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What To Do If You’re Gaining Weight Despite Doing Everything Right

Today’s post is the last in this week’s series of reader correspondence and questions. The series follows the release of my new book, and the questions/feedback that have followed. Please see the end of this post for how to have your question answered in an upcoming article! Kat 🙂

Hi Kat. I have just come back from a 4-month break from exercise and now after 4 weeks back training, I have gained 3kg on my 51kg frame (this is the heaviest I have been). I have always eaten very clean with the occasional treat, however since I have not been exercising I’ve been cutting back on calories. Now I am on a 1500-cal meal plan drinking more water, but cannot understand why I have gained extra 3kg in 4 weeks. Exercise-wise, I do 3 day resistance/HIIT & 3 or 4 times Bikram. Feeling rather down as it is not muscle but flab that has collected around my stomach, butt & thighs. Katherine.

Hi Katherine – what does your low-cal diet consist of?

Hi Kat,

Breakfast: 1/4 cup of rolled oats made with water mixed with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter. 1 egg + 3 egg whites 1 cup of spinach.

Snack: 4 celery sticks & 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.

Lunch: 4oz chicken baked chicken breast or a tin of sardines  2 cups of salad greens 1 thick slice of sprouted bread

Dinner: 4oz kangaroo steak or atlantic salmon (Birdseye frozen) 1 cup of broccoli 1/2 cup cauilflower sweet potato or steamed pumpkin or quiona

Snack: 1/2 cup of cottage cheese with 8 almonds or 1/2 cup raw milk & 1/2 cup of water with chai herbs – YUM – 8 almonds or walnuts.

Post workout: 6 dates 1 scoop whey protein powder & 1 small banana, flaxseeds mixed with water.

Maybe I am be too impatient, whereas beforehand I was cutting out on the starchy carbs & bread, however I do not have these with every meal.

Hi Katherine. In my opinion you need more protein … eat the egg yolks, that’s the best part. It has all the good fats and good cholesterol necessary for fat burning and metabolism. Even (most) doctors agree on that these days! Also I would suggest more protein through the day. 4-6 times, and more green veg if possible. Peanut butter might be an issue. I’m not against it, but try cutting it out for 2 weeks and see what happens. It’s a common intolerance. Post workout just have whey protein, no sugars at all! Not until you are as lean as you want to be. Your diet is very good overall, but try these changes and see what happens. It could also be a stress issue or lack of sleep?

Thank you so much for quick reply Kat & taking the time to answer my questions. Yes stress is an issue unfortunately, and I’m also sleepy lightly at night as I making 3 toilet trips to empty my bladder. Regarding protein, I will increased the lean protein to a larger portion then with each meal, & I honestly I thought I was ‘GREEN’ vegie out. I am now 54.4kg & 160cm, looking get down to around 13-15% bodyfat, so 1500 calories be what I should shoot for or more or less??

If you eat protein 4-6 times p/day, max 40-50 nuts, unlimited green veg and only berries for fruit then you don’t need to count calories. 1500 could be good or bad depending on the content. Also try using coconut oil as a good fat source to increase your metabolism 🙂 Take some good quality magnesium to help you sleep and manage stress or it can make you gain weight regardless of nutrition! This is my recommended mag – as a former full-blown insomniac I absolutely swear by it. Many of my clients with sleep or stress issues say the same thing.

Cool, believe it or not I was I was taking in around 3 to 4 tablespoons of coconut oil daily (read the coconut diet & followed meal ideas) & when I had my blood test, my cholesterol rose from 4.5 to 8.1 & LDL’s are 5.5 … YIKES!!! I thought that BS, as everything I read on CO says it lowers cholesterol and lowers LDL’s.  My Alternative Doctor recommends that I having low cholesterol all of my life then adding CO it shocked my system ??? & it could settle down after few months, however I did reduce my intake to 1 tablespoon now. My eating habits did not change in that above period, just adding the coconut oil into my meal plans.  At present I now only cook my eggs and chicken/roo meat in it.

Hmmm. That’s very strange. I’ve done an extensive amount of research on coconut oil, and use it with great success both personally and with my clients. The book Eat Fat Lose Fat is great for learning more about this and other good fats, and is one of my personal favourites. Everything I’ve learned about coconut oil indicates that it helps lower bad cholesterol and increase good. To me this indicates something going on at a deeper level. After quite a bit of further research, and the help of a few BioSignature colleagues, I’ve come up with several possibilities.

