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Eating primal for 2 weeks but not feeling good

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  • Eating primal for 2 weeks but not feeling good

    Hi all,
    To introduce myself, I'm a 22 yr old nurse, recently married, living in Tasmania, Australia and after reading Mark's blog for a while and watching the documentaries "Fat Head" and "My Big Fat Diet", I got very excited about what primal eating/living might do for me. While I have eaten strictly gluten and dairy free for the last 2 years because of intolerances, and "fructose friendly" for the last 5 months after finding out I had fructose malabsorbtion, I had been feeling better but not 100%. I find that shift work drains me a lot and would really love to have more energy.

    So 2 weeks ago I began a primal diet and I've stuck to it pretty well. This is what my diet roughly looks like:
    B: 3-4 egg omolette cooked in coconut oil with either herbs, shredded meat or grated veggies, served with spinach or rocket.
    L: BAS made up of lettuce or spinach, carrot and/or zucchini, a little tomato or capsicum, olives and some sort of meat eg. cooked chicken breast, left over beef hamburgers (homemade) or tuna
    D: some sort of cooked meat (such as steak or the pulled pork recipe) with veggies - similar to those in the salad, sometimes some cooked veggies such as roast parsnip and sweet potato (try to limit sw. potato, don't have any white potato).
    Snacks: usually just a handful of pumpkin seeds (can't have many nuts as they contain fructans - which break down to fructose, which gives me tummy problems)

    Over the last 2 weeks on the diet I have noticed:
    1) I actually feel like I have LESS energy than before. I'm soo tired when I get home from work I can't do much with the rest of my day. I'm a bit more irritable too
    2) Decreased exercise tolerance. When I do muster up the energy to exercise I don't fell good doing it - feel dizzy/light headed/run out of puff too quickly. I mostly run and do yoga for exercise and used to feel pretty good during/after exercise.
    3) I've lost a little bit of weight (my jeans feel a bit loser) but haven't yet experienced any of the other great body things people report, my skin is still uneven in tone, I still have slightly darkened undereyes..
    4) Headaches. Especially at the start of the day. I hardly ever used to get them.. thought maybe they were due to sugar/grain/carb deprivation but surely they should be going by now?

    From what I have read in peoples success stories, some people can feel a bit crap at the start of the diet but as the weeks go by start feeling better and better. So far I have been feeling worse with time!
    Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to increase energy levels? does my daily diet look ok?

    I will continue this way of eating for 30 days to give it a good chance, and will report if things get any better (I hope I can be a success story too!).


  • #2
    Yeah, the period of adaptation to fat metabolism typically takes between 1.5-4 weeks and people usually feel crummy for the duration. Your daily diet looks pretty good to me. Just make sure you're getting enough fat. Just what rides along with the meat itself is often not enough for people to feel their best, and cutting out a bunch of carbs may be lowering your calorie intake more than you realize, which could also be a culprit.
    Give me liberty. Exploration of other options will be vigorously discouraged.

    Wondering something sciencey? Ask me in my Ask a Biochemist Thread


    • #3
      Bern, what has been working for me on the energy endurance thing, as I gradually adapt to lower carbs, is to keep a jar of coconut oil in my car, and if I get hungry at a time I can't prepare a full meal, snack on a couple spoonfuls of it, with a good drink of water.

      Ghee would work too, I think. Having them available helps me to avoid buying fast food like I used to do when I have a job coming up and can't get a proper meal.

      I think perhaps this isn't the very best time to do major working out. Your light yoga, etc., is probably the best way to go.

      Every few days, during the worst of the transition, I felt much better if I ate an apple or some blueberries, only I don't do it too often, because then it slows down the transition to being a fat-burner. For you, the parsnips (which are still kind of sweet) might be better than the fruit, or my other standby (no oftener than every ten days or so) a couple spoonfuls of honey.

      Be sure you have some good fat (coconut oil, fat from meat, butter) when you're working out, and enough water, would be my intuition, not that I know much about feeding before and after workouts.


      • #4
        Its possible that you are sensitive to eggs. Mark quite recently did a post on this. If this is the case you may want to try cutting them out for about two weeks and see how you feel for those two weeks and after you reintroduce them to your diet.

        that post talks about the egg sensitivity and how to handle it in much more detail


        • #5
          Thanks Molecular Grokologist, piano-doctor-lady and pimer for your responses, makes me feel more confident about kicking on with my primal diet!

