6

votes

Why do scallops eliminate my ketosis transition carb cravings?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 09, 2011 at 6:24 AM

I've been doing hardcore elimination diets for a year or two, experimenting.

I was never able to stick to ketosis because of the carb cravings. It took tremendous willpower and I could only do a couple of months without cheating.

Recently I decided to go back to ketosis. The carb cravings came roaring in after a few days. About to crack, I decided to try some scallops, to see whether they'd help. Boom - cravings gone, and stayed gone for several days (up to present).

Makes no sense. The ketosis carb cravings were supposed to be due to your body switching over to a new fuel source. So how can scallops eliminate them? Unless you're not really craving carbs at all, but instead some missing micronutrients.

Other things I've observed: 1. On a diet of meat, rice and fish, I have to eat scallops at least once per week or vitality begins to decline and food intake to increase. I assume this is for minerals. 2. Scallops cure muscle cramps during ketosis even when I exercise heavily (2-4 hour soccer games)

So this is all really pointing strongly towards a micronutrient answer, with the carb cravings during transition to ketosis really representing the body craving ?minerals? or something similar.

Background info: I've been doing elimination diet of just rice, water, ground beef, fish and scallops for some time. Recently I cut the rice and the ground beef, switched to solid beef and pork instead. The ground beef was too high fat, giving me mild stomach upset, and the rice slowed me down. I say "scallops" instead of "shellfish" because I find scallops the most palatable to eat plain, so all my data is from them.

EDIT: It appears nobody really knows the answer to the main question I was asking, about adaptation to ketosis and switching glucose sources as being the cause of supposedly unavoidable cravings. All three answers shed light on the mystery from different angles, which I appreciate, and all three will be useful to my life.

I'm choosing Melissa's for best answer because in the comments she stated that there wasn't any science directly addressing my question - which is enough to cause me to doubt the prevailing theory on the source of ketogenic carb cravings.

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

Do you know what carbs are in scallops? I had no idea it contained carbs.

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 10, 2011
at 06:09 AM

Yes I knew about the "eat lots of fat to kill cravings" strategy for ketosis but couldn't stick it because high fat/oil horribly inflamed my IBS-D. This is a far more parsimonious solution - just eat scallops 1-2x per week. Far smaller a change than eating tons of fat. It seems to invalidate a lot of the prevailing wisdom. Not conclusive, but suggestive.

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 10, 2011
at 05:09 AM

Also, I tried the "mostly fats" approach and it inflamed my IBS-D horribly, making me non-functional. Also, my instincts re "listening to my body" have been honed by many months of daily and/or hourly food intake, vitality and symptom tracking, which generated non-obvious insights with excellent returns on overall health and vitality. I no longer find such tracking necessary on the final leg of my journey because the variables have so greatly simplified and its grown intuitive.

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 10, 2011
at 05:04 AM

I've done this many times, sometimes for months rather than days, on nearly identical diets, and I never adapted. They did not coincide, they saved me at the breaking point. Your interpretation is incorrect. But I'll be happy to repeat the cycle once the cravings return, to establish causation more firmly.

11838116de44ae449df0563f09bd3d73

(655)

on August 10, 2011
at 12:43 AM

Scallop consumption coincided with reduced cravings. Nothing you've said proves cuasation.. You have probably finally adapted. Michaels Eades' blog has a good intro to lowcarb. Short version: mostly fats, not protein. Stop listening to your body. No one said the beginning should be easy.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 10, 2011
at 12:01 AM

Fascinating book, but a bit high for my wish list. Off to the library.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 09, 2011
at 11:45 PM

"The ketosis adaptation theory on carb cravings being due to glucose synthesis transition is wrong." I don't know about this. Different people seem to react in different ways, and quite possibly for different reasons. I've been lucky enough to avoid the "carb flu", but fortunately I had seen lots of warnings here re: eating lots of fats and micronutrient issues that I started off counting everything in Cron-o-meter. Lots of people around here don't like to count, but I'm kind of um, anal, that way.

