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light-headed, muscle weakness, breathless, constipation, little weight loss

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  • light-headed, muscle weakness, breathless, constipation, little weight loss

    When I first started eating primal, during the 2nd and 3rd weeks, I experienced light-headedness upon standing, muscle weakness and breathlessness any time I mildly exerted myself, and constipation. If I "fall off the wagon" and get back on, I go through the same symptoms again. Everything but the constipation usually eases up after about a week or 2 but does not completely go away.

    Because of a pretty serious sugar addiction, I am pretty strict when I am eating primal with the exceptions of dairy.
    No refined or unrefined sugar, No Honey, Syrup, Agave, Etc. Only sweetener is Stevia (Stevita or NuNaturals)
    No Grains (no wheat, corn, oats, etc.)
    No Legumes
    No Potatoes and the like
    Lots of Meat, Veggies, and limited Fruit each day.
    Some Milk, Cheese, Cream, etc.
    1 cup coffee daily
    Occasional Decaf Iced Tea
    Very occasional wine or mixed drink
    Bacon or Sausage and Eggs for breakfast most days
    Fats: Olive Oil, Almond Butter, Butter, Coconut Oil.

    I'd like to hear from anyone who has experienced ALL of these symptoms, but especially the first 3. Did you ever figure out what causes it and what to do about it?

    Also, I am not seeing the wonderful results that so many people talk about. It is discouraging. Although I feel 100 times better, and the depression I've been suffering from is gone, I have not lost more than 15 lbs. That is the part that is discouraging. My husband has had fantastic results. He's lost over 30 lbs. I am sooooooooooo happy for him, but wish I could see some weight loss myself.

    Any women out there experienced a similar combination of symptoms with little weightloss?



  • #2
    I can't say it's exactly the same, but when I'm about to get a migraine, I get the same thing - dizzyness, muscle weakness and a little trouble breathing (just a tiny bit labored). When I get migraines, it's usually in response to something I've eaten that my body isn't thrilled with and sees as a threat.

    When I first started eating primal and ditched the sugar/grains, I would be a bit lightheaded (I walk all day, so I'm not sure about standing) and the muscle weakness along with feeling sluggish. After my body made the switch, that all ended. But if I eat wheat, especially for more than one day, then I get all of those problems again.

    As far as the weight loss goes, yeah, men suck. Their bodies tend to let go of fat faster than women's bodies. Just how it is. But you could also be getting leaner while staying the same weight. My boyfriend could tell I was leaning up before I could because the scale wasn't moving but I looked better.

    Your food intake looks good, so I have no advice on that.


    • #3
      Can you please reply to these questions:

      1 - What did you eat like before Primal? And did/do you have any health problems.
      2 - How long have you been Primal?
      3 - Do you exercise at all? If not, would you consider walking? Doesn't have to be brisk walking, just relaxed is okay.
      4 - What percentage of your calories comes from fat? And what kind of meats/fish do you eat? Please tell us what animals and what cuts. For example, chicken breast is different than chicken thigh.

      5- Any chance you might be intolerant to dairy? While some people get diarrhea or loose stools with dairy, others get constipated.

      Men lose weight much, much more quickly than women do, it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with us women. Our bodies work differently. 15 pounds lost on a woman is nothing to be ashamed of. I've been Primal since May/June 2011 and I've lost 15 pounds as well.

      Also, now that you're 15 pounds smaller, could it be that your body now needs less calories to sustain itself? Do you still eat as much as you did when you started Primal (when you were heavier)?

      Now than I'm 15 pounds smaller, I don't need to eat 3 eggs cooked in bacon grease for breakfast, a light broth soup is enough.

      Lightheaded: I get lightheaded after I've been sick or if I don't sleep well.

      Light-headed-ness and being breathless can be a symptom of allergy. Keep a food AND symptom journal and see if it happens after you eat some foods.

      Muscle weakness: The only point in the life that I suffered from it was when I had thyroid problems (hyperthyroid). I had really bad nutritional deficiencies too.

      Here are some nutrients you should have to improve muscle weakness:
      WHFoods: magnesium
      WHFoods: potassium
      WHFoods: vitamin D
      WHFoods: selenium
      Last edited by abstractpersona; 02-22-2012, 11:54 PM.
      My smartphone makes me about $100 per month
      Updating my journal again after a 2 year break.


      • #4
        The lightheadedness and muscle weakness are very common when starting. They are often the result of loss of electrolytes. A few things are helpful for lots of people:

        1. Good quality magnesium supplement - natural calm or topical magnesium brine are popular.
        2. Drink a pinch or two of good quality sea salt in a glass of water a couple times a day.
        3. Make homemade bone stocks (chicken or beef) with celery and sea salt - drink a couple cups a day.
        4. Test your vitamin D3 levels and take an oil based D3 supplement to get to the upper third of the normal range.

        The shortness of breath could be from loss of magnesium, but it would be a less common symptom. Anxiety is a very common symptom with low magnesium, could your loss of breath be anxiety?

