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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
170 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?

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170 thoughts on “What Happens to Your Body When… You Carb Binge?”

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  1. 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.”

    1. 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)

    2. 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:/

      1. 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”.

        1. 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!

  2. 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 hot crusty bread, much as I love it, is actually NOT worth it!

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

    1. 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.

      1. This happens to me to when I hop off low carb or keto I can’t think feel hungover like from alcohol and super depressed

    2. 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.

        1. Hey what helps me is some 5htp and literally eating super low carb even some fasting but it’s weird and lasts a couple days sometimes for me . It almost feels like a whole weekend of extreme partying

    3. 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.

    4. 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….

    5. 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 without becoming undone? I didn’t think it was this serious for those of us that are healthy. It seems this response is bordering on mental instability.

      1. 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 back I decided to get off of wheat and grains. All of them. Completely. 3 or 4 months later, I was out on a date with my wife and she had an ice cream. I took one bite. In five minutes my head was foggy and I felt the affects of that bite for a couple of hours. One bite. Imagine if I had eaten the whole thing.

        The body is an amazing thing and everyone’s reacts differently. Before I got off sugar and wheat I ate sandwiches all the time. An ice cream like this would not have affected me much (comparatively) but now it’s a coma-inducing and it’s a CRAZY feeling.

        Hope that helps.

      2. 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 up feeling like the 15th regiment had showed up and pounded me senseless in the night! Seriously I’ve had full blown illnesses that didn’t make me feel as bad. I couldn’t believe it.

        On the bright side I guess that means my immune system was far more powerful (in better shape) at that point, since I’d quit kicking it so constantly. On the down side, it meant eating a tortilla made me feel like death warmed over, it was just mind boggling how bad I felt.

        I don’t think most people have this, I think people who have leaky gut and intolerance to certain proteins have it — it’s just that, it turns out, that’s a lot of people. If you don’t have those two situations in place, probably even if you didn’t eat anything like that for a year and then suddenly did, you’d be just fine.

      3. 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.

    6. 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’.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 🙂

    1. 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.

  5. 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 feel bad, or is honey complex enough not to do this?

  6. 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 for which I accept the consequences of occasional eating. But even though I’ve never been much of a sugar-eater, it’s getting even less frequent.

    Food Is Love

    1. 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.

  7. 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 compound motions (I don’t have easy access to a gym anymore, but I have a pull-up bar and other props and I do the best I can to lift my own bodyweight in different ways. My workouts are modelled on the crossfit style, their site is pretty amazing!). This was toward getting a more defined musculature. It has been two weeks now, and there has been no discernible difference. But I will keep you posted on it though.

    However, I occasionally (like a couple of times in these two weeks) find myself succumbing to the temptation of a bite or three of hot bread at restaurant. How badly will this sort of thing undermine my above mentioned regime? The truth is that mustering the discipline to cut out this indulgence is an effort which a part of me simply does not want to make! But if it is really detrimental, then I am willing to buckle down and tighten up on this front.

    Thanks once more for all the wonderful information that you share with us.

    Apurva

  8. 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 to someone who has been eating clean for a while.

    1. Mark and others.
      Finally after 60 years, I have found my answer to obtaining health both physically and mentally.
      I have dieting since 8th grade, restricting food, and bingeing. Once I pick up the first bite, I overeat in large amounts for about an hour. Then I fall asleep promising myself I will stop to just wake up and start all over again. The next morning my body is so sore, my stomach hurts. my eyes are puffy with dark bags, my head aches etc. I also experience mood swings, anxiety and depression.
      What you are stating all makes sense. Slowly I am going to ween myself from useless carbohydrates and sugar. I am going to start listening to my body and how I feel after eating.
      Thank you again.

      1. Jane, thanks for commenting. Glad you’re here. Slow and sure is how a lot of people shift into Primal living. It’s a way of life, and eating is a core but single element among many. We live our way into more energy, greater contentment, and better health. Primal principles get us there as do self-compassion and community support. Grok on!

      2. Hi Jane. I bet you were not bingeing on whole grains, sweet potatoes or veggies. You don’t need to eliminate carbs, you need to eliminate processed crap and increase the amount of veggies you eat with unrefined carbs.

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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 the post! It’s just the kick in the pants I needed.

  15. 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?

  16. 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 able to tolerate carbs well, so I usually place my “cheat” meals here, on the rare occasions I have them.

    It’s not intended to be a permanent diet, but a cycle one can go on for several weeks to break a plateau of weight loss or muscle gain. In theory, this could be accomplished with starchy/sugary paleo foods such as as bananas, pumpkin, squash, and even gluten-free grains such as quinoa. Banana starch will convert mostly to sucrose, IIRC, which will go straight to muscles rather than being processed by the liver like fructose, which makes it one of the few viable fruits for this approach.

    The proposed carb load (1000g+) makes me shudder just thinking about it, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

  17. 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?

    1. 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.

  18. 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).

  19. 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!

  20. 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, but thrive on a low carb program. So I choose not to exceed long workouts (unless I am hiking like I am right now in Aspen) unless those workouts are very low level aerobic. Remember: humans can live without carbohydrates (the body makes 200 grams a day from fat and protein).

    Justin and Lex,

    Adding protein to a high carb meal might lower the GI, but doesn’t change the overall glycemic load, so the effect might be spread out over more time…but still less desirable. You could try to go for a jog right afterwards to burn the glucose, but most people who just ate cake or any high carb meal find themselves too lethargic to rally. Like we said, it won’t kill you once, but as a lifestyle it will.

    Keenan,

    Like Mike OD says, it’s probably better to tailor carb intake to workouts. Remember that Lyle et al are talking to a BB audience about increasing mass while we here are talking about staying lean all the time, balanced strength, power-to-weight ratios, and longevity. As with the runner’s carb-loading, it’s an unnatural process designed to allow you to perform an unnatural feat (volumize muscle which will be expensive to maintain). That’s OK when you are competing, as long as you recognize the compromises. If you are not competing, I ask only one question: what is your goal? Even if it’s to be “huge” and not compete, MDA would not be a good source of info. (I know in your case it’s not to be huge, but to be healthy, lean, ripped, energetic, etc). 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.

  21. 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 sick, so I’m not particularly surprised to see that, though over training and other issues probably contribute as well.

    I definitely agree and think that the effect of a smaller, varying amount of “paleo carbs” from time to time (randomness!) would be much more healthful.

    Thanks Mark!

  22. 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.

  23. 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 considered to be a healthy food. But from reading about the paleo diet and EF, I understand why it isn’t. After last weekend’s binge I asked myself, “Do you feel good? Was it worth it? Has this ever made you feel good afterward?” The answer of course is “no.” I’ll try hard to remember that feeling this weekend, and think of some other way to reward myself.

    1. 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”?

      1. 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)

  24. 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 birthday cake.
    I eat very very healthy (I even wrote a cookbook!)and in pretty good accordance to the Primal Blueprint; i e tons if good fats, lots of meats and fish and very few grains.
    So, I feel good almost all the time. And whenever I eat some sweets, breads, pastries or cake, I go from feeling good to feeling great (pleasurehormones..) and than back to feeling good, without any of these terrible “withdrawalsymptoms”.

