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Women, Weight and the Autoimmune Protocol – Part 1

JFC Weight and the Autoimmune Protocol

JFC Weight and the Autoimmune Protocol


Women and Weight on the Autoimmune Protocol – An Overview

Welcome to the first in a collaborative series of posts on women, weight and AIP between
Petra8Paleo and

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” – Toni Morrison, ‘Song of Solomon’

Some of the wonderful unexpected side benefits of following the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) are the connections you make with others from around the world who choose to follow a similar path. And, one of my early connections was with Canada-based Petra from Petra8Paleo.

In conversations with Petra (and other members of the wider autoimmune community) it has become very clear that weight – either too much or too little – is a front-of-mind issue for many of us.

And while AIP is definitely not a weight loss or weight gain diet (or lifestyle), ‘The Paleo Approach’ suggests that,

“Whether you are overweight or underweight, arriving at a healthy weight will probably be fairly easy on the Paleo Approach, as your gut heals and your digestion improves, as inflammation subsides, and as hormones become better regulated.” – Sarah Ballantyne, PhD, ‘The Paleo Approach’

 Petra and I wanted to know if this was true

And, since this subject of weight is one that both Petra and I have struggled with, we decided to do a little investigating…

This involved sending out an anonymous survey to a number of long-term AIP followers.

The results have been fascinating

  • We surveyed 20 female members of the autoimmune community.
    • Of these, 90% were strict to AIP and had successfully reintroduced some foods that they know they tolerate. 2 participants (10%) reported not being very strict or being inconsistent with the protocol.
  • Weight is a significant issue for the majority of women following AIP
    • 90% of respondents indicated that managing weight causes them stress. 20% reported that managing weight causes a ‘huge’ amount of stress, with 65% indicating that managing weight causes a ‘moderate’ amount of stress. Only 10% reporting that they experienced no stress associated with their weight.
    • Given the role of stress in disease and healing, we think these these numbers are significant.
  • Despite the fact that AIP is not a weight related approach, weight was a concern for the majority of respondents before embarking on the protocol.
    • 55% of research participants indicated that being over or underweight was one of the health issues that caused them concern when they started that AIP, and the same number report being concerned about weight after 1-3+ years on AIP.

As part of our study, in an attempt to gain some further insight, we also interviewed some members of the community. We’ll be sharing more details in the coming posts, but some clear themes have emerged:

  • Weight is a significant issue for the majority of followers of the Autoimmune Protocol. After at least 12 months of following the protocol, the majority of women are still concerned about their weight.
  • Too much or too little weight causes stress (which is a known contributor to autoimmune disease.)
  • Weight is not openly talked about in relation to autoimmunity
    • AIP is not a weight loss or weight gain diet
    • There is a sense that because we are trying to manage disease, weight is a side issue and we perhaps ‘shouldn’t worry about it’.

Weight is a highly complex issue

What is clear to us, is that what works for one person will not necessarily work for another. So, we remain strong advocates for an N=1 approach.

Experiment and find what works for you.

Part 2 in our series on Women, Weight and the Autoimmune Protocol can be found here.

Over the coming weeks, Petra and I will be sharing more of our investigation with you.

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Petra and I have been ‘blog stalking’ each other for a few years now. This since has led to conversations via email and Skype. We hope that one day we will actually meet, preferably in some suitably exotic spot!

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Comments (5)

Fascinating insights Jo/Petra, thank you for a great post! I wonder if our perception of ‘ideal weight’ and our bodies’ perceptions of ‘ideal weight’ are not aligned?

Interesting stuff. Looking forward to more.

There will be more, Maggie!

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