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New to paleo: my experiences and questions

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  • New to paleo: my experiences and questions

    Hey guys. I've been on the paleo diet for about a month now. Prior to that, I was vegetarian for 3-4 years.

    I'm enjoying the paleo diet, but have noticed a couple of concerning changes.

    First, I require more sleep. As a vegetarian, my sleep cycle was like clockwork. I needed 7 to 7.5 hours of sleep, rarely set an alarm, and would spring out of bed in the morning, wide awake and ready for anything. Now, even if I get 8 hours of sleep, I'm bleary in the morning, and don't feel refreshed.

    Has anyone else experienced changes in their sleep requirements and/or patterns?

    The other disconcerting change that I've noticed is my desire for chocolate: it's sky-rocketed. This is very strange for me. As a vegetarian, I ate *very* little candy, chocolate, etc, because I rarely craved it. I actually went 13 months without a single bite of chocolate, just for fun.

    Last but not least, my sex drive has decreased significantly.

    To give you a bit more context, I'm 28 years old, 6'1", ~160lbs, and train parkour 2-3 times each week. My paleo diet mostly consists of:

    Breakfast: A large bowl of fruit (most of which is berries) with 2 handfuls of nuts (almonds, macadamias, and walnuts) and some coconut milk. When I get to work, I have 2 boiled eggs.

    Lunch variation #1: A twist on Mark's "Big Ass Salad":

    * spinach instead of mixed greens, but only half as much;

    * chopped red and yellow pepper (half of a pepper in total);

    * 6 cherry tomatoes;

    * sundried tomatoes that've been sitting in olive oil;

    * 6 cremeni mushrooms;

    * half of an avocado;

    * an 85g can of tuna;

    * 2 tablespoons of flaxseed oil.

    Lunch variation #2: Leftovers from dinner.

    Dinner variation #1: Beef curry, and curried or roasted vegetables.

    Dinner variation #2: Fish, and curried or roasted vegetables.

    Dinner variation #3: Shrimp and vegetable curry.

    Yes, I love curry. Yes, I cook everything myself.

    Most days, I also have a piece of fruit and/or a handful of nuts somewhere before or after lunch.

    All of the red meat that I eat is organic. Most of it is grass-fed. Some of it is grain-finished; it's hard to prevent that.

    All of the seafood that I eat is wild-caught.

    Some of the fruit and veggies that I eat are organic.

    There's always one dinner each week that isn't completely paleo. I do my best, but pizza or potato usually makes an appearance.

    I tracked my paleo diet on for 12 days. Here's a screenshot of the overview of my diet.

    So, are those changes that I explained above abnormal during the first month of switching to the paleo diet? Can I expect them to pass?

    Thanks for your advice!


  • #2

    I have noticed that I too require more sleep now, unlike some people here in the forum who've mentioned they sleep better but need fewer hours of sleep. As for the desire of chocolate, I have it and always have had. Only, now I'm able to satisfy it with really dark chocolate.


    • #3

      Hmmm...I've read that insufficient magnesium can cause chocolate cravings. When I was eating a standard American diet, I noticed that when I regularly took my cal/mag/D supplement, my chocolate cravings decreased dramatically.


      • #4

        BTW, I just updated the original post with a 3rd disconcerting change that I've noticed: my sex drive has decreased significantly.


        • #5

          @maba I'm wondering if my need for more sleep is simply due to my body adjusting to the new diet, or if it's because now I'm eating more foods that require more digestion.


          • #6

            @Pikaia Thanks for that tip about magnesium. For the past ~10 days, I've been forgetting to take my daily omega-3 and multi-vitamin supplements. I'll be more vigilant about them, which should increase my magnesium intake.


            • #7

              Nick, when I went low-carb first, the first thing I noticed was insomnia but after my body got used it, it's the exact opposite. I need more sleep now. If you've been on it for a month, I would imagine your body is adjusted to the diet.


              • #8

                @maba Hrmm, that's disappointing to hear. I was very happy with my "sleeping abilities" when I was veg. I'm going to stick this out and see what happens. If this changes, I'll let you know.

                How long have you been on the PB/paleo diet for?


                • #9

                  Nick, In my case, the dramatically positive changes I experienced are tightly linked to being in perpetual ketosis. I might be wrong, but your carb levels would be high enough to prevent it. I personally need to be around <50g to comfortably stay in ketosis. But that&#39;s me.

                  If I were you I&#39;d cut the fruits a lot, increase the fats and have some patience. You are just starting so your body might still be adapting.

                  I&#39;d also recommend supplementing with fish oil instead of flax. The average person absorbs o-3 much more easily from animal sources.

                  Good luck.

                  “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” -Oscar Wilde
                  "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." -George Bernard Shaw
                  "The trouble with jogging is that the ice falls out of your glass." -Martin Mull


                  • #10

                    I&#39;ve been Primal for 3 months and low carb for 2 months before that.


                    • #11

                      I posted very recently about my inability to sleep. I&#39;ve only been on PB for around a week now, but I&#39;ve been averaging about 3-4 hours of sleep a night. Although I&#39;ve experienced no ill affects, it&#39;s irked me nonetheless. Anyway... Griff commented that being in a state of Ketosis has a "stimulant effect" that will pass eventually. Sure enough, last night (my 8th day), I slept really well for about 6 hours (still less than I&#39;d like), so it looks like I might be getting through it myself. Hang in there!

                      As for your lack of sex drive I&#39;m not sure what&#39;s up. I&#39;m experiencing exactly the opposite. According to some websites, including (, fat, cruciferous vegetables and exercise may increase testosterone, which is surely what I&#39;m going through because my sex drive is through the roof. Maybe something&#39;s missing from your diet?


                      • #12


                        I noticed the utter lack of Saturated Fat in your diet. What&#39;s up? Its not paleo, if you are not having a lot of saturated fat from the right sources.

                        No wonder your testesterone is down in the dumps.

                        Your diet is so low in easily available energy, that it would cause lethargy.

                        Before I believe you were having a good quality vegetarian diet. This would have involved lots of starch. It would get converted to saturated fat, and you would not have any problems with lethargy and sex drive. But now you have reduced your saturated fat a lot, by reducing the carbs.

                        My recommendation would be increase saturated fat (get some Ghee/Coconut oil), reduce vegetables/fruits and fiber. Increasing potatoes may not be bad, if you find meat difficult to consume. Fish would be better, but it is too lean. I think sweet potatoes are a good substitute for saturated fat, if taken in enough quantities.

                        Most people will not agree with me here on the carbs though. But I love a good argument.


                        • #13

                          I noticed also that your diet looks pretty lean. I&#39;d agree to replace some of the fruit/vegetable calories with fat calories.

                          Also, are you eating enough? Looks from your link you have a calorie deficit.


                          • #14

                            @Eric I don&#39;t eat many cruciferous vegetables other than brocolli and canola oil. It&#39;ll be difficult to eat more of them if I&#39;m going to decrease my carb intake.

                            In comparison to when I was veg, I&#39;m eating a lot more fat now. However, maybe the large amounts of starch that I used to eat provided me with more energy than all of the fat that I&#39;m having now...


                            • #15

                              Ah, crapola oil is on the *hit list around here.

                              In fact, all seed based oils are except olive and coconut.

                              It&#39;s about the n-6 quantities and easy oxidation just sitting around, and then major decomposition if you use it for cooking.