  1. The first possibility is that the inclusion of unnecessary sugar in your diet is causing sticky (glycinated) protein, and that this is leading to insulin spiking and therefore increased bad cholesterol. However – after having questioned you again about your food – I know this isn’t the case with you.
  2. The next possibility is one of quality. Coconut oil – like any oil – should absolutely only be used in a pristine organic state, and if it’s stored in plastic then make sure the plastic never becomes warm.
  3. The final possibility, and the one that I feel quite likely for you, is that you have a natural intolerance to coconut oil. This is an idea that a colleague of mine suggested, and it makes a lot of sense. If you’re intolerant to something it can cause increased immune activity which in turn can lead to elevated cholesterol. To me this makes more sense than the adaptation theory. Based on this I’d suggest you find a good kinesiologist to muscle test you for intolerance and/or have an allergy panel done through a functional doctor who uses a reputable lab like Meridian Labs.

There a couple of other things to point out regarding your weight. If coconut oil is an issue then that alone could cause weight gain (as will any food intolerance), but I really think the issues of sleep and stress can’t be underrated. If you can put steps into place to address those it could make a big difference. My final piece of advice would be to increase your resistance training to 3-4 days a week (40-60 minutes) rather than doing quite so much HIIT training instead of resistance. This is particularly relevant to stress, as any form of cardio will elevate cortisol and thus increase fat storage more so than what resistance training will do.

I hope that gives you some hope and some ideas to work on and look forward to hearing how you go!

*Do you have any questions for me that you’d be happy to have answered in the form of a blog post? Contact me here or reply in the comments below. I am happy to withhold your name if you prefer. Thank-you!

 

Don’t forget –

Life is Now. Press Play.

Kat x

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5 Comments

  1. Farouk says:

    its interesting how you show us how you deal with the questions you get, i like the style of the post 🙂

  2. In the interest of creating a good dialogue…
    I love your work Kat, but I think you need to be a bit careful. Calories DO count – they may not be the be all and end all, but the less muscle and the lower the activity of the subject the more you have to watch quantity as well as quality. Some people won’t get very lean unless they shoot for 20cals per kg of bodyweight regardless of macro breakdown, and within that they will need to carb cycle but that’s another story.

    And I have a bit of a problem with this – “Based on this I’d suggest you find a good kinesiologist to muscle test you for intolerance and/or have an allergy panel done through a functional doctor who uses a reputable lab like Meridian Labs.” Comparing a good allergy panel to muscle testing may win prizes from the King of BioSig, but I have seen conflicting data from supposedly “great” muscle testing kinesiolgists and an individual’s lab work. I’d hate any of your readers of this brilliant and genuine blog to forego bloodwork in favour of something a bit more hit and miss.

    I rarely comment on blogs so please do take this as sharing my opinion and not criticism as nothing negative is intended.

    Best,
    Nick

    1. Kat says:

      Hi Nick
      I really appreciate you taking the time to comment, yours is an opinion I respect highly. And I’ll certainly be the first to acknowledge I still have a lot to learn! I must admit I’ve only recently started coming back to the recognisation that calories do count. After reading Living the Low-Carb life I realised I’ve veered too far in the direction of focusing only on quality. To be honest, I’d pretty much forgotten about that since reading it, and I do tend to focus purely on the ‘what’ of a person’s nutrition, at least to begin with.
      Regarding the muscle testing, good point. I was trying to offer an option that may be more accessible for most people as the good labs are not open to ‘walk-in business’, but you’re right, I should have made the distinction in accuracy.
      Thanks again for your feedback – the issue of calories with correct food choices is one I plan to – and obviously need to – research further.
      Kat

  3. Ellen says:

    Hi Kat: This has been the story of my life for the past few years. A few years ago, I had an emotional trauma and could not eat for 2 weeks. I lost 15 pounds in 2 weeks! When I slowly gained the weight back, guess what – I kept gaining! I have been a thin person my whole life, with no problems with weight gain. I kept gaining and gaining and eventually gained 15 pounds over my normal weight! It was as if my body reset itself after that weight loss. Weird. In spite of doing everything right, my body seems to be set where it is and won’t budge. So frustrating.

    1. Kat says:

      Hi Ellen. Definitely frustrating. To me it sounds like it could be a reaction to stress overload (cortisol). Cortisol is very powerful at causing the body to retain weight …

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