5d6a58590ba76136e8dc50c561c8ada2

(450)

on August 09, 2011
at 11:13 PM

no it's not stupid. Total carbs include sugar, fiber, and starch (which is not listed). Really 'starch' conjures images of potatoes and whatnot, but it's better to think about it as a more complex carb made of polysaccharides whereas 'sugars' are simple carbs--monosaccharides (glucose, fructose, galactose, etc) and disaccharides (sucrose, maltose, etc). It boils down to how long the chain of simple sugar unit (monosaccharide) is. Your body breaks these sugars down to glucose to use, but polysaccharides take longer to break down.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on August 09, 2011
at 10:38 PM

butter oil/ghee has no lactose

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on August 09, 2011
at 10:31 PM

Metabolism there = CMRO2

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on August 09, 2011
at 10:30 PM

Cerebral Blood FLow = CBF

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 09, 2011
at 10:18 PM

Yes I think all those are possibilities and not mutually exclusive. But ultimately, the main conclusions are 1. Scallops are good food and 2. The ketosis adaptation theory on carb cravings being due to glucose synthesis transition is wrong.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 09, 2011
at 10:13 PM

Ah, I see about the rice. My main thought is that since the carb craving is eliminated by eating scallops, that it created more by the need for micronutrients rather than an actual need for carbs. Since electrolytes can be messed up when going VLC, that's why I thought they are a likely suspect. Your body could be craving carbs in order to keep the electrolytes from leaching away with the water loss you get in early ketosis. Or MHG's version may be it. Or you might not be getting enough fat? Have you put your daily food into FitDay or Cron-o-meter?

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 09, 2011
at 09:47 PM

Yeah I can't comment on bacteria balances, Melissa, I haven't gotten that far yet. It's all just irritation reactions for me.

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 09, 2011
at 09:46 PM

I'm lactose intolerant unfortunately, but I'll look into that. What's CBF?

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on August 09, 2011
at 09:33 PM

I'd also try to get some exogenous butyrate since your endogenous production would be low. Butter oil capsules might be your best choice since you are sensitive to fat.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on August 09, 2011
at 09:29 PM

And who knows what it does to other organs......

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on August 09, 2011
at 09:29 PM

Ketosis does some amazing things in the brain by uncoupling CBF from Metabolism. No other macro nutrient does this. No one knows why either.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on August 09, 2011
at 09:01 PM

I personally figure the D was eliminated for me because I reduced the population of certain bacteria, once that was done I guess I also had a lower population of good bacteria too (consistant with the sci literature) and that led to some later issues with cramping and bowel spasms. I guess the challenge is figuring out what carbs you can eat that feed the good bacteria without messing up the balance...

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on August 09, 2011
at 08:58 PM

I second the book recommendation. It's a very thorough resource.

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 09, 2011
at 08:44 PM

forgive me if this is a stupid question but... what exactly are the carbs? If not sugar... and surely not starch... then what?

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 09, 2011
at 08:42 PM

Also I just discovered the shore dweller/aquatic ape hypothesis, and I think it explains all my experimental results and provides excellent suggestions for which foods would be safe to reincorporate.

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 09, 2011
at 08:41 PM

Melissa, I have become functional whereas before I was not thanks to the general diet plan I mentioned. But I have not yet achieved total elimination of the -D component, except during periods of ketosis, and then not always. I believe I found my culprit - excess fat in the ground beef I was eating. During previous "fully cured" phases I was eating solid pork and fish, because ground beef wasn't available. I'll know in a day or two if that was correct. If so, then I'm fully cured.

