4

votes

Anyone feel anxious on a Paleo diet?

Commented on March 01, 2016
Created April 15, 2010 at 3:13 AM

Every time I try a paleo diet after a few days I feel anxious. Does that happen to you? Does it go away if you stay on the diet?

D097b113c31d7d43cb2d962c53b32404

on March 01, 2016
at 10:28 AM

This will surely help you to start a Paleo Diet!:)


Tina Turbin, Paleomazing
Author of Paleo vs GF Diet & Improve Stamina
The first things I always suggest is to get prepared so you can really start, see and feel for yourself the beneficial changes. By getting prepared I simply mean this: REALLY clean out your kitchen of all grains, dairy, sugar and legumes so you are not tempted, then go shop for a week’s worth of ingredients for easy meals or healthy snacks you can take on the go. At this point do not go overboard and get into all the other ramifications, rules and descriptions of Paleo. Keep it simple. If you do this for a week ( or better yet two) you can feel and see for yourself what the Paleo “basics” do for you. This is a terrific starting point.


cavemandietblog

4be21b3ccefe4b005a5baf8ec04ca86b

on August 02, 2015
at 06:34 PM

Personally, this is exactly I feel on Paleo..

My anxiety and irritability worsens by A LOT, my depression disappears so I feel happy and I think more clearly.

When I'm on Paleo, like I said, my anxiety (social to be exact) and anger gets out of control as well as stress, to the point where I feel like hitting things. Everything that has to do with brain function (that's non-emotional related) is dramatically improved.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on July 21, 2013
at 01:20 AM

@August, yes, but that's what that anxiousness really means: gluconeogenesis gone for too long signaled by cortisol. I had it only when I went fasting longer than 20h, that's how I know.

7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on July 19, 2013
at 07:22 PM

Most of us who have tried a low carb diet didn't get anxious. We sometimes got tired, but not anxious. The guy probably needed to eat some liver or something. A lot of people go 'paleo' but what they also do is go on a diet- i.e. restriction of food, and therefore nutritional deficiencies can show up pretty quickly.

2a00b9a42e4cb6e489a0e69d20714576

(3043)

on July 02, 2012
at 12:55 AM

Have you ever watched "Sweet Misery". You need to seriously reevaluate choosing to drink diet coke. (Especially if your prone to anxiety/depression.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on October 19, 2011
at 01:18 AM

You'd probably be better off with sugar mixed into milk. You crave coke because your body knows sugar is the most anti-stress agent.

C2450eb7fa11b37473599caf93b461ef

(3225)

on September 17, 2011
at 05:04 PM

Would the solution to this be to get more sleep, thereby lowering the cortisol?

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 17, 2011
at 05:35 AM

So maybe donuts do a have place in the office kitchen after all. If you catch me with one in my mouth, I will calmly tell you that I am self medicating so I can make it through the day peacefully at my desk ;)

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 17, 2011
at 05:29 AM

I'm not an expert on the opiate effects of wheat, but gluten makes me want to take a nap in a serious way. Could it be the anxiety of gluten withdrawl?

9dbfedbe21eae2a65093f8774ba8ad4d

(559)

on April 20, 2011
at 06:12 PM

I've had this experience and I think your explanation is right because when I introduced more starchy carbs to my diet my moods leveled off. My theory is that a low-carb diet (which prehistorically probably coincided with fallow seasons when less vegetation is available) kick-starts our body into being "wired" so that we are better able to hunt and forage in harsher conditions and under more pressure. My own experience being in deep ketosis gave me all this extra energy that simply doesn't jive with a 9-5 office job.

E5a41bcb2819c818cc0d92489e7c35f2

(300)

on April 20, 2011
at 04:07 PM

I think you hit it right on the head, gilliebean. It's totally worth it to break on through!

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11478)

on April 17, 2010
at 03:15 PM

@Suzan, I 2nd your take on caffeine.