        As for weight loss, quite a few women around here find they cannot lose weight if they eat dairy, so you may want to try a dairy elimination. Nuts are also a common cause of stalls.

        ETA: Oral magnesium will help with constipation - but start slow.
        Last edited by jammies; 02-23-2012, 12:21 AM.
        Using low lectin/nightshade free primal to control autoimmune arthritis. (And lost 50 lbs along the way )


        • #5
          I got a lot of those symptoms. I self-diagnosed the light-headedness and breathlessness with an electrolyte imbalance. Treatment? More sodium and potassium in your diet. If that doesn't work, gently increase your carb count.

          Muscle weakness is common if you are not use to low-carb diets. Low-carb diets deplete the muscles of glycogen, which they use for fuel.
          There aren't many problems in life that can't be solved by sleeping it off, or adding more butter.


          • #6
            Thanks for all the responses. Wow. A lot to process. I'm going to work through these and try to implement some of the suggestions.

            I have had some comments from co-workers insisting that I am losing weight. So maybe I just can't see it on the scales. That is encouraging.

            1. I ate close to Average American diet before going primal: meat and potatoes type meals, some fast food, way too much sugar, some veggies, not much fruit, quite a lot of bread and grains.

            2. I started eating mostly primal in November 2011. Got serious and did the 21 day thing starting Dec 1, 2011. Bad lapse over christmas/new year holiday. Back on again mid January. Short lapse end of January. Started back again full force about a 2 weeks ago.

            I've learned that when I can make a commitment to a certain time period of strict paleo, I can stick to it. On the 21 day thing, I did great and temptations were not a problem. Its when I allow myself indulgences that I fall off the wagon. So, About 2 weeks ago I was able to make the commitment to go strict for a minimum of 3 months.

            3. No exercise, mostly. I do try to park further and take opportunities to get Grok-style exercise occasionally, but its infrequent. I know I need to do more, but have a hard time making myself do it.

            4. I don't know the proportion of fat, but I'm thinking probably not enough. I know my usual breakfast gives me a good dose of fat, but I probably need more throughout the day. We eat mostly chicken breast, with some ground beef, some pork loin, beef steaks (when we can afford them). I do use butter liberally. I try to include other fats (olive oil, coconut oil) but not regularly enough.

            5. Dairy intolerance? It very well could be that, but I don't want it to be.... lol

            Eating less since I've lost 15 lbs: I hadn't thought of that. I probably should cut back a little. I find myself fighting cravings, though. So, I have been trying to make sure I am full. I had been thinking over the last couple of days that I must be missing something, but didn't know where to start on what to add. It would be so nice if there was a machine that could just analyze your body and tell you what you need. The guessing gets exasperating sometimes.

            Thyroid: According to tests, my thyroid is fine.
            Last edited by LoraTX; 02-23-2012, 09:59 AM. Reason: additional info


            • #7
              Hehe, I'm the same way when it comes to cravings. For me it has to be all or nothing!
              By the way, how much weight do you still want/need to lose?

              Would you consider eating more fatty cuts of meat? Just nitpicking, I guess, but it might help. I know it sounds silly to eat more fat to lose fat, but believe it =) Animal fat is good for you <3

              You got some really good advice, I think you should give a quick look at the nutrients I linked to above. If you scroll down, it shows food sources. Have you been eating plenty of those foods? If not, try to eat more of them.

              If I were you I would track your food intake on Fit Day (or another tracking tool) for one week, just so you can see how you're doing on nutrients and fat/carbs/protein ratio. I hate tracking but I do it once in a while if I want to see how I'm doing.

              I try to track one week per month, then I see how I'm doing on nutrients overall. I look up the nutrients I'm lacking in, and try to buy foods that provide them the next time I go shopping. This month it was oranges, sunflower seeds, liver, and lots of dark-green leafy vegetables.

              Also the electrolyte stuff people above mentioned. Salt and potassium. Have you been salting your food well? If not, it would probably be a good idea to start doing that. Don't worry about eating too much salt, by eating Primal, you already eat much less salt than other people do.

              Anyway, I hope some of this has been helpful and that you start feeling better =)
              My smartphone makes me about $100 per month
              Updating my journal again after a 2 year break.


              • #8
                I am fairly new to this program (January 2012); however, about 3 weeks ago, I posted a goodbye message because my anxiety was off the charts. Like you, people responded with very helpful suggestions. I added small amounts of white rice for a few days until I felt "stable" again. I've been doing pretty well the past couple of weeks by adding berries/carrots/peas/sweet potato every other day. If I go longer than 3 days without a sweet potato I start to feel jittery, anxious and my sleep becomes more disrupted. I've also increased my fat intake and take a good multivitiman too. I think FitDay has been a very helpful tool as I find the balance of fats/carbs/protein. The past week, my numbers have been spot on and I've felt wonderful. I could be wrong, but I don't think there is any downside to adding a few healthy carbs as needed while you adjust. Hope you start feeling better soon.


