3

votes

Carb-less = Crabby....how long will it last?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created August 14, 2012 at 3:40 PM

Everyone keeps trumpeting the wonders of the Paleo diet, so my boyfriend and I decided to jump on the bandwagon after starting Crossfit last week. He is trying to lose some weight, while I'm just trying to eat healthier (I'm 5'6, 115 lbs, regular runner, in decent shape). The problem is that now I'm starting Day 3 and I woke up feeling awful. Other people in our Crossfit (they just started doing paleo too) say they feel great. People on the web say they sleep better. I am feeling awful, tired, sluggish, and completely useless--and I've seemed to develop a problem with insomnia. I have had minimal aches and pains throughout all of Crossfit On-Ramp and have had little problem with keeping form; however, last night I could do nothing. I was tired, emotional, and completely zapped of energy after the workout. On top of that, I tweaked a muscle in my quad---which I have NEVER done throughout years of being a collegiate and semi-professional athlete.

I don't understand what is wrong with me. I saw people talking about "carb-flu," but I don't feel sick---I just feel like I want to cry. As in, pms-type emotions, but I am definitely not premenstrual---just weepy, girly emotional. As in, I almost cried last night during a workout because I was being such a baby about not being able to get the form down. EMBARRASSING. I feel too tired to even go out and run and even a little too nervous that I'll get out four miles and not be able to make it back.

Is this because of no carbs? How long will it last? Should I have slowly transitioned away from carbs rather than cold turkey? I just need some help/answers/advice, or I know there is no way that this is going to work for me.

UPDATE: THANK YOU TO EVERYONE FOR THEIR WISDOM, HELPFUL CLARIFICATION OF PALEO GUIDELINES, AND GUIDANCE TO ADDITIONAL RESOURCES. TODAY HAS BEEN MUCH EASIER---DIDN'T FEEL AS DEPRIVED AND FEELING BETTER PHYSICALLY. INTRODUCING MORE FRUITS HAS BEEN VERY HELPFUL.

753e1b824fbe0b11c797a244b1a4c7e3

(369)

on August 15, 2012
at 06:22 AM

You're welcome! You can find that pancake recipe on Mark's Daily Apple I think- It's 2 bananas, 1 egg and 1-2 tbs of almond butter mixed together for the batter (I use chunky), or any nut butter, plus whatever spices you want to add- I like cinnamon and vanilla extract. Put a little coconut oil in a frying pan and make pancakes! I recommend keeping the heat lowish/mediumish and making them silver dollar pancake sized. You won't even wish you had syrup! Plus, they save well in the fridge and reheat in the microwave- perfect breakfast on the fly :-) It does get better, keep with it!!

Fdf101349c397fbe1ecb98b310fb3737

(358)

on August 15, 2012
at 03:54 AM

The safe starches proponents generally prefer white rice (fewer anti-nutrients and brown rice does not have much nutrition to start with).

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on August 15, 2012
at 12:43 AM

I've gone cold turkey a number of times, and day 3 usually sucks ass. There is most certainly a sugar withdrawal phase when you cut back, you body has become very accustomed to one kind of fuel. My nutritionist put me on a probiotic by Theramedix called CDX which helped immensely with quieting that little voice that insists on sugar. There is also an emerging theory that only acellular carbohydrates (like flour or refined sugar) are a problem, and naturally packaged carbs with cell walls maintained like fruit and tubers should rarely if ever be a problem.

79b081a3b3c08dd66ef0dbfd63fb5e86

on August 14, 2012
at 10:45 PM

Thanks for the article!

79b081a3b3c08dd66ef0dbfd63fb5e86

on August 14, 2012
at 10:43 PM

@Diane. You are right-I mean grains, but also sugar. The majority of meals during the day involved cereal, bread, and sugar. Not having sugar in coffee, normal cookie after lunch, bar before working out, or a scoop of froyo after dinner has been difficult. I'm going to try to have a banana before Crossfit tonight and see if it helps. I was pretty carb-addicted, mainly because as an athlete, carbs were part of prescribed nutrition. They have been my "fuel," so this is taking a bit of a psychological shift as well as physical. Did you phase those things out or go cold turkey?

79b081a3b3c08dd66ef0dbfd63fb5e86

on August 14, 2012
at 10:33 PM

Thanks for the advice! I am going to grab some sweet potatoes for tonight. Is brown rice better than white rice or does it not matter?

79b081a3b3c08dd66ef0dbfd63fb5e86

on August 14, 2012
at 10:31 PM

This is actually exactly what I've been feeling. In the last few days, I have become cognizant of how many refined carbs I eat a day. I guess when I talk about carbs, I am talking about the refined ones. I always have cereal with fruit and a yogurt in the morning, so I am missing that "burst" of energy I got from that. The pancakes sound great and that could be a good fixer for my morning "sweet tooth"---thanks for the advice!

