5

votes

Sleep issues and midsection fat gain on skinny guy?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created October 26, 2011 at 11:33 AM

Hello everyone,

I have, for years now, been eating pretty well. The past 4 months I have stepped up to being more "strict paleo" and have noticed some pretty big issues with some revelations. Let's begin.

A few months back I posted here complaining about being extremely tired. I still have some unresolved health issues contributing to this (we think it's Labyrinthitis but I am having a following up Friday). Anyhow, one issue was for a skinny, active guy like myself, my carb intake was FAR too low. It was causing me to crash hard.

Here are some important details about:

  • I have been avoiding processed crap food for years now due to many skin and health issues.
  • I have always been naturally thin (5'9"/128lbs) thus, even without much work, my body looked to be in great condition (natural 6 pack, etc).
  • I walk/bike everywhere as this is my transportation.
  • I'll do some light crossfit style exercises when I feel up to it. Perhaps 1-2x per week lately since I have been feeling so bad.
  • Most skin issues HAVE improved since being more strict about grains and wheat.

Let's look at how things were when I was at peak health just last year:

  • Around 130lbs
  • Ran/pull-ups/sit-ups 3x per week
  • Eating listed below
  • Worked from home 2x per week and in-office 3x per week (I am a computer programmer).

Let's now look at a comparison of eating habits:

  • Before: breakfast typically full-fat yogurt with a trail mix (from bulk section at wholefoods that was without granola, wheat, etc), lunch was generally a salad with chicken or braised LEAN beef over rice with hummus and sweet potato chunks, and dinner was generally steamed brocholi with bone-in, skin-on chicken breast or a lentil soup. Sometimes beef with a steamed veggie but maybe 1-2x per week at most. Fish when I could get it. I also was eating eggs perhaps 2x per week and green juices 3-5x per week.

  • Now: breakfast typically full-fat raw yogurt with banana along with usually 2-3 eggs and 2-3x per week with bacon, lunch has been fatty cuts beef, organ meats, pork, sheep, etc along with some veggies. Veggies are usually carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, squash, etc. Dinner is roughly the same but a different cut of meat. I tend to use butter a lot now too which is something I never did before.

Note: I don't consume much else but water and the occasional red wine (as I have for years now).

Here are the issues I have been having for about 2 months now:

  • I can't sleep at all! I go to bed at a good hour and wake up a million times throughout the night. This is extremely rare for me as I have never in my life had sleep issues. I have always zonked out immediately and stayed out until morning. Now I wake constantly. I have read that cortisol can cause this but if anything my life is even less stressful now than before. Could eating too much meat/fat cause this?
  • The second issue is that I have never, ever been able to gain weight other than ultra slowly when I was working out much more and this came in the form of muscle. Fat was non-existent on my body for as long as I can remember. Now, within less than 2 months, my entire midsection has gone to hell and fast. I have a lot of visible fat, I am horribly bloated, the whole area looks ridiculous on my otherwise skinny body. It's completely out of proportion. I have never been one to care much over my appearance and that feeling hasn't changed with this but I am more concerned about my health as this changed happened VERY quickly. It's becoming very concerning given my history of an ultra-lean body type.

So, I have some guesses: I assume I went too far into the whole "eat a ton of fat" thing. Actually, I completely feel that is the case. Also, when I was breifly low-carb I wanted to die it felt so horrible so I now upped my carbs again with sweet potatoes, white rice (not paleo, don't care), etc. In fact, other than being strict about wheat, I am most likely going to be venturing back into my older eating habits as I am pretty sure these last 3 months have actually been some of my most unhealthy. Also, please be sensitive to the issue that I believe there isn't a magic bullet for everyone. I agree that when I was eating a lot of grains before that isn't the best but I don't quite believe that this way of eating is healthy for me in particular. I worry now that I have loaded my body with fat all in one area of my midsection in a very short timeframe. I know some will say this is the body healing itself but I frankly don't buy it. I am and always have been very in touch with my body and this is quite "off".

Any suggestions would be very helpful. I intend to stay wheat-free as I have been for many years now but I would like to limit grains still however I need a safer way to do this. What I am currently doing is obviously taking a huge toll on my body both in a physical manifestation of visible fat and this horrible sleep issue that I have developed during the same period.

Thanks everyone!