  • Cdae4591275aa6ce4bb8a66817411b7b

    asked by

    (105)
  • Views
    12.5K
  • Last Activity
    872D AGO
Frontpage book

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

25 Answers

13
A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on April 15, 2010
at 06:36 AM

This isn't paleo thought that I'm about to espouse... Nor is it biology or nutrition. But here we go regardless...

I think that our physiology and our emotions are tied together in more ways than we realize. I think that sometimes when our bodies are purging phsycially, we can begin to purge emotionally too. Emotions that we've been harboring can to come to the surface to be dealt with and discarded.

This has happened to me each time that I've done a fast. And almost every time that I've "come back" to paleo, I've had a few days of "ugh" before the euphoria of feelin' goooood. The first time I tried paleo (I did a hard core switch), I had a few WEEKS of "life-is-horrible" before my body leveled off and I realized how good being human feels.

But regardless of whether it's nutrition or carb related or whether your emotions and physiology are actually in tune, I suggest that you push past the anxious feelings and break on through to the other side! It's worth it!

E5a41bcb2819c818cc0d92489e7c35f2

(300)

on April 20, 2011
at 04:07 PM

I think you hit it right on the head, gilliebean. It's totally worth it to break on through!

5
C20722d51864f748f969e4dcc192cb2e

on April 15, 2010
at 06:05 PM

My layman's understanding is that your body needs cortisol for gluconeogenesis (turning protein into glucose). It makes sense to me that if your blood glucose levels are low, you would secrete more cortisol to counter it. This higher cotrisol level would then cause stress/anxiety symptoms.

This then would be more a symptom of a low carb diet, rather than a strickly paleo one.

If anyone could provide backup or disprove this theory, I'd appreciate the enlightenment.

4be21b3ccefe4b005a5baf8ec04ca86b

on August 02, 2015
at 06:39 PM

That sounds about right honestly, it makes sense.

 

My social anxiety, anger and stress sky rockets on Paleo, to the point where everything makes me feel annoyed, and I think it has to do with the fact that I need a lot more dense carbs in my diet to keep my emotions in check.

Btw, I know what I'm doing because I was on a strict Paleo diet for about 3 years.

So anyway, now when ever I feel like I'm starting to feel very irritable (I'm talking wanting to punch sutff) and stressed, I'll eat a lot of rice crackers or something until I feel better, then stop for a week or something and repeat this process. So basically I eat 90% paleo generally, and that's how I like to keep it.

9dbfedbe21eae2a65093f8774ba8ad4d

(559)

on April 20, 2011
at 06:12 PM

I've had this experience and I think your explanation is right because when I introduced more starchy carbs to my diet my moods leveled off. My theory is that a low-carb diet (which prehistorically probably coincided with fallow seasons when less vegetation is available) kick-starts our body into being "wired" so that we are better able to hunt and forage in harsher conditions and under more pressure. My own experience being in deep ketosis gave me all this extra energy that simply doesn't jive with a 9-5 office job.

C2450eb7fa11b37473599caf93b461ef

(3225)

on September 17, 2011
at 05:04 PM

Would the solution to this be to get more sleep, thereby lowering the cortisol?

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 17, 2011
at 05:35 AM

So maybe donuts do a have place in the office kitchen after all. If you catch me with one in my mouth, I will calmly tell you that I am self medicating so I can make it through the day peacefully at my desk ;)

4
06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on April 15, 2010
at 05:42 AM

I recall the anxiousness back early when switching to paleo. In looking back, I think it is the body recoiling from being starved for the processed foods that turn into sugar and the sugar you were accustomed to eating. Sugar addiction!

Stay the course with low carb paleo lifestyle and you will lose any weight you want to shed and be sure to supplement with Vit D3...which helps change ones outlook on life.

3
Be4b60059db3511771303de1613ecb67

(1137)

on April 16, 2010
at 08:21 PM

Yes, and I was told it was adrenaline surges, and should decrease over time. It has, a little. Caffeine makes it worse.

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11478)

on April 17, 2010
at 03:15 PM

@Suzan, I 2nd your take on caffeine.

