1

votes

LACK OF ENERGY, DRIVE AND MOTIVATION

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created November 12, 2010 at 10:19 PM

Hi Guys,

I hope this community can help me, as I am really desperate.

I am paleo for about 2-3 months now with a couple of really hard cheat days. Before that I've already been low carb for a couple of weeks. But because I hadn't felt really good, energy-wise, I started becoming paleo the way Loren Cordain suggests it. This means a lot of fruits(!), veggies, oils and meat. Some nuts and also some honey to prevent me from indulging in excessive cheat day snack attacks.

I walk about 50 - 60 minutes a day and go for a jog once a week. Also I do some muscle training most day.

So far so good. Soon after switching to the paleo lifestyle I felt better. Those carbs from fruits really helped a lot.

But now I'm starting to feel shitty again. I experience lack of focus, lesser energy levels, less endurance regarding anything. Even if I eat a lot for breakfast I am hungry soon after that. When I don't eat then my head becomes dizzy and I would rather not concentrate too much.

So to prevent me from feeling like that I am really munching away on bananas and apples. There are days when I eat more than 4 bananas and a whole bag of satsumas or stuff like that. And still my energy levels are not that good. This has to stop. I am not myself anymore. The paleo lifestyle is supposed to give me more energy...I am really waiting for this to happen.

My diet looks something like this:

In the morning I get up at 6 am and I eat at least a banana, 1-2 apples, honey, trailer mix nuts + raisins and a lot of cinnamon. Most times I also eat one hard boiled egg or half of a leftover steak(about 100g). I do satisfy my thirst with 2-3 cups of green tea. And for some weeks now I have taken 1 multi vitamin supplement.

As I told you I could hardly make it to lunch if I wouldn't snack away on some more banana, apples, satsumas and drink several cups of coffee.

Lunchtime is about midday and I get myself something like 2 eggs(or 1 steak or fish) and 400g of tomatoes combined with a lot of salt, pepper and some canola or flaxseed oil + some fruits and coffee again.

Until supper 1 banana + 1 apple.

For supper I make myself a big pan of all kinds of veggies: onions, tomatoes, cucumbas, carrots, broccoli, sprouts. I think you get the idea. I heat with coconut oil. I combine this pan with some meat and olive oil and flaxseed oil and whole bunch of spices, including salt.

After that I knock me out with a whole pot of roiboos tea.

Oh and I nearly forgot: my muscle training is really not that hard. This is what I do: 20 Tibetian push-ups in the morning and 40 dumbells for each arm. That's it :) But that I do almost every day.

What do you guys suggest? Any special ingredients I should add to my meals? Less fruits? More meat?

Btw. Sorry for my bad English.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 05, 2011
at 04:53 AM

Who said sweet potatoes are unnecessary? They are excellent because they lack the energy-depriving fructose and add lots of calories and nutrients. The OP is new to paleo and is figuring things out, he just needs time and some changes. There's no reason why the paleo diet shouldn't work for everyone.

Ee15d68672f8a8f512ccd9928624d802

(-22)

on November 15, 2010
at 08:23 PM

You're kidding me Sarah-Ann, right? To quote: "Phytic acid may be considered a phytonutrient, providing an antioxidant effect. Phytic acid's mineral binding properties may also prevent colon cancer by reducing oxidative stress in the lumen of the intestinal tract. Researchers now believe that phytic acid, found in the fiber of legumes and grains, is the major ingredient responsible for preventing colon cancer and other cancers." It's not for every person because EVERYONE is different! How are sweet potatoes unnecessary if they are working for the person?

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on November 15, 2010
at 07:19 PM

T. Hanks. "6 more to go".

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on November 15, 2010
at 05:24 PM

NOT that you were attacking anyone of course, but just for clarification: when I and then David Moss warned the OP about not getting enough fat, assuming he was getting enough protein, the only thing we had to go on was a brief comment about Cordain. It was only later that the OP edited the question and then we found out he was barely eating anything. So I am in complete agreement. I've never understood how someone could eat only 1g of protein for each pound of lean body mass. What we all need is big plates of warm food with fat and protein mixed together. There's a word for this: "hearty."

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 14, 2010
at 02:03 PM

c.f. here http://www.metabolictyping.com/ and here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metabolic_typing for any-one interested.

6552b83c231aa0cdab273c50234d3db7

(26)

on November 14, 2010
at 12:52 PM

Lots and lots. Read it for yourself. Metabolic Typing Diet By William Wolcott & Trish Fahey. Many years of research, see what you think.

