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Old 07-30-2013, 01:38 PM   #1
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Unexplainable headaches on keto

Hi!

To start with: Have read the art and science of low carbohydrate performance and i have a glucose and ketone blood meter (no stix here)

I've been on ketogenic diets two times this year - this being my second run.
I never fully adopted earlier (i think, never got extra energy etc), though it seems as my body is very good at lowering glucose and releasing ketones since even after a meal with some carbs glucose stays on the lower side of the recommended range and 2,1 mmol/l ketones.
Living in ketosis that time was basically painless (unless i drank alcohol which made me feel the worst i've ever done)

This run started 1,5 weeks ago and im having the worst headaches i have ever had.

Knowing that sodium, potassium and magnesium is important - i took a blood test which came out OK on all levels.
Headaches not being any better, i supplemented with 6g of table salt (since salt is 40% sodium it's approx the recommended 2g extra) but without any improvement. Switching over to broth, now 2 cubes a day - no improvement.
Eating 3-4 avocados giving me 3-4 grams of potassium, no improvement.

Started yesterday with cal/mag 400/300mg - to early to tell but no improvement.

Im also drinking half a gallon to a gallon a day.

Its really hard for me to understand why im getting this long induction-like symptoms when im following all the recommendations. Ketone levels are still between 1,7 and 2,5 so not in a "low carb limbo".


Do any of you have thoughts on why its not improving? Or have experienced similar problems?

Regards
M
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Old 07-30-2013, 04:31 PM   #2
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sorry to say I don't have a good idea for you
could you be going through caffeine withdrawal?
that gives me slight headaches . . . . also dehydration but sounds you've got that covered with your copious water consumption.
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Old 07-30-2013, 05:30 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by hypoc View Post
Hi!

To start with: Have read the art and science of low carbohydrate performance and i have a glucose and ketone blood meter (no stix here)

I've been on ketogenic diets two times this year - this being my second run.
I never fully adopted earlier (i think, never got extra energy etc), though it seems as my body is very good at lowering glucose and releasing ketones since even after a meal with some carbs glucose stays on the lower side of the recommended range and 2,1 mmol/l ketones.
Living in ketosis that time was basically painless (unless i drank alcohol which made me feel the worst i've ever done)

This run started 1,5 weeks ago and im having the worst headaches i have ever had.

Knowing that sodium, potassium and magnesium is important - i took a blood test which came out OK on all levels.
Headaches not being any better, i supplemented with 6g of table salt (since salt is 40% sodium it's approx the recommended 2g extra) but without any improvement. Switching over to broth, now 2 cubes a day - no improvement.
Eating 3-4 avocados giving me 3-4 grams of potassium, no improvement.

Started yesterday with cal/mag 400/300mg - to early to tell but no improvement.

Im also drinking half a gallon to a gallon a day.

Its really hard for me to understand why im getting this long induction-like symptoms when im following all the recommendations. Ketone levels are still between 1,7 and 2,5 so not in a "low carb limbo".


Do any of you have thoughts on why its not improving? Or have experienced similar problems?

Regards
M
It could be something that you are eating that you are sensitive to. Too many avocados are not healthy either. Try eating very simply for a few days. Do you use artificial sweeteners? They can cause headaches in some people. You would have to give a menu of stuff you eat to give and idea what might be the problem. Nuts and seeds can give some people headaches. Have you introduced a food that you never ate before?
Carolyn
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Old 07-31-2013, 12:46 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Bella View Post
sorry to say I don't have a good idea for you
could you be going through caffeine withdrawal?
that gives me slight headaches . . . . also dehydration but sounds you've got that covered with your copious water consumption.
First: Thank you for you responses!

Second: Caffeine has never been my thing, im not consuming coffee, tea, sodas (of any kind) which also answers the question about artificial sweeterners, im not exposed to them.

