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Thread: Going Primal with Hypoglycemia

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  1. #1
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    Going Primal with Hypoglycemia

    I have been convinced I have blood sugar issues for quite some time now, and a doctor has finally diagnosed me with hypoglycemia. However, I havenít been tested but rather reported symptoms; shaky, hot, fatigued, unable to concentrate Ė worse after exercise or high sugar, alleviated temporarily by carbs or sugar. I have water fasted in the past and thatís improved things but Iíve always gotten worse again, and it doesn't seem to work as well now, especially as I start to shake and then panic Iím damaging myself, so give up early and eat carbs! I really think paleo would help me but Iím concerned as to how I should start Ė if I go cold turkey Iím worried about my sugar dropping too low, but slowly weaning off so far is not working at all... does anyone please have any experience or suggestions about what might be the best course of action?

  2. #2
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    I have reactive hypoglycemia (defined as your blood sugar dropping 100 points or more in less than an hour). Low-carb Primal works extremely well in controlling it because my blood sugar doesn't spike high enough to trigger a crash. I have had to fool around with what my daily carb rate needs to be to make that optimal, and then track mercilessly to keep me on that target number.

    I always carry Smarties (dextrose) with me for emergency use. Two Smarties rolls will raise the blood sugar of a 270 pound person about 10 points. If I have a splurge I do find that it takes a few days to get things right again.

    My definition of emergency includes:
    - passing out
    - having low blood sugar and needing to drive
    - having low blood sugar and needing to communicate effectively, such as a work meeting
    Last edited by loafingcactus; 06-24-2013 at 03:39 PM.
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  3. #3
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    Did you go cold turkey onto primal? That's the big worry for me - I'm certain I'll feel fantastic once I get there, it's the not dying en route that concerns me! I've got a monitor on order so will be able to track exactly what my blood's playing at and respond accordingly, but I'm worried about putting sugars in my system whilst I'm trying to convert - my body is screaming at me to stop eating sugar and I really want to listen! Would a small box of raisins or similar work? Also, can you exercise on low-carb - that really sets me off, though it could be down to being massively unfit! Sorry for so many questions, I'm desperate to do this and don't want to give in again at the first sign of trouble!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by loafingcactus View Post
    I always carry Smarties (dextrose) with me for emergency use. Two Smarties rolls will raise the blood sugar of a 270 pound person about 10 points.
    Smarties in the US are not the same thing as Smarties in the UK. There are dextrose or glucose tablets available at most pharmacies that are intended for this use. A small box of raisins, some dates or the like would probably work well also.

    Quote Originally Posted by LBUK View Post
    Did you go cold turkey onto primal? That's the big worry for me - I'm certain I'll feel fantastic once I get there, it's the not dying en route that concerns me! I've got a monitor on order so will be able to track exactly what my blood's playing at and respond accordingly, but I'm worried about putting sugars in my system whilst I'm trying to convert - my body is screaming at me to stop eating sugar and I really want to listen! Would a small box of raisins or similar work? Also, can you exercise on low-carb - that really sets me off, though it could be down to being massively unfit! Sorry for so many questions, I'm desperate to do this and don't want to give in again at the first sign of trouble!
    I also dealt with reactive hypoglycemia before going primal, and I jumped from SAD-level daily carb intake to VLC overnight. At the beginning I was still getting some sugars in the form of lactose from yogurt, but I've cut that out now too. I have had very few hypoglycemic episodes since switching to a primal diet, usually only after having something that combines carbs from starch and sugar. That said, I am no longer VLC, not even LC by primal standards; easily in the neighbourhood of 150g/day, but the main sources are fruit, potatoes, yams, occasional squash and some rice. I've now found that when I do eat more processed forms of sugar that would have triggered a hypoglycemic episode before, I have a higher tolerance for them, so to speak, as in I don't get the crazy crashes I would before. There is no need to be concerned with your sugars dropping too low when switching to a primal diet...the primal foods you eat do a good job of keeping your sugars stable, so you don't experience the crazy highs and lows.

