I've been keeping strict VLC (<20 g / day, no fruit, no wheat, no sugar, etc. etc.) paleo for the last 6 weeks. For the first 4, I felt fantastic every day, was never tired, and have shedded nearly 30 pounds since I began (I started at 330 lbs and am now 302). I am a 25 yo male.
An issue that I've been dealing with for the past 2 weeks is a markedly reduced appetite - to the point where I literally have to force feed myself. This typically occurrs around 5-6pm, and the meal consists of a chipotle salad bowl with 2 servings of chicken and 1 of steak, sour cream, guacamole, tomato salsa and cheese. It comes out to ~1000 calories per the Chipotle website.
Here's the problem - after eating the chipotle meal described above, I am totally exhausted - I get the same feeling I used to get after eating an even moderate-carb meal, and end up passing out for an hour (sometimes two, and yesterday evening for 3, which is why I'm now worried enough to write this email). After I wake up, I have a decent amount of energy, but still nowhere near what I had in my first few weeks eating this way.
I understand that I am probably not getting enough calories, and am thinking of ways to up my caloric intake taking into account my serious lack of appetite...but for now, I'd really just like to be able to eat paleo without passing out. Any advice would be much appreciated.
A common cause of post-meal fatigue is an immune response to food. Your meal has a lot of dairy and nightshades, both of which can cause immune responses in people with leaky guts.
I think you should (a) not force-feed yourself but (b) eat a more balanced diet with some starch (which will help improve your gut integrity) and fewer immunogenic foods. Try swapping out dairy and nightshades for other foods, but adding in a few hundred calories of carbs.
I believe you're eating too much at one time, which kicks off a big insulin response even though you are eating low carb. Try eating 3x a day with about 500-700 cals per meal. That's about 5-6 oz of protein with some good fat and some veggies.
That happens to me when I am in deep ketosis after going very low carb. I also experience nausea and poor sleep. The only thing that helps is to raise my carbs a bit.
You'll have to find the level that works for you, giving you more energy, but still allowing weight loss. No need to force something if you feel like crap. Paleo doesn't always equal very low carb eating. It's a personal thing. I wish you success!
I've said some of this in comments but thought I'd also make it an 'answer' :-)
Anyway, some thoughts:
You can determine if this is the case with a simple and cheap blood glucose meter (I apologize - again - for the repetition! I think I'm turning into an obnoxious BGM evangelist!) It's just so simple to know what's happening re carbs - why spend months guessing, or chasing down obscure allergies that may or may not be the cause?
An immune response IS always possible of course but takes a while to isolate definitively.
'Starvation' is very risky! That clear-headed hollow feeling where you feel like you're finally powerful? That feeling of pride? For me I've learned that's a sign to run not walk to the nearest cube of Kerrygold! Once in a while it's fantastic, but on a regular basis it's a time bomb for binging. If it's between your will and your body your body will ultimately win every time! Make sure you have plenty of good calories - give your body what it really needs and the weight will fall off. You can turn it into a single meal, but be careful you're not getting too many accumulative carbs - some "starch" might be ok but not all in one big dose.
Be very suspicious with anything from a 'chain' restaurant. Their ingredients will have tons of sugar, and the meats will be too low fat or injected with sugar and salt - and not all gets reported in the disclosures. Best, make your own. Add more interesting greens (I'm hooked on the loose Arugula) or your own meat.
Congratulations on your fantastic progress!!
Maybe you shouldn't force-feed yourself. If you're not hungry, don't eat. Right now, I wouldn't worry about calories - eat when you're hungry, eat the right stuff and eat until you're full. I know that if I have a full meal at lunch time, I'm good for a long time, and if I eat when I'm not hungry, my stomach takes energy away to process the food I don't need to eat, especially if I eat a really big meal I'm not hungry for.
Are you exhausted before you eat? Do you eat the same thing for dinner for weeks on end? I would suggest that you try eating something different, and just listen to your body for now. If you're hungry, it will let you know.
When I'm in full blown ketosis I do note something like nervous energy and sometimes i get some aching (like flu?). I start drinking tons of water, I think this might help flush some of the keytones out. I also see it as a time to throw myself into some exercise or strenuous activity to burn off this energy...get busy with that energy!
Maybe fasting instead of eating is worth a try (eat those calories in 2 big meals + snacks)....but be prepared to adjust your calories, once exercising you'll need it to keep your 'furnace' burning!!
I would also change up the meal a bit, as suggested above, maybe the nightshades could be an issue for you and you aren't aware of it. Something could be going on, play around with different foods and see if you note any changes in how you feel.
keep up the great work!!
I originally read about keeping calories under 500 per meal 15 years ago in Enter the Zone by Barry Sears. That was my introduction to the problems caused by too much insulin. This one point seems to prove out in my experience. Also, the romaine lettuce in the Chipotle salad is surprisingly high in carbs. http://dailyburn.com/nutrition/romaine_lettuce_12_cup_calories 1 cup is 24 grams. Quite a difference from Chipotle's assessment. Try different meal combinations and macronutrient ratios and see what works for you. The ideal is to feel satiated for 4-5 hours while feeling awake. I eat about 15 grams of carb per meal, which is equivalent to 1 piece of bread or 1/2 cup rice or 1 cup of non-starchy vegetables. When I kept that carb level but increased protein and fat, I started gaining. when I went back to 5 oz of protein and a little less fat, I started losing again. as much as I wish it weren't so, I believe calories do count somewhat. But the only way I can reduce calories is to eat low carb, because high carb meals just makes me hungry and sleepy.
So I experimented with the meal today - below is what I ate:
Chipotle salad bowl (very little lettuce)
2 servings of chicken 1 serving of steak 1 serving of cheese Hot salsa (not the tomato-based pico) 2 sides of sour cream 1 side of guacamole
I feel a LOT better! Before, I was including the pico de gallo in pretty sizable amounts. I wasn't able to slow down my eating like I had hoped (too damn delicious), but I definitely don't feel like I did after this meal in the past two weeks. I can feel a faint "tiredness", but its nothing like before, and I'm chalking it up to this just being a pretty hefty dose of calories / protein / fat to break a 20+ hr fast.
So maybe its nightshades...or just the latent sugars in the tomatoes themselves?
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