Episode 75: Higher Carbohydrate Paleo Diets for Hormone Related Health Issues

I'm Laura

I help nutrition entrepreneurs grow their income and their impact by packaging their brilliance into transformative coaching and consulting programs, and get crystal clear on their marketing strategy.

hey there!

TOp categories

Learn more

This post may contain affiliate links.

Thanks for joining us for episode 75 of The Ancestral RD podcast. If you want to keep up with our podcasts, subscribe in iTunes and never miss an episode! Remember, please send us your question if you’d like us to answer it on the show.

Today we are answering the following question from a listener:

“My question relates to a high carb Paleo diet.  I’m currently in recovery from hypothalamic amenorrhea and adrenal fatigue, and I’ve tended toward a high carb Paleo style diet, 45-60% percent carbs.  I still get in around 100 grams of protein and 50-60 grams of fat a day.  Is there anything wrong with tending toward a higher carb and moderate protein diet in a Paleo context?  I tend to feel the best when doing so.”

We’ve been talking a lot lately about the benefits of a higher carbohydrate Paleo diet for various health conditions and overall health. But do those benefits apply to hypothalamic amenorrhea and other hormone related health issues?

Join us today as we discuss how a higher carbohydrate Paleo diet can be especially beneficial for those with health issues related to hypothalamus function. We share our own personal experience with higher carb Paleo diets, calm the fear surrounding higher carb intake and weight gain, and give you guidelines and tips to experiment with increasing the percentage of carbohydrates in your own diet.

Also, it’s back! Our popular “Paleo Rehab” program will be opening soon! Be sure to stay tuned for exciting information about the upcoming launch. You’ll hear about components of the program, information on start dates, and how to receive announcements when the program opens. You definitely won’t want to miss this!

Here’s what Laura and Kelsey will be discussing in this episode:

  • Laura and Kelsey’s personal experience with a higher carbohydrate Paleo diet
  • Starting points of the percentage of carbohydrates for hypothalamic related health issues
  • Why everyone’s dietary carbohydrate needs are different
  • Why a higher carbohydrate, lower fat Paleo diet can be beneficial for weight loss goals
  • How to experiement to find out what percentage of macronutrients works for you
  • Why a low carbohydrate diet is not always a good idea for digestive issues
  • Calming the fear of overeating calories on a higher carbohydrate Paleo diet
  • Exciting news and information about the upcoming relaunch of  the“Paleo Rehab” program

Links Discussed:


Kelsey: Hi everyone.  Welcome to Episode 75 of The Ancestral RDs podcast.  I’m Kelsey Kinney and with me as always is Laura Schoenfeld.

Laura:  Hey everybody.

Kelsey: Laura’s got some really exciting news to share with everyone.

Laura: Oh, you’re putting on the spot?

Kelsey: I know, I know.

Laura: It’s okay. I posted it on all the social media anyway, so it’s fine.

Kelsey: Yay!

Laura: And really sick before that, so I’m still getting over. It’s like the longest sickness ever, but I tolerated it because I’m in a good mood.

Kelsey: It was worth it.

Laura: Yeah, definitely especially because my fiancé was the one that got me sick in the first place. I was perfectly healthy and then we went up to Michigan to do I guess like a cabin camping trip with his family up in Mackinaw Island area and it was super cold. And my fiancé was really, really sick when we got there, and I was trying to take care of him, and then I got really sick, and it was just pretty intense.

Kelsey: Welcome to the world of long term relationships where you just pass sicknesses back and forth.

Laura: Yes.  Ironically the day that my…I keep wanting to say boyfriend, my fiancé proposed to me I had like almost 102 degree fever and thought I was like dying. I was in the car like laying down. He had to drive me back from my sister’s baby shower to his house in Ohio. I was laying down and sweating and like feverish. I guess he decided he wanted to spend the rest of his life with that.  So yeah, it was super exciting.

I know everyone’s been hearing me talk about just our relationship a fair amount in our update since it’s been a pretty whirlwind situation for me. I’m usually the kind of person that expects everything to take a long time to get going, but we’ve been together for about I guess a little over five months at this point, which is kind of short for being engaged, but we both feel really good about it, and we’re both excited, and now all the wedding planning is happening. Now I feel like there’s the fun aspects of being on Pinterest for hours a day on the weekends, and then there’s the not so fun aspects of getting quotes back from your dream venders and it’s like, oh my gosh!

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: I didn’t know that was going to be so expensive.

Kelsey: Your heart sinks as soon as you see those numbers.

Laura: Yeah, a little bit.  So just trying to manage expectations and see where we can be a little bit more frugal, and where we can splurge, and thinking about if I do want to splurge on things, what that looks like for my business, and how to maybe hustle a little harder to save up for the more expensive things that I might be interested in.  So yeah, it’s super exciting. I’m still kind of like in shock about it just because first of all I was probably on two, three different cold medicines when he did it, and I was like wait, is this really happening?

