Tips and Tricks for Losing Weight

March 17, 2012 in Categories: , , by

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Most people who switch to a low-carb diet, a paleo diet, or a low-carb paleo diet find great success in losing weight.  I, myself, have lost 120 pounds using these strategies (low-carb for the first 100 pounds and paleo for the last 20 pounds).  But if your weight-loss seems stalled or too slow, there are some extra tricks that will help you lose weight faster and/or get beyond those natural set points that our bodies all seem to have.

1.  Don’t Eat for 3-4 Hours Before Bed:  When you eat shortly before bed, you increase your metabolism and stimulate growth hormones, which makes it very difficult to lose weight.

2.  Get Lots (and Lots and Lots!) Of Sleep:  Getting plenty of sleep will help regulate your cortisol levels and give your body plenty of time to rest and repair.  If you are prioritizing sleep but still not sleeping well, see my post Trouble Sleeping? for tips.

3.  Manage Stress:  Do whatever you can to keep your stress level in check.  This is about the stress hormone cortisol, which profoundly affects the ease at which our bodies access stored energy, how we metabolize fat versus sugar, our insulin sensitivity and our leptin (hunger hormone) sensitivity.  For more tips on stress management, see my post Managing Stress.

4.  Get Lots of Low-Strain Exercise:  Things like walking, yoga, and swimming are fabulous for regulating your hormones and reducing stress (exercise is not about burning calories, it’s about regulating hormones).  They also build muscle tone without stressing your body.  Some light resistance training (yoga, pilates, lifting weights without going nuts) can be very helpful aswell.  One of the key points here is that “over-training”, by which I mean doing something that is too stressful for your body, ends up increasing cortisol and derailing your weight loss efforts.

5.  Get Outside:  Our bodies need sunlight.  Sun exposure helps regulate our circadian rhythms and our adrenal glands (via the hypothalamus and pituitary gland), which affects cortisol regulation, as well as a whole host of other hormones.  If getting outside just isn’t possible for you, make sure you are taking a Vitamin D3 supplement (I recommend somewhere in the 2000-10,000 I.U. daily range).

6.  Eat 2-3 Meals per Day (and maybe one snack):  Eating less frequently is better for your insulin and leptin sensitivity (and actually all of your hormones).   If you are also keeping your sugar intake fairly low, then this is really great for regulating your hunger too.  Some people like to create a calorie deficit by occasionally skipping meals.  This only works if your stress levels (specifically your cortisol levels) are well-managed (you should be getting plenty of sleep and lots of low-strain exercise).

7.  Reduce Carbohydrates:  Keeping the carbohydrate intake on the low side (check out my post How Many Carbohydrates Should You Eat?) can be very helpful in curbing your appetite and regulating insulin.  The end result is that you eat less, which creates a calorie deficit so your body uses stored energy instead.  Typically, if your carbohydrate level is on the low side, you don’t need to worry so much about portion control (your body does this naturally).  But do still be aware of how much of certain calorie dense foods (like nuts and seeds) you are eating.

8. Increase Carbohydrates:  Wait, didn’t I just say reduce carbohydrates?  Well, that doesn’t always work and sometimes it backfires completely.  If you are already eating fairly low carbohydrate (say less than 50-75g per day), you might actually be going too low carb for your body.  Insulin is actually required for the conversion of the thyroid prohormone T4 to the active hormone T3.  Since thyroid hormone controls metabolism, increasing your carbohydrate intake a little to support thyroid function can actually help boost weight loss.  Other things that are good for supporting your thyroid are managing stress, getting enough sleep, and eating lots of seafood (for the iodine and the selenium).

9.  Promote Healthy Digestion:  If you feel that you are stuck at a “set-point”, first evaluate your health.  Do you really need to lose more weight?  Maybe it’s time to turn your focus to fitness goals and creating lifelong habits for maintaining a healthy weight.  If you do still feel like you need to lose more weight, you might be dealing with micronutrient deficiencies or something like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.   See my post on Repairing the Gut for ways to address this.  You might also consider focusing on more highly nutrient-dense foods, like organ meat, seafood and eating more vegetables.  Adding digestive support supplements (see the end of this post) can also be very helpful.  Once your gut health is improved, the weight should start coming off again.

10.  Patience:  As I mentioned above, it’s possible that you are already at a great weight for your body, even if it isn’t what you were hoping to achieve.  How do you feel?  Are you energetic? fit? happy?  If you do still have weight to lose and you are doing everything else right, it might just be that your body needs some time to adjust hormone levels (but also check out my post on Female Hormones, Weight and Autoimmunity), adjust the number of receptors on cell surfaces, and repair itself.  When your body is ready (and this might take one to three months), you will start losing weight again.


awesome points and fantastic questions for individual consideration. I am not looking to go full paleo, but all the above fit for low carbing too. I think this is the most beneficial spot I’ve been and I’ve been searching every single day for solid info that I can really use.

