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Cortisol and low-carbs

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created October 25, 2010 at 1:52 AM

I started Paleo last week and apart from losing some weight, I don't feel any difference at all. I used to be sleepy all the time and I still feel the same. I am 24yr old male. I really think my cortisol levels are jacked up high

  1. Sleepy throughout the day and sometimes feel very fresh before going to bed. I wake up multiple times during the night. I don't remember sleeping well and waking up refreshed ever in my lifetime, not even during my childhood.
  2. I gained a lot of fat during my bulk, all in the abdominal region. Also I tend to lose strength and muscle rapidly.
  3. Too much stress and poor stress handling ability. I constantly feel overloaded and so tend to skip social stuff to catch up with work.
  4. Mindfog and verbal memory problems. I forget lots of stuff - names, places, stuff to do etc.

So I am assuming that my cortisol levels are high even though I didn't get them measured (but my sex appetite is fairly good and probably my glucose levels are good when measured last year).

I know it might be too early to judge any difference due to Paleo but I am mainly concerned about the carb intake. I have been doing pretty low-carb to begin with to accelerate fat loss (but I notice that I have lost some muscle too) but I read at few places that its not really good for people with high cortisol. So if anybody can help me: - Should I stop low-carb? - How to de-stress? I always have some nagging sensation in my mind, some sort of burden. - How do I even know I am in ketosis? I never felt any change when I switched to low carbs. To begin with, I was eating lots of lean meat but now have started limiting them and intake lots of fat.

Acf9fb2c11fb13ab9c926d91204d14ce

(8)

on October 26, 2010
at 06:03 PM

Cause i´ve seen a shitload of people screwing themselves with keto and all kinds of low carb diets. Anyway,if u wanna go ahead with keto,Lyle McDonalds site is a must read 4 u: http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/ketogenic-diets-high-fat-or-high-protein-qa.html

14aa918d730371ed14f8e7e7d6eb6587

(373)

on October 26, 2010
at 01:00 AM

didn't you say you lost muscle? fat is worthless when it comes to weightlifting. i say try increasing your carbs for a week or more and see how you feel. try eating starchy veg or fruit at each meal, and don't skimp. you can always go back.

10034c23f65addc5735eb02a32448223

(361)

on October 25, 2010
at 11:33 PM

or are you saying this just because I have high cortisol?

10034c23f65addc5735eb02a32448223

(361)

on October 25, 2010
at 11:28 PM

not sure why you say this since keto diet supposedly preserves muscle..

10034c23f65addc5735eb02a32448223

(361)

on October 25, 2010
at 05:08 PM

I had a sleep study done and sleep apnea turned out negative. The doc told me I slept very well and went into all the cycles in the required ratios. So he said I might have narcolepsy (which I hopefully don't) or shifted circadian rhythm. He never considered anything like cortisol and I think cortisol is the main factor here.

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on October 25, 2010
at 11:43 AM

Might want to look up the old thread about lack of sleep and weight loss and lean muscle loss. They are highly correlated. If you can't fix the sleep issue, then you may just have to suffer with a bit of muscle loss as you loss weight. My understanding via weight lifters is you can't easily gain muscle mass while losing weight. As for tiredness, you have not had time to adapt yet. Give it another week at least. ANother thing is you may need more carbs if you are working out heavily.

10034c23f65addc5735eb02a32448223

(361)

on October 25, 2010
at 05:26 AM

Thanks, that was definitely helpful. I don't take any sleep medicines yet and I really hope I don't have to. I used to take Chamomile which helped a lot with my sleep. Now I am trying out Magnesium. Brain fog is sometimes really bad - I waste sometimes an hour trying to decide what to eat. I know it shouldn't happen but I watch myself helpless trying to decide. Will probably try epsom salt and 'cortisol manager'.. thanks..

3020fb359dfbedaf90f1611b036d3432

(1138)

on October 25, 2010
at 03:26 AM

I think he means give your body at least 2 weeks to adjust to the new diet and you should notice higher energy levels as you adapt.