5d6a58590ba76136e8dc50c561c8ada2

(450)

on August 09, 2011
at 06:54 PM

3 oz of raw Scallops is around 75 calories, 2g carbs, and 14.27g protein. No fiber or sugar from what I've seen... seafood like oysters and mussels also have some carbs.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on August 09, 2011
at 04:02 PM

Joseph, I am curious with what experience you have with this diet in IBS-D, because I found this kind of diet worked for a few months and then I started to have different stomach problems. It could be that ketosis cravings are caused by that transition AND that micronutrients play a role in that transition. To be honest I haven't done much research into it and I know it's a very complex topic where there isn't much research in the first place. There is no paper on the subject of ketosis and craving for example. I'd have to speculate.

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 09, 2011
at 03:50 PM

Thanks for the book recc. Yes, I chose shellfish initially for the electrolytes when I was cramping, after I tried spinach and that didn't work. But I gradually realized that shellfish had more universal applications, culminating in this ketosis discovery. The main focus of my question is still related to carb cravings and the transition to a different mode of glucose synthesis during adaptation to ketosis... any thoughts on that?

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 09, 2011
at 03:47 PM

The limited diet is not by choice, I was fighting chronic fatigue and IBS-D. Trying to find my minimum sustainable diet for maximum vitality. Melissa, I feel like maybe you could comment on the crux of my question but haven't - is it true or false that ketosis cravings are caused by a transition to a different mode of glucose synthesis?

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 09, 2011
at 03:45 PM

I don't eat rice when in ketosis. I haven't been able to sustain ketosis until now, because I didn't know the scallop trick. I chose rice because it's hypoallergenic. Couldn't tolerate sweet potatoes, probably the sugar.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on August 09, 2011
at 02:35 PM

That's very interesting, Melissa! I like J. Stanton's idea that hunger is nutrient-based, and this data would imply that shellfish would decrease hunger the most under that model.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on August 09, 2011
at 01:33 PM

wow. i knew shellfish had good minerals but I didn't realize how rich it was. that's neat. thanks Melissa.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on August 09, 2011
at 01:22 PM

It's from Brain Evolution by Stephen Cunnane et al. It's an academic book with various papers on the role of aquatic foods in human evolution. I need to write about it before I have to return it to the library :(

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 09, 2011
at 01:19 PM

Interesting chart. I agree about the micronutrients, and with such a limited variety in diet, the OP must be lacking a lot.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7304)

on August 09, 2011
at 01:15 PM

Interesting. Where's that from?

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 09, 2011
at 11:30 AM

Why are you eating rice if you're trying to get into ketosis? For the limited amount of carbs you can eat in VLC, go for some greens or other non-starchy veg that will give you real nutrients. Rice doesn't have much except starch - may be useful for athletes (although sweet potatoes have more bang per carb), but no reason to eat for VLC.

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3 Answers

best answer

10
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on August 09, 2011
at 01:10 PM

I do think micronutrients matter, particularly in ketosis. The iodine in the scallops can help support the thyroid, which is important since there is some evidence that low-carb can lead to low-thyroid issues (which may actually be more about low-iodine in the diet than the carb content). There are so many nutrients in shellfish though that it's hard to know though. Here is a chart from a book I have on amount of food you would have to eat to get the "brain selective nutrients": why-do-scallops-eliminate-my-ketosis-transition-carb-cravings?

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 09, 2011
at 09:47 PM

Yeah I can't comment on bacteria balances, Melissa, I haven't gotten that far yet. It's all just irritation reactions for me.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 09, 2011
at 01:19 PM

Interesting chart. I agree about the micronutrients, and with such a limited variety in diet, the OP must be lacking a lot.

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5

(18472)

on August 09, 2011
at 01:33 PM

wow. i knew shellfish had good minerals but I didn't realize how rich it was. that's neat. thanks Melissa.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7304)

on August 09, 2011
at 01:15 PM

Interesting. Where's that from?

