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low blood sugar / fast metabolism issues (hope for a primal solution)

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  • low blood sugar / fast metabolism issues (hope for a primal solution)

    This is my first post here; I'm so far three and a half weeks into a primal diet which I started mainly out of a desire to control mood problems that seem to be arising from low blood sugar. I'm now in my mid-thirties; as a child I would often get faint if I didn't eat regularly. Generally I knew that whenever that very characteristic combination of anxiety, weakness, trembling, and a cold sweat came on, I needed sugar immediately as a quick rescue followed by something more substantial. I adopted the conventional wisdom of eating complex carbs regularly, only that didn't seem to work particularly well. . . and as I transitioned into adulthood it seemed as though I was permanently stuck in a partial low blood sugar state, never feeling 'quite right' and never able to either properly articulate or rationalize that feeling. My general reading of the situation was that the tendency towards low blood sugar was a result of my 'fast metabolism', i.e. I'd always been skinny and indeed have never been able to put any weight on.

    So, a few weeks ago I read the Primal Blueprint and the logic of the arguments seemed convincing enough for me to give it a go. I cut out all grains immediately, which wasn't difficult at all. Besides relying on porridge for a quick and cheap meal I don't feel attached to grains at all. I'm not a great fan of bread or pasta, or rice. I found myself greatly enjoying more flavoursome meals involving all the typical primal ingredients, and following the book's advice I increased my consumption of fats in a big way. Incidentally, I've always loved butter and cream so this all seemed to make sense.

    In the first week my body reacted strangely, I found myself waking in the early hours of the morning with a headache which lasted for a couple of days. I was extremely tired and wired at the same time; I often felt like I was somewhat tripping/stoned. Playing sport I felt tired, my body temperature higher than normal and I sweated profusely. I couldn't follow a train of thought, couldn't remember things. I hoped that in accord with the many reports I'd read this was just a temporary phase and that my body would shift into an improved gear.
    The second week was similar, occasionally I'd wake at 4 or 5 in the morning feeling really wired and strange, and often during the evenings that low blood sugar mood that I've been hoping to escape would descend on me, yet without some of more 'physical' aspects, i.e. I'd feel weak, anxious, low etc. but not shaky or faint. This brought up the issue of how much carbohydrate I ought to be consuming. I'd thought that in order to shift my metabolism towards a reliance on fats I ought to keep carbs quite low. Reading food labels it struck me that a typical primal diet is lower in carbs than I'd expected. In fact I wondered exactly where the 150 grams or so were supposed to come from since nearly all of the primal foods seemed to contain close to zero. I figured I'd need to make sure I ate some dried dates or bananas or suchlike, but then it seemed that a banana here or there could wildly skew one's daily carb consumption.
    Looking back it seems that for the first two weeks I was probably on around 75 - 100 grams of carbs a day but by the end of the second week I felt like I'd actually put on a bit of flab, which has never happened before in my life. I read a few posts on the forum by people who'd put on weight eating primally. . . there were lots of doubts in my mind over the whole endeavor and hoped that things would improve in week three.

    Playing sport towards the end of the third week I found that things remained much the same; I had minimal energy and sweated an absurd amount. I didn't feel weak or have any blood sugar crashes but I certainly still didn't feel good. It was at this stage that it became apparent that I'd put on some muscle; I felt stronger and could see it clearly; fears that I was putting on fat were allayed and the benefits of increased protein consumption were obvious. This was all good, but at the same time my mood wasn't improving. On around 100 grams of carbs a day I found that my body was stuck in a very strange mode, it seemed, indeed still seems as though I have some of the symptoms associated with low blood sugar; sweating, anxiety, irritability, inability to think, and a combination of wiredness and tiredness. I've also had a bad taste in my mouth and bad breath which makes me wonder if I'm producing ketones despite consuming a reasonable amount of carbs. All in all I don't feel good.

    So I wonder quite how I should proceed with this. In the last few years I've had some of the symptoms associated with diabetes appearing, i.e. frequent urination during the night, often waking up to go to the toilet, and I wonder if my many years of trying to regulate blood sugar with complex carbs has taken it's toll (blood tests have never indicated there was anything wrong beyond a slight chromium deficiency which as I understand it is consistent with hypoglycemia). I need to improve both my general health and mood but at the same time I don't seem to function well without more carbs than would seem to make sense from an evolutionary perspective, or so it seems at three and a half weeks into this experiment. Furthermore, the elimination of wheat, corn and oats doesn't seem to have had any noteworthy effect. I don't crave them, don't miss them and neither do I feel any boost for having given them up.

    Any suggestions as to how to play this from here? I don't feel like I really have a proper understanding of blood sugar issues, hypoglycemia etc.. It seems to me as though a childhood tendency towards low blood sugar relating to a 'fast metabolism' progressed into a generalized reactive hypoglycemia in adulthood, from which point on it was impossible to feel OK, my blood sugar levels being constantly low. The part of this puzzle that doesn't seem to make sense is that if I have been stuck in an insulin-stimulating cycle it hasn't resulted in visible fat storage AT ALL.
    Another strand relating to this is that in adulthood in general whilst I never developed a craving for grains, bread etc., I have found myself frequently craving sugary things, plus (and perhaps I've way underestimated the importance of this) I've had a life-long addiction to tea. I've always drunk a lot of tea, and whilst embarking on a primal diet I've not eliminated caffeine, though I've lowered my consumption somewhat.

    Added to this I also have health issues connected to inflammation; that's a strand too complex to go into in detail but another motive for looking for general health improvement via diet.

    Any advice that could shed light on this would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    A year has come and gone... Have you had any luck with your blood sugar? I'm in the exact same boat, and confused as to what to pursue... :/


    • #3
      My understanding is that hypoglycaemia isn't something that can be cured by diet, its a serious disease that may need medication but definitely requires you seeing a doctor. Diet may help though.

      You are probably struggling with sports due to the low carb consumption, up your carbs eat rice, potatos and fruit.

      Do you have any idea how much caffeine you are consuming? That may account for some of your symptoms. - Gaming, Food Reviews and Life in Singapore