3 Ways to Avoid the Paleo Plateau and Lose Stubborn Weight

When you eat like a caveman, you get rid of foods that challenge the immune system—like wheat gluten and milk casein.

Research suggests that grain, grain-like seeds, and legumes aren’t responsible for modern, chronic disease and obesity.

Grains, legumes, dairy, and overly processed foods are off the menu.


Probiotics could be what your Paleo diet is missing. Supporting your gut by drinking Paleo-friendly, probiotic-rich young coconut kefir, made from the Kefir Starter, could help you bust through that weight loss plateau.

On the Paleo diet, people get results. Fast.

But for many on the Paleo diet, there is a honeymoon phase. Eventually, weight loss plateaus, and metabolism slows down. Acne, allergies, or digestive troubles never fully go away.

At Body Ecology, we believe that certain foods nourish your inner ecosystem, or the communities of good bacteria and yeast that live inside the gut. These foods include fibrous plants and grain-like seeds, which bacteria love to feed on.

While the Paleo diet is a step in the right direction, it stops short of healing the inner ecosystem.

If you are on the Paleo diet and have hit a wall in your recovery, we encourage you to optimize your diet with these three steps:

  1. Eat Mostly Plants
  2. Give Grain-Like Seeds a Chance
  3. Make Probiotic Foods the Star

1. Eat Mostly Plants

Michael Pollan, writer and food activist, said it simply: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” (1) This is something that we at Body Ecology have been teaching for over 25 years.

The Body Ecology Principles of Food Combining and 80/20 tell us:

  • Eat 80% non-starchy vegetables.
  • Stop eating when you are 80% full.

Non-starchy vegetables include hearty greens and cruciferous vegetables, both of which are packed with nutrients that keep you and your gut healthy. As we mentioned above, plant foods are full of fiber that nourish good gut bacteria. As they consume this fibrous, raw material, they release special short-chain fats that soothe a leaky gut.

Butyrate is one of these fats.

Your intestinal cells rely on gut bacteria to pump out butyrate. Without it—or with only a short supply—intestinal cells die. (2) Butyrate also helps to control inflammation in the intestinal tract. (3) This stops leaky gut from forming and strengthens the intestinal wall. (4)(5)

2. Give Grain-Like Seeds a Chance

Many grains and grain-like seeds can cross-react with gluten, triggering an immune response that mimics the response you would have to gluten. But not everyone is cross-reactive. And if you are cross-reactive, you will have a unique set of foods that you cross-react with.

It’s complex. At first glance, it’s easier to get rid of all grains, legumes, and grain-like seeds. But remember that human beings evolved on a plant-rich diet, and our inner ecosystems evolved right along with us.

The beneficial microbes living in the gut depend on these fibrous plant foods.

For example, in 2010 researchers compared the diet and inner ecosystem of two groups of children. (6) One group of children lived in a rural village in Africa. The other group was from Florence, Italy. Both sets of children were the same age.

Researchers discovered that the group of children from the rural village in Africa had a healthier inner ecosystem than the children living in Italy. Those living in rural Africa ate plenty of fiber and complex plant sugars while consuming only small quantities of animal protein.

Their research suggests that grain, grain-like seeds, and legumes aren’t responsible for modern, chronic disease and obesity. Rather, a wounded inner ecosystem is the culprit.

If you follow a strict Paleo diet and haven’t seen the results that you’re looking for, we encourage you to slowly reintroduce grain-like seeds like amaranth, buckwheat, millet, and quinoa—watching for signs of intolerance. The plant fiber in gluten-free grains and legumes enriches your inner ecosystem, keeping inflammation and disease at bay.

3. Make Probiotics the Star

Did you know that a healthy gut contains bacteria that can digest gluten?

It’s true. Researchers at the University of León found that healthy volunteers harbor bacteria that can digest gluten. (7) This may explain why some people show no signs of intolerance to gluten. The caveat is that gluten-digesting bacteria need to be there in the first place.

