up her training routine, focus on recovery, recovery, recivery. i know for sure this will help.

    February 10, 2013 at 1:43 pm Reply
  8. tess #

    drop the nuts. increase fatty ruminant meat. no snacking. limit one glass of wine per meal. 🙂 works for me and i’m old enough to be her mother.

    February 10, 2013 at 1:44 pm Reply
  9. You could be describing me! And that photo could be me too! And my occupation is a yoga teacher, so am active even when not working out. And yet, I cannot seem to shift the belly weight.
    I am desperate to know the answer… Can you post that too?

    February 10, 2013 at 1:51 pm Reply
  10. Mary Lewis #

    Stop the excessive exercise. Cut crossfit and othe rtypes of strenuous working out to 2 and NEVER over 3 days/week. Take at least one full day off per week (no exercise.) Right now, two days off would be even better! Space the crossfit/strenuous workout days so she is never doing 2 in a row. In between Crossfit days, do gentle, regular walking outside in nature- no treadmills – for 30 min to a max of one hour. And we are not talking about racewalking here, but regular paced walking. She is not eating anything approaching a low carb diet for at least 3-4 days/wk as per your description of her cravings, binges and alcohol consumption. Stress needs to be looked into. Sleep hygiene and sleep promoting activities and rituals may help as well as relaxation work. Her breakfast may well be too lightweight and setting the entire day off on the wrong foot. Look at replacing breakfast veggies with some type of fatty breakfast meat. Some types of aerobic exercise (not high intensity stuff for her!) have been shown to very positively impact anxiety levels, depression and stress tolerance in general. And they can be helpful in burning fat. 20 to a MAX of 30 min a couple days a week of LOW IMPACT dancercise or other aerobic activity may be useful – but NOT 60 min and not high intensity stuff. So, ideally I’d like to see her doing only 2 crossfit days, 2 low impact aerobic days for 30 min max only, a walking in nature day for a max of 60min and taking two days off. She needs some good recovery. The first move here is to cut the way excessive intense exercise NOW.

    February 10, 2013 at 2:09 pm Reply
    • Kristen #

      Thank you for your post. I am 41 and experiencing a similar pattern to this client. I have been doing Crossfit 3 days in a row for 4 months and have gained weight. My clothes are tight as well. I’ve noticed an increase of fat in my midsection despite doing intense abdominal/core training. This has happened during periods of intense stress. After researching exercise and hypothyroidism, I learned that intense exercise with hypothyroidism can be counterproductive as intense exercise lowers thyroid hormone levels. I will be following a regime similar to the one you described above. Thank you.

      April 29, 2013 at 10:45 pm Reply
  11. Jenna #

    How long ago did she cut back below 50 g carbs/day? It can take several weeks for that to get better (energy back) and if you cheat during that time it takes longer…

    February 10, 2013 at 2:10 pm Reply
  12. Kimberlie #

    I’m fairly similar, except a little shorter. What has worked for me lately is to add additional weight training (powerlifting specifically). This hasn’t changed my weight, but has helped change my body composition. For diet, I’ve condensed my eat window to a 9 hour/day window (typically twi meals) and I train Crossfit a fasted state, have coffee afterwards with coconut milk and don’t eat until lunch. This has made my otherwise stuck scale finally move.

    February 10, 2013 at 2:15 pm Reply
  13. Jac #

    Too much cardio exercise, for a start. I’d reduce to maybe twice a week, and introduce heavy lifting twice a week. Then eliminate the nuts, take out the cheats, and reduce the alcohol. I’d also be interested to know what ‘plenty of healthy fat’ really is, and the consider increasing the fat a bit to achieve satiety.

    February 10, 2013 at 3:07 pm Reply
    • Nick #

      Agreed, way to much anaerobic training. She needs to work on some traditional strength training to help build up her lean muscle mass and by doing so she will boost her metabolism. Crossfit is fun and I love it but it does have the tendency to produce catabolic results.

      January 7, 2016 at 8:07 pm Reply
  14. She needs to match her carb intake to her activity level. To meet her goals, I would advise her to increase the former and decrease the latter.

    February 10, 2013 at 3:31 pm Reply
  15. Haha, this used to be me, therefore I can hopefully get away with saying that she won’t get anywhere until she can exercise some self control in the alcohol dept. She has to want it bad enough to do that. If you want the killer bod, you do have to make some sacrifices, unfortunately.

    Alcohol messed with sleep, and bad sleep leads to all the rest, including metabolic problems and sugar cravings. She needs to make sleep a priority – get off that computer at nighttime.

    I’d recommend:

    *Weaning off the alcohol and (I assume) caffeine. Make a schedule. She is probably addicted to both and a slower approach is less shocking. Get it down to say, 1-2 glasses alcohol a week and 1 coffee a day. This is a behavioural change, requiring embracing new habits (like.. soda water, not so bad once you get used to it!).
    *Addressing stress through time management
    *going easy on the nuts, not only are they high fat, but she could have a problem with the anti-nutrients in them.
    *Look carefully at portion sizes. With high fat foods like avocado, it is easy to get too many calories. I know calories are a secondary concern, but they do count for something.
    *If she needs treats, try and get them into the post workout window (30-60mins after the workout – best time for carbs). It might be good to try a carby postworkout snack as well, to see if this reduces sugar cravings at other times.
    * Cut back volume of training (you don’t say how long a crossfit class is, but I get better results with 3-4 x 20 minute higher intensity sessions a week. Less is more).

    *Glutamine. There is a fair body of work on glutamine being of benefit for both sugar and alcohol cravings. I know it helped me, a lot.
    *Run the diet through a tracker and see if she is low in B3 or B5 – these are the biggies for bad skin. Or just try and B3/B5 supplement and see what happens.

    *Smaller goals. Aiming for 20% bf may be unrealistic for her body type. Take it a little at a time and see how she feels.
    * Try to gently assess whether there is a binge eating problem. If the ‘caving in’ involves a packet of biscuits, there might be an underlying issue that needs addressing, and a hardcore, low-carb diet is not the best to suggest to someone with binge eating disorder (they will just rebel.. with binges). The criteria for BED is: 2+ binges a week / feeling that they can’t control it / feeling of self-loathing and shame afterward. If there is BED, you might need to involve a psych. BED is stupidly common in people that have tried, and failed to lose weight over a long period of time.

    That’s all I got. It’s certainly interesting. AND frustrating for both yourself and the client.

    February 10, 2013 at 4:14 pm Reply
    • Markelle #

      Well said Sara.