EDIT: Since I have all the tell-tale signs of labyrinthitis along with this other issues (yes, the Labs started developing around the same time as well) I thought perhaps this link would be helpful to my situation: http://www.naturalreliefs.com/healthproblems/labyrinthitisdiet.htm

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 26, 2011
at 05:49 PM

Can't say for sure. I, myself, found that "lower" carb levels mean I'm out cold all night and wake up with no problems. I'm not tired until I'm in bed most of the time. I'm nowhere near VLC or ketogenic though, maybe 60F/20C/20P on 2200 calories.

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on October 26, 2011
at 04:16 PM

Like you, I think it would be foolish to ignore that your health was simply better then. Sudden belly fat deposits are just not a good sign! High fat is not for everyone. Though it does work for me, personally (250g fat daily...ahem). I do also think the cardio is a factor for you.

Fe87afa634afe26f4f6fd956abe0b46a

(565)

on October 26, 2011
at 04:13 PM

Great points. I've gone VLC on a couple occasions. My sleep suffered each time. It doesn't have to be a lot of carbs either. Find your sweet spot. Carbs make me sleep so much better. Too much meat makes me feel like my body is a furnace. I'm always hot and energized.

Bc3fd048801a984147b8970277037cdf

(180)

on October 26, 2011
at 03:59 PM

Thanks animalcule! It seems I probably added in too much fats without modifying much else. I mean, I never used to use butter (not that I have anything against it, in fact, I love it - it was just never really part of my routine) and I never "thought" often about eating/consuming more fats. I think when I became conscious of it I most likely went very overboard. I would like to stay as grain-free as possible but yes, return more so to my previous eating habits (lean meats, still loads of veggies, fruits and rice/potatoes/( maybe lentils occasionally). I felt best during that year and a half.

Bc3fd048801a984147b8970277037cdf

(180)

on October 26, 2011
at 03:55 PM

I honestly have no idea. I don't feel any more/less anxious than before but every single night for the last 2 months I have yet to sleep a full night's sleep. Again, this is VERY odd for me as I have never had this issue before.

Fe87afa634afe26f4f6fd956abe0b46a

(565)

on October 26, 2011
at 03:46 PM

Some people get a kind of caffeine effect from fats. Is your sleeplessness more from anxiety or restlessness, or just being energized?

Bc3fd048801a984147b8970277037cdf

(180)

on October 26, 2011
at 03:36 PM

Great, thanks Matt. I figured that was probably the case. Any thoughts on the sleeplessness?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 26, 2011
at 03:17 PM

I'm thinking you probably increased your calories significantly when you went to a high-fat diet. It sounds like you eat the same things as you did before (more or less), but simply added animal fat and butter. Eat less, or reduce your added fats from butter and fatty cuts of meat.

Bc3fd048801a984147b8970277037cdf

(180)

on October 26, 2011
at 02:42 PM

Thanks Matt. So maybe it's safe to assume I should cut back starchy veggies/rice AND ease up on the fat loading?

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5 Answers

7
26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

on October 26, 2011
at 03:34 PM

Low carb is often bad for the naturally thin. You CAN gain fat from eating high-fat, low-carb, high-cal. I've done it too (but I am a girl, skinny, lean, and pear-shaped - I want more fat gain).

Insatiable hunger is common for leaner people eating LC - not sure if this is an issue for you, even if not you are probably eating many more calories than previously. This hunger can lead to sky-high meat consumption. IMO too much protein is a strain on the body, and it sure can cause bloating.

Cardio can also be bad when you're skinny. Cardio on low carb is a bad idea for most. I'd knock off the Crossfit. I also walk and bike for transport, but that's more than enough IMO. I'm all about lifting heavy... I do squats, deadlift and press with free weights and it makes me feel amazing. I've made huge strength gains and I've noticed a positive difference in the mirror too (I'm up about 12 lbs from pre-paleo, 5 lbs of that was nice round muscles from after I started lifting - this is major for me). Lifting will also utilize more of the protein you're taking it.

I think you're on the right track diet-wise. Honestly I think going back to your former diet wouldn't hurt you in the least. If you want to stay more 'paleo' at least switch to moderate carbs - 150+ g per day. Up to 250g on days you're biking a lot etc. I eat lots of white potatoes and white rice myself, feel great. Don't load on extra fats/butter, feel free to eat leaner meats. Maybe track your intake with fitday. You might benefit from counting calories. Your previous diet was more body-builder style - starch, lean meats, veggies. You can do that on grain-free 'paleo' as well.

