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Low Blood Sugar and Sugar Cravings.. thoughts?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 26, 2012 at 8:09 PM

For about a year I have had horrible blood sugar issues. If I didn't eat every few hours then I would get so irritable I could not talk to my family on the phone without fighting, I would get dizzy to the point of having to just lay on sofa for an hour and eat. Eating food would sometimes fix it, sometimes not. Sometimes I would need to eat 1500ish calories before I would feel better. I was at a healthy weight then and still am.

I finally have an appointment with a doctor on Wednesday (I had moved and did not have a doctor so I finally found one and made an appointment). Since going paleo a couple months ago my symptoms are way better. I still deal with this but only every other week instead of every other day. I do still have horrible sugar cravings though, usually right when I wake up and then in the afternoons. I usually can make myself skip the sugar and eat eggs for breakfast but the cravings are way worse in the afternoons and I always give into them. Should I be fighting these cold turkey or eating the sugar? Today it was pineapple but sometimes its homemade sweets or chocolate. Also, I never feel hunger in the sense that I can put off eating for a couple hours... when I am hungry, I am HUNGRY and need to eat right then. It is a painful, really intense hunger. Does anyone have any recommendations for things I should do to help this or things that I should have checked at the doctor in addition to blood sugar? Does this sounds like low blood sugar or another issue? I am a 22 year old female, 5'8, 125 lbs, have always been incredibly active and a healthy eater (before paleo I still ate very clean).

3491e51730101b18724dc57c86601173

(8395)

on November 27, 2012
at 05:27 PM

I would suggest you read the book "The Art and Science of Low Carb Prformance" by Phinney and Vollek. While switching off sugar burning you may feel too lousy to run for a few weeks. Also, you should consider the stress and strain on your body that this running causes--it leads to the release of excess cortisol that can be one reason for your insulin issues in the first place. I'm sure this is stuff you don't want to hear, but you might try looking up "chronic cardio" here and on other respected Paleo sites and see if anything jumps out at you.

35deaf0f101526bb113ea69f79934f2b

(436)

on November 26, 2012
at 10:15 PM

Also, can I continue to run while cutting the sugar? I can cut down but can I do at least 3-5 miles a day? I know you are no doctor, but since you have been there and fixed it, I really appreciate any advice! Thanks so much!

35deaf0f101526bb113ea69f79934f2b

(436)

on November 26, 2012
at 10:14 PM

Thanks so much for the detailed response. If insulin resistance is caused by overeating and over use of insulin (as you could see in an obese person) then this makes sense for me. I am a runner and burn through hundred (sometimes thousands) or calories a day causing me to eat as much as an oveweight person. Do you recommend cutting all carbs or just the fruit and sugars? I eat lots of fruit, smoothies, and high cal veggies now, also some rice. Should I eliminate all of this in favor for a high fat diet for a while? or just stick to tons of high calorie veggies for carbs?

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2 Answers

1
3491e51730101b18724dc57c86601173

(8395)

on November 26, 2012
at 08:36 PM

I am not a doctor and I don't play one on TV or the internet, but it sounds like you have reactive hypoglycemia. You are most likely insulin resistant (yes, people can be thin an very insulin resistant at the same time). So what happens is that your cells don't respond to insulin until there is a LOT of insulin in your bloodstream. Meanwhile, when you eat something that triggers the symptoms (carbs), since your cells aren't responding to insulin the blood glucose levels climb higher and higher until FINALLY the cells let the insulin in. Then your blood sugar drops like a stone and you feel like dirt. You are on the blood sugar roller coaster.

You absolutely can control the symptoms of the blood sugar roller coaster by limiting carbs and eating enough fat to be satiated.

While you've gone paleo, it sounds like you're still eating fruit, and probably starchy carbs. These are still giving you a problem. Try eliminating fruit for a while--a few weeks, while you get things under control. Then add it back in slowly, starting with the lowest glycemic fruits like berries and melon. Pineapple, citrus, bananas all have a high glycemic index and will spike your blood sugar and insulin levels quickly and you'll feel miserable. I've had reactive hypoglycemia all my life and even as a very skinny child I felt horrible shortly after eating those things.

You may want to limit the starchy carbs at first too. Once you've got your blood sugar steady on an even keel, then you can slowly add those back in as tolerated.

When carbs are reduced you MUST eat enough fat to replace those calories, or you will be hungry and miserable. You may be miserable anyway the first week or so, because your body holds a lot of fluid when insulin levels are up. When you stop spiking insulin and those levels fall, the body loses water, and that's what makes you feel bad. Drinking salty broth will help you feel better during the transition.

You might consider trying to use a blood glucose meter to help you figure this out. For the first day or two you need to take your blood sugar at 30 minute intervals after a meal, up to 2 hours--the purpose of this is to find out when you are most likely to peak and then drop your blood sugar after a meal.

Next, you want to check your blood glucose at the peak time after eating something pretty carby. What you will probably see when you eat a lot of carbs is that your blood sugar will spike up and then plummet down in that 2 hour window. When the blood glucose gets 70 or below you'll start to feel lousy. Now you can use the meter to figure out which foods cause this reaction the most. Then you can learn to either avoid those foods, or eat them in moderation with a full meal including plenty of fat to blunt the effect.

Most doctors will scoff at these suggestions (you do not need a prescription or your doctor's OK to buy a meter and test strips). Or they will send you for a glucose tolerance test that may not show anything (especially if you've already been cutting carbs) becuase this is really an INSULIN issue, not a blood glucose issue (the blood glucose fluctuations are symptoms, not the cause). A doctor who checks Insulin levels or runs a C-Peptide test knows what he or she is doing.

Before changing my diet, it was a stretch to go 2 hours without becoming the wicked witch of the west because of low blood sugar & hunger. Now I have to force myself to eat lunch, because I don't even begin to feel hungry until nearly dinner time. And my mood has been on a very even, keel. Life is SO much better off the roller coaster.

35deaf0f101526bb113ea69f79934f2b

(436)

on November 26, 2012
at 10:15 PM

Also, can I continue to run while cutting the sugar? I can cut down but can I do at least 3-5 miles a day? I know you are no doctor, but since you have been there and fixed it, I really appreciate any advice! Thanks so much!

35deaf0f101526bb113ea69f79934f2b

(436)

on November 26, 2012
at 10:14 PM

Thanks so much for the detailed response. If insulin resistance is caused by overeating and over use of insulin (as you could see in an obese person) then this makes sense for me. I am a runner and burn through hundred (sometimes thousands) or calories a day causing me to eat as much as an oveweight person. Do you recommend cutting all carbs or just the fruit and sugars? I eat lots of fruit, smoothies, and high cal veggies now, also some rice. Should I eliminate all of this in favor for a high fat diet for a while? or just stick to tons of high calorie veggies for carbs?

3491e51730101b18724dc57c86601173

(8395)

on November 27, 2012
at 05:27 PM

I would suggest you read the book "The Art and Science of Low Carb Prformance" by Phinney and Vollek. While switching off sugar burning you may feel too lousy to run for a few weeks. Also, you should consider the stress and strain on your body that this running causes--it leads to the release of excess cortisol that can be one reason for your insulin issues in the first place. I'm sure this is stuff you don't want to hear, but you might try looking up "chronic cardio" here and on other respected Paleo sites and see if anything jumps out at you.

0
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on December 10, 2012
at 09:28 PM

Magnesium supplementation really helped my sugar cravings. Try 400-600 mg of a Magnesium Chelate before bed.

I had reactive hypoglycemia, but 3 months of a strict Lacto-Paleo diet and my symptoms went away.

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