not sleeping, hungry and tired

Answered on January 07, 2014
Created January 04, 2014 at 1:07 PM


I am new to Paleo and I was wondering whether someone could help me. I have been doing the 'diet' for a week now and I am having problems.

I have known about the rules of this way of eating for some time but was resistant to trying it as I have not eaten meat for years. However my diet has still been very healthy on the whole and quite low carb. I rarely ate bread, or wheat or rice. My diet tended to be intermittent fasting until 12. Then I would have a protein shake, or avocado and salad and some nuts. In the afternoon I would maybe eat a piece of cheese (unpasturised), or some hummus, snack on a packet of cherry tomatoes or a tin of salmon. Dinner would be a stir fry with prawns or a salad with fish. If I was in a restaurant I would have fish and vegetables and only then some bread and butter. My sleep was excellent 10.30-7 with no waking despite being nearly 50 and entering the menopause. No periods for 3-4 months at a time and rarely a hot flush. Masses of energy on waking for the whole morning. My blood sugar is fine and I can easily go 5 hours without needing to eat and I never get a drowsy or foggy head (I do know what that is like because when I was in my 20's at uni I was very unwell with all the junk food and had a very foggy head and exhaustion and IBS until I did an elimination diet and made a massive lifestyle change) I don't drink coffee but drink alcohol once or twice a week. I walk my dog and hour and a half every day and do a weights class at the gym 3 times a week and sometimes some cardio as well. I used to run but running raised my cortisol dramatically and wiped me out, damaged my hips so I had to stop.

I wanted to try a different approach to food though as my weight was stuck at about 135lbs (I am guessing as I never weigh my self) I am only 5ft 3 so I would like to be 112lbs or something like that. I don't have a lot of stomach fat, my fat is more of a problem on my upper arms and bottom and thighs.

Also my mood can be very low/depressed and my energy swings wildly from high to low, day by day in terms of motivation (not so much a sugar low as in I don't have to rush and eat anything to feel better, more a low, flat mood).

After another session of reading all I could on Paleo/Blueprint and all the great feedback from devotees I decided to give it a try. I started back on meat and got all the correct grass fed beef etc.

I was raised as a child on a 'health farm' and my father is an organic gardener so we always had free range eggs and made our own full fat raw yoghurt, and had massive amounts of organic vegetables.

The first 3-4 days I was fine and my energy levels went up along with my mood. I wasn't sure whether my mood improvement was the excitement of starting something new or the diet itself.

I was having something like scrambled eggs and bacon and sausage for breakfast, steak and salad for lunch and then fish and vegetables for dinner with coconut yoghurt for dessert (because I was still starving!) This is so much more than I usually eat but I am not feeling my hunger pangs switch off - the grehlin. My mind is up and racing like mad. For the last 2 nights I have slept really badly and woken up shattered. Today I did my early weight class then went and had breakfast of scrambled eggs sausage and bacon and I feel so tired. I haven't weighed my self but I feel the weight is coming off quickly (a lot of water weight from the carbs over xmas!)

What am I doing wrong? I need to sleep and I need to feel full up or I won't be able to continue.

It reminds me of when I was in my early 30's and I had a bit of an eating disorder. I would manage all day on an apple and a salad - had a high racing energy - but I never slept.

My mind is racing at bedtime. I can only think that I am not making any seratonin prior to bedtime and need to eat some more carbs. I have bought some sweet potatoes for this week to include.

I have felt better than this and slept better when I have done a fast.

I can't believe it is a 'detox' period as I have not been a very high carb eater.

Can someone please help? I would really appreciate it. I would love to be able to make this work for me.

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8 Answers


on January 07, 2014
at 08:07 AM

Thank you again Elizabeth!

That link was very useful and definitely summed up what happened to me when I was anorexic 18 years ago. I had definitely restricted my carbs and nearly everything else then!

Mind you, I never missed a period.

But the insomnia and the anxiety were through the roof. And 18 years later, after one week of low carb but plenty of food, I felt the same very quickly. It was alarming for me. (that was a bad time in my life that I do not need repeating)

I am going through the menopause and due to healthy lifestyle have been problem free, apart from last week! After sleeping badly I went to the gym and was having hot flushes one after the other - my oestrogen must have crashed through the floor.

For all you younger women who just say 'oh stop worrying and just eat some more fat and protein- just wait until you are 50ish. It stops working like that!

I have added in sweet potatoes and I feel better. I am sleeping. My adrenaline is still pretty revved up though. It feels good but i am aware it could lead to a horrible crash, so I need a bit more carbs still I think.

Its annoying how most men can just drop the carbs and drop the weight without any of these problems.

Thank you again


on January 07, 2014
at 12:53 AM

Eat a sweet potato.


on January 06, 2014
at 10:56 PM

I resisted adding the carbs back in for a long time, even though I knew that was the source of my terrible sleep. Funnily enough, I didn't link it to the anxiety at the time - it wasn't until I was better that I made the connection. I don't necessarily think the anxiety was caused directly by the lack of carbs; it was probably more to do with the lack of sleep and the amount of stress it was causing me, which was definitely down to the lack of carbs! But eventually I just had to increase them significantly, for my own sanity. I no longer worry constantly about how/if I'm going to sleep - I always sleep well. No, I'm not as slim as I was then, but I'm still in good shape and you have to decide what's most important to you. For me, in the end, my happiness won out over my figure!

Personally, I do believe that women need more carbs - I say this from my own experience, those of people I know, and having read several accounts of women who went very low carb and suffered similar symptoms. It often seems to go hand-in-hand with lowered thyroid function (I believe Chris Kresser has written about this), and I definitely recommend you read this post by Stefani Ruper:


I also recommend you read up on liver function and the hours from 1-3am. Low glucose levels in your body can stimulate your liver to begin breaking down glycogen (the storage form of glucose in the liver), which requires epinephrine. The liver is metabolically active between 1am and 3am (apparently - according to Chinese medicine; I'm not sure what science says about this), and a surge of epinephrine at that time of night is not helpful for a good night's sleep! Sorry, I'm no scientist so I'm not sure of the precise details, but it's interesting reading and may be worth a look :)

Edited to add: I'm not saying that NO women thrive on a very low carb diet. But in the Paleo community you often hear testimonials from women who did it and had rainbows coming out of them, and then you wonder what you're doing wrong or what's wrong with you. Just saying - don't worry if that doesn't happen for you. It doesn't happen for a lot of us!


on January 05, 2014
at 07:43 AM

thank you so much. I think it was your post I read that inspired me to do that last night. :)

I was a bit anorexic many years back and my low carbs then made my mind race and then came insomnia and panic attacks and constant anxiety. I was sleeping 3-4 hours for 3 years!That was why at the first hint of that feeling again (one week low carb) I was getting a bit anxious.

Do you think women need the seratonin from the carbs more than men?


on January 05, 2014
at 07:38 AM

If your mind is racing through the night and nothing you take is helping, eat more carbs. It was absolutely the only thing that helped me, and I lived with terrible sleep for months. I ended up suffering from anxiety. Eat more carbs, especially before bed.


on January 05, 2014
at 07:00 AM

I read some of the posts on this site regarding hunger and sleep and for my last meal I added a sweet potato. I feel so much better. I had supper at 5pm. It is now 7am, I slept really well and I am still feeling sated!


on January 04, 2014
at 01:22 PM

and I already take magnesium and iodine supplements


on January 04, 2014
at 01:21 PM

I'd just like to say that I took a melatonin last night but it did nothing.

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