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Eating Paleo and have extreme fatigue-horrible

by (5)
Updated 32 minutes ago
Created July 02, 2012 at 12:27 PM

Hi there,

I am ending my 3rd week of eating strict Paleo and I still am experiencing extreme fatigue. The first 10 days I understood it, my body detoxing, etc. At this point I am feeling very defeated.

I take a multi vitamin, fish oil and magnesium. My meals consists of protein, carbs and fats.

All I want to do is sleep. Any ideas??? Please help.

Sandra

3a289656a1aa8d487ebfbe24c359f146
70 · October 13, 2012 at 5:19 AM

Chia seeds bloated me like a balloon.

3a289656a1aa8d487ebfbe24c359f146
70 · October 13, 2012 at 5:17 AM

I started to take about 600 or 700 grams of magnesium, two different supplements. Right afterwords, I felt so lethargic that I was going to pass out. I have cut back on the magnesium, only take it at night. Also was feeling very lethargic on less than 30 carbs a day. Last night, I had a dessert with poached pears. The one dessert with coconut milk, a little dark chocolate, nuts, equaled more then 25 carbs. I also upped the carbs during the day by eating more vegetables. This brought back a lot of energy. I still lost some weight. Maybe adding in carbs is not so bad.

B9673e4701dbf7017da7d75e9a44da6d
609 · July 02, 2012 at 8:53 PM

I ask because if you start tracking your calories in and calories out, you might be in too much of a deficit to feel much energy at all.

B9673e4701dbf7017da7d75e9a44da6d
609 · July 02, 2012 at 8:52 PM

How long and how often do you run for?

5ccb98f6ae42ce87e206cf3f6a86039f
11571 · July 02, 2012 at 8:40 PM

+1 for real food.

0382fa263de4c83328dc34a56e25437f
4218 · July 02, 2012 at 6:33 PM

I'm not so sure about this recommendation, but only from personal experience. I've been a Paleo eater for over three years, and every time I "add in some fruit" the resulting rise and fall of my energy levels from all that sugar only aggravates my sleep and depression issues.

0382fa263de4c83328dc34a56e25437f
4218 · July 02, 2012 at 6:32 PM

I'm not so sure about this recommendation, but only from personal experience. I've been a Paleo eater for over three years, and every time I "add in some fruit" the resulting rise and fall of my energy levels from all that sugar it aggravates my sleep and depression issues.

F0a3e3f17d9a740810ac37ff2353a9f3
3794 · July 02, 2012 at 4:54 PM

...sorry to go on about this, but you can't do science by taking a poll, because you wind-up with a self-selected, self-reporting group, not a random cross-section. If you ask for bad experiences with a VLC diet, for example, that's what you get. It goes no way at all toward showing that VLC dieters suffer from some bad result at a higher rate than some other group. There are bound to be VLC dieters who experience symptoms of hypothyroidism, because hypothyroidism itself is a depressingly common condition.

F0a3e3f17d9a740810ac37ff2353a9f3
3794 · July 02, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Also, I don't mean to disregard your personal experience, but all you can know for certain is that you felt better after adding carbs to your diet. With n=1, there's no way of knowing if the added carbs caused you to feel better, especially since dietary carbohydrate does other things besides raise T3.

F0a3e3f17d9a740810ac37ff2353a9f3
3794 · July 02, 2012 at 4:43 PM

"your body is down regulating your T3 thyroid hormone in order to conserve glucose." Respectfully, the whole T3/ glucose conservation thing is something that, as far as I can tell, Paul Jaminet just made-up. There's no scientific basis for it. In fact, there isn't a shred of evidence that lower T3 from a low-carb diet causes any symptom of hypothyroidism or has any other adverse effect in a healthy person. There's some reason to believe that lower T3 might exacerbate a pre-existing thyroid condition, but there's no evidence for that, either.

7f8bc7ce5c34aae50408d31812c839b0
2688 · July 02, 2012 at 2:04 PM

@ Sandra - I would suggest adding at least 50 gms/day of carbs from low toxin starches like potato, sweet potato, or white rice. Many veggie carbs, especially from low sugar veggies, are actually digested by gut flora and you get very little glucose from them. I don't even count carbs from most veggies. The blog link I gave you above has lots of good science based info about what this may be important for you.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790
15400 · July 02, 2012 at 1:24 PM

How about bacon and eggs for breakfast, add some pumpkin and fruits?

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20411 · July 02, 2012 at 1:20 PM

What version of "strict paleo" are you doing? Whole 30? Cordain? Wolf? (Note that many consider Cordain's version the "Faileo Diet".) Generally, you will feel like crap if carbs are too low. Try either adding some carbs or some electrolytes (sodium/potassium). And lose the concept of "detoxing". There is no scientific basis for it. Good luck on your journey - there is a lot to learn and a lot of misinformation to weed out.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4
20411 · July 02, 2012 at 1:16 PM

You said strict paleo. Protein powder is not strict paleo. It's acceptable, of course. Flax and chia just amke me want to gag. What purpose do they serve? (Note that the n3 from flax is converted to the more useful n3 at a less than 4% rate. Most of us gave up on flax (seeds/oil) a few years back).