Just a thought, but it would seem that heavier exercise was what our paleo ancestors did on a daily basis just for survival. I feel better doing something more challenging, it improves my mood quite a bit. Of course we are all different and if it causes too much stress for someone I’d say they should change their fitness routine.

A little bit of heavy lifting can go a long way and I do think that working to build strength is very important for overall health. The reason why I focus more on low-strain exercise here is that, very often, people who are battling weight issues are also battling cortisol disregulation. And when it comes to cortisol, too much high intensity exercise(especially high intensity cardio) can contribute to cortisol problems. On the other hand, a large amount of gentle exercise like walking can go a long way toward regulating cortisol. But you make an excellent point that exercise is very individual and people should find something that works for them. 🙂

I am a bit confused about this as well. I know I feel better if I eat something, specifically some protein every 2-3 hours otherwise I feel that low blood sugar feeling coming on. I will read link below to see if it explains this better.

Eating that frequently is not good for proper hunger hormone regulation, except in the case of adrenal fatigue. That being said, transitioning to 3 meals a day can be stressful on the body, so I suggest doing it very slowly. Eat a big big meal and go as long as you can before you eat again (but don’t wait until you feel terrible or anything). Slowly try to increase the time between meals. When I did this, I took about a month to do the transition.

I think everybody (every body, literally) is different. I could never eat two meals a day and get by. I literally get sick if I do–like, I am nauseated with a headache and I get really cranky. I have never had a problem with my weight (in fact, for most of my life, I was underweight), so I don’t really see the benefits for myself.

For the general population, perhaps. I am weak and tired; I am not able to lift weights. It is actually not recommended for people with adrenal fatigue. I walk and do yoga. Hopefully when I am well, I will lift weights again.

During my first 30 days eating Paleo, and pretty strictly, I lost 22 pounds. In my second 30 days, I didn’t lose an ounce. As you can imagine, I was kind of bummed but I feel so good, I just kept doing what I had been. In the last week my weight is on the way down again,6 pounds less in the past week. All this with butter, bacon, meat veggies, some fruit and never, ever feeling deprived or hungry. Like everyone says…this is not a diet. This is a lifestyle choice. If I had been on any other diet and had a stall like I just did, I would have said screw this and went back to eating whatever I felt like. Thanks for the tips. Information from someone who has been there is always invaluable.

I have a problem with point 1. Don’t Eat for 3-4 Hours Before Bed
When I don’t eat about 10 in the evening, and then I go to bed, I have problems to fall in sleep. And awakene several times in the night. How can I better manage this?

I am in this spot right now. I was diagnosed about 1 year ago with type 2 diabetes. I went to a low carb diet immediatly and almost 30 lbs. I started taking metformin, 4 tablets of 500mg ea. per day. After I changed my diet and lost the 30 lbs I went down to 1 tablet a day. I am still at the same weight and would like to lose another 30 lbs. I have an appointment at the Y to learn how to use the weight machines and free weights and I walk.
Do you have any suggestions for me to help me to get the weight loss train moving again?
Is the metformin affecting my weight loss? Any information or suggestions you have would be welcome. I love to read your blog and listen the podcast.

I have been low carb for 2 months now. Have not lost a thing. I have continuous abdominal bloating. I have been tested for everything imaginable. Everything is fine according to the numerous doctors that I have seen. They even gave me an antibiotic because they thought I had SIBO. Still cannot eat hardly anything with swelling up really bad. Anybody else experience this?

I am not a doctor, but did the abdominal bloating start with the low-carb diet or did you have it before? If it started at the same time, I’d go off it and see if things improve. Maybe this is a regime that just doesn’t work for you? You may also want to try some probiotics, especially if you took antibiotics. I hope you feel better!

Hey! You reposted this today and I think I’ll will try some of your tips. I’m 5’3″ 28F, and 160 lbs, and have been eating paleo for over a year. I lost about 15 lbs when I first started, but then I’ve been stuck. I tried keto (about 15 g of carbs), lost a few pounds, but felt terrible. And I’m having a hard time giving up fruit considering I live in Canada and it was such a long and cold winter. I’ve been at about 50-75g of carbs for the rest of the year.

Anyway, I’ll try going to bed earlier and also curb my night time snacking. Cutting alcohol will certainly help too. I’ve been doing weight lifting for the past month and I can feel the difference…I might be cutting and gaining muscle, and that’s why I’m maintaining my 160 lbs. I don’t care about the scale, but I’d like to get my 8-10 jeans down to a 6, and have a little bit less of poof/flab in the middle.


That is great that you lost 15lbs! I cannot drink alcohol nor soda or anything but water. I have not had any fruit since the 1st week of low carb because of sugar content. I am supposed to be starving the bacteria to death. I have not exercised any yet but I do get a lot of walking in during the day & working out in my garden. I am just confused because of no weight loss. You see all these people showing great weight loss numbers & I get very discouraged.