    1. 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 intoxicated and figure now A. ) No diet pills EVER, they make you feel yuck and B.) NO SUGAR ever thats literally the icing on the cake.
      heaves.

  25. 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 at MDA most likely assume that I am describing these binge effects on someone who doesn’t train more than 30 minutes or an hour a day and doesn’t get more than 100-150 grams of carbs on an average day. As you can see, many of them acknowledge the negative aspects of such an indulgence.

    At some point, I do need to address the specific requirements of a competitve athlete (vis a vis whether it’s even possible to stay “primal”), since I still get inundated with questions about the ideal diet for a 20-hour training week – and even though I am on record as believing such training to be counter-productive to good health. Jonas, maybe you could send me some thoughts on that.

    Thanks for writing. Keep up the good work.

  26. 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 as well.

    -On training; I usually work out between 2 and 5 hours per day with spikes of 8 hrs, running is my bread and butter and I run almost daily or even twice daily on trails and in the forest. I attribute my lack of injuries and sustained running performances to my runningprogram.
    I´ve never been a mile- or timemaniac training for the journal but rather striving for a purpose with all workouts. I avoid the “in-between-training” i e semi-long and semi-hard. I rather concentrate on doing two or three days back to back with over-distance but with a moderate speed and effort and than doing one or two days with hourlong workouts in every workout on aerobic threshold and race specific.
    I don´t do a lot of weights as I feel they stiffen me up and actually restrict my other training. What´s the use of a set of lunges if they make the legs so sore I can´t run my two hours in the forest the following day.
    I do follow a pprogram of functional or correctional strength very similar to Egosque with the purpose to align posture etc..
    Bottomline, I don´t feel strength is my limiter as an athlete. Since I do a lot of hilly forestrunning, powergears on the bike as well as a balanced swimprogram with paddles, sprints etc I feel I get the sportsspecific strength needed. Maybe when I hit 40:)

    -On fatburning and endurancetraining:
    I´m acutely aware that hard endurancetraining puts an enormous stress on the body and the demands of the carbintake.
    However; with a lot of the testing I´ve done in the laboratory suggest that for an absolute majority of my training I´m hitting very low RQ-numbers (RQ-respiratory quote; an indication of the fuel the body burns) and that I need to go pretty damn hard for my body to hit 1.0 and 100% carbo burning.
    Hence, I can get by on a modified primal diet with slightly more carbs to accomodate my output.
    Also, simple sugars during exercise, four or five hours in have a positive effect on me. I prefer to drink Coke to end my long rides and I can´t see any insulin respons at that time, rather a boost for the fatburning and a mental pick-me-up.
    I might add that I´ve run a 2.44 IM-marathon strictly on Coke feeling peachy all the way to the finish..
    I base a lot of my diet on veggies, fats, meats, fish, eggs and berries. I also eat a lot of quinoa. My post-run breakfast today was a bowl of quinoa with fresh strawberries, blueberries, almonds and soymilk.

    -On sugarrush
    Like I said in my last post; when eating cake, cookies or candy I go from good to great back to good. That´s the case if I eat my regular healthy meals and treat myself to these snacks in-between meals.
    I do feel sluggish, fat and bloated if I get out of sync and altering my normal diet and having a huge bowl of pasta for dinner or a lot of white bread and cereal for breakfast… I don´t crash but I feel bloated, and increasingly craving more bread. White flour is the real culprit for me…
    Also on cakes etc. Seeing American Supermarket cakes I can see they are pretty bad and often factory-made.
    When I eat cakes and pastries they are made in a bakery from real ingredients; butter, sugar, custard, eggs, flour, fruits, chocolate etc. Sure, bad stuff but far better that transfats and preservatives that are prevalent in anything made by a factory..

    -On triathlon and health
    The racing may be over-kill but the lifestyle is good if one can get over the obsessive-compulsive behavior that make up the psyche of most great athletes.
    I have a ot of friends in their 40´s and 50´s that train very consistent and compared to the general population they are far and away better off, on all levels of life. They seem to adhere to the similar philosophy as I do; take time off in the winter, crosstrain even beyond triathlon, don´t race to much, don´t stress, eat well and enjoy the lifestyle!
    Obviously we all know of examples where this endurancelifestyle has been counterproductive and led to ill health which goes to show that it´n not about choosing an end of either side of the stick but to find a healthy medium.
    In general though; overdoing will be far healthier than underdoing. No rest can heal the body from a passive lifestyle.

    -On food
    A lot of endurance athletes get stuck in what I call “gel-hell” That is failing to eat real foods and instead succumbing to a diet of bars, meal replacement products, sportsdrinks, gels or just eating breads and cereals and whatever is easy and/or fast.
    You do that for 200 days per year and I can see real healthproblems develop in 10 years. No matter the size or strength of the engine. Striving for fitness has overruled the need for health

    -On being Swedish
    You know, the Swedes invented carbo-loading! That´s why we still have world class xc-skiers who base their diets on bread, grain, cerals and carbs in general. That´s also the reason they have huge engines but still catch colds every month. Swedish skiers are famous for their frequent colds and I´ve talked a lot about the need for an athletes health to match their fitness but they are stuck in the 1960´s…

    1. @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.

  27. 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 your training also tries to reflect some sanity in the amount of intensity and overall load. (and I know you take the World’s Highest Potency AntiOxidant formula ;-))But you are still doing way more than we were designed to do. I totally understand that when you are one of the fittest athletes on the planet, you can’t just stop simply because you fear for your long term health, so I’m glad you have chosen to take the most “Primal” approach possible under the circumstances. It gives me some food for thought when I respond to all those wannabe Primal athletes out there.

    Good luck with all the races this year.

  28. 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 a must-read for those whom are health conscious – fat or not.

  29. 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…

  30. 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 I want and other than gaining the weight back and feeling a little sluggish, I have not been sick since I stopped. I would love to know why!?!!?!?!??!

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

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

  33. 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 GOOD you feel eating primal. The feeling crappy is is actually a good thing. I notice I carb-binged a lot more in the beginning. I hardly ever do it now because I KNOW how MISERABLE I’ll feel. A couple binges will train you like Pavlov’s dog NOT to do it anymore.

    The one thing I think you left out is ravenous appetite for 1-2 DAYS after a big carb binge. Even when I go back to 100% primal, if the carb binge was really big my appetite is through the roof for a day or more.

    1. 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.

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

    2. 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.

  34. 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….

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

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

  37. 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.

  38. 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).

  39. 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!

  40. 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 up the cheesecake/ice-cream/cookies etc? Or is it all right to do a weekly indulgence without causing my body to convert everything I eat to fat…

  41. 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 then I can’t stop myself for that either. What is going on here? Any help!!!! Lol, to much work to let it slip away now.

    (I’m going to be feeling all this pain tomorrow I already know it…sigh)

  42. 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”.

