3

votes

My Very Low Carb Experience (with questions)

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 26, 2012 at 8:11 AM

I will be honest with you - I am against eating low carb in a long run and do not think it is sustainable and healthy. However, in order to deal with my digestive problems that keep bothering me (even my herbal doctor does not know what to say) I have decided to try very low carb. I am not at zero carb, but I might consider doing it in the future.

For the first three days I was extremely irritable, angry, had to give up probiotics (they were bothering my stomach), and had flue-like symptoms. Not a pretty picture. I was sleeping for most of the day, and did not have the energy to do anything.

The symptoms are somewhat similar to a drug withdrawal - constant shivering from being cold all the time, fatigue, muscle weakness, etc. Considering the fact that I was never under any influence (I don't even drink coffee or tea, just plain water for the last seven years) and did not have a flue/cold in the last three years, it was a very interesting experience.

I also developed a white coating on my tongue. Maybe I do have all this harmful bacteria after all?

Little by little I have started feeling a bit better and this morning I am feeling even better, although not 100%. I am not hungry. No sugar cravings. I still have my digestive issues, but I feel a bit better.

One interesting thing I have noticed - even though I have gained some weight on VLC, my stomach is noticeably flatter.

I am planning to stay VLC for not more than one month and then go for modified GAPs (I am almost GAPS now).

My questions:

  1. How long can I be VLC without any negative consequences to my health?
  2. Is there any research out there on VLC diets?
  3. What is your experience with VLC, both positive and negative?
  4. Any general advice?

Thanks in advance.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 27, 2012
at 07:59 PM

VB - I find it hard to believe you've been on PH as long as you have and you haven't heard of that book. It's not an easy read, but if you can get through it, it's AMAZING.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on September 27, 2012
at 04:45 PM

The big problem here, JayJay, is that low-carbing is usually high-muscle-meating. Organs are not eaten frequently, nor is the thyroid gland ever eaten. So I think it's wrong to compare with HGs.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on September 27, 2012
at 02:40 PM

@VB sure, and as far as HG's go the Kitavins are quite in the minority (I think it was only 2/229 tribes that had their sort of ratios)...the point is that there is a good deal human evidence that your "experiment" is a perfectly viable way of life for many HGs. So don't worry.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on September 27, 2012
at 01:00 PM

volek and phinney ;)....you really should consider their book. http://www.amazon.com/The-Art-Science-Carbohydrate-Living/dp/0983490708

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on September 27, 2012
at 09:35 AM

It's Taubes' book, published elsewhere as The Diet Delusion.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 27, 2012
at 08:53 AM

I also hope it is going to work out because I just want to live my life :) Thank you - you are so sweet. I will be honest with you - sometimes I can be mean and nasty, but only when my stomach hurts. When nothing hurts, I am very kind. I am not in the States (yet) - I could not complete the move due to all those health issues and I live with half of my boxes packed. Sugar? I was hoping for some Belgian chocolate :) Thanks for your support. Don't leave Paleohacks - people need to hear what you have to say. Hope you are doing well.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on September 27, 2012
at 08:13 AM

I hope it's gonna work out, VB, cuz I really like you :D! But don't turn into an arrogant prick like me when I did ZC :D! Or I will travel to the US to personally come feed you some sugar :D

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on September 27, 2012
at 08:02 AM

That sounds entirely reasonable - I do 25g cos that's just what you end up eating if you eat lots of veg and some berries with the meat.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 27, 2012
at 05:26 AM

Just wanted to let you know - my new doctor (who is in Low Carb) does not recommend going below 30.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 27, 2012
at 05:26 AM

@Jayjay - and some like Kitavans were eating plenty of sweet potatoes, bananas (like Yanomami), etc. etc. The whole Asia is build on rice. Europe was (and still) meat and starch. I know it is Neolythic, but still.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 27, 2012
at 05:22 AM

Korion - I agree. But there are some people who are metabolically (or whatever) deranged - and that's me. How I got to this state - no idea. But I will try everything if I need to in order to get healthy. Thanks for your support! Hope you are doing well!

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 27, 2012
at 05:19 AM

Never heard of the book, maybe it is worth reading. Thanks!

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 27, 2012
at 05:18 AM

It is interesting that this is what my doctor just said - salt your broth. Wow - how did you know?

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 27, 2012
at 05:18 AM

I also cannot have any dairy or nuts. For me it all started after going gluten free. Thank you for you post. Have you tried GAPs? I am trying a low-carb diet right now, and if this is not going to help - I am going GAPS. Thanks for your support.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 27, 2012
at 05:14 AM

Yes, I most definitely will! Thanks!!!