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Or am I dreaming because I’m like hallucinating or something? But I feel like it’s slowly starting to sink in and we’re hoping to get a date set for June of next year. It’s really exciting.  It’s like everything’s happening.

Kelsey: Well, that’s super exciting and congratulations.

Laura: Thank you.

Kelsey: That’s awesome.

Laura: Yeah I’m excited. If anyone follows me on Instagram, I’ll probably be posting photos of things as we’re getting ready and eventually when the wedding itself is happening.  I’m not sure I’ll be posting a whole lot on Instagram, but maybe other people will be and we’ll have a hash tag that you can check out. Anyway, it’s all exciting. I don’t know, it’s just weird because I’m so used to being the one helping other people get excited about things.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: Now that it’s me, I’m just like I don’t even know how to handle it.

Kelsey: Well, it is exciting.  It’s a lot of work, I will say that.  But yeah, all hopefully worth it in the end.

Laura: Yeah, and it’s funny because I’m working on rebranding right now, which has been such a long process that when it started I wasn’t even dating my fiancé.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: I don’t know, I’m pretty sure I’m sticking with Schoenfeld, unlike you who changed your name for your rebranding.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: Even though my married last name would be available as a URL and it would only be like three dollars.

Kelsey: Tempting.

Laura: I know. But I think I’m just going to stick with Schoenfeld just because that’s what I’ve been using for so long, and that’s what people recognize me as, and I built not a huge business, but a decent amount of name recognition on that name.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: I don’t know, it might be nice to have a little bit of, what’s the word? Like a split personality where I’m Laura Schoenfeld in my business and then it would be Laura Keppeler in a real life starting in June.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: I don’t know. We’ll see. But I’m pretty sure I’m just going to stick with Schoenfeld because I just like can’t handle that also.

Kelsey: Oh that’s even more work. I’m like still trying to switch everything over. It is such a process.  If you already have your branding, just stick with it.

Laura: Yeah, and honestly, I’d have to wait until June to rebrand and I’m really pretty ready to do it in the next month or so.  So I’m just like, alright, it just has to happen. I’m just going to stick with Schoenfeld.

Kelsey: Yeah, there you go.

Laura: Yeah.  I’m really excited about everything that’s going on.  I’m just kind of like I want this cold to go away because I’m sure everyone can hear how scratchy and unappealing my voice sounds right now. It’s just been like a really long sickness, longer than usual. I have a lot of stuff going on that I’m like I can’t be sick right now, I need to be healthy and being able to handle the stuff.

Kelsey: Right.  Well that is awesome.  Congratulations.  I’m happy for you.  I’m sure all of our listeners are happy for you and we can’t wait to hear more as things progress.

Laura: Yeah, like I said it will be all documented on…well not all of it, not like the spreadsheet…

Kelsey: Every little detail.

Laura: …the on line budget calculating and all that. But it’ll be really fun.  I feel like part of me is tempted to be a little less frugal with some of the stuff that’s important to me because I just feel like some of the stuff like photography is one of the few things that’s actually going to last from the day itself so I feel like splurging on that I feel better about doing that than something like favors which no one ever remembers in my opinion.

Kelsey: Right.  No it’s true.  Awesome.

Laura: Anyway.  Well like I said I’m sure people will hear about it in updates as things progress but this just happened a little over a week ago from the day of this recording. It will be about I guess maybe close to a month ago from when this podcast goes live. Just feel free to check me out on Instagram.  My user name is Laura.Schoenfeld if you want to see what kind of ridiculous stuff I’m up to in the next couple weeks, check me out there.

Kelsey: Cool.  Alright, so with that exciting news I think we’ll jump into our question for today. But before we do that, here is a word from our sponsor.

Okay. Our question for today is:

“My question relates to a high carb Paleo diet.  I’m currently in recovery from hypothalamic amenorrhea and adrenal fatigue, and I’ve tended toward a high carb Paleo style diet, 45-60% percent carbs.  I still get in around 100 grams of protein and 50-60 grams of fat a day.  Is there anything wrong with tending toward a higher carb and moderate protein diet in a Paleo context?  I tend to feel the best when doing so.”

Laura: I’d say the answer is no.

Kelsey: Yeah.  Easy.

