1

votes

Early paleo and low serotonin

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 11, 2010 at 11:57 PM

I've been eating strictly paleo for a week now. I had been eating mostly paleo with a few low-GI carbs (oats, beans) for a while before this, as well as some weekends with lots of beer and shittier carbs, followed by low GI weeks once again... anyway, I figured my transition wouldn't be as rough as some, considering I hadn't been eating lots of sugar and flour constantly. I've been dead tired for the last 5 days. I can deal, and expected that. The only problem that has me a little nervous, especially the last two days, is that I'm very short with people. I'm also not enjoying much of anything. I have a long history of depression, but it hasn't been like this in years. It's just the classic apathetic no-feelings easily irritated by everyone kind of stuff that's sticking around. Anyone have any advice? I'm not planning on giving up paleo, since I'm so early in, I'd just like to hear if anyone else has gone through this very early on.

EDIT - Food log

First off, I'm 24, 6'2", 200 lbs. I couldn't tell you my BF%, but I have some definition in my arms and legs, not really anywhere else, and I definitely have some gut. I lift weights low rep/heavy weight 3-4 times a week (upper/lower split) and do some sprints 1-2x week. Usually a good deal of walking throughout the day. I recently converted my desk to the standing type, so I'm usually on my feet 8+ hrs of the day, if that makes much of a difference.

As a rough estimate, I'd say I get around 175g of fat, 150g of protein, and 35g carbs. I really ought to start plugging my meals into CRON-o-meter to get a better idea day-to-day. A typical day consists of one or more coconut product - oil, milk, creamed. This is by far my major source of fat, probably 75-100g from coconut alone. GF beef. Eggs. Sardines. Canned salmon. Some liver and various other offal. Chicken breast. Spinach. Cabbage. Every once in a while I might have a salad out with some soybean oil dressing, but that's rare. Maybe twice a week. I was taking a g or two of cod liver oil, but turns out it contains soy, and I figured I'd drop it since I'm regularly eating sardines and salmon.

As far as a daily menu, I couldn't pin it down. It varies day-to-day, but it stays within these ranges of food. I will say that I'm probably guilty of undereating more often than overeating, but since I don't count calories or anything really, I don't know how often this happens. I stay satiated.

B8d8d1a9d9da5c1fbc1344e4e06bf69a

(174)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

Okay, I just typed out a really long reply as to why I used "serotonin", but found that I was using too any characters. Oh well. I agree that it's not just low serotonin that causes depression, I just generally associate serotonin with openness and the lack of with apathy. Dopamine is a different animal for me. I guess I should've mentioned that I'm most likely entering, or in, ketosis. I'm eating mostly grassfed beef, wild salmon, lamb liver, heart, etc, with some greens and cabbage thrown in. That probably makes things a little worse starting out, but I like to go all in at once.

0d821bf7d4028b84a6838062db0e9ce0

(754)

on May 13, 2010
at 02:40 PM

Try setting aside at least a little time per day to do something you absolutely love or that uses a different side of your brain than your day job/school/work. For me I play video games with friends, write/create art, and work out as stress releases, also, since I'm a geek, bash.org , lolcatz, anything online that will make me laugh non stop for awhile. If your plan is escape, set up for another job or to go freelance, read 4HWW or something and get everything you need in order to do so set up in such a way you can feel/see the progress towards the light at the end of the tunnel. <('.'<)

B8d8d1a9d9da5c1fbc1344e4e06bf69a

(174)

on May 12, 2010
at 04:58 PM

Great idea Jae. I'll try and get that worked up shortly.

B8d8d1a9d9da5c1fbc1344e4e06bf69a

(174)

on May 12, 2010
at 04:56 PM

Also, I appreciate your answer. Lots of good info. I look forward to reading the link once I get home. I'm very interested in both dopamine and serotonin and their functions.

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523

(6157)

on May 12, 2010
at 02:31 PM

It will help us out if you give us a food log for 3-4 days... not saying you're not doing a good job on "strict Paleo" but that means different things to different people, and macronutrient ratios and food quality and vary widely. Maybe you're not eating enough fat, maybe your fat sources are suspect, maybe maybe maybe this or that. A note about your fitness level and type of exercise would also help. Maybe you're working out too much, or not at all, or whatever. Height, weight, age... etc. That said, in terms of general advice, I think you've gotten some good answers already.

