Please help me with blood sugar crashes?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 25, 2013 at 6:56 PM

Ever since going Primal/Paleo 6 weeks ago I've started to experience low blood sugar episodes randomly throughout the day and after meals.

I chose to go VLC (20g net carbs) at the start just to eliminate any cravings and I had a lot to lose. I gradually worked my way up to 40g now. When I was at around 20-25g I experienced the worst hypoglycemic episode ever. As the carbs went up, I was still experiencing the disorientation but it improved. I still experience it, it's like being a in a state of confusion and I get very disorientated/tired, sometimes it will happen after just drinking some water or eating a meal with protein and fat, sometimes with carbs or alone or just randomly at any point in the day. It's like a rollercoaster. The thing is, I am not a diabetic (it does run in the family) and never diagnosed with hypoglycemia. I have completely eliminated fruit and starches for the time being. The only caffeine I drink is a small dose of green tea some mornings and I eat a little cheese, but I doubt this contributes to the issue. I eat plenty of vegetables at every meal with enough fat and protein.

I remember going through energy crashes throughout the day when I use to eat a lot of fruit and high carb, but never anything like this. Even when I use to eat pasta, I would feel good after a meal, considering my blood sugar levels felt stable. Now I get moments where I can't function and literally phase out, my energy, mood and blood sugar levels feel very unstable and erratic.

I get enough calories. My ratios are usually 150g fat, 100g protein and 40g carbs. I'm not comfortable increasing carbs and stalling because my weight loss has already slowed down (despite decreasing calories to around 1700 as well). I'm a female, 5'8, 24 and 150 lbs.

Has any one else experienced this?

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4 Answers



on May 25, 2013
at 10:56 PM

Are you really checking your blood sugar? Eating fewer carbs should not cause hypoglycemia, but you may be experiencing "false" hypos because you're used to very high blood sugars. See http://diabetesupdate.blogspot.com/2007/07/type-2s-understanding-false-hypos.html?m=1

The other possibility is hyponatremia because of fluid loss associated with reduction in glycogen stores make sure you're getting plenty of potassium and salt.


on May 26, 2013
at 06:18 AM

Going cold turkey from high carb to 20, even 40gr a day seems a little bit harsh in my opinion. The theory behind it is nice and it's true that it works for weight loss but it also can have some drawbacks as you have seen.

You need your body to run in some fuel, if it is used to run constantly in circulating glucose is not that strange that you are now facing some issues trying to get your needed glucose for proper brain function only from fat, it's a pathway we are supposed to use but it has been superseeded in your case for the glucose alternative, this has probably a lot to do with metabolic syndrome.

I think getting to properly run on your stored body fat is a great goal for both weight loss and general health, you'll improve a lot your health but I suspect you need a more gradual approach to get your body used to it. I'd try to get up to 100gr a day of good carbs for now and see how you can work it down with time once you start feeling good again.

Do not be worried by stalled weight loss, 100gr a day is not that much and you should be able to still get fit with it. For this, proper timing may help a lot much more than the actual macro ratios used. You could start experimenting with concentrating your carbs on a daily window time, for instance breakfast and lunch, and go 'carb free' from noon to the next morning. Just focus on being more or less near or slightly under your daily caloric maintainance level and this should suffice.

If you eat more carbs on a meal I'd lower fat content and viceversa, if you have to pair carbs or fats with something, pair them with protein. If you go the fruit way, try not to get more of 15gr of your carbs from the fructose and try to have them isolated from the rest of the food. Try to plan in a fashion that you have 2 to 3 big meals a day with no snacks, this should help, it's not the best right now for blood glucose stabilization but you should be able to get used to this with the carbs refeeds and balance everything in a way that works for certain stabilization with some progress in weight loss.

Also sleeping a lot and trying to be active most part of the day should help. If your are going to have some strenuous activity, then plan your carb meal for just after that activity, if you are not into sports at least try to have some walks, climb stairs, etc. Being active will help a lot mobilizing your body fat while still having some carbs in your diet, they will nicely balance each other needs.

If you get all your carbs in breakfast and dinner, then go zero carb on lunch instead, the thing here is trying to get some increasing intervals without carbs and then small refeeds so your body can build-up his tolerance slowly, as you progress you can try to get lower carbs until you can get to your current 20gr with no issues, this can take time, be patient :)

You could benefit from having a look at either the Perfect Health Diet and/or Balanced Bites tear-out charts, they list the best sources of starchy carbs and fruit, these are the ones you might be getting your carbs from.

As some other just said, watch out your mineral status as a loss of water/salt retention from your carb restriction could certainly give your the symptoms you are experiencing. Also make sure to have a lot of seafood, it will give you nutrients that will help a lot (iodine, selenium, omega 3 fatty acids, etc). Also try to get some dietary source of magnesium.

One last thing, be very careful with cheese during the morning and overall food sensitivities, specially if you added some new paleo foods to fill the gap from your lost carb sources, you could have introduced something that is doing you worse than gluten actually was depending on your sensitivities. I'd try to get rid of the cheese during some days and see how do you feel, some people is pretty sensitive the the A1 type casein it has in it and can trigger similar symptoms, you can also try to switch to more natural goat/sheep or at least non A1-type from raw cow milk, not UHT.

Some random thoughts, hope something can help!


on May 26, 2013
at 04:47 AM

You never mention an actual blood glucose number. You may be experiencing any number of things that AREN'T hypoglycemia.

Many low carbers report unpleasant feelings as their metabolism adjusts away from reliance on carbohydrates. You also don't mention anything about the time-frame of your experience. You probably really should get a doctor to look at this, although this is just the kind of vague thing the insurance industry might not want to pay for.


on May 25, 2013
at 10:10 PM

If doing straight paleo, there should be no crashes. I used to have terrible hypoglycaemic episodes. Once I went on paleo they went away. I don't know what VLC is or what carbs you are eating, but it seems that the carbs are connected and that your symptoms increase as your carb intake does. All I can think to do is increase fat and meat intake and go down on carbs. The paleo diet is about eating fat and meat. Don't let lame stream media and its lies about nutrition convince you to eat food that does not make you feel well. I hope you figure out how to iron it out and that you feel better soon.

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