2
84b9277b89e1312d3a0814a38360b1ac

(50)

on April 15, 2010
at 03:45 AM

It's funny you mention that, as I've been wrestling with the same thing the last two days. Started Paleo the 4-5 weeks ago. Took an extra Magnesium tonight per something that I gleaned from another post tagged 'anxiety'.

1
C0465e126caf766c36b89ed15d252e8c

on July 17, 2013
at 04:08 PM

Cut out all caffeine! Even if you drink one cup of coffee a day you Should cut it out completely if you have anxiety or any mood ups and downs. Also take magnesium glycinate which will help with sleep and anxiety.

1
7cf9f5b08a41ecf2a2d2bc0b31ea6fa0

on July 01, 2012
at 10:08 PM

Low carb gives me serious anxiety, throw some potatoes in the mix

1
09fe8ae7d0b3d6dfe7741f271389327d

(10)

on October 18, 2011
at 11:17 PM

I was doing low-carb/paleo for 3 strict months and my anxiety/insomnia were through the roof. I cut caffeine, artificial sweeteners, anything that could be a stimulant and it only got worse. I tried adding a potato at night before bed (Potatoes Not Prozac), and that didn't touch it. I was getting 3 hours of sleep at most for a week straight and I could feel the anxiety tighten my chest all day long. Finally, I stumbled across a blog that mentioned those with a history of anxiety need something in grain products to help their transmitters...well, transmit. I bought some low-carb tortillas and wraps (about 6-8 carbs per wrap), made sure I had 2 a day, and I was suddenly all better, especially with a small potato about an hour before bed. The anxiety is gone, I sleep better, and I'm still low-carbing and losing weight. However, I am off caffeine completely, with a Diet Coke here and there for the occassional rough night's sleep. Apparently, people with a history of PTSD and anxiety attacks just need some grain. Hope that helps and I hope you feel better.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on October 19, 2011
at 01:18 AM

You'd probably be better off with sugar mixed into milk. You crave coke because your body knows sugar is the most anti-stress agent.

1
E46b8003ce8b9b38a1ea5b730fddeda6

on September 17, 2011
at 02:45 AM

I have started Paleo 5 days ago I have also dealt with anxiety issues for 10 years. The 2nd day on Paleo I had a horrible anxiety attack and went looking for the cause. Anxiety can be caused by low blood sugar, after I read this I had a piece of melon and I immediately felt better. Worth a try for the rest of you if nothing else seems to work.

1
Ccd360b7a56c8a2d473d5dd861d40bf9

(10)

on April 25, 2011
at 06:32 PM

I have been on paleo for six weeks, and have had horrible anxiety. I have to eat small amounts of xanax to get through work. I am concerned that the lack of complex carbs is to blame. It seems to be worse if I have an especially low carb day. I am going to up the carbs for a few days and see what happens. Maybe some bodies need more complex carbs to keep their brain chemicals stable? I can definitely trace this to the diet, though, as I had no such symptoms before I started eating Paleo. And it seems that this far into the diet "carb flu" should have passed.

1
Fe87afa634afe26f4f6fd956abe0b46a

(565)

on April 20, 2011
at 01:40 PM

I've found that if I fall off the paleo wagon and eat some gluten, I get anxiety the following day. I think it is related to gluten for sure. But when going Paleo initially, the body adjusts in any number of ways as it gets used to not getting the sugars, and artificial garbage it has been getting fed for years.

Stick with the diet. The adjustment period will pass, the anxiety will fade, and you'll feel like you were shot out of a cannon!

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 17, 2011
at 05:29 AM

I'm not an expert on the opiate effects of wheat, but gluten makes me want to take a nap in a serious way. Could it be the anxiety of gluten withdrawl?

1
6cbaf773afacc5baa33af424dff950fb

on October 07, 2010
at 06:50 PM

Im glad I found this website. I could not explain what was causing my anxiety the first day I started paleo. i resolved in eating some "old refined" foods to make it go away. The feeling was awful (felt lite headed and anxious) and being at work I could not afford to feel anxious. I also felt some discomfort in my chest area which could come from the work out earleier this morning. Feeling better now and I think I'll have to switch gradually to paleo diet by slowly adding paleo food to my diet and removing "old refined" types of food. This will be my second attempt to get on it so wish me luck. I'll keep you posted how it goes. Good luck everyone!