Laura: Alright, see you guys next week. No, I’m just kidding. Ironically, well at least up until recently, I personally had been trying to follow a higher carb Paleo diet. And I say up until recently not because I consciously changed that, it’s more because of just being a little distracted and being sick for the last week and a half for whatever reason.  Well I shouldn’t say whatever reason. A combination of the fact that I can hardly taste anything and then also my appetite has been kind of screwed up from being sick.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: It’s all I can do to just eat so I haven’t really been focusing on the macro percentages. But when I’ve been feeling better and less distracted by all the craziness happening in my personal life,  I do try to actually aim for a like a 40-50 % of calories from carbs diet. I don’t have hypothalamic amenorrhea. I have had some issues with HPA axis dysfunction in the past. I probably still struggle with that just because of my stress levels and the fact that I continue to train not at crazy high intensity, but definitely I have some higher intensity training.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: And my attention to my diet is not always as good as it should be, which is kind of ironic because I’m a Dietician. You would think I’d be a little bit more on top of those things, but I’ve been a little distracted. But when I’m when I’m working on it, I do actually try to eat a higher carb diet myself. I don’t know if I’m quite up at like 60% because that’s pretty high from a percentage perspective. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, it’s just if I was going to eat that much it would be like over 300 grams of carbs a day.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: But definitely higher carb in general. Not only have I been doing that for myself as much as I can, but I’ve actually been working with a lot of clients that we end up doing a 40-60 % of calories…well I don’t know, I don’t know if I’ve done anybody at 60%. And again, not that there’s something wrong with it.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: But 60% using Paleo foods can sometimes be a little hard unless you eat a lot of fruit and maybe like honey, maple syrup, that kind of stuff. But yeah, I’ve been putting people on those higher carb Paleo diets a lot recently and I see them working pretty well.  What about you?

Kelsey: Yeah, I use the higher carb Paleo type of diet with a lot of my clients.  Especially of course because I think both you and I deal with a lot of people that have HPA axis dysregulation in our practice, so that higher carb diet tends to work really, really well for those people and especially women within that context too.

Personally, I’m still playing around with my macro percentages to find what works for me best because I’ve started powerlifting within I would say…I don’t want to hardcore, but with the power lifting program at the gym I’m going to, it’s a four day a week program.  So that’s a lot compared to what I was doing previously.

Laura: Yeah.  I have been missing a lot of it because of travel and illness, but I really only do like two days a week right now.

Kelsey: Yeah, and granted I don’t really do things outside of that. I would say I’m pretty sedentary outside of that, so I do feel like I get a lot of rest to kind of fuel that. But I haven’t totally figured out what macro percentages are going to work for me for that level of working out each week. I’m still playing around with that, but the next thing on my list is to do kind of this higher type of carbohydrate diet and see how that works out for me because I’m also trying to lose some weight at the same time. I gained some weight when I kind of got diagnosed with my heart issue a few years ago and it’s been really difficult for me actually to get that off, so a part of me feels like there might be something else going on too that I need to pay attention to.

But I felt really ready to finally get into exercise, and so I started with two days a week, and then I went to three, and now with the power lifting program, it’s four. I feel really good doing that.  I’m not having any trouble recovering it seems like, which is great, but I do feel like my nutrition needs like get up to speed with that.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Kelsey: For me personally, that’s something I’m experimenting with is that higher carb diet compared to I think I tend to usually eat a somewhat lower carb diet. And I’m not a huge tracking person just in my own everyday life, but I’m trying to be a little bit more just within this experimentation phase for me because otherwise I have no idea what I’m doing. If I’m not tracking, then who knows what I’m actually ending up eating because I’m not paying attention to it too much. That’s something I’m playing around.

But within my own practice, I mean I have to say I use anywhere from like 30-50 % carbs as like a starting point for most people. In fact, I don’t typically go below like 25 or 30% percent calories from carbs in the first month or so unless someone comes to me saying, I know I do well on a low carb approach, that’s part of what I want to do with you. I can assess that from our first chat together. If they’ve had really good success losing weight, they’re not necessarily having HPA axis issues, if all looks good for a low carb approach and that’s what works for them best, then I’m all for that. But for anybody who’s not sure about what macronutrient level they need, or they have HPA axis issues, or we suspect HPA axis issues, usually the minimum I start with for calories from carbs is about 25%.

Laura: Yeah. I tend to work with a lot of the hypothalamic amenorrhea type clients as well, so that definitely relates to this question that we got. And for those women, I usually will go 40-50%.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: With HPA axis dysregulation…I always hesitate to use the word adrenal fatigue, but that’s just the word that this question submitted…the 30%, that’s where we start at with our program. And the reason why we start there, and that’s a lot of times the reason why we start it with other clients, is first of all most of our people are coming to us on lower percentage of calories from carbs than that.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: So just going up to 30% is already an increase. To come up with an arbitrary percentage for everybody is really difficult because there are so many different factors that affect how many carbs somebody should be eating. As some of you will remember from our conversation with Chris Masterjohn on a couple weeks ago, there’s a lot of things that affect what your carb needs are. If you’re super sedentary, then maybe getting 100 to 150 grams a day is going to be fine for you. But if you’re doing powerlifting, then 150 grams my actually be too low.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: It’s really hard to figure out exactly what everybody should be eating to get good health, and honestly it’s impossible to give a percentage that works for everybody. But we start with 30% because 30% of calories generally gets people at least above 100 grams per day and for most people dealing with any sort of HPA axis dysfunction, or hypothalamic amenorrhea, or any sort of hypothalamus related health issues, we don’t want them ever being in a place where they are relying on stress hormones to create the glucose that their brain wants.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: The 100 grams is kind of like the bare minimum. A little higher than that is usually a necessary amount for anyone who’s moving around at all during the day really.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: And we can go up from there.  In this person’s situation, the 45-60 %, she may be basing that off of let’s say she’s doing, let’s just say 2,000 calories to make it easy, and let’s say she’s doing a 50% of calories from carbs diet. That means that she’s probably getting about 250 grams of carbs per day, which I wouldn’t consider that like crazy high.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: The one thing I would say is that from a volume perspective, that is a lot of food if you’re doing it strictly Paleo. So things like fruits, and starchy tubers, and maybe white rice if you’re including that as part of your Paleo diet, certain natural sweeteners like maple syrup, honey. Getting to 250 grams a day of carbs is actually not easy to do.

