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Old 02-06-2012, 05:16 AM   #1
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Low-Carb Failure

Hi, I recently got very interested in the idea of pursuing a low-carb diet and finally decided to give it a try the other day ! However, it did not work out as expected at all . Maybe my body is just not compatible with low-carb... Anyway, just wanted to share my experiences with you and maybe get some comments:

My main motivation for trying this in the first place was the promised increased levels of energy and reduced “brain-fog”. To get started, I selected a couple of low-carb recipes to cook over the upcoming week. I tried to choose healthy recipes, including fish, chicken, and beef and a fair amount of vegetables. On Saturday, the first day of my trial, I had a nice ham-and-cheese omelet for breakfast. I felt satisfied for quite a long time and thus had a late lunch consisting of a nutty chicken curry (without side dish). Now, this felt more heavy, mainly due to to peanut butter and the amount of meat - I do not eat a lot of meat usually. I was certainly not hungry after this meal. But I felt a bit tired, and my general mood was sort of damped. When I started to cook a late dinner around 9pm that night, I still did not feel hungry. I prepared a salmon, tomato, and fennel dish which was not as heavy as my lunch. While eating, I realized that I was in fact hungry. After finishing the dinner (which was not too big), my stomach even started to grumble, and I had a small cheese snack and an apple. All together, I consumed about 60g in carbs that day.

I slept alright, but woke up kind of restless, and my stomach felt full. Part of my usual exercise routine is going for a run 3-4 times a week. As one of my motivations for trying a low-carb diet was to increase my energy levels, I wanted to test its effect on running. I went out before breakfast (as usual), and I felt a bit slow for the first couple of kilometers. Also, I noticed a slight “flickering” in my eyes when I looked at a bright background, which worried me slightly. When I came to a point where I could either return home or add another 5 km I felt motivated to go on. The tiredness was gone. The heavy feeling in the stomach, however, was still there.

Arriving home after about 12 km, I was neither hungry nor did I crave any food - which is usually the case after a run. I realized, however, that it would probably be better to have some kind of breakfast and prepared a Greek-style omelet. From thereon, it just went down hill. The heaviness in my stomach developed slowly into a stomachache and I felt slightly sick from time to time. This feeling was increased whenever I thought of fatty food. I tried to rest on the couch, but started to feel cold, it seemed like I was getting a fever. My muscles hurt all over the body similar to common flu symptoms. I skipped lunch, but it was still getting worse. It felt like neither my stomach nor my bowels could keep up with what I ate, resulting in first congestion and then diarrhea, feeling like having to vomit more than once. I drank tea with honey to prevent dehydration and took some stomach-soothing tablets, but it took until way after midnight before I could finally find some rest. At one point, it felt like all the blood was drawn out of my arms, they started to tickle and I was almost unable to coordinate them, while sweating heavily at the same time.

Of course, there might be other explanations for this, such as food poisoning or having actually caught the flu. The food I prepared, however, was all of excellent quality and properly cooked. Also, during my 4 years in the UK I never experienced something like this. Regarding the flu, the next morning I already felt much better, all signs of fever gone. I started the day with a carb-rich oatmeal and did not encounter any digestion-related problems. Therefore, I think the low-carb diet might be to blame... I guess I won't give it another try...
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Old 02-06-2012, 05:27 AM   #2
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What you are experiencing, other than the tingling in the arms (which you might want to have checked out) is completely normal and passes in a couple of days. Your body is changing it's primary fuel source from carbs to fat, and that transition is often called carb flu, induction flu, or just plain crud. Drinking extra water seems to help, but it's still best to start over a 2-3 day period where you don't have too much going on, so you can allow yourself to rest.

Certainly seems like you already have a fairly vigorous exercise routine, so you will need extra water to remain properly hydrated, as low carbing is naturally diuretic.

All that said, low carbing isn't for everyone. Best of luck in determining what is right for you.
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Old 02-06-2012, 05:32 AM   #3
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I agree with Bob. The first couple of days are always rough when you detox from sugar. Everyone I know experiences the same symptoms you described above (including headaches) the first 3-4 days -- especially the first time they try the low carb diet. That being said, you may not be insulin resistant so possibly this diet is not for you. I imagine if you are running so much that you probably don't have much of a weight problem to begin with. It is probably easier for you to shed weight via increasing exercise or slightly dropping calories in another manner
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Old 02-06-2012, 05:35 AM   #4
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Welcome to low carb friends.

I think you might want to read and research low carb living before you throw in the towel. A couple of things that stood out to me are, it takes more than 24 hours to go into ketosis (which can bring on mild flu like symptoms) so that cannot be the cause of your illness. Second, it takes up to a couple of weeks to become keto adapted (this is the added energy) for those that exercise vigorously, as you describe.