1
Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

on April 18, 2010
at 08:39 PM

Rather the contrary; since going Paleo I've felt pretty darn serene. Positively zen, in fact.

I have suffered from anxiety issues requiring medication in the past, which turn out to have been attributable to a high-stress job and a desk twenty seconds away from the free coffee. After changing employers and cutting back from eight to ten cups of coffee over a ten to twelve hour workday to an occasional cup, the anxiety seems to have resolved itself...

1
9dce97b4c4762a78a577a11585eef8f2

(1239)

on April 15, 2010
at 05:39 AM

I can't say I've gotten anxious on a paleo diet specifically, however I am slowly coming out of hypothyroidism, and going paleo has hastened my recovery.One of the side effects of my thyroid leveling off has been anxiety; according to my naturopath, this is natural as my body learns to work with an increased metabolism. I have just had to take it slow, and I can truly say that the anxiety passed within a week. I don't know if This helps you in your situation, but I would say hang in there! It's worth it!

1
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on April 15, 2010
at 04:36 AM

How many carbs are you eating?

0
96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on July 19, 2013
at 02:28 PM

I'm a bit astounded at most of the guesses and silly answers in this thread. This has NOTHING to do with emotions or detox, or caffeine, or any of the other woo stuff.

That anxious feeling is due to going too low carb and going into gluconeogenesis. Either raise your protein intake some more, or slightly increase your carbs until it goes away.

Sugar itself isn't toxic in the sense that it won't cause you to store toxins in fat - it will simply make you get fat. It's toxic in the sense that the fructose half of it will put a huge strain on your liver if you ingest tons of it, and in the sense that it will trigger lots of insulin if you consumed lots of it.

Sure, as you burn your fat stores, any toxins stored there will be released, but the symptom there is you'll get rashes and pimples, and sure, white table sugar has been bleached, so you may get chlorine end products, in very very small amounts along for the ride, but you'd get far more from the shower or a swimming pool. (Hence, use unbleached organic sugar if you must, and get a shower filter installed and visit a saltwater pool if you can, or better yet, the ocean if your area isn't polluted.) But you don't "detox" by stopping sugar as if sugar contained some voodoo toxins, it really doesn't.

That's just the "low carb flu", it goes away after you're adapted to burn fat, caffeine may add some stress to this, but it isn't the cause, and you can drink all the coffee you want once you're adapted (assuming you don't have a separate issue with coffee.)

Wheat contains exorphins which are morphine like compounds that people get addicted to, but you won't get anxious, you'll just start to crave it instead. It's important to avoid it at all costs until you get over it.

If you have carb cravings, try some Alpha Lipoic Acid, and L-Glutamine, and the low carb flu will go a lot more smoother. Using MCT oil or coconut oil will provide a ketone source and kickstart the switch to fat burning adaptation. Once you produce ketones for the very first time, you might suffer from BO, or acetone breath, but that doesn't last too long and goes away once you're adapted to burning fat, that's just ketone breath and when it goes away, it means that your cells are now using the ketones, which is what you want and where you want to be.

Even then, try to not do zero carbs and get something like 50g a day so you avoid the anxious feeling of gluconeogenesis - this is not a process you want to be in all the time, as it means you're probably catabolizing muscle if you haven't consumed enough protein - now if you get plenty of fat and protein, rock on, no worries.

You should aim for something .5g-1g of protein per pound of lean body mass. Notice I said protein, not meat. Typically meat is 25%-30% protein (25% for beef, 30% for lean chicken breast), the rest being water, connective tissue, fat, and a tiny bit of glucose. So multiply that by 3 or 4 depending on how lean the meat is. Typically, one palm size portion of meat 3x a day is what you want to aim for. If you're trying to gain muscle and are lifting weights often and heavy, raise that up some.