      April 23, 2016 at 1:53 am Reply
  16. The performance issues and craving sweet foods while crossfitting 5-6 times per week and eating 50 grams of carbs all point towards the need to increase carbs.

    Nuts, alcohol, the 6-7 hours of sleep, the cheats, the diet coke probably don’t help either.

    (It seems like nuts are supplying a considerable portion of her total calories, because without them it doesn’t look like she’s eating much.)

    The minor acne suggests a minor resolved issue, which could be related to any the problems above, but otherwise suggests some minor immune dysfunction/GI problems

    If she wants to do 5-6 lots of crossfit per week she would need to get more like 8-10 hours of sleep and eat something like 150+ carbs per day.

    But then I think the answer Julianne

    February 10, 2013 at 4:54 pm Reply
    • *but then I think you already know the answer Julianne*

      February 10, 2013 at 4:59 pm Reply
  17. Jennifer R #

    They have tanked endocrine systems. Way too much exercise and in need of a lot more carbs. These woman need to heal their systems with herbs and vitamins, gentle exercise like yoga and walking, and eat some starch. After a few months to a year or two, slowly go back to Crossfit.

    I also had a friend lose significant weight on GAPS when nothing else has worked.

    I would recommend Chinese medicine to help get their systems under control faster. (I’m biased as it is my future profession. It helped me heal from many things.)

    February 10, 2013 at 5:15 pm Reply
  18. Sonia #

    I’m not an expert by any stretch and I’m still trying to work on getting myself 100% paleo but I really don’t think she’s been strict enough on that. It looks like her binge activities with alcohol and carbs that include not only massively high amounts of refined sugar but also wheat and gluten would be screwing with her hormones, sleep and energy levels in a big way- not to mention the HIT that has been discussed, which it seems she might be overdoing while attempting LC very intemittently. It sounds like she’s saying “yeah, I’m totally paleo except for this, this, this, this oh and then that”.. I don’t think you can say that the paleo regime isn’t working for her b/c she’s not really giving it a good go. You’ve said it sounds like the perfect low carb diet and I’m sorry but it just doesn’t.
    Perhaps she would benefit from dropping down to 3 crossfit sessions per week and doing a bit of a strict 30 day paleo month where she doesn’t cheat or drink alcohol or any of that other crap. Maybe a whole 30 approach for a month and then she can get into the high fat, mod protein, low carb ways with some more success.

    February 10, 2013 at 6:09 pm Reply
  19. Julie Clare #

    Maybe exercise a bit less so she doesn’t need to snack or have too many carbs, resting the body from the hormonal load in some way? I just finished Whole 30 with no snacking, 3 meals a day, and leaving 3 hours between dinner and bed with no food. I adapted fairly quickly (there were a few evenings of cravings before things settled down) The 3 meals need to be pretty good to last you to the next comfortably. Lost 5kg I’d regained after a hip problem last year. I still have weight to lose though. I had a read a funny book called Mastering Leptin by Byron J Richards and wanted to try the no snacking thing,

    February 10, 2013 at 6:25 pm Reply
  20. i wonder if the diet supplies enough micronutrients to allow the metabolic flexibility she needs to burn stores in place of snacking. I’d suggest red meat instead of chicken, hard cheese and tart fruit instead of nuts, and I’d try 200mcg chromium as piccolinate for the sugar cravings (worked for me).

    February 10, 2013 at 7:32 pm Reply
  21. I received this from Tom as a personal email and he has given permission to post:
    Hi Julianne,

    I’m not a nutritionist, I was trained as a biologist, so I don’t have “the answers” but believe some of the info below might be helpful:

    see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2892765/ on informative documentation of how diet coke and “sugar-free” drinks actually exacerbate sugar cravings and lead to weight gain.
    see article copied below re why “intense (crossfit) cardio” is actually bad for your heart and bones (as well as your joints) and a reasonable alternative (assuming your clients do not have neck or back problems).
    Disturbed sleep could be due to a host of factors – can’t help without knowing more about individuals’ lifestyles, stressors, etc.
    “Weaknesses: Alcohol, (can’t stop at one, drinks a lot 1 – 2 times a week), biscuits, chocolate, chips (caves in at least 2 times a week).” Since she “drinks a lot” there are obviously a lot of extra calories being added to her intake without any real nutrients making it more difficult to lose weight. Same scenario re caving in to sugar (and high calorie) sweets.
    Supplements: What about supplements to cover a wide spectrum of micronutrients like boron, iodine, etc? A deficiency in micronutrients may be contributing to her cravings. I believe our bodies are innately programmed to recognize micronutrient deficiencies thus stimulating us to eat more in an effort to satisfy the need for these micronutrients. Obviously processed foods. alcohol and even many paleo foods may still be deficient in certain micronutrients. Seaweed products should be helpful as long as an excess of iodine isn’t ingested.

