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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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June 11, 2008

What Happens to Your Body When… You Carb Binge?

By Worker Bee
157 Comments

Carb BingeAnother day, another co-worker’s birthday (and the obligatory cake in the break room). Elaine Benes was right: this is insanity.

You’re into the Primal style of eating, so it’s easy to resist this stuff, right? You ignored the dirty looks when you turned down that piece of fudge-smothered bundt cake offered by your boss’s wife at their employee open house. You don’t mind gnawing on the few anemic carrot sticks left at the annual holiday party. Dessert just isn’t part of your vocabulary.

But would it hurt to indulge this once? This guy’s birthday? Well, you like him well enough, and the cake is a lemon cream after all. And it’s the end of the work day. Seriously, it’s not like you’ll suddenly burst into flame and melt in a fiery, torturous death, leaving nothing but a smoldering spot on the carpet. You’re disciplined. You can more than make up for this later. The worst that can happen is a sugar rush, and you spent half your time at summer camp walking (well, running) around in that state. Those were good times. Oh what the heck, gimme a slice. Yeah, sure, a little ice cream too.

So, what will happen? To your body, we mean. Once the plastic fork (with its spongy contents) hits your mouth. What goes on in there anyway? And why are you suddenly thinking of Willy Wonka and that kid who gets sucked down the garbage chute?

First off, the good news. There’s no purple suited man to pull an ominous lever. Nor is there any other permanent fate awaiting you. You’ll leave work a live, generally functional human being. They’ll be no curse or pox on your house or even truly long-term risk elevation for that matter. Nonetheless, you’ll likely regret your decision.

Within a matter of 10 quick forkfuls, you’ve gone from small doses of quality carbs wisely spread throughout the day to possibly 100 or more grams of pure sugar in one sitting. O.K., some guilt is setting in…. But that’s not all that’s happening.

The Domino Effect

Domino Effect

Within a few minutes, your pancreas kicks into overdrive and sends out a flood of insulin to try to sop up all the excess glucose that’s suddenly rushing through your bloodstream. Remember, while glucose is muscle fuel when it’s in the muscles, it’s toxic sludge when it stays in your bloodstream. Your body knows that and does everything it can to get it out of there. Perhaps you’re feeling flushed, a little high, spastic, or nauseous depending on how much you ate, how big you are, what your normal carb load is, and how acutely you tend to “feel” the effects of sugar and other substances. Ironically, if you were insulin resistant, you might not even notice these sensations, but you’re not. You’re a clean-fuel-burning primal specimen.

And it continues. The gush of insulin now creates a see-saw effect. If your glycogen stores have room, some of the sugar goes into muscles. If there’s no more room, the excess goes into fat cells, where it is stored as fat. In reaction to this quasi-emergency that looks like another life-threatening stress, the body steps up its efforts to achieve homeostasis by releasing both epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol from your adrenals. Your heart is racing, and you’re starting to feel uncomfortable, maybe even sweating. And we’re still likely within the first hour after you finished off that cake!

A bit more time passes. Burnout settling in yet? That’s called a sugar crash – when all the glucose is gone from the bloodstream and you start to feel sluggish, off-kilter, like the internal circuits are all fried after sparking in a heap of now smoldering wires. Hmm. Maybe that spontaneous combustion image wasn’t so far after all.

But there’s more…. The havoc that sugar rush set off – the swing of glucose and insulin, the cortisol and adrenaline – they’ve sent your immune system into a tailspin. Research has shown that the function of immunity-related phagocytes is impaired for at least five hours after intake of simple sugars. Free radicals have their heyday as well within the first few hours after sugar increases oxidative stress on the body. Your blood even thickens as a response to the stressors.

Wait, you aren’t out of the woods yet. You get home and try to sleep it off, but you toss and turn as your heart continues to beat faster than normal. Hmm. Little surprise there. The old hormonal system is confounding in its interconnectedness. You lay there cursing not just that cake but the entire cultural custom of birthday celebration. As the sun comes up and you roll out of bed, you think you should be done with this sugar business by now. Maybe. Maybe not. Unfortunately, a hefty dose of sugar can compromise the immune system for more than 24 hours. Groan. The images flash before you. The flu your daughter brought home earlier this week. The miserable cold (that incessant cough!) your boss has. Passing plans or reports around the meeting room. Shaking hands with the new clients who came by yesterday. Your toddler’s insistence on drinking from your cup last night. Suddenly you’re seeing your week in a new (and dimmer) light. Your immune system might have handled it all quite easily before the sugar incidence/insult. That’s one birthday cake that keeps on giving!

