Carb Flu or too few calories

Answered on October 08, 2013
Created October 08, 2013 at 9:12 AM


I am just coming back to a more strict paleo diet after about 4 months off.

On these months off I had rice, potato, bread etc maybe 4 times a week. I also upped my dairy intake, drank diet sodas and wine. I gained 4 or so pounds during this period.

I am getting back on track now and I am eating a calorie controled diet. On the lower end for my weight, height, sex, activity but above the 'dangerous mark'.

At the moment I feel pretty terrible, sleeping loads, tired when awake, finding it hard to motivate my self to exercise and finding it hard to hard to concentrate.

I am eating a high protein, fat diet. Lots of animal fat and oils, I don't feel food deprived but don't like how I feel.

Do you think this is just the carb flu again or am I eating too little?

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6 Answers



on October 08, 2013
at 04:15 PM

Don't forget the other things that help target "low carb flu"--make sure you're getting good levels of sodium (bone broth with salt is a great way) and potassium (avocados have plenty), and drink plenty of fluids. The bone broth is great for your gut, too, as some of the things you were eating did your gut no favors.

And I agree that upping the calories is good.


on October 08, 2013
at 03:38 PM

I don't personally completely rely on what online tools tell you about the number of calories you need, but it can give you a rough idea. The BMR however is what you need to sustain your body alone with no activity, don't forget to also allow for activity! To calculate that you can go here: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/harris-benedict-equation/

I put in your numbers to the BMR bit and got 1476.7 Times that by 1.375 as per the equation for "lightly active", and you get 2029.5. You may be more active than that, so please use whatever equation you need.

Personally for you I wouldn't really aim any lower than 1500 as an absolute minimum. You can probably even eat more. My philosophy is that slow weight loss is ok, and I would rather be able to be active and enjoy life than suffer by extreme restriction. You are also more likely to be able to maintain your weight loss if it is based on something more sustainable.


on October 08, 2013
at 03:31 PM

Is there a certain calorie target you would recommend? 1500, 1700 etc?

I lost 30 pounds between Jan-April and that was eating low cal with Paleo. When I went back to a normalish diet with out calorie counting I did not gain too much. My age is 28 and I used one of them calculators so thats what I based it off ish -

I am using calorie count website to help me track, I found I was inaccurate when I journaled it :)


on October 08, 2013
at 11:10 AM

Plug your info (including age, which is why I didn't do it for you ;) ) here: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/ To me, 1300 sounds low. I am an inch shorter than you and weigh around 125 but I need to eat more than 1300, even for weightloss. Especially if exercising. From your last paragraph, I recognise something of myself. In the past I have felt instinctively that something was wrong with what I was eating, but kept telling myself that it must be some other reason not to do with calories. I think I have a little bit of fear of overeating/ looking for an excuse to eat more. But I've learnt that if I want to be healthy, I have to let go of that fear. Put it this way, if another person told you they felt tired all the time, even when they don't do a lot, wouldn't your first reaction be "well, maybe try eating a bit more?". So I urge you to try eating some more calories. They don't have to be carbs if you prefer not. FWIW, some people have reported losing weight more easily with less of a calorie deficit when they are low carb. What I mean is, whilst 1300 might be a good "diet amount" for someone eating SAD, you might find that eating paleo allows you to eat more. Now, I'm not entirely sure if this is actually true, and to be honest I do think that at the end of the day calories do count and that one of the reason that low carb works is that protein keeps you satisfied on less calories, but on the other hand a lot of people do find they can eat more so maybe give it a try?


on October 08, 2013
at 10:59 AM

I weight 150 pounds, I am 5 foot 4. I am eating about 1300 cal, often more when exercising. Today would be my third day back on Paleo. I do eat fruit and veg still - I probably eat around 30-150g carb a days, but figured i'd still get tired coming off the bad kind.

Thats the thing I agree to eat more if im tired due to the amount I am eating but don't want to do it if its something that is going to pass by itself in a few days/weeks. I am insulin resistant so always seem to have to go on the far end of low calories to achieve weight loss.


on October 08, 2013
at 09:46 AM

What is your height and weight and how much are you eating?

Also how long have you been doing paleo again for?

To be honest, I would try eating more. This can include more carbs - there is nothing non-paleo about starchy veg and fruit. What's the point in aggressively pursuing weightloss if it makes you feel like shit? Also, you may find that you'll actually start gaining weight if you persistently push too hard to the point where you can't do any exercise or even get out of bed.

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