If you consume too much protein, you'll convert it to carbs via gluconeogenesis, and then store it as fat along with a similar insulin rise (though nowhere near as high), so obviously don't go eating half a cow a day.

Most of the rest of your calories should be from fat, and later on you can bring back some carbs between 50-150/day depending on your goals. If you're not trying to lean out, you can raise the carbs higher, if you are, lower them.

Get lots of sleep and properly rest. Don't go catabolic with your workouts - i.e. avoid chronic cardio. More is not better here.

Also, keep in mind, there's no single "paleo diet", it's a generic term. It's more of a template, and there are lots of tweaks depending on your goals. The only common ground is avoiding all grains, legumes, industrial seed oils (i.e. corn, soy, canola, "vegetable" oil, shortening, etc.) HFCS, artificial ingredients, etc.

7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on July 19, 2013
at 07:22 PM

Most of us who have tried a low carb diet didn't get anxious. We sometimes got tired, but not anxious. The guy probably needed to eat some liver or something. A lot of people go 'paleo' but what they also do is go on a diet- i.e. restriction of food, and therefore nutritional deficiencies can show up pretty quickly.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on July 21, 2013
at 01:20 AM

@August, yes, but that's what that anxiousness really means: gluconeogenesis gone for too long signaled by cortisol. I had it only when I went fasting longer than 20h, that's how I know.

0
Ec660db14cb1ee122dede641337358a3

on June 14, 2013
at 07:04 AM

I have been a caveman for only a few days but already have a remarkable boost in energy and mental alertness which my old laid back self is finding hard to adjust to. I thought it was anxiety but I'm pretty sure that I just have to channel my new found energies into a more productive lifestyle and I'll be ok. Out with the sloth and in with the action.

0
2b6a85c97431affe12573bc1201df209

on June 08, 2013
at 10:37 AM

Yes, about 3-5 days into Paleo I have anxiety. Cut out all caffeine it makes it worse. I ate a potatoe before bed, didn't help. My doctor said that paleo releases toxins in your body as well as you just detoxing from grain and Sugar, which causes the anxiety. When feeling anxious and tight chested, she suggested that I take L-theanine 200mg. If after 15 minutes of still being anxious, take another. You can have a max of 6 pills a day. L-theanine produces alpha brain waves instead of beta which is a slower calmer brain wave. You can purchase L-Theanine online or at your local health food store (I do not believe GNC carries it its an amino acid) I keep this by my bed with a glass of water bc I wake up with terrible anxiety. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Hope this helps

0
6a9436e85150c05a5a7455aceee32b2d

on July 01, 2012
at 10:02 PM

I have been eating paleo for 9 days. I have a history of anxiety (also depression). During the first 5 days of this diet I was very tired, unfocused and definitely felt like I was going through "carb withdrawal" - it was a flu-like sensation. That has mostly passed, but now I am anxious - the kind of anxiety that feels like it originates in my body (which is where I believe all anxiety originates), which is definitely worsened by caffeine. For example, I went to see a movie yesterday and got a diet coke and halfway through it I could feel an intense rise in my anxiety level. Also, the last few nights I am not falling asleep as easily as I usually do.

Due to the fact that last week as the week leading up to my period (which is almost over right now), there are numerous possible chemical explanations. Since I am not an endocrinologist, I can't begin to sort them out. All I know is that I like the way this diet stabilizes my blood sugar because I no longer have "cravings" to eat but instead eat out of what feels like more normal appetite or hunger. That is very, very good. On the other hand, feeling anxious is fairly unpleasant and I don't think that's how we are meant to feel. I know that if I ate more carbs my anxiety would improve, but that would also kind of negate the purpose of the pale diet and it would also cause me very real anxiety about losing the weight (fat) I need to lose. It's probably fine to eat some fruit or a sweet potato or daily occasionally but I don't want to use those foods to feel non-anxious, because that course would be little different from my prior behavior of eating chocolate, bread, pasta, rice etc to feel non-anxious.

