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The Science Behind The "Low Carb Flu", and How To Regain Your Metabolic Flexibility
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July 21, 2011
2:53 am
~pjgh » Blog A
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[...] his article The Science Behind The “Low Carb Flu”, and How To Regain Your Metabolic Flexibility two key points stand out to [...]

July 21, 2011
3:05 am
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Halifax, UK
Gnoll
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As always, an article generously littered with simple, distilled shots of good advice backed up by the biochemistry research placed in between.

The summary, "if we keep our carbohydrate intake under our body’s requirement while not in ketosis, which is perhaps 20% of total calories—and only eat those carbohydrates with meals involving complete protein and fat, not by themselves—most of us should be able to gain the fat-burning benefits of metabolic flexibility without suffering the pain of trying to adapt to ketosis" is most useful.

I have removed potatoes from my diet while fat loss is still a goal, as well as a healing my gut. I do include a good number of milder carbohydrates.

Understanding that when well portioned, these will help keep me in a normal state and enable my body to use the remaining excess fat stores more efficiently and then residual fat stores when necessary really is the foundation for my next step now that the initial surge of fat loss from activity is slowing down.

I don't routinely weigh or measure myself or my intake. I have weighed myself and know my weight has dropped, but I am not focussed on weight loss; it's fat loss for now and I fully appreciate that I might not lose as dramatically in terms of weight or size.

Superb article, J! Thanks!

Living in the Ice Age
http://livingintheiceage.pjgh.co.uk

July 22, 2011
3:47 am
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Paul:

I'm glad you're finding it useful.  I try to explain the "why" as best I can, so that when I make a recommendation it'll make sense to you, and when you see conflicting advice you'll have some sane way to evaluate the conflict.

JS

August 3, 2011
4:58 am
I’m Tired and
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[...] If you are interested in understanding more about why the carb flu happens, check out this article at Mark’s Daily Apple  and this very detailed explanation from J. Stanton at Gnolls.org. [...]

August 4, 2011
9:55 am
maría
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So, imagine how hellish life can be for someone with Chronic Fatige Syndrome and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity whose oxygen metabolism is kaputt, along with the ability to make energy out of glucose. One depends then on protein, and has to be very careful with the carbs one takes, because the diebetes-like symptoms can be very debilitating on a system that's already extremely exhausted. Hell.

August 8, 2011
8:59 pm
What Was It About To
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[...] ride, maybe have a big fat (and protein) breakfast and skip lunch. The trick really is to become keto adapted, which may take 2-4 weeks. Most healthy people should have enough fat stores to use for at least a [...]

August 12, 2011
3:58 pm
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María: 

It is absolutely true that mitochondrial function is impaired in the obese, the future obese, and the past obese.  But I'm not sure how you can depend on protein if you can't make energy from glucose, because it's converted to glucose before being used as energy.  Can you explain?

JS

 

August 14, 2011
11:35 am
Muscle Soreness and
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[...] [...]

August 14, 2011
3:48 pm
Auckland New Zealand
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I've just reading Jack Kruse re low carb flu. Interesting. Low carb diets lead to seretonin deficiency due to lack of absorption of tryptophan (the amino acid required for seretonin). Carbs are needed for tryptophan absorption in gut. If someone is already seretonin deficient, then this is more pronounced when going on a VLC diet. 5HTP will help as will increasing carbs.

http://jackkruse.com/your-gutneurotransmitters-and-hormones/

August 14, 2011
3:49 pm
Auckland New Zealand
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Oops that should be serotonin

August 14, 2011
6:25 pm
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julianne:

I just saw that article earlier today.  I've written before about the issues of empty simple carbs helping to get tryptophan/5-HTP across the BBB, but this is the first I've seen about gut absorption of tryptophan also being an issue.  I'd love to find some sources to learn more about it.

JS

August 18, 2011
9:41 am
Gnoll
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Currently I am trying to go into ketosis. I went lc paleo and as long as I eat 50-200 gram carbs (veggies, fruits, nuts) a day everything is working wonderful.

 

But I wanted to fight overeating on carbs because they don't make me satiated (I am skinny, though), so decided to go into ketosis (high-fat)

 

For more than 4-5 weeks now I didn't eat more than 40 g carbs a day, in average less than 20, some days none at all. I feel like crap (That is, regarding my metabolism/circulatory), really weak.

More important, my cognitive abilities seem to be at it's lowest since going off the carbs, I have even problems putting sentences together. And I thought a ketogenic diet improves cognitive performance.

Normally the transition should long have been done, shouldn't it?

Is there anything to do to help this process or should I just go on eating 20-40% carbs again?

August 18, 2011
6:06 pm
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primordial49:

Two options.  First, 40g carbs may be bouncing you in and out of ketosis.  Try these articles for ways to make a healthy ketogenic diet that still tolerates some carbs:

http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=2479

http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=2638

And if that doesn't work, it may simply be that ketosis is not for you.  Ketogenic diets usually only improve brain function in cases where it is impaired.

Hope this helps!

