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Back with my tail between my legs and a question on sleep

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  • Back with my tail between my legs and a question on sleep

    Last August I went Primal and I was here for about 10 or 12 weeks reading and interacting.

    I never got through the carb flu stage even though a lot of people here were really supportive and helpful.

    Round about late October, early November, I slowly started to slip off the wagon and to be honest, gave up. I was convinced I was the only person that this didn't help! I know, ridiculous, I'm not an alien as far as I'm aware.

    Over the holidays I decided to take another look. I was finally honest with myself in as much as admitting I took the 80-20 rule to extremes on occasions, mainly with beer and wine!

    I know, I know, how the hell can you do this and still be drinking beer? It wasn't a lot, maybe a 6 pack per week, but even so it was something I'd be kicking a clients behind for doing. I'd also have a bottle of wine spread out of the week and it was white not red.

    As I type this I'm thinking poster child for doing Primal wrong and wondering why?

    So I've kicked things off again and this time I'm being a lot stricter. No 80-20 to begin with. In fact I'm pretty much 100% primal at the moment.

    I'm experiencing carb flu again, but something that is maybe worse. My sleeping is terrible. I'm lucky if I'm getting 4 or 5 hours per night and if I try and nap during the day, I can't. As I was reading in Robb Wolf's book, I am definitely tired and wired and it is effecting my concentration big time.

    I have done some digging and read bits about a high fat diet effecting sleep patterns and was wondering if anybody else had this problem in the early days, and if so how long did it go on for?

    I definitely have ramped up the fat big time, but the tiredness is crushing at the moment and I guess I'm looking for something positive to grasp on to because I really believe this is me and not the system and I do not want to quit again.

    Thanks a lot!
    Self Development For People With A Sense Of Humor

  • #2
    Hi Tim, welcome back, this really is a great community for providing support when you need it. I'm relatively new to the PB lifestyle (3 weeks in), so I can only share anecdotes on what I've experienced so far.

    I've managed to dodge a bullet on the carb-flu, with energy levels higher than ever. While I'm not 100% strict, I've been pretty close and have found I'm sleeping better than ever. I'm not sure what your daily schedule looks like, but if you have time to get in a workout, either moderate cardio or some bodyweight training, that may go a long way in helping you get to sleep at a more reasonable hour. I've also found that I get tired much easier if I turn off all external stimulants (television, bright lights) and curl up with the Kindle. I believe Mark also mentioned in the book that you shouldn't be drinking/eating right before you try falling asleep.

    The other thing I took away from your post was that you were overthinking it, a lot. By worrying and encouraging negative thoughts about carb-flu and "wired and tired," it sounds like this alone could be raising your anxiety and being counterproductive. Not saying you need to light incense while mediatating and thinking happy thoughts, but just carve out some time in your day to do something you enjoy as an outlet for accumulated stress; or as Mark says, "Play."

    Finally, if you find yourself lying in bed at night with your mind racing, keep a notepad by your bed and write down what's bothering you. The act itself can help ease your mind and in the morning help you to focus on priorities for what you need to accomplish.

    Best of luck-


    • #3
      Howdy Tim. I remember you from last year. No worries about the dropping out and then sheepishly sneaking back into the cave. It happens to a lot of us, including me. I actually think it can be a good thing because it really drills home how crappy eating CW makes us feel, and it's clear that the difference is like night and day.

      I just remember everything was askew in the beginning -- energy, sleep, bathroom habits -- but then it all started to come together. The only thing I can say is to keep your calendar as commitment-free as your life allows and get lots of rest, laying around reading if you can't nap, etc.

      Anyway, good to see you back again.

      "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." -- Hippocrates


      • #4
        Consider slowing down a bit and spending more time educating yourself on the why's. It's a tedious task but worth it over the long haul. And unless you are here only to quickly lose weight, this is all about the long haul anyway. The more you know, the more motivation you'll have.

        Consider eliminating gluten grains or eating "whole" foods for a while until you have that down if your body reacts strongly to a lower carbohydrate lifestyle. Don't let the best be the enemy of the good (but don't kid yourself either).

        You won't do what the Primal Blueprint says to do for the next 50 years - you'll do what you want to do. Education is key to shaping your wants.