I would have to come to the conclusion that you either ate something that was 'off' or you had a mild virus.
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Old 02-06-2012, 05:39 AM   #5
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Thanks for the feedback! Yes, weight-loss is not my primary goal. I was more interested in improving energy levels. And I had read a bit about the starting process - but this was way worse than anticipated. As you said, maybe it's not for me, but good luck to everyone else !
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Old 02-06-2012, 05:42 AM   #6
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I would suggest that you do a little bit of reading in the area of the bodies adaptation to a ketogenic diet. It is not an instant process and there is a brief period of negative effects in terms of the way you feel, lean tissue loss (can be mitigated) and reduction in exercise abilities.

These effects depart over time and this can be as short as a day or two (immediate "flu" like feelings") a week or more for lean tissue loss and it takes several weeks to be fully adapted to a ketogenic diet.

Like you I run 3-4 times a week, typically for an hour or more each time (6 - 10 miles). I also run before before breakfast. I have no such symptoms and have noticed no difference between runing on a normal diet and running while low carbing.

However I did not start running until I was two months into low carbing. This was because I could not run without pain at 250lbs, I had to get 20lbs off me before I could even contemplate it.

So for me it was stable diet then introduce exercise.
For you it is stable exercise then introduce diet.

I've just finished reading this book and it explains the adaptation process in good detail and in the context of exercise:



This one is pretty decent too, although slanted more to body builders most of it still applies.



I doubt you would want to take several weeks off from running, and in all honestly that is probably not necessary. But I'd suggest that if you get back onto low carb that you don't push your running too much for the first week and eat extra protein (2 - 2.5g /kg of body weight) to mitigate lean tissue loss. Once you are over the first week or two then you shouls be more stabilsed.

John.

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Old 02-06-2012, 05:44 AM   #7
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Hi clackley, didn't see your post before my reply above.

I thought about having eaten something "off" - of course I cannot rule it out completely, but as I said it was all fresh and prepared properly, and I never had any problems like this before, so chances are low.

Also, don't know how to put this, it just didn't feel quite right for me to eat that much meat and fat - as described, even thinking about this kind of food after the first day made me feel slightly sick.

Anyway, thanks very much for your feedback!
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Old 02-06-2012, 05:46 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by silasgreenback View Post
I would suggest that you do a little bit of reading in the area of the bodies adaptation to a ketogenic diet. It is not an instant process and there is a brief period of negative effects in terms of the way you feel, lean tissue loss (can be mitigated) and reduction in exercise abilities.
Yes, it would make sense to read further about it. Thanks for the book recommendations!
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Old 02-06-2012, 05:48 AM   #9
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You also need to look at the acceptable food list for your plan. You say you "read a bit about the starting process" You really need to read more before starting. If you are trying Atkins you made things that was not allowed on induction. (The first two weeks of the diet).. Nuts for one thing are not allowed and can stall your progress. The best thing to do is to eat basic the first two weeks, leaving the recipes for after induction.. Remember when on any lowcarb diet the first two weeks your body is going to go from burning carbs for fuel to burning its own fat. You need to give this a committed two week try after reading the book or at least what you can or can't eat on the plan. Make sure you are drinking lots of water.. That will help make you feel better. You cannot say the diet failed for you if you haven't given it more than a day or two. Most people will feel that loss of energy the first few days or so but in the end you will start to feel the energy that most everyone enjoys once they are passed that lowcarb type flu.

Take a look at the newbie site. It has a lot of information there that will help you understand how the Lowcarb Plan works. Plus an acceptable food list: http://www.netrition.com/lowcarb_newbies_intro.html
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Old 02-06-2012, 05:50 AM   #10
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I completely understand. It takes a really big paradigm shift to begin to look at low carb food as actually healthy and natural. We have been programed to think protein and fat are unhealthy and carbs are the preferred source of energy. I am certain that this faulty belief system is what is making us all so sick.

If you feel so inclined to persue this any further, I would suggest that you check out any of the paleo blogs (I like Marksdailyapple best). I suspect that that may work better for you. Good luck and let us know how you are doing.
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Old 02-06-2012, 06:00 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newby1111 View Post
Thanks for the feedback! Yes, weight-loss is not my primary goal. I was more interested in improving energy levels. And I had read a bit about the starting process - but this was way worse than anticipated. As you said, maybe it's not for me, but good luck to everyone else !
Not to sound like a total shill for this book, but you might want to read "Art & Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living" by Jeff Volek & Stephen Phinney. This will explain in exhaustive detail everything you want to know about low-carb nutrition and one of them (Volek, I believe?) has clinical experience researching & using it in the context of athletics.