I had many of the same symptoms.. bloating, fatigue, extreme edema (swelling in extremities).. They told me it was due to a wheat allergy.. Once I cut the wheat out of my diet, all my symptoms went away.. Not sure if it’s the same issue with you or not, but you’d be surprised how many foods have wheat ingredients in them even when they say ‘low carb’..

Cut out ALL gluten 4 years ago. I do not even eat any sort of grains. Use only almond flour, coconut flour, etc for baking. I honestly do not eat enough to keep a bird alive. Seriously. And have not lost any weight. On days where I swell up so bad in my abdomen when something sets it off, I cannot eat for the rest of the day. Anything I eat from that point will make the destination worse & it lasts usually 2 days. Numerous specialist have not been able to figure this out.

You may be reacting to a food you are still eating. At best, nuts and coconut should be eaten in moderation. If you are sensitive to them, then not at all. You might consider an elimination diet like the AIP to help you figure it out. – Christina, Sarah’s assistant

Thanks for the tips. I have a question on the carbs. I have a multi-nodular goiter thyroid. Not on Meds. levels fit in “normal” range by regular dr. Sometimes my thyroid is small, sometimes it is big…I am just beginning my paleo journey and I am reading your books, along with a few others. Is it better to low carb first and see how that works or do you think it is better to increase or maintain carbs at first?

I love your posts and this one is really interesting. I am so frustrated with my Paleo results. I started 7/21/04 and have lost a sad 3 pounds. I do hot yoga, walk and light weights. I am eating about 30-40 grams of carbs. I tracked it. I’m going to try and increase them based on Sarah’s suggestions. I will say that I am not getting enough sleep and not sure how to get more. I am following it 95/5 and it’s pretty discouraging, but I’m comitted to it.

[…] Tips and Tricks for Losing Weight – The Paleo Mom – If you want to lose weight, focus on your diet (see my post Tips and Tricks For Losing Weight). But, while diet changes will make the largest contribution to weight loss, … Tips and Tricks for Losing Weight » The Paleo Mom – Most people who switch to a low-carb diet, … […]

Does your book has the carb for each recipe? I am trying to loose weight with hashimoto, which is a danting task, and will like to keep carb intake up to max 100 grs. But how will I know for sure the amount of grs in each recipe?

Any tips for weight loss with hypothyroid? I have read you should get 100 carbs if your hypothyroid. Sarah thoughts?

Hi Sarah,
About point number 5, I have read many scientific journals stressing the importance of vitamin D3 (I am a PDF/researcher studying multiple sclerosis), in passing I have read that more than 2000 IU supplementation could lead to hypercalcemia. I myself take 2000 IU. How do you know you are getting enough, or too much?

I have been attempting to go paleo all the way from 2 January this year, but the first ten days I got headaches daily, and was very sluggish and tired! I then stared to feel better and have more energy but coming to the end of the month I had a couple of bad days and consumed alcohol and some sugary foods! My body seems out of whack as my period started 2 weeks early and I’m craving sugar and feel yuck! Is this normal?

Please help me. My daughter was diagnosed with pcos 3 years ago. She was 14 at the time.
Had random or no menstrual cycle and sudden and severe weight gain within two months time. We had her hormonal levels tested and she was given a diagnosis. It looked to us like she was swollen from water weight.
She ate like a bird and could never lose the weight. She ate healthy.
Two years ago she had a concussion and completely lost her menstrual cycle (which we were told by her concussion specialist that this often happens to female concussion patients because the pituitary shuts down the ovaries in order to heal the brain). She immediately (within two weeks) lost all her excess weight. It was about 20+ pounds that she lost, the same amount that she had suddenly gained the year before.
My feeling is that the pcos causes water weight gain. And when my daughter’s ovaries shut down, the water weight melted right off. Does this make sense ?
Can anyone explain this to me? What is the connection?
Three months ago her physician put her on myo -inostoll to bring about a period. She got her period for the first time since the concussion but then had a sudden and severe weight gain (20+pounds with in a month) again!!
If anyone can use this to help us help her, I would greatly appreciate it.
Thank you so much.

I would see if you can track down an expert in PCOS. I know some women with PCOS take Metformin for symptoms, but I have no idea what any side effects would be. Perhaps your daughter could also find some PCOS internet support groups who may have advice?

Hi every body,
Diet is not about losing weight, it’s about eating right. Read Grain Brain and you will understand Paleo Diet. Sugars cause inflammation, which ages us. Marketing is damage you up. A slice of whole wheat bread is probably the worst thing you can put in your mouth. It’s about putting gas in your engine, not diesel. And yes arthritis is gone, the bags under my eyes are gone and as a side effect, went from 180 to 152. Don’t knock it till you try it. And you have to put the alcohol away.I used to have big problems with lose weight tips, but am getting in better shape now. Here’s a good site I found that really helped. It gave me great methods and and showed me what I was doing wrong before…there’s even lots of free articles on the site…

I’ve read a few posts now about carbs. Are you counting 50 total carbs or ‘net carbs’ that are calculated with fibre?

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