As bad as this sounds, it could be worse. If you follow the Primal Blueprint regularly and the lemon cream was just a detour, you’re a generally healthy person. You’ll experience the effects, and you may feel them more acutely than you did before you chose the low-carb path. (This isn’t a bad thing.) Nonetheless, after the dust settles, the worst thing you can end up with is maybe a cold you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Your system will realign itself pretty readily. Within a couple of PB style days you’ll be as good as new.

But if this is a normal day? Sigh. This presents a much bleaker picture. That see-saw of insulin and glucose? The process breaks down in your body until you develop insulin resistance. That rush of adrenaline and cortisol? That hormonal havoc over time fries your adrenal system. Your body is constantly in a state of “fight,” and inflammation becomes a constant state of affairs. Enough sugar over enough time (with the lack of exercise to boot), and you’ve gotten yourself into quite a pickle. (Maybe a pickle would’ve been a better snack choice….)

The Primal Blueprint offers up a plan to help guide our everyday choices as well as information to help us weigh the compromises we choose to make along the way. How we take care of ourselves each and every day can ameliorate the more taxing damage from occasional concessions we make for personal and social reasons.

And so we conclude the Willy Wonka journey.

Willy Wonka

What are your thoughts on sugar shock? PB compromise? Questions? Stories to share?

I Like, Fanboy30, Paradox Blue Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

On the Question of Sweeteners

The Salt/Blood Pressure Debate

Diabetes is Now a Disorder of the Small Intestine?

Subscribe to Mark’s Daily Apple feeds

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157 Comments on "What Happens to Your Body When… You Carb Binge?"

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SuperMike
SuperMike
8 years 5 months ago

Excellent post, one again.

I had an In-N-Out burger and fries when I was in LA last month, and your description of what happens is exactly what I experienced. I thought I was going to throw up.

“Perhaps you’re feeling flushed, a little high, spastic, or nauseous depending on how much you ate, how big you are, what your normal carb load is, and how acutely you tend to “feel” the effects of sugar and other substances.”

pmpncali
pmpncali
5 years 9 months ago

FYI, In and Out has a “protein style” burger that’s wrapped in lettuce. They do a great job of it and it’s not unweildy at all. It’s wonderful! (Not totally primal, I know Mark does not approve of grain fed, commercially ground beef –but it’s a great junk food fix)

bebe
bebe
4 years 4 months ago

So I’m at my bf house I had a tea n didn’t kno it contain coffee here I am 2am n have a sugar craven n my bf has a hole basket full of goodies 4 airheads n 6 jolly ranchers latr I find my self on the verge to grab my keys n go to the er lol never again will I over do it on the sugar:/

kaerl
kaerl
4 years 2 months ago

Basically, all tea has caffeine in it, as long as they’re actually tea (black or green) cause it’s the name of the plant.

A herbal “tea” without actual tea leaves (and so probably no caffeine) should technically be called a “herbal infusion”.

Damian G
Damian G
4 years 1 month ago

The french got it right, they’re word for a herbal tea is a Tisane (same in english).
I found this out the hard way: asking for a Chamomile Tea in Paris.. Waitress politely informed me that Chamomile is not a tea but a Tisane/Infusion… 😉
Makes sense!

anonymous
anonymous
8 years 5 months ago
I hardly ever eat sugar, but at weak moments I do succumb to other carbs. I generally stay away from bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc., but when I eat them, particularly in abundance (sometimes the basket of crusty hot bread at a good restaurant is just too much to take!), for days afterwards I feel bloated, depressed (and I don’t mean “darnit, I shouldn’t have eaten that” depressed; I mean I actually feel actutely depressed), extremely lethargic, and generally awful. It’s really an amazing reaction, and one that truly happens every time I eat starchy carbs. I just realized: that… Read more »
Kate
5 years 2 months ago

Wow. What a jackleg response.

Joe
Joe
5 years 1 month ago

No, he’s right. I mean give me a break. Your body has feedback systems that can handle that. Whatever.