                • #9
                  Sounds like the drawbacks of going very low carb to me. I experienced most of those. Fat-adapting makes them less bad after a few weeks but low-carbing makes me constipated pretty much indefinitely.

                  I do a LOT better with some regular sweet potato, banana, white rice, citrus, and lots of berries in the mix. I don't like to go very low-carb for more than a few days at a time anymore.

                  You also don't lose your fat-adaptation as long as you make sure to mix up your diet (don't eat the same foods and macros every day), exercise regularly, and IF from time to time. When you're IFing your body has nothing BUT fat to burn, same as if you're not eating any carbs.
                  Today I will: Eat food, not poison. Plan for success, not settle for failure. Live my real life, not a virtual one. Move and grow, not sit and die.

                  My Primal Journal


                  • #10
                    Lora, I've also been having similar symptoms. I never had any problem going before going Primal; had avg. 3 BMs a day. About 2 months or so into primal, feeling great energywise, my BMs start to taper off, alternating between not going and uncomfortably going a lot. From the beginning my stools did change, getting smaller, and I also wake up every morning with sore muscles and have to pace around. I don't have as much energy in the gym either.

                    I went to a doc that eats "a variation of primal" who recommended 50+ oz water per day and 35g of fiber. It's been hard to get that much, and I've gotten close, but it hasn't really helped. Feels a little too CW... Most people around here seem not to be too fond of fiber so I don't know what to believe. I've tried Senokot, which kinda helps, and I've also done 500 mg magnesium (1/day) which doesn't seem to have an effect. I've been eating a decent amount of sweet potatoes too FWIW.

                    I wonder what about primal causes this. Any update, LoraTX? Have you found a solution?


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Michael B View Post
                      I went to a doc that eats "a variation of primal" who recommended 50+ oz water per day and 35g of fiber. It's been hard to get that much, and I've gotten close, but it hasn't really helped.
                      Fiber is not all it's cracked up to be. Check out Gut Sense: How to reverse and prevent constipation in children and adults.

                      My doc told me to up my fiber after I tore my colon (no, not doing that...), and every time I know I've eaten as much as he wanted it feels like crap. Turns out what I really needed was less fiber.

                      If you aren't having any success with 500 mg magnesium, try upping it a little. I take 1000 mg because I get migraines with anything less. Regularity is just a nice side effect of that, though I do better if I take half in the morning and half in the evening. If you don't want to do that, adding some coconut oil helps some people too.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by LoraTX View Post
                        Eating less ... I probably should cut back a little. I find myself fighting cravings, though.
                        That's not a good idea. Unless all you mean here is deciding not to eat junk. Eat to satiety, as the saying goes. If you're eating a fairly low amount of carbohydrate, as I assume you are in accordance with the Primal BP Curve:

                        How many carbs should I eat each day? | Mark's Daily Apple

                        ... then your hunger won't be being "pushed" by the carbs, and you'll probably be eating far less than you otherwise would. But if you're hungry, it's because you're not eating enough. Don't try counting calories and counting carbs. The first method doesn't tend to work. If you're cutting carbs, it's superfluous to count calories: you just eat till you're comfortable, not forcing down more food than you want nor going hungry.

                        As to the dizziness, etc., as people have said it's probably electrolyte imbalances. And this is partly why I assume you are keeping carbs very low: it's what happens when you do, if you don't supply those electrolytes. There's a pretty full discussion here:

                        The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D. Tips & tricks for starting (or restarting) low-carb Pt II

                        Another reason why I assume you are fairly low carb is because you say:

                        No exercise, mostly. I do try to park further and take opportunities to get Grok-style exercise occasionally, but its infrequent. I know I need to do more, but have a hard time making myself do it.
                        Now, your brain can run off glucose or it can run off ketones. If you're low-carb there's not going to be much glucose around in your system (or your pockets); but unless you're both very low-carb and keto-adapted, which takes a few weeks, you won't have ketones available for it either. You simply haven't got the fuel for anything very energetic, and once you try you begin to dip into the glucose that your brain needs ... well, it won't put up with that. You'll feel bad, and it'll make you grab sugar. Gentle exercise, as you're currently doing, will be fine.

                        This, by the way, is one reason why "low-calorie, low fat, high carb diets" plus exercise usually fail: because even a high-carb diet (say 50% of calories), if it's low enough in total calories only supplies just enough glucose for the brain. Once the person adds the exercise, they're trying to dip into the brain's energetic needs -- which one way or another must be supplied.

                        On the other point, as has again already been said, magnesium supplements can help. AFAIK, this is something of an unintended side-effect and has to do with some forms of magnesium not being absorbed as well as they might be. Magnesium citrate -- say in the form of the NaturalCalm product -- definitely makes most people go more easily once the dose gets up to a couple of teaspoons or more:

                        Natural Calm

                        And, again, make sure to drink enough water and stay hydrated.
                        Last edited by Lewis; 05-27-2012, 11:20 PM. Reason: spelling