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on August 09, 2011
at 09:33 PM

I'd also try to get some exogenous butyrate since your endogenous production would be low. Butter oil capsules might be your best choice since you are sensitive to fat.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on August 09, 2011
at 01:22 PM

It's from Brain Evolution by Stephen Cunnane et al. It's an academic book with various papers on the role of aquatic foods in human evolution. I need to write about it before I have to return it to the library :(

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on August 09, 2011
at 02:35 PM

That's very interesting, Melissa! I like J. Stanton's idea that hunger is nutrient-based, and this data would imply that shellfish would decrease hunger the most under that model.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on August 09, 2011
at 10:31 PM

Metabolism there = CMRO2

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on August 09, 2011
at 04:02 PM

Joseph, I am curious with what experience you have with this diet in IBS-D, because I found this kind of diet worked for a few months and then I started to have different stomach problems. It could be that ketosis cravings are caused by that transition AND that micronutrients play a role in that transition. To be honest I haven't done much research into it and I know it's a very complex topic where there isn't much research in the first place. There is no paper on the subject of ketosis and craving for example. I'd have to speculate.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on August 09, 2011
at 09:29 PM

Ketosis does some amazing things in the brain by uncoupling CBF from Metabolism. No other macro nutrient does this. No one knows why either.

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 09, 2011
at 08:42 PM

Also I just discovered the shore dweller/aquatic ape hypothesis, and I think it explains all my experimental results and provides excellent suggestions for which foods would be safe to reincorporate.

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 09, 2011
at 03:47 PM

The limited diet is not by choice, I was fighting chronic fatigue and IBS-D. Trying to find my minimum sustainable diet for maximum vitality. Melissa, I feel like maybe you could comment on the crux of my question but haven't - is it true or false that ketosis cravings are caused by a transition to a different mode of glucose synthesis?

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 09, 2011
at 08:41 PM

Melissa, I have become functional whereas before I was not thanks to the general diet plan I mentioned. But I have not yet achieved total elimination of the -D component, except during periods of ketosis, and then not always. I believe I found my culprit - excess fat in the ground beef I was eating. During previous "fully cured" phases I was eating solid pork and fish, because ground beef wasn't available. I'll know in a day or two if that was correct. If so, then I'm fully cured.

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on August 09, 2011
at 09:29 PM

And who knows what it does to other organs......

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 09, 2011
at 09:46 PM

I'm lactose intolerant unfortunately, but I'll look into that. What's CBF?

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on August 09, 2011
at 09:01 PM

I personally figure the D was eliminated for me because I reduced the population of certain bacteria, once that was done I guess I also had a lower population of good bacteria too (consistant with the sci literature) and that led to some later issues with cramping and bowel spasms. I guess the challenge is figuring out what carbs you can eat that feed the good bacteria without messing up the balance...

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on August 09, 2011
at 10:30 PM

Cerebral Blood FLow = CBF

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on August 09, 2011
at 10:38 PM

butter oil/ghee has no lactose

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 10, 2011
at 12:01 AM

Fascinating book, but a bit high for my wish list. Off to the library.

2
5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 09, 2011
at 11:22 AM

It could be that you're flushing out a lot of electrolytes with the water loss that goes with entering ketosis. The carb desire feeling could be your body trying to force you to hang onto those electrolytes. Scallops are really packed with minerals that you would be losing. http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/finfish-and-shellfish-products/7741/2

Making sure you don't lose too many electrolytes is important in VLC. Your need for sodium goes up (!) in order to hold onto other minerals.

I missed your cramps mention earlier. That makes it even more likely that your problems were cause by electrolyte imbalance. You may want to add some supplemental sodium and magnesium.

Added: A good book for you (it's on my wish list) is The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living: An Expert Guide to Making the Life-Saving Benefits of Carbohydrate Restriction Sustainable and Enjoyable http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0983490708/ref=ox_sc_act_title_2?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER Several people here refer to it, and some of the text is viewable at amazon.

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 09, 2011
at 03:50 PM

Thanks for the book recc. Yes, I chose shellfish initially for the electrolytes when I was cramping, after I tried spinach and that didn't work. But I gradually realized that shellfish had more universal applications, culminating in this ketosis discovery. The main focus of my question is still related to carb cravings and the transition to a different mode of glucose synthesis during adaptation to ketosis... any thoughts on that?