Kitty
Kitty
5 years 1 month ago

I think days of depression is serious. I tend to have a couple days of crying fits, anxiety attacks and mood swings when I eat high carbs. the poster isn’t referring to remorse but to a physical reaction to the stress of the carbs in his/her system. slapping them isn’t a valid response.

rachel
rachel
4 years 8 months ago

i know this reply is years late, but i feel the EXACTE same way as you. When i binge on carbs, bread mostly, i get very depressed and sooo tired/drained and it lasts for days after. I have to agree! It def is NOT worth it.

Hilary Marcus
1 month 5 days ago

me too what do you do to come out of the depression??

Ella McJ
Ella McJ
4 years 3 months ago

You might be gluten-sensitive — this exact same thing happens to me the moment I eat any gluten. My entire body begins to feel depressed — muscle fatigue, sluggishness, even emotional depression.

Hannah
Hannah
4 years 2 months ago

I had a bit of n over indulgence on carbs this weeknd. And I slept 11 hrs too nights in a row afterwards and still haven’t been to the toilet :/ I have celiacs and I don’t know if I possibly had some grains too, I wonder if the tiredness has a connection to the carbs….

Gabbi
Gabbi
2 years 9 months ago
I don’t understand this. I recently discovered this site, and at first the PB idea is intriguing. However, I am in good physical shape and am health conscious, but some on here I would say seem obsessive. Because I am in good health, if I eat a piece of cake, it does not undo me, physically or mentally. Why then, unless you are glucose sensitive, are these health and fitness extremists letting a piece of cake, or bread, or a roll, cause them a mental breakdown? If I you are generally health conscious, can’t you handle a piece of cake… Read more »
Kirk
Kirk
2 years 6 months ago
Gabby, perhaps I can help you understand what’s going on. Your question is a good one, so maybe this will help. What people are describing here is not some sort of mental freaking out like, “Oh my gosh, what have I done to my body?” Its a real life, honest to goodness physical reaction the body has to the carb and sugar overload or rush — especially if they have been off wheat and grains and most sugars for a while, like the article suggests. For a real life example, let me share something that happened to me. A while… Read more »
PJ (RightNOW)
PJ (RightNOW)
2 years 6 months ago
I don’t think it’s psychological. When I regularly ate gluten-containing foods, I think my immune system was so chronically exhausted from it that it could only muster the most feeble defense, a little bit of chronic bloating and asthma that would gradually kick in about 12-18 hours later. But when I stopped eating gluten entirely for awhile apparently my immune system had time to reboot and rest. The next time I ate even a little gluten, I didn’t feel bad about it, so what it was just a little and just that once I thought. But holy crap I woke… Read more »
Kate
Kate
2 months 27 days ago

When I eat cake or cookies or bread and then go on a binge, Then I get really sick for a t least a day now. It feels like a bad hangover.

sarah
sarah
1 year 8 months ago

That’s what happens to me too! I thought I was crazy but am glad (not for the distress but) to hear its a ‘real thing’ for other people. Its about 3 days before I feel ‘normal again’.

Dave C. - DaveGetsFit
8 years 5 months ago

The timing of this post is amazing. If you check my blog, you’ll read how I crashed and burned this weekend. The culprit? Birthday cake. I knew the mental disappointment of “falling off the wagon” was going to come, but I was surprised how physically crappy I felt an hour later.

Maria
Maria
8 years 5 months ago

Succumbed to birthday cake (only a half slice) this past weekend after eating clean for about a month. After about 2-3 hours, I felt nauseas and couldn’t fall asleep. To top it off, I had to get up twice during the night in order to use the facilities, heh. It was pretty amazing what a number that cake did on my body. Worst part is, the cake didn’t even taste that great! Lesson learned 🙂

Beck
8 years 5 months ago

I’m curious… how does the picture/cycle change if you are insulin resistant?