6552b83c231aa0cdab273c50234d3db7

(26)

on November 14, 2010
at 12:38 PM

Read it for yourself. Metabolic Typing Diet by William Wolcott....lots of research, plenty of science.....

D10ca8d11301c2f4993ac2279ce4b930

(5242)

on November 14, 2010
at 04:56 AM

add supplement magnesium and we've got an answered question.

A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

(4183)

on November 13, 2010
at 11:30 PM

Brown rice?? Yay lots of phytic acid to deprive you of minerals, THAT's clearly what the OP needs.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 13, 2010
at 08:35 PM

Tyler, paleo isn't a specific diet, it can vary between 0 carb and ~90% carb for one thing, so it can't "not be for everybody" unless some-one intrinsically needs wheat or vegetable oil, which doesn't seem plausible. Saying: "Why not suggest a twinkie based diet?" I'm simply showing that if you show that a (particular) paleo diet doesn't work, you can't just say "Eat more [beans and brown rice]" without giving some reason for it, otherwise you might as well say "Eat some quality [any food you like]." You certainly can't assume that the problem is too few rather than too many carbs a priori.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 13, 2010
at 03:48 PM

Yeh, but you're not eating a lot of meat. I ran my guesstimated quantities of the above foods through nutritiondata and on the assumption of 3 eggs + 200g beef you'd get 80% of your RDA of iron and some of that would be non-heme (hard to absorb) iron from your assorted plant foods.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on November 13, 2010
at 02:59 PM

Why would a paleo diet not be for everyone? All it does is eliminate foods that are intolerable to most people. If one is not adapting well, it doesn't make sense to add back an unnecessary and likely problematic food. How would that possibly improve the situation?

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on November 13, 2010
at 02:54 PM

Any science behind "types" ?

135ea7e598ac8517e26ac2896309e776

(161)

on November 13, 2010
at 02:42 PM

Yeah I drink coffee and tea. @Gilliebean I will check out iron supplements but that shouldn't really be the problem as meat is a rich resource of iron, isn't it?

Ee15d68672f8a8f512ccd9928624d802

(-22)

on November 13, 2010
at 01:17 PM

Yeah because the Paleo diet is NOT for everyone! Everyone is different and you can't say that Paleo is good for everyone. This is not working for her. Why not say twinkie? Come on David. Grow up man...

8ce2e69af79dcb1488f776efc1c54052

on November 13, 2010
at 12:21 PM

Good job with this David!

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 13, 2010
at 08:29 AM

Any particular reason for this? Why not say "Your body is telling you something. Listen to it and... eat an exclusively meat based/cabbage based/twinkie based diet?"

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on November 13, 2010
at 07:46 AM

I second this. The first step is to go to fitday.com and see if your food intake is missing any vital nutrients like magnesium. Make sure you are getting all needed vitamins and minerals. It could be as simple as magnesium deficiency or somesuch.

6552b83c231aa0cdab273c50234d3db7

(26)

on November 13, 2010
at 07:12 AM

What a great remedy. The perfect mineral food :0)

B4aa2df25a6bf17d22556667ff896170

(851)

on November 13, 2010
at 01:57 AM

might be anemic.. take a blood test and check your iron levels. Worth a shot to at least rule it out. Usually not a problem with paleo diet but symptoms suggest it might be the case

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on November 12, 2010
at 10:27 PM

Are you drinking coffee, black tea and/or alcohol? Are you eating any one food group more than another?

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12 Answers

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20
E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 13, 2010
at 09:41 AM

You say you're eating:

a lot of fruits(!), veggies, oils and meat. Some nuts and also some honey...

the way Loren Cordain suggests it...

[and] muscle training most days.

The first problem that suggests itself is that you're eating at least moderately high carb but getting it predominantly from fructose. This is a problem since as soon as your liver is repleted with glycogen this will just form fat around your liver. Not where you want it, nor will you be able to efficiently utilise this stored fat while eating high carb. Fructose is one of the prime evils to be avoided on the paleo diet, so while I'm not against any moderate carb paleo getting their 5 a day, don't ever rely on your calories from fruit.

Aside from the high fructose from fruit, I assume you're also eating too few calories, which should be your first suspicion if ever you start feeling constantly weak, low in energy and hungry. Even if you eat 10 satsumas for breakfast that'll only give you 470 calories, 117g sugar, 16g fibre and 7g protein: no wonder you feel like you're lacking energy. You realise that eating those "more than four bananas" you're still only getting 400-500 calories? Eating these 10 satsumas breakfast, lunch and dinner, you'd still need at least another 10 apples to hope to meet your calories and would have similarly lacking macronutrient ratios. Honey is similarly an unfortunate choice, since whatever its subtle advantages over refined sugar, it's still weighted towards fructose.