    Hope some of this helps,

    Tom Lang
    Put Money In Your Heart’s Bank Account
    If going to the gym for hours on end to do the same thing over and over doesn’t feel right, you’re on to something. Because it isn’t natural.
    Forcing your body to perform the same continuous cardiovascular exercise by repeating the same movement, at the same rate, thousands of times over, without variation, without rest, is unnatural.
    This type of demand does not exist in nature. You never see animals moving that way. Our ancient ancestors never moved like that – unless they were under great stress.
    Yet endless moderate exercise is what you’re told will be the only way to make your heart “healthy.” In fact, this is “National Heart Month” and you’ll see endless advice like this for the next few weeks. Just today I read an article advising that “2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity is recommended each week.”
    But moderate aerobic activity for long periods of time is the opposite of what your heart needs for top performance.
    Today I’ll show you what I mean, and how you can easily boost your heart’s power by using a simple alternative.
    You see, your body adapts to whatever you throw at it. And so, when you do “cardio” at the gym, your body adapts… but in the wrong direction.
    Cardiovascular endurance exercise “downsizes” your heart. Your output shrinks, and what you get is efficiency. That means you economize your heart’s power so you can go long distances.
    The problem is, no one ever stopped to think if training like this – building endurance – was the right thing to do.
    And as it turns out, you give up something much more valuable by training for endurance with cardio.
    The first question you’re probably asking is, what’s wrong with increasing your endurance?
    The problem with it is, instead of building heart strength, it robs your heart of vital reserve capacity. Your heart’s reserve capacity is that portion of its highest possible output that you don’t use during usual activity.
    Think of it as money in the bank. If you have $50,000 in your checking account, you won’t be bothered by a $1,500 repair you didn’t expect. But if you only have a tiny amount in reserve, any surprise could mean disaster.
    Your heart works the same way. If your heart is in good shape and you only use 40 percent of its capacity during your normal daily routine, you’ll have enough reserve power to help you when you need it. But if you give up your reserve power by running and doing long-duration cardio, a sudden stressful event can trigger a heart attack.
    Heart attacks don’t occur because you lack endurance. They occur when there’s a sudden increase in demand that exceeds your heart’s capacity to handle it.
    Giving up your heart’s reserve capacity to adapt to unnatural bouts of continuous, prolonged, durational exercise only increases your risk of sudden cardiac death.
    And endurance exercise doesn’t just weaken your heart, it mimics the effects of stress, poor diet, and aging.
    A groundbreaking study of long-distance runners showed that after a workout, the blood levels and oxidation of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides increase. And as I read further into the study I found that prolonged running disrupts the balance of blood thinners and thickeners. This has the effect of increasing inflammation and blood clotting – both signs of heart distress.1
    Cardiovascular endurance exercise is bad for your bones, too. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that long-distance runners had reduced bone mass. This is true for both men and women – and women had an increased risk for osteoporosis, as well.2
    So, instead, if you want a heart that’s ready for action at a moment’s notice, with the extra capacity to deal with stress, you can use a simple alternative to endurance exercise.
    Think “cardiopulmonary exertion.” This means that in place of exercising for longer and longer, you make your workouts brief but “progressive.”
    What do I mean by progressive? You start off easy at a level that’s comfortable for you, and then increase the difficulty (pick up the pace or increase the resistance).
    The key is, don’t increase the time you spend exerting yourself. Just increase the challenge a little bit each time. In this way, you’ll be training your heart, lungs and muscles for strength and peak capacity but not endurance. This reprograms your body to cut fat, stay lean, prevent pain and build real heart strength.
    In fact, here’s a capacity-building movement you can try right at home. It’s straight from myPACE Express DVD Program and it’s called a Jack Knife. The trick to getting the most out of the Jack Knife is to keep your legs and arms completely straight through the entire period of exertion.

    1. First, lie with your back on the ground or floor. Lay your arms and your legs flat so that your body forms a straight line.
    2. Lift your arms, with your palms facing the ceiling, and your legs off the ground 12 inches.
    3. Inhale as you lift your straight arms and straight legs up so that your hands touch your shins, and your body looks like a closed folding knife.
    4. Exhale as you lower your limbs back down quickly – but don’t let your arms and legs touch the floor. This is very important to work your muscles enough to deplete their glycogen and enter the supra-aerobic zone.
    5. Lift again, keeping your arms and legs straight. Do this for as many repetitions as you can, for three sets. Remember to recover fully between each set.

    If you’ve never done a Jack Knife before, start with just a few. Vary how fast you do them and how many you can do for a true cardiopulmonary workout.
    To Your Good Health,
    Al Sears, MD
    Al Sears, MD
    1. Liu M, Bergholm R, Makimattila, S, et al. “A marathon run increases the susceptibility of LDL to oxidation in vitro and modifies plasma antioxidants.” Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab.1999;276(6 pt 1): E1083-E1091.
    2. Hetland ML, Haarbo J, Christiansen, C. “Low bone mass and high bone turnover in male long distance runners.” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 1993;77(3):770-775.

    February 10, 2013 at 7:47 pm Reply
    • Ben #

      Where is the article on intense cardio?

      February 11, 2013 at 2:22 am Reply
  22. 1) Decrease workouts to twice weekly, three at most. The body needs rest and recovery time.
    2) Limit alcohol to special occasions only, 1-2 times month. (For this hypothetical person, not necessarily everybody.)
    3) Have her do a food diary for two weeks (including calorie counts) to convince her she’s eating more than she thinks, especially carbs.


    February 10, 2013 at 9:51 pm Reply
  23. shar #

    stop drinking DIET anything would be a great place to start 🙂

    February 10, 2013 at 10:07 pm Reply
  24. Jo #

    Alcohol: People who can’t stop at just one often find it easier to stop for a while rather than try to moderate. I recommend Allen Carrs Easy Way to Quit Drinking which may be available in your local library. Given her other cravings she might also consider Potatoes Not Prosac.

    IMO she is also over exercising for her body type and diet.

    February 10, 2013 at 10:16 pm Reply
  25. Since you ask… crossfit less, eat more fat, no snack/pseudo-food-beverage… as everybody else suggests.

    I would add more practical advice for the alcohol, just like Dr. Briffa’s piece, and circadian regulation through (blue) light exposure only during the day, Dr. Kruse’s style.

    I wouldn’t assume good levels of vitamin D without measuring. Simple tests, preassure on bones or questionaire, should give an approximate idea, though.

    February 11, 2013 at 2:57 am Reply
  26. John #


    February 11, 2013 at 3:17 am Reply
  27. Get bloodwork done and make sure the thyroid is working properly.

    February 11, 2013 at 4:23 am Reply
  28. Beverly #

    REST! It looks like the big thing that is not being addressed is sleep habits. Can she get her doctor to send her for a sleep study? If she is waking up feeling unrested there may be other problems to be addressed. Besides which, 6 hours sleep is just not enough, she will feel better if she allows herself more time for sleep. Remind her that it is not “sinful” or “indulgent” it is the body’s way of healing and recharging. Maybe a couple workouts could be ditched to get extra sleep, and one day a week used for resting.

    February 11, 2013 at 8:10 am Reply
  29. Thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions. I do have a followup post coming and will go over what I recommended, and what the results were!

    February 11, 2013 at 9:34 am Reply
  30. How much protein is she eating per meal?
    There is some evidence to support targeting 30-40 grams per meal and 2.2 g/kg of lean body mass (LBM) per day. So assuming 48 KG of LBM she may consider consuming a little over 100 grams of protein per day. If she is only eating two eggs (12g) in the AM that may not be enough.

    As others have said the Diet Coke could cause craving and there is anecdotal evidence that artificial sweeteners can blunt ketosis.
    Is she consuming any sweetener in her coffee or her paleo nut bar?

    She may be helped by consuming high glycemic carbs immediately post workout (white rice/potatoes) and again in the evening.

    Has she considered having a couple squares of high quality dark chocolate as an end of day treat?

    Also is she on birth control? That could also factor in.

    February 11, 2013 at 5:45 pm Reply
    • Not on birth control. Yes – birth control pills can be a big issue and can increase leaky gut, weight and inflammation in my observation.
      No sweeteners.
      She is having decent amounts of protein.