E2b72f1912f777917d8ee6b7fba43c26
2379 · July 02, 2012 at 1:09 PM

Magnesium can do that, I suggest stopping it for a few days.

09cae58888c0f0f91289d02a748f7693
5 · July 02, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Yes, blood tests all normal. I do suffer from a minor form narcolepsy and I am on meds for that. I run for exercise and I think I am eating enough fats and protein. I make sure I have plenty at each meal.

09cae58888c0f0f91289d02a748f7693
5 · July 02, 2012 at 12:54 PM

I start every morning with a green smoothie shake which is loaded with greens and protein powder plus coconut oil or chia or flax. Lunch is always veggies, a protein and some fat. Snacks are usually nuts and then dinner a repeat of lunch. So, probably about 50% veggies, 30% protein and 20% fat. What if anything am I doing wrong?

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6 Answers

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4266 · July 02, 2012 at 5:51 PM

If your carbohydrate content is significantly lower than what it used to be, you may still be adjusting. It took me 5 weeks of adjusting and week 5 was actually the worst week of them all. I thought I was going to die. But that's because I hadn't heard about magnesium, potassium and sodium all being helpful. I supplemented and felt instantly much better and this was also when my weight loss finally began to happen and I started getting that incredible feeling of health everybody talks about. I think it still took me a month or two more to return to my previous level of exercise performance. I know the experts like to say it all takes just a few days, but not for all of us.

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2688 · July 02, 2012 at 12:47 PM

How many carbs are you eating per day and are they vegetable, starch, or sugar?

If you are getting less than 600 calories of combined protein and starch carbs you may find that your body is down regulating your T3 thyroid hormone in order to conserve glucose. This can make you extremely tired and feel like you are on the verge of hibernating.

Check out http://perfecthealthdiet.com/category/disease/diabetes/ for a more detailed explanation. You may be hypothyroid and never have known it until reducing your carb intake.

I believe this because it happened to me until I raised my carbs to about 80 gms starch per day.

Good luck.

EDIT- because I can't seem to comment for some reason. It just won't do anything when I try.

I understand where you're coming from in the comments, Sam. Its a bit more than an n=1 experiment with no data for me though. I had the blood tests that showed it likely to be true in my case. My T3 lowered and my TSH rose with a VLC diet (25 gms/day veggies) and then T3 moved upward and TSH lowered after I increased carbs to provide more glucose (80+gms/day starch). Sure, it could have been something else but I'm convinced enough.

I AM hypothyroid and it may be that you may have to BE hypothyroid in some form for this occur in you. I'm speculating that Sandra could be hypo and not been previously diagnosed.

Adding some carbs that will lead to increased glucose availability is easy to try and not harmful if it doesn't work. I just provided a possible explanation along with a link to some, at least plausible, science to back it up.

3a289656a1aa8d487ebfbe24c359f146
70 · October 13, 2012 at 5:19 AM

Chia seeds bloated me like a balloon.

F0a3e3f17d9a740810ac37ff2353a9f3
3794 · July 02, 2012 at 4:54 PM

...sorry to go on about this, but you can't do science by taking a poll, because you wind-up with a self-selected, self-reporting group, not a random cross-section. If you ask for bad experiences with a VLC diet, for example, that's what you get. It goes no way at all toward showing that VLC dieters suffer from some bad result at a higher rate than some other group. There are bound to be VLC dieters who experience symptoms of hypothyroidism, because hypothyroidism itself is a depressingly common condition.

F0a3e3f17d9a740810ac37ff2353a9f3
3794 · July 02, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Also, I don't mean to disregard your personal experience, but all you can know for certain is that you felt better after adding carbs to your diet. With n=1, there's no way of knowing if the added carbs caused you to feel better, especially since dietary carbohydrate does other things besides raise T3.

F0a3e3f17d9a740810ac37ff2353a9f3
3794 · July 02, 2012 at 4:43 PM

"your body is down regulating your T3 thyroid hormone in order to conserve glucose." Respectfully, the whole T3/ glucose conservation thing is something that, as far as I can tell, Paul Jaminet just made-up. There's no scientific basis for it. In fact, there isn't a shred of evidence that lower T3 from a low-carb diet causes any symptom of hypothyroidism or has any other adverse effect in a healthy person. There's some reason to believe that lower T3 might exacerbate a pre-existing thyroid condition, but there's no evidence for that, either.

7f8bc7ce5c34aae50408d31812c839b0
2688 · July 02, 2012 at 2:04 PM

@ Sandra - I would suggest adding at least 50 gms/day of carbs from low toxin starches like potato, sweet potato, or white rice. Many veggie carbs, especially from low sugar veggies, are actually digested by gut flora and you get very little glucose from them. I don't even count carbs from most veggies. The blog link I gave you above has lots of good science based info about what this may be important for you.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4
20411 · July 02, 2012 at 1:16 PM

You said strict paleo. Protein powder is not strict paleo. It's acceptable, of course. Flax and chia just amke me want to gag. What purpose do they serve? (Note that the n3 from flax is converted to the more useful n3 at a less than 4% rate. Most of us gave up on flax (seeds/oil) a few years back).

