Last night at our meeting a lot of you mentioned this state of “weakness” you are in. I have done some research and this is what I have found about this “paleo hangover.”
Changing your diet from a high-carb, low-fat standard American diet to a lower carb and higher fat diet requires your body some time to adapt. In the meantime, you may experience some short-time and transient side effects. These side effects are not dangerous but can be a bit annoying.
Potential side effects:
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Body aches
- Cold sweats
- Lack of energy
- Lack of concentration
What are causing these side effects?
- Fat-adaptation: if you used to consume a high-carb, low-fat diet, switching to a lower-carb and higher-fat Paleo diet will require your body to transition from being a sugar-burner to being a fat-burner.
- Mild dehydration: A high-carb diet can make you retain more water in your body, while a lower-carb diet has a diuretic effect and allows you to get rid of this extra unnecessary water. If you lose this extra water too fast however, you could experience symptoms of mild dehydration. Drink more water!
- Withdrawal symptoms: grains, dairy and sugar are addictive and can have a strong effect on your brain chemistry, just like drugs but to a lesser degree. Eliminating these foods from your diet can cause a withdrawal reaction as your body learns how to function without these substances.
How long does it last?
The side effects may start within 12 hours of getting started on the Paleo diet and usually resolve within 4 to 5 days, although it can last for up to 2 to 4 weeks in some people.
- Eat enough fat: the Paleo diet is lower in carbs compared to the standard American diet, which is high in carbs and low in fat. When switching to the Paleo way of eating, you need to make sure you provide your body with enough energy to allow you to function optimally. Fat is your answer! As a general rule of thumb, most people benefit from including about 1 to 2 tbsp. of extra natural fat, from coconut oil, ghee, or extra-virgin olive oil, at each of your meals. Avocado, coconut, olives, nuts and nut butter are also good ways to increase your fat intake to help your body adjusts from being a sugar-burner to becoming a fat-burner.
- Eat at regular intervals: if you are new to Paleo eating and especially if you have blood sugar issues, make sure you eat at regular intervals until your blood sugar levels stabilize and until your body becomes completely fat-adapted.
- Drink enough water: because decreasing your carb intake can have a diuretic effect, make sure you stay properly hydrated and avoid the symptoms caused by mild dehydration by drinking a minimum of 2L of fluids (water, sprinkling water, tea, herbal tea).
- Stick to it and be patient: be patient and resist the temptations and within a couple of weeks, things will get a lot easier and you may even notice an improvement in your energy levels and well-being. Give yourself at least 28 days or 4 weeks to make sure you are able to go past the potential short-term side effects and start noticing the benefits of eating Paleo.