B8d8d1a9d9da5c1fbc1344e4e06bf69a

(174)

on May 12, 2010
at 02:18 PM

Okay, thanks a lot!

B8d8d1a9d9da5c1fbc1344e4e06bf69a

(174)

on May 12, 2010
at 02:18 PM

This is definitely a good point. I'm working a lot and going to school. I'm easily stressed too. I've just got to do what I can do at this point, since working is funding my school. This was actually one of my main reasons for going paleo - I'd read that a lot of people experience increased resistance to stress. A little bit of relief is better than none, at least until I get my degree and can get out of this mundane job.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on May 12, 2010
at 01:32 PM

Leave an empty line between each paragraph or they just get joined together as one :)

B8d8d1a9d9da5c1fbc1344e4e06bf69a

(174)

on May 11, 2010
at 11:58 PM

additionally, can anyone tell me how to form paragraphs? It doesn't format the post like I type it.

  • B8d8d1a9d9da5c1fbc1344e4e06bf69a

    asked by

    (174)
  • Views
    4.5K
  • Last Activity
    1518D AGO
Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

7 Answers

best answer

3
1340fe0b7e7b01683ea33042092e05d6

on May 12, 2010
at 01:22 AM

I wish I had more science to back this up, and I might regret posting this, but what you 2 are experiencing with your transition to Paleo/Primal lifestyle is relatively normal.

There have been many reports around the blogosphere from beginners all the way to extremely experienced Paleo types that have documented over time that there is an "adjustment" period to this type of eating.

I cannot remember if it was Dr. Harris or Robb Wolff that posted it on their websites, but one of them mentioned that the adjustment period (my term, not theirs, forgot what they call it) could take weeks, a month, or months..

So while it is frustrating, and I can sympathize, I also went through a week of pseudo-jitterness/aggressiveness. The only way I could precisely summarize it was that i was going through the SAD DTs...breaking my body of all the shit I was ingesting over the past several years. And my body didn't like it...it all.

11
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on May 12, 2010
at 12:42 PM

One thing I've noticed is that you can't eat yourself out of an unhappy situation. Nourishing foods might prime your brain for better performance, but they aren't going to erase the effects of crappy jobs, bad relationship situations, and the generally miserable lifestyle many of us lead. When I was doing paleo last year and I had pretty much the perfect life, yeah, I was definitely happy and free of depression. But this year I've struggled with my work situation and no amount of wild salmon can change the fact it's a bad one. It's forced me to take a real hard look at my life. Why just do the diet if it's possible to escape 9-5 stressful indoor fluorescent-lit slog? Whenever I meet someone who escaped, I am really interested in learning as much as possible about how they did it. Someday soon I hope...

Maybe I'm assuming you live an average life, but it's something to throw out there.

B8d8d1a9d9da5c1fbc1344e4e06bf69a

(174)

on May 12, 2010
at 02:18 PM

This is definitely a good point. I'm working a lot and going to school. I'm easily stressed too. I've just got to do what I can do at this point, since working is funding my school. This was actually one of my main reasons for going paleo - I'd read that a lot of people experience increased resistance to stress. A little bit of relief is better than none, at least until I get my degree and can get out of this mundane job.

0d821bf7d4028b84a6838062db0e9ce0

(754)

on May 13, 2010
at 02:40 PM

Try setting aside at least a little time per day to do something you absolutely love or that uses a different side of your brain than your day job/school/work. For me I play video games with friends, write/create art, and work out as stress releases, also, since I'm a geek, bash.org , lolcatz, anything online that will make me laugh non stop for awhile. If your plan is escape, set up for another job or to go freelance, read 4HWW or something and get everything you need in order to do so set up in such a way you can feel/see the progress towards the light at the end of the tunnel. <('.'<)

6
23fc48e05305e0ca91a92c2cd446ca50

(311)

on May 12, 2010
at 04:03 PM

I agree with Liveforit that this is probably a metabolic adjustment period for you. Ordinary low-carbers experience the same thing if they're following a diet that takes them into ketosis in the early stages. You might feel crabby and headachy and "off" for up to a week, then when your body burns up its glycogen stores and switches over to fat-burning, you suddenly feel a lot better.

I am mostly commenting here, though, to speak to your title of "low serotonin." It has become an item of conventional wisdom that depression is caused by a lack of serotonin. I am pretty sure the medical establishment does not have the hard evidence to back that up. In fact, I have seen the depression issue framed as follows:

  1. Serotonin and dopamine have opposite effects on the human brain
  2. When dopamine is high, people behave much more impulsively and feel more "up"
  3. But when dopamine is high, serotonin is low
  4. And since dopamine makes you "up," it follows that serotonin must make you "down"
  5. Therefore, depression may actually be caused (or contributed to) by an EXCESS of serotonin.