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on September 26, 2012
at 10:34 PM

Yes I think I probably had hypothyroidism, considering the success I have with T3. So I probably am biased :) I haven't seen any convincing success though, just because people lose weight with it doesn't mean it's working, I think it's just wrong to think it's just the carbs.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on September 26, 2012
at 10:24 PM

Thats 46 out of 229 by the way....not some inconsequential minority, but actually quite in/near the majority.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on September 26, 2012
at 10:22 PM

"There are a number of striking things about the data once you sum them up. First of all, diet composition varied widely. Many groups were almost totally carnivorous, with 46 getting over 85% of their calories from hunted foods...." http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2008/08/composition-of-hunter-gatherer-diet.html I mean thats at least 85% fat and protein in my book and possibly more depending on your other sources of gathered items.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on September 26, 2012
at 10:20 PM

My understanding was actually that the majority of traditional cultures of HG's were living primarily on a diet of flesh......

F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on September 26, 2012
at 09:39 PM

Wow, if you can only eat meat/fish/chicken, broth, some limited vegetables be sure to eat some liver and fatty cuts of meat.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on September 26, 2012
at 07:41 PM

I read Good Calories, Bad Calories. Seemed obvious.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 07:17 PM

Oh, and she says I should not go below 30 carb grams per day.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 07:17 PM

@Korion - Can I make a guess? I think that when you went very low carb, it messed up with your thyroid somehow, and Ray Peat's diet is helping you to keep those in balance. I could be wrong though.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 07:15 PM

@MathGirl - I just spoke with a doctor/nutritionist who is Paleo friendly and who believes in low carb diets. She says I have to be 2-3 days per week on 30-40 carb grams and 1-2 days on 60-70 grams. So this is her version of Low Carb - and she writes about thyroid problem prevention. The diet she suggested looks to me like "the Perfect diet" because she is not against white rice and potatoes.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on September 26, 2012
at 04:51 PM

Count me in, we're 2 :D But I think low-carb can work though, it's just a lot harder IMO because I don't think the carbs themselves are really the problem. People often attribute their improvements to cutting out carbs, but usually they cut out grains and lots of additives in procesed foods.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on September 26, 2012
at 04:24 PM

One person = anecdotal. I don't care if he is the king of all knowledge. He discusses excess protein, so clearly all of his ailments cannot be blamed on being low carb.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 02:16 PM

Anecdotal "confirmation" - the person spent 14 years doing Paleo just to get into all kinds of health problems and ended up raising his carb levels. Also, he is a professor at some university, taught nutrition and wrote a book promoting Low Carb Paleo.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 01:54 PM

@MathGirl - very few "traditional" cultures are on low-carb diets. If you know any besides Eskimos, Aleuts and alike, let me know. Plus we cannot eat like Eskimos - not enough raw seals for everyone. VLC diets are not natural to humans. Traditional cultures did not have to monitor thyroid function. I disagree with you.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on September 26, 2012
at 01:41 PM

Source 1: anecdotal "confirmation" and discusses excess protein. VLC does not equal excessive protein unless you aren't paying attention. Source 2: Low carb too fast MAY cause thyroid problems. So don't do it "fast," whatever that means. Source 3: monitor thyroid function. DUH! Monitor all functions. To generalize any of this information to not healthy and not sustainable is outright ridiculous.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 12:54 PM

Source 3: http://perfecthealthdiet.com/category/disease/hypothyroidism/

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 12:48 PM

Source 1: http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2011/06/farewell-to-paleo.html Source 2: http://drcate.com/going-low-carb-too-fast-may-trigger-thyroid-troubles-and-hormone-imbalance/

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 12:39 PM

I cannot eat tubers. I can only eat some vegetables, but I am thinking of going zero carbs for 10 days or so just to see if it helps.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 12:37 PM

Thanks for your view on VLC diet - we just have different views, I guess.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on September 26, 2012
at 12:36 PM

Again, on what are you basing that belief? Personal bias? Research? What?

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 12:36 PM

I have a lot of digestive issues and cannot eat much right now. I can only eat meat/fish/chicken, broth, some limited vegetables and this is it. I was grain and dairy free since October 2011. I was on elimination diet. I am going to try GAPS soon, not sure what else I can do.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 12:33 PM

I cannot eat coconut, avocado, olive oil, eggs, butter and cream - I react to all of them and more. I have a lot of digestive problems that I am trying to solve.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 12:32 PM

I don't think so. Source 1: http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2011/06/farewell-to-paleo.html Source 2: http://drcate.com/going-low-carb-too-fast-may-trigger-thyroid-troubles-and-hormone-imbalance/ 3. Can you eat exactly the same diet that Eskimos 100 years ago? I don't think so even if you live in Alaska now.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 12:24 PM

Unless you are an Eskimo or an Aleut.

61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11058)

on September 26, 2012
at 12:15 PM

On what are you basing your belief that low carb isn't sustainable or healthy?