26b7615ef542394102785a67a2786867

(7967)

on October 26, 2011
at 04:16 PM

Like you, I think it would be foolish to ignore that your health was simply better then. Sudden belly fat deposits are just not a good sign! High fat is not for everyone. Though it does work for me, personally (250g fat daily...ahem). I do also think the cardio is a factor for you.

Bc3fd048801a984147b8970277037cdf

(180)

on October 26, 2011
at 03:59 PM

Thanks animalcule! It seems I probably added in too much fats without modifying much else. I mean, I never used to use butter (not that I have anything against it, in fact, I love it - it was just never really part of my routine) and I never "thought" often about eating/consuming more fats. I think when I became conscious of it I most likely went very overboard. I would like to stay as grain-free as possible but yes, return more so to my previous eating habits (lean meats, still loads of veggies, fruits and rice/potatoes/( maybe lentils occasionally). I felt best during that year and a half.

Fe87afa634afe26f4f6fd956abe0b46a

(565)

on October 26, 2011
at 04:13 PM

Great points. I've gone VLC on a couple occasions. My sleep suffered each time. It doesn't have to be a lot of carbs either. Find your sweet spot. Carbs make me sleep so much better. Too much meat makes me feel like my body is a furnace. I'm always hot and energized.

6
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 26, 2011
at 01:19 PM

Don't let anybody tell you you're getting "better" or "healing", it's apparent that what you've been doing for the last 2 months isn't working. I'd agree that low-carb, high-fat isn't working for you. Titrate the carbs back in until you get back to condition/performance you desire.

Fe87afa634afe26f4f6fd956abe0b46a

(565)

on October 26, 2011
at 03:46 PM

Some people get a kind of caffeine effect from fats. Is your sleeplessness more from anxiety or restlessness, or just being energized?

Bc3fd048801a984147b8970277037cdf

(180)

on October 26, 2011
at 02:42 PM

Thanks Matt. So maybe it's safe to assume I should cut back starchy veggies/rice AND ease up on the fat loading?

Bc3fd048801a984147b8970277037cdf

(180)

on October 26, 2011
at 03:36 PM

Great, thanks Matt. I figured that was probably the case. Any thoughts on the sleeplessness?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 26, 2011
at 05:49 PM

Can't say for sure. I, myself, found that "lower" carb levels mean I'm out cold all night and wake up with no problems. I'm not tired until I'm in bed most of the time. I'm nowhere near VLC or ketogenic though, maybe 60F/20C/20P on 2200 calories.

Bc3fd048801a984147b8970277037cdf

(180)

on October 26, 2011
at 03:55 PM

I honestly have no idea. I don't feel any more/less anxious than before but every single night for the last 2 months I have yet to sleep a full night's sleep. Again, this is VERY odd for me as I have never had this issue before.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on October 26, 2011
at 03:17 PM

I'm thinking you probably increased your calories significantly when you went to a high-fat diet. It sounds like you eat the same things as you did before (more or less), but simply added animal fat and butter. Eat less, or reduce your added fats from butter and fatty cuts of meat.

1
D117467bf8e8472464ece2b81509606c

(2873)

on October 26, 2011
at 01:01 PM

I can't offer any scientific advice but I have pretty much the exact same situation as you do (lean, can't sleep on low carb, hesitant about adding loads of fat, etc) and what I'm doing is keeping the fatty meat consumption to a minimum. There's no need to overdo the sausages and bacon when you're cooking with fat and eating full fat yogurt, in my opinion. And VLC is definitely not for everyone. I had to stop after one night of waking up from a peanut butter sandwich nightmare :-p

0
5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on February 09, 2012
at 08:04 PM

You also seem to exhibit some of the signs of adrenal fatigue. You could experiment with Dr. Kruse's leptin reset and give the adrenals some time to recover by easing up on the cardio as some others have suggested.

0
5aa057aabe02e83299e1e2137eab05e2

on February 09, 2012
at 06:43 PM

Yeah, I thought I would never get enough sleep with 3 little kids. It is really frustrating that now that I can generally sleep until 7 am, my eyes fly open at 5:30. I can't sleep but I am definitely not " energized" I finally fall back to sleep after an hour or so, just before I have to get up.

The last couple of nights, I have woken up after 2 hrs, and spent the rest of the night tossing and turning. DH, who instigated this whole Paleo thing, snores away and gets annoyed at me for tossing around too much.

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