Long story short, they coin the "Schwatka imperative" : It takes at least 2-3 weeks for "keto-adaptation" to fully occur, during which you may feel like complete crap. But the benefits may be enticing; they report that once you're fully ketone-adapted, and you do in fact use a diet with >70% fat, you may find "hitting the wall" never happens even with long periods of exercise (so long as you don't force anaerobic respiration, like from sprinting or the like... since I think that relies on glucose no matter what)

But if your health markers are all perfect and you don't have weight to lose, you can consider low-carb optional IMO.

edit: Looks like silasgreenback beat me to the punch
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Old 02-06-2012, 06:03 AM   #12
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Also, don't know how to put this, it just didn't feel quite right for me to eat that much meat and fat - as described, even thinking about this kind of food after the first day made me feel slightly sick.
I would like to suggest getting some digestive enzymes, if you don't take them already.

Your system is probably well-adjusted to whatever your normal diet has been recently, and a higher percentage of fat/protein will be difficult to digest--even nauseating--at first.

In fact, fat and protein are well-known for taking longer to digest, and therefore often recommended as being more satiating; however, food that takes too long to digest can make you feel sluggish and out-of-sorts.

Some people find that taking a small amount of acid with their meals (such as vinegar, or lemon juice) will help digestion, especially of fatty foods. Adding unpasteurized fermented foods to the diet (sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, miso, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, etc) can also help.

Another supplement that can help with digestion is Betaine HCL.

Good luck, and I hope you feel better!
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Old 02-06-2012, 09:59 AM   #13
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What plan are you following?

Atkins induction, for example, doesn not include peanut butter or honey, and limits carb to no more than 20.

As others have said, it may take a while for your body to adjust, but your symptoms sound more like you caught a bug.
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:08 AM   #14
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I'm not clear on what, if any plan you're following or if you're just experimenting with low cal recipes.

If you are on a chosen plan, maybe it's not the right one for you. I can't tell you how many eating plans I've personally been through. It can honestly take years before you hit on one that just gels. For years Weight Watchers and calorie reduction was for me, but now I'm older, I'm prediabetic, and Weight Watchers no longer cut it. I've been experimenting. Personally, I've settled on Dr. Rob Thompson's Glycemic Load Diet. Similar in some ways to South Beach, but without being neurotic about saturated fats. Maybe you need to switch things up too. I say all this assuming you are on a particular eating plan. And if you're not, you should be or else you won't know what you're doing! Believe me, I say that kindly and from personal experience.

Give it another try! If you're limiting your carbs a lot, it's natural to feel crummy for a week or so. The best to you.
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:08 AM   #15
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...oops "experimenting with low CARB recipes..."
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:24 AM   #16
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The tingly arm sensation sounds like low blood sugar. It happens to me when my blood sugar is too low. In fact almost all the symptoms you mentioned are what I feel when my blood sugar is low. I have Insulin Resistance so it doesn't take much for my blood sugar to drop.
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Old 02-06-2012, 02:39 PM   #17
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Yea the first few days are torture . After that though you feel 1000% better energy n stable blood sugar. I have restarted 3 x and know how hard it is. That's why I'm determined not to go back to carbs because it's easier to maintain than to start all over. Good luck
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Old 02-06-2012, 03:05 PM   #18
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I can attest that the first few days are the hardest, as I have started and given up a low-carb WOE in the past because of initial lethargy. How I went about it this time that really eased the transition differs from other people's beliefs, and I know it is not for everyone. Even so, It led to me sticking to the plan this time and now loving it and having great energy.

What I did was I upped my carbs by 20 or so grams when I was having major brain fog and lethargy. Only for a day, then went back on plan. I did this whenever I was feeling like quitting the plan entirely. Instead of quitting, I allowed a small increase in carbs, then went back to LC. I am sure many will argue that this is "bad" to do, but it worked for me, which is all I am saying. I thought it was worth sharing.
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Old 02-06-2012, 03:18 PM   #19
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This honestly doesn't sound like a "low-carb failure" as much as a "not really giving it a chance to work properly". I don't mean to be harsh. I just hate hearing people say that low carb failed when they didn't do it right to begin with. I had girl who told me with conviction that Atkins doesn't work. She ate less than 20 carbs a day (in a pop-tart) and she was always hungry.

The Atkins diet and many other low carb diets have a stricter induction period. Atkins says to wait to exercise until the "induction flu" has passed. There will almost always be withdrawal symptoms when you stop eating wheat and sugar. Eating just a little bit during withdrawal will only make you want it more. When I was going through induction I was constantly hungry. It was completely psychological. I would eat huge salads with fat and protein so there was no way I could be hungry. And I wasn't hungry for induction foods, I was hungry for wheat and sugar.