      February 11, 2013 at 5:55 pm Reply
  31. Sue #

    Needs more carbohydrates. Cortisol and serotonin an issue. Needs gut repair and probiotics.

    February 11, 2013 at 11:39 pm Reply
  32. Honora #

    Non-compliance may be the issue. As a young woman I began to diet and found myself binging so went to a hypnotherapist which cured that behaviour. Things I’ve found helpful are bring snacks and lunch to work, being publicly gluten-free so colleagues know eating their stuff is not an option and an awareness of what certain foods do to me and how others serve my temple.

    As an observation on compliance, I did a 54 day expedition in remote Fiordland, relying on food drops as the only source of food. My pal and I did the same exercise and ate the same rations. She, was a bit plump and lost a bit of weight – 8kg I think. I, who was lean lost no weight at all. People would explain my leanness as being due to a fast metabolism or being lucky but clearly this illustrates it was not the case.

    I think she lost weight because she couldn’t pop down to the shop when she was feeling peckish or bake one of her lovely cakes.

    February 12, 2013 at 7:07 pm Reply
  33. As the philosopher Kaylee once said: Sometimes a thing gets broke can’t be fixed.

    I remember that this is something that Wolfgang Lutz reported in the German edition of his book.

    Personally I have hit a plateau and I can do what I want and nothing will lower my weight. Low Carb? Very low carb? Ketogenic diet? High Carb? Tried it all, does nothing for my weight.

    Some things I would suggest:
    – Drop the eggs. Potential health problems with the immunoglublins it contains (Robb Wolf’s autoimmune protocol comes to my mind).
    – Maybe cut down on the nuts as well, for a while, see if it does something
    – Try to increase carbs, try to use safe starches (mainly sweat potatoes, but normal ones might do as well)
    – Try to reduce eating to one proper meal in the early afternoon, maybe drop the breakfast
    – Use fruits for snacks

    And if she keeps the weight on the diet, it is just the way it is.

    For me, not gaining weight anymore is a big plus, and I think I am no longer making any new damage to my health – so I have to life with the damage that there is and be contempt…

    February 14, 2013 at 10:05 am Reply
  34. And drop the fish oil capsules.

    February 14, 2013 at 10:10 am Reply
    • And skin breakouts / pimples? For me, I traced it mainly to milk/dairy, and to a lesser degree to eggs.

      February 14, 2013 at 10:15 am Reply
  35. Shauna #

    Test for candida overgrowth in her gut wouldn’t hurt…

    February 14, 2013 at 1:40 pm Reply
  36. She’s not really complying with the diet is she? All that bingeing on diet drinks, alcohol and chocolate would be adding masses of sugar, calories and antinutrients to her diet.

    Way too much exercise, cut it down to a few sessions per week. I was the fittest I’ve ever been on just 2 x yoga sessions per week and a 5km, fast walk, round trip to each yoga session and a very good, alcohol free diet.

    I’m not a nutrition or a fitness professional but personally I hit the leafy greens big time when I need to shift some weight. Massive salads with fish/chook/turkey proteins and some good salty foods like olives & fetta to get the tastebuds going and to find pleasure and enjoyment in the meals she’s actually eating. Chilli, garlic, ginger and fresh herbs make me excited about the food I get pleasure and enjoyment from planning and constructing my meals. Too much sensible eating and being on a ‘diet’ would lead me to engage in rebellious binge eating.

    Just my personal observations, but I think I am quite familiar with her bodytype and lifestyle 🙂

    February 14, 2013 at 2:18 pm Reply
  37. Des #

    Agree with Tess, nuts are a problem – much better off without them – from my personal experience. Snacks aren’t necessary of you eat proper meals with enough protein. Also, I have found alcohol will go straight to fat.

    February 17, 2013 at 6:04 pm Reply
  38. Anon #

    Cycle the carbs and overall go much higher carb from fruit. Switch the fish oil out (it slows the metabolism and is pro stress) out for coconut oil. Reduce PUFAs to a few eggs per week. Increase salt and add an aspirin. Reduce workouts to a few per week under 30 minutes. Add a daily one hour walk. Do something like Atkins Fat Fast for a week to jump start weight loss, then go to moderate carb diet with plenty of protein (50-80 grams a day) including sources of protein. Have 20-30 grams of protein within 30 minutes of getting up.

    February 18, 2013 at 12:41 pm Reply
    • Maxwell NotsoSmart #

      Is this for real? You’re a registered nurse and nutritionist and this is what you are prescribing your clients for sustainable weight loss?

      50g a day carbs and 6+ sessions of high intensity exercise per week?

      High-stress busy lifestyles, combined with the social pressure to let loose on the weekends, (or even on some weeknights) results in poor nutrition choices, masked by a bunch of generic excuses like ‘I don’t have time to prepare proper meals for the whole week’

      I guarantee that several high sodium, nutrient-sparse snacks had whilst out drinking haven’t made their way conveniently onto the food log; often these get ‘forgotten about’, making the nutritionists job difficult.

      Combine this with poor conditioning, alcohol, caffeine, sugary binges, and lack of sleep, you are adding additional stressors in the form of :

      1. An intermediate to advanced HIIT exercise (Crossfit and running) for 6+ sessions a week

      2. A drastically reduced carbohydrate intake, well outside of a healthy maintenance range

      Your clients are not suprisingly all exhibiting the telltale signs of glycogen depletion,malnutrition, overtraining and physical exhaustion:

      Not sleeping satisfactorily, despite getting 6 + HIIT sessions per week
      Not having sufficient energy to get through workouts
      A feeling of lethargy and extreme tiredness in the afternoons.
      A seemingly unstoppable craving for sugary snacks

      The next direction this heads is either injury or illness.

      You say body fat ‘ looks ‘ like it’s in the high 20’s to 30’s; has this actually been calculated?

      Is sugar taken in the coffees?

      Reducing refined sugars and stabilising the blood sugars is most important right now to get over this spike crash setup that will ruin any chance of properly sustaining healthy weight loss and activity.
      If blood sugars are balanced, and workouts start becoming completed and the client feels good, instead of listless, enthusiasm for working out will increase, reduction in harmful behaviours will naturally follow (as a product of wanting to feel better more of the time) and the feeling that ‘i don’t have the energy to exercise’ will vanish. Proper sleep will return, stress levels will drop as a result, capacity to cope with work, life , exercise will snowball.