The fact that lack of sleep also leads to depression, and that getting enough sleep means you are getting enough melotonin production, AND that melotonin is made from serotonin in the first place, lends credence to this argument.

So why do SSRIs work? Possibly not because of their action on serotonin. This article here is fascinating, and sheds some light on why SSRIs work the way they do--in many people, they begin producing side-effect symptoms well before the patient's depression improves. Chances are pretty good the patient's serotonin levels are increased as soon as the meds kick in. So what's going on? Check this out:

http://www.biopsychiatry.com/newbraincell/hippocamp.html

Hope you feel better soon.

B8d8d1a9d9da5c1fbc1344e4e06bf69a

(174)

on May 12, 2010
at 04:56 PM

Also, I appreciate your answer. Lots of good info. I look forward to reading the link once I get home. I'm very interested in both dopamine and serotonin and their functions.

B8d8d1a9d9da5c1fbc1344e4e06bf69a

(174)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

Okay, I just typed out a really long reply as to why I used "serotonin", but found that I was using too any characters. Oh well. I agree that it's not just low serotonin that causes depression, I just generally associate serotonin with openness and the lack of with apathy. Dopamine is a different animal for me. I guess I should've mentioned that I'm most likely entering, or in, ketosis. I'm eating mostly grassfed beef, wild salmon, lamb liver, heart, etc, with some greens and cabbage thrown in. That probably makes things a little worse starting out, but I like to go all in at once.

3
1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on May 12, 2010
at 01:58 AM

Robb Wolf talked about this in Paleolithic solution episode 24. Check out www.robbwolf.com or this link to that podcast: http://robbwolf.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/The-Paleolithic-Solution-Episode-24.mp3

2
2ac40062935f569c9a86493f7177d2a0

on May 12, 2010
at 12:59 AM

I've been on this for four weeks and I do notice the same, that I'm not the typical chipper self. That said, I'm doing int. fasts etc. so I'm okay with putting up with it for another 30lbs off then easing in some additional vegetable/fruit carbs.

The one thing that makes me feel much better and full of that feel good, smile on my face energy is interval training. The Primal sprints really circulate the blood and bring a lot of oxygen to the brain along with a nice dose of energy. Intense workouts can also do the same to a certain degree.

1
0d821bf7d4028b84a6838062db0e9ce0

(754)

on May 13, 2010
at 02:35 PM

I don't know who else this has worked for , but for me jumping in to the deep end of the pool and trying everything at once has been massive improvement with little to no issues.

I tend to take the shotgun approach so not only did I do the full on switch but I also supplemented fish oil, krill oil (mostly using both because I have ADHD + for superior lipid profile faster), MG +Zinc (ZMA before bed, cause I always had sleep issues), D3 (immunity and general health), and probiotics (had horrible stomach issues before too). Basically anything that possible could help my issues and also is used in some paleo/primal approaches.

All this + starting to exercise way more frequently = far less switch side effects for me.

It also semi helped than I basically was IFing before I started, when I work from home or when my Fiancee traveled out of state (I sleep in and forget to eat when I'm working).

And doing a very high fat version of paleo/primal/lacto paleo + lots of anti inflammatory foods and prebiotic sources helps even more.

I believe some of the time-lines on this stuff are:

1-2 weeks for gut flora to adjust if its healthy to begin with (much longer if its damaged, e.g. you've been on anti-biotics/ you had your appendix removed / you need fiber to be regular)

6 months to several years for reversal of damage from a bad omega 3 to omega 6 ratio.

not sure on things like fat soluble pollutants/toxins/ chronic inflammation from the SAD, because It varies greatly per person and some of it is going to be just effects of that stuff that's been stored being released when you start to burn your fat stores.

the coolinginflamation blog and wholehealth source, and PaNu I believe have all mentioned some of the time-lines for stuff to change/get out of you, but its scattered among the posts.

0
07ad8e05f734cb1deec5479dc0e4a194

(315)

on January 25, 2011
at 12:38 AM

Healing depression through nutrition: radiantrecovery.com I believe it would be totally compatible with paleo. Best wishes, you deserve to feel amazingly well!

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!