Paleo, Gastric Bypass, and Weight loss.

Posted: October 10, 2011 in Barefoot, Family, Fitness, Food, Health, Life, Nutrition, Paleo, Primal, Society, Weight loss
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Howdy there my fellow Puffins.

Today’s topic is going to be about the Paleo lifestyle (really…it isn’t a diet) and why I think it’s the best way to eat for our health. If, like me, you’ve battled your weight throughout your life, and have tried everything from anorexia to Weight Watchers, you know that exercise is only 1/2 the battle. So you have started running barefoot, and that has gotten you feeling good. That’s great, but today I want to provide the other half of the equation. Nutrition (I hate the word diet) is, at minimum, as important as exercise and people, including myself, believe it is FAR more critical than exercise.

Today’s world of convenience and ease makes eating easy…However, it makes eating well, miserably difficult. It’s much easier to pick up a quarter pounder, large fries, and a coke than it is to go home and make a salad. Most of the time it tastes better too. That much I won’t argue. However, if we listened to our bodies, we would know that we feel like SHIT after that quarter pounder. We would also know that are bowels will be angry later. Unfortunately we aren’t very good at listening to our bodies yet.  So we need a simple nutrition plan. One that lets us eat as much as we want without feeling guilty, and allows us to make simple food choices. Why over complicate things counting calories, macro/micro nutrients.

Enter the Paleo diet. Now I won’t go into the details of this nutrition plan, mainly because I don’t know all of them yet. What I will do is provide you the locations to learn about this lifestyle, and how to start implementing it in your daily regime. The first place that I would start is with the Paleo Starter Guide. That’s the nuts and bolts of the plan, and provides you with what you’ll need to get started. When you are done there, I’d head to Mark’s Daily Apple, while called by a different name (primal instead of paleo), it follows the same principles. After that, there is Whole9. All of these will provide you with more than enough information to get started, and with the exception of the starter guide, provide a place for you to ask the experts questions. I frequent all of them, and they helped me when I started making my transition.

Now I’d like to touch on how my gastric bypass surgery has affected my ability to adapt to the paleo diet. Unfortunately, it ruins it. The paleo diet, for those of you who didn’t read the links above, is based around eating WHOLE foods. Now this isn’t particularly a problem for someone who doesn’t have the stomach the size of a baseball. However, I do have a stomach the size of a baseball. You would think this means I could just eat less, but that’s not the case. It’s not the volume of food that causes discomfort and vomitting. It’s the fact that I’m severely lacking stomach acid. What does that mean? You may ask…It means I can’t break down the meat and more fiborous veggies that are the staple of the Paleo diet. So what happens? About an hour or so after eating, I get stomach cramps, or my meal comes back up. Occasionally this is caused by overeating (known as dumping to the gastric bypass world). However, more often than not, it means I can’t handle what I just ate. The things that I can no longer handle after surgery is quite long, and unfortunately, most of them are paleo staples. Just to name a few, steak, ground beef, any red meat really, spinach or other fiborous/leafy vegetable, any fiborous fruit, or fruit with the skin on it, chicken (if it’s dry). Yah, that’s just off the top of my head.  That sucks doesn’t it. Especially for a paleo eater. Uhm fish gets old. Really old. So do the few other foods I can eat. That’s not to say that I always can’t handle these things. However, the times that I can are pretty few and far between.

To make matters worse, the surgery bypasses the beefiest part of your instestine. Apparently the first 1/3 of your intestine is desinged to break down things like meat, vegetables, nutrient dense foods. Well, the bypass skips that part of the intestine and goes straight to the 2nd 1/3rd of your instestine.  

As you can see, the pouch bypasses the first part of the intestine.