      Anyways, the straight forward recommendations:

      1. Convince client to cut alcohol , if possible see if you can convince her to do a month off to show them the benefits. Play on the driven, motivated to succeed psychology these people display

      2. <50g a day carbohydrate intake targets are a joke. Adjust intake of carbohydrates to support the demands of 3-4 training sessions per week. (and cut current training in half). 3-4 properly completed intense workouts are infinitely more worthwhile than 6+ partially completed workouts without sufficient intensity.

      3. Dehydration can contribute to lethargy. Increase water intake. target at least 2 litres per day. Alcohol, caffeine, high sodium snacks all contribute to diuretic processes so this may even need to be more than 2lt. Try and limit caffeine intake if possible as this can be very powerful appetite suppressant ; the last thing required here to maintain stable blood sugars is missing meals.

      Change the meal plan as such:

      Breakfast :
      2 eggs, boiled or poached alternatively if breakfast is blended, 2 egg whites
      1 cup oatmeal lowGI carbs to balance blood sugars through til nearly lunchtime
      1 high quality protein (80% plus) low carb scoop/shake in 2% milk
      This can be all done as a shake if required. soak the oats in hot water to increase their solubility

      A Substantial breakfast containing sufficient protein and some low GI carbohydrate is important to regulate blood sugar after the rest period and throughout the day.


      1 serve of greek yoghurt + tsp of jam, small handful of dry unroasted almonds
      (The Jam here is a psychological boost and will help stave off the cravings, and won't introduce too much of a spike in blood sugar)

      Chicken burrito, or chicken salad ; 1tbsp of dressing or sauce maximum.
      Her Lunch actually looks ok but she needs to get a little carbs in here to contribute to a realistic daily target in the form of wrap breads or similar that are lighter on gluten to avoid upsets
      Protein shake in water

      shake in water, almonds, berries. or repeat snacks above (important psychological 'pick me up' required in afternoon to prep for evening train.


      After workout: or before retiring:
      protein shake with water

      Dinner: steamed or grilled meats plus steamed or stir fried veg

      Before retiring:
      small glass of fruit juice. Studies have shown that a moderate carbohydrate intake before bed can improve sleep quality by increasing the availability of melatonin and serotonin and increased insulin levels, which improves the uptake of tryptophan.

      This also may be why the client feels sleepy in the afternoons after a sugary binge.

      My 2c, not qualified in any way, but most of this is common sense

      February 22, 2013 at 5:02 pm Reply
      • Perhaps I didn’t make this clear – I obviously need to update my post! These clients come to me eating this way – I did not prescribe this diet.

        I appreciate your response. I completely agree – the client is suffering glycogen depletion plus a whole lot of stress from unhealthy lifestyle choices, plus an exercise regime without adequate nutrition.
        I have done a followup post – all these factors have been addressed with a good outcome.

        February 22, 2013 at 5:22 pm Reply
  39. Tim A #

    I am neither a doctor nor a nutritionist, just a fat bloke who is now less fat thanks to a paleo diet, so my comments are purely from my own experience.
    1. STOP the exercise. (well except perhaps for slow max65% HR for a couple hrs/wk)
    2. Do a full-on “detox” “reset” whatever you want to call it Paleo diet (Whole9 worked for me, I am sure other variants are available)
    3. Eat lots
    4. Sleep lots
    5. When the diet has changed habits only then think about reintroducing more vigorous exercise (slowly) and adjust diet to suit increased activity.
    but then I am no expert in these matter

    February 22, 2013 at 6:59 pm Reply
  40. Mike #

    There is a tell tale sign of a problem with the sugar cravings between meals which, attempts with nuts to control doesn’t seem to work. This is an indication of the body being is a state of stress and possibly raised cortisol. This has to be due to the cross fit workouts.

    Changes I would suggest are: reduce the cross fit and if possible cut them out all together and find alternatives such as, some heavy lifting (squats, dead lifts, cleans, chest press) and some sprints 1-2 times a week.

    I’d also recommend intermittent fasting and cut out breakfast and have the first meal about 12-1pm and nothing after 8-9pm. The alcohol has to go during the week and then, maybe only 1-2 glasses on the weekend.

    February 23, 2013 at 6:26 pm Reply
  41. Simple: too much exercise at high intensity. She needs to scale that back considerably to maybe twice a week or less of crossfit. Cortisol is spiked from the stress. I see the same body ‘type’ with the athletes that do come 5 to 6x per week at my local crossfit affiliate. Those who religiously workout that hard, daily, are one of two body types:

    a. Lean and ripped. But they were that way before Crossfit.
    b. Fat. They’re strong, fit, etc. But fat.

    I contend that if she scales back the crossfit to once a week, then mixes in low-level cardio on the other days (listening to her body) and maybe one day of weight training focused on core lifts (back squat, chest press, deadlift, press). She’ll drop 10lbs within a month.

    Oh, and if that doesn’t work….then it’s the alcohol and diet cokes. She’s not eating “low carb paleo” if she’s binge drinking twice a week and eating potato chips.

    March 3, 2013 at 3:57 am Reply
  42. Bob123 #

    Hi, I’ll make a few guesses:
    In my experience caffeine can be pretty good with weight loss, as long as it doesn’t disrupt getting good sleep or cause weirdness with afternoon sugar levels. Maybe slowly cut down on coffee.
    -Diet cola?! Colour made from burnt sugar – yum! And toxic sugar flavour? Swap it for a coffee.
    -What kind of alcohol? If it’s beer or alcopops then there’s some hidden carbs in there, and maybe bloating from all the extra water. Red wine is less controversial.
    -Coffee – if it’s 2 massive lattes then duh. The milk has lactose, that’s a sugar. Better to cut down on the milk and slow down the ‘caffeine hit’ by washing it down with extra water.

    In general it looks like it might be a fluid problem, there’s no actual water on the list. So the skin then tries to help out the kidneys and she gets pimples.

    March 4, 2013 at 5:10 am Reply
  43. Please dont take this the wrong way..
    But this is EXACTLY whats wrong with the paleo (cross fit) community.

    Do you actually think the above details are a
    healthy and balanced approach to living life???

    Slown down…. Eat a little more food that brings you joy… And stop obessing!
    Start walking and making some love to your significant other ….

    Again no dis respect meant…. But many are losing complete sight of the big picture,


    March 9, 2013 at 10:05 am Reply
  44. Carlos Guadamuz #

    Have you checked cortisol levels!!! I would not touch the nutrition until I control the sleep situation. I say adrenals could be the problem..or not!!!
    Have her take L-theanine, and extra B-complex…see how that works

    April 10, 2013 at 5:31 am Reply
  45. Louise #

    diet coke, artificial sweeteners, lack of sleep, caffiene, alcohol…. all signs of sugar addiction… been there. I cut out all sugar from my diet for a month, that is including fruit and even stevia, and I noticed a profound shift in being able to actually listen to my body and what it wanted. my cravings disappeared and i made better food choices at night.
    I also think more carbs is in need here – more carbs, more energy, better workout, better result. Coconut oil is grand for energy, and that has no carbs!