David Cole
David Cole
4 years 9 months ago

To find the answer to your question just do a search on the site (or anywhere on the web) for Type 2 Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, and obesity.

hedda
hedda
8 years 5 months ago
hey, mark…this post is awesome, but I have a question. What about honey? does it have these effects on your body? I know when I was battling Candida Albicans it was a no-no, but now I find that a small spoonful with some cinnamon seems to be very good for calming my tortured tummy. I have a lot of food allergies and IBS as a result of the yeast, which is why eating primal is perfect for me!But honey seems to help. That’s about the only time I eat it though,so am I missing the sugar-rushed feeling because I already… Read more »
Huckleberry
8 years 5 months ago
hedda, I’ve also wondered about honey. It’s just as much sugar as another source, but raw honey is also naturally occurring instead of having to be processed to be that sweet. I’m curious to research whether there’s some protective factor in honey that makes it slightly better to ingest. As to cake, I will indulge now and then in very good desserts. I’ll even make them sometimes. But I eat little enough sugar that I instinctively don’t want to eat too much, and feel pretty bad when I do eat it. It’s a nice now-and-then part of life, and one… Read more »
David Cole
David Cole
4 years 9 months ago

Mark did a whole post on honey just a couple weeks back. Check it out. Basically raw wildflower or buckwheat honey has lots of good properties and it does breakdown slower then table sugar so it is certainly much better than table sugar. It’s fine once in a while but just don’t turn yourself into a pooh bear. Again check out the post as it was pretty detailed.

Donna
Donna
8 years 5 months ago

Sugar is an immune system killer over a period of time!

Apurva Mehta
8 years 5 months ago
Hi Mark (and Worker Bee), I have really enjoyed this post as well as your recent overview of the Primal Blueprint. I look forward to your book! I have a question to ask. What exactly is considered a Carb Binge? Is it possible to set some sort of concrete ballpark figure like ‘100gms or more of simple sugar at a sitting is a considered a binge’? Also, I have been implementing your recommendation to me of cutting out simple sugars, eating fewer fruits (and even then I stick to berries by-and-large), doing sprint intervals, and lifting heavier weights using more… Read more »
Mark Sisson
8 years 5 months ago
Hedda and Apurva, A little honey or bread here and there won’t derail you. Both become glucose very quickly, so it’s the amount that counts. What constitutes a “carb binge”? Depends. It might be 100 grams for one person and only 40 for another (think: can of Coke). Beck, the picture for an insulin-resistant person is that they don’t notice the jitters, sweats, nausea or dizziness as much, since they are “used to it” all the time. It’s more dangerous because the sugar lingers longer in the bloodstream (or becomes fat more easily)…but it’s not as noticeable to them as… Read more »
Crystal
Crystal
8 years 5 months ago

Very good description of sugar shock. Sugar hang over is not fun.
I literally control the amount of cortisol that my body uses. Low cortisol symptoms set in quickly when I’ve eaten something that is causing stress on my body–and I have to stress dose. I can tell you that sugar/grain causes my body a lot of stress. It just isn’t worth it.

Jennifer
Jennifer
8 years 5 months ago

Eeesh! So I don’t think I’m insulin resistant…but I know I don’t experience the symptoms you menioned when I eat sweets like that. That’s bad! Suggestions? How do I fix this?

Apurva Mehta
8 years 5 months ago

Thanks for the quick response Mark. I guess the simplest way is to avoid simple carbs altogether. Then one will not have to worry about questions like how much is too much, etc. 🙂

The simplest solutions always seem to stare us in the face, but I guess it takes a bit of courage to accept them. Hopefully this article and your response will give me the courage I need.

Thanks,
Apurva

Phillip
Phillip
8 years 5 months ago

Good article. I have felt better and look better since lowering the amount of carbohydrates. I have actually added some back into my diet because I was dragging.

Mark – Art De Vany stresses not eating after working out. What do you think?

For a different point of view — Check out this article on Running Times “The many proponents of diets like Atkins and South Beach would have the public believe that carbohydrates are some kind of poison. Don’t listen to them.”:

http://www.runningtimes.com/Article.aspx?ArticleID=13397&PageNum=4

Jennifer Thornberry
8 years 5 months ago

Great post!

Slightly humorous, yet informative. I definitely feel the effects when I indulge in a lot of sweets.

This is related to my blog post today. I give 11 strategies for not letting the frequent sweets at the office ruin your healthy diet. Also slightly humorous, but informative.