My suspicion about calories is only compounded by the fact that you say you're getting your fats from oils and nuts. I remember when I was trying to eat low carb but low SFA and trying to ingest a reasonable amount of calories from olive oil is pretty tricky, no matter how much you drown your salads in it. Also, olive oil and nuts will be giving you at least 10% o-6 calories and next to no omega-3, which is certainly both too much PUFA and too much o-6 to o-3. It'll be contributing to a highly inflammatory state in your body, especially conjoined with the fructose. Frankly the 10% figure is optimistic as well: if you're consuming some oil other than olive oil or eating any nuts other than macadamia, hazeluts or almonds, you could be looking at 50%+ PUFA and almost exclusively omega-6.

If you're following Cordain's recommendations then you'll be eating lean meats, ruling out your chance to get some safe SFA/MUFA sources of fats. Even if you are eating enough meat to get a decent amount of nutrients, then eating lean meat and thus lots of protein will necessarily be very stressful to your body, since converting protein in the liver into glucose is a very demanding process. You're in no danger of this with all the fruit you're eating, but look up rabbit starvation to see what you feel like if you try to live off lean meat.

Also you almost certainly shouldn't be "muscle training" every day. Muscles need time to recover after a proper workout. Even the most mainstream weight-training sources recommend at least a 24 hour break and most paleos tend to gravitate towards the heavy-and-infrequent model of lifting heavy things twice a week or so. Even if you have what you consider to be a perfectly contrived split workout, such that you're not working the same muscle sets on consecutive days, you'd still need a day or two off. I presume you've heard of overtraining and this is only going to be exacerbated by a calorie deficit.

So in conclusion, you're eating high carb, high fructose, high PUFA and high omega 6- all central things that paleo reasoning seeks to avoid. The diet you've outlined might sound paleo, but this is a perfect example of where focusing on the metabolic impacts of the nutrients is to be preferred to eating some natural whole foods and hoping things work out.


So what do I suggest? Well I won't try to convert you to the one true faith of low carb, high saturated fat paleo. Although you might want to look at Panu's 12-step-program for an example of paleo focused on what sort of nutritional and metabolic situation we would have evolved with, rather than a shopping list of ok-foods.

First thing: if you want to eat lots of carbs, then buy some sweet potato, normal potato, yams or other such tuber. You want to be getting your carbs from starch (converted into plain glucose) rather than fructose. The virtues of potatos are discussed by Stephan and also on that blog in the context of the Kitavans (a salmon, sweet potato and coconut eating society) and at the Perfect Health Diet who are moderate-carb paleo. Moving to sweet potato rather than fruit will save you a lot of cash too.

You need to get enough calories, so simply eat enough sweet potatos to meet your calorie needs. With the way you're feeling at the moment I would make absolutely certain for a while that you're eating enough calories, to see if this is the problem. When I was switching into low carb dieting I repeatedly failed to meet my calorie requirements despite feeling like I was stuffing myself with seeds and cheese (and wondered why I was cold and tired).

Next, make sure you're getting at least some fats, since these are notoriously satiating and carbohydrate notoriously hunger-producing. Ensure you're getting enough omega-3, so eat some oily fish or some fish oil capsules (not the plant source ALA omega-3 from nuts, which your body can't use). Omega-3 is central to the brain and mood in general.

Also ensuring a balance between omega-3 and omega-6 is absolutely crucial, since this is the main determinant of inflammation (behind almost any health ill you care to name). Indeed some paleo luminaries (Robb Wolff) suggest ingesting huge quantities of omega-3 at first, especially if you feel awful or have a damaged metabolism, to correct the absurd imbalance between o-6 and o-3 that most people have. If you've been living on oils and nuts, you're doubtless far from the 1:1 ratio that is normal for a paleo-era human.

Aside from that, you want to limit PUFA (omega-3 and omega-6), because they're highly reactive and thus unhealthy in large quantities in a variety of ways (lipid peroxidation being linked to cancer and their promoting oxidised cholesterol that is linked to heart disease). Most paleos, on here at least, think that MUFA and SFA, such as you'd get from animal fats are the safest bet, but if you don't want to eat saturated fat, then feel free to just get your calories from sweet potato. (Bear in mind of course that your body chooses to turn all that fruit you eat into saturated fat as soon as it can, not into polyunsaturated fat). Don't try to get large amounts of MUFA in your diet without SFA, since it's impossible without either eating lots of omega-6 (from olive oil) or subsisting on macadamia nuts.