I'ts an interessting theory about me being sensitive to some foods, im not eating anything new, but in larger amounts. The only thing i know of being allergic to is Brazil Nuts (which kills me), walnuts are supposed to be able to trigger brazil nut allergy in some, but haven't had any.

A usual day looks like this:

Breakfast:
1 avocado + 1 mozarella (125g) with olive oil and a tiny amount of balsamico

Lunch:
Ceasarsallad

Dinner:
300g chicken with a fatty sauce and sallad with avocado.

And to stop hunger cravings in between its snacking on an avocado with salt and almond butter.

I should also add that i very easily get short of breath, and heart palpitations which hasn't happend before, and that im weightlifting 3-4 times a week x 30 min and that performance there is drastically worse than before (-30%).

The only thing that has been constant is the headache though - and its too bad because ive had a long standing issue with getting up in the morning and thats the least of my problems now, always up 5 min before the alarm.

Regards
M
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Old 07-31-2013, 01:16 AM   #5
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Just woke up and took my glucose, which falls under the reference interval.
Glucose: 3.6 mmol/l = 64.8 mg/dl
Ketones: 3.3 mmol/l

Also: I am not overweight or diabetic - im doing this to get rid of the last 3-4 percentage of body fat, currently at approx 12-13%, and to give my brain a superior energy source.
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Old 07-31-2013, 05:30 AM   #6
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It's only been 1.5 weeks (2 by now). My guess is you are are still transitioning and have to give it more time. The book mentions 2 months, and I've read up to 6 months. Now I wouldn't deal with headaches for 6 months. It could also be something totally unrelated.

I guess you could spend a couple days going virtually carb free, really up the fat, lower the protein, and see if it gets you all the way into nutritional ketosis quicker.

And I'm eagerly waiting to see what other suggestions folks give.
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Old 07-31-2013, 07:16 AM   #7
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Some balsamic vinegars have sulfites, which many people are sensitive to.
If you don't usually consume balsamic, maybe try cutting that out for a day and see if your symptoms go away.
With a nut allergy, you may also want to drop the almond butter.
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Old 07-31-2013, 07:19 AM   #8
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It sounds like you are in NK with a blood ketone reading of 3.3 mM. If you are less than two weeks in you need to give the exercise a break for a few more days to a week. Have you read The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living and/or The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance? I would highly recommend one of them if you haven't. Since you are not trying to lose weight are you eating enough calories? Are you eating enough protein to support your lean body mass? Are you getting plenty of fat? It's hard to tell when you don't list quantities with what you are eating and don't give us any of your stats. Though it sounds like you are eating a lot of avocados. You might want to mix it up a bit there. If you stop exercising and still have these signs and symptoms you should be seen by a doctor.

Last edited by Mistizoom; 07-31-2013 at 07:20 AM..
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Old 07-31-2013, 09:18 AM   #9
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Thank you all for your responses!

Background:
Age:22
At the beginning of the year i was at 61kg (134 pounds), very skinny, not much muscle at all. In the end of april i was at 78kg (171 pounds, after drinking 2-3l of milk a day) and 25% body fat (verified by DEXAscan). Before i went on keto this time i was at 72kg (158 pounds) and 4 days later i was at my 2 pounds above my current weight so most of it was water weight.

I'll give you my current stats:

Length: 186cm tall (6 feet and 1.2 inches)
Body weight: 66kg (145 pounds)
Lean mass: 59kg (last time i checked, about a month ago)

The numbers show that i should be in NK since recommended levels are between 1,5 and 3 mmol/l and im at 3,3 mmol/l so actually a bit too much.

I've looked in to the fact that my blood sugar is low, which could be the reason why im feeling this way(?) - and also when i think about it the headache gets a lot worse when i go without food for a while (when i have to) then i also get really shakey.

I eat 3-4 Tbsp (45-60ml) of coconut oil a day (didn't when the headaches started, so shouldn't be because of that) meaning 60g of fat

With the 4 avocados its another 80g of fat and then there's all the other food so here as well, low fat intake shouldn't be an issue.