Thanks,
Jennifer

charlotte
8 years 5 months ago
Ah it’s like you guys are psychic. I’m sidelined this week due to *ahem* excessive exercise (I know, I know, you totally called that one). My thyroid is depressed and so I’m on “active rest” for a while. Anyhow… I decided that now that I’m not doing the crazy cardio every day, it will be a good time to really kick my sugar habit. I did find that today – no exercise – I had very few cravings. And I felt more stable over all. No afternoon crash. I don’t know that I can give up fruit though. Thanks for… Read more »
Justin
Justin
8 years 5 months ago

hi mark, great article. question. wouldn’t eating some kind of high quality protein and/or fat (almonds perhaps) offset the effects of the sugar to a certain degree?

Keenan
8 years 5 months ago
Great post. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on Cyclic Ketogenic Diets, wherein one stays in ketosis for 4-5 days (and then “carb loads” for 2 days). This approach was developed by Lyle McDonald in “The Ultimate Diet 2.0” and I should note that it applies to bodybuilders and athletes *only*. The idea is that the glycogen depletion of weight training will send the sugar–>glycogen into muscles, sparing you the nasty effects of the carb crash, provided carbs are ingested at the right time and in the right amounts. I have noticed that post-workout is the only time I’m… Read more »
Lex
Lex
8 years 5 months ago

My question is kinda the same as Justin’s. Sometimes you can’t avoid the slice of cake, so what can you do to mitigate the effects? Eat a handful of almonds? Would a couple of laps around the block flush the glucose?

Rachel
Rachel
6 years 11 months ago

All I know is that adding FAT to CARBS is a recipe for disaster and weight gain. Carbs should be rarely, if at all, eaten and should be isolated from fat. Read “Primal Body – Primal Mind” by Nora Gedgaudas.

Mike OD - IF Life
8 years 5 months ago

Keenan – The CKD actually goes back to Body Opus….and it’s not pleasant to go through. Unless you have really good insulin sensitivity, you would be better off with smaller carb timing pwo instead of a carb bomb over the weekend (which just may pack back on fat).

Keenan
8 years 5 months ago

Mike,

Yes, you’re absolutely right about it going back further than McDonald. I agree with the super-carb load being a bad idea. I think there is some value in being a little less strict on the weekends, say, having a couple of beers with friends.

The CKD really seems to be a planned, more extreme version of the variation and feast and famine stressed by Art DeVany and others, including the IF protocol.

Thanks for the feedback, and you should know that I frequent your site, too, and always look forward to your posts. Keep ’em coming!

Mark Sisson
8 years 5 months ago
Phillip, I’m OK with not eating after a workout for the very reasons cited by the RT article you reference! Controlling certain gene expression pathways. But you can’t do that and run long every day. If you’ve hung out here a while you know that I do not recommend long distance running as a way to achieve health or longevity. If you DO decide to run, more power to you, but you need to appreciate the costs…including a near necessity to increase carb intake. OTOH, if you limit all your workouts to under an hour, you can not only survive,… Read more »
Keenan
8 years 5 months ago
Mark, Thanks for the info. Of course, you know my goals, and your last answer was exactly what I was looking for: “I see no good to come from a 600-1000 gram bomb. I do see some benefit to an occasional 250-400 gram “upregulation” day with yams, sweet spuds, etc”. I agree completely. I have no interest in loading myself up with 1000g of carbs. I don’t even know where I would *find* 1000g of carbs! I was asking because the CKD is essentially a low-carb diet with planned binges, so the outcomes should be similar. Bodybuilders are always getting… Read more »
Janice
Janice
8 years 5 months ago

OMG, I cannot believe what you just described about sugar crashes! I’ve been extremely hormonal this week, did not go to excercise class one time this and ate like crap most days but have been on “clean” eating for many months now. I cannot believe how nasty I feel now, and to top it off I feel like I have that cold/sinus starting;( I’m amazed at how food effects us.

Evan
Evan
8 years 5 months ago
I was just thinking about this. I’ve been trying to lead an EF lifestyle for the past 5 months or so and have seen incredible results. But I still have the mentality that I should reward my successes with some of the food I used to eat. You can’t really get a decent burger here in Japan, but you can get all the wonderful starchy rice and imported chocolate you want. So on Saturday or Sunday I’ll binge on sushi and top it off with a chocolate bar (or two, yikes). It’s funny when I think about it. Sushi is… Read more »
Carla
Carla
6 years 4 months ago

LOL Evan,
That’s exactly right. I don’t even feel that great afterwards!