F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on August 14, 2012
at 05:29 PM

When you say "no carbs" you mean no grains, right? You should be eating meat, vegetables, roots and tubers and maybe fruit if you like it. With that you will have carbs. If you are actually doing zero carb, then one wonders where you heard that zero carb = paleo. Depending on how carb-addicted you were, it could take a couple months to get used to a low carbohydrate diet. That's what it took for me. I'm glad I went low carb, but it is not required of anyone to be paleo.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on August 14, 2012
at 04:33 PM

Way to go Jackson. BTW, rudeness can get you banned. She is attempting paleo via xfit, which is usually a Cordain approach. Cordain's approach works better for the obese and diabetic, although I would still argue it's still too much protein and not enough fat. @Carb-less - You may want to check out the Perfect Health Diet by the Jaminets - It's paleo with safe starches at a reasonable level for optimal health.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on August 14, 2012
at 04:25 PM

Yes, fruit & tubers are paleo. White rice is generally non toxic, if not orthodox paleo. You should try 100-150 grams of carbohydrate daily, depending on your activity level. (Mark Sisson's recommendation for active people already at a healthy weight)

Dfeb3c1ef269c5dc03154d1689c14373

(716)

on August 14, 2012
at 04:22 PM

"I don't understand what is wrong with me" I don't either. You know what's causing the problem and instead you continue to torture yourself---might need to see a doctor to diagnose whats wrong with you...

Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

12 Answers

best answer

1
Fdf101349c397fbe1ecb98b310fb3737

(358)

on August 14, 2012
at 04:20 PM

Another angle of this is that the more intense your workout is, the more you need to replace your muscle glycogen. If you are pushing yourself in the crossfit workouts, you should definitely consider higher carb than you are doing now. (I am assuming that you are very low carb (<50 g).

You likely don't need a ton, but if you aim for something on the order of ingesting 100 to 150 carb grams on your crossfit days, you should be fine. Shoot for some a few hours before you workout, then eat some afterwards to recharge.

Of course, use safe starch such as sweet potatoes or white rice.

At your height and weight, it appears that obesity is not an issue, so carbs are probably not something you need to be TOO concerned about.

79b081a3b3c08dd66ef0dbfd63fb5e86

on August 14, 2012
at 10:33 PM

Thanks for the advice! I am going to grab some sweet potatoes for tonight. Is brown rice better than white rice or does it not matter?

Fdf101349c397fbe1ecb98b310fb3737

(358)

on August 15, 2012
at 03:54 AM

The safe starches proponents generally prefer white rice (fewer anti-nutrients and brown rice does not have much nutrition to start with).

best answer

1
753e1b824fbe0b11c797a244b1a4c7e3

on August 14, 2012
at 07:34 PM

Is it that you're truly not eating any carbs, or is it that you're just not eating the carbs you are used to eating?

I haven't been paleo for long, but I know my first week or so was hard, because I was constantly missing things like cheese, bread, pasta, etc that I loved. I would get whiny when I was hungry, and I am sure that I was very annoying to my fiance. However, it did end after a few days. I started to realize how much of my diet was grains, dairy, and processed foods- even though I ate fruits, veggies, and meat before, it wasn't the base of my diet. It is a hard adjustment to give up things you love or are used to. I wanted to cry at the grocery store sometimes when I passed things I 'couldn't have.' But I promised myself to truly do paleo, no cheating, for a month. I found that the best way to deal with cravings was to find a recipe I was excited about that was paleo- there are endless amounts of great recipes online! One night I was craving pancakes- I found a recipe for paleo "pancakes" online consisting of bananas, an egg and almond butter (I added in cinnamon, too). They smelled amazing, they taste yummy (even my non-paleo, banana-hating fiance loves them), and they filled a need I had for something I thought I couldn't have. Once you learn to get more creative it gets a lot better- I was bored with eating the same things over and over, so make sure you're trying to mix it up.

79b081a3b3c08dd66ef0dbfd63fb5e86

on August 14, 2012
at 10:31 PM

This is actually exactly what I've been feeling. In the last few days, I have become cognizant of how many refined carbs I eat a day. I guess when I talk about carbs, I am talking about the refined ones. I always have cereal with fruit and a yogurt in the morning, so I am missing that "burst" of energy I got from that. The pancakes sound great and that could be a good fixer for my morning "sweet tooth"---thanks for the advice!

753e1b824fbe0b11c797a244b1a4c7e3

(369)

on August 15, 2012
at 06:22 AM

You're welcome! You can find that pancake recipe on Mark's Daily Apple I think- It's 2 bananas, 1 egg and 1-2 tbs of almond butter mixed together for the batter (I use chunky), or any nut butter, plus whatever spices you want to add- I like cinnamon and vanilla extract. Put a little coconut oil in a frying pan and make pancakes! I recommend keeping the heat lowish/mediumish and making them silver dollar pancake sized. You won't even wish you had syrup! Plus, they save well in the fridge and reheat in the microwave- perfect breakfast on the fly :-) It does get better, keep with it!!