          I will try to introduce more saturated fats in my diet and see if that makes a difference (Just had a delivery of 5L of virgin coconut oil I ordered over the internet yeeha). I was thinking about it and don't really think that half my calories come from fats as recommended.

          That's interesting about the egg sensitivity. I noticed in the comments of that post that the sensitivity seems to manifest itself in tummy upset.. something I'm very familiar with!! I have still been noticing some digestive probs while on this diet and keep putting it down to an overload of fructose or other sugars I'm sensitive to (these are present in veggies/nuts as well as fruit) so I'll have to try eliminating eggs to see if it makes a difference.

          I love the support and ideas that filter through these forums and hope to be someone who offers advice soon too!


          • #6
            Hang in there! My transition took about 6 weeks (I was mostly-vegan before, so although I ate "clean," I was heavily dependent on carb-laden grains and legumes). It was awful, but sooooo worth it!

            Definitely don't be afraid to add more fat. As long as your carbs are low and protein moderate, the fat will not be stored as bodyfat.
            Nightlife ~ Chronicles of Less Urban Living, Fresh from In the Night Farm ~ Idaho's Primal Farm!

            Latest post: Stop Being Stupid


            • #7
              I second BarbeyGirl's "hang in there". I felt a little foggy and weak for the first two weeks. Two weeks in, I felt like I was going to collapse during a kettlebell session, and then I've been fine ever since. I also notice that my fat intake has gradually increased to about 55%-60% of caloric intake.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Tangent View Post
                I second BarbeyGirl's "hang in there". I felt a little foggy and weak for the first two weeks.
                +1: took me at least 6 weeks to get over the hump; the biggest help has been upping the good fats, which took a while to become routine (was one of the hardest shifts so far...).


                • #9
                  We call that the "low carb flu" around here. Week two after turning primal was like that for me
                  fortunately, like the regular flu it passes once your body acclimates. Once I acclimated though it's
                  the carbs that will make me feel funny if I choose to indulge in something non-primal.


                  • #10
                    Thanks guys for your encouragement. Wow, up to 6 weeks for the transition! I used to eat a pretty "clean" diet beforehand also, with minimal meat but lots of grains like rice, quinoa etc.

                    I shall peruse.. it is encouraging to hear you say that it's worth it in the end!


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Bern View Post
                      Wow, up to 6 weeks for the transition!
                      I think I was at the high end of the "transition" adjustment range; most people seem to adjust much quicker... While I've also eaten a pretty "clean" diet on average over the past 20 years ("clean" as in little processed or packaged foods, but still a bigtime grain eater...), I can say the few months leading up to my PC (Primal Conversion) were definitely loaded with sugary junk food!


                      • #12
                        The first two weeks were the hardest for me, and I was fairly low carb to begin with when I started PB. It does get easier. I feel great now, after 6 weeks.


                        • #13
                          You mentioned that you are a nurse doing shift work - I assume that means you work nights. That will really wreak havoc on your natural diurnal rhythms and metabolism. Part of the PB is getting lots of sleep, preferably at night when its dark. During the hours of darkness, the body increases the level of melatonin, the brain chemical that promotes sleep and body repair. If you stay up all night with artificial lights, your melatonin levels are suppressed. When I used to work nights, I would take a melatonin supplement when I got home and went to bed to try to counteract the negative effects of being up all night. Also, for the first month of doing PB diet, I did not exercise at all, other than easy walking. I didn't get the energy for more vigorous activity until the second month. Take it easy and hang in there!


                          • #14
                            Yes, unfortunately I do work a combination of 8 and a half hour early and late and 10 hour night shifts! So the quality sleep part of PB is what I have the most difficulty attaining. I notice that by the end of a 2 week stint of nights I feel depressed, groggy and out of it. I'm sure it's the break up of the natural circadian rhythm as well as lack of sunlight!! I hate having no routine in my life and sometimes wonder why I don't pick a job that doesn't require shift working but I love my job and learn so much from it (I work in a busy ED). One day I want to study to become a diabetes nurse educator, through which I can work normal hours. I hope that by then a primal lifestyle is more accepted/preached in mainstream medicine. I would hate to have to work under the nutritional guidelines promoting legumes and low Gi bread as healthy foods for diabetics.

                            I know will have to look into melatonin supplements, thanks Barb.