  43. 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.

  44. 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 one banana after a long hard run…and very unripe plums!
    veggies up the wazoo. but still the dumb binge purge thing. can happen on whatever diet you choose!
    If i eat cake, cookie, i find that i have to have ten more like NOW. I know it is the sugar.
    and then, alas, that lovely crash, and feeling depressed. so not worth it.
    but honey does NOT do this to me:) I only have it in small amounts, but I feel good, fine afterwards.
    I love this site, and you folks have great insight and info. I “eat it up” haha

  45. 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 stick with it! No Excuses!

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

    1. @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.

  48. 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 a high-fat diet but the total amount of de novo fatty acids synthesized remains low and does not exceed 12 g/day. Furthermore, during carbohydrate overfeeding, the hepatic de novo lipogenesis was found not to exceed 5-10 g fatty acids synthesized per day.”

    “Net lipogenesis, corresponding to accretion of lipid stores from carbohydrate, can be documented by the presence of respiratory quotients higher than 1.0. Such a net lipogenesis has been observed in humans only during periods of forced massive overfeeding, a condition which does not occur in everyday life.”

    http://physrev.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/79/2/451

    …and we have an illustration as well on how the body ramps up carb oxidation into energy after an overfeeding under hypercaloric conditions – while on the contrary most if not all ingested fat is stored into fat desposits without added oxidation under the same conditions:

    http://physrev.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/79/2/451/F2

    While reading your article above, a less informed reader may start to believe that all excess carbs are indeed stored as fat, which is simply not the case. This leads me to believe you may be “simplifying” other facts to your advantage as well, to make your “story” more interesting to the reader.

    1. @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.

  49. There´s a lot of evidence as to why carbs would not compromise a weight loss diet. Most if not all long-term (over 6-> 12 month, at least semi-controlled) dietary interventions show no significant difference in body fat reduction between low-carb and low-fat.
    I´m sure you´re familiar with the studies.

    Carbohydrates are also the most efficient ghrelin suppressant. Your readers who have lost body fat by removing carbohydrates from their diet have most likely also cut calories while doing so.

    Could you point me to a study / review that challenges what I quoted above regarding higher oxidation of carbs after overfeeding?

  50. Oh man, this article makes me want to sing “killing me softly with his words, killing me softly, with his song.”

    I’ve been eating primal for a while now. I slipped last week. Not quite sure what the heck I was thinking but yes, I ate pasta, bread at my mother in law, had a cappuccino, had way too much fruit and have been paying big time for it.

    I can’t sleep at night. Keep on waking up. Am sluggish as heck (no surprise there), feel depressed (and I mean depressed), bloated and the likes…

    Ugh…

    I have noticed that I am also sensitive to dry fruits and bananas. I made these cookies with dates, dried apples, almond flour and dried coconut and guess what? I crashed just as badly as I would had, had i eaten a piece of cake. Well, with the exception that I did not get a bloated stomach.

    Hmm maybe I just ate too many cookies… they may be primal but too much is too much.

  51. Mark,
    If there happened to be a day when I were to eat more carbs than I normally would ( which would be anywhere from 50-100) and carb load, would IF for 24 hours be more beneficial to my body rather than going back to eating primal the following day?

  52. @miles and Mark

    Yesterday I had a day that involved way more carbohydrate than intended. Now that it is 12 hours later (still haven’t eaten), is it best to do an intense workout, or to continue this into an IF? I understand that intense workout directly post-carb would have been best here, but I went to bed (and slept like crap) instead.

    Mark, you rock my world.

    1. @Ashley, no right answer, but the intense workout is my choice, simply because it uses up the glycogen. Today, tomorrow or in a few days. On the other hand, no harm, no foul doing it once in a while, because the worst that happens (after not sleeping well) is that you have topped off glycogen stores for a few days. Don’t sweat it (or do sweat it) either way.

  53. Mark
    I just have a question, can the primal blueprint diet be tailored to build muscular bodyweight vs just losing weight and getting lean? My current bodyweight is 240 lbs at 10% bodyfat and my goal is to reach 265 lbs while maintaining my current bodyfat percentage or even lowering it if at all possible while I gain muscular bodyweight. I’m currently following Lyle’s UD 2.0 and I’ve had great success with it but I want to follow a healthier approach that doesn’t make me so sick during the weekend carb ups. I understand Lyle’s reasoning for the carb ups which is necessary to recover the muscle lost during the diet phase and gain muscle as glycogen over compensation and some other nice metabolic tricks to be able to burn fat and gain muscle every week. The diet work wonders if you ask me but at times especially during the carb ups it makes me feel so sick that I just want to quit it. Following the primal blueprint diet probably won’t be very different to what I’m currently doing during the diet phase which has me eating 1 to 1.5 grms of protein per lbs/lean bodyweight, no more than 20% carbs although I opted for almost zero carbs, and the rest of the calories comes from fat which I eat an ample amount of it in the form of steak and salmon. All I would need is to add the veggies and some fruits and skip the weekend carb ups, but would it be enough to help me reach my goal? I’ll be looking foward to hearing from you. Thanks a lot and great book by the way, I’m almost finished reading it, lots of great info.
    Sincerely Will.

    1. Will, you probably need extra carbs to get to 265. But that’s just going to go to added muscle glycogen and stored water, which won’t add to body fat, but will give the size you want. You won’t be any stronger as a result of the bigger muscle either…just bigger. If that’s what you want, go for it. I prefer to drive power-to-weight ratios.

  54. I feel like i can’t stop/turn down sugars and carbs (doughy soft breads, rolls, cakes, cookies, duck sauce, tea with LOTS of honey) I need to because I know it’s so bad for my health and I have an autoimmune disease that I want to keep at bay. After I read this I am so ready to kick this habit/addiction. I’m just scared of going cold turkey.

    1. Then don’t go cold turkey. Just make steps in a positive direction the best you can.

      Need sweet? Eat fruit. It’s good for you 😉

  55. I have a huge problem with carbs, sugar over eating. I just has two spoonfuls of peanut butter and my heart is racing. I can eat fruit and bananas, even anything with zero preservatives and I am fine. Anything like a burger or yummy bread, chocolate ( I can eat dark cocoa), I suffer for hours, even the smallest exertion after I eat crap my heart goes crazy for about an hour and I even get terrible heart burn. I have a healthy heart and they say I am healthy. I feel fabulous when only eating primal. It sucks when I see people enjoying that birthday cake….gawd would I enjoy a slice. I sure do miss it 🙂

    1. Try almond butter or peanut butter without added sugar and they aren’t as bad on carbs. The nut butters I buy have two ingredients: nuts and salt.

  56. Mark-

    I am 100% Primal under 50g of carbs everyday. But I also can’t eat fruit, seeds, nuts, or dairy without having an acne breakout with all of the sugar-rush symptoms you described. Heart palpitations anyone?

