2

votes

Did "Low Carb Flu" just derail my progress

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created April 01, 2012 at 3:40 PM

Hi everyone, I've been reading along for a few weeks, and finally have a reason to speak up. I will try to keep this brief.

I've been going Paleo for two weeks now, and the past 3 - 4 days, I've had a really horrid case of (what I now realize was) low carb flu.

Basically, it went down like this:

  1. Hunger pangs more severe and cravings more vioent than anything I'd ever experienced during my two pregnancies. I don't know if the term "So hungry I could puke" makes any sense, but that's where I was. Sometimes only an hour after eating a huge, paleo meal.

  2. Sudden belly bloat and painful stomach cramps. I also felt pretty washed-out and weak. I would use the term "thin-blooded".

  3. Mentally, I was in a bad way. Weight loss had been fabulous during week 1 (4.5 pounds), but stopped completely during week 2. Considering the hunger, I thought I must have been doing something wrong, and was doomed to put all the weight back on. Also, I'm trying to lower my cholesterol, so I was seriously second-guessing all those eggs and red meat.

  4. Anxiety... depression? Something. Yesterday, the thought of having to go to the produce stand, then spend another hour or so sorting, washing, chopping and storing all that newly purchased food was enough to really freak me out. Like, I COULD NOT bear the thought of it. I was some weird combination of resentful and overwhelmed.

So, taking the overall physical and mental issues into consideration, and never having heard of this dreaded "flu", I got pretty convinced that I was actually becoming very ill on Paleo.

So what did I, in my fragile mental state decide to do? Carb out! hangs head

Now today, I'm reading all these accounts (thank you for those, BTW) of people experiencing similar things - the difference being that THEY stuck it out while I faceplanted into some nachos.

So I guess my overall question is this: How terribly did I just screw this up? From what I've read, people seem to feel awesome once they push past the "flu", and I assume that my carb-fest just reset the clock. So am I in for it again? Are there ways to get through the "flu" while still caring for two young kids, and not losing your mind?

I honestly am committed to making this lifestyle change, I just had no idea that feeling so terribly sick for a few days was a GOOD sign and not a really, really bad one.

Info about me: 31, female, stay-at-home mom of two. Have done low carb plans like Atkins in the past (2003) with success, but am now looking to take off the last 15 or so pounds of baby weight. Also, struggle a bit with high blood pressure, and got a cholesterol count of 220 in December. Family history of heart disease.

3fab59620d08bf3efaa0dff55776f68f

(10)

on April 02, 2012
at 11:03 PM

Beth, I keep seeing that documentary go by on the Netflix display... I should check it out!

3fab59620d08bf3efaa0dff55776f68f

(10)

on April 02, 2012
at 11:02 PM

Wow, that's a lot of exercise! I feel lucky on the days when I can get both kids into the double stroller and get around the neighborhood once. Like I love to say... Kindergarten's gotta start sometime! :) Anyway, thanks for the food list. Always helpful to see what others eat!

4d6aa1a676240b15dc569ff8ade0500f

(2546)

on April 02, 2012
at 01:14 PM

to answer the other part of your question: my weight is stable. i have wanted to lose weight (about 10-15 lbs), but i've come to realize that those are vanity pounds. you know, because magazines and ads tell me i should be a stick figure :-P. i'm at a healthy weight (even if on the higher end) and i crossfit 4-5x / week. i also run regular races, occasionally bike commute (18 miles a day when i do) and walk a lot. i had to re-evaluate my aesthetic goals, because they're not based in reality. now, i prefer to frame them in terms of my physical strength and achievement, not a specific weight.

4d6aa1a676240b15dc569ff8ade0500f

(2546)

on April 02, 2012
at 01:11 PM

i don't count carbs (or anything else for that matter) because it drives me insane. i become obsessive and i spend an inordinate amount of time and energy thinking about food. recently i decided that i need to do focus my energies elsewhere & more positively. anyways, to give you a sense of what i'll eat in a day: breakfast: homemade yogurt with apple, almond butter and cinnamon lunch: kale salad with carrot, radish, feta, olives and sunflower seeds (lemon/olive oil dressing) dinner: lamb curry with cubed potatoes, dark chocolate, wine

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on April 02, 2012
at 01:42 AM

I think moderating carbs is a good approach at first. I too do the Perfect Health diet (PHD) which is a lower carb diet, but at 100g a day, it gives you a lot of flexibility in terms of what you eat (and you can eat rice!). I watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead Friday, and while I don't agree with Dr. Furhman's near vegan approach, I do agree with the idea that if you want permanent weight loss, you need to permanently change your diet. For me, having some flexibility around carbs is what is helping to make this be a permanent change.

3fab59620d08bf3efaa0dff55776f68f

(10)

on April 02, 2012
at 12:55 AM

I will definitely be looking into the perfect health diet, thanks! I think easing into things a bit more will be a much better approach for me. Do you mind if I ask what your typical carb intake is, and if you've had success with weight loss and other health aspects. (I mean, if you've stuck with it for 2 years, obviously it's working great for you!)

3fab59620d08bf3efaa0dff55776f68f

(10)

on April 02, 2012
at 12:52 AM

Thank you, this is very helpful! I think I may be getting some conflicting info on what Paleo is and what it is not. If it doesn't necessarily need to be low carb in order to get all the health benefits, that may actually make this much easier on me.