    Exercise while low carb is possible, though watch the intensity. It sounds as though gentle, low-intensity exercise (walking, light yoga) would be most beneficial to you at this point and shouldn't pose any problems.

    If you haven't read the Primal Blueprint yet, I highly recommend it...it may answer more of your questions.
    Last edited by lemontwisst; 06-25-2013 at 12:31 PM.

  5. #5
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    Oh, and thanks for mentioning you can now eat potatoes - the idea of giving them up permanently was enough to give me a panic attack!! I reckon I can handle it for a few months, but having a potato at the end of the long dark primal tunnel is enormously reassuring!

  6. #6
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    So were they able to do any hormone testing or anything that tells you why you have hypoglycemia?

    I have insulin resistance, so high blood sugar would release insulin and then when something dropped my resistance, like exercise, down I would go. But see, I can prevent that whole thing by not having the high blood sugar to start with.

    I think you will find your meter very helpful. I went through a period where I tested every 15 minutes for a couple of hours after eating commonly consumed foods. Here in the US that meant I had to buy more strips on my own dime because no way insurance was going to cover all that, but I now really know how I react to foods and it cleared up a lot of mysteries.

    Any sugar works if it is not an emergency. But in an emergency you need glucose (and dextrose is about the same thing). Fructose and sucrose process more slowly.

    You can exercise on the right low carb for you. You will have to mess with it and you'll find a level of daily carbs which will probably be somewhere between 20 and 100 grams / day where you'll be happy. My personal way to do this would be to go to 20 and then go up 20 at a time until you find the right spot, but not knowing about your type of hypoglycemia I don't know whether that is safe for you.

    Note that at very low carb your fasting blood sugar will likely go UP... That's a non expected that a lot of people don't see coming. Also, your blood sugar goes up after you've been awake a bit in the morning even if you don't eat- called the dawn effect.
    ďIn God we trust; all others must bring data.Ē W. Edwards Deming
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  7. #7
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    Nope, no testing at all - it was a couple of days after I'd done a minimal amount of swimming and felt awful, needing a disgusting amount of carbs to feel even remotely human again... even then my carbs were high compared to where I want to be - the day before swimming I'd had 2 slices of granary toast and two eggs, cottage cheese salad and pork with a small potato, and that morning the toast and eggs again, then another salad when I got home. The doctor suggested increasing my carbs, which I did and now feel worse than ever! I do feel much better lower carb in general, and it clears up things like my chronic urticaria, ms symptoms, brain fog, anxiety, hair loss etc etc etc - so I'm pretty sure my body is anti-sugar, it just doesn't then want to do any exercise!

    The doctor did say I might well just be extremely sensitive to fluctuations rather than actually dropping drastically, so I really do want to get that meter and see what's going on... and here in the UK I have to pay myself too, only diabetics get them on the NHS, which seems a bit unfair! Fingers crossed it is just a sensitivity as then I can just suffer though and hopefully it'll clear itself up in a few weeks so I can exercise.

    I have tried sweets but within a few minutes I'm shaky again and it's an endless cycle, at least until I can get a balanced meal inside me, but when I'm like that it's hard to cook! I really want to avoid getting low enough to need the emergency sugars, but it seems that I can't exercise on too low carbs and can't function at all on too high carbs, which is very frustrating!

  8. #8
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    When I first started passing out my general care doctor advised me to have more sugar before exercise, which of course actually made my reactive hypoglycemia worse.

    With some good tracking with the meter hopefully you'll be able to figure out what your thing is.
    ďIn God we trust; all others must bring data.Ē W. Edwards Deming
    Blogging at http://loafingcactus.com

  9. #9
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    Thank you, here's hoping - I'll wait to get the meter and try to work it out - either just go lowish carb and not do anything strenuous or go primal and keep my fingers firmly crossed! Humph, it must be jolly nice to have a well-behaved body eh !!

  10. #10
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    Increasing protein and cutting out refined carbs worked for me. I don't think my hypoglycemia was as severe as you are describing, however. Just take it easy and eat when you need to, just focus on having vegetable starches and fruits over processed stuff.
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