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on September 26, 2012
at 11:36 AM

If you cut out the refined carbs, and steer away from tubers, then you can eat lots of "proper veg" on VLC. I eat more veg now than I ever did in my High Carb days.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 10:43 AM

Oh, okay. I will stay for 2 months then. GAPS is very low carb too, all I have to do is omit carrots. I don't think onions and zucchinis are high in carbs. Thanks a lot!

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 10:03 AM

Thanks for this.

0a9ad4e577fe24a6b8aafa1dd7a50c79

(5150)

on September 26, 2012
at 09:36 AM

1. No right answer. Depends on your current state of health. 2. Limited research, but yes. 3. It's really hard to a VLC diet that isn't a 99% meat diet. 4. Try to get some fiber in. VLC doesn't constipate me, but I wanted to keep some fiber in my diet anyway.

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on September 26, 2012
at 09:32 AM

Well, according to Phinney and Volek (and Attia) it takes at least 2-3 weeks to become "keto-adapted", to give it a fair shake I'd try for at least 60 days, otherwise most of your perception will be based on the "adaption" stage.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 09:31 AM

Thanks for the info. By the way, why did you start VLC?

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 09:30 AM

I don't know. How long do you think I should do it for?

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5 Answers

6
B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on September 26, 2012
at 09:22 AM

I've been VLC since catching the T2 diabetes 18 months ago, the vast majority of which has been <25g of carbs a day.

During that time I've managed to:

  1. Reduce my HbA1c from 10.2% to 4.9% (which is better than most non-diabetics)
  2. Lose almost 70lbs in weight
  3. Almost instaneously cure my sleep apnea, balanitis thrush (ouch) and digestive issues.
  4. Decrese my appetite and food cravings
  5. Improve my athletic performance (knocked 6 minutes off my 5k time and run a half-marathon)
  6. Become a healthier, fitter and happier than at any other time in my life.

Obviously (1) is the most important for me, and means that I don't have much choice in following VLC. I could probably get by on <90g of carbs a day, but I'm very interested in the Volek and Phinney "low-carb performance" thing.

In my case I prefer to reduce the known risk ofcomplications of T2 diabetes over increasing the speculative risks associated with low-carbing.

The only difficult parts were in the first month or so where I suffered low-carb flu and headaches associated with normalizing my BG levels.

Are you sure that VLC is worth doing for a month? You're going to go through all of the pain (of low-carb flu etc) for very little benefit.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 10:43 AM

Oh, okay. I will stay for 2 months then. GAPS is very low carb too, all I have to do is omit carrots. I don't think onions and zucchinis are high in carbs. Thanks a lot!

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on September 26, 2012
at 09:32 AM

Well, according to Phinney and Volek (and Attia) it takes at least 2-3 weeks to become "keto-adapted", to give it a fair shake I'd try for at least 60 days, otherwise most of your perception will be based on the "adaption" stage.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 12:39 PM

I cannot eat tubers. I can only eat some vegetables, but I am thinking of going zero carbs for 10 days or so just to see if it helps.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 27, 2012
at 05:26 AM

Just wanted to let you know - my new doctor (who is in Low Carb) does not recommend going below 30.

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on September 26, 2012
at 11:36 AM

If you cut out the refined carbs, and steer away from tubers, then you can eat lots of "proper veg" on VLC. I eat more veg now than I ever did in my High Carb days.

B3173217a49b5b0116078775a17eb21d

(11488)

on September 27, 2012
at 08:02 AM

That sounds entirely reasonable - I do 25g cos that's just what you end up eating if you eat lots of veg and some berries with the meat.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 09:30 AM

I don't know. How long do you think I should do it for?

5
E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on September 26, 2012
at 09:28 AM

1,3) I was VLC for 3 years and was completely fine. 4) When I first started I felt cold, food-obsessed (though not hungry) and achy as well- I soon discovered that this was just due to inadvertently eating barely any calories. Eating to hunger had clearly led to me eating insufficient by some other measure. As soon as I ate some more, symptoms relieved.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 27, 2012
at 05:19 AM

Never heard of the book, maybe it is worth reading. Thanks!

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 09:31 AM

Thanks for the info. By the way, why did you start VLC?

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on September 27, 2012
at 09:35 AM

It's Taubes' book, published elsewhere as The Diet Delusion.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on September 26, 2012
at 07:41 PM

I read Good Calories, Bad Calories. Seemed obvious.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on September 27, 2012
at 07:59 PM

VB - I find it hard to believe you've been on PH as long as you have and you haven't heard of that book. It's not an easy read, but if you can get through it, it's AMAZING.