However, a diet high in processed foods, antibiotic overuse during childhood, and even the inner ecosystem you inherit from your mother could mean that you are missing these gluten-digesting bacteria.

While you should be able to stomach almost anything, a wounded inner ecosystem interrupts your ability to break down food.

If you are unable to tolerate raw hearty greens, legumes, and grain-like seeds, this is a sign that it’s time to rebuild your inner ecosystem. The Paleo diet is a wonderful way to eliminate foods that irritate the gut. But it’s also critical to restore the communities of healthy gut bacteria.

To restore gut health and rebuild your inner ecosystem:

  • Drink plenty of young coconut kefir, a popular probiotic-rich drink that is Paleo-friendly.
  • Try cultured vegetables, another favorite among the Body Ecology Community. They are compliant with the Paleo diet and can help you reach the goal of 80% non-starchy vegetables.
  • Ferment your condiments. If you’re not sure where to begin, check out Leanne Ely’s recipes for fermented salsa and chutney in her new book, Part-Time Paleo.

What To Remember Most About This Article:

The Paleo diet is a good start to improve health and trigger weight loss, but it may not be enough. When you eat like a caveman on the Paleo diet, you remove irritating foods like wheat gluten and milk casein. You may get immediate results in what is called the “honeymoon phase,” but a weight loss and health plateau could follow.

Use three important Body Ecology steps to jumpstart your recovery and weight loss plan:

  1. Eat Mostly Plants. Follow the Body Ecology Principle of 80/20 that tells us to eat until 80% full with 80% non-starchy vegetables at each meal. Plant foods contain precious fiber to nourish friendly gut bacteria.
  2. Give Grain-Like Seeds a Chance. Beneficial microbes in the gut depend on fibrous plant foods. You can enrich your inner ecosystem by reintroducing grain-like seeds on a strict Paleo diet—like buckwheat, millet, amaranth, and quinoa.
  3. Make Probiotic Foods the Star. Healthy bacteria in the gut can help to digest gluten. A wounded inner ecosystem will make it more difficult to break down food. Focus on probiotics like young coconut kefir and cultured vegetables as a top priority for health and weight loss.
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  • Pollan, M. (2008). In defense of food: an eater’s manifesto. Penguin.
  • Donohoe, D. R., Garge, N., Zhang, X., Sun, W., O’Connell, T. M., Bunger, M. K., & Bultman, S. J. (2011). The microbiome and butyrate regulate energy metabolism and autophagy in the mammalian colon. Cell metabolism, 13(5), 517-526.
  • Chang, P. V., Hao, L., Offermanns, S., & Medzhitov, R. (2014). The microbial metabolite butyrate regulates intestinal macrophage function via histone deacetylase inhibition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201322269.
  • Suzuki, T., Yoshida, S., & Hara, H. (2008). Physiological concentrations of short-chain fatty acids immediately suppress colonic epithelial permeability. British Journal of Nutrition, 100(2), 297-305.
  • Kanauchi, O., Iwanaga, T., Mitsuyama, K., Saiki, T., Tsuruta, O., Noguchi, K., & Toyonaga, A. (1999). Butyrate from bacterial fermentation of germinated barley foodstuff preserves intestinal barrier function in experimental colitis in the rat model. Journal of gastroenterology and hepatology, 14(9), 880-888.
  • De Filippo, C., Cavalieri, D., Di Paola, M., Ramazzotti, M., Poullet, J. B., Massart, S., … & Lionetti, P. (2010). Impact of diet in shaping gut microbiota revealed by a comparative study in children from Europe and rural Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(33), 14691-14696.
  • Caminero, A., Herrán, A. R., Nistal, E., Pérez‐Andrés, J., Vaquero, L., Vivas, S., … & Casqueiro, J. (2014). Diversity of the cultivable human gut microbiome involved in gluten metabolism: isolation of microorganisms with potential interest for coeliac disease. FEMS microbiology ecology, 88(2), 309-319.
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