    As satisfying as my current meals are, my psychological craving for something else just keeps getting stronger… and I’ve been primal 6 months. Will I never be able to eat a piece of fruit (even berries) again without having some sort of crappy symptom? Or does the body eventually attain optimal health forgiving a higher allowance of carbs?

    As decent as I feel, I’m about ready to toss my hat in, eat whatever the hell I want, and succumb to a sickly state of death.

    1. Salacia, much depends on the extent of the “metabolic damage” you had before you went Primal. It can take months to repair, regenerate and reprogram. There is no reason that one day you can’t reintroduce fruit or other carb sources and be just fine. I’d say just experiment with a little extra once a week for a while. As I say, the maintenance range for most people (once they’ve repaired metabolic damage and hit an ideal body comp) is 100-150 grams/day

      1. Wow, thanks Mark!

        I didn’t think anyone would actually respond, but that encouragement really helped. Honestly, thank you for the direction and hope. I was just about to cave. I guess I didn’t realize that it could take a few years for my body to get better… but when I can eat walnuts and blueberries without side effects.. I will be a happy person. 🙂

  57. I have lost 56 lbs. over the past year and feel terrific (via Weight Watchers)!! Got the sugar cravings out of my system within a month or so. Lots of veggies, fruits, whole grains, etc. Fast forward to today: I have a weakness for one particular sweet thing……black jellybeans. Happened to find a bag of locally made beans at our local market over the weekend. Just consumed almost the entire bag. I thought I was going to die from the sugar rush so Googled it and came upon this site. Thank you for it. It’s starting to subside and I am hanging onto your words that it’s not the worst thing in the world and the body will get back to normal. Never, never again will I do that. I had no idea what the body is doing to create those miserable symptoms. Can’t wait to go home and have a massive amount of fresh Asian slaw.

    Thanks for this information, Mark.

  58. What an entertaining and informative thread, especially considering yesterday was a cheat day for me.

    I’ve been primal and loving it for 2 months now, and I know this is a life-long change, but I’ve still had 2 scheduled cheat days, because I’m just not ready to say goodbye to sugar for good. To somehow “make up for it”, this morning I had a hard hour-long workout and chose to skip breakfast, aiming for an 18-hour long fast. I’ll break my fast in 2 1/2 hours with some grilled chicken, homemade baba ghanoush, and veggies.

    It’s funny–even though I’ve looked forward to both cheat days, midway through each (after having consumed pancakes, bread, ice cream, other evil sugary items that shall go unnamed), I’m barely enjoying it, but I feel like it’s my one chance/month to eat these forbidden foods. I *know* my body is happier now than it has ever been (and I’ve been a fairly healthy athlete my entire life), but I think I’m slowly letting go of the emotional attachment I have to sugar.

    Anyway, thanks for the fantastic information and support you offer here Mark!

  59. In an ideal world… the U.S. Federal government would heavily tax carb-laden foods and use the funds to educate people on the dangers of consuming carb-laden foods, maybe even prohibit certain carbs from the markets.

  60. hi i have a questian i have a normal diet with small amounts of food and exercise daily and as a once of thing i have a bindge if cholate and icecream and fwlt so sick after how will my body react to this will it add extra weight on?

  61. Leanne, don’t eat real small amounts of food, exercise, and not expect to binge. When your body doesn’t get adequate amount of calories your mind thinks about and wants junk foods (calorie dense foods).

  62. I ate 4 spoonfuls of almond butter last night and went to bed with a racing heart (could not fall asleep for hours) and also incredibly depressed (not from eating the butter either) to the point of tears. After only 1 week of doing strictly PB/atkins (trying to do induction now) I was feeling pretty good. Amazing the change this butter bought about- even though it is considered safe for the lifestyle!!

  63. Oh my gosh! This is so applicable to me right now. Last night at a bbq I over indulged not only in carbs (and alcohol) but also, inexplicably, SWEETS. There were sweets there for the children and I avoided them until a few hours in and then ate loads. Awful night’s sleep. VERY bloated stomach today. Feel full and I am dreading that I will not get rid of the contents of my stomach for days now (used to be a problem for me in my pre clean eating days..)I am also dreading becoming ill now and I haven’t been ill for YEARS because of eating clean. I am so annoyed with myself. Wish I had an undo button on my behaviour as I have a feeling I’ll be paying for this for days now…
    Going to devour your site now to try and stave off the depression!

  64. If this article is full of *#$@ then why does sugar affect me so badly?
    My stomach swells up to resemble a beach ball and I feel like I am going to throw up. The worst of it, is the insomnia it causes. One little crumb of sugar and I am up all night long. A crumb I tell you! Depending on the amount of sugar sometimes I have insomnia for 2 nights.

    Why does this happen??

  65. Hi Mark, I am a fully paid up member of the Primal Club and have been since January 2011. it’s changed my life as I’ve lost 2.5 stone. I find now tha if I ever carb binge, within an hour or two I am seized with such exhaustion that often I need to take a nap. What I’m not clear about is why before I went primal, did this never happen? have I become more sensitive to insulin?
    Keep up the grea work by the way! and thanks!

  66. Wow, great article Mark! It’s funny that I came upon this today, as yesterday, I went thru EXACTLY what this article describes.

    My boss, being the generous guy that he is, gave me an extra cannoli that his wife brought home for him from a FANTASTIC Italian bakery here in NY the night before. It’s funny, in my mind, I went thru thought that you opened up this article with – rationalizing myself eating it with thinking “oh, well, I eat my low-carb Primal foods every day, so I can eat this one little thing and be ok”…boy, was I wrong.

    Once the delicious taste left my mouth, I IMMEDIATELY regretted my decision to eat it (btw, it wasn’t the small, regular-sized cannoli…it was the big, huge ‘papa’ cannoli…yea…) I started sweating, and get incredibly anxious, with my heart beating out of my chest, and actually had to get up from my desk and go do a lap around the building because I thought I was going to die.

    Biggest. Mistake. Ever.

    Needless to say, I will not be eating any pastries any time soon.

    Also, since I’m writing, I wanted to give you some ‘props’ for this website – I literally live and die by the information on here, and have lost 23 lbs in the past 3 months from a combination of Primal eating, IF, and doing fun stuff in nature. I’m 27 years old, and after years of feeling like total crap, I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in, and will maintain this for the rest of my life.

    So thank you, and Grok on, my friend!!

  67. I went looking for information on what happens to the body after an “overindulgence” on sweets (using the term very loosely) after having eaten Paleo for a while – it’s exactly what’s up! I ended up pounding down a quarter of a pie-sized fruit tart at a co-worker’s farewell party today – it was the butter crust that did me in – and MAN! do I feel like crap. I walked for about an hour right after I ate, which really helped, but now that I’m about to settle in for the evening, so, it appears, is the nausea and general gastrointestinal discontent. Thank goodness for the I/F option. 🙂

  68. I used to have protein bars after workouts. Then I went primal for 2 years. I tried having the same protein bar and I threw it up about an hour or two after.

    Now I know what my body can and cannot tolerate.

  69. Good thread, but I have a question.

    I have been doing CrossFit for about 8 months and that, along with Atkins I lost about 15lbs and now am where I need to be.

