4

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Could "Low-Carb Flu" Actually be Wheat Withdrawal?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 25, 2011 at 9:44 PM

I was just reading this post on Dr. Davis' Blog: http://heartscanblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/heroine-oxycontin-and-whole-wheat-bagel.html

And all of the symptoms sound the same as what people are attributing to a glucose/ketone body crossover. I've always been skeptical that such a crossover exists, especially when I read that we are constantly producing ketones between meals and in response to the digestion of ketogenic fats.

Has anyone here cut out wheat first and then some time later cut down on carbs and experienced the symptoms?

05de181d71c1df6304a03566fe821d4b

(795)

on September 19, 2012
at 09:14 PM

well I didn't go through low carb flu, however my mother did (we are eating the same way, you can see how in my profile) but it was weird like within 2 weeks there was this one day where she felt like crap, dizzy, headache, weak, and the next days she woke up feeling great, its been 3 weeks ago and she's felt great ever since then. But then again N=1 ;)

1dd1d4bde5b46b4c90efeadea3a96a75

(180)

on May 31, 2012
at 05:42 PM

I don't think you should be getting your dietary advice from an ancient mythological book (New Testament).

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on May 31, 2012
at 12:49 PM

Carbohydrate (glucose) is so essential that our bodies have evolved a method of synthesizing it. Also, while it might not technically be essential, you have to ask, is zero carb optimal or desireable? (I suggest the answer is no.)

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on February 03, 2012
at 08:11 PM

I've cut out wheat first and still had the symptoms. I don't know if it would have been worse if I was still eating wheat on the switchover or not. I suspect it will depend on the individual on whether it affects them or not.

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on February 03, 2012
at 08:10 PM

None for me that I can link to it.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on January 26, 2011
at 06:15 PM

See edits--there are two questions: one is the question in the header, the other is the question in the narrative. I was responding to the latter.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on January 26, 2011
at 01:26 AM

i wouldnt be an ounce of surprised if it was due primarily to wheat withdrawal, but on a side note, its like nails on a chalkboard when people (dr. davis et. al.) mix up heroin/heroine. arugh.

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on January 26, 2011
at 12:26 AM

I think you mean the answer is "no".

Medium avatar

(39821)

on January 25, 2011
at 10:46 PM

Thanks for the info; I guess there are two separate phenomena occurring, but maybe it was less intense since you weren't enduring both simultaneously....

D67e7b481854b02110d5a5b21d6789b1

(4111)

on January 25, 2011
at 10:05 PM

good question--that is one "out of the box" way to look at it!

D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on January 25, 2011
at 09:50 PM

I've wondered this too as subsequent times that I've tried to jump start ketosis I haven't had near the "exorcism" that I did the very first time - and I haven't had a huge dose of gluten since that first time.

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12 Answers

6
531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

on January 25, 2011
at 10:16 PM

I cut out wheat before going low-carb. Spent a year doing strict gluten-free, soy-free eating, trying to replace bread with rice, tapioca flour and the like. At that point I was doing much better healthwise, but I had nagging problems that I associated with carbs (skin problems and digestive problems).

When I cut out carbs and sugar I went through a phase where I was tired and just "off." I didn't know anything about ketosis. This is when I found out about paleo, as I tried to research what the hell was wrong with me.

So, the short answer to your question (the one at the end of the post, not the question head) is "yes." Cutting out the wheat didn't prompt the "flu" but cutting out the carbs separately did.

Reading the blog entry from Dr. Davis, he states that the wheat withdrawal occurs in 30% of people. Could be I'm just among the other 70%.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on January 25, 2011
at 10:46 PM

Thanks for the info; I guess there are two separate phenomena occurring, but maybe it was less intense since you weren't enduring both simultaneously....

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be

(8878)

on January 26, 2011
at 06:15 PM

See edits--there are two questions: one is the question in the header, the other is the question in the narrative. I was responding to the latter.

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on January 26, 2011
at 12:26 AM

I think you mean the answer is "no".

2
02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on January 26, 2011
at 12:44 AM

I had some initial issues (mostly GI) after first switching to a more paleo diet, but at that time I was eating quite a bit a fruit (but still lost a ton of weight).

For the last few days I've been VLC, and I've felt great. I'm gonna keep it up to see what happens.

I've had this nagging suspicion that most of the benefits that come from low-carb diets are actually just the result of removing refined sugar (basically the truly enormous amounts of fructose in the SAD), wheat, and perhaps other grains and legumes. As far as I know this has not been tested, but, anecdotally, many people seem to be able to lose tons of weight without being VLC. Also, even mister VLC himself, Dr. Kurt Harris, has changed his position and now believed that carbs are not what matters, but rather excessive fructose.

People talk about metabolic derangement, but as far as I know the evidence that the solution to this is low-carb, as opposed to low-fructose and gluten-free, is not particularly strong- though I'm certainly open to being corrected on this.

Also, I've heard that consuming wheat elicits a similar physiological response to opiates, so that would suggest addiction, and therefor withdrawal, is an issue with wheat. Certainly it seems like many people are seriously addicted to wheat.

