After a couple months off the boat I'm finally pushing through those sugar cravings and getting back to low carb, but this adaption phase is....awful. I've been "Paleo" for about two years, but I'm starting to think I never went through a proper low carb flu....... When I first started out I was always liberal with nuts, startchy foods, and fruits, and then I found my way onto a LeanGains style course so every couple days there was a massive carb refeed happening.
It's been about four days since I significantly dialed down the carbs and I am getting HIT. Lack of focus doesn't begin to describe it. I feel like my usual functioning mind has been split into a 100 different pieces, and I can see all of them, but I just can't pull them together and use them. Folks, this is mental fog and fatigue bordering on causing existential crisis. Sheeesh. I'm a pretty active guy.... biking, gym, muscular build, massive amounts of mental energy expended on a daily basis... ( Usually at least. I can barely read right now. )
So my question: Do I tough it out? Collapse for a week until I can think straight? Would it be a wise idea to throw some sweet potatoes and squash into the mix here, maybe hit 100-150g of carbs a day? Or will that keep me from ever properly pushing through this and keep me in a low carb adaption limbo? Someone out there please, tell me you've been through this!
I'm involved in training high-performance athletes that we push through "keto flu" in preparation for cyclic ketogenic diets designed to have them lean out to make a competition weight without losing any strength (often actually gaining strength).
Many things possible with you, here. You may not actually be in "keto flu" but actually just not be eating enough calories from fat. (Don't try to increase calories from protein, you'll just generate glucose, cause insulin spikes, and never downregulate glycolysis.)
You may need a potassium supplement to balance out the sodium you're eating.
You might benefit from supplementing with L-Glutamine, a practice I've only just heard about and need more information on. Anecdotally speaking, some people benefit.
And if you ARE in keto flu, then the first thing is, GET THROUGH IT.
And you don't get through it by eating more carbs. You get through it by toughing it out (and eating more fat and protein, but mostly more fat). Some people take longer than others, but MOST people are through it by the 5th or 6th day, and feel absolutely normal after that.
You should also dial back your activity quite a bit, because it's not helping. You're just causing your body undue stress as your metabolism shifts to fatty acids. Cortisol will absolutely get in the way of your efforts to transition smoothly.
"I'm a pretty active guy.... biking, gym, muscular build, massive amounts of mental energy expended on a daily basis... ( Usually at least. I can barely read right now. )"
In this case why are you going low carb? Activity = need for carbs. You have been paleo for 2 years, what has changed to make you want to go low carb?
Your body is just adjusting to running on fat instead of carbs, it will subside, but if you increase your carb intake you will not stay in that sought after ketosis fat burn. Your body will adjust, I now alternate between periods of less than 50 grams a carbs per day cycled with 100-150ish. Once your body is fully fat adapted you will not get the carb flu
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