    For last 2 months I have been doing low carb during week and then Sat night and Sunday I eat lots of carbs. Like cookies etc, and don’t experience any of the crashes people have talked about, and still have maintained my 190lbs.

    Is this dangerous or terribly bad for me? Great site BTW!

    1. I mostly do the same and don’t seemed to have all these issues. I eat low carb during the week and I eat at a pizza buffet/dessert buffet every Friday. And I eat. Then later that night I go home and have a good old grilled cheese sandwich. No crash, no yucky feeling, it doesn’t even dump. I just gain about 2 pounds and its gone in a few days. My bodyfat% is steadily tracking downward.

      It sounds to me like folks are having panic attacks after eating something they aren’t suppose to.

  70. Hello Mark,
    This article is great and your site even better – thanks.
    Can this binge be assumulated to a “water retention” because I have all the symptoms described above + water retention showing.
    How do we cure this crisis: is cardio + water + rest good?
    Thanks
    Helene

  71. I just went out (reluctantly) to Red Robin with my fiancee and a friend the other night. I indulged in a burger (yes, with bun) with some bacon and guacamole on top. Instead of fries, I opted for cole slaw, but I also got a lager with my burger. I didn’t feel too bad. Definitely not as good as I feel after a primal meal, but if you make a few good choices about the meal you can minimize your “feeling like hell” time.

  72. The only thing that happens to me when I do this is that I gain a few pounds and its gone in a day or so. But I don’t usually feel bad.

  73. While you have a point with the whole insulin resistance thing, this post is ridiculous. One slice of cake is not going to do that to you.

    This actually made me laugh.

    Sources:
    I’m a GP

    1. I’ve followed Atkins successfully for 20 years and reaped all the rewards of a low carb way to eat for life – not a diet.

      Every single one of the dreadful bingeing side effects posted here has been my experience. Once I de-toxified by eliminating sugar and grain/starch, any lapse would induce my body’s nearly immediate and sometimes violent reactions.

      If I’m tempted to binge, I know that I’ll be sick for 2 days and that there’s nothing I can take. So if I binge, it’s with full knowledge of the consequences of self poisoning – an effective deterrent.

      I found this site through another’s site’s link. What serendipity. Today is #4 of the week-long introductory newsletter series. Besides those superior articles, my additional reading of Mark’s other blogs (including the informative member comments) has opened my eyes to much I didn’t know. I’ll be making quite a few changes, systematically, until I’m proudly PB.

      Thank you, Mark, for the scientific explanations, the open mindedness, and of course the humor.

      Deedee

  74. I feel absolutely no effect, and I’m certainly NOT insulin resistant.

  75. My mom thinks I eat to much sugar. One tome the sugar went missing and I never ate any and it turns out the rodents got at it.

  76. Great article. Very similar point of view to Dr. Phil Maffetone’s book. However he does Advocate running long runs, but ONLY if you can be sure your well below your maximum aerobic threshold. Thinking in terms of Paleo, there are some who are suggesting that we did in fact run for very long periods, albeit slowly, and perhaps with many walking periods. The motivation was ‘persistence hunting’ – running animals to the point of exhaustion.

  77. I’ve been fully Primal yet I ate a basket of french fries at a diner yesterday. About an hour later I went home and sat down to read but I my mind was moving really slow. It was hard to concentrate on the reading material… I woke up roughly 5 hours later. Strangest food “coma” I have ever experienced. I don’t know if this fits in exactly with the refined sugar binge described in Mark’s blog post here but a carb binge is certainly something I won’t be doing in the future. What if I was driving?

  78. I have eaten primal about 90+ % of the time for the past 5 months. Lost a bunch of weight and size. This thanksgiving I had some bread stuffing(love the stuff), 2 small pieces of pie, and a few small squares of pizza. I had no issues other then had to go #2 a few more times over the next few days.

    I find it really interesting that everyone can have such different reactions.

    One other note. I was listening to a Robb Wolf(the paleolithic solution) and he was telling a military person who was going to be deployed to always stay slightly inflamed by eating some sugar and gluten due to not knowing what the food available to them would be. I was thinking once one gets to there genetic potential. Would this be a good option to prevent the major lows from a binge?

    Any thoughts?

  79. after following rule 80/20 for primal living for about 4 weeks now I love it. My body feels amazing.
    On the weekend I treated myself with a baked spud while shopping – you know, the potato, cheese, sour cream with ham and pineapple.
    Well I took it home to eat and lucky, as no more than 30minutes after eating it I was overwhelmed by tiredness that even walking around trying to shake it off did no good so I fell asleep on the couch – FOR 4 HOURS!! I woke up feeling groggy and horrible 🙁 No more big carb spuds for me!!

    I just can’t get over how intense the need to sleep was. It was like my body was sutting itself down so it could digest my meal.

  80. this just happened to me. I thought I was dying until I looked it up. NO. MORE. CAKE WITH COFFEE. ON EMPTY TUMMY!

  81. This scared the crap out of me. I do not want to harm my body like that. I already feel a little bit sick, and the symptoms are too familiar. It’s not worth it at all.

  82. Mark,

    I have often wondered about the benefits or detriments (physical, not mental) of exercising to burn off an unusual indulgence. Let’s say I have a piece of cake at the office. (“I’m just a social eater….”) When, and how much should I exercise (30 minutes on the nordic track?) to burn it off. When do those sugars hit the blood stream? Does it help to do cardio? When? An hour later? The next morning? Or, does it just not really matter and I should just forget it and go back to a regular routine?

  83. i used to be a marine and i work out not as much as i used to though. i am more educated about proper lifting techinques, sleeping habits, sugars etc.. i want to make an enviroment since i still live with my family i am 22 any advice on making a enviroment of healthy food

  84. Hi Mark, I love the primal blueprint way of life. I started it October 2011. Right now I feel terrible. For no apparent reason other than testing myself on whether I would, I binged on chocolate for the first time in ages. My head is spinning, my heart is racing. Even my eyes are having trouble focussing. I am also having trouble concentrating….Never EVER again will I do that!!! Back to meat and veggies for me.

  85. I’ve recently discovered Primal style of eating and am soooo intrigued by it. It’s a completely different way of viewing foods and life. And because it makes a lot more sense than my previous diet, i’ve decided to learn more about it and embark in this new journey. And i am so excited by it. I’ve been eliminating sugar, grains, corn, soy and eating a more PB diet for the past two months. Until yesterday that is, when i visited a legendary Italian restaurant on Little Italy in the Bronx. Well this place is incredible. So i told myself “it’s ok – this once in a while experience is to be enjoyed” and boy did i ever enjoy it!!!!. I had tons of crusty bread and butter. Hot antipasto. Fettuccini alfredo and a sweet flaky desert. Everything was oh soooo gooood. And to my surprised when i measured by blood glucose within the hour it was in the low 90’s. So i continued to enjoy the rest of the night, went to a show and headed home.

