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Wondering how to heal from IBS & get an energy boost out of paleo diet

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  • Wondering how to heal from IBS & get an energy boost out of paleo diet

    Hello, I have been reading through a lot of the posts, but none of them were quite what I was looking for, so I'm posting my own here in the hopes that someone may help me .

    I'm 30 years old, about 5'6", perhaps 120 pounds or so, and I've been on and off the primal diet since I was, oh, 20 years old or something like that. I always return to it because my body seems to need it. I get ill otherwise and am extremely sensitive to sugar and gluten.

    Since returning to the paleo diet, I'm still battling with tiredness (comes and goes) and bloating. This morning my doctor told me I have IBS, so that could be part of the problem as well. At the moment, I've cut out all the usual suspects like grains, gluten, sugar, fruit, etc., and I've also cut out eggs and am considering cutting out almond butter as well. I'm also cutting out suspect veggies that my body seems to react to (and that I've been unknowingly eating a lot of!): asparagus, leeks, onions, garlic, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach.

    My questions are, why the tiredness? How might I reduce it? More fat? I'm not quite sure how much fat I need, especially because I'm still breastfeeding my 19-month-old daughter (and she nurses a lot). I'd like to lose some fat and tone up too, so that's where the fat concern comes in. But, then again, maybe my daughter is getting a lot of my fat and protein, and that's why I feel tired and deficient.

    Does anyone know how nuts and almond butter might effect someone who potentially has IBS? I crave almond butter like nothing else (perhaps the fat in it?) but am worried that it has been contributing to IBS symptoms and a bloated belly.

    I've been thinking of adding a little bit of sweet potato in with the foods I've been eating ... I'm just confused though because I've gone on this diet -- or diet like it -- many times before and I've never experienced this fatigue, but then I've also always included more starchy vegetables and/or legumes in my diet when I did return to mainly protein/fat.

    Finally, is plain whole milk yogurt (organic) or goat yogurt acceptable? Still playing around with that one too.

    Here's what I'm eating as of today: beef (many cuts), pork, turkey, some chicken though I tend to like beef best, & greens. I put lots of olive oil in my foods, and I love butter & coconut milk.

    I really want almond butter & yogurt to remain a part of my diet, but I guess I'd like some feedback from people who've had similar experiences.

    Thanks, hope that wasn't too long!
    where a modern mom re-discovers the paleo way of eating so as to balance mind, body, & spirit

  • #2
    so, with IBS, it depends a lot on the kind you have and what is triggering you. different people react very differently to different foods.

    but, going grain free will help a lot.

    now, first, if you've just gotten back into the diet, the tiredness could be related to "carb flu" which is to say your body adjusting to this "new" (again) diet. It might go away in a few weeks (seems to last 2-6 weeks for most people).

    second, i think that, when breastfeeding, you add something like 200 extra calories to your diet (roughly -- some less, some more). but, i don't know how that would be for a toddler who is also eating food. my DS was a mega-nurser (he would comfort nurse for HOURS until i finally had to put him on a schedule at christmas time, he was 2.25 at the time), and so i was pretty much consuming abuot that much more. now that he's only twice a day, it's really quite back to normal -- my body produces what he needs (30 minutes, twice a day -- most of which, btw, is comfort nursing so not much as far as milk goes).

    So, then assume that you should consume 2000 calories (for breastfeeding included). first thing that's easy to figure out is how much protein you'll need. .8-1g per lean mass. At 120 lbs, assuming 20% body fat (an average), that's 96 lbs lean mass. That means you need between 77 and 96 g of protein per day. this means 308-384 calories from protein per day. taking the higher end, that's 19% of your calories from protein.

    assuming you are seeking to maintain, you'll be getting between 50 and 100 g of carbs per day (from veggies, it appears! ), which means 200-400 cals of carbs per day. i average about 80 g per day myself, so 320 calories from carbs. that's 17% from carbohydrate.

    Thus, the rest will be fat. So, 19% protein; 17% carb; and 64% fat.

    Now, if your amount of calories that you take in per day is less -- say 1600 (that's where i am now, roughly), then those perccentages are different. 320 of 1600 calories is 20%. The protein is higher too, you know? it's about 20-25%. And then the fat will be 55-60%.