3
Dc6407193ba441d1438f6f0c06af872b

on September 26, 2012
at 12:26 PM

I think you may have a misconception about VLC. Volek and Phinney, who wrote "The Art and Science of Low Carb Living", are researchers who have been doing VLC for years. Eskimos did VLC for life! It's doable and perfectly healthy if done right. Whether it's optimal for you are not depends on your specifics but you're not going to suffer any harm sticking with it for quite a while, assuming you are otherwise healthy. Once you get over the first few weeks of transition.

On the other hand, if you have "digestive issues", it's probably unlikely that every carb in the universe is a problem for you. Doing some sort of elimination diet, whether GAPS or grain/legume/dairy-free paleo or VLC, is worth a try to see if your issues go away. If they do, then you know that something you eliminated was problematic for you, so you can reintroduce later and see what the issue was. Maybe you should not eat grains and dairy. If so, there's your answer. So I agree that VLC needn't be for the long term, and since it's harmless in any case for a healthy person, just take as much time as you need to figure out what your issues are. As long as you are consistently eating high quality food, you'll be fine.

Also, I disagree that if you are VLC, then 99% of what you eat is meat. Coconut, avocado, olive oil, eggs, butter, cream (if you're not avoiding dairy), nuts, non-starchy vegetables, ...

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 12:37 PM

Thanks for your view on VLC diet - we just have different views, I guess.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 27, 2012
at 05:14 AM

Yes, I most definitely will! Thanks!!!

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 12:36 PM

I have a lot of digestive issues and cannot eat much right now. I can only eat meat/fish/chicken, broth, some limited vegetables and this is it. I was grain and dairy free since October 2011. I was on elimination diet. I am going to try GAPS soon, not sure what else I can do.

F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on September 26, 2012
at 09:39 PM

Wow, if you can only eat meat/fish/chicken, broth, some limited vegetables be sure to eat some liver and fatty cuts of meat.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 12:32 PM

I don't think so. Source 1: http://donmatesz.blogspot.com/2011/06/farewell-to-paleo.html Source 2: http://drcate.com/going-low-carb-too-fast-may-trigger-thyroid-troubles-and-hormone-imbalance/ 3. Can you eat exactly the same diet that Eskimos 100 years ago? I don't think so even if you live in Alaska now.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 26, 2012
at 12:33 PM

I cannot eat coconut, avocado, olive oil, eggs, butter and cream - I react to all of them and more. I have a lot of digestive problems that I am trying to solve.

1
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on September 26, 2012
at 11:15 PM

  1. quite likely forever
  2. the best stuff has already been pointed out (Volek and Phinney) and then there is ambimorphs blog http://www.ketotic.org/ for a start.
  3. only positive, but I haven't done it for more than a few months at a time. mental clarity, good muscular gains and reduced tendency toward addictive substances like caffein, sugar, and alcohol.
  4. eat a variety of meats and fats and plenty of veggies(if you want). it is easy to go too low calorie, which is what most the negative effects reported are actually from. salt you food/ consume salted broth.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 27, 2012
at 05:18 AM

It is interesting that this is what my doctor just said - salt your broth. Wow - how did you know?

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on September 27, 2012
at 01:00 PM

volek and phinney ;)....you really should consider their book. http://www.amazon.com/The-Art-Science-Carbohydrate-Living/dp/0983490708

1
792634a784ec6a636c3137d0903e11b4

(1196)

on September 26, 2012
at 10:14 PM

Wow, VB, I thought my diet was limited! I did the elimination thing last year, after being paleo for 6 months and not seeing a full resolution of my gut issues. I definitely got better, but wasn't all the way better. I can't eat high or moderate fodmaps, and can tolerate only very occasional lapses with small amounts of coconut or onion. I also can't have any dairy or nut products at all. I don't have problems with olive oil, though. Poor you!

I started a ketogenic diet a few weeks ago, mostly because that is the only way I can stay consistently pain-free. I'm having the usual hassles with thinking about sugar, being ravenous some days and barely wanting to eat on other days. However, I can now fast comfortably, have great sleep, and am consistently losing weight for the first time in my life. I started this as a short term experiment, but I can't see any reason to stop it right now. One day I will probably test out with sweet potato or banana, but that day isn't here yet. My main issue is that because of the dairy/nut/coconut intolerance I have to be mindful of eating fat. There are worse problems! I use egg yolks, a range of oils, and fatty meats.

I guess I didn't answer your questions, but I do encourage you to give it a try and see what your own experience is! I started this experiment with the theoretical idea that VLC wasn't a long term answer, and although I am open to changing back to the PHD style of eating, I am not basing my eating on what anyone else is saying. If it feels this good, I'm staying with it.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on September 27, 2012
at 05:18 AM

I also cannot have any dairy or nuts. For me it all started after going gluten free. Thank you for you post. Have you tried GAPs? I am trying a low-carb diet right now, and if this is not going to help - I am going GAPS. Thanks for your support.

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