10034c23f65addc5735eb02a32448223

(361)

on October 25, 2010
at 02:35 AM

No diary. I don't want to lose muscle. My strength level in the gym has gone down and so are my measurements (in say arms/quads etc)

10034c23f65addc5735eb02a32448223

(361)

on October 25, 2010
at 02:17 AM

slightly unclear. Do you mean I could start adding carbs after two weeks? Thanks!!

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7 Answers

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2
B567abc0e407f290a133c21be0dd30f3

on October 25, 2010
at 05:11 AM

Hey Ivan, Stress and not getting enough sleep is detrimental regardless if you have adapted to a paleo way of living or not. I get Cortisol Manager by Integrative therapeutics from my acupuncturist. It's a natural, herb based formula to help level out cortisol levels and reduce stress. It's helped me get some sleep when I feel like a walking zombie and it doesn't make you groggy like Ambien or some other habit forming sleep aid drug. I also soak in a bath with 2 cups of epsom salt and a cup of baking soda before bed 1-2 times a week. Epsom salt will relax your muscles and also draw out toxins. Don't know if you're a tea fan but a cup 45 mins before bed can help. I alternate between valerian, skull cap, chamomile. You could probably just find a "sleepy time" tea that has a mixture of these and others. Also, Vitamin D3 helped with my energy levels. Maybe once you have more energy you can have the strength to go hard at it? I know what you mean about the brain fog. I cut gluten out before going paleo and it helped a little in that department. I've only been living paleo for a month. I still have a long way to go to get my digestive system balanced but without all the grains I'm mostly feeling improvement. Hang in there!

**********************************8 10/25/10 Just came across an interesting article I thought might make you think about your situation. Testosterone helps us to build muscle right? Well, this article is saying basically that Cortisol does the opposite! It is a catabolic hormone that reduces protein synthesis and prevents tissue growth. http://dangilliland.wordpress.com/2009/06/17/cortisol-is-an-enemy-of-muscle-growth/

10034c23f65addc5735eb02a32448223

(361)

on October 25, 2010
at 05:26 AM

Thanks, that was definitely helpful. I don't take any sleep medicines yet and I really hope I don't have to. I used to take Chamomile which helped a lot with my sleep. Now I am trying out Magnesium. Brain fog is sometimes really bad - I waste sometimes an hour trying to decide what to eat. I know it shouldn't happen but I watch myself helpless trying to decide. Will probably try epsom salt and 'cortisol manager'.. thanks..

1
08d7be58f963dfe28a69bdd7c6f1b14d

on October 25, 2010
at 06:31 AM

Item 1 can be a contributor to items 2, 3 and 4...have you done any exploration regarding your sleep patterns? I know a lot of people, myself included, who have sleep apnea. A lot of those people, myself included, just thought that they were doing something else wrong (diet, lack of exercise, bad habits)...or were completely unaware that the condition existed.

Sleep apnea can render you sleepy all day, and can wake you up throughout the night (you stop breathing, you gasp for air, you're not really conscious enough to know why - you may not even notice that your sleep has been interrupted). Depending on it's severity, it can be very debilitating, and it can lower blood oxygen to dangerous levels. There are herbal and other formulations for snoring, but sleep apnea is much more than that...if it ends up being an element here, medical attention will be necessary.

I wanted to mention this first and foremost because I've recently learned that sleep apnea affects a lot of people, and is not always a matter of being overweight. The statement that you can't remember a good night's sleep in your lifetime is a very strong one, and it seems like it might be a really good place to start.

I'm seeing a discussion of nutrition here, and while that is a very important component of having healthy energy, please consider a medical consultation to discuss your sleep habits. I am not trying to diagnose a condition, but ruling this out or discovering it and addressing it head on might be worth real consideration. Item 1 on your list is HUGE.