I’ve done it before and that’s why I’m speaking from my own experience that eating that much can sometimes be challenging.  So if anyone’s concerned that oh there’s like a 50% of carbs diet, that’s like way too high carb. When you’re doing a Paleo diet, it’s really, really difficult to overeat on carbohydrates.

Now the one issue that could come up if you’re not paying attention is if you’re adding those carbs in but you’re not changing your fat intake.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: So you’re not necessarily raising your percentage of calories from carbs, which would require a drop in percentage from the other 2 macronutrients. Sometimes when people just add carbs, they end up not changing anything else, and then they are overeating, and then it is kind of a problem to be eating 250 grams of carbs a day. But if you’re doing that and also limiting fat, generally that’s not going to be a problem for most people.

And from a weight loss perspective, I know this is not what the question is asking, but if somebody is trying to lose weight, a lot of times a high carb, low fat Paleo diet is a good weight loss solution because they’re getting themselves out of that stress hormone situation, providing enough calories that they feel good enough to exercise, but also not overdoing the calories so that they’re putting on weight or eating so much extra fat that they don’t need that all that extra dietary fat would go to storage.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: Again, I know this question is not about weight loss, obviously. And when somebody is dealing with hypothalamic amenorrhea, we don’t actually want to focus on weight loss, but that is one of the reasons why a lot of people are afraid to eat high carb Paleo is because they’re worried about weight gain. Honestly from my experience not only in my own life, but also my clients’ lives, and diets, and all that, most people that go on a high carb Paleo diet either maintain their weight, or I’ve seen people actually lose weight on this approach.

Kelsey: Yeah, for sure. I think when it comes to HPA axis dysregulation, or hypothalamic amenorrhea, or really any kind of health condition in the context of your life and how much activity you’re doing, there are certain starting points of where how many carbs you should be getting, like you mentioned Laura, like 40-50% for hypothalamic amenorrhea clients, we have 30% as a starting point for our adrenal fatigue program.

I think the good thing to do here is just to start at that starting point if you are below that currently, and then try working your way up slowly over time, like give each percentage jump a month or two at least and kind of see how your weight is trending, see how your symptoms are trending.  If things are getting better, but you think they might be even better going up another you know 5 or 10% percent in carbs, give that a shot for another month or two and track those symptoms. Again, see what happens because this is not a one size fits all deal here.

Like Laura was saying before, we really can’t give everybody their most individualized personalized recommendations in a program like we have. And even with our clients when we’re working one on one with someone, there’s really no way for us to know exactly what percentage of macronutrients you should be eating. You kind of just have to do our best guess, start you there, and then experiment from there.

This is a process of course that you can try on your own. Usually that starting point is like the hardest part for people. They just don’t know where to start and then they don’t know how long to stay on that before they try something different.  All of those questions are what we work on with our clients to give them that good starting point and to then walk them through that experimentation process. But it is something that you can do on your own, it just can sometimes be a little bit more confusing if you don’t have someone guiding you through it.

Laura: Is there anyone that you can think of that shouldn’t experiment with higher carb, lower fat Paleo type diet? Is there anyone that you’re like definitely no, don’t try it?

Kelsey: Lately I will say that with my digestive clients, I have been keeping them on something similar to what we recommend like in our adrenal fatigue program where it’s a bit on the higher carb end, and this is because my approach lately has been to figure out what is going on in their gut. For example, we’re doing SIBO tests, we’re doing stool tests, we’re figuring out if there’s anything going on as a root cause, and then we’re dealing with that. They’re either getting antibiotics from their doctor or we’re doing herbal antimicrobials, so they’re getting on some sort of protocol that will actually deal with the bacterial issue.

I actually tend to not go lower carb, or take out FODMAPS, or anything like that before we try at least a round of antibiotics or antimicrobials because for the most part, once people go through that process and they go through anti-microbial protocol, they don’t necessarily need to go low carb anymore. Whereas if we had started off saying okay, we’re going to deal with this from a diet perspective first and then touch on the root cause of this, to me it seems backwards because you end up going lower carb which tends to make people feel better, they’ll get less bloating, they won’t have as many bowel movement issues, but it’s not actually fixing anything.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Kelsey: And if they are doing exercise, it kind of just creates more problems than it solves by pushing them towards HPA axis dysfunction, messing with their metabolism a lot of times when we don’t need to do that.  I’d say rather than thinking about it as like okay, if you have digestive issues you shouldn’t be on a higher carb diet, my recommendation would be to figure out what’s causing your digestive problems and treat that, and then you probably won’t need to be on a low carb diet to mask your symptoms.