I'm sorry if you don't feel like low carb is for you. It doesn't mean it's a fail. Good Luck to you.
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Old 02-06-2012, 03:26 PM   #20
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I am sure Low carb diets are not for everyone, but it sounds like you stopped before you even got started.
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Old 02-06-2012, 07:20 PM   #21
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A couple days does NOT a low-carb diet make. Sorry. I know others have said the same above, so rather than rehash everything, I suggest you find a book for a plan that looks good to you, read it thoroughly (and I like Dr. Atkins' earlier books because they are SO GOOD at explaining EXACTLY what is going on based on your diet) and UNDERSTAND what you're embarking upon - then gear up for it by having the proper foods on hand, eat to satisfaction but not "stuffed" and go about it properly.

THEN if after a few weeks you still feel the same way, you can at least say you gave low-carb a fair shot!
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Old 02-07-2012, 02:04 PM   #22
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Thanks you all for your comments - very helpful!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cheri View Post
You really need to read more before starting. [...] Nuts for one thing are not allowed and can stall your progress.
I agree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cheri View Post
You need to give this a committed two week try after reading the book or at least what you can or can't eat on the plan.
Yes, I see that you need to be committed, and I had planned to do so. To be honest, however, I haven't felt that bad for a very long time (i.e., years). Not even the food poisonings I had to endure during my China stay were anywhere close.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cheri View Post
Make sure you are drinking lots of water. That will help make you feel better.
I did !

Quote:
Originally Posted by cheri View Post
You cannot say the diet failed for you if you haven't given it more than a day or two. Most people will feel that loss of energy the first few days or so [...]
Sounds reasonable, but on the other hand, feeling that sick did not feel healthy at all, more like a stark warning sign, and neither can't I afford nor do I want to take days off work or break my exercise routine for long.

Quote:
Originally Posted by clackley View Post
If you feel so inclined to persue this any further, I would suggest that you check out any of the paleo blogs (I like Marksdailyapple best). I suspect that that may work better for you. Good luck and let us know how you are doing.
Thanks !

Quote:
Originally Posted by spirilis View Post
[...]you might want to read "Art & Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living" by Jeff Volek & Stephen Phinney.
Will have a look at it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by spirilis View Post
But if your health markers are all perfect and you don't have weight to lose, you can consider low-carb optional IMO.
As most of you suggested, I will first read a bit more before maybe giving it another try.

Quote:
Originally Posted by piratejenny View Post
Some people find that taking a small amount of acid with their meals (such as vinegar, or lemon juice) will help digestion, [...]
Good luck, and I hope you feel better!
Good advice - I like sour things in general! And thanks, feeling already better !

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emily-D View Post
Atkins induction, for example, doesn not include peanut butter or honey, and limits carb to no more than 20.
Sounds counter-intuitive - but gain, I guess I need to read more!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emily-D View Post
As others have said, it may take a while for your body to adjust, but your symptoms sound more like you caught a bug.
It's a possibility, yes, but on the other hand, it was gone almost immediately after switching back, that's why suspected the diet to be the cause.

Quote:
Originally Posted by putthekettleon View Post
Give it another try! If you're limiting your carbs a lot, it's natural to feel crummy for a week or so. The best to you.
Thanks for your advice and motivation!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tabbz82 View Post
In fact almost all the symptoms you mentioned are what I feel when my blood sugar is low. I have Insulin Resistance so it doesn't take much for my blood sugar to drop.
I see, that's a possible explanation, hadn't thought of this...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dredaye9 View Post
I have restarted 3 x and know how hard it is. [...] Good luck
Admirable! Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by breadaddict View Post
I thought it was worth sharing.
Thanks for sharing, I'll keep it in mind!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcneilnomore View Post
This honestly doesn't sound like a "low-carb failure" as much as a "not really giving it a chance to work properly". I don't mean to be harsh. I just hate hearing people say that low carb failed when they didn't do it right to begin with.
I did not mean to make it sound too general. I guess I was just a bit shocked by my personal outcome. Will get better informed before further attempts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcneilnomore View Post
It doesn't mean it's a fail. Good Luck to you.
I did not want to make it appear as a "general fail", only my personal failed attempt; sorry if it came across otherwise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Annabel Lee View Post
I am sure Low carb diets are not for everyone, but it sounds like you stopped before you even got started.
Parts, parts. As said before, I should have gathered more information beforehand. Based on the symptoms I encountered, though, there was no other choice for me than to stop - it just felt wrong at that point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charski View Post
THEN if after a few weeks you still feel the same way, you can at least say you gave low-carb a fair shot!
I might consider it, after having prepared better !
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Old 02-07-2012, 02:22 PM   #23
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If you decide to give it another try, let us know how it's going.
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