I will try and remember this each time I decide to “reward” myself. Isnt it just silly that somehow we learnt that food should be a “reward”?

Tim
Tim
5 years 7 months ago

This is an aggressively marketed phenomenon. There are a lot of share holders who benefit mightily from people seeing food as a reward, a friend, a way to share love with others… etc. I’m not saying advertising is the only reason people do these things in food but I know for a fact that they actively work to imprint these notions. (five minutes of children’s TV in the US is enough to see it)

Jonas Colting
8 years 5 months ago
I really love this website! However, I can´t avoid to feel that this last article by Mark Sisson was very much an exagerration of how we respond to eating something as common as a piece of cake.. I´m a pro triathlete and I guess that a lot of readers of this site are also highly actice; daily or even twice daily. For all of us that work out a lot have an almost constant deficit of muscle glycogen and we could in fact, in my view and experience, almost benefit from an occasional “treat” like candy, a coke or some… Read more »
ayrn
ayrn
3 years 9 months ago
Yeah, and I tried to give myself a reward for my birthday after being vlc and carb free for over a month now, and when I ate that strawberry shortcake with cream frosting and cupcake party ice cream from krogers, and I only had about less than half an ounce of the cake like a bite and less than half a cup of the ice cream about a tbsp of the ice cream, I took 2 stacker 2’s and a green tea pill (3 diet pills) in total and became deathly ill after working out for four hours, I felt… Read more »
Mark Sisson
8 years 5 months ago
Jonas, Good to hear from you. I see you are still “king of the ultras” (For the rest of you, Jonas is a top endurance athlete and winner of many long-distance events. We have been in touch often over the years.) As you might predict I would say, you are an unusual beast. Your daily energy demands are such that your muscles will gladly sop up any added sugars regardless of how simple or complex. And regardless of how adept at fat-burning you’ve become. It doesn’t surprise me that you are unfazed by a brief sugar surge. My readers here… Read more »
Jonas Colting
8 years 5 months ago
Thanks for the reply Mark! I don´t know about “king of ultras”… I just happened to win Ultraman Worlds twice but I´m really more geared to half-IM´s and ITU Long Distance. I guess that´s still ultras in your book though… I´m 35 now and on my 18th year as a triathlete (12 as a pro) and going on 25 years of elite training (competetive swimming growing up)and I´m still actually still developing my top aerobic speed. I went 1.06.47 for the 20 k run when finishing 2nd at the ITU European Champs last year and I did an 8.20 IM… Read more »
Grok
7 years 3 months ago

@Jonas and @Mark,

This is exactly the kind of information I’ve been looking for! But like a junk food addict, now I want more 😉

Hopefully I can repair enough damage from my long term pre-primal inflammatory junk carb diet to line up with King Colting at a Tri some day.

You guys are my heros! The best of the best.

Mark Sisson
8 years 5 months ago
Jonas, I can relate to your stories because I went almost ten years having a half-gallon of ice-cream every night (and a loaf of bread and a bowl of cereal every day among other things). Because I was training and racing hard, I didn’t notice it outright affecting my performance. But I knew it was doing damage long term. I applaud your recognition that your carbs need to come mostly from healthier sources. That will, as you state, keep your immune system a little better tuned and reduce some of the AGEs that every endurance athlete experiences. I see that… Read more »
Virgomonkey
8 years 4 months ago
I wish more health blogs were like yours! Your blog is proof that one can provide facts, objectivity, and education without taking sides and without being obnoxious and ignorant toward fat people. Those who claim to be giving “touch love” have a pattern of never researching medical studies outside their own comfort zone. They pretend to be curious, but it is actually what they lack: curiosity. I am fat. My ears are wide open. I am interested in what my doctors and educated people like you have to say. Thank you for a beautifully written entry. I find your blog… Read more »
Locky
Locky
7 years 11 months ago

It’s funny that you post this, because I feel absolutely no effect. Caffeine I feel, sugar/carbs I don’t (I’m fit, active and healthy – by no means a couch potato).

My younger brother on the other hand does: Show him a slice of bread and he’ll fall asleep for an hour, it’s really quite amazing.

