2

votes

What went wrong in my six month zero carb experiment?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 22, 2012 at 5:45 AM

A couple of years ago I went zero carb for 6 months. I ate meat, fish, eggs, and organ meats. (Yes, I know eggs technically have a little bit of carb in them.) During the end of that experiment I noticed that my urine started to smell pretty bad (although for most of those 6 months I was impressed to have no underarm odor with the huge amount of meat I was eating.) Also, I started getting very sleepy mid-afternoons. Something was not right so I stopped the experiment. Fast forward two years and I still get sleepy in the afternoon. I'm eating a fairly low carb Paleo diet.

I'm concerned that my ability to digest fat and protein may have become impaired although it's odd that I don't have trouble eating fat and protein at night.

Thoughts on what might have caused the bad results and on what you would do to get back on course?

Thanks.

9c0a747b4b5e6291cf37ca5c066cc64b

(10)

on March 23, 2012
at 09:43 AM

Did you check your blood sugar levels during sleepy states?

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on March 22, 2012
at 05:23 PM

Then at least you know that wasn't an issue. Kudos to you for buying quality :)

D31a2a2d43191b15ca4a1c7ec7d03038

(4134)

on March 22, 2012
at 04:15 PM

Dragonfly, excellent point. I eat a few herbs and supplement with C, as I don't do well with fruit or veggies with much fiber. Thanks for posting this answer. I think it's vital. :)

B8592e62f9804ddabae73c1103d6bcb9

(1956)

on March 22, 2012
at 03:43 PM

Broccoli is a much better source than fruit, and has no fructose.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 22, 2012
at 03:39 PM

This is a good point- with no carbs around, you could have easily developed a vitamin C deficiency because there just isn't a source in your diet (unless, like Dragonfly said, you were eating raw liver).

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 22, 2012
at 03:20 PM

You may *need* some C! We don't need much, but unless you are eating raw liver, some fruit source may be helpful.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on March 22, 2012
at 03:07 PM

Eat a potato...

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on March 22, 2012
at 02:41 PM

I've never been a huge fan of pork and don't eat it much. I don't think I ate it at all during those six months. And, the meat was a good quality grass-fed meat so I was getting good omega 3 fats.

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on March 22, 2012
at 02:40 PM

It's curious that my urine didn't smell until late into the experiment. Makes me think that there was some deficiency that built up over time and when it crossed a certain threshold it made me sleepy and produced that ketosis urine smell.

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on March 22, 2012
at 02:38 PM

I haven't supplemented with Vitamin C in a very long time and certainly not during those six months. I'm consuming lots of bone broth these days (at least a quart a day, with sea salt added) so I'll see if that helps with the sleepiness.

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on March 22, 2012
at 02:36 PM

I was constipated during that time. It wasn't until I got cheese out of my diet that my constipation completely went away. Not sure how my digestion was then. Not sure how to categorize my digestion today.

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on March 22, 2012
at 02:34 PM

It wasn't/isn't "a bit sleepy," It's very sleepy. Yes, I consider that to be a bad result. I now drink more water and make lots of bone broth to which I add sea salt. Time will tell if those things help.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on March 22, 2012
at 11:49 AM

How was your digestion and elimination during the experiment?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 22, 2012
at 06:31 AM

I upped my salt intake recently and it seems to help a bit too...

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 22, 2012
at 06:30 AM

Things that normally caused minor adrenal surges, like being startled, getting into an argument with a pushy woman at the store, or skipping a meal instead of the "normal response" I seemed to get full on flight or fight response. Dimming of vision, cold hands, the shakes 15 minutes later, temper issues...

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on March 22, 2012
at 06:16 AM

What were the symptoms of your "massive adrenal surges?" I've wondered if my adrenals might be out of whack.

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7 Answers

best answer

5
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 22, 2012
at 06:04 AM

I had similar experiences along with constipation, dry skin, low energy generally (though worse around 2pm) and then later on, after pushing through for a bit, massive adrenal surges, anxiety etc.... My experiment wasn't as long as yours however.

There is some sort of romance about Paleolithic and Big game hunters who only ate meat. This sort of ignores the 10,000 years of evolution since.

Just my opinion but we were never, dare I say, designed to be carnivores. We can do it and survive but if you look the Inuit don't live just off meat.