Laura: Yeah, I mean the carb thing for the digestive health, a lot of times it can become what type of carbs as opposed to the total amounts.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: I feel like some people can’t tolerate that necessarily.  Even though with people that have blood sugar issues, I don’t know, I mean sometimes the clients I work with the reason they have blood sugar issues is because they’re not eating enough carbs.

Kelsey: I know, I have very mixed feelings on the low carb approach for blood sugar issues. I think it works great for some people, but then for others like even on a lower carb diet, they’re still having blood sugar issues. I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to experiment with a bit of a higher carb diet in that case because obviously the low carb approach isn’t working.

Laura: Yeah. The carb question is, I feel like we talk about it all the time. Honestly, our listeners, if you’ve been listening to us for any extended length of time, you’re probably tired of hearing about the carb thing. But it does always amaze me how many people come to us as clients that just are so afraid carbs, or that maybe they lost weight on a low carb diet, and now they’re having health issues because of it, and they’re afraid to add the cars back in. It’s just like there’s so much misinformation that I feel like we’re always going to be talking about it for some reason.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: But I see a lot of people doing really well in general with weight loss, blood sugar control, stress issues, even sometimes digestion. I’ve had some clients that they had digestive issues that weren’t really being helped by doing low carb even if they were avoiding the carbs that might typically affect their digestion. And like you said earlier, it was really more treating the underlying infection and then adding carbs back in that made them feel their best.

Unless somebody needs to be on a medical ketogenic diet, or if they have never done any sort of diet at all and they want to do a low carb diet for like metabolic syndrome type diabetes,  all the real intense more metabolic glucose dysregulation, those people they may want to start with the very low carb approach in the beginning. But I’d say the average person just to stay healthy and fit, and feel good, and fuel their gut bacteria, and just kind of have an overall well rounded balanced diet, the 45-60 % of carbs I actually feel like works for most people.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: For whatever reason, there’s been this big low carb push in the paleo and ancestral health community, which I do feel like we’re kind of getting out of that maybe.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: But it still seems like we’re not out of it yet.

Kelsey: We’re in the process.

Laura: Right, right. That’s why we keep talking about it. But from a percentage of calories perspective, I think 45-60 is perfectly healthy.  I think that for somebody with hypothalamic amenorrhea and HPA axis dysregulation, that amount of carbs is probably a really good amount.

When it comes to weight concerns, I mean for me I’ve been in sort of a weird situation because when I started my training a little over a year, I guess it’s been like fifteen months at this point, I was eating to train, like I was eating the amount of food that I needed to build muscle, and get strong, and all that. And then the last few months I’d say because of the personal life stuff that’s been going on, I’ve been pretty distracted and kind of, I don’t want to say stress because it’s not bad stress. It’s just the kind of stress that makes you forget to eat, or like have low appetite, or whatever.  I don’t know how to describe it.  I’m not unhappy, I’m definitely very happy, but there’s stress involved with long distance dating, and wedding planning, and all that stuff.  Even though I’ve been trying to eat higher carb and only training twice a week, if that because lately it’s been like seriously so hit or miss, I’ve actually lost over twenty pounds since last year.

Kelsey: Wow.

Laura: Which I don’t think the weight really started coming off in any significant amount until about April, and I had started training in July of last year I think, or maybe June.  I can’t remember, I think it was maybe June.  Or no, maybe it was May. I think it was May of last year. So I’m about a year and a third into my training. I had lost a little bit at first, like maybe up to five pounds in the first eight to ten months.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: And then the period of time between basically April and now I’ve lost another fifteen pounds. And to be fair, a lot of that is because of my reduced appetite or because I’ve been distracted and not maybe eating as much as I should.  I’m not saying the way that I did it is like the optimal way and it’s not like I’m on purpose not eating a lot, it’s just things come up. Then this whole sickness thing, I actually lost four pounds this week because I got really sick, and I couldn’t taste any of my food, and I didn’t have any appetite. I’m just like alright, probably need to work on getting some food back into me because this is ridiculous.  I definitely don’t feel great and I haven’t been able to exercise in the last week or so, so this is not the optimal way to lose weight fast. I don’t recommend going on the sinus infection and cold diet because it’s kind of miserable.

But it’s just one of those things that like, I don’t know. My experience with my weight has been that usually if I’m trying to lose weight, first of all like I said, I think the higher carb approach works for me based on the kind of exercise that I do, but it doesn’t happen linearly. It’ll go very slow, and then all of a sudden it will drop a bunch, and then I’ll maintain that for a couple months, and then it’ll like start to come down again. It’s just been this really weird progression and I haven’t really been working that much on it, but all I know is that my diet generally tends to be carb heavy these days and I haven’t had any issues with maintaining the weight that I’ve lost, and if anything, I have to probably start paying attention to eating more because I’ve been like losing more weight than I even intended.

