Protein and Fat making me sick?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created June 28, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Hello! I am at a loss as of what to do. Lately I have been nauseous and bloated more then ever. Whenever I eat my more sugary(fruit) or paleo cheats(greek yogurt and protein powder), I feel fine. It is more after I eat my omelette, flax crackers with roast beef, etc... Basically heavier in protein and fats. I hear that carbs should not be eaten a lot though, especially if you want to get/stay lean. I only allow myself about 25% carbs on my workout days. My day off I eat only 15%. My day off is the day I actually feel the worst, but I also do not feel well after eating the higher protein and fat items on workout days. I try to keep my protein at a steady amount and my fat ranges from 25-35%(obviously higher on rest day).

Sorry for the really long explanation. I would just like to know what to do. I am tired of feeling heavy, nauseous and lethargic, but I do not want to put on more fat by eating more carbs. Has anybody else had this problem? I am can barely finish my foods anymore. Half the time, I have to throw some away because I am so sick. I have even lost weight(which I do not want to do) because of my exercise(60-90 min cardio in morning, 45-60 min weightlifting at night) then my lower calorie intake now(2300-2400). I can not force myself to eat more either. Please help. Thank you.


on June 30, 2013
at 02:11 PM

Well because, I feel that if people who do not want to have a lot of bodyfat eat low carb, then even though I am trying to gain some muscle, I should eat lower carb as well. I would like to be very lean with a good (not huge) amount of muscle. Oh yeah, sorry about no information. I am a female, 15 years old, 5'2 and around 95lbs. I will post my daily eating in one of the comments below. I eat a good amount, so I will not have enough enough characters to type my whole meal plan. lol



on June 28, 2013
at 08:39 PM

Why are you adhering to such a strict no carb protocol if you aren't trying to lose weight? Can you give more info - sex, age, height, what you eat over the course of a day, how often you exercise?

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5 Answers



on June 28, 2013
at 03:33 PM

If you are eating an average of 2000-3000 Calories a day, and only 25% of your sustenance comes from carbohydrates, that's only 125g-188g of carbs a day and that's only "on your workout days." At 15%, that's 75g-112g.

I tend to suggest 100g for non-active people that want to lose weight (or give it lots of adjustment time and go LC or VLC straight up @ 0g-40g a day). For somewhat active people, 100-150g a day seems about right.

However, for active people -- you have to do what works for you, and my guess is that you are feeling lethargic because you aren't eating enough readily available energy as carbohydrates. Again, long term you can become a LC athlete if you'd like, but it doesn't sound like you want that, which is fine. I would attribute the feeling of "heavy and nauseous" to being "protein full", and you you are still hungry. "Protein hungry/full" is an actually different sensation than overall hungry/full (this sounds like woo-science, but it's not a scientific thing, but a human-learned thing -- some languages actually have different words for the two sensations). "Force feeding" yourself healthy meats, seafoods, eggs, etc when you are not protein-hungry can be a very trying experience - for example, I'm a bodybuilder-type, and I don't use processed protein powders: some days, I do honestly force myself to eat when I'm not hungry (silly, but I have my goals). While 80% of my exercise is weight related, I still get about 20% highly-aerobic activity, and I easily eat 200g +/- 50g of carbs a day (and that's on maintenance, not gaining).

So, overall, I would up the carbs, especially since it sounds like you are very active. There are plenty of easily cooked dense sources of carbohydrates, including yuca, sweet potatoes, true yams, parsnips, squashes, as well as dense sugary veggies like beets and carrots. By upping these amounts, you'll be able to lower the required energy you take in from fats and proteins, if it's been too much.

If you work out "every other day", or something like that, I would actually eat the most roots/tubers like these the evening before your workout day -- you want to tank up your liver and muscle glycogen.

My 2??.


on June 30, 2013
at 02:27 PM

Thank you for all of your answers everybody. I started paleo probably about 8 months ago. I am not sure of the exact date. What I find odd is the fact that it seems I am getting worse with the amounts of protein and fats. I use to be able to eat 10% of my calories carbohydrates. A typical day of eating for me would be like this. B: 5oz chicken breast, egg, 1/3 cup egg whites, assorted vegetables, 1oz sweet potato, 1/2 cup coconut kefir with coffee and 1/2 scoop of raw protein. PostWorkout: 1 scoop whey, 2/3 cup zucchini, 1/2 banana, 1/3 cup flax milk, 4oz firm sprouted tofu, various extracts (this was all blended into a shake) and an ultra energy bar. L: Big salad w/ 8.5oz chicken or 2 cans of sardines, balsamic vinegar, hemp oil, egg and a macadamia nut. S: Flax Crackers, 2.2oz no salt turkey/ roast beef, egg, beets, spring mix, alice of avocado. D: 8.5oz of a lean meat/ 7oz salmon, around 4 cups of sauteed non-starchy vegetables in vinegar and 1/2-1 tsp of coconut oil, 1.5oz homemade spaghetti sauce. S: 3/4 cup yogurt, 3/4 scoop casein, cocoa powder, 1 tbsp peanut flour, small slice of homemade pumpkin pie, coconut, chia seeds, 2 tsp of walnut/almond butter.

That is about it for the day. I also drink about a gallon or more of water a day. This is obviously a typical workout day for me. I workout all days but Friday.


on June 28, 2013
at 08:25 PM

I experienced something similar when I started on the paleo diet and found that I wasn't getting enough salt intake. I also know a lot of people who have gone through the carb withdrawl feeling and it sounds a lot like what your describing. It would make sense that you feel better when you get a dosage of carbs if that were the case. I stay below 50g of carbs and I haven't experienced any diminution of my long distance cardio (cycling 1 to 2 hour 5 days a week).


on June 28, 2013
at 03:11 PM

The two thoughts which come to mind are possible low stomach acid and digestive enzymes and possible food allergies/sensitivities.

If you haven't added any new foods to your diet which could be causing a gut reaction, then it could be that your digestive system isn't yet used to that level of protein and fat.

How long have you been eating this way? How long have you been experiencing the gastric distress? Have you tried digestive enzymes with your high protein and fat meals to see if that makes a difference?


on June 28, 2013
at 12:44 PM

Let me start by saying I don't know when you started paleo, and what I'm going to share is just my experience/how I solved my problem.

When I first started eating paleo, I ran in to a similar problem (a big reason why I joined this community). I wasn't eating any non-paleo foods at all and was trying to remain strict as possible with the diet. However - after meals I would feel sick and get a terrible upset stomach.

After some research I found out that there could be many things causing it (problems with FODMAPs, egg intolerances, etc), but for the most part my research led to two conclusions:

  1. That I need to start cutting things out of my diet for a few days at a time to narrow down the cause of my discomfort.

  2. There is an adjustment period for your body after starting paleo - your body has become so accustomed to breaking down carbs for energy that it kind of goes in to "shock" when your normal carb intake is eliminated. It just takes time for your body to learn to break down the high protein/fat content, but once it does (after a week or so of strict paleo eating) you begin to feel much better, and full of energy.

As far as the foods that caused me the most problems - it ended up being eggs and meats high in fat. After my body adjusted to the diet, I was able to add both of them back in to my daily routines without the slightest problem.

While you may not have the same issues as far as eggs go, I'd recommend that you try eating light, lean meats (chicken, fish, etc) and paleo-friendly foods with a decent amount of carbs (sweet potatoes) when you need them.

I really hope this helps and good luck!

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