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Why there are more cons than pros after two months on paleo? Like fatigue, depression, low libido and gut problems.

by (10) Updated August 26, 2013 at 10:58 PM Created August 25, 2013 at 5:49 PM

Hello!

I've been on paleo for two months now. The reason why I started paleo is related to my health issues like mild fatigue and problems with digestion and gut. I have had adrenal fatigue and a little history of hypothyroid but about two months ago my biggest problem was my gut.

Then I decided that enough of digestion problems, I'll go to paleo.

PROS:

  • after a week my 11-year old athlete's foot disappeared
  • after two weeks my inflammated toothroot started to push decay/rot through my gum and it lasted three weeks
  • my scalp psoriasis is gone

CONS:

  • extreme physical fatigue. I'm extremely tired all the time. My legs are especially fatigued. 12 steps on stairs and I feel like my legs are full with lactic acid. Also I get short breath ridiculously easy.
  • mental issues like depression. I have had depression many years ago but back then my life was a mess from a nutritive point of view and much alcohol and tobacco were involved and other stuff what belongs in "college life". Now I feel very down and depressed. Nothing makes me laugh.
  • low libido. This makes me even more sad. No interest in sex at all.
  • may be related to physical and mental issues but I have started to hate communicating. I don't want to talk with my colleagues nor to my wife. I don't want to listen to them at all. Same goes to radio.
  • I wake up very dry. I can't keep the fluids in my body. I have to get up and pee two times a night.
  • I sleep very badly. Sometimes it feels like I haven't slept at all. First two to three hours goes nicely but then I start waking up every half an hour.
  • daily loose stool and diarrhea. This I had before my paleo but not so often.

I know I might have something in my thyroid and especially in my adrenals and it is easy for me to blame paleo. But non of these pros&cons existed before my paleo (except mild fatigue and diarrhea) or at least not in so powerful way.

Background info:

  • 30 years old male. English is not my mother language, sorry!
  • I have cut all my activities and golf is only sports I play. Averaging two hours a day. My work is office work.
  • My calorie intake has been at least at the level of maintenance or a little higher. I weight 67kg/148lbs and I eat 2400-2800kcal per day. I have tried to eat even more and with lo-carb and especially with hi-carb. I eat lots of fatty meats and vegetables. I have added my carb intake with sweet potatoes and honey.
  • During two months of paleo, once I have cheated big time. I ate cheesecake on my 1st anniversal wedding day and that was after 1 month of strict paleo. After that (whole30) I have cheated about 1-2 times a week eating something that includes sugar. But very small amounts at a time. No dairy, no grains, no legumes. Only once in two months I ate dairy and gluten-free grains and that was the cheesecake. OK, white rice is a grain but I have eaten it a few times during the second month of my paleo.
  • supplementation: fish oil, B vitamin complex, B5,vit C and D, some un-stress formula, MSM, iron, l-glutamine, selenium(from 3 brazil nuts per day)
  • I don't take any medication.

I'd like to hear your comments and opinions. I really want to make this work and I will definately listen to You. I deeply believe in paleo.

Thank You in advance. Best Regards, Perryn

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6 Replies

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A6b7afacdb512b861716bca9e9226ad3
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333 · August 25, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Sounds like you are doing a lot of things right.

I notice you are taking an iron supplement...too much iron can result in several of your symptoms. You should be getting plenty from the meat already.

Your language skills are fine. :-)

Congratulations on your 1-year anniversary!

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0f44d81f247518d6fc2de0403ff9a68a
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599 · August 25, 2013 at 7:05 PM

There are a few points I would like to address:

  • iron supplements for men can be very problematic. You should only take them if you have verified that you need the iron through a blood test and regularly check if you still do.
  • A paleo diet should not be a "mostly meat" diet. If you really do eat "lots of fatty meats", meaybe try to reduce the amount of meat and try increasing either your fat consumption or your carbohydrates. You don't need that much protein.
  • You mentioned your history of hypothyroidism, but didn't say anything about thyroid medication and/or iodine. You might want to check your thyroid status; maybe you need some supplement for it. And you might want to add at least a little iodine. There is a huge controversy about how much iodine does make sense. But even the people who don't think iodine has any usage besides the thyroid will agree that no iodine is a bad idea and many paleo people who don't even eat iodized salt (not that it's a great iodine source to begin with) might run into problems, since iodine is not really abundant in our food. (Unless you eat seaweed regularly)
  • Try adding a little salt. Some people don't do very well on low-salt diets and I actually don't agree that salt is not paleo. Besides, whether it's paleo or not does not tell you directly whether it's good to include or not. Riding your bike is not paleo, either. But it sure isn't bad to do it. And it sure doesn't hurt to try adding about 2-3g of salt a day.
  • Your fatigue reminds me of low-carb flu. Make sure you either stay consistently low on carbs and limit your protein OR eat enough carbs, but do so consistently. Something like 100g of carbs can be a pretty awkward place to be at, since it's neither enough for your brain+muscles, but also not low enough to get into ketosis, for example.
  • Your bad sleep and your loose stools should be addressed first. It's no wonder you are fatigues with low sex drive if your sleep is bad. You might find that things that improve your sleep will also improve your other symptoms.

Here are some recommendation for improving sleep:

  • Don't drink caffeine after 3pm
  • Don't drink anything at least 1 hour before going to bed (maybe 2)
  • Try supplementing with magnesium before bed
  • Sleep in a pitch black room
  • Make sure you don't use electronic devices (computers, tv, iphone/ipad) at least 1 hour before going to bed. Read a book or listen to a podcast, instead.
  • Try relaxation techniques before going to bed
  • You might try supplements like 5-HTP or L-Tryptophan and GABA in the evening.
  • If you can tolerate dairy, adding yogurt can help with loose stools.

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2611 · August 26, 2013 at 10:09 PM

It sounds to me like your quality of life is suffering severely and you should take this extremely seriously -- a lot more seriously than any paleo dogma. If I were you I would immediately stop paleo and go back to however I was eating before. Expect that you might feel sick for a few days just from changing your diet abruptly. Then, see if you feel better. That way you can find out right away whether there's something about your current paleo diet that's messing you up, rather than wasting a few more months being miserable while you tweak carbs and obscure supplements.

If you change your diet and your problems go away, then you can gradually reintroduce paleo elements and experiment to find out what's good for you and what's not. If your problems don't go away, you know you have a problem that's not related to paleo, and it's probably time to start seriously looking for help from a doctor.

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7741 · August 26, 2013 at 10:58 PM

Try adding plenty of starch to your daily diet. White rice, white potatoes, banana, squashes. I had a year of side effects from low carb before I gave it up, don't be stubborn like me. Different bodies can thrive on quite different diets.

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4873 · August 26, 2013 at 8:49 PM

I found that drinking a good quality licorice tea (quickly) did amazing things to help my fatigue/adrenals and minimized/killed my sugar cravings. I'd stay away from dairy for at least 6 months, as you are likely to be getting a buzz from the additives, which include MSG in many US brands, and the casein.

You also need to get outside (vit d3 is just sunshine from the inside) and force yourself to get up with the sun and go to sleep when it gets dark. (Get blue blocking glasses and use them religiously to protect your mind from blue lights.) This is hard to do, especially with waking during the night, but your body needs rest to heal.

Food is one piece of the puzzle, the way you live your life is the other.

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2297 · August 26, 2013 at 12:06 PM

One possibility is that your 2 months on paleo has helped you to uncover a food intolerance or previously hidden celiac. The most likely intolerance would be gluten or dairy.

Even if you didn't feel worse directly after the cheesecake, it isn't unheard of to feel worse during the intestinal healing phase. And if you are seriously gluten intolerant, you could be exposed to enough to make you slightly ill (fatigue, bowel issues) and affect your mood even without eating any of it. Example - removing buns from hamburgers or using the same old cutting boards that you used to use for bread.

Or it is all an extension of the existing thyroid/adrenal issue. This seems less likely given the full list of symptoms.

Check out this list http://www.southernarizonaceliacsupport.org/disease/symptomchecksheet.pdf for who should test for celiac and perhaps take your symptom list over to www.celiac.com and see what they say. I think you will see some overlap over there.

Also, every now and then, it is a good idea to stop all the supplements for at least 4 days and then add them back in one at a time. It is possible that one or more of them no longer agrees with you in some way. You may need to change brands or formulations.

Most people can drop grains from their diet and handle eating 90/10 or 80/20. But some people can't. Approximately 1 in 141 people and nearly all of them don't know. Latest prevalence stats here - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22850429

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