Like I said, being sick, I’m not going to count that towards like that was my weight loss approach. But now that I’m well in the range of  my weight goal, I’m like alright, now I need to look at maintaining and also recovering from the period of time where I probably lost more weight than I should have because I’ve been sick.

So long story short, if people are afraid to try high carb Paleo because they think they’re going to gain weight, my experience in my own life is that that did not happen, and the opposite happened.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: Not that my experience is going to be universal for everybody, but when I have clients that are afraid to eat high carb because they think they’re going to gain weight, I like to share my own experience because it’s a little bit easier to trust someone when they’ve gone through it themselves and said it works and it’s not something to be afraid of.

Kelsey: Yeah, and I think when people think of a high carb diet, they associate that with things like bread, and sweets, and that that would be a big part of it. But yeah, if you’re doing like a very healthy version of a high carb diet, I would say it’s pretty darn hard to like eat…because it’s such a volume of food. If you’re eating that from sweet potatoes, and potatoes, and stuff like that, man, you’re going to have a tough time. Like you are saying, trying to get to 200 grams from that sort of stuff is really difficult.

Laura: Right.

Kelsey: I think people have this misconception too about what that actually looks like when you’re using good food choices to make up that carbohydrate intake because there’s like a lot of water in there, there’s a lot of fiber in there.  It’s very filling compared to eating things like bread and rice as your only carbs sources.

Laura: Right. Yeah. Honestly, I mean I know for a fact that I am not getting the amount of carbs that I was aiming for before because of how much volume it is.  It’s like an insane amount of food to get above 200-250 grams a day from Paleo type carbs.  It’s something that people think they’re eating high carb  first of all, and they’re not because they’re eating like 100 grams a day or something and that’s definitely not high carb. They’re eating really, like you said, high fiber, high water content foods and those are super filling. There’s times where when I’ve done tracking and try to get up to 250 grams a day where I’ll put a meal together that’s going to help me get there, and I’m just like oh my gosh, like I can’t eat all this food. I have to save it and then eat it later because I literally can’t even eat that much.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: The fear that you’re going to overeat is really not something that you should be worried about just because honestly if you’re not just putting tons of oil onto the carbs that you’re eating, like olive oil, coconut oil, butter, that kind of stuff, it’s almost impossible to overeat on calories when you’re eating 60% of your calories from carbs.

Kelsey: Yeah, absolutely.  So moral of the story here is that yes, you can absolutely do a higher carb Paleo type, or even just a real food type diet, and it’s a great option for dealing with adrenal fatigue, or hypothalamic amenorrhea, or even just for everyday good health.  You don’t need to have some special condition that requires a high carb diet.  Even someone who’s like fairly sedentary could probably do well on a semi high carb diet too.  It’s just that these types of conditions make it way more likely that you’re going to feel better on a higher carb diet.

Laura: Yeah.

Kelsey: But you definitely want to experiment because everybody’s a little bit different.  I’d recommend personally starting from like 30% if you haven’t done that before. Or if, like Laura said, if you have something like hypothalamic amenorrhea, maybe starting a little bit higher at about 40%, and then working your way up or down from there, probably starting with going up first, like if you’re feeling really good with that first change that you made. Or if you’re not, or if you’re getting blood sugar issues, or other issues that are kind of confounding how your symptoms are going, then I would maybe go down. But it just depends, and it sometimes it is helpful to get some guidance along the way too.

Laura: Yeah, definitely. Actually that brings us to a good point that we’re actually going to be re-launching our “Paleo Rehab” program. This episode is scheduled to come out on October 13th and we’re going to be opening up the program for another round of students starting on, is it October 31st is the first day of class, Kelsey?

Kelsey: Yes, Halloween, first day of class.

Laura: Spooky.  The week that the program is going to be on sale is starting on October 24th.  If you’re listening to this and it’s either before October 24th or between the 24th and the 31st of October of 2016, then feel free to jump over to if you want to join us and you’ll be able to find the information you need to register. But if you’re not familiar with our program, then we can talk about a little bit today on the show just to give you a little bit more information about what this program even entails.

We talked a lot about carbs, and macronutrient percentages, and amount of food, and all that today. Which again, we do talk about that a lot, but it’s because we see so many issues with that with our clients.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: That is one of the main things that we cover in this program is teaching you how to figure out exactly how much food and macronutrients that you should be eating on a daily basis.  It’s very similar to what we do for our one on one clients. Like we mentioned in the podcast, we typically start with 30% of calories from carbs, but that’s just a starting point and we are going to teach our students how to identify if they should go higher, go lower, how to identify if it’s working for them.  So again, same kind of process we go through with our one on one clients and we’re just teaching you how to do that for yourself so that way you can eat in a way that’s going to help you recover from HPA axis dysregulation.