    As my boyfriend was driving, i was getting more and more car sick and nauseated. I blamed it on my boyfriend’s driving and winding road. Not even thinking it was related to my meal AT ALL. By the time i got home, i was miserable. I threw myself in bed, coat and all (I was the female version of that picture at the beginning of the article). I was physically ill, dizzy, nauseated and had a stomach ache. I just felt gross. I managed to find strength to shower. And oh boy, when i got to the bathroom, it was puke central. I hadnt puked in 100 years. And it was just pure pure torture. How could i be reacting this way to food? Foods i’ve been so used to eating only 2 months prior? And then finally my ordeal was over. Within a few minutes, i felt much better.

    I was taken aback by this reaction. I never expected to become physically ill and miserable like this. I’m very new to all this primal way of eating and did not anticipate for a minute that my former diet would have this affect on me. My boyfriend suggested that, maybe i had eating one particular dish that was spoiled or didnt sit well with me. But instinctively i knew. I knew it was all those carbs and all that sugar. So i started searching online and voilà!!!!!! I stumbled upon this article. And wow it’s a great awakening for me!!!!!

    The one thing that has been lingering since last night is my vertigo. Can vertigo possibly be linked to sugar? I’ve noticed that it’s been getting consistently worse since i’ve been eating primal. Could it be that i’m now experiencing the effects of sugar a little more strongly. The one sugary thing i still have is 2 glasses of wine two or three night a week. I guess i can cut it out and see if this helps. But wine with dinner is such a nice indulgence on those especially harsh days. Please advice.

  86. Last night I decided to try every single dessert at a fancy dinner while on vacation. I have been following the primal blueprint for the past 6 weeks and feeling amazing. Not only did I try the desserts at dinner I ate a ton of rolls at lunch. I gave myself permission to eat.

    I feel awful. It is worse than the worse hangover I have ever had. I could not sleep though the night, I woke up every hour despite being exhausted. I am dehydrated. I have a pounding headache that won’t stop and I feel awful.

    Thank you for your article, now I see why I feel so bad. It is not worth it to have the sugar at all! I had no idea that one cheat could have such a dire effect on my entire system. Again, thank you.

  87. I looked this up because I’ve been slowly moving towards a diet with less sugar (when I eat too much sugar I don’t enjoy myself, I can’t get up in the morning, I have no self-control…)

    This morning I was feeling great from my new diet, so I thought it couldn’t hurt to buy sugar and make cookies like I used to.

    I ate a pickle. It worked. I don’t really like pickles.

  88. One piece birthday pie and a spoonful of ice cream = a nose that will not stop running, sneezing about 100 times a day,(wondering if my ribs will break) pain in knees, foggy brain, feeling wiped out. I have not been Primal long enough to have a cheat day or a carb “treat” Totally not worth it. The cravings began anew. I wonder how long Tuesdays “treat” will last. My mail man just delivered the Primal blueprint 90 day journal. I need to take the blood tests and then I am going for broke.

  89. I started the Dukan diet and (not so unfortunately) I indulged for one meal every weekend (for 6 weeks) and the weight just fell off. It was so good getting off processed carbs and starches. I continued without the indulgences for a couple more months and lost 6 kgs. (The Dukan diet stipulates one ‘oatmeal’ galette serve every day).

    I haven’t had any fruit yet.

    I have now started Paleo for health reasons. I see it as a good lifestyle choice. The vegetable recipes that have accompanied the recipe books and on the website are fantastic. So far, every dish has been enjoyed by the whole family (even the shredded brussel sprouts)!

    What I fear is what will happen if I go through another phase of regular indulgences (Christmas is coming up). With such a high fat intake on Paleo, could regular indulgences cause weight gain? Will I have to do some ‘extreme’ exercise to compensate for those times even though I remain vigilant for the rest for the week –it’s just that one meal on the weekend?

    Anna

  90. After the usual christmas binge of chocolate and macarons (as a detour from a high protein diet) I am sitting here with sweating, racing heart, nausea, and bloating. Gross. Thanks for explaining these symptoms and ensuring I avoid this potent cycle in the future!

  91. Binging hard this evening, 3-4 months paleo, last 3 weeks pretty strict.
    Might throw up but testing this stuff is fun.

  92. This is a true story. I binged on GS cookies after being low carb and essentially sugar free for 8 months. My body still hasn’t recovered. I started Sat and went until Wed. I was so tired I skipped crossfit all week. And lets not talk about the stomach issues. The racing heart beat was pretty interesting. It was the first observable effect.

  93. Hi Guys!

    I was wondering if you could help me with a little question. In your article you cited “a hefty dose of sugar can compromise the immune system for more than 24 hours,” with the article http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18469239?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DiscoveryPanel.Pubmed_Discovery_RA&linkpos=2&log$=relatedarticles&logdbfrom=pubmed .

    I looked at the article and didn’t see where it said anything about immune system compromise after sugar dosage. Just the differences in glucose, leptin, and triglyceride responses between sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup. Can anybody help me out with reading it?

    Thanks!

  94. Thank you for this article! It helped me realize the implications of my sugar cravings and the strength to not give in to them! Thank you Mark!!!

  95. This article is waaaay extreme and blown out of proportion. “Reefer Madness For Sugar”. I eat very healthy, lift weights all the time, CrossFit, etc. I’m in great shape. However, from time to time I’ll polish off 1/2 full-size tub of ice cream or the majority of a large pizza. No ill effects at all. None! If anything I’ll get a vascular pump due to the carbs (and generally eating low carb diet). Sleep like a baby.

    Yeah one can get a carb crash after eating a baked potato for lunch and the like but gimme a break with this end of the world 100g of carbs in 1 sitting BS. Little bird saying the sky is falling.

    1. I tend to agree, Luke. I fast eod and have dessert regularly on non-fasting days. Although it might not be the healthiest thing in the world, it doesn’t seem to be the worst thing in the world either lol. I never have those physical reactions, and I sleep soundly fasting, or after eating sugar. Kudos to those of you who abscond carbs. I will live on the wild side for now. 😉

  96. Well this helps to explain why my panic attacks disappeared for a few years, when I was eating mostly fish, veggies, and rice. Other than those few years I grew up impoverished (eating the worst quality food you can imagine), then developed an addiction to fast food (breakfast/lunch/dinner) when I moved out at 17 years old. I’m now 32 and after years of ups and downs I’m following a strict paleo diet which is helping a lot. However, I gave in and indulged in red wine, bread, and a big brownie the other night when I went out to dinner with my husband. I had a severe panic attack that night and couldn’t understand why it was so much worse than usual. I’m assuming if I eat strictly primal then do that, the sugar shock is worse. I feel like now it’s difficult to have a social life, as mine has always been with groups of people who like to go out and drink/eat all night.

  97. I was starving and just ate so much dessert I am so appalled. I enjoyed it thoroughly but of course I now have a racing heart and am bloated. I also know tomorrow I will have to train like a madwoman to feel better. I hate the fact that I binge sometimes, and need some sort of formula to talk myself out of going crazy when I get that feeling of “I have to eat dessert NOW!!” It’s like I can’t control my emotion, and even if I try to put it out of my mind, it takes control, and I will think of donuts or whatever until I eat it. I think I just answered my question…I am letting it take control of me when I can control it. But I still need the formula. HELP!!

