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Dizziness, Fatigue, knot in brain, since starting Paleo

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 26, 2012 at 7:59 AM

Hey, I started Paleo almost 2 months ago and couple days after I started, I got brain fog, felt dizzy and my short-term memory was worse. It was quite bad for ~1.5-2 weeks and it seemed not to be the best, that times were (and actually still are a bit) stressful, since I got a job and I am still in exam period at uni (ends in 6 days though!) while I started. So yeah, after that 2 weeks it got generally better but with fluctuations from day to day.

At that time, I thought it is the "low-carb flu", but now I am almost 2 months in and all these problems are still not gone, so it is definitely something else. I read a lot about it and tried a lot of different things (well, as much as exams and a job next to it allowed) to improve the conditions, but nothing really helped too much.

So the things I figured influenced it, were definitely stress, e.g. on the day of the exam I felt generally worse and when I meditated afterwards I felt a bit better. Or curiously I also feel more brain foggy, the days I go to work (which is once a week atm).

Because of that I introduced meditation, which I did every day for a while, but then just did a few times a week, because of exams. Starting to do it again on a daily basis though. And when exams are finished, I also want to do more exercise/low-level aerobic activity (thought about doing, what I read from Chris Kesser/Mark Sisson, going for a ~30min walk a day, and doing not more than 2h exercise a week) Now on to my diet, which I guess might even be the most important factor, since everyting started after going paleo.

Generally for breakfast I eat 1-4 eggs (mostly hard boiled), with grass fed butter and sometimes some coconut oil, some (steamed) vegetables and maybe some fruits (mostly berries and avocados/coconuts). Then it varies a bit, maybe some liver/meatballs/bacon/smoked salmon and recently I started to add some full fat greek yoghurt and kefir. Usually I try to make it my biggest meal.

Lunch and dinner is mostly Beef (organic minced, or cheap cuts from the farmers market) and Lamb (from New Zealand, various cheap fatty cuts), with fish a few times a week (mostly canned, smoked or frozen fish, whereas I always have some canned wild salmon) and rarely some pork/chicken/turkey. With that, I usually have salad or vegetables for Lunch (spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. I try to vary it) sometimes with olive oil. At first I pretty much had the same for dinner, but ~2weeks ago I started to introduce (sweet) potatoes for more carbs, so now I am having the meat with potatoes and vegetables. Didn't really seem to change antything, but I like it, so I am stil eating it. (Oh yeah, at some point I lost some weight, which made me almost a bit underweight, but not I am back to normal)

So yeah, I read up a lot about adrinaline fatigue, brain fog and tried to change/tweak a few things (well it wasn't really that much possible to play around a lot because it was and still is REALLY stressful), but nothing really helped that much. I think on thing that seemed to help a bit, is that I now eat more fat/butter. And I also think or hope, that after exams are over, it is less stressful and I start with more activities (waling, exercise, readin books) it will get better, but it is really hard and I don't really know anymore, what I can do/what I am doing wrong. Some help/tips would be appriceated. And if you need anymore input, don't hesitate to ask.

But I also have to add, while this brain foggy, symptoms make everything worse, I also feel somehow a bit better since going Paleo, and it just feel right, to eat like that. Oh yeah, and since I read sleep is really important, I get at least 7h sleep a day, usually 8 and go to bed mostly before 10pm.

A50ca1bb3d72544cb50171bd7b46105c

(130)

on May 28, 2012
at 07:55 AM

Yeah, that was something I actually have not done, because I am not sure what is really "better", some say this, some say that. At first it was no potatoes and rice at all but then I read more and more for many people it is fine to eat them. So I started eating potatoes (also because they are quite cheap). Seems like I should try the 100-150g carbs for a while. Does it make any difference, if the carbs ome from fruits like berries or potatoes? (Though of course I know too much fruits are not good because of the sugar) Cheers

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on May 26, 2012
at 06:26 PM

Fourth, this idea of the body putting you in "stress mode" to preserve glucose is also mythological. This would only happen if you were not eating enough protein. Please see: http://paleohacks.com/questions/25449/why-do-people-consider-ketosis-stressful-to-the-body for further explantion.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on May 26, 2012
at 06:24 PM

Third, if you have "low carb flu", the problem isn't too little glucose, it's too little fat and ketone production.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on May 26, 2012
at 06:22 PM

Second of all, "glucose deficiency" is a term coined by Paul Jaminet. It's controversial at best, but as far as I know, this is not a symptom he has listed. His symptom list would be lack of mucous and tendency to fungal infection.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on May 26, 2012
at 06:22 PM

I apologize if this sounds rude, but this answer sounds confused and backwards to me. Postural hypotension, the dizziness on standing you have described is not a symptom of glucose deficiency. First of all, it's a symptom of low blood pressure. This can happen on a LC diet if you don't get adequate sodium, because the reduction in insulin cause sodium excretion.