Kelsey, do you want to tell them a little bit about the testing and supplements that we recommend?

Kelsey: Yeah. In the first module of “Paleo Rehab,” you’ll learn about just generally what adrenal fatigue is, or HPA axis dysregulation, or dysfunction as we like to affectionately call it.  And within that module, we’ll also talk a lot about the testing because testing can be very, very useful. When we re-launched our program earlier this year, we had done a huge update to it where instead of using the saliva based testing, we’re now using at a test called the DUTCH test which is a urine test which tests things like cortisol, metabolized cortisol, you can even do a testing option that includes some sex hormones as well if you feel like you might have some issues with that. We don’t go over the interpretation of the sex hormones within “Paleo Rehab” but we do go over the interpretation of the cortisol and cortisol metabolites in our program.  And then from there you get assigned a pattern based on your results. You can look at your results, you watch videos about the different types of patterns that show up in the results, and you can identify which pattern you fall into, and then we have supplement recommendations that are really specific to that type of pattern.

The reason that we changed to the DUTCH test versus the saliva based testing is because the saliva based testing did not give us as much information as the DUTCH test does. Without that extra piece of information, it was really hard to tell what supplement protocol to put people in. With that extra information, we’ve gotten way more specific about what supplements you should be taking based on the pattern that you’re showing in your DUTCH test.

Laura: Yeah. We don’t require the testing and supplementation, but we have found that for a lot of our clients it does help a lot to get more immediate results from the program.  Of course the diet and lifestyle recommendations are the major component of the program that really helps people the most. We’ve had a couple of people come back to us months after the program started where they’ve already gone through everything, and they’ve been making the changes and really implementing things for a while, and they basically told us that the diet was one of the things that was the biggest change and the biggest improvement that they experience because they didn’t realize how much their diet was causing a lot of their symptoms.

Even though the testing and supplements are super helpful and definitely improve the rate of recovery for a lot of our clients, it’s not something that’s required and that’s not the main way that we’re going to be seeing improvements. We like to give people the best information possible and that’s why we provide the testing and supplement recommendations because we don’t want to miss a piece of the recovery puzzle.

But we do feel like the diet piece, like kind of what we talked about today with experimenting with calories and macronutrients, making sure you’re eating enough, and getting nutrient dense foods, and then also the lifestyle changes which cover things like sleep, stress, exercise, social connection, all the things that really do affect your HPA axis function, all of that combined together is really what gives people the best results. We find that a lot of our group program participants as well as our personal clients, everyone’s got stuff that they can improve in these areas. I mean just talking today about Kelsey and my approach to our diet and exercise, like there’s things that we can fix.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: For me, I could definitely be sleeping more, and more regularly.

Kelsey: Me too.

Laura: And I need to really work on reducing stress, although right now I don’t know if that’s going to happen, we’ll see. But eating more, which is something that I’m going to have to figure out what that looks like for me because of my appetite being affected by a lot of the stuff that’s been going on lately. But all that stuff, us being experts doesn’t mean we’re perfect and we know areas of our life that we can improve.  And for all of our clients that we work with, most of them have at least one or two major areas of their life in these topics that can be improved to help them feel better.

We cover basically everything you need to know, all the changes that we recommend, and the resources that we recommend to help you make those changes. We have expert guests that have contributed mindset and exercise guide specifically geared towards people with adrenal fatigue and HPA axis dysfunction, and basically just giving you all the information that you need to make the total diet, supplement, and lifestyle changes that are going to help you feel better really quickly.

Then there is a “bonus” module that is really all about helping to heal your relationship with food as well as just your emotional mindset and the way that you approach life in general. Because we find that for a lot of our clients with HPA axis dysfunction, and things like hypothalamic amenorrhea, hypothyroidism, all the other hypothalamic caused hormonal imbalances that are related to HPAD, they usually, if not almost always, have some kind of either body image concern, or fear around food, or problematic relationship with food, or even just like some kind of negative emotional, we call them emotional injuries in the program where they’re just dealing with something that’s causing their emotions to be in this negative frame all the time.

Even though it’s a “bonus” module, I find that for most of my in-person clients and a lot of our group program participants that this part of the program is actually super important because you can be eating a good diet, you can be sleeping, you can be exercising, but if you’re feeling super stressed about your body or the way that you approach your diet with your healthy eating, or if you just generally feel negative emotions frequently, that’s going to undo a lot of the benefits of eating a healthy diet, and sleeping, and exercising, and all that.

We’ve created this program to really be as comprehensive as possible to cover all the different things that could be influencing your HPA axis function, and we’re really proud of it.  We’ve had some really good results with people.  We’re actually going to be publishing some testimonials from the last group in the next, I guess it actually might be either this week or next week, we’re going to be publishing those. You can check out our blog on if you want to read a little bit more about the experience others have had with the program.

But we’re just super excited about it and we’re really glad to be able to run another program this Fall because we’ve had a lot of interest from people who missed the last launch.  I think we’re going to have a really good group sign up and get started on healing their adrenals function.