That got quite long, so to summarise: enough omega 3 (oily fish or fish oil, not ALA from plants), minimal omega 6 (no nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, olive oil). If you want to eat lots of fat, animal fat is the safest (you're an animal) but if you don't want to do this, get your calories from starchy carbohydrates, not sugar, even fruit sugar. Meat is good, but not too much protein, (not more than ~25% of calories, 1.5g/kg should suffice), but you definitely need to be getting enough protein, especially if you're training your muscles every day.

Also, since you're feeling direly awful, try taking a multi-vitamin. They're not in the "spirit" of paleo, but they're a good safety net in case this is all caused by some particular deficiency and easier than perfecting your diet through micromanagement.

D10ca8d11301c2f4993ac2279ce4b930

(5242)

on November 14, 2010
at 04:56 AM

add supplement magnesium and we've got an answered question.

8ce2e69af79dcb1488f776efc1c54052

on November 13, 2010
at 12:21 PM

Good job with this David!

5
C2b67e9efa9765dc279a1b727e7391b4

on November 14, 2010
at 04:23 AM

I feel the same way. I think it has to do with all the fruit. When I eat too much fruit, I feel great as I'm eating it and then awful a few hours later. It's hard because I get tired of the same foods, but I know once I start eating fruit, I can't stop. I just try to avoid it and eat vegetables and meat.

4
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on November 13, 2010
at 02:49 PM

David was very thorough, but I just wanted to add that even if a very low carb diet is not optimal for you, you might have swung too far in the opposite direction. Maybe you should try limiting yourself to about 100g of carbohydrate and see if that feels better.

2
6eb2812b40855ba64508cbf2dc48f1b6

(2119)

on November 13, 2010
at 07:30 PM

I know that lower protein and high fat is in fashion right now, but if I ate as little protein as you are eating, I'd feel like crap too.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on November 15, 2010
at 05:24 PM

NOT that you were attacking anyone of course, but just for clarification: when I and then David Moss warned the OP about not getting enough fat, assuming he was getting enough protein, the only thing we had to go on was a brief comment about Cordain. It was only later that the OP edited the question and then we found out he was barely eating anything. So I am in complete agreement. I've never understood how someone could eat only 1g of protein for each pound of lean body mass. What we all need is big plates of warm food with fat and protein mixed together. There's a word for this: "hearty."

2
89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on November 13, 2010
at 09:58 AM

just some further suggestions/thoughts:

sunlight?

computer time?

social aspects?

2
415ce5b8f88f4d762fa946f9f43d94b6

(564)

on November 12, 2010
at 11:40 PM

The "atkins flu" or "carb flu" is not uncommon. Possible solutions: magnesium, potassium, bouillon cubes. I got past it with homemade chicken broth (crock pot + roast chicken carcass + water + 18 hours).

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on November 13, 2010
at 07:46 AM

I second this. The first step is to go to fitday.com and see if your food intake is missing any vital nutrients like magnesium. Make sure you are getting all needed vitamins and minerals. It could be as simple as magnesium deficiency or somesuch.

6552b83c231aa0cdab273c50234d3db7

(26)

on November 13, 2010
at 07:12 AM

What a great remedy. The perfect mineral food :0)

2
D4586f8cac3bbbd49c3540f774247256

(270)

on November 12, 2010
at 11:19 PM

2
Db7f5b616cdbd7111dc6a1815bc9ca67

on November 12, 2010
at 11:04 PM

Are you sleeping? 9+ hours a night, in a blackened room, is the paleo ideal.

I would definitely recommend more exercise.

I also share Gillie's question. Are we talking meat three meals a day, or once a day if that?

I would also note that I'm certainly a different person when I'm low-carb than when I'm eating Standard American with the full complement of sugar and grain crap. I'm less excitable, less wide-eyed, with less buzz in my head. I'm calmer and more focused and way more mellow--so you could describe that as lower-energy, despite that I have more urge to work out. "Feeling like shit," though--to shoot from the hip, that honestly sounds like a post-honey come-down to me.

1
47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4

(9647)

on November 12, 2010
at 10:57 PM

It sounds like maybe you were high fat with too little carb before, and now you have a good amount of carbohydrate that works for you, but you need to bring the fat back up so you feel full again. This is what I assume based on what you say about Cordain. It is a problem that happens to lots of people who go the Cordain way. But feel free to let us know further details and we can make further suggestions.