10034c23f65addc5735eb02a32448223

(361)

on October 25, 2010
at 05:08 PM

I had a sleep study done and sleep apnea turned out negative. The doc told me I slept very well and went into all the cycles in the required ratios. So he said I might have narcolepsy (which I hopefully don't) or shifted circadian rhythm. He never considered anything like cortisol and I think cortisol is the main factor here.

1
B2157bdf4a217ac943c41125d1a67845

(258)

on October 25, 2010
at 02:16 AM

Give it two weeks to get over the carb addition; then you should have plenty of energy.

10034c23f65addc5735eb02a32448223

(361)

on October 25, 2010
at 02:17 AM

slightly unclear. Do you mean I could start adding carbs after two weeks? Thanks!!

3020fb359dfbedaf90f1611b036d3432

(1138)

on October 25, 2010
at 03:26 AM

I think he means give your body at least 2 weeks to adjust to the new diet and you should notice higher energy levels as you adapt.

0
E75a97684e567aa4f42d83cde41d9eb6

(0)

on January 10, 2012
at 05:30 PM

Check out jack kruse dot com. Neuro guy with an interesting program for resetting lectin sensitivity with emphasis on circadian rythms with discussion of cortisol. Also a long discussion on Marks Daily Apple.

0
0e8ef5e7da29efaf265b1c919f47b790

on March 27, 2011
at 09:34 PM

These sounds like they may be hypothyroid symptoms -- I would cautiously investigate iodine supplementation (it's controversial but worked wonders for me) or investigate this possibility through other means. Know that just because your lab tests show "normal" levels does not mean thyroid hormone is not the issue (for example you can be thyroid resistant, or in Hashimotos the levels will be normal)

0
Acf9fb2c11fb13ab9c926d91204d14ce

on October 25, 2010
at 08:53 PM

Stop eating carbs and lean meats and within another 6 weeks u??ll be a plant.

Doin weight training on low carbs is insane.

www.leangains.com

Check out this site and learn how to lose fat WITHOUT losing muscle(even gaining muscle) and without following wacko diets.

10034c23f65addc5735eb02a32448223

(361)

on October 25, 2010
at 11:28 PM

not sure why you say this since keto diet supposedly preserves muscle..

10034c23f65addc5735eb02a32448223

(361)

on October 25, 2010
at 11:33 PM

or are you saying this just because I have high cortisol?

14aa918d730371ed14f8e7e7d6eb6587

(373)

on October 26, 2010
at 01:00 AM

didn't you say you lost muscle? fat is worthless when it comes to weightlifting. i say try increasing your carbs for a week or more and see how you feel. try eating starchy veg or fruit at each meal, and don't skimp. you can always go back.

Acf9fb2c11fb13ab9c926d91204d14ce

(8)

on October 26, 2010
at 06:03 PM

Cause i´ve seen a shitload of people screwing themselves with keto and all kinds of low carb diets. Anyway,if u wanna go ahead with keto,Lyle McDonalds site is a must read 4 u: http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/ketogenic-diets-high-fat-or-high-protein-qa.html

0
62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on October 25, 2010
at 02:22 AM

I can't say much without more details. How low is low carb? Are you still doing diary? etc. But typically, I'd say yea, you need to give it a few weeks at least before making any decisions. SOunds like you are losing weight so that is working assuming you want to lose weight. But how do you know you are losing muscle too? You can't tell that after just one week!

62ed65f3596aa2f62fa1d58a0c09f8c3

(20807)

on October 25, 2010
at 11:43 AM

Might want to look up the old thread about lack of sleep and weight loss and lean muscle loss. They are highly correlated. If you can't fix the sleep issue, then you may just have to suffer with a bit of muscle loss as you loss weight. My understanding via weight lifters is you can't easily gain muscle mass while losing weight. As for tiredness, you have not had time to adapt yet. Give it another week at least. ANother thing is you may need more carbs if you are working out heavily.

10034c23f65addc5735eb02a32448223

(361)

on October 25, 2010
at 02:35 AM

No diary. I don't want to lose muscle. My strength level in the gym has gone down and so are my measurements (in say arms/quads etc)

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