1
Fab409ac4a30957e3ed508514f7bff02

(295)

on August 19, 2013
at 12:58 AM

I had no ill-effects from stopping wheat. Going VLC/Ketotic however, I've had some very lethargic/head-hurting days. I'm still figuring out whether it is not enough fat or not enough salt as recommended by Attia and Phinney/Volek. (Registering 2.9 mmol/L on the blood ketone meter)

1
A048b66e08306d405986b6c04bf5e8e4

on August 18, 2013
at 04:44 AM

No, I've been wheat free for years and I still get the low carb flu if I don't eat enough fat

1
9d48ca1f58101f7d1b858b18ee791cb9

on February 03, 2012
at 07:31 PM

And I am wondering if this can happen after 6 months just off gluten but keeping other carbs. Six months ago I was moving toward Blood Type O / Paleo principles starting with cutting out gluten. Initially I felt fantastic! Emotionally available, no aching in knees or back, headaches diminished - wonderful. About a month ago I got a little cold, but it never left. About a week ago it finally dawned on me that this might have to do with "gluten detox" and I discovered the low carb flu. That's how I feel - congestion, coughing, (worsening of my asthma), fatigue but my carb level is not what I would call low like an "Atkins low" but I scrupulously avoid gluten. My husband says my breathing is very labored during the night like my worst asthma times or having the flu. Anyone else have gluten detox flu - months after giving up gluten? If so, how long did yours last?

5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on February 03, 2012
at 08:10 PM

None for me that I can link to it.

1
7fe08b47d7d073a906802a4170ae24bf

(350)

on January 26, 2011
at 12:58 AM

I went paleo cold-turkey and had severe withdrawal symptoms to wheat. Even had several dreams in a row about eating: cookies, pizza, and bread.

I was experienced depression and mood swings.

It was HARD, but after it passed I felt GREAT.

0
Cc69a51b427eaad36251cce9dcca4d3a

(1074)

on August 18, 2013
at 04:22 AM

I think you're onto something. This q should be renamed, could low carb flu actually be food-sensitivity withdrawal?

When I first went VLC, I did experience low carb flu and I rid wheat. I've been VLC for years now, but recently realized I'm intolerant to eggs and beef, 2 of my mainstays. After ridding these meats and eating primarily lamb which i'm not sensitive to, I'm experience symptoms that are identical to low carb flu! obviously it has nothing to do with carbs nor wheat this time, but rather a reduction of inflammation load from ridding food intolerances. I'm suddenly eating less, feeling less hungry, but feeling weak/apathetic/brain fog/insomnia etc.

Could low carb flu simply refer to a systemic set of symptoms resulting from a sudden change in metabolism or reduction of inflammation?

0
72cf727474b8bf815fdc505e58cadfea

on March 25, 2013
at 03:14 AM

This is a provocative question, but it seems like an easy one to answer. All you need to do is find a few people who were already wheat-free but still on a high-carb diet, who then switched to low-carb. I'm sure there are a few on this very site. If they still got the low-carb flu, that demonstrates that there is an adaptation process involved in going low-carb per se.

You could also find the complementary people, ones who quit wheat but kept eating other carbs (ideally ones with a similar GI). If it's all about gluten withdrawal, they should show the low-carb flu. If they don't have those symptoms, then wheat / gluten isn't the culprit.

FWIW, I too have been curious about why LC diets treat ketosis as such a huge, all-or-nothing switch when some sources claim that most people do a bit of ketogenesis during their day.

0
Bd87154f25f23f09d5a9e65f14b4bcfe

on February 28, 2013
at 04:27 AM

After 7 days without wheat, which included 4 days of flu-like symptoms and exaustion, I felt good, really good, so I went out and did a lot of heavy shoveling. DON'T DO THAT!!

0
C63ab55a9649258db1850f2dd1004e18

on January 28, 2013
at 04:12 PM

Wow I just removed wheat from my kids diet we are going grain free sugar free for my autistic son. And I have had my 16yr old NONasthmatic daughter in ER for breathing treatments twice in 2 days. She feels like she has the flu I warned her it might be detox or yeast die off since all the tests they ran came back negative for viruses and bacteria. Now I think that's all we are fighting with her. She can sometimes hardly pass any air and they are stumped because her chest X-rays are clear! Wheat is the root of all evil!

0
1758c5aa9e6314eb4115ca4758466820

on September 19, 2012
at 08:54 PM

I gave up wheat 4 days ago, and ever since, I have been "going to the bathroom" too many times a day and feeling crampy and bloated and utterly fatigued. Is this normal, and how long will it last?

0
Bbb4feedc97f2cc0f7a99ca47eef5910

on May 31, 2012
at 10:51 AM

I have done the gluten and carb war bigtime for the past forty years.

My well-founded advice is simply to avoid gluten and go low carb if you are overweight or obese. When you are trim like a giselle keep your weight with three playing card size portions of meat and a couple of snacks.

A special secret is to carry a container of olive oil and guzzle it with your meals and in times of weakness.

In any case, remember the fact the agriculture boys don't want you to know: "Carbohydrates are unessential to human health. Or said in another way: "The minimum daily requirement for carbs is zero."

Ask any eskimo who eats 75% of his food in fat.

Don't forget the 2.4 million years where our hominid ancestors evolved on mostly meat and its fat.

It also says in the New Testament(Paul) if you make food your God you will burn in iniquity.

C. Ross

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on May 31, 2012
at 12:49 PM

Carbohydrate (glucose) is so essential that our bodies have evolved a method of synthesizing it. Also, while it might not technically be essential, you have to ask, is zero carb optimal or desireable? (I suggest the answer is no.)

1dd1d4bde5b46b4c90efeadea3a96a75

(180)

on May 31, 2012
at 05:42 PM

I don't think you should be getting your dietary advice from an ancient mythological book (New Testament).

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