Protein may be a bit low because of the fact that i workout - approx 80-100g a day, which could be the reason for my low blood sugar?

Im not tracking carbs - but anything thats not purple or better on this list:
Google: Joseph Arcita: A Guide to Ketosis Link removed by moderator: Terms of Service - Policy Modification
Im not eating. (except i might splash a bit of balsamico over the sallad, being approx 3carbs)

Theory:
Since my blood sugar is too low, and ketones a bit high - could upping the protein intake be an option? Link removed by moderator: Terms of Service - Policy Modification it's stated that glucose under 70ml/dl (mine being 64) is considered low and could cause headaches + heart palpitation amongst other things.
Does any one else have experience with low blood sugar during NK?

And lastly - yes, as i stated earlier i have read "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance" - acually a couple of times to try to find a solution to my woes.

Regards
M

EDIT: I should also add that the first week i didn't exercise because of the symptoms being too horrible, but when eating a spoon or two of almond butter and an avocado (yes, those again ) it felt a lot better after 30-60minutes, only the headache was persistant.

Last edited by hypoc; 07-31-2013 at 09:24 AM..
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Old 07-31-2013, 09:32 AM   #10
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Ripe avacados could be giving you headaches.

The items I have to avoid in excess are chocolate, especially imported (something about the way it is fermented makes it worse than US chocolate), ripe bananas, ripe avocados, dried fruit, aged meats, aged cheeses, wine, and I think there are some others. These are notorious for causing headaches.

I nearly melted down with headaches until I finally discovered this. A friend of mine is lucky enough to have a doctor that gave her this same list when she had the problem (mine only prescribed drugs

Google Amines headaches
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Old 07-31-2013, 10:39 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by hypoc View Post
First: Thank you for you responses!

Second: Caffeine has never been my thing, im not consuming coffee, tea, sodas (of any kind) which also answers the question about artificial sweeterners, im not exposed to them.

I'ts an interessting theory about me being sensitive to some foods, im not eating anything new, but in larger amounts. The only thing i know of being allergic to is Brazil Nuts (which kills me), walnuts are supposed to be able to trigger brazil nut allergy in some, but haven't had any.

A usual day looks like this:

Breakfast:
1 avocado + 1 mozarella (125g) with olive oil and a tiny amount of balsamico

Lunch:
Ceasarsallad

Dinner:
300g chicken with a fatty sauce and sallad with avocado.

And to stop hunger cravings in between its snacking on an avocado with salt and almond butter.

I should also add that i very easily get short of breath, and heart palpitations which hasn't happend before, and that im weightlifting 3-4 times a week x 30 min and that performance there is drastically worse than before (-30%).

The only thing that has been constant is the headache though - and its too bad because ive had a long standing issue with getting up in the morning and thats the least of my problems now, always up 5 min before the alarm.

Regards
M
The shortness of breath and heart palpitations are caused from not enough salt. Eat more salt. You can even add some to your water. That might be also the problem with the headaches. You have to add more salt to your diet when you eat this way. Also add some magnesium.
Carolyn
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Old 07-31-2013, 10:44 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by lovetoknit View Post
The shortness of breath and heart palpitations are caused from not enough salt. Eat more salt. You can even add some to your water. That might be also the problem with the headaches. You have to add more salt to your diet when you eat this way. Also add some magnesium.
Carolyn
Word of caution: If you have a medical condition that needs sodium restriction, please talk with your doctor.
Advising large amounts of sodium as a general cure-all can be dangerous.
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Old 07-31-2013, 12:05 PM   #13
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Thank you again for the responses.

Amines headaches could be a possibility - will have to try and cut out avocado for a couple of days or so, do you know how long before the headache should stop if i don't eat anything that could trigger it?

As stated in my first post - i've been to the doctor and taken sodium and potassium (and creatinine) levels which were all OK, and since then i have supplemented with 6g of table salt a day, now moving over to 2 cubes of broth (as recommended in Jeff Voleks book) so unless you think a teaspoon (6g salt = 2,4g sodium) is to litte - this is not my problem.