Kelsey: Yeah, I think people have loved being able to interact in the Facebook group for this program too and it’s so great for us to see that as well.  So if you feel like you just don’t really have a lot of support in this area, like people in your life don’t really understand what’s going on with you and they’re just like well why can’t you go and do these things with me, and you’re just not feeling like anyone is understanding where you’re at right now with your health and how you’re feeling, this community is really, really awesome. It seems like we’ve had friendships born out of it.  We have had so many people just offer their advice and support to other people struggling with this stuff and it’s been really amazing to see. If you feel like you need that support too, I think this program gives a lot.

Like Laura said, we are really, really proud of it. It’s something we’ve poured countless hours into at this point and we’re really excited to offer it again. Like Laura said, again, we’ve had so many people ask us since the last round like when are you guys offering the next class? I’m ready to join. So we’re really excited to finally be putting it out into the world again and we hope you’ll join us.

Laura: Yeah definitely.  If you, like I said, are interested in joining us, or if you want to get on the email list to get the announcement when the program is open, since technically when this podcast is published, we’re not quite open yet. We’ll be close, but we do have plenty of e-mail announcements that will be coming to those on our email list.

If you go to, you can sign up for our e-mail list, get a free 28 page e-book on the topic to get started on some of those changes that we recommend, and then you can join us when the doors open to the program next week.

Like we said, we’re super excited and we can’t wait to help those of you that are struggling with HPA axis dysfunction start improving your health, and getting more energy, and maybe healing from some of these other related conditions such as hypothalamic amenorrhea.

Kelsey: Alright, awesome.

Laura: Well anyway, my voice is about had enough of talking.  Hopefully next time we record I will be not sick anymore. I’m really ready to start feeling better and start getting back to my normal healthy behaviors which have totally fallen off the wayside  since I was not only getting sick, but now I’ve been like addicted to Pinterest for the last week.

Kelsey: Of course. You’ll be addicted for months at least.

Laura: Oh no, that’s scary. I’m going to need to make sure I keep feeding myself because I’m prone to like just jumping on Pinterest and being on and then it’s like, oh it’s eight o’clock, maybe I should eat dinner.

Kelsey: Right, Oops.

Laura: Yeah, which has been, like I said, since I’ve been sick I just have no hunger signaling right now.  So it’s like I literally have to force myself to eat because I just for whatever reason my body’s not telling me it’s time.  So we’ll see.  Hopefully I don’t waste away in the next two weeks.

Kelsey: Let’s hope not.

Laura: I like being strong and healthy, so that’s not really the goal. I’ll let you guys know if I manage to start eating normally again. I was joking with my trainer a couple weeks ago that I had this one string of weeks where I was PRing basically at every workout.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: And then the last couple months, I’ve just been like barely holding on to my strength and maybe losing a little bit in certain areas because of time off and stuff like that. And I’m just like I really need to start taking care of myself better again and actually get back into this improvement approach as opposed to just like holding on to the gains that I had made over the last year or so.

Kelsey: Mm hmm.

Laura: I just remember I used to have like this joke where I was like PR everyday, and I’m like trying to remember the last time I even had one.

Kelsey: Oh no, you got to get back on to that train.

Laura: I know, it’s terrible. Wish me luck with getting healthy again because that’s really what is holding me back at the moment.

Kelsey: Yeah well, and then you can go through “Paleo Rehab” with the rest of us and get back on track.

Laura: Yeah I should.  I’m so distracted I haven’t been taking care of myself, so I might need to do the group program myself to be reminded what the important stuff is.

Kelsey: Alright. Well, thank you everybody for listening and if you have any questions that you’d like us to answer on the podcast, you can go ahead and submit those on the We look forward to hearing from you.

Laura: Alright. Well, take care everybody. We’ll see you here next week.

+ show Comments

- Hide Comments

add a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your Friend and Business Mentor

I'm a women's health expert and a registered dietitian (RD) with a passion for helping goal-oriented people fuel their purpose.

I help nutrition entrepreneurs grow their income and their impact by packaging their brilliance into transformative coaching and consulting programs, and get crystal clear on their marketing strategy.

I'm on a mission to help nutrition business owners drop the hustle and come into alignment with their ideal business goals, so they can work from a sense of ease and abundance, and build the online business of their dreams. 

Let's get to work!

Hi, I'm Laura.

meet your mentor

Grab this!

50+ Tech Tools To Help You Run Your Online Nutrition Business

Not sure what tech to use to get your business off the ground? Still trying to ducktape your business together after months (or years) of running it?

Get my list of the best free and paid tech tools to help you run your online nutrition business smoothly and efficiently, so you can focus on what you really love to do... helping your clients get healthier!

First Name

Email Address


Get the clarity and confidence you need to turn your expertise and passion for coaching into a wildly successful online business.


© 2023 Laura Schoenfeld Coaching
All rights reserved. | Terms and Conditions 

Meet me on the 'Gram