8
Ba09704971e33481f5716c4790648966

(1794)

on August 14, 2012
at 03:47 PM

Eat more carbs please.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on August 14, 2012
at 04:25 PM

Yes, fruit & tubers are paleo. White rice is generally non toxic, if not orthodox paleo. You should try 100-150 grams of carbohydrate daily, depending on your activity level. (Mark Sisson's recommendation for active people already at a healthy weight)

5
45ace03a0eff1219943d746cfb1c4197

(3661)

on August 14, 2012
at 03:54 PM

Are you literally eating no carbs? Or very few carbs? If so, you probably need to add some healthy carbs into your diet, whether a little fruit, some sweet potato, or other vegetables. You don't need to go overboard or grab a cookie, certainly. What uou describe could be a simple transition, it's hard to tell this early. But remember, Paleo is not carb-free.

2
8eecfc406b1dcdea77930cc58397621f

on August 14, 2012
at 07:07 PM

Paleo shouldn't be called a low-carb diet, and definitely not a no-carb diet. It should be called a normal carb diet. The sad thing is that the Western Diet has changed what a "normal" intake of carbs is. The Western Diet is high-carb. Eat less carbs; the intended amount--and from whole, natural sources.

2
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on August 14, 2012
at 07:06 PM

Too much glucose related change all at once. You add in a glycolytic event (crossfit) and drastically reduced your carb consumption all at once. If you can push through for a couple weeks you will likely come out the other end feeling quite a bit better.

The up and down side is rather than dipping a toe in, then a foot, then wading in .....you just got shoved into ketosis. Your physiological adaptation has not happened yet. It will develop, but it takes time. Eat some coconut oil, use sodium, and drink plenty of water. Many people have no problem once they get over the initial carb flu and transition to ketones and fat.

On the other hand if you continue to do crossfit at a rate of more than about three times a week you may very well need to do some carb refeeds. That is when you purposely increase your intake for a day http://www.marksdailyapple.com/dear-mark-should-i-increase-carb-intake-for-weight-loss/#axzz23SHfipdI

Really your macro make up is dictated by your exercise choices and lifestyle. Endurance training, or HIT 1-2x/week does just fine with LC. Those that engage in prolonged moderate level cardio, or HIT 4-7x/week seem to do better with more carbohydrate in the diet.

79b081a3b3c08dd66ef0dbfd63fb5e86

on August 14, 2012
at 10:45 PM

Thanks for the article!

2
61844af1187e745e09bb394cbd28cf23

(11048)

on August 14, 2012
at 03:58 PM

Paleo does not have to be no or low carb. The low-carb flu can affect you physically and/or emotionally. Incorporate some sweet potatoes or fruit and you will probably feel better.

1
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on August 14, 2012
at 07:37 PM

Day 3-4 is usually the worst keto-adaptation. Making sure you are topped off on electrolytes can help, like veggie juice or salty soup (I'd actually recommend both).

I would strongly advise against working out hard while making the shift, you undergoing a rather significant metamorphosis right now, and it is time to relax at the spa, meditate, nap, watch a lot of crappy TV.

If you are a healthy, active, non-pudgy human, going zero carb or VLC is likely an unnecessary and potentially detrimental step. That recommendation is best as a first step for insulin resistant people with unhappy livers.

I've also found that there is a seasonality to what I thrive on, in the summer I feel like I need fruit and going VLC would be very difficult, whereas in the dead of winter, when I normally feel like hibernating anyway, I think it is a bit easier to make the shift.

1
599feb9ad716266e8eb5030cd82d5dcd

(229)

on August 14, 2012
at 06:18 PM

Low carb gets a lot of bad press and a lot of people here will tell you to just eat more carbs.

I don't agree, and have seen tremendous benefits from going into ketosis. However it must be done properly, and not cold turkey if you want a smooth transition.

Stop working out for a while, and you can try doing a search for intermittent fasting. This really seemed to help me.

In short: Do lots of research before you make diet changes, and know what you are doing. I recommend reading Primal Body, Primal Mind

1
Cf416725f639ffd1bb90764792ce7b8a

(2799)

on August 14, 2012
at 05:26 PM

http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/1/1/2

Give it three weeks. You might not want to workout until you feel better.

1
276a5e631b62f8e0793987c0496364bb

(1644)

on August 14, 2012
at 05:05 PM

My experience was that sticking to low-carb long enough to get through the low-carb flu (I didn't need to lose weight) helped me better tolerate intermittent fasting later on. If you can stick it out for a bit longer and THEN introduce more carbs, you might be better off.

1
D9c4df3d13dfb1f6a56e3aa801ba71c8

on August 14, 2012
at 04:16 PM

How many carbs are you eating? If your plan was not to lose weight then don't radically reduce carbs at once. You may need to add bananas and or sweet potatoes to you diet. Paleo doesn't need to be very low carb or low carb. It is usually just moderately lower in carbs but you can slowly reduce your carb intake.

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!