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Too Low Carb Too Fast?

by jenny sansouci on January 18, 2015

Hey guys!

Today I’m writing to share my experience over the past few days and see if anyone else has ever experienced it. As you’re probably aware and maybe sick of me saying it, I’ve been reading the Bulletproof Diet book.

Being the chronic experimenter that I am, I decided to try some of the guidelines outlined in the book and see how I felt. (Which I’m still doing, by the way).

In the book, there are “Bulletproof foods” (that tend to enhance mental performance and physical fitness in most people), “Suspect foods” (these foods may be great for some, but tend to be awful for others), and “Kryptonite foods” (avoid these).

For the past 3 days, I’ve been eating only foods on the “Bulletproof” end of the spectrum. Things like Bulletproof Coffee (or yerba mate), grass-fed meat, grass-fed butter, pastured eggs and avocado. A little bit of broccoli, kale or arugula thrown in. I’ve been seasoning things with turmeric, ginger and sea salt. Overall it’s been delicious and I haven’t felt hungry between meals even once.

I’ve basically been eating just protein and fat, and a few super low carb veggies. I haven’t been having any other carbs. Just to clarify, the book does NOT tell you to cut out all carbs, that was my personal decision – in fact he does recommend having some starchy vegetables and fruits.

I, of course, decided to be as hardcore as possible about it and eat no starchy vegetables and no fruits at all. No coconut water, no kombucha, nothing even remotely sweet. I figured I’d be totally fine, it’s not like I was eating that many carbs before (or so I thought).

But we all know what happens when I try to be the most extreme person ever. (i.e. last year’s fitness challenge).

But after the 2nd day of living on basically fat and protein, although I was satiated…I started to feel dizzy, weak and even a little nauseous.

This is VERY unusual for me. I tend to have a strong digestion and a pretty good handle on my energy as it relates to food, so I was surprised. What was going on!? Why was I feeling like this?

Also, to clarify, I wasn’t adding anything new to my diet. I’ve had Bulletproof Coffee plenty of times before and I’m no stranger to healthy fats. Something else was happening here. (ALTHOUGH, I have been reading some forums where people say they get dizzy from MCT oil, which I’ve been having a lot more of every day in the form of Brain Octane).

I did some research, and although I am BY NO MEANS an expert in any of this stuff, I started reading more about ketosis – the state where your body has so little sugar in it, that it’s adapted to burning fat for energy instead of sugar. People often say they are “fat adapted” when they are in this state.

The thing is, apparently there’s a transition into this state that can bring up some of these side effects as your body learns to use a new kind of fuel. It can actually feel kind of alarming when it’s happening.

So yesterday when I was feeling particularly dizzy, I ate a sweet potato. Guess what? I felt like myself again within 10 minutes. Same thing happened today. Literally – felt dizzy and weak, ate a sweet potato, felt a million times better almost immediately. WTF! Sweet potatoes SAVE THE DAY!

I started to think about my carb intake in my usual life, and I realized it’s probably more than I think. I make smoothies with coconut water and berries, I eat sweet potatoes on the regular, sometimes I eat protein bars with whey or pea protein (I’m testing recipes for my own protein bars, so I’ve been having a lot of those), and I eat a good amount of dark chocolate that does usually include some type of sweetener, even if it’s not cane sugar, it’s still being used by my body as a carbohydrate.

My body is probably accustomed to running on carbohydrates.

I personally believe I went way too low carb too quickly and my body was like YO, what’s going on here!?

What do you guys think?

I’m not going to pretend I know everything about this, but I wanted to share with you guys. I’m finding that I actually feel much better having SOME carbs in my system, even if it’s just a sweet potato or a piece of fruit.

I know that our bodies need some carbohydrates to perform many basic bodily functions. Many vegetables (squash! sweet potatoes!) do contain a good amount of carbohydrates so that’s really a fantastic place to get them, in my opinion.

Here is a WONDERFUL article by Chris Kresser — Are You Lower Carb Than You Think? with a super helpful chart about how many grams of carbs we might need / where to get them.

I’d love to know if anyone else has experienced this. Please let me know in the comments, and THANK YOU for being on this journey with me!

Anyone have any advice on how to transition more into a fat-burning state, but without feeling like crap in the meantime? I would LOVE to know.

I will always try my best to be very transparent with my nutritional experiments and let you know when things don’t go the way I thought they would. That’s all part of the game and I appreciate you being along for the ride. 🙂

Lots of love and sweet potatoes,

Jenny

 

 




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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenna January 19, 2015 at 10:07 am

It’s called keto flu. If you keep up the low carb for a week or so, you will get through the “feel like shit” phase and become fat-adapted and feel awesome. The biggest thing is make sure you are getting enough water and electrolytes. Since the “healthy” version the standard American diet says to avoid salt, you are probably not getting enough sodium. On low carb, you need to keep your electrolytes balanced since you will drop a lot of water weight at first.

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jenny sansouci January 19, 2015 at 11:48 am

Thanks Jenna. I eat a ton of salt, so hopefully I’m ok on that end, but I’m wondering…when you say to keep up the low carb for a week to become fat adapted, do you cut out all starchy vegetables and fruits and just get your carbs from non-starchy vegetables? (Anyone else who sees this comment is welcome to answer too!!!) Thanks for helping me figure this all out. 🙂

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jenny sansouci January 19, 2015 at 11:52 am

Also, another question, do you drink things like coconut water to replenish electrolytes, or is that too sugary to get into fat adapted mode?

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Amber January 26, 2015 at 12:23 pm

My boyfriend eats Keto and loves it! Only thing he has noticed is that sometimes he is low in potassium so he will a lot of spinach once he feels the side effects of that. I, on the other hand cannot operate Keto, so I do a low carb diet. I found when I tried Keto, it made me angry! Lol.

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Kate January 29, 2015 at 8:50 pm

Hey Jenny! I’ve actually been experimenting the opposite way recently and am intensely amping up my card intake (mostly fruits and and other plant based carbs). I’m learning more and more about the 80/10/10 diet (basically high carb, low fat, mostly raw), and I’m loving how I feel. I think it’s really cool that we’re both experimenting with and enjoying the benefits of opposite food choices 🙂

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