This section is NOT designed to handle heavy things first. It is desinged to filter already broken down things. To extract more nutrients from food that has already been extracted from once. So, even though my stomach might have been able to handle that 3oz of steak…I’m not getting the nutrients from it that I should. So what do I do? I start tweaking my nutrition to meet my goals for what I need. This means deviating from the paleo plan and doing what is best for me, as a gastric bypass patient.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m 100% happy with my bypass. I wouldn’t take it back. But the paleo diet, at least for this puffin, is NOT always workable. So, I supplement with protein powders, and still eat dairy. I eat cottage cheese, drink whole milk, and use milk to mix my protein drinks. It’s important for me. I try to eat as many whole foods as I can, but when I’ve had a bad day (gastrointestinally speaking) the protein powder is there for me to help myself with. The milk is there. These calorically dense (sure synthesised and processed) nutrition sources are there to provide me with what my body needs. These things work for me, and more importantly, they don’t negatively affect my body. I’ve learned that they don’t hurt by slowly introducing them back into my diet. I have encountered some things that cause me problems, so I don’t eat them much. Ice cream, terrible. Most yogurts are bad too. Bread bothers me sometimes. I will have a roll or something at a restaurant (occasionally) as a treat. However, I try to stay away from bread (even whole grains). I’ve learned to avoid all these things by listening to my body. That’s what I think everyone, including YOU, needs to learn. To stop thinking so much, just listen. Your body has the answers. You can learn major things from the smallest stimulus if you just open up your mind and listen.

In closing, although I can’t 100% follow the paleo lifestyle, I do advocate that it is the best nutritional program for our species. While it isn’t a silver bullet, and everyone’s case, like mine, is different. I believe that it is a scientifically sound plan, and provides a low enough learning curve that anyone should at least try it. Shoot for the Whole30 challenge. You can find that on the Whole9’s site. See how you feel at the end of the 30 days. Then come back and bow down to me, or tell me how full of it and insane I am. Either way…At least you will have tried and it and learned something about yourself. Which is what I really want you to do in the first place.

Until next time,


  1. Amanda says:

    Wow! Thank you for this!!! My family and I are making the Paleo switch but I was wondering how it would affect my Bypass, or at least what options others have done. We are going to make the final switch once my husband finds a job (after he was laid off). Much cheaper buying pastas and dairy and legumes.

    • No problem. I would definitely suggest keeping dairy (unless of course it upsets your stomach) and to continue supplementing with protein powder. The Paleo diet is a great tool and an effective method of eating. However, given our more sensitive constitution it isn’t always feasible to eat this way everyday. Find things that work, every person is different. I’m very glad that you found my post and that it has helped you out. Stick around, and let me know if there is anything else you’d like to hear about.

  2. Puff, here’s a thread from the Paleo Hacks forum from a while back talking about adjusting to the paleo diet after gastric bypass surgery. Might be helpful for your situation to incorporate more meat and veggies into your diet (if you want to of course). Cheers!

  3. Thanks for that link Christian. I’ll be sure to check it out. I’m definitely interested, and started the Whole30 challenge yesterday. So far so good haha.

  4. laurie says:

    Hi there, thanks for the post, it’s the first one that came up in my gastric bypass/paleo eating trip. It really stinks that you aren’t able to completely live the paleo lifestyle due to surgery, i wish there was something that could be done to help that. However, the reason I wanted to post here is to let other bypasser’s know that not everyone has these complications.

    After trying every other diet out there liek you did, WW, LA Weight Loss, HMR, Nutrisystem etc, I chose to have gastric bypass on 10/25/2010. Having it along with healthy eating choices and tons of exercise, helped me lose 135lbs and go from a size 26 to a 12/14.

    I just started living the primal lifestyle on Sunday 1/29/2012 and luckily I can eat everything, just not in the same large amounts. i have had a pouch of steal from day one, I can eat any meat, veggies don’t bother me, nor does high fat intake. So I encourage other bypassers to at least attempt it, like you did, because you never know what you can tolerate unless you try. I cannot eat liquid sugar(juice, reg soda, ICE CREAM) without dumping, luckily we don’t eat those paleo 🙂 I am curious though, if I am absorbing all the nutrients i need, but since I am eating more of them with this eating plan, than previously, it shouldn’t be any worse and probably better.
    best of luck on your journey and I hope with time, you can tolerate more food!! How far out are you anyways?

    • It isn’t so much that I can’t eat everything paleo. Quite the contrary. The only thing that gives me issues is a very dry chicken breast. That’s about it. Since going full paleo I haven’t found anything that I couldn’t really eat. Some things I just prefer over others. Dumping has diminished as has bloat and bowel movement frequency. And I whole heartedly recommend paleo to anyone. I’m 2 years out.

      Thanks for stopping by

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