As i also stated im taking calcium/magnesium without any change.

Also i talked to a doctor today and guess what? - he told me that ketogenic diets are nothing that should be performed since a larger amount of carbs are essential... arguing with him didn't help, it was basically "i wont help you if you dont change diet" and the reason im doing this is that i have constant IBS problems on a regular diet so its not really an option either. (plus hoping on the benefits of it, ofcourse)

Anyone that has a take on my low blood sugar theory?

Regards
M
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Old 07-31-2013, 12:09 PM   #14
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Thank you again for the responses.

Amines headaches could be a possibility - will have to try and cut out avocado for a couple of days or so, do you know how long before the headache should stop if i don't eat anything that could trigger it?

As stated in my first post - i've been to the doctor and taken sodium and potassium (and creatinine) levels which were all OK, and since then i have supplemented with 6g of table salt a day, now moving over to 2 cubes of broth (as recommended in Jeff Voleks book) so unless you think a teaspoon (6g salt = 2,4g sodium) is to litte - this is not my problem.

As i also stated im taking calcium/magnesium without any change.

Also i talked to a doctor today and guess what? - he told me that ketogenic diets are nothing that should be performed since a larger amount of carbs are essential... arguing with him didn't help, it was basically "i wont help you if you dont change diet" and the reason im doing this is that i have constant IBS problems on a regular diet so its not really an option either. (plus hoping on the benefits of it, ofcourse)

Anyone that has a take on my low blood sugar theory?

Regards
M
It looks like you are taking enough salt. I used to have IBS before I started this WOE, and it is gone now. Doctors really do not study nutrition. They only tell you what they are told. In my opinion they just like to push drugs.
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Old 07-31-2013, 12:15 PM   #15
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It takes 2-3 days for my amines headaches to start and about the same to calm down after I stop the offending items.

My blood sugar inexplicably shoots up to around 120 on high fat low carb low protein.

If you can't make this work take a look at my thread under Paleolithic under plan types. I've started the Stephan Guyenet thread there.
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Old 08-01-2013, 10:24 AM   #16
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I drink salt water, too, as I too much salt on food ruins it for me.
Broth seems to carry salt well, though, compared to other foods.
I really have to work on keeping sodium up.
As I rarely get headaches, not sure I can recommend as headache remedy though.
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Old 08-01-2013, 01:31 PM   #17
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My values today:

07:00
Ketones: 2.4mmol/l
Glucose: 64.8 mg/dl (a bit hypoglycemic)

14.00
Glucose: 84.6 mg/dl (normal range)

17.30
Ketones: 2.3mmol/l
Glucose: 77.4 mg/dl (normal range)

I upped protein intake by 50grams (2x24g whey protein without sugar or sweeteners, tastes awful) since ketone levels was over 3mmol/l - no need for them to be higher, and still seems im well in NK range.

As for the sodium, as i said earlier i've taken blood tests that confirm that the levels are OK - but do you think it could be an issue anyway?
The test was taken 5 days in to the headache.

Im also quite sure that i have had several incidents of reactive hypoglycemia, because i can't explain it in any other way.

I have low/normal blood pressure so salt shouldn't hurt anyway?

Regards
M
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Old 08-02-2013, 05:27 AM   #18
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Up your carbs. seriously.

There are tons of reasons you could have a headache and none related to low carb therefore could not be fixed with low carb. In addition, many issues due to vitamin or mineral depletion would not necessarily show up in a week and a half of low carbing .

Truthfully, I would just up my carbs. Really. I mean, it will NOT hurt you to go higher carb for a few weeks since you are not diabetic nor metabolically challenged. Get out of Ketosis like your doctor said--- if the headache goes away then you know it was diet induced and you can start over again. If he headache is still there you know it has nothing to do with the diet and you can investigate. Seems like a waste of resources to do brain scans, MRI and In depth testing when the patient isn't complient to try something simple .

