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Glucogen depleted?

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  • Glucogen depleted?

    Hey folks, I've been transitioning into PB since December. I first took a gradual approach, which did not work so well, so I made a full switch 24 days ago. I now eat calories 50-60% from fat, 15-25% from carb and 15-25% from proteine. The first week was an absolute crash of energy, the second week sucked slightly less and ever since it gradually started getting a better, but I'm still in low carb flu.

    Today I decided to go for a bike ride. The usual ride to university, 14-15 km times 2. I ate an extra piece of fruit for break fast and took a banana for on the road. First 8 km brushed past with ease (I even found myself cycling slightly faster than usual). After a short break, I headed for the second 7 km. These did not go so easy and I had to slow down and stop for another few minutes. Get to uni, eat some mackerel and a heap of red cabbage. Go do my school work for about 3 hours, then eat 2 boiled eggs and a pear, let it marinate for a few minutes, then take the 14-15 km bike ride back home.
    Then I got low energy, my legs also felt tired, even though my muscles didn't. I had to stop 3 times on the way back to regain my energy. I was not tired at all, but I just felt low on energy, not enough fuel to keep going. My glutes and calves also hurt slightly, but not real painful, more of a tension there. I actually felt this way in my legs ever since I started to go full PB eating style.

    I suspect that my legs are glucogen depleted and I'm a bit worried that I am not fueling on muscle on them. It pisses me off that the quantities of fat I'm eating don't seem to lend themselves as fuel for my body (yet).

    (on a sidenote: I'm 24 years old, male and lived a pretty active lifestyle before this transition (it forced me to lower my exercise and sports activity). On a high carb diet I could do a bike ride of 50-100 km without any challenges, but as of now I'm being felled by a simple school ride)

    I'm looking for people who have gone thru this transition with similar characteristics as me:
    - active lifestyle (skateboarding, strength training, cycling)
    - early twenties
    - male
    - 6'1, 160 lbs
    - from very high carb diet (450 grams a day) to PB (100-150 grams a day)

    Is it possible that low carb flu persists so long and is slowing you down so extremely?
    Or is there some piece I'm missing?

    (please don't give me a feedback if you're an inactive person trying to lose weight (no offense intended))
    Free book on Self-change (aswell as Paleo articles) at my website:

  • #2
    24 days isn't very long. Even the regular flu can last that long.
    "Thanks to the combination of meat, calcium-rich leaf foods, and a vigorous life, the early hunter-gatherers were robust, with strong skeletons, jaws, and teeth." - Harold McGee, On Food And Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen


    • #3
      My first thought is maybe you're not consuming enough total calories? I know you didn't give us a full sample of what you eat in a day, but it sounds like quite a bit of fruit, and not a lot of meat.


      • #4
        I think I eat plenty of calories and meat, you can read my daily intake for the last 26 (and counting) days here:

        My staples for the day are generally:
        - 500 grams of meat/fish
        - 4 eggs
        - 2 tablespoons of olive oil
        - 1 tablespoon of almond butter
        - butter (free-range organic)
        - coconut meat
        - 1 avocado
        - 1-2 tomatoes
        - spinach, broccoli, lettuce and other green veggies
        - a few seeds
        - a few berries
        - apple cider vinegar (occasional dressing in salads)
        - limited fruit intake (initially only berries, as of now: 2 pieces a day max) (pear, apple, banana, kiwi)
        - the occasional hazelnuts/almonds/walnuts/cashew
        - some other veggies like mushrooms, summer squash, peppers, cucumber
        - dark chocolate (only sporadic)

        I'm having heated discussions with my mom, because she's worried about me and the flu has impacted my energy levels pretty drastically. It is getting somewhat better now, but my productivity and performance declined incredibly for the past month and it's only getting back just recently and I'm still not fully back on track. It's pretty iincredible how food intake can influence a person...
        Free book on Self-change (aswell as Paleo articles) at my website:


        • #5
          Ok, I have finally read through your journal here and on your other thread. You are definitely eating plenty calories - as in I don't think you can stuff yourself with more fat without starting to feel nauseated. Carb flu for 24 days? That seems way too long. Plus you are trying to put on weight instead of losing it and it really seems your glycogen reserves are completely depleted. Do you eat any diary?? I know it's a grey area with PB but athletes seems to do better with it. I would try that first. If you don't want to or it does not work, I would try a day of heavy carb refeeding...low fat and ridiculous amount of carbs. See what happens. Keep us posted!


