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Low-carb flu affecting athletic performance?

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  • Low-carb flu affecting athletic performance?


    I eased into primal four weeks ago. I've been feeling great and have lost weight. The first couple weeks of primal, I was eating one serving of grain/day. The last two weeks have been completely grain-free, with a few cheat meals.

    I'm used to running 3 miles a few times a week in addition to a wild-card workout, like weights, sprints on the spin bike, bicycling around town, etc.

    I went for a 4 mile run this weekend and had to stop and walk at mile 2. I ran/walked until mile 3 when I ended up just having to walk home. I just felt literally out of gas. I checked my blood sugar upon my return home and it was 93. I felt weak and tired, but relaxed.

    I tried again today to just run 2.5 miles but had to stop and walk that half mile home. I feel much less energetic and have absolutely no zip to my stride at all anymore. I feel literally like my tank is empty.

    Is this low-carb flu?

    I know I eat plenty of fat. Breakfast is at least two eggs cooked in butter or bacon grease, zucchini, onions and 1/4-1/2 avocado. I snack on nuts, berries with cream, and add coconut oil to my whey protein smoothies. I tried going < 50 gram carb/day for weight loss, but found I feel better when I have two pieces of fruit per day, usually with cream. Lunch/dinner is salad with red meat, or chicken or pork cooked in coconut oil, veggies served with butter or drizzled with olive oil. I eat about 1/2 to 1 avocado per day. I know I definitely feel better the more fat I eat.

    When I'm not running, I'm pretty sedentary. I'm the average suburban mom of a two year old. Three times a week I work as an RN, so I'm on my feet a decent amount those days. I'm just feeling really disappointed at my sudden poor running performance. I'd like to run another 5k this October but it's looking unlikely. Again my energy level during running just felt like zero.

    Do I just need to wait until my body's done transitioning to burning fat for fuel? Will I ever get my pace and endurance back?

  • #2
    Yes. I had this too. I had low-carb flu that had me feeling like shit for the first week, then i started feeling better, then i noticed my energy increased in general in everything BUT sports where it was far worse. Took 4-5 weeks from memory, maybe 6 before I started getting back to where I was, and it wasn't long after that that my fitness improved to a whole new level.

    I've been breaking the rules and eating a fair bit of grain and sugar this month (still much better than I was pre-PB) and I can notice the decrease in stamina. I need to rewire my addiction for sweets for sure.

    Oh, and don't do the ridiculously low carb thing if you're active. I know some people on here recommend it - in general when you find out a bit more about them they are SEDENTARY or close to it. Mountain biking 2-3 times a week and a little rollerblading and I was dropping weight with a relatively high-carb diet (over 100g every day, over 150g on most I imagine, I didn't really keep track all that well)


    • #3
      Sounds like your body is still transitioning. Hang in there, it will adjust.

      You might want to try raising your fat levels by a lot more. You mention "at least two eggs" - it is not unusual for many of us to eat at least 4-5 eggs, plus the bacon, not just bacon grease.

      Everything else sounds good - keep experimenting with different foods/fat levels, see what works best for you. Eventually you find a nice balance that feels just right, and this is different for everyone.
      - If it was cute and cuddly at some point, eat it. Ignore everything else. -

      - Food is first, and foremost, nothing more than fuel. -

      - The body is animal. The mind, however, is not. -


      • #4
        It takes the body 2-3 weeks to adjust to the new diet but if you can get through this you will see great results from this kind of diet. If you ever venture into endurance (I know it's not primal) there is a great book called "paleo diet for athletes" where the focus is to modify the diet a little to account for the increased need for energy. But as long as 5-10km is your goal just eat the way you normally would.


        • #5
          Could anyone elaborate on the "paleo for athletes" or some of the concepts? I just read through some of Mark's posts on carb intake and he said 100-150g a day, plus maybe 100 for each hour of physical exercise.

          How the hell can I get 300g a day without grains? (soccer daily).

          I have to say I haven't really experienced a noticable loss of energy since basically cutting out grains, but maybe I'm just in better shape/health in general. Nevertheless, given what mark said, what should I do to get that many carbs without grains? More yams/potatoes?


          • #6
            If you are feeling good with the way you are right now, then don't worry about counting numbers.

            Just keep doing what you are doing - experiment a little if you must. Maybe eat more fat one day. Less fat. More carbs. Less carbs. Find what works best for you.
            - If it was cute and cuddly at some point, eat it. Ignore everything else. -

            - Food is first, and foremost, nothing more than fuel. -

            - The body is animal. The mind, however, is not. -


            • #7
              ^Yeah that's what everyone says =(

              Thing is, I feel fine regardless. I felt fine 2 years ago when I was eating 2-3 bowls of suggary cereal a day, plenty of white pasta, 2% milk and Jif peanut butter. Being 22 and very healthy, it's hard to notice any differences in how I feel.

              I just looked at a carb calculator. Looks like I should be trying to get more sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, other veggies and bananas. Even eating 3-4k calories a day, it seems hard to get enough of everything.