        Good luck and stick around no matter what you're eating.


        • #5
          @ Eisenreich - Thanks man. Unbelievably though it may seem, I'm a Life Coach and published author. I'm literally in the middle of writing an article on stress for a newspaper. I'm also a certified hypnotherapist and NLP Master Practitioner. I exercise about 4 times per week and meditate daily. I wasn't at all stressed prior to this, but yeh, you're right, I am now ;-)

          The worse nights sleep i got which was literally zero (and trust me it really was zero, I never even came close to nodding off) was on Monday after doing a gentle work out and then a yoga session followed up by 30 minutes meditation.

          @TigerLily - I think you just described my day! I only see 3 clients per day, the rest is writing, working out, dog walking, reading and meditating. That's why I'm so confused. Most people would kill for my chilled lifestyle. Thanks for the welcome back.

          @egger - I'm on it! And I don't intend going back again, I know this has to be to do with my body switching over and I'm 100% gluten free as of Monday. I have even cut out my beloved English Mustard!
          Self Development For People With A Sense Of Humor


          • #6
            I have sleep problems, but have had off and on for yrs...I resort to ambien when a cycle gets too bad...hate to but need sleep.
            it cycles tho' and then I can sleep 6 hrs or so for wks, which is enough. I also meditate and have a chill lifestyle...a painter.
            Last edited by janagram; 01-20-2011, 12:03 PM.


            • #7
              Everyone keto-adapts differently--and you may need to tinker with your Protein/fat ratios a bit--maybe up the protein a bit--especially high tryptophan meat like turkey. Read this post. And welcome back!
              Ancestral Nutrition Coaching
              Pregnancy Nutrition Coaching
              Primal Pregnancy Nutrition Article


              • #8
                DO you exercise? LHT wears me the hell out, and I sleep like a baby.


                • #9
                  I'm just like you in the sleep department.
                  The inability to sleep thing was irritating massively. You're tired, and just lying there watching the clock run...
                  It lasted 2-3 weeks. By the time the irritability and general carb cravings were gone, I was able to sleep. I'm 100% sure these things are all linked. We crave more sugar when we're tired and we're irritable. When I asked other people about sleep problems, I got a lot of "me, too"s.
                  Take heart. It will pass soon...


                  • #10
                    I'm 3 weeks in and the first week I had really bad insomnia. I wrote several posts crying for help. My carb flu kicked in on day 4 and lasted a couple days. But the insomnia lasted about a week. Before pb I was a perfect sleeper. Never had a problem, could decide to go to bed, lay down and fall asleep right away.
                    Now, on my 3rd week, I don't feel like I have insomnia anymore. But my sleep does feel different. Its like everyone says, I don't seem to need as much sleep as before. So now, i don't have trouble falling asleep, but I go to bed later. And I seem to wake up earlier. I can't explain it, but it feels different.
                    But the insomnia is gone. I'm still eating vlc, so I didn't change my carb intake. I read somewhere that if you give in by increasing your carbs, then thats like giving candy to a screaming child, it won't fix anything. But I also read that it is different for everyone.


                    • #11
                      Thanks so much everybody and to the person that graciously DM'ed me. The support here is truly amazing and I'm so glad I didn't wuss out and not come back.

                      @Dragonfly - checking those out and some great stuff!
                      Self Development For People With A Sense Of Humor


                      • #12
                        Welcome back, Tim!
                        I know that blood sugar dysregulation can impact sleep, so my theory is that while your body is trying to learn to adapt to burning fats instead of carbs, it's in a bit of a sugar crisis- like "where the eff is my sugar?? I don't know how to burn this fat stuff!!" and sleep suffers.
                        Maybe eating before bedtime would help. When I was in carb flu, I ate a tiny handful of berries to take the edge off.
                        You could also try a sleep aid with melatonin- I like Natural Factors Tranquil Night. Start with just one and you can increase the dose.

                        I would recommend speeding up the burning fat for fuel process along by taking L-carnitine to help the body to switch to burning fats a little faster (it takes up to 6 weeks for some people, but you can speed it up) :
                        The primary function of carnitine in the body, is to regulate fat oxidation (burning). L-Carnitine is responsible for transporting fat to the fat furnace in our cells called mitochondria. Unless fat makes it to the mitochondria, it cannot be oxidized, no matter how much you exercise or diet. L-Carnitine assists in the transport of long-chained fatty acids that are burned for energy.
                        Start with 1000 mgs/day (maybe 500 mg 2x/day) and you can take more if needed.