If your woe IS causing headaches then it is bad . Woe shouldn't hurt.

Last edited by Spanilingo; 08-02-2013 at 05:29 AM..
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Old 08-02-2013, 03:02 PM   #19
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I have been thinking about this, and I used to get headaches a long time ago. What was a problem with me was using aspartame (NutraSweet). I don't know if you are using artificial sweeteners, but they can be a problem for some people. Also, nuts and hard cheeses can be a problem. Too many peanuts or peanut butter can also cause me to get a headache. You might try adding a few more carbs to your diet. My husband eats more carbs than I do in the form of a serving of berries every day.
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Old 08-04-2013, 09:21 AM   #20
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It could be something that you are eating that you are sensitive to. Too many avocados are not healthy either. Try eating very simply for a few days. Do you use artificial sweeteners? They can cause headaches in some people. You would have to give a menu of stuff you eat to give and idea what might be the problem. Nuts and seeds can give some people headaches. Have you introduced a food that you never ate before?
Carolyn
Can you expand on the avocado part? Unhealthy in what way? What is the source for your information? Thanks.
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Old 08-04-2013, 10:28 AM   #21
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Can you expand on the avocado part? Unhealthy in what way? What is the source for your information? Thanks.

Avocados have quite a bit of carbs for a ketogenic diet. They also have a lot of some nutrients that would be easy to overdose on such as potassium. Anything in too large amount can be unhealthy. Protein is not good in a large amount and carbs are not either. Even too much fat can keep us from burning the fat in our bodies. I say we should eat in moderation. But everyone has their own opinion. 3 avocados a day, in my opinion, is too many. For a lot of people, a whole one in a day is too much. It will keep them from losing weight.
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Old 08-04-2013, 10:34 AM   #22
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I am just guessing but I think the idea that too many avocados may stem from 2 things. One that the carbs really add up (at 12g per average size avocado) and the fact that they contain a lot of potassium and those 2 things conceivably, could have a negative impact over extended period of time.
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Old 08-04-2013, 10:37 AM   #23
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Avocados have quite a bit of carbs for a ketogenic diet. They also have a lot of some nutrients that would be easy to overdose on such as potassium. Anything in too large amount can be unhealthy. Protein is not good in a large amount and carbs are not either. Even too much fat can keep us from burning the fat in our bodies. I say we should eat in moderation. But everyone has their own opinion. 3 avocados a day, in my opinion, is too many. For a lot of people, a whole one in a day is too much. It will keep them from losing weight.
Carolyn
I was writing when you posted! We agree it seems.

I would only hesitate to use the word moderation because a lot of people will interpret that to mean in all things and there is no moderation for many of us in the area of carbs.

Eating so many avocados may stem from the misguided idea that if one is good, then 3 must be 3 times as good. Not necessarily so.
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Old 08-04-2013, 02:24 PM   #24
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I was writing when you posted! We agree it seems.

I would only hesitate to use the word moderation because a lot of people will interpret that to mean in all things and there is no moderation for many of us in the area of carbs.

Eating so many avocados may stem from the misguided idea that if one is good, then 3 must be 3 times as good. Not necessarily so.

You are so right. I for one cannot eat too many carbs. Avocados stall me also. Personally, I don't think eating sugar and grains in moderation are good either. They both raise our insulin levels and neither one of them have much nutrition.
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Old 03-17-2014, 11:54 AM   #25
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bump! headaches cundundrum (no cramps, etc.)