          • #6
            To be honest your diet sounds pretty good. However if you are gonna be very active then you are gonna have to eat a lot more carbohydrates than that especially pre, post and peri workout. Don't be afraid to eat more carbs esp if they are coming from primal sources. Roots and tubers, fruits and white rice are good options. Workout days I would go for like 300g of carbs if you are doing that kind of work. You are never gonna perform at your best eating that level of carbohydrates and you also don't want your cortisol through the roof!!!
            "My mom made two dishes: Take it or Leave it." -- Stephen Wright, comedian


            • #7
              Upping your carb intake is a good idea. Fruit is a poor choice for refilling muscle glycogen, fructose tends to go to the liver instead of the muscles. Go for potatoes, maybe even white rice. Starch does a far, far better job at providing energy than fruit.
              Ye shall know them by their fruits.


              • #8
                The feeling you describe on the bike sounds like classic glycogen depletion. I've been there many times before.

                The thing is, if you're going to be undertaking glycogen demanding activities, you need the fuel to do it, and the fuel you need is carbs. The other option is to lower glycogen demand, you could achieve this by riding slower, for example, no more than 50-60% of MHR.

                You don't have to be low carb to be primal/paleo. So eat more carbs, if you need them. Just get them from 'safe' starches. Sweet potatoes, yams, squash are your friends here. They are super high in nutrients and don't seem to have quite the glycemic load of other carbs.

                The best time to eat them is post workout, or at least on the days of your most intense workouts, this is when your muscles will be most insulin sensitive, and your body shouldn't have an issue clearing the glucose from your blood into your muscles.

                You could also include a little fruit post workout as well, as it will aid in replacing liver glycogen, this can be helpful if your next workout is in less than 24hrs, for example.

                Don't be afraid of good carbs if you're really active and much of that activity is done at a high intensity.

                Hope that helps!


                • #9
                  I see, I guess I'll just add in some veggies that are higher in carb then on physically demanding days. Carrots, beets, eggplant and mushrooms might be good ones as well, as they have more carbs than the other veggies + off course the starches. I think the transitioning factored in greatly as well as I felt much more glucogen depleted in the early weeks versus now. It's all about figuring out how to make this stuff work for yourself, that's what I like about it.
                  Free book on Self-change (aswell as Paleo articles) at my website:


                  • #10
                    The thing I've found with primal, is that it's a lifestyle that is not particularly tailored to active cardio and Mark even mentions that. His workout ideas in his book are not high endurance and he isn't even a fan of that.

                    So to do primal AND be very endurance/cardio I found you have to up the carbs a lot especially on workout days. I'm still working on that myself with sweet potatoes and bananas added in but still not as dialed in as I'd like to be. I was high carb as well before I tried primal and I definitely had more endurance energy.

                    I did read "The Paleo Diet for Athletes" and got some ideas from there as well.

                    That's why on this site you have to read what people say and then decide if you are in the same boat as them. Some are overweight, some have medical issues, some are in great shape but don't exercise much, some are weight lifters and some are more high endurance. All these people have different nuances to the primal way of eating.

                    I think it's a great eating lifestyle but it really needs to be personally tailored to your own specific goals.

                    In fact I'm still struggling with how far in advance you need to "carb up" so you don't run into glycogen depletion.
                    Last edited by Reacher; 05-22-2011, 10:38 AM.


                    • #11
                      Thyroxin is used for the thyroid and langerhans has to do with the pancreas which produces insulin. The body takes glucose from food and uses it or stores in on the liver as glucagon. When the blood sugar is low glucagon is released and raises the blood sugar bit without insulin, sugar cannot enter the cell.