The Low Carb Flu
Mark’s Daily Apple
by Mark Sisson: I
Have a New Lease on Life
carbs offers a whole constellation of rewards, not the least of
which is a steady, brisk energy unlike most people have known before
(well, maybe since the whirling age of 10 or so…). People tell me
constantly that they can finally make it through the day without
being down for the count every midafternoon. They enjoy enough vigor
and vitality to weather a whole day’s worth of activity. The busyness
of life becomes easier to handle: the energy demands of daily work
or business travel, the mayhem and constant commotion of kids, a
weekend’s worth of chores and errands, etc. A skipped
meal doesn’t suddenly change the agenda to including procuring
a bagel or other false pick-me-up. Nonetheless, for some folks,
there’s a common, temporary but still bothersome bump in the road
on the way to that Primal prize. Though it varies, it often means
a couple weeks of mental fuzziness, fog and fatigue. Although your
body might be off to the races, your brain can lag behind like a
little brother in a stuffed snowsuit. It’s a game of “hey, wait
up!” while the body’s mechanisms and metabolism align themselves.
They call it “low carb flu,” and rest assured it’s just as temporary.
just want to know if anyone who has been Primal for some time had
any trouble with cognition in the first few weeks. I can hardly
think straight, especially after eating, and I am also low on energy.
Will this pass??? Besides that, my body feels great!”
Thanks to Jessica
for her question in response to Matt
Garland’s excellent guest post last week. It’s a common subject
of emails I receive.
I should mention that some folks experience the low carb
flu, and others don’t. Overall, those who have been lower
carb for some time seem to have fewer problems with the transition
taking their carb intake down a notch. As rational as it sounds,
this trend still isn’t a hard and fast rule. I know a number of
Primal adherents who fit this profile and then went on to experience
the symptoms Jessica describes. Others I know went from sky high
sugars to low carb cold turkey and felt great from day one. Go figure.
It might be due to the “sliding range of genetic variations” I’ll
be discussing in an upcoming post.
low carb flu isn’t universal, that doesn’t mean it’s abnormal. For
many people, it takes about two to three weeks to move beyond the
temporary fog and fatigue. Studies following the physical
performance of low carbers showed that initial
disadvantages were erased after this window of time. If your
body is used to employing easy glucose carbs and now must create
glucose from fats and protein (a slightly more complex but entirely
natural mode of operation), it can take some time to get up to speed.
Rest assured that our bodies can and are doing the job. It simply
takes time to work efficiently. The transition actually shifts metabolic
fat oxidation pathways and decreasing fat storage pathways.
(That’s nothing to shake a stick at!) Within a few weeks, the body
should be fairly efficient at converting protein and fat for the
liver’s glycogen stores, which provide all the glucose we need for
the brain, red blood cells, muscles, etc. under regular circumstances.
the rest of the article
to Lew's recent podcast with Mark Sisson
August 31, 2012
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