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2 Answers

1
4d6aa1a676240b15dc569ff8ade0500f

(2546)

on April 01, 2012
at 04:48 PM

i wouldn't focus on going low-carb right now. you only just started eating paleo! get used to it first! ease into the lower-carb version (if that's what you truly want) SLOWLY, and until thhen get your carbs from paleo carbs - some fruit, lots of veggies, and even potatoes, sweet potatoes, squashes. you can even do plain rice (read about the perfect health diet). transitioning from a high-carb lifestyle eating grains to a lower-carb lifestyle will be much easier in steps. i've been paleo for over 2 years and love my tubers and veggies...low-carb simply didn't work for me.

4d6aa1a676240b15dc569ff8ade0500f

(2546)

on April 02, 2012
at 01:11 PM

i don't count carbs (or anything else for that matter) because it drives me insane. i become obsessive and i spend an inordinate amount of time and energy thinking about food. recently i decided that i need to do focus my energies elsewhere & more positively. anyways, to give you a sense of what i'll eat in a day: breakfast: homemade yogurt with apple, almond butter and cinnamon lunch: kale salad with carrot, radish, feta, olives and sunflower seeds (lemon/olive oil dressing) dinner: lamb curry with cubed potatoes, dark chocolate, wine

3fab59620d08bf3efaa0dff55776f68f

(10)

on April 02, 2012
at 12:55 AM

I will definitely be looking into the perfect health diet, thanks! I think easing into things a bit more will be a much better approach for me. Do you mind if I ask what your typical carb intake is, and if you've had success with weight loss and other health aspects. (I mean, if you've stuck with it for 2 years, obviously it's working great for you!)

4d6aa1a676240b15dc569ff8ade0500f

(2546)

on April 02, 2012
at 01:14 PM

to answer the other part of your question: my weight is stable. i have wanted to lose weight (about 10-15 lbs), but i've come to realize that those are vanity pounds. you know, because magazines and ads tell me i should be a stick figure :-P. i'm at a healthy weight (even if on the higher end) and i crossfit 4-5x / week. i also run regular races, occasionally bike commute (18 miles a day when i do) and walk a lot. i had to re-evaluate my aesthetic goals, because they're not based in reality. now, i prefer to frame them in terms of my physical strength and achievement, not a specific weight.

3fab59620d08bf3efaa0dff55776f68f

(10)

on April 02, 2012
at 11:02 PM

Wow, that's a lot of exercise! I feel lucky on the days when I can get both kids into the double stroller and get around the neighborhood once. Like I love to say... Kindergarten's gotta start sometime! :) Anyway, thanks for the food list. Always helpful to see what others eat!

1
7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on April 01, 2012
at 04:01 PM

I don't think your carb-fest reset the clock and I don't think you screwed it up terribly. But I do think your experience reinforces what J Stanton said a while back:

Here???s where I say something that might be controversial: I think going cold-turkey VLC (very low carb) or zero-carb makes the transition much harder, particularly for people who are already physically active.

Beta-oxidation (fat-burning) occurs nearly continually, and produces much of our energy at rest once insulin has cleared any sugar spike out of our system. However, our body does have some requirement for glucose, which it satisfies in the short-term primarily by having the liver make it???a process called gluconeogenesis.

If we eat zero carbs, or very few, over a period of time, our body enters a state called ketosis, in which some of our tissues that used to require glucose shift over to burning ketone bodies, which are alternative products of fat metabolism. And while it is true that our brains and hearts actually run more efficiently on ketones, it takes several weeks for our bodies to fully adapt. Meanwhile, we lack energy for high-effort activities, because our muscles are depleted of glycogen, which is made from glucose.

So you might not have the ???low-carb flu??????you might be stuck in an unnecessary multi-week rut of keto-adaptation. ...

In summary, it???s a lot easier and quicker to burn fat via beta-oxidation than it is to adapt to ketosis???so unless ketosis is your goal, you might be making your transition to a healthy diet much harder by keeping your carb intake too low.

I think that even if ketosis is your goal (me, I'm a moderate carb gal), there's something to be said for reducing carbs in phases rather than going VLC from the start. It's the "dip your toes in the pool vs jump in the deep end" choice. The latter is quicker, but sometimes, the former is less painful!

3fab59620d08bf3efaa0dff55776f68f

(10)

on April 02, 2012
at 12:52 AM

Thank you, this is very helpful! I think I may be getting some conflicting info on what Paleo is and what it is not. If it doesn't necessarily need to be low carb in order to get all the health benefits, that may actually make this much easier on me.

7dc950fc76a046048e683d2a27dced37

on April 02, 2012
at 01:42 AM

I think moderating carbs is a good approach at first. I too do the Perfect Health diet (PHD) which is a lower carb diet, but at 100g a day, it gives you a lot of flexibility in terms of what you eat (and you can eat rice!). I watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead Friday, and while I don't agree with Dr. Furhman's near vegan approach, I do agree with the idea that if you want permanent weight loss, you need to permanently change your diet. For me, having some flexibility around carbs is what is helping to make this be a permanent change.

3fab59620d08bf3efaa0dff55776f68f

(10)

on April 02, 2012
at 11:03 PM

Beth, I keep seeing that documentary go by on the Netflix display... I should check it out!

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