5e92edc5a180787a60a252a8232006e9

(345)

on May 26, 2012
at 06:07 PM

150g. 500g is too much. Eating more meals would make sense if you're eating some proteins. However, glucose deficiency could remain. So I'd eat some carbs and see if what you thought was a "low carb flu" is indeed glucose deficiency.

A50ca1bb3d72544cb50171bd7b46105c

(130)

on May 26, 2012
at 01:14 PM

Oh, another question about the 150g safe starches. Do you mean 150g of the prodocut (like white/sweet potatoes, rice) or 150g safe starchs? But since that would equal to more than 500g potatoes I am guessing 150g potatoes...

A50ca1bb3d72544cb50171bd7b46105c

(130)

on May 26, 2012
at 01:10 PM

Yeah, that is also two things I read and thought about, but why would the problems start when I start with a healthier lifestyle, I mean shouldn't I have felt that before? Though it is definitely good to know and will look into that if it doesn't get better with more carbs

A50ca1bb3d72544cb50171bd7b46105c

(130)

on May 26, 2012
at 01:04 PM

Thanks, I will try that. I don't know about my own diabetic conditions (I mean I definitely never had actual diabetis), but I think my grandma has it and often when I go too long without a meal, then I get a bit "shaky", most noticable in the hand. So would it also be better, to eat more meals a day? Oh yeah and that's something I forgot to add, sometimes when I haven't eaten and then eat, I feel better.

345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on May 26, 2012
at 12:49 PM

Agree also, I thought I didnt have brain fog, but somewhere between month 2 and 3 I suddenly found myself 'awake'.....it was truly like I just opened my eyes for the first time....

0faecc3397025eab246241f4dcd81f5e

(2361)

on May 26, 2012
at 08:57 AM

I'd agree - try adding more carbs, even white rice, read up on perfect health diet posts. Plenty of root vegetables and some fruit as well. Also limit protein to about 120 - 150 grams per meal. You might feel crappy because of protein overload.

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6 Answers

2
5e92edc5a180787a60a252a8232006e9

(345)

on May 26, 2012
at 08:41 AM

Could still be the "low carb flu" or glucose deficiency. Low-carbing just might not be best for your constitution. Some people thrive on a low-carb diet; some people don't. The symptoms you describe sound like false hypoglycemia, especially if you had blood sugar issues before or were prediabetic. However, it could also be carb deficiency, as your body puts you in stress mode to preserve glucose.

Try getting up suddenly from a chair. Or while shopping, crouch down to check items on the lowest shelf. Do you get dizzy? That's a symptom of glucose deficiency, which can be corrected quickly by eating safe starches: white rice, sweet potatoes and yams. I experienced that while low-carbing and that never went away. That immediately disappeared when I started eating yams.

I'd try eating about 150g of safe starches daily and see if symptoms improve.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on May 26, 2012
at 06:26 PM

Fourth, this idea of the body putting you in "stress mode" to preserve glucose is also mythological. This would only happen if you were not eating enough protein. Please see: http://paleohacks.com/questions/25449/why-do-people-consider-ketosis-stressful-to-the-body for further explantion.

0faecc3397025eab246241f4dcd81f5e

(2361)

on May 26, 2012
at 08:57 AM

I'd agree - try adding more carbs, even white rice, read up on perfect health diet posts. Plenty of root vegetables and some fruit as well. Also limit protein to about 120 - 150 grams per meal. You might feel crappy because of protein overload.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on May 26, 2012
at 06:22 PM

I apologize if this sounds rude, but this answer sounds confused and backwards to me. Postural hypotension, the dizziness on standing you have described is not a symptom of glucose deficiency. First of all, it's a symptom of low blood pressure. This can happen on a LC diet if you don't get adequate sodium, because the reduction in insulin cause sodium excretion.