I think you should take the experiment as legit data, your body wants some veggies, fruits and tubers. Go with it. Try upping the carbs for 2 weeks. When I went off VLC I added tubers and it took a while for me to get back to where I was before VLC.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 22, 2012
at 06:30 AM

Things that normally caused minor adrenal surges, like being startled, getting into an argument with a pushy woman at the store, or skipping a meal instead of the "normal response" I seemed to get full on flight or fight response. Dimming of vision, cold hands, the shakes 15 minutes later, temper issues...

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on March 22, 2012
at 06:16 AM

What were the symptoms of your "massive adrenal surges?" I've wondered if my adrenals might be out of whack.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 22, 2012
at 06:31 AM

I upped my salt intake recently and it seems to help a bit too...

6
Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

on March 22, 2012
at 11:47 AM

You may have been lacking any number of things from salt to sleep, not just carbs. It's curious that you categorise urine odor and 'feeling a bit sleepy' as bad results, particular if it took months for them to manifest. Drinking more water is probably the best place to start. Of course if people have good reasons for why a lack of carbs specifically would cause these symptoms then perhaps that's what you need. But if you've managed to remain fairly functional on low carb for years (and presumably reasonably happy with most areas of your health) I'd look for a bit more than correlation. Especially as mid-afternoon sleepiness is a classic symptom of a carb-based diet not the other way around.

Drink water, sleep, and if you're concerned about your metabolism then fast for a few days and your body will remember what it needs to do pretty quickly.

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on March 22, 2012
at 02:34 PM

It wasn't/isn't "a bit sleepy," It's very sleepy. Yes, I consider that to be a bad result. I now drink more water and make lots of bone broth to which I add sea salt. Time will tell if those things help.

4
2a00b9a42e4cb6e489a0e69d20714576

on March 22, 2012
at 10:31 AM

I agree about the salt intake, its extremely necessary if your zero or low carb (bone broths especially). Also your urine would smell due to ketosis.

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on March 22, 2012
at 02:40 PM

It's curious that my urine didn't smell until late into the experiment. Makes me think that there was some deficiency that built up over time and when it crossed a certain threshold it made me sleepy and produced that ketosis urine smell.

3
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 22, 2012
at 09:13 AM

I'm wondering about Vitamin C. Did you supplement at all?

I always get sleepy in the afternoons if I don't stay hydrated...

D31a2a2d43191b15ca4a1c7ec7d03038

(4134)

on March 22, 2012
at 04:15 PM

Dragonfly, excellent point. I eat a few herbs and supplement with C, as I don't do well with fruit or veggies with much fiber. Thanks for posting this answer. I think it's vital. :)

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on March 22, 2012
at 03:39 PM

This is a good point- with no carbs around, you could have easily developed a vitamin C deficiency because there just isn't a source in your diet (unless, like Dragonfly said, you were eating raw liver).

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on March 22, 2012
at 02:38 PM

I haven't supplemented with Vitamin C in a very long time and certainly not during those six months. I'm consuming lots of bone broth these days (at least a quart a day, with sea salt added) so I'll see if that helps with the sleepiness.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on March 22, 2012
at 03:20 PM

You may *need* some C! We don't need much, but unless you are eating raw liver, some fruit source may be helpful.

B8592e62f9804ddabae73c1103d6bcb9

(1956)

on March 22, 2012
at 03:43 PM

Broccoli is a much better source than fruit, and has no fructose.

1
44894358c1cd33674c22850cc9368959

on November 20, 2012
at 04:12 AM

I think the part where you went zero carb, that's exactly where you went wrong.

1
1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on March 22, 2012
at 11:53 AM

I notice changes in uring smell associated with specific foods. For example: asparagus. Try it.

Specific to your question though, if I eat omega 6 fats in any moderate to large amount I notice a definite change. For example eating pulled pork or chicken wings/chicken skin can cause this to me. If you look back and see that you suddenly changed your meat source to a more omega 6 PUFA heavy one, perhaps that was an issue.

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on March 22, 2012
at 05:23 PM

Then at least you know that wasn't an issue. Kudos to you for buying quality :)

35b2cb4d450e5288895c255dfdfff35d

(5828)

on March 22, 2012
at 02:41 PM

I've never been a huge fan of pork and don't eat it much. I don't think I ate it at all during those six months. And, the meat was a good quality grass-fed meat so I was getting good omega 3 fats.

0
F592d8adbf054fc6866a9566b4cbf9f3

on November 20, 2012
at 04:46 AM

Your breath smelled because you were ketogenic.

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