light headedness/faintness on paleo

by 626 · December 23, 2010 at 8:48 AM

So I've experienced light headedness on Paleo during a few occasions. It's always fairly acute--i.e. all of a sudden I get very light headed and feel the need to sit down. Not frequent (has only happened twice, maybe) in a year. This morning it happened again while sitting at my desk at work.

More details:

-I'm a male, early 20's, 190-200lbs, probably 15-18% bfp, 6 feet

-clean bill of health (My dr. is awesome and does comprehensive bloodwork at every checkup)...last one was a few months ago

-feel fine otherwise, lifting heavy weights no problem, doing hit and slow movements without shortness of breath etc (in general my circulatory/cardiac/respiratory health feels fine...I feel like i'm in pretty good shape), sleeping well, etc.

-typically happens during fasting days, or after not having eaten for a while

-tends to be preceded by super high energy, sometimes euphoric feeling

-almost positive every instance has been in AM before lunch (today it was like 10:45-11 am)

-To treat I usually drink a ton of water, deep breath to calm my self down (it can be a fairly unpleasant/little scary sensation) and then EAT something, typically complex carbs (i.e. a bagel, big sandwich, halal chicken and rice...yea I know not paleo and probably causes blood sugar spike, but when this happens I have the instinctual urge to eat and NOW...I've tried nuts and dried fruit but this doesn't do it for me in this situation) and a lot of it. This makes me feel better almost immediately, though leaves me feeling a little sluggish afterwords (both from the food and the adrenaline come-down) maybe slight head ache also.

-I think it may be hypo-glycemia or maybe just a reaction to general caloric deficit (one of the things I've had to watch for, contrary to every other diet I've ever been on, is eating ENOUGH for my size, as all the food is so filling)

-what's interesting is that this has never happened during a longer, sustained fast (i.e. a 24-36 hour fast), but rather happens say after doing two days of IF or restricted eating windows

-I do have a history of anxiety/panic attacks, which has largely abated with paleo nutrition, good sleep and regular exercise

  1. Have any of you ever experienced anything like this?

  2. If so, what do you do? How do you treat and/or prevent it?

  3. Any clues as to what this could be?

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4 Replies

822 · December 23, 2010 at 8:48 AM

Hypoglycemia is pretty unlikely... and a blood glucose monitor can answer that definitively. Remember even zero carb folks usually don't get hypoglycemia. More likely you have mild hypotension. Try getting your blood pressure checked.

I think getting lightheaded occasionally, especially when standing up, is normal if you haven't eaten for a while... If I fast for a few days I experience something like orthostatic hypotension almost every time I stand up, sometimes so bad that I can't see at all or nearly pass out. After a while you get used to it. Sometimes even turning my head too fast causes me to feel a little out of it or see sparkles. All of it goes away when I eat more calories and more frequently.

I heard drinking more water and eating more salt might help since it causes you to retain more water and increases blood fluid volume. In my case laying off the coffee would probably help too. :)

5852 · December 22, 2010 at 11:09 PM

I feel like this may be something similar to what I went through. After 3-4 months of Paleo, and limitless energy, I began trying intermittent fasting and focused more and more on shedding weight. I feel like this lead to caloric restriction to the point where I feel I might have been Hypoglycemic. I started eating more, emphasis on fat. I know you said eating fat doesn't help (and I'm assuming you mean in the couple hours after eating), and in my experience it doesn't. But what it does do, is set me up properly for the next day or two. I really think you might just not be getting enough calories.

I feel like I have pinpointed this feeling (which is near hell) to if I run a heavy caloric deficit for more than a two days.

Hope this helps. Also, looking to hear other answers.

18619 · December 22, 2010 at 11:12 PM

I've spent the last few years getting light-headed really easily. I had blamed it on my high blood pressure, but now that I'm eating Paleo, it's been gone.

I think it was a combination of under-feeding (I ate 1200 calories for 6 years while losing weight, now 1400/1500) and not being hydrated enough (from a diuretic I take for blood pressure).

There are far too many reasons you could get dizzy, but that it comes on fasting days and you fix it by drinking a ton of water makes me think that maybe it could be the same reasons I was dizzy.

This isn't really something you want to play with, dizziness is not usually a sign of anything good. I would drop the fasting.

1267 · December 22, 2010 at 10:34 PM

For me yes - it still happens after nearly 6 months Paleo

For me I think its a hypo - it passes - eating more fat does not make it go away - nor protein for that matter

For me exercise and fat ( not together) - especially fat - if my meal is more fat than protein for sure - can happen an hr or so after eating.

I make sure I have a salad with my bacon eggs ( or just skip the bacon ) and I dont have cream so much any more. Just tweaked my diet that's all

Oh yeh - for you it could be simple as DONT FAST - only do things that feel good for you - your a hungry 20year old man - go feed yourself!

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