0
F4225d2219f7ca44bf62c4209ce7b5f9

on March 06, 2012
at 06:10 PM

I would suggest starting the morning with a protein/fat dominate diet like bacon and eggs and then maybe eat one fruit and one serving of nuts throughtout the day as a snack and finish again with a higher protein (meat/steak) dinner with a serving of green veggies or low carb veggies that aren't starchy until your full. That way you create a base in the morning that doesn't send your body into a blood sugar tailspin. Your morning meal seems way too sugary to not cause some problems. Its almost like eating lucky charms for breakfast or something.

If you absolutely need carbs I would first experiment with low carbs and than maybe add a tuber like sweet potatoes at dinner, but I wouldnt start my day with so much sugar and carbs.

Just my take

Nathan

0
6552b83c231aa0cdab273c50234d3db7

on November 13, 2010
at 02:39 AM

Have a look at metabolic typing. If you are a protein type you may need less carbohydrates and more protein and fat. I am a protein type and it worked wonders for me. You can still be paleo i.e. no grains, legumes and starchy veg....check it out. Hope you get sorted soon x Mel

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 14, 2010
at 02:03 PM

c.f. here http://www.metabolictyping.com/ and here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metabolic_typing for any-one interested.

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on November 13, 2010
at 02:54 PM

Any science behind "types" ?

6552b83c231aa0cdab273c50234d3db7

(26)

on November 14, 2010
at 12:38 PM

Read it for yourself. Metabolic Typing Diet by William Wolcott....lots of research, plenty of science.....

6552b83c231aa0cdab273c50234d3db7

(26)

on November 14, 2010
at 12:52 PM

Lots and lots. Read it for yourself. Metabolic Typing Diet By William Wolcott & Trish Fahey. Many years of research, see what you think.

84666a86108dee8d11cbbc85b6382083

(2399)

on November 15, 2010
at 07:19 PM

T. Hanks. "6 more to go".

-11
Ee15d68672f8a8f512ccd9928624d802

(-22)

on November 12, 2010
at 10:54 PM

Your body is telling you something. Listen to it and drop the Paleo. Hit up quality carbs like beans, sweet potatoes and brown rice.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on November 13, 2010
at 02:59 PM

Why would a paleo diet not be for everyone? All it does is eliminate foods that are intolerable to most people. If one is not adapting well, it doesn't make sense to add back an unnecessary and likely problematic food. How would that possibly improve the situation?

Ee15d68672f8a8f512ccd9928624d802

(-22)

on November 15, 2010
at 08:23 PM

You're kidding me Sarah-Ann, right? To quote: "Phytic acid may be considered a phytonutrient, providing an antioxidant effect. Phytic acid's mineral binding properties may also prevent colon cancer by reducing oxidative stress in the lumen of the intestinal tract. Researchers now believe that phytic acid, found in the fiber of legumes and grains, is the major ingredient responsible for preventing colon cancer and other cancers." It's not for every person because EVERYONE is different! How are sweet potatoes unnecessary if they are working for the person?

Ee15d68672f8a8f512ccd9928624d802

(-22)

on November 13, 2010
at 01:17 PM

Yeah because the Paleo diet is NOT for everyone! Everyone is different and you can't say that Paleo is good for everyone. This is not working for her. Why not say twinkie? Come on David. Grow up man...

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 13, 2010
at 08:35 PM

Tyler, paleo isn't a specific diet, it can vary between 0 carb and ~90% carb for one thing, so it can't "not be for everybody" unless some-one intrinsically needs wheat or vegetable oil, which doesn't seem plausible. Saying: "Why not suggest a twinkie based diet?" I'm simply showing that if you show that a (particular) paleo diet doesn't work, you can't just say "Eat more [beans and brown rice]" without giving some reason for it, otherwise you might as well say "Eat some quality [any food you like]." You certainly can't assume that the problem is too few rather than too many carbs a priori.

A727956fa3f943057c4edb08ad9e864e

(4183)

on November 13, 2010
at 11:30 PM

Brown rice?? Yay lots of phytic acid to deprive you of minerals, THAT's clearly what the OP needs.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 13, 2010
at 08:29 AM

Any particular reason for this? Why not say "Your body is telling you something. Listen to it and... eat an exclusively meat based/cabbage based/twinkie based diet?"

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on February 05, 2011
at 04:53 AM

Who said sweet potatoes are unnecessary? They are excellent because they lack the energy-depriving fructose and add lots of calories and nutrients. The OP is new to paleo and is figuring things out, he just needs time and some changes. There's no reason why the paleo diet shouldn't work for everyone.

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