    April 10, 2013 at 11:55 pm Reply
  46. red #

    I’d give it a rest and quit trying to force women into what men think is the acceptable porny body. She’s fine, except for her lack of energy, so she needs more carbs post workout. She should stop the alcohol though. And she should stop listening to the din of women hate from our male-centric culture.

    April 15, 2013 at 4:19 pm Reply
    • Shirwa #

      I dont think denying of red wine is an answer we need to live a little I would however change the fat arrangement. I am an endurance runner and my body fat is at 16. 9 and I will make it lower in the process on paleo. Breakfast could be 20 gram of nuts almonds no more nuts for the day 100 gram greek joghurt a small green apple/ 60 grams berries anti inflamatory an evox lean pro whey shake bit of a cheat sweet loaded with vitamins high in protein low in carbs 2 tsp chia seeds 1 teaspoon flaxseed powder 100 ml coconut milk reduced fat one this combo will stabilize hormones snack 1 slice essene livving bread ( google it ) 1 boiled egg lunch 120 gram chicken green salad with 80 grams avo snack 40 gram biltong or a whey evox lean shake supper 200 gram hake or 200 gram ostrich or 150 gram chicken with 300 gram of green veg or white veg like cauliflower or stirfry with 2 tsp coconut oil

      May 27, 2013 at 4:36 am Reply
      • Shirwa #

        limit red wine to one day a week and limit ammount make sure it is drunk with a high protein and vegetable meal 2 full glasses

        May 27, 2013 at 4:38 am Reply
  47. James #

    I would add a couple of strips of bacon to breakfast, a banana post-WOD, and a sweet potato to dinner the night before a WOD day

    May 29, 2013 at 12:49 am Reply
  48. Jason #

    I Had this problem a lot with my clients initially, i would personally reduce the amount of workouts to 3-4 a week, and your client is probably lying about what they take in. she needs to ditch the alcohol, too many empty cals.and 50g carbs is too low, even for a female with goals of cutting bf%

    July 3, 2013 at 2:03 am Reply
  49. Classic low carb symptoms + elevated cortisol wreaking havoc on CNS and causing stubborn fat, poor progress, cravings/hormonal swings, etc. Agree with prior posts, on workout days, take in carbs PWO (banana) and starchy carbs to meet macro requirements and on non-workout days, can decrease carb req’s but still needed for recovery. Also, would decrease # of workout days and avoid heavy training on b2b days.

    August 7, 2013 at 3:43 pm Reply
  50. Too much activity for the low carb approach. Needs more clean carbs. Reduce high-intensity, met-con/cardio training and increase heavy ,smart weight-lifting. Address any sleep issues. Actually CHECK (don’t assume) vitamin D levels and get a hormone profile done.

    August 20, 2013 at 11:39 am Reply
  51. Nadia H #

    I would check out Eat to Perform. They’ll tell you a low carb diet for a woman who cross fits is a terrible idea. Her body is holding on to fat because she is not giving it enough fat/carbs/protein.


    August 20, 2013 at 2:51 pm Reply
  52. Julie #

    If I were the nutritionist… I would tell her that when she’s actually serious about losing weight…and gives up the alcohol and “busy” social life ( which is probably where the alcohol comes into play) to come back and talk to you and you would then be able to help her. The alcohol intake intake is to excessive by far. I would also tell her that no one that is in a Cf gym 5-6 days a week, is working at beyond their peak performance…which is what she should be doing 3 days a week…to the point her body is incapable of even thinking about working out on a 4th day. More unproccessed carbs, more protein,less social life, more sleep. And almost as important as nixing the alcohol…what’s her water intake with all this working out she’s doing?? She should be drinking an insane amount of water. Its a lifestyle change…and she needs to change her lifestyle first…completely change it…before asking a question like…why is she not losing weight. Sorry to be so blunt with my option 🙁

    August 20, 2013 at 4:52 pm Reply
    • Julie #

      “Opinion” that is…

      August 20, 2013 at 4:56 pm Reply
    • I’m always blunt with the alcohol factor, and sleep too. I recommend people do a 30 day alcohol free challenge, if they can’t – in my opinion they have a problem – either a psychological or physical crutch.
      Most clients to their credit take up the challenge.
      They also take the sleep issue on. Most however – especially those who do CrossFit are reluctant to cut down on the number of sessions they do.

      August 20, 2013 at 5:16 pm Reply
      • Heike #

        hi there
        i have the same problem as this lady. post chemo and weekly cortisone for 18 months, and 2 babies. i dont drink alkohol however but i too battle with the sugar cravings, chocolate oreos to be specific, and i used to hate chocoloate! i just had to reply when i read your comment about crossfitters not wanting to cut the number of sessions. i too have been doing crossfit for 2.5 months now and dont want to cut my sessions. just had to giggle. i would like to know what helped this lady in the end to loose weight and increase energy levels. i do take lots of supplements in the morning, iron, magnesium, calcium, folic acid, essentiale vit b’s, zinc, and 2 preworkouts – but they tend to make me pleghmy USN’s hyperlean pre workout two in one and amino energy. ive stopped using my glutamine as i dont seem to be getting that sore anymore.
        the scale hasnt budged! ok so i might be gaining muscle but still

        October 20, 2014 at 6:05 pm Reply
  53. Kevin #

    Sorry but she is NOT on a paleo diet. Diet coke??? Biscuits???? Alcohol??? NO.

