1

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Brain fog and lethargy over a year paleo... am I eating enough?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 23, 2011 at 10:24 PM

I've been eating fairly strict paleo for over a year now, and recently cut out all sources of dairy (other than clarified butter), nuts, and switched to grass-fed beef. I also started sleeping for 9-10 hours in a completely dark room. My weight plateaued back in May, and off and on I have pretty serious issues with concentrating, brain fog, and low energy levels. I'm curious as to whether or not how much I'm eating could be causing this problem.

Background: I am a 23 year old male who works 25 hours a week, where my job consists of moving around 10-60 pound weights. I am also a full-time grad student doing coursework for an education master's. I got a 30-day pass to a local gym, so I'm starting to work out on a more regular basis this week. I weigh about 183 pounds, and according to a bio-impedance machine at the gym, my body fat percentage is 17%.

Here's my last week or so from CRON-O-Meter:

===========================================

Nutrition Summary

March 17, 2011 to March 23, 2011

Daily Averages over 7 days

Report generated by CRON-o-Meter v0.9.7

===========================================

General (52%)

===========================================

Energy | 1924.8 kcal 65%

Protein | 104.9 g 71%

Carbs | 72.4 g 49%

Fiber | 16.9 g 44%

Fat | 139.6 g 66%

Water | 734.8 g 20%

Vitamins (91%)

===========================================

Vitamin A | 26736.6 IU 891%

Folate | 227.0 ??g 57%

B1 (Thiamine) | 0.7 mg 55%

B2 (Riboflavin) | 1.1 mg 85%

B3 (Niacin) | 20.9 mg 131%

B5 (Pantothenic Acid)| 4.5 mg 90%

B6 (Pyridoxine) | 2.1 mg 165%

B12 (Cyanocobalamin) | 7.8 ??g 324%

Vitamin C | 157.3 mg 175%

Vitamin D | 5028.2 IU 2514%

Vitamin E | 16.4 mg 109%

Vitamin K | 220.8 ??g 184%

Minerals (84%)

===========================================

Calcium | 321.3 mg 32%

Copper | 1.4 mg 159%

Iron | 18.7 mg 234%

Magnesium | 341.3 mg 85%

Manganese | 3.1 mg 134%

Phosphorus | 929.4 mg 133%

Potassium | 3037.6 mg 65%

Selenium | 72.9 ??g 133%

Sodium | 868.6 mg 58%

Zinc | 14.6 mg 132%

Lipids (84%)

===========================================

Saturated | 81.5 g 407%

Omega-3 | 4.5 g 281%

Omega-6 | 5.8 g 34%

Cholesterol | 968.1 mg 323%

I haven't been tracking spices or water that I drink, so those numbers are probably a little skewed. I'm also about to start a workout routine, so I'm incorporating more starch into my diet. Almost all my carbs are coming from starches or berries. I don't eat organ meat (yet).

So what do you think? Is there an underlying problem, or am I simply not giving my body the fuel it needs?

A993550f2a130df8d3462c08582f08ec

(589)

on March 24, 2011
at 04:31 PM

I feel like my strength is functional enough for my work, but it's not where I'd like it to be. I'm vain, what can I say? ;) I'll definitely try out more salt and more fat, though. Haha, I'd love for a CW doctor to hear that! xD

A993550f2a130df8d3462c08582f08ec

(589)

on March 24, 2011
at 04:28 PM

My BP is usually right around "normal," or 120/80. I've occasionally seen it a lot lower (98/62), but that was about a year ago. I eat more salt than the chart indicates, because I don't bother tracking herbs, spices, or other seasonings in the calculator. BTW, it's cool to actually hear from you. I've been following your blog since I heard you talk on Livin' La Vida Low-Carb. :)

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on March 24, 2011
at 01:07 PM

Add adequate tubers to replace muscle glycogen.