    But those are the rough numbers. and you should be fine.

    After you have this part figured out (your maths!), then your next step is to look at what works for you or not. you may or may not have a reaction from almond butter, dairy, and whatever fruits or veggies might cause you problems. try a certain number of days (say 30), and then bring it back in for a number of days and see if you get a reaction. if yes, then avoid it, and if no, then don't worry about it.

    but don't really try the elimination stuff until you feel comfortable with your macro-nutrient percentages, and in rhythm with the diet and lifestyle.


    • #3
      IBS is, in most case, bad gut flora. Eliminating grains and starches is a good idea, either way, as well as excessive fruit. Or at least fruit which has a lot of fructose. Berries should be fine. Cruciferous veggies, onions, garlic, can all cause problems but I wouldn't suggest completely eliminating them. Cutting back until you find a tolerable level and if you want, slowly increasing them is a better idea. If you eliminate too much for too long you tend to lose the ability to digest them as you simplify your gut flora. Leafy greens are your best bet, but you may need to trim the stems back as much as possible, as they tend to have high fructose levels. You may also find that stone fruit and avocados are a problem.

      As for almond butter, do you make your own? I have a particularly hard time with almonds unless they are blanched. The skins of nuts are prebiotic with a high level of inulin or pectin or FOS, I always forget which, that is good for building gut flora but BAD for people with IBS, as it's not very selective and will feed the bad along with the good. I have a particularly bad reaction to them, neuropathic pain. You also have to check the ingredients of the yoghurt you eat, as much of it has pectin (also prebiotic) or inulin or other starches. It's incredibly frustrating, I know. Anyhow, getting back to the almond butter, if you have a decent food processor or blender you can make your own fairly easily.
      Buy house, Demolish house, Build house.


      • #4
        Eat fat to lose fat. There's even a great book with that title.

        I agree - IBS is about gut flora. I highly recommend Gut & Psychology Syndrome by neurologist Natasha Campbell-McBride. Your children will thank you for healing your gut flora today. Don't wait till they're preteen and rife with neurological, behavioral, and/or digestive disorders that started with their parents digestive inheritance.

        I find nuts and nut butters very addictive, and I think it's tied in with my gut flora. I think those who tend toward food compulsions tend to have dysbiotic guts, and it's likely the latter causes the former, while the former feeds the latter.
        5'4" 39yo mother to five sweeties & married to their AMAZING DaddyGrok
        Current Weight: 175lb__________________________________Goal: 135lb
        Deadlift: 240lb________________________________________Back Squat: 165lb
        Bench: 130lb__________________________________________Pre ss: 85lb
        ***Winning a 20-year war against binge eating disorder***


        • #5
          My IBS was almost always stress related. Certain foods (excess onions, too much granola) were also triggers. Taking a probiotic helped, but eliminating the grains and sugar has helped the most. I've also greatly reduced dairy, and am having much less bloating, etc. I recently did a week trial without nuts, and there was no difference in my digestion with or without them. I should note, however, that the majority of my nut consumption is almond meal or nut butter.

          As for the energy... the more protein I eat the better I feel. Aiming for 1g protein per lb of lean body mass does the trick. I agree with the above posters about playing with the ratios on a daily basis till you find something right. I like to track my daily food intake so that when I feel really energized or kinda tired I can look back on the day and see what works.


          • #6
            Wow, Zoebird, thank you for all of the information! I suspect that my fat has been on the low end, but I have to admit that I'm at a loss as far as how to calculate how to get at 64% fat intake. The protein and carb percentages seem easy enough to figure out, but how do you measure fat intake? Also, would it be okay for me to consume more protein, or am I looking at about 12 ounces of protein per day? I hope the carb flu passes ... I have a serious dislike of feeling tired, but if my body needs to heal this way, by resting, then I need to look at that as a good thing .

            My daughter is a constant nurser too, though I think she just mostly comfort nurses with one or two real good feeds during the day. What I don't understand is that I'm always hungry, even after I've had what seems to me like a reasonably portioned meal. Which I think is why I tend to overdo it on the nut butter. It's like my body is craving something, and I think it might be fat, so I guess I'll just have to try upping the fat through butter and yogurt and oil. Should probably pick up some coconut oil and avocados as well. Thanks again!