    September 4, 2013 at 6:50 pm Reply
    • She tries to be good – then crashes. The question is why is she finding paleo so hard (apart from the extra alcohol) So yes she is only part time paleo (if there is such a thing)

      September 4, 2013 at 9:51 pm Reply
  54. Oiroa Kaihau #

    I’m not an expert either but as a self confessed practitioner and convert of weight loss management and wellness I can only share my experience and experimentation like a crash test dummy which might offer some insights.
    Her sugar cravings suggest to me that she is not become fully fat adapted (the body drawing on fat reserves for fuel). Cut the diet coke, biscuits and any other non paleo foods and alcohol from her diet until she manages to become fully fat adapted. She’ll know when she has achieved this milestone because the cravings for something sweet disappear completely. She’ll be able to resist such temptations.
    The frequency and intensity of her physical exercise program is probably fueling her hunger cravings so she could reduce it to three days lasting no more than 15 – 20 mins. I am not a fan of crossfit or lengthy cardio sessions but prefer to utilise body weight exercises that can be done without access to a gym.
    Once she becomes truly fat adapted introduce intermittent fasting (IF) as a strategy. There are some very good sites which offer lots of good advice. I’ve had great success with IF to get over the weight loss plateau problem, fasting for up to 16 – 18 hours without food cravings and still be able to undertake a 20 min HIT session first thing in the morning or in the evening no problem at all. I’ve got plenty of energy, I’m focused throughout the day and I sleep well at nights.
    Lastly, I’d say this to anyone who wants to lose and manage weight. First and foremost educate the brain and do your own research so you can make informed choices about what it is you’re doing. The answer may possible not rest in one book or one website. Understand your own body, record what you do, reflect and learn to determine what works and what doesn’t. I’ve been doing this for 9 months now and I’m still experimenting and learning as I go along and discovering more useful information.
    Good luck

    September 23, 2013 at 9:31 pm Reply
    • Thanks for your for ideas

      September 24, 2013 at 12:13 pm Reply
  55. Radka #

    I didn’t read all of the comments because there were so many, just a few, however…I would have her thyroid tested by a integrated doctor who thinks outside the box. I was diagnosed with Hashimotos Hypothyrodism when I first started Crossfit. I too would be so tired, hungry and would not loose weight around my belly. I also craved sweets. Now I take Westhroid a natral thyroid med and it’s helped so much. In addition, I don’t absorb vitamin B, so I take activated folate. I also had my adrenals and cortisol tested, which someone suggested as well. Lastly, she should check her candida levels, when you have candida in your system you crave carbs and sweets and are tired. I agree with over training advice above as well as including walking and yoga, however, sometimes things are going on that you can only understand with tests. A good intergrated doctor (md, not someone who just listens but does the right blood tests) is the ultimate way to get down to the issues of your body.

    October 2, 2013 at 10:16 am Reply
  56. Brian #

    Not sure if this person is still having difficulty losing weight but they sounded a lot like me before I lost weight, except my sleep was way worse..

    If I’m going to offer advice, I’d start off with the following:

    1. Visit a Naturopathic Doctor, for both thyroid and for sleep disturbances
    – The naturopath can also help get rid of gut bloating (like mine)
    – Naturopath can also help look at food allergies with both can cause gut irritation and break outs. Often eliminating these alone will solve almost all problems

    2. Stop eating after 7pm
    3. Make sure they are getting adequate protein (I’d say from the numbers given, aim for 90-100grams per day)
    4. Don’t starve the body of carbs (especially in crossfit), if going low carb, aim to keep carbs around 100 as well and adjust from there
    5. Fill the rest of the calories with healthy fats

    Most importantly, do not get down if indulging here and there in alcohol and sweets. I both drank and ate more than what was described and still lost. I don’t believe people who eat paleo follow it 100%. I believe a victory is 70-80% paleo.

    This could also be a case of your client needing to switch it up; stop crossfit for 2 months or so and try P90X

    January 13, 2014 at 6:48 pm Reply
  57. Gina Lockitch #

    It’s possible her body is struggling to mobilise stored fat from cells. Starch is LAST thing she needs. Her metabolism must kick in to the stored fat for energy.
    She could supplement her diet with extra L-Carnitine to assist with this. Perhaps the crossfit training is great for strength building but not fat-loss? I see many crossfit girls with plenty of muscle but plenty of belly fat too. Is she doing HIIT cardio workouts at least twice a week? I would suggest more intense cardio, and CUT out the alcohol and sweets and biscuits!!! All they’re doing is confusing her metabolism! Her body is waiting for sugar for fuel and she should be training her body to utilise FATSTORES. Not sugar.

    January 31, 2014 at 8:23 pm Reply
  58. Andrea Timm #

    My story is very similar to yours, except I’m older. I join the crossfit community after a friend of ours, who owned his own boxed introduced us to it. After about 6 months, I gained lots of muscle mass, but still had not lost the inches around my middle and my upper arms. I most certainly didn’t have any definition anywhere but my legs. This really wasn’t much of a surprise to me as I was a long distance runner for years when I was younger. I was to the point that I could RX most WODs minus some of the olympic lifts, so why wasn’t I getting the results that most members were getting? Like most CF boxes, members are always talking about Paleo. I caved and after much research, decided to give it a shot. After much web surfing, I came across Paleo in the box. It made perfect sense. As my fitness levels changes, my diet needs to change. Now that I know this I wondered how I could have missed it! Paleo diet in the box, showed me how to eat according to my fitness goals and needs. I am including the link for you and fellow crossfitters and hope that it is as helpful to you as it was to me. I was so frustrated after being so dedicated and not getting the results. I am sure my age has everything to do with it, but this information helped me lose the inches (17 total!!) and look much younger that 52!! The education is worth it. Thanks for letting me share it!! http://4f40809nz5yn6-iomhtmqk6xd2.hop.clickbank.net/?tid=XFITBOX

    February 8, 2014 at 12:36 pm Reply
  59. I would ditch the crossfit, try walking 5 times per week.
    Listen to everyday paleo podcasts – they have advice on this all the time
    Leg the body reduce its stress levels, learn some good sleep habits. Once the body is sleeping properly then reintroduce done heavy lifting at most 3 times per week

    May 25, 2014 at 9:17 am Reply
  60. Rip nuts out her diet….. She needs more fat in her diet to help with cravings, and add 1-2 sweet potatoes to her diet whole with skin prepared in foil in oven or toaster oven.

    I have my clients add fat such as pure virgin coconut oil into coffee or tea also.

    If cravings get really bad instead of nuts, string cheese.

    Do not stop training… her appetite will get better.

    September 11, 2014 at 9:39 am Reply
    • Agreed – more starchy root veg at meals and post workout, and less nuts

      September 11, 2014 at 11:20 am Reply
  61. Its all about over all caloric intake. I guarantee she is destroying her diet piling mouth full of Nuts/trail-mix throughout the day. Her caloric intake should not exceed 1,500. She needs to burn body fat. Its not easy but it gets easier after 4 weeks

    September 11, 2014 at 9:47 am Reply
  62. Dean #

    She is not following Paleo, no alcohol, no wheat, no sugar, no dairy. If she still in not making progress then stop the nuts until back on track, if still no progress stop the eggs. But clearly she is saying she is on the paleo diet, but she is not. I suggest she read the paleo diet book instead of guessing what paleo is, education is the key to success.