09cae58888c0f0f91289d02a748f7693
5 · July 02, 2012 at 12:54 PM

I start every morning with a green smoothie shake which is loaded with greens and protein powder plus coconut oil or chia or flax. Lunch is always veggies, a protein and some fat. Snacks are usually nuts and then dinner a repeat of lunch. So, probably about 50% veggies, 30% protein and 20% fat. What if anything am I doing wrong?

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b
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24528 · July 02, 2012 at 8:25 PM

"I start every morning with a green smoothie shake which is loaded with greens and protein powder plus coconut oil or chia or flax. Lunch is always veggies, a protein and some fat. Snacks are usually nuts and then dinner a repeat of lunch. So, probably about 50% veggies, 30% protein and 20% fat. What if anything am I doing wrong?"

Green smoothies are good here and there, but longer than a few days and they can do a doozy on the thyroid from the goitrogens in the raw greens, and if you lack oxalobactor bacteria in your gut, up your chance of developing kidney stones. It isn't nearly enough calories for starting the day in my opinion either because between the seeds and the greens you are getting more bulk than easily digestible nutrients.

I would focus on getting yourself a good dose of really real food when you get up, a good sized portion of meat or eggs, and veggies or starchy tubers if they sound good to you in the morning. Starting the day with good chunk of animal has been the best change I've ever made to my diet energy-wise. The other big piece of the puzzle for me has been to add more salt, salt=energy for me. Generously salted steak for breakfast has been nothing short of miraculous.

Everyone is a bit different in what fuels them best, but I didn't hit my stride until got my macros to 60+% fat, 20-25% protein, and the rest carbs in the form of mostly starch with some fruit, and throwing in green veggies randomly, I don't neglect them, but don't stress if they didn't make it into the meal, and they usually show up more as a handful of herbs shredded and sprinkled on top of my food, than a big serving. It is really easy to undereat if the vast majority of what is on your plate is vegetables. If that is your preferred plate layout though, I'd recommend drenching your veggies in melted fats, like pan drippings or butter.

Good luck!

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11571 · July 02, 2012 at 8:40 PM

+1 for real food.

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11571 · July 02, 2012 at 7:36 PM

The more information you provide, the closer you can come to getting a good answer.

Try tracking your food intake for a few days with a online program like cronometer so you can see exactly how many carbs and calories you are consuming. It's not unusual for someone new to eating paleo to be consuming too few calories, and that will certainly make you very tired. Also, if you are low carb, which is likely, and even if not low carb, you're undoubtedly eating less carb than you were, you may need to add some salt (@ 2 gms) per day. If you are working out vigorously you'll need more carbs than if you are concentrating on weight loss or control of diabetes or insulin resistance.

Added: Read the posts here http://paleohacks.com/search?q=faileo#axzz1zUnkALER to make sure you aren't actually on the Faileo diet, very common for people new to eating paleo.

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4181 · July 02, 2012 at 6:24 PM

Add in some fruit

0382fa263de4c83328dc34a56e25437f
4218 · July 02, 2012 at 6:33 PM

I'm not so sure about this recommendation, but only from personal experience. I've been a Paleo eater for over three years, and every time I "add in some fruit" the resulting rise and fall of my energy levels from all that sugar only aggravates my sleep and depression issues.

0382fa263de4c83328dc34a56e25437f
4218 · July 02, 2012 at 6:32 PM

I'm not so sure about this recommendation, but only from personal experience. I've been a Paleo eater for over three years, and every time I "add in some fruit" the resulting rise and fall of my energy levels from all that sugar it aggravates my sleep and depression issues.

B9673e4701dbf7017da7d75e9a44da6d
0
609 · July 02, 2012 at 12:37 PM

It sometimes takes more time than you think to get rid of all the Standard American Diet (SAD) crap that your body has stored up. Some feel the difference immediately, for others it could be a month or more.

Other questions:

  • Have you had your hormones/thyroid checked? Any other underlying health problems?
  • Do you exercise?
  • Are you tracking your macro nutrients (i.e. are you getting enough fat and protein)?

B9673e4701dbf7017da7d75e9a44da6d
609 · July 02, 2012 at 8:53 PM

I ask because if you start tracking your calories in and calories out, you might be in too much of a deficit to feel much energy at all.

B9673e4701dbf7017da7d75e9a44da6d
609 · July 02, 2012 at 8:52 PM

How long and how often do you run for?

09cae58888c0f0f91289d02a748f7693
5 · July 02, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Yes, blood tests all normal. I do suffer from a minor form narcolepsy and I am on meds for that. I run for exercise and I think I am eating enough fats and protein. I make sure I have plenty at each meal.

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