                        You could also try coconut or MCT oils to provide an immediately usable source of fats and maybe L-glutamine to ease carb/sugar/alcohol cravings, provide the brain with some energy and heal the gut lining. 2000 mg/ 3x/day between meals is a good dose.

                        PS- definitely cut all alcohol until you're ketoadapted. It's non-negotiable. It will only impede you ever getting ketoadapted because the carbs enter the bloodsteam so fast. Also, beer has gluten. A lot of people (even here) seem to forget that. Once you're ketoadapted, if you really want beer, gluten-free would be better (I've heard that Green's is by far the best tasting) or just stick to wine or hard cider (and even then, keep the servings small and infrequent)

                        Good luck, Tim!!


                        • #13
                          Interesting about the insomnia... I took a holiday at christmas and am back on Primal again, but my sleep has also been off. It takes a long time to get sleepy at night after turning the lights out, and I seem to sleep lighter and wake up often in the night. I didn't consider it a side effect of the change in diet until reading this thread.

                          I'm going to go out on a limb here and speculate that it's possible that some people are less suited to PB eating than others. The people for whom PB works are very vocal and proselyte enthusiastically, while those who are not having amazing success are more likely to keep their failure to themselves and quietly leave the forum. I think it's entirely possible that some people genuinely do function better eating more carbs than PB recommends.

                          I'm sure I'll get flamed for this. Truly, I am not trying to troll or offend. I like how I feel eating this way and plan to stick with it, so I am not in any way a detractor. But I think it's ok to examine the possibility that timbrownson may not be well suited to low carb eating. If he gives it a best effort try and still feels crappy several weeks later, maybe it's just not for him.
                          42 yo female; 5'8"
                          Oct 2009: 205 lbs
                          Dec 2010: 167 lbs
                          Current weight: 158 lbs (first time under 160 in 17 years!!!)
                          Goal weight: 145 lbs


                          • #14
                            bokbadok~ Primal Blueprint is not low-carb. Yes, it is lower carb than the Standard American Diet, but in no way does Mark suggest eating low-carb a'la Atkins, except as a very short-term solution for weight-loss--or for diabetics who find it useful. Please educate yourself a bit, or you will get flamed, lol!

                            Here, read this, for starters.

                            I am eating about 30 carbs a day to help drop my last few pounds of belly fat. I've only been doing this for the last 2 weeks, though I have been eating Primally for 2.5 months prior. My sleep has not suffered at all since the first couple of weeks going Primal. It's all about giving your body time to adapt.
                            Last edited by Dragonfly; 01-20-2011, 03:26 PM.
                            Ancestral Nutrition Coaching
                            Pregnancy Nutrition Coaching
                            Primal Pregnancy Nutrition Article


                            • #15
                              Are you kidding me? Compared to SAD, PB most certainly IS low carb, or low-ER carb, if you want to be technical. Esp if you're trying to hit ketosis, aka accelerated fat burning, which I see a LOT of people advocating here. All over this forum people are talking about avoiding fruit, avoiding nuts, avoiding dairy -- to lean out. You yourself just stated that you are eating 30g carbs per day. Um. That's low carb.

                              It makes a girl like me who's just shooting for the sweet spot feel like a real slacker. I can only imagine that a lot of true PB newbies are intimidated.

                              In my post above, I'm just suggesting that not EVERYONE responds equally well to lower carb, high protein eating. That's it.

                              And Dragonfly, I'm sure you mean well, but your suggestion that I read the carb curve primer and educate myself feels a little insulting. You assume that because I'm new to the forum, that I'm new to PB. Not true. I've been reading about and working on the Primal lifestyle for more than 9 months now. Just sayin.

                              Peace out.
                              42 yo female; 5'8"
                              Oct 2009: 205 lbs
                              Dec 2010: 167 lbs
                              Current weight: 158 lbs (first time under 160 in 17 years!!!)
                              Goal weight: 145 lbs