            Blackcatbone, I haven't made my own almond butter but I should certainly try! I have a food processor somewhere. So are you saying avoid yogurts with starches or inulin or pectin? Ouch. The goat milk yogurt I've been eating has tapioca in it. I can look up how to blanche almonds ... I'm assuming that means soaking them until the skin can be removed?

            MamaGrok, that sounds like a great book. I'll look for it at the local library. I should be reading anything about bad gut flora right now, as I seem to keep returning to this problem. What you say about nut butters being addictive is so true for me ... I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I can go through a jar of almond butter in two days. So, I think that for now I'm going to avoid the nut butters, though I'm craving it ... perhaps it's the carbs or the fiber in it I crave, I don't know. I'm sure you're right .... it's probably feeding the parasites or candida overgrowth or something. Maybe that's why I'm so darn hungry all the time, Lol. I'm not absorbing the nutrients the way I should be, but I'm hoping this paleo diet will take care of that eventually.
            where a modern mom re-discovers the paleo way of eating so as to balance mind, body, & spirit


            • #7
              Prime, I'm sure my IBS is stress-related too. My daughter's father and I just went through a break-up, and I am now living on my own, have a new job, am attempting to correct my diet, etc. I might experiment with almond butter again and see what happens. The reaction would happen pretty quickly if it is the almond butter. I'm not very interested in actual nuts (except maybe some cashews and macadamia nuts). I'm much more interested in nut butter and eventually almond meal.

              Do you eat yogurt at all? I ate yogurt all the time before, and I feel that it greatly helped regulate my gut flora. Since re-introducing it into my diet yesterday, my belly feels much better.

              I seem to crave a lot of protein too. I need my fat as well, but if I don't eat lean red meat every day, I feel seriously deficient. I really do need to keep a journal. One of those things ... I start, then stop. Kinda like that with everything in my life, actually .
              where a modern mom re-discovers the paleo way of eating so as to balance mind, body, & spirit


              • #8
                I just read your blog! We have much in common.

                I went to the doctor about a year ago because my stomach pains were intolerable and the noises were audible from across the room. As she pressed on my bloated belly, she said "I can actually FEEL the gas pockets and stool in your bowels." For so many years I would feel randomly weak, queasy, nauseous, or painful after eating. It wasn't every meal, but it did seem to coincide with my anxiety and certain foods. I started taking Xanax daily, which did nothing for either case. No difference when I stopped taking it, either!

                Eating paleo has eliminated the gut symptoms, and feeling in control of this has helped to ease my anxiety. IBS is a vicious cycle. It's like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg? The IBS or the anxiety? They seem to feed eachother, and a life without one is a life without the other.

                All that aside, I think you're definitely on the right track. Experimenting with foods is a very important part of the process! I do not eat yogurt, mostly because I don't like the greek stuff unless it's heavily sweetened. It's just not a fair compromise when the sugar content outweighs the fat or protein. When I first started eating primally, I snacked on cheese and made dishes in which cheese was a major component. I noticed that I was having gut gurgles and gas... and now I limit dairy. I cook with butter and occasionally use cheese or sour cream as a topping.

                I might start taking a probiotic soon to help with the consistency of my paleo stools (very soft) but otherwise gas and bloating aren't a problem!

                The almond meal and flour are definitely tolerable for me, as is coconut flour. Be sure you're getting enough protein, it makes all the difference in my day!


                • #9
                  to get those numbers, i basically did some math.

                  first, figure out protein needs. PB asserts .8g protein per lb of lean mass. some people recommend 1 g per lb of lean mass.

                  To determine lean mass, you take your total weight (120) and your body fat percentage (i estimated 20% for no reason) so 80% of 120. Then you multiply that number by the number of grams that you need (.8-1g/day).

                  Second, you convert from protein grams to calories from protein. there are 4 calories per gram of protein. so, if you are taking in 96 grams of protein per day, that's 384 calories per day from protein.

                  Third, to determine what percentage of total calories is from protein, you divide the total calories from protein by the total calories.