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 09, 2011
at 11:30 AM

Why are you eating rice if you're trying to get into ketosis? For the limited amount of carbs you can eat in VLC, go for some greens or other non-starchy veg that will give you real nutrients. Rice doesn't have much except starch - may be useful for athletes (although sweet potatoes have more bang per carb), but no reason to eat for VLC.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on August 09, 2011
at 08:58 PM

I second the book recommendation. It's a very thorough resource.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 09, 2011
at 11:45 PM

"The ketosis adaptation theory on carb cravings being due to glucose synthesis transition is wrong." I don't know about this. Different people seem to react in different ways, and quite possibly for different reasons. I've been lucky enough to avoid the "carb flu", but fortunately I had seen lots of warnings here re: eating lots of fats and micronutrient issues that I started off counting everything in Cron-o-meter. Lots of people around here don't like to count, but I'm kind of um, anal, that way.

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f

(11581)

on August 09, 2011
at 10:13 PM

Ah, I see about the rice. My main thought is that since the carb craving is eliminated by eating scallops, that it created more by the need for micronutrients rather than an actual need for carbs. Since electrolytes can be messed up when going VLC, that's why I thought they are a likely suspect. Your body could be craving carbs in order to keep the electrolytes from leaching away with the water loss you get in early ketosis. Or MHG's version may be it. Or you might not be getting enough fat? Have you put your daily food into FitDay or Cron-o-meter?

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 09, 2011
at 03:45 PM

I don't eat rice when in ketosis. I haven't been able to sustain ketosis until now, because I didn't know the scallop trick. I chose rice because it's hypoallergenic. Couldn't tolerate sweet potatoes, probably the sugar.

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 09, 2011
at 10:18 PM

Yes I think all those are possibilities and not mutually exclusive. But ultimately, the main conclusions are 1. Scallops are good food and 2. The ketosis adaptation theory on carb cravings being due to glucose synthesis transition is wrong.

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 10, 2011
at 06:09 AM

Yes I knew about the "eat lots of fat to kill cravings" strategy for ketosis but couldn't stick it because high fat/oil horribly inflamed my IBS-D. This is a far more parsimonious solution - just eat scallops 1-2x per week. Far smaller a change than eating tons of fat. It seems to invalidate a lot of the prevailing wisdom. Not conclusive, but suggestive.

2
5d6a58590ba76136e8dc50c561c8ada2

(450)

on August 09, 2011
at 09:32 AM

well scallops and some seafood do have some carbs in them. They taste sweet. As do crab and shrimp to me (but without carbs). Perhaps the sweetness, carbs, minerals, and high tryptophan satisfy you? They certainly do for me, I much prefer simply cooked scallops without any sides than ground beef.

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on August 09, 2011
at 08:44 PM

forgive me if this is a stupid question but... what exactly are the carbs? If not sugar... and surely not starch... then what?

6810afeed347463af5792b1a3444cba7

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

Do you know what carbs are in scallops? I had no idea it contained carbs.

5d6a58590ba76136e8dc50c561c8ada2

(450)

on August 09, 2011
at 06:54 PM

3 oz of raw Scallops is around 75 calories, 2g carbs, and 14.27g protein. No fiber or sugar from what I've seen... seafood like oysters and mussels also have some carbs.

5d6a58590ba76136e8dc50c561c8ada2

(450)

on August 09, 2011
at 11:13 PM

no it's not stupid. Total carbs include sugar, fiber, and starch (which is not listed). Really 'starch' conjures images of potatoes and whatnot, but it's better to think about it as a more complex carb made of polysaccharides whereas 'sugars' are simple carbs--monosaccharides (glucose, fructose, galactose, etc) and disaccharides (sucrose, maltose, etc). It boils down to how long the chain of simple sugar unit (monosaccharide) is. Your body breaks these sugars down to glucose to use, but polysaccharides take longer to break down.

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