JS

August 19, 2011
12:50 am
Gnoll
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Thanks, J.!

My hope was to heal my migraines, which are highly associated with an energy crisis in the brain due to hypoglycemia/glucose intolerance with similarities to epilepsy.

  1. Critchley M. Migraine Lancet 1933;1:123-6
  2. Wilkinson CF Jr. Recurrent migrainoid headaches associated with spontaneous hypoglycemia. Am J Med Sci 1949;218:209–12.
  3. Roberts HJ Migraine and Related Vascular Headaches Due to Diabetogenic Hyperinsulinism Headache 1967, July,41-62
  4. Dexter JD, Roberts J, Byer JA. The five hour glucose tolerance test and effect of low sucrose diet in migraine. Headache 1978;18:91–4.

 

Roberts (1967)suggested , to change the name of migraine into "hypoglycemic headaches":

"The fundamental metabolic disturbance that usually triggers
such headaches is recurrent hypoglycemia ... [it is suggested that] the
term migraine be replaced by ... 'hypoglycemic headache.'"

 

So it is likely a ketogenic diet can heal the energy crisis in the brain:

Strahlman, R. Scott: Can Ketosis Help Migraine Sufferers? A Case
Report. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain. Volume 46 Page 182 -
January 2006. doi:10.1111/j.1526-4610.2006.00321_5.x

Apparantly also depression can be improved with a ketogenic diet: Murphy P, Likhodii S, Nylen K, Burnham WM: The antidepressant properties
of the ketogenic diet. Biol Psychiatry. 2004;56: 981-983

 

I improved my migraine vastly due to the last weeks. To see long term improvements and never suffer from it again I calculated tat I need to stay in ketosis for at least a few months to let my body recover.

 

I read the articles. Seems it is harder to maintain a healthy ketotic state than I  thought previously. I suspect the cognitive impairment is due to the fact that not enough ketones are generated while gluconeogenesis is ineffective.

 

August 21, 2011
9:52 pm
Debating whether or
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[...] [...]

August 23, 2011
1:05 am
Ted Hutchinson
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While there is much to be said for the role of exercise and training in improving mitochondrial biogenesis there are some readers for whom intensive exercise is not an option.
The paper
Mitochondrial energetics and therapeutics offers some other strategies that may be helpful. They suggest that a ketogenic diet is probably the best option although there are some supplements such as Resveratrol that may help.
I think we also have to consider ways of protecting our mitochondria to hopefully prevent them becoming dysfunctional. Improving melatonin secretion and getting a good nights sleep may also be a useful strategy.
Melatonin in Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Related Disorders

August 23, 2011
1:10 pm
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primordial49:

I'm starting to see this a lot: the "bouncing in and out of ketosis" headaches, where you never fully keto-adapt but never build up your glycogen stores either.  I hope those articles help!

Ted:

Thank you for the references!  Do you have fulltext of Wallace et.al.?  If so, please contact me, as I'm very interested in reading it.

(Note that your comment was caught in the spam filter, which accounts for the delay in posting it.)

JS

August 26, 2011
12:28 pm
Why Saturated fats o
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[...] explain why saturated fats are superior to PUFAs and MUFAs? How does your own body store fat? The Science Behind The “Low Carb Flu”, and How To Regain Your Metabolic Flexibility &#45... You might ask yourself if it makes sense that natural selection would select us to store energy [...]

August 31, 2011
11:01 am
Dealing with carb cr
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[...] am still transitioning. I get solid energy from fat now, I have regained my metabolic flexibility (The Science Behind The “Low Carb Flu”, and How To Regain Your Metabolic Flexibility &#45...), the energy challenges took 2-3 months to fully shift for me. I ate very low-fat and very [...]

September 9, 2011
10:02 am
Angel
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Thank you for this article! This explains really well my problems with low-carb.

I've been on both Atkins and the Zone diet. Atkins was a miserable 3 week experience during which I didn't even lose more than 1-2 pounds. The Zone diet worked a lot better, I lost about 15 pounds, but I always needed more carbs than what was specified. I was 26 years old then; already soon-to-be-obese, apparently.

I started low-carb again in 2007, but I didn't try going really low-carb, because I knew it wouldn't work (although I assumed I was just a weakling for not being able to handle constant intense carb cravings). I did manage to lose some weight, but not nearly as much as I needed to lose. I wasn't exercising then either, though.

I think my metabolism is very gradually improving. I can now occasionally eat very low carb meals and not have carb cravings afterwards.

And I very much appreciate the information on restoring metabolic flexibility. I started exercising again several weeks ago, and I have lost a little weight and am feeling better. I have noticed that I have a little more flexibility in when I need to eat, but not as much as I would like ... fasting is still not a good idea for me.

I have had to accept the fact that I have a broken metabolism, and will probably always carry around too much fat, but this article is the first real hope I've had that I might be able to restore most of my metabolic function. Thank you.

I would be interested in knowing to what extent metabolic flexibility was restored in the T2 diabetics. Simply saying that it was restored implies that it was restored completely, which doesn't sound realistic.

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