A993550f2a130df8d3462c08582f08ec

(589)

on March 24, 2011
at 03:22 AM

I'm 5'9". One of those days I only ate 1000 calories because I ran out of time for meals early in the day, and didn't plan ahead like I should. I usually average 2000-2400 calories. They tell us paleo people to eat when we're hungry, and stop when we're not. I rarely allow myself to be hungry for long unless I'm actively fasting. How many calories should I be shooting for? In the 3000 range? More since I'm about to start working out?

4145b36f1488224964edac6258b75aff

(7821)

on March 23, 2011
at 11:51 PM

Without knowing your height, it's hard to say with confidence, but chances are you are not eating enough.

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7 Answers

2
1ccc0b0b7a756cd42466cef8f450d0cb

(1801)

on March 23, 2011
at 10:27 PM

I had some similar issues after a year of paleo and found it helped to add some carbs in the form of starchy tubers. I definitely find I run better with more carbs in my diet.

4b97e3bb2ee4a9588783f5d56d687da1

(22913)

on March 24, 2011
at 01:07 PM

Add adequate tubers to replace muscle glycogen.

1
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on March 24, 2011
at 01:02 PM

Have you have your blood pressure checked? I had similar issues and my blood pressure turned out to be very low. Suffice to say, I get my 150% DV + of sodium a day now + more calories in general and I feel MUCH better.

A993550f2a130df8d3462c08582f08ec

(589)

on March 24, 2011
at 04:28 PM

My BP is usually right around "normal," or 120/80. I've occasionally seen it a lot lower (98/62), but that was about a year ago. I eat more salt than the chart indicates, because I don't bother tracking herbs, spices, or other seasonings in the calculator. BTW, it's cool to actually hear from you. I've been following your blog since I heard you talk on Livin' La Vida Low-Carb. :)

1
Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7304)

on March 23, 2011
at 11:52 PM

You might need more carbs, especially if you're active. It seems like you need more calories as well. At 183 and active, try raising calories to maybe 2500 or even a bit higher if you feel like it.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 24, 2011
at 11:59 PM

It's a lack of animal fat. eat grass fed suet and report back please. You'll never get what you're looking for until you try this.

0
6955d30ecf06a41f359d75d7d541c6e0

on March 24, 2011
at 04:16 PM

if you are not losing weight (anymore), your energy intake is at least matching your energy expenditure, and there is no reason to increase food intake.

I am interested in your 25 hr a week job. How intense is that? If you are moving around 25kg weights frequently then you probably don't need a gym.

The fog head may be due to poor sleep, psychoemotional or study stress, or lack of fresh air and outdoor time.

Bottom line? 1. exercise outdoors. walk/jog, pushups, pull ups, lunges, stretching, etc. 2. review your diet.

0
03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on March 24, 2011
at 03:10 PM

You didn't say why you're starting a workout routine, but it sounds like you're already "working out" 25 hours a week at your job. Brain fog and low energy could indicate adrenal fatigue, in which case additional exercise might only make things worse. I'd be inclined to lay off any extra exercise for now (except maybe some very low-rep, high-weight lifts, assuming the stuff you're lifting at work doesn't really tax your muscles), and instead raise the calories, primarily with additional fat. You might also want to check your post-meal blood sugar. Your carbs aren't that high, but high enough to give some people swings in BG, which also can cause your symptoms. Another thing to try would be adding a little salt to your drinking water. If it tastes good, and you don't go, "Ugh, too salty!" that's another sign that your adrenals might be weak and need sodium.

A993550f2a130df8d3462c08582f08ec

(589)

on March 24, 2011
at 04:31 PM

I feel like my strength is functional enough for my work, but it's not where I'd like it to be. I'm vain, what can I say? ;) I'll definitely try out more salt and more fat, though. Haha, I'd love for a CW doctor to hear that! xD

0
26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

on March 24, 2011
at 01:21 AM

Seems quite low on calories (but nearly everyone here does to me because I weigh 105 lbs and eat 1000-1500 calories more than you each day) and you might benefit from higher ratios of carbs and fat. Something is not right if you feel like this, gotta experiment to see what the fix is.

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