I've been doing strict paleo, very low carb, but feeling like crap. Not sure if it was ketosis or what, but I've found that reintroducing a fair amount of carbs in my diet in the form of sweet potatoes and even sometimes regular red-skin potatoes keeps me feeling great. My blood sugar also seems to remain the same even with more carbs.
I never had any pain transitioning to a low-carb approach. Fewer than 20g carbs is my norm, and I feel even better when I eliminate carbs altogether and pump up the fat. I'm more energised when I'm eating nothing but fatty meat and eggs.
If there's one thing I'm sure of, it's that Paleo should be treated as rough guidelines and not rigid rules, since every metabolism is built a little differently and we've all lead different lives with differing levels of adaptation and damage. It's frustrating when paleo peeps comment on something as "not being paleo" - who's to say? If it's avoiding the nasty neolithic agents that are conclusively reported as damaging (in large doses at least), then any way of eating within those guidelines is paleo to me. Low-carb choices to get a grip on insulin resistance and carb addiction, higher carbs to fuel athletic performance - whatever your reason, if it works for you, it's fine. And our bodies and needs change, so don't be afraid to experiment.
Everyone is an unique snowflake. Some people respond better to low carb and some to moderate/high carb. As many salient people have said, paleo does not have to be low carb. There's nothing wrong with a moderate amount of carbs in the form of wholesome food.
Add carbs back into your diet (sweet potatoes and veggies) and that could help. No, the world won't end.
People always assume that if you feel lethargic you should increase carbs but i'm not so sure about that. Although yes, you could run better on carbs, maybe you should up your fat intake and see how you feel.
It can also mean you're missing some nutrient so you should put your food through something like fitday.com and check if something is on the low side.
In my own experience i can say i felt like crap on most days after going paleo, until i did some cleansing. I went VLC for a couple days, took some probiotics and prebiotics (i.e. onions, garlic). Now i feel like i was reborn! Perhaps i had a bad gut flora and it was feeding on the sugars or maybe i had some "bug" and it got wiped from all the garlic, i really don't know.
I also started supplementing with magnesium which significantly improved my energy levels and my mood...
I think you should tinker and experiment until you are sure of what is causing that lethargy and not assume you're carb deficient right away.
My 1/2 cent.
Disclaimer: I'm a paleo rookie ;)
I have found the same thing. A small amount of carbs 75-100 grams per day makes me feel much better. Especially on Crossfit days. I tried the VLC approach (30 grams per day) and it did not work well for me due to my activity and intensity level. On rest days I tend to drop down to the 25-50 grams per day. I vary my carb intake. Sometimes I fuel up before a workout and other times I replenish after a workout.
I find I run just fine on no or very-low carbs. The only time I feel the need for carbs is on heavy training days. I remember Robb Wolf mentioning in his podcast that after a workout, it is fine to eat sweet potatoes, as the insulin it produces goes straight to the muscle's glucose stores. On non-workout days, I really don't feel the need for any carbs. I do however, always make sure to have a lot of fat, so perhaps that is why.
The VLC thing doesn't work for lots of folks, and although it seems to have become part of online paleo culture it isn't necessarily part of the deal. 100g of carbs/day or thereabouts (from good sources) is just fine if you're not aggressively trying to lose weight. Mark Sisson has good stuff to say about this in his book.
I have to wonder if a potassium and/or magnesium deficiency isn't responsible for some of the energy issues on a VLC diet. I've taken to drinking a glass of low sodium V-8 each day, providing 820 mg of K. Several hundred milligrams of magnesium (glycinate or taurate) has helped too. I'm training for a marathon (up to 13 miles) and seem to be doing well so far. I typically eat about 80 g of carbs a day.
Your on the right track by experimenting to find what works for you. Keep notes on what you eat, how your body feels, how clearly you think, your athletic performance capability and how long your meal lasts.
Set up a free account at http://nutritiondata.self.com and you can get very detailed analysis of each meal you make to help you figure out what is working and why.
If you can afford it, buy a blood sugar meter and a test your blood sugar just before eating, and again at 15, 30, 60 and 120 minutes after the meal. You may be surprised at the effect plain yogurt, whey protein or even thick rolled oats without sugar or fruit added have on your blood glucose (sugar).
Another great tool is a submaximal metabolic assessment. If you can, have one done at a local university athletic department. Done properly it will reveal how your body is using fats and carbohydrates to produce energy at various levels of exertion. You may be surprised at how much your particular body uses carbohydrates for energy at even low levels of exertion. Speaking from experience it is possible to retrain the body to utilize more fat and less carbohydrate.
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