    Almost a whole Sara Lee cheesecake, peanut M &M’s, white chocolate, a donut, a shortbread cookie, and barbecue chips. The rest of the food that I had today was 2 fruit & veg shakes with no sugar, just ice, and a stir fried chicken dish with cashew nuts, brown rice, a lightly fried egg, and some raw veggies.

    I live in Thailand so I eat a lot of Thai food. Luckily I live on a street where there are a lot of restaurants that make healthier versions of Thai food to accomodate all the athletes living on this street. There are 4 gyms on this one street!

    A few hours ago, I went to do groceries. I tried to talk myself into just buying a granola bar to offset the craving of something sweet with something not so bad. But I fell into the trap. The problem is when I want to eat dessert, I gather everything that I like and eat it all. Never just one thing. I think I do it because I don’t eat it often, so I try to kill 10 birds with one stone, so to speak.

    I have decided to try to stick to just brown rice and chickpeas for carbs, and the occasional bread. I LOVE bread, pasta, pizza, but I see how much weight I gain when I eat a lot of bread.

    I am lactose intolerant, and have IBS. I also think I have a slight intolerance to wheat. I think we all do. When I eat rice, I feel fine. I have so many pills to take it is exhausting. But if I don’t, my body doesn’t work as well.
    Digestive enzymes after each meal, Lactaid for the lactose intolerance, flax seeds for regularity, probiotics for control of yeast and PH balance.

    I train 1x a day, 6 times a week. Sometimes 2x a day. I usually eat healthy, but I think it’s the feeling of loneliness sometimes, or the feeling that I am always depriving myself of something to stay a certain shape, or just wanting to eat junk in my house and watch the Golden Girls ;-)…

    Right now it is 10pm, and I feel like I could go for a run, but of course I won’t do that. I will train hard tomorrow morning and try to eat normally and not make such a big deal about the fact that I probably just ate 1500 calories in an hour.

    Why did they have to make junk food taste so good?? 🙁

    Let’s just all stick together and keep talking and supporting each other in the fight to stay alive and healthy with the occasional pig out!!

  98. I have been eating around 30g carbs a day for 4 months in an attempt to shed the extra 2 stones im carruing and it has been really tough going to abstain from all the high carb foods i love so much. Today i gave in. I felt so uninspired my the options of ‘permissible’ options for lunch, i chose cheesy nachos, deep fried chicken with a sweet sauce, beer and a chocolate icecream dessert. It was pure pleasure to eat, asbolutely delicious!
    However, that was 30 mins or so ago and now i feel incredibly hot (sweating even) and i can feel the heavy feeling of lethargy starting to settle in. I know i am going to feel even worse as the day passes. Experience tells me that i will have a horrible time trying to get out of bed tomorrow morning and feel physically and mentally exhausted throughout the day. Compounding this will be the unabateable hunger that i will not be able to shift, no matter how much protein and fat i eat…..and the overwhelming desire to seek solace from the exhausion and irritability in grain- and sugar- rich foods.
    Ultimately today’s delicious lunch won’t have been worth the physical unwellness and the phychological frustration of knowing that my weakness has knocked me back days and days in my weight loss efforts. Its just so hard to abstain from foods that taste nice and give you a sense of true saiety. Feels like a long, hard struggle. Thanks for your support, just wanted to share my feelings on the topic. Eishing you all the very best with your efforts.

  99. Thank you. very informative as I am the epitome of a sugar addict. I have been the sugar addict for 35 years. Eating a whole tub of icing & a entire cake smeared on thick on many occasions. I am surprised I do not have any of the diseases associated such as the below listed.
    •Heart disease
    •Cancer
    •Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases)
    •Chronic lower respiratory diseases
    •Diabetes
    •Alzheimer’s disease
    •Influenza/Pneumonia
    •Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis

  100. Hi Mark,

    Most of the year (80%) I follow a low carb, mod protein, high fat style primal style diet–I’m low to moderately active. When I’m successful at this diet, I can maintain my weight; however, the last couple of years, I’ve fallen off the wagon big time. Way too many “good” carbs, and a ridiculous amount of bad carbs; usually starting around the holidays. It’s like I miss the sweets and pancakes and bread-y things. I seem to gain weight rather quickly during this time. Not withstanding the poor diet choice(s), is this quick, fast & substantial weight gain even more impacted due to restricting carbs most of the time throughout the year? Thanks. Em

  101. I was wondering what would be the best thing to do after a carb binge to help speed up the recovery process and get back to feeling normal. Would a Dukan style eating of pure protein (no vegetables) be better or would something like going on a pure vegetable day or even a full on fast day be best? or should we just forget about the binge and move right back into the primal way of eating…?

    Also, what supplements would help after a carb binge? I’ve heard R-ALA, Chromium and B vitamins help.

    Would really love to hear your comments.

    Daisy

  102. Hi Mark! This site is making the world a healthier place; thank you.

    I know I’m a little late and there isn’t a huge chance at a response, but I have a question. I love sugar – always have – but generally ate healthfully before switching to a 100% primal diet. Before, I’d have legitimate sugar binges of 150-250g of carbs but have always been a runner/climber, always been skinny, have normal blood glucose post-fast levels, and never get sick. Now primal, I’m even skinnier than usual [much to my mom’s dismay, who is increasingly worried about grandchildren potential].

    I have not cut calories and am actually a bit less active as I get used to this diet but still do sprints and bodyweight exercises. I’m by no means “skinny-fat” and never was even when eating carbs (I gain muscle it seems by thinking about squats while eating cupcakes).

    Question: Is it possible that some people are better adapted to eating carbs? Is it wishful thinking to assume that because my reaction to sugar & carbs is/was fairly minimal that what you describe in this article is *not* happening and the occasional treat is OK…or is my metabolism just fast and disguising some of the more obvious effects of the damage?

  103. I have been primal for about a month and it feels good. Sometimes I like to push my body to the limit, and for some reason today I was justifying an extra carb intake. I took in about 150g of carbs from homemade ice cream within 40 minutes, and I felt terrible. Heart was racing, head felt heavy, nauseous, bloated, gassy. The worst was the emotional depression. You just want to sit and cry. Even though on the inside I was really intrigued and pleased to truly see the awful effects of sugar. It encourages me to give it up for good.

