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Paleo newbie - mood and energy crashes

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 06, 2012 at 7:52 PM

Hey everyone, I'm six days into a 30-day Paleo challenge, and I've hit a bump in the road.

Forgive me if this is a stupid question, I've read through loads and loads of answers on here and am still a bit confused.

I felt fine the first few days on Paleo, although I would be pretty exhausted by about 10pm. Last night around 9:30pm almost instantaneously I had a mood and energy crash. I felt like I could hardly keep my eyelids open, as well as instantly feeling tearful, anxious, and low for no reason. I went to bed and felt a little better in the morning, energy-wise, but had a huge sense of dread/anxiety about the day. I taught my yoga class in the morning and barely made it home by lunch-time before crashing again, energy and mood-wise! I ate a bit of leftover lamb and veggies and a banana before my husband practically force-fed me a whole avocado and some smoked salmon. I did feel a bit better through the afternoon, though still not great mood-wise.

Can anyone help me hack this? I think my biggest struggle so far is eating enough calories on Paleo, but I'm confused as to whether I need more starch/carbs or more fat. Or maybe this is just low-carb fly?? I'm 5'6", 108 lbs and fairly active - def. don't want to lose weight.

According to FitDay I'm averaging about 48% fat, 27% protein, 25% carbs and 1700ish calories a day (maybe more - finding it a bit tricky to find everything I eat on fitday).

Thanks in advance for your help!

71af3866ba45915e06061a627b40f31d

(235)

on February 09, 2012
at 10:38 AM

Hey guys, thanks so much for your responses. I wanted to wait a few days to see how I felt before writing back. Regarding sleep, I think you're right about our bodies' natural cycle, and we're trying to go to bed earlier (around 10pm) now. I've felt better the last couple of days, I think it's a combination of eating more calories and eating more fat. Avocados are quickly becoming my best friend :) I also think I need to cut down on fruit because I'm just replacing the sugar I would normally be eating on a SAD. Thanks again :)

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on February 07, 2012
at 04:06 PM

@Primal Peter, thanks! Your blog is bookmarked as one of my Favorites.

68fdb36cd5c090be4fd43a7eff61a7e9

on February 07, 2012
at 02:01 PM

Great answer from Nance. I would re-emphasise the importance of getting enough fat. Your husbands insistance you eat some avocado and salmon is smart. I had similar adaptation issues and it wasn't until I threw caution to the wind and just followed my appetite and ate high-fat snacks when I felt hungry or low in energy. I kept hard boiled eggs and grilled rashers of bacon ready for when it hit. I posted an article on primal/paleo snacking on my blog last week: http://bit.ly/y60ZFp

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4 Answers

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96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on February 06, 2012
at 08:32 PM

The bad news is this sounds like a reaction many of us experienced in our first 2 weeks on this lifestyle; the good news is this reaction is usually short-lived and means good things are probably happening:

  • your late-day low energy and sleepiness sounds like your body is trying to follow a natural cycle of highs and lows that should help you fall asleep and get good quality rest
  • the mood issue could indicate turnover and upgrade in your gut microflora
  • the energy fluctuations could indicate your body is trying to shift to or from fat-burning mode but may not yet be efficient at switching back and forth.

In healthy metabolism, fat may be going into storage at the same time that other fat is being released into the bloodstream. If your system has been used to burning many-to-all carbs, this process stumbles a bit before hitting efficiency. Again, healthy metabolism can handle both carbs and fats as energy sources but if your past foods were slanted heavily toward either one you need to become re-acclimated to burning whatever's on hand.

Your overall ratios sound fine, but remember that intake doesn't always equal absorption. If/as your gut flora adapt and become healthier you should see your energy and moods stabilize at great levels. If that hasn't happened by 30 days in I'd be thinking about possible small adjustments to see how you react.

EDIT: You should read the new post at Paleo Solution

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247

(37227)

on February 07, 2012
at 04:06 PM

@Primal Peter, thanks! Your blog is bookmarked as one of my Favorites.

68fdb36cd5c090be4fd43a7eff61a7e9

on February 07, 2012
at 02:01 PM

Great answer from Nance. I would re-emphasise the importance of getting enough fat. Your husbands insistance you eat some avocado and salmon is smart. I had similar adaptation issues and it wasn't until I threw caution to the wind and just followed my appetite and ate high-fat snacks when I felt hungry or low in energy. I kept hard boiled eggs and grilled rashers of bacon ready for when it hit. I posted an article on primal/paleo snacking on my blog last week: http://bit.ly/y60ZFp

71af3866ba45915e06061a627b40f31d

(235)

on February 09, 2012
at 10:38 AM

Hey guys, thanks so much for your responses. I wanted to wait a few days to see how I felt before writing back. Regarding sleep, I think you're right about our bodies' natural cycle, and we're trying to go to bed earlier (around 10pm) now. I've felt better the last couple of days, I think it's a combination of eating more calories and eating more fat. Avocados are quickly becoming my best friend :) I also think I need to cut down on fruit because I'm just replacing the sugar I would normally be eating on a SAD. Thanks again :)

0
9dcf0fbfb9571ab16946eddae66f4f3e

(110)

on February 07, 2012
at 08:06 AM

Hmm, maybe I have it wrong, but the majority of my calories come from protein, with fats then carbs. Perhaps that's why you aren't feeling so great?

0
5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on February 06, 2012
at 11:18 PM

Sounds like low carb flu, although you should be getting enough to keep you out of it. Do a search on low carb flu and see if the posts sound like what's happening to you.

0
4ec0fe4b4aab327f7efa2dfb06b032ff

(5145)

on February 06, 2012
at 08:25 PM

I think it's normal to feel a little down for the first week or two after switching to paleo. I doubt you're eating few enough carbs to get the low-carb flu, but you may be right that your overall calorie intake is too low.

I've heard a lot of people suggest that people cut down on physical activity until they are done transitioning to the new diet. I don't necessarily think this is needed, but I also think that it is normal to feel your performance drop off a bit while you're body is getting used to a new way of eating. Since you don't want to lose weight and you seem to be an active person, I'd say you should eat as much starch as you want and/or need to feel good.

Stick with it and I predict you'll be feeling great in another week or so. Don't look back!

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