                  Then, you move on to Carbohydrate. PB asserts that to maintain your given weight (assuming you are in maintenance), you eat between 50-100 g of carbohydrate per day. I eat about 80, so I'll use that as an average amount that you might eat per day.

                  so, then you convert grams to calories again. carbs are 4 calories per gram and so at 80 grams, you'll get 320 calories of carbohydrates in your day.

                  to figure out hte percentage, you do carb calories divided by total calories, and that's your percentage.

                  Next, you take those two percentages, and you determine the remainder and that should be from fat. Then, you retro fit it the other direction to determine calories of fat and then grams of fat. like so.

                  If you eat 2000 calories per day and 55% of that "should be" from fat, then you multiply 2000 x .55 and get 1100 calories from fat. There are 9 calories per gram of fat, so you divide those 1100 calories by 9, to determine how many grams of fat you require: 122 grams in this instance.

                  hope this make sense.


                  • #10
                    oh, and to determine if you are doing this, you can use sparkpeople or fitday -- they have calorie counters that can show you the grams of things, the calories, and the percentages each day. then you know where you are.


                    • #11
                      Thank you, Zoebird, so wonderful of you to show me ... and I see it's about plugging in numbers where they should go .

                      Prime, thank you for your comments ... I think I'm going to do a strict paleo/candida diet for awhile because I definitely have yeast in my system ... which means no yogurt or almond butter or even almond meal for a while ... until my body feels right again, if that makes any sense. I'm using Healing Naturally by Bee if you're interested ... I also link to her from my blog. I know ... these stomach problems are just so uncool ... but I'm learning to listen to my body for once ... so I hope I AM on the right track.
                      where a modern mom re-discovers the paleo way of eating so as to balance mind, body, & spirit


                      • #12
                        My take: No grains, no corn, no soy, and no derivatives of any of that, like malto-dextrin, soy protein isolate, etc, etc. No artificial anything, Definitely coconut oil. Definitely vitamin D and K2 and your minerals and C. Make sure any A you take is beta-caroteene never retinol. Yes to good fish oil. Enough protein. Good fats. All that will go a long way to giving your gut its best possible chance to be happy and healthy.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Primal Woman View Post
                          Since returning to the paleo diet, I'm still battling with tiredness (comes and goes) and bloating. This morning my doctor told me I have IBS, so that could be part of the problem as well. ..
                          IBS troubleshooting can be difficult. IBS is a bit of a catch-all, meaning "we really don't know what it is."

                          Some things you can do right away, some things you may want to find the right dr to help, because you need a complete blood test.

                          Things to do right away-

                          Get plenty of rest. Get good sleep. Google melatonin and use it to get better sleep. (That is as close as you can get to Primal, since melatonin is how your body manages your sleep patterns).
                          If you have things that cause stress, work them out.

                          Things you should get some dr's advice on based on blood tests-

                          IBS is stressful. It taxes your immunity. It can drain you of key vitamins. You can go out and get vitamin D and take 2,000IU a day, some strong source of B12, and some other things, but if you don't know what your levels are, you are going to be guessing. This requires a doctor that is willing to help you look and make good decisions.

                          If you are sensitive to sugar, you may be insulin resistant, which can also come with high triglycerides, and hormonal imbalances. I think you would want to know more, like could it be thyroid, and don't use a doctor that only looks at TSH, you want to know what T3 and T4 are too. Too many only look at TSH and the standard levels and the tests are unreliable.

                          Hope this helps, and good luck!


                          • #14
                            Hi, Slacker & DFH! Thank you so much for your comments. Slacker, I agree with everything you say regarding what I should add to my diet, and most of them I already have added. DFH, you're right about IBS being stressful and taxing my immunity ... I've been feeling sluggish for some time now, but I'm already beginning to feel better, and my bloating is beginning to go away. I think I was eating many veggies that were agitating it. I do need to find a good doctor, but I go to a volunteer clinic, so my choices are limited, if you know what I mean. Maybe I can still find a good doctor to help me though.

                            I'll keep you posted on what happens. Thanks again for all the great advice.
                            where a modern mom re-discovers the paleo way of eating so as to balance mind, body, & spirit