    “If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.” Proverbs 25:16

  104. I have been feeling like crap for about 2 years now. Xtreme fatigue, muscle weakness and tingling, muscle and joint pain, memory problems, bad fuzzy head.. been doctoring this whole time too and had pointless tests and procedures done to figure out my problem, seen multiple drs, etc.. No-one can diagnose my problem. Actually in process of getting into Mayo clinic because my current Dr. thinks possible Chronic Fatigue Syndrome but isn’t too familiar with it and a little hesitant to make a sure diagnosis. In the meantime I decided to try cutting back on sugar and non-whole grain carbs. My symptoms began to improve. I went on vacation and fell off the wagon. I was right back to square one. So, I started cutting way back again and was just starting to feel a little better and decided to test my theory again. Last night I ate lots of sugar and lots of carbs. Slept til noon today, was up for 3 1/2 hours and crashed again at 4. Its 7 o clock, I am so weak and tired, still in bed typing this. Feel terrible. Shaky, exhausted, weak, sluggish, achy. Going to lay back down now. Answer: obviously my body CANNOT tolerate that junk so here’s off to a healthier lifestyle!!!????

  105. Hi Mark, I frequently read your posts which do tend to keep me on the straight and narrow unfortunately tonight had eaten before reading this one. I’ve lost 59lbs following low carb over the past two years and I’m down to a healthier 134lbs 5’3 33y female. I believe everyone reacts differently to bad foods for a number of reasons but I for one can fully relate to this post and that physical and emotional feelings that follow the binge.

    When I was overweight and unhealthy I never felt these feelings associated with sugar. It’s only since Id cut them out do I have these problems. I even stopped juicing because Id feel immediately comatose after drinking a veg juice with half an apple in it. Vision problems, sleepiness and warm flushes.

    All my tests seem to keep coming back normal for thyroid, glucose fasting etc but I definitely feel worse now than I used to after eating a high amount of carbs simple or complex. Strange.
    I don’t want to cause myself any more harm with evil foods as I fully understand what is happening when I do that to myself, I’m educated enough which makes it all the more ridiculous but I seem to turn in to a zombie and eat so much chocolate that most people would be heaving with. It doesn’t seem normal to me, I’m talking a thousand calories worth of milk chocolate in one sitting, then a few hours later easily more. Should I be worried? Could I be pre diabetic or insulin resistant?

  106. Hey Mark! Sadly, we just recently had a carb binge, pizza and beer night. It doesn’t happen often, which is why I’m not going to beat myself up over it, but I did notice something a little bit weird. The days following the ingestion of carbs my skin becomes physically sore to the touch. Like my whole body is bruised, but without the discoloration. I was just wondering if you could explain this uncomfortable sensation?

  107. And for me, all that high blood glucose, high insulin, cortisol, adrenaline and impaired immune system, triggers a major acne break out that takes weeks to settle down again. Found this out after having a binge while on holiday last week

  108. Wow. I didn’t know that a carb binge has such a significant effect on the body. Thanks for the imagery and clear explanation.

  109. I don’t know how old this thread is but I came across it as I was looking for help on to feel better after a carb binge. I have been less than 20g carbs, high fat , mod protein for the past three months but tonight I had 3 slices of pizza and 6 Lindt chocolates…by an hour later I felt absolutely ill and exhausted and had to nap for 3 hours. I still feel ill, stuffed up , tight chest, bloated, low level nausea, head achy , body achy, foggy headed and very fatigued. In a nutshell I feel utterly ill …like I used to feel all the time till I saw the difference in my health by going low carb.
    Prior to this on low carb I was freakin amazed…for the first time in my life I felt clear headed, my mood swings and depression were gone, my joints were not sore and I wasn’t exhausted all the time and no longer needed a nap every day.
    So for the few commenters who have implied that the adverse reactions to carbs that MANY people have is “all in our heads..or some kind of hysteria/guilt /anxiety reaction”.. or that this article is over blown…
    Well yay for you that you do not have a reaction to high carbs…but until you have walked a mile in someone else’s shoes you cannot possible know what it feels like …if you did , you would be far less quick to judge.

    1. Yes yes and yes the worst is the mood swings the need to want to cry for no reason extreme fatigue like can’t walk type of fatigue symptoms of brain fog and dr/dp

  110. Thank you for the information. I recently went through a tail spin and got horrible flu. I’m now dedicated to low carb no sugar and life returned to normal.

  111. I went Paleo 07Dec16; I have dropped ~ 50 lbs and reversed diabetes, still have 50+ lbs to lose. Had lots of carbs on Christmas Day (pie, ice cream, cookies) and felt hung over today – also noticed that I had a lot of body pain, as if there was much more inflammation. I took doses of ACV in the AM and at lunch and that seemed to help (16 oz water, 1 shot glass apple cider vinegar, 1 shot glass organic lemon juice).. The secret in the future is obviously to avoid this sort of indiscretion, but I am wondering how others might have dealt with this carb poisoning? When I began Paleo. I went cold turkey, had immediate success and no carb flu, but I feel like I do notice the carb poisoning when I overindulge. Every time I do this, it is just another little learning experience that it is not worth it… Your thoughts?

  112. Mark, what do you think about doing this with a large protein / fat meal? A few large grass fed bison patties, cheese, some Salmon, a bunch of scrambled eggs, and vegetables. Not cheat food, just too much at once? I seem to be able to ward off the desire to eat bad food if I get stuffed to high heavens every 1-2 weeks.

  113. OMG I’ve been eating very restricted carbs for about 3 months now and had a sneaky pizza the other night. Went bright red, heart racing, shaking. Just awful! Definitely much more sensitive to carbs now than I was before!

  114. I am on this site because I had to see if I was crazy or not. I ate a piece of cheesecake after being on keto for about 3 months and I seriously thought I was getting a really bad cold/flu. I even blamed my clients! I had a snotty nose (I mean dripping non stop) my eyes were watery, even felt congested! It lasted only a day and I am back to normal. It couldn’t have been a cold. I am actually glad it happened….I won’t be as apt to do that again.

    1. Bella, it’s amazing what our bodies will show us when we let them “reset” themselves without all the excess carbs.

  115. Oh man can I relate to this!!! I have been primal combined with keto for 3 years and every time I have carbs fruits or anything, junk food, sushi sometimes I literally get hot flashes , a racing heart mood swings and I feel like I got hit by a truck for days !!! My family thinks I’m crazy it kills my focus my brain gets foggy and I feel like I would be pregnant emotionally and I’m a guy! Man I can’t imagine what that time of the month might feel like for women. Not only that but I even get dr/dp symptoms , tensions out of no where and more anxiousness , primarily because it feels like someone turned off the intelligence part in my mind and left me with an empty skull!!!! This never used to happen when I ate carbs before but then again as a child I grew up on all sugar addicted like crazy and had adhd … they gave me meds for it which messed me up and now I know why I had adhd!!!! Sometimes I wish I can enjoy some bad foods every now and then but I guess it’s not the path I am supposed to be on in life ! If anyone can relate let me know !

  116. Well I’m really pleased to find I’m not having a heart attack after eating a corned beef pasty 2hrs ago! Having eaten very low carb diet for so long now and never cheating I guess I must be very sensitive to such a huge load of carbs. So glad I found this post! I am astounded at the effect it has had – pounding heart within 10 minutes of eating it as well as anxiety bordering on panic. I’ve never suffered from anxiety so I now know how bad that feels. Just waiting for the crash now! That’s convinced me to never ever cheat again!