I have come to no conclusions as to why I feel this way or what to do, except that obviously caffeine is not a good idea. The cortisol theory, above, seems to be a good place to start researching.

2a00b9a42e4cb6e489a0e69d20714576

(3043)

on July 02, 2012
at 12:55 AM

Have you ever watched "Sweet Misery". You need to seriously reevaluate choosing to drink diet coke. (Especially if your prone to anxiety/depression.

0
C2450eb7fa11b37473599caf93b461ef

on September 17, 2011
at 05:04 PM

I didn't have anxiety, but the first week or so I had trouble getting to sleep.

0
Medium avatar

(5136)

on April 20, 2011
at 04:34 PM

Since you ask if it "goes away" it sounds like you are experiencing a more physical body type of anxiety rather than anxious thoughts.

could be caffeine, could be your fat intake is too low, could be you have more energy and cooping it up is causing it to become a feeling of "anxiousness".

0
669790861549f3c6d54d88a65296ed19

(452)

on April 20, 2011
at 03:26 PM

I'm a year strict on Paleo now(cause I currently can't afford to 'cheat'),take all the standard mentioned (&more) supplements and still feel anxious throughout the day...which slowly start to fade away in the evening by the time I need to go to bed.Throughout the day I'm not that hungry,but by evening I can get really hungry and feel that I could keep on eating,to the point my stomach hurts.I also sometimes can keep on thinking about food.

Most days I feel lethargic during the day,especially when it comes to prepping&cooking meals. Bc of disease I have many intolerances,so I'm even more restricted. I hate that this 'lifestyle' requires so much work,yet doesn't make me feel better.

I already had this twisted relationship towards food/quantity&exercise and,sorry to say but Primal made it even worse,....always thinking&fearing I'm gonna be fat again/that I'm not doing enough(obsessive thoughts caused by the anxious feelings)...while all I actually want is to be able to do what I'd love to do(which requires sitting the entire time)...Enjoy Life....but these anxious feelings prohibit me from sitting down&creating what I want. Sometimes I feel so lethargic,that I think "I might as well give into the 'bad harmful stuff'.If I'm not able to workout and fear getting fat again,I might as well enjoy 'the happy thoughts' it gives me and get fat....and feel like 'a normal person again'.

I've always wondered "How come most sedentary artistic people are so lean,yet don't workout and eat what they want?" How I'd love to be able,to be like that!No more thinking of exercising/moving enough,eating what I'd feel like and be able to guiltlesly enjoy it,stay lean and be able to do what I love! ...maybe I'll get lucky in a next lifetime

0
13c5a9f1678d75b93f269cdcf69f14d5

(2339)

on April 16, 2010
at 06:13 PM

My spouse had this before he realized he needed to avoid gluten, even small amounts. So it could be some kind of food intolerance (he reacts similarly to eggs) but the adjustment theory is more likely, fortunately.

I do not know if this sort of thing is more likely to happen on a low carb diet; perhaps google "adkins flu"?

0
C3188df3e6f8a68a2d0f28500ad2ea19

on April 15, 2010
at 07:28 PM

I too had a crazy level of anxiety for about a month and the past two/three days it seems to have gone. Almost all through the work day, I would have this anxious fire in my belly. Before bed, I couldn't get to sleep because of that anxious feeling. I couldn't figure out the cause. I moved things around in my diet, I tried more sleep, and then I got anxious about feeling anxious. If it's gone for good, then I am going to be extremely happy. That was a crappy spell. (note - I've been paleo for 4 months and this started in the 3rd month).

-2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 22, 2011
at 06:47 AM

Refined sugar cravings are due to chronic neurotransmitter deficiencies. The solution is a 100% pure amino acids supplement (i.e. no fillers, no additives, no sugar, no stevia, and manufactured at very low heat). Such a product is available at www.obesityresearch.net and its called Aminokit Recovery Formula. The product has been used by Aminokit Labs, Inc. for 15 years in its drug rehab facilities. This potent amino acids product can end sugar cravings in 24 hours.

Answer Question


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