A50ca1bb3d72544cb50171bd7b46105c

(130)

on May 26, 2012
at 01:04 PM

Thanks, I will try that. I don't know about my own diabetic conditions (I mean I definitely never had actual diabetis), but I think my grandma has it and often when I go too long without a meal, then I get a bit "shaky", most noticable in the hand. So would it also be better, to eat more meals a day? Oh yeah and that's something I forgot to add, sometimes when I haven't eaten and then eat, I feel better.

345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on May 26, 2012
at 12:49 PM

Agree also, I thought I didnt have brain fog, but somewhere between month 2 and 3 I suddenly found myself 'awake'.....it was truly like I just opened my eyes for the first time....

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on May 26, 2012
at 06:22 PM

Second of all, "glucose deficiency" is a term coined by Paul Jaminet. It's controversial at best, but as far as I know, this is not a symptom he has listed. His symptom list would be lack of mucous and tendency to fungal infection.

A50ca1bb3d72544cb50171bd7b46105c

(130)

on May 26, 2012
at 01:14 PM

Oh, another question about the 150g safe starches. Do you mean 150g of the prodocut (like white/sweet potatoes, rice) or 150g safe starchs? But since that would equal to more than 500g potatoes I am guessing 150g potatoes...

5e92edc5a180787a60a252a8232006e9

(345)

on May 26, 2012
at 06:07 PM

150g. 500g is too much. Eating more meals would make sense if you're eating some proteins. However, glucose deficiency could remain. So I'd eat some carbs and see if what you thought was a "low carb flu" is indeed glucose deficiency.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on May 26, 2012
at 06:24 PM

Third, if you have "low carb flu", the problem isn't too little glucose, it's too little fat and ketone production.

1
276a5e631b62f8e0793987c0496364bb

(1644)

on May 26, 2012
at 05:49 PM

Two words: coconut oil.

1
345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on May 26, 2012
at 01:56 PM

between months 2-3 when I started I suddenly had a 'awakening' of sorts, I could have sworn I was not showing symptoms of brain fog or carb flu, but I didnt realize I was definitely feeling it until I 'snapped out of it'. It was clearly a defining moment for me. Also consider upping your fat a bit, this helps the brain (sounds like you are eating right but I'm curious what your % is).

Also when I started, I was always struggling with dizziness, lightheadedness. I always assumed it had to do with my low BP and blood sugar issues, but it really was a issue with salt. Adding iodized salt made a huge difference in this.

1
Af3e3615beba642bcafd0f21d64d74f7

on May 26, 2012
at 10:17 AM

If 2 months of Paleo eating hasn't changed this situation, then it is plausible to assume that you have a Vitamin D deficiency. Then again, could be low magnesium.

A50ca1bb3d72544cb50171bd7b46105c

(130)

on May 26, 2012
at 01:10 PM

Yeah, that is also two things I read and thought about, but why would the problems start when I start with a healthier lifestyle, I mean shouldn't I have felt that before? Though it is definitely good to know and will look into that if it doesn't get better with more carbs

0
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on May 26, 2012
at 06:13 PM

What is you carb intake like?

I think it is wisest to make an explicit choice about whether you want to be on a ketogenic diet or not, and then stick with it. I can't really tell from your answer what your choice is.

If the answer is yes, than you have to keep your carb level consistently low, or you will be in perpetual "low carb flu": you will never become keto-adapted, so you won't have enough ketones to feed your brain, but you also won't have enough glucose to feed your brain. Some people can be in ketosis with 100g of carbohydrates per day, but others have to go below 25g or even less. Sometimes it can be helpful to take ketone measurements (preferably for blood ketones, but that can be expensive).

Additionally, you may still experience uncomfortable symptoms if you aren't eating enough fat or getting electrolytes, as Kelly answered.

If the answer is no, then you have to manually make sure you are getting enough carbohydrates for your brain and any physical activity you do.

A50ca1bb3d72544cb50171bd7b46105c

(130)

on May 28, 2012
at 07:55 AM

Yeah, that was something I actually have not done, because I am not sure what is really "better", some say this, some say that. At first it was no potatoes and rice at all but then I read more and more for many people it is fine to eat them. So I started eating potatoes (also because they are quite cheap). Seems like I should try the 100-150g carbs for a while. Does it make any difference, if the carbs ome from fruits like berries or potatoes? (Though of course I know too much fruits are not good because of the sugar) Cheers

0
6fece842bd1bcf5724f458a302a2156e

on May 26, 2012
at 09:54 AM

I need brown basmati rice with wild rice in fairly tiny amounts about a small handful to keep happy and balanced.

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