    IMHO – Her downfall is all food related, not the workouts. The workouts are fine and encouraged.

    January 20, 2015 at 12:11 pm Reply
  63. Luke #

    Weight loss is simple, it, like everything currently observable in the universe, is bound by the principle of conservation of energy.

    Energy in the mouth vs energy out (as motion, heat, etc) is the only consistently effective measurement required for weight loss, if she is not losing weight, and not changing her body composition at her current weight then she is eating too much and not training correctly. Regardless of what ridiculous macro nutrient limiting diet you are on – a deficit in energy will result in weight loss. This is universal fact, not opinion or speculation.

    So, credit to the individuals prior to me who suggested reduced energy intake and good grief to those of you who think excess bacteria or too much training is causing the issue. Her tendency to cheat on her eating plan will translate directly to a tendency to cheat during training and result in sub optimal lean gains.

    As a final word… individuals under the age of 60 who consider themselves fit as a result of “a few 5km walks a week and yoga” are misguided.

    February 5, 2015 at 1:59 am Reply
    • Yes – true she is cheating and eating too much – either a lot of fats as she is craving badly – or giving in a eating crap carbs. The question I ask myself when confronted with a client in this situation – is “Why the cravings, why the binge eating – what is it about her diet (and or lifestyle / and or other health issues) that is causing this. If she can eat a healthy diet and not crave or binge – that is what the ideal is. The reason she craved carbs and then binged on unhealthy carbs was because she was doing a lot of glycolitic activity and not replacing the glycogen, or eating adequate carbs for fuel. Once that issue was rectified the problem binge eating and cravings disappeared.

      February 8, 2015 at 11:44 am Reply
  64. kenia #

    Her whole diet is retarded. She needs a diet overhaul!
    And I used to crossfit 5x a week and had a REAL clean diet and barely lost weight.
    Crossfit wasn’t doing it for me and perhaps it just doesn’t do it for her.
    I do strictly weight training and cardio now and THAT works. A 10 minute WOD wasn’t enough of a workout for me. I’ve lost 10 pounds in 1 month since stopping crossfit.

    March 19, 2015 at 12:31 pm Reply
  65. Alalia #

    I’m actually going to disagree with everyone regarding carbs. She is not fat adapted, so she craves sugar.

    Obviously cut all the poor food and drink choices. But I’d suggest dropping her daily carb count to net 20g daily for two weeks and raise it by 5g a week until sugar cravings return. Then drop 10g net once sugar cravings return.

    For pre-workout instead of carbs, she should be consuming fat. She doesn’t need carbs unless the intensity of the exercise lasts more then 3 hours (think marathon). She may also need electrolytes pre-workout and post workout.

    I also don’t think nuts are a bad choice once fat adapted/in ketosis.

    Since her adrenals are most likely over stressed due to the work outs, and lifestyle (stressed adrenals will lower conversion of t4 to t3, which won’t reflect in TSH) it might be more appropriate for her to eat more. Specifically not below her bmr. (the difference from her daily expenditure and bmr is probably 1000 calories anyways).

    I would also suggest a post work out low carb protein shake. (whey gourmet, isoprotien, lean dessert protein, Vega -vegan). And this could be her change in calories on workout and non workout days to stay above bmr.

    Alternatively, depending on her goals, you could get her to change her crossfit goals from high intensity+many days to heaviest weights 3 – 4 rep to failure, every other day for muscle building/bodybuilding. Increasing muscle mass will help in the long run, especially with her current activity being very catabolic to her muscles.

    I understand that some people will disagree with my suggestions, but what’s the point if you catabolise your muscles, crash your adrenals and trash your thyroid on a starvation diet? It will become a diet you can never go off.

    And unfortunately adrenals and thyroid (and muscle mass) are issues undertreated in modern medicine. You pretty much have to wait for the organ to be near death before they will correct the disfunction. (while they push eat less move more, very ironic).

    June 20, 2015 at 7:13 am Reply
  66. Lou #

    Julianne, is there an update on this client? It’s been a couple of years now.

    June 20, 2015 at 6:33 pm Reply
    • She moved overseas so sorry no.

      June 23, 2015 at 4:35 pm Reply
  67. Amandeep Khurana #

    This is a very interesting post. I’m personally experiencing a very similar challenge. I’m at ~36% body fat (did a dexa scan). I eat relatively low carb. No gluten, no sugars, no rice, no juices. Very minimal alcohol (1-2 glasses of wine in 2 weeks at most), 1 cup coffee per day, 1 diet soda in 3-4 days at most. I have a good amount of protein going in and I do crossfit ~3 times a week. I haven’t lost a single pound in a year. On the other hand, I took a 10 day trip to Italy where I didn’t follow a strict regime and allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted. Loved the trip and truly enjoyed it, but came back having gained 12 lbs, of which I’ve only been able to lost 3 in 2 months.

    Any pointers on what I could be missing, what I should look into, what I could try now?

    I’ve recently started the slow carb diet as explained by Tim Ferriss in his book, four hour body. No results yet. It’s been only a week.

    December 5, 2015 at 1:51 pm Reply
    • Take a look at the next post.

      December 6, 2015 at 11:56 am Reply
  68. Elizabeth #

    This client is almost exact description of me. Same everything. This is what it’s like to Crossfit with hypothyroidism which ultimately messes with cortisol, adrenal, hormones, eating sleeping all the time. I did a challenge 12 weeks and didn’t lose weight like everyone else I did gain 1-1.5 inches of muscle. We were instructed to eat ETP and try to balance our macros. I was able to see definition in abs thighs arms than before. I decided that even without any weight loss progress I will go to CrossFit. It’s very hard to put in the work with a fraction maybe of a result. I swear I have no metabolism that works lol. I am destined to be a obese muscle if that what it takes. I can squat my body weight yikes, so now I just need to get stronger to pull all that over a pull-up bar for reps. I joke that I’m going to be the most obese strong crossfitter cause for sure my body composition is slow if ever going to change or show the work I’ve put in. If you come up with any suggestions please do share barajaseliz@gmail.com

    September 3, 2016 at 3:14 am Reply
    • Take a look at the following post – I give some solutions. The other thing to consider is that some people get too physiologically stressed doing a lot of high intensity exercise. I had to stop crossfit because I never got to recover properly and ended up with constant niggling injuries. I now do weight lifting and short gym sessions – no more than 1/2 hour with a high intensity component, no more injuries, good recovery, good progress.

      September 5, 2016 at 12:18 pm Reply

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