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Why is eating Paleo making me light-headed and drowsy?

Answered on February 09, 2014
Created February 07, 2014 at 6:41 PM

I am in Week 2 of a Paleo reset (my first one) and I get EXTREMELY light-headed, with slowed speech and slower thoughts, and incredibly fatigued within minutes of eating certain meals. Yesterday I had a teaspoon of coconut oil when I woke up and that did it. Today I had a green juice, then a slice of bacon and an egg and I was fine. For lunch I had a chicken breast and cauliflower mash made with ghee butter and coconut milk and I feel incredibly light-headed. I've noticed this tends to happen when I eat natural fats. Any thoughts???

I am not overweight, only working out about 3 times per week and eat plenty of salt. I eat 1-2 pieces of fruit per day, a handful or two of nuts, and the rest meats and veggies. My morning heart rate is 55, and I thought that might be an issue, but I don't have it with any other foods I eat except the fats/coconut milk.

Dec7cad0f1e63f84af5c1f746972c006

(0)

on February 07, 2014
at 08:48 PM

I drink a lot of water, I have about 16 oz first thing in the morning, but I didn't mention that. I'm going to avoid coconut for a week though, that's a good idea. Thanks!

Dec7cad0f1e63f84af5c1f746972c006

(0)

on February 07, 2014
at 08:48 PM

Thanks! I do eat a lot of sea salt, I add it to everything.

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5 Answers

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Dec7cad0f1e63f84af5c1f746972c006

on February 09, 2014
at 06:33 AM

Turns out I must have some allergy towards coconut products. I didn't eat any all morning and felt fine, then ate something cooked in coconut oil and the symptoms emerged. It's really weird, I get light-headed instantly fatigued and feel like I'm in carb coma after a big Thanksgiving meal. I'm not thrilled about cutting out coconut products because they taste great and have so many good properties, I may try some other brands and see what happens, but at least now I know what was causing the problems. Thanks everyone for your advice and support!

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96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19413)

on February 08, 2014
at 01:50 PM

If you've gone very low carb, you're probably experiencing the low carb flu.

It will go away after a while once your body gets used to burning ketones and fat. One way to tell is by an acetone odor on your breath. This will show up once you're making ketones, and go away once your body start consuming them - it won't happen if you ingest carb sources, so how much fruit/starch you consume will effect this.

Since you're not interested in losing fat, you don't have to switch to low carb, so perhaps consume some more safe starches. Either way, make sure you're eating full meals, don't skip a meal or eat meals that are too small.

If you're feeling lightheaded, does eating some extra fat or carbs help? If so, you're not getting enough fat or carbs for your level of activity.

In terms of minerals, modern foods tend to be low in certain minerals, especially magnesium. I wouldn't supplement with calcium, if anything I'd take magnesium, Vitamin K2 (as MK7), and Vitamin D3 together. Excess calcium, especially from supplements, can be deposited in arteries and can cause plaque buildup. K2 with D3 and magnesium prevents this and reroutes the calcium we get from food to where it's needed - there's plenty of calcium in greens. That's why elephants, and cattle can build such giant bones.

You might also want to switch to red meat, lack of heme iron can cause anemia.

Indeed, as the others said, you might have had a reaction to coconut. There's one way to tell. One day before breakfast consume only a tablespoon of butter and see if you have a reaction, then after say 30mins, eat your breakfast. Next day repeat with a tablespoon of coconut oil - see if you have a reaction, next day eat a handful of bacon.

Coconut should digest very easily and since roughly half of it is MCT oil, it will generate ketones and provide quite a bit of energy. It is possible to feel fatigue after a very large protein meal because digestion of protein requires a lot of energy (which isn't available until after digestion.) But on an empty stomach, you shouldn't feel fatigue after eating coconut oil at all. You'd feel not quite a burst of energy, but more of a calm well-being and lack of fatigue (as opposed to how you'd feel after having too much coffee).

You didn't mention coffee, but when I first started paleo, I noticed a strange thing. After 1 mug of coffee, I felt great, but when I had a 2nd mug, I immediately felt tired and fatigued until I started adding cocoa powder to my coffee - I chalked that up to needing magnesium, and indeed, after supplementing with magnesium, it went away. (This is incase you've also had coffee, and by coincidence had more coffee when you've had the coconut oil.)

Hopefully your coconut oil is an extra virgin (or virgin) coconut oil. (There's some debate about extra vs just virgin, technically there's no such thing as extra virgin coconut oil). But if it's some refined abomination, you should absolutely avoid it.

Also, if you've had your gallbladder removed, you should be taking a digestive enzyme supplement that contains Betaine HCL and oxbile. Without a gallbladder, digestion of fats is very much impaired and will cause all sorts of issues.

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Medium avatar

on February 07, 2014
at 08:27 PM

@lilmonkey says s/he eats plenty of salt.

Bacon has a lot of fat but it doesn't happen when you eat bacon. That's a pretty natural fat ;)

I'd think about checking at least your basic metabolic panel plus Ca & Mg.

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86c97b2779feab3c330f5e1c5fea7e25

(2312)

on February 07, 2014
at 07:42 PM

Could be a sodium deficiency. When you move to natural foods, you will notice you eat a LOT less salt. When you had bacon you were fine...typically there is some sodium in there. Did you add any sea salt to the chicken/caulli mash?

Dec7cad0f1e63f84af5c1f746972c006

(0)

on February 07, 2014
at 08:48 PM

Thanks! I do eat a lot of sea salt, I add it to everything.

0
Medium avatar

on February 07, 2014
at 07:31 PM

Notice that when you had green juice with your meal, you were fine.

Are you drinking enough water with your meals and in-between?

In my experience whenever someone came to me with lightheadedness, most of the time it got resolved with drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated and having decent intravascular volume.

Rather than having a teaspoon of coconut oil when you wake up, drink a glass of water first.

Also, a recurring theme in your post is "coconut" associated with lightheadedness - so maybe take 1-week break from it in any form and see how you feel?

Dec7cad0f1e63f84af5c1f746972c006

(0)

on February 07, 2014
at 08:48 PM

I drink a lot of water, I have about 16 oz first thing in the morning, but I didn't mention that. I'm going to avoid coconut for a week though, that's a good idea. Thanks!

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