Poor guy, can’t enjoy some quality cake…

Jennifer
Jennifer
7 years 5 months ago
I am insulin resistant and do feel some effects from sugar. But let me tell you that when I started a healthy eating journey this past January, I was eating zero simple sugars and walking and running every single day. I ended up sicker than I had ever been in my life. I got bronchitis which I never had before and I got every single cold and flu bug that anyone had. I could not understand why when I ate so well that I was so sick. I’ve since fallen off the wagon and have gone back to eating whatever… Read more »
Mark Sisson
7 years 5 months ago

Jennifer, how much running were you doing? When you cut carbs dramatically all at once and still stick to a routine of “chronic cardio” you overwhelm your immune system. Adaptation to a lower carb lifestyle takes a few weeks. Trying to hammer carb-fueled workouts during that time could cause an immune-dampening effect.

FitJerks Fitness Blog
7 years 1 month ago

I don’t know about calling glucose “toxic” as sugar is our body’s (and brain’s for that matter) preferred source of fuel. Though the effects of insulin on large amounts of glucose is true. Well put.

Rachel
Rachel
6 years 11 months ago

Your brain prefers, and runs more efficiently, on ketones, not glucose.

fixed gear
7 years 2 days ago
I never noticed the RACING heartbeat until I went primal. Now whenever I give in to temptation and carb binge I really feel my heart pounding. I don’t eat until I’m full, I eat until I’m stuffed. I slip into a “food coma” and usually have to take a nap. All of these things were probably routinely happening to me on the standard American diet, but I just didn’t notice. I thought it was “normal”. Once you clean up and go primal, when you do carb binge, you REALLY notice the negative effects because of the stark difference to how… Read more »
Trevor
Trevor
6 years 6 months ago

Same for me. If I carb binge I find myself feeling hungry at all times. Even when I’m somewhat full from my primal meal, I still feel as if I need a sugar/grain fix to fully satisfy me. Of course, I do not fall into temptation every time, but for the next few days (after a carb binge) I struggle to stay on track. But its the struggle that makes you stronger and really makes you realize how much damage you are doing to your body when you carb binge.

Nan
Nan
5 years 7 months ago

Well put…..and very encouraging. I’m trying not to beat myself up for my binge this afternoon.

lynn
lynn
4 years 4 months ago

agree

Carla
Carla
6 years 4 months ago

Same for me! it takes me a whole week to get my apetite back to normal.

I must say that IF does seem to help get things back to normal somehow.

Johnny
Johnny
6 years 11 months ago

So what happens when you do a primal binge? Its definitely not as bad as a carb binge, but is it bad to really stuff yourself with so much primal food in one sitting? I ate a hell lot of calories in one day but it was mostly primal foods….

Kristin
Kristin
6 years 11 months ago

This is spot on. I feel a sore throat coming on as I type. Pierogies, mashed potatoes, and cookies, oh my!

Erin
Erin
6 years 11 months ago

Can this happen if you are on a strict diet of no grains, dairy, sugar, etc., (primal) but then eat a lot of fruit?

Maria
Maria
6 years 11 months ago

Succumbed to bread and pie this Christmas. One thing I noticed is that it made me TIRED. I mean dead tired. At 3 pm. Never again.

chris
chris
6 years 10 months ago

i don’t know what everyone is talking about…..i can kill a box of oreos and sleep like a baby for the next 3 hours. wake up feeling sick and swear not to ever do that again(for at least 2 weeks). I gots to get crazy every now and then(for my sanity).

Andre
Andre
6 years 9 months ago

Mark,

You forgot to mention that eating sugar depresses testosterone levels for a number of hours, which is detrimental for maintaining muscle and bone structure.

Bodyfat (thats what you will get when you eat sugar) changes testosterone into oestrogen. An obese male produces more oestrogen than a regular woman! No wonder they start growing breasts.