1st time post -- bumping this thread as it's one of the latest ones on the topic.

please help a girl out with this -- i've read dr. eade's blog and am returning to low carbing with a new resolution to make lasting changes, not quick-fix changes.

after much success on the plan years ago, i gave up after an inability to resolve the massive morning/daytime headaches. i'd already found a solution for leg cramps, but i was never able to assuage the headaches and finally reached my limit.

but they're back. 3 weeks into it, they came back with a passion. wow, not one headache in 3 weeks. life was good!

otherwise, now at week 4, i feel pretty good. daily ibuprofen is doing the trick but i'm wary of it as it's a crutch and not a solution. i have not found any MD doctors in my area and am hoping the community here can offer some much needed advice:

1) drinking lots of water (lots, around a gallon daily) -- check!
2) as of one week ago: magnesium, 400mg morning & pm -- check!
3) as of one week ago: potassium supplement morning & pm -- check!
4) not shy with salt, and as of one week ago it's been natural sea/himalayan salt -- check!
5) not too much protein (up to 8 oz.) -- check!
6) almost all non-processed foods -- no shakes, snack bars, lunch meats, etc.
7) getting fat from fish oil, veg/olive oil or butter when cooking, naturally fatty meats, nuts, occasional avocado, cheese and heavy whipping cream/h&h.
8) headaches are not related to caffeine withdrawal -- consumption of coffee is 1 cup a day and 1 cup of black tea
9) starting to dread waking up in the morning -- check.

please, tell me there are others out there who have beat this? if so, how?
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Old 03-17-2014, 04:34 PM   #26
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Even though fluids are important, I do think they can be overdone on a ketogenic plan as they serve to further flush electrolytes. Try cutting back by about a 1/4 and see if it makes a difference.

It is suggested that approx. the equivalent to 2 tsp. of salt is what is required through out the day. It may be as easy as adding 2 cups of regular sodium chicken broth to your day.

It is also good to note that there are questionable supplements so just be sure you are using reliable brands.
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Old 03-18-2014, 09:22 AM   #27
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Even though fluids are important, I do think they can be overdone on a ketogenic plan as they serve to further flush electrolytes. Try cutting back by about a 1/4 and see if it makes a difference.

It is suggested that approx. the equivalent to 2 tsp. of salt is what is required through out the day. It may be as easy as adding 2 cups of regular sodium chicken broth to your day.

It is also good to note that there are questionable supplements so just be sure you are using reliable brands.
thanks for chiming in, clackley. i'll keep these things in mind.
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Old 03-18-2014, 10:10 AM   #28
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I'm only on week two of keto, but have had the headaches. What I found out from sussing around is like you already know, the salt is very helpful - I heard that using lite salt (I hope this wasn't already mentioned) can really help.

And having a mug of chicken bouillon with some HWC is great as well. I've also been drinking SmartWater for the electrolytes.

Good luck - headaches are my least favorite things to suffer with. They hurt!

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Old 03-18-2014, 10:21 AM   #29
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Join Date: Mar 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaisyGG View Post
I'm only on week two of keto, but have had the headaches. What I found out from sussing around is like you already know, the salt is very helpful - I heard that using lite salt (I hope this wasn't already mentioned) can really help.

And having a mug of chicken bouillon with some HWC is great as well. I've also been drinking SmartWater for the electrolytes.

Good luck - headaches are my least favorite things to suffer with. They hurt!

thanks, daisygg.

go figure -- no headache this morning for the first time in over a week. things were done a little differently yesterday: no meat at all and i forgot to take the magnesium and potassium last night.... i also did not have my semi-regular snack of salted nuts at night (had 'em with lunch instead).

this calls for a food diary to keep track of when the headaches happen/or don't happen.

which leads to a slight change of topic: is there a preferred app that folks like or prefer over others?

onwards and upwards! (or downwards, as the case may be, lol)
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Old 03-20-2014, 09:22 AM   #30
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holls - here is list of the apps that we can discuss in the forums.

Low Carb Friends Tools

While I personally use a different one, not on the list, I encourage you to look these over and see if there is one that fits your style.

Myself, I did a google search and also looked for ones that also had iPhone apps and had a large user base, which is often helpful to iron out kinks. I'm usually not an early adopter on applications and tools.

Cheers!
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