Nice posting!

lynn
lynn
4 years 4 months ago

moobs

Daphne
Daphne
6 years 9 months ago
Hi Mark, This website has been very enlightening, but I still have a couple of questions. Usually I eat until I stop and my eating schedule varies dramatically depending on how much I eat, from 3 hour grazings to 24 hour fasts due to one excessive meal. However, I realised that while eating sugary things does make my heart speed up, it also makes me quite happy. I’m 24 and under 5′ (~100lbs); I don’t get sugar crashes and I usually eat under 70g carbs per day or less. Is it too much of a carb allowance? Should I give… Read more »
Lenae
Lenae
6 years 9 months ago
So I need some desperate help. I’ve been doing Paleo for over a month and was doing quite well actually and seeing good result. But, recently things have seen better days. I’m a college student so things are always tight, and I’m a woman, so sweets are my fall back on a tough day. Like today. Where (knowing better and continuing to indulge) I made dinner with ice cream, brownies, and a all natural root beer. Disgusting right? I know, but I keep having these super cravings for something sweet. I try to subdue them with almond/sunflower seed butter but… Read more »
Lucinda
6 years 9 months ago

I once went an entire month with eating nothing else but macaroni and cheese. Drinking water. I became sick and laid in bed for another month. I have never physically felt normal again. What has happened and what would you do. This has been 30 years of feeling “under the weather”.

Zhua Zi
Zhua Zi
6 years 8 months ago

Sometimes I overeat nuts/ seeds and get similar effects, dried fruit/ bananas give me some bad vibes, but I overate sesame seeds this morning (bad bulimia problems) and feel some of these effects.

If I eat refined sugar, I regret it within seconds, so there’s no chance of me eating more, but for me, the carb-like non-carb foods (nuts, seeds) are the real problem.

beeface
beeface
6 years 8 months ago
I LOVE that you folks are so honest. I too, have a binge purge thing going on. i can NOT eat bread, dairy, grainy things, but binge on fruit, berries, nuts, shoot,,,fish, meat. water. anything to put in my mouth!! i HATE it-gum, lettuce for crying out loud. THEN, I run, and run and run or yoga, or lift or P90X. till my head clears… But on the upshot, the Paleo diet, binging on that stuff, seems less harmful than sweets, sugary stuff. But the fruit thing. i TRY to do the berries, and less sugary ones. no melons, only… Read more »
Trevor
Trevor
6 years 6 months ago
For about 2 months I was going strong with the PB lifestyle. But the last couple of weeks I have found myself going from 90/10 to 60/40 and now I feel the same withdrawal affects that I experienced the first couple of weeks switching to the PB. I feel lazy and constantly craving more sugar and, within a week, I have seen my results slowly dissipate. My 6pack abs quickly turned into a flat stomach… It is astonishing what happens to your body if you fall off the wagon slightly. Its time to go back to my PB roots and… Read more »
Kate
Kate
6 years 6 months ago

I’m 4 days into the Primal diet. I haven’t cheated at all. I used to LOVE my sweets and my carbs. But I have given it up. Now I’m very tired and constantly thinking of food (I even dreamed of cupcakes last night). My brother (who is basically Grok) says this will wear off. Errr, sure hope so.

Juhani
Juhani
6 years 5 months ago

Mark, I do realise that a good story sells better than one that contains all the facts, but sometimes these “primal” stories contain so much leaving out the facts that it´s embarrassing. Why don´t you include the fact that de novo lipogenesis isn´t so easy to achieve and requires a LOT more carb load than what you mention in your stories, and also that the body ramps up carb oxidation along with overconsumption. Etc. Etc.

Mark Sisson
6 years 5 months ago

@juhani, if you’re going to dispute my facts, it’s best you provide back-up of your own “facts”. I stand by mine here.

Juhani
Juhani
6 years 5 months ago
Mark, regarding de novo lipogenesis (your comment on “excess (carbs) goes into fat cells, where it is stored as fat”) I might refer you to comment on this full text by Jequier & Tappy, in which the authors mention: “Although it is commonly believed that hepatic de novo lipogenesis is a mechanism by which fat accumulation occurs in humans, recent evidence indicates that only a few percent of glucose carbon atoms are converted into fatty acids and leave the liver as very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) triglycerides. The de novo lipogenic response to a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet is stimulated as compared with… Read more »
Mark Sisson
6 years 5 months ago

@juhani, appreciate the detail. The article you cite is a review piece over 60 pages long, written eleven years ago. Much has changed since then. The authors seem to restate CW “assumptions” that are now being seriously questioned by many, including me. I stand by my post above, as do thousands of MDA readers who have altered the composition of their diets (ie lowered carbs) and have lost significant body fat…or who have failed to gain fat even in the face of increased fat intake and no reduction in overall calories.

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