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Low-carb flu - how was it for you?

Discussion in 'Low-carb Diet Forum' started by mariavontrapp, Jul 30, 2017.

  1. mariavontrapp

    mariavontrapp Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Hi folks
    Could I ask low-carbers the following in order to help and motivate those who are struggling through the first few weeks of cutting carbs :-
    what were your symptoms of "low-carb flu"?
    how long did it last?
    was there anything that helped you through it?
    what would you say to encourage those going through it right now?

    It can be really hard to make big changes in our diet without the support of a doctor/nurse/dietician so we need to help each other through it. It can feel like a big step into the unknown and self-doubt can cause us to give up. These were the sort of questions I wanted answers to last week but I didn't feel able to post on the forum. I was feeling very tired and emotional but I am starting to feel better now so hopefully I am through the worst.
     
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  2. Nidge247

    Nidge247 LADA · Well-Known Member

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    @mariavontrapp

    Symptoms of low carb flu are headaches and nausea and a few shivers - just as you get with normal flu; only this was over completely in 2-3 days and is simply as your body switches from running on carbs to running on fat. I looked as it as a kind of 'reset'.

    Having read up on it both here, other forums, and in books, also with other lchf lifestyle folk, I knew what would happen and it was pretty textbook stuff.

    Knowing how much my body would benefit from it, and how 'well' I felt so quickly after starting (no more massive swings in my BGs), it was never a matter of needing to be convinced it was a good thing - my own body was telling me that it was good, and I was in better health very very quickly.

    Now over 20 months down the line, 'choosing what to eat' is no restriction - I can go out to parties and meals out with friends in no fear of spiking my BGs; there is so much low carb around us normally - but the ads on the tv just push high carb food at you all the time. Once you understand how it all works, you can enjoy what you eat, and get your healthy life back again

    My own body runs best on 30-50g carbs per day; but everyone has their own levels and no size fits all. On my old high carb diet I would easily consume 1600g carbs per day - and would need to constantly snack as I was forever hungry between meals. All that is history now as they say.
     
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  3. mariavontrapp

    mariavontrapp Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for sharing. I like your idea of a "reset".
    I would say my main problems were emotional - feeling low and anxious and unsure if it was going to work, rather than the flu-like symptoms that I was expecting. It really helps to see that people have gone through it and come out the other side.
     
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  4. Snapsy

    Snapsy Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Hi @mariavontrapp , what a great idea for a thread. My own experience didn't feature any carb flu, and I think that because when I finally waved goodbye to starchy carbs last June I'd been in the process of cutting down slowly over several months beforehand.

    'Pastygate' - as it shall forever be known here at Chateau Snaps - was what tipped me over the edge. My holiday in Cornwall was amazing...... until lunchtime every day and several hours afterwards.

    Less carb flu, more like carb HANGOVER - and from eating carbs, rather than not! and this was all despite being on insulin.

    :)
     
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  5. Bluetit1802

    Bluetit1802 Type 2 (in remission!) · Legend

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    I didn't experience any symptoms of carb flu, but I expect this was because I started slowly, gradually reducing my carbs over a period of about 10 months. Doing it this way I also avoided cravings.
     
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  6. geefull

    geefull Type 2 (in remission!) · Well-Known Member

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    I read about low carb after finding this forum within a couple of days of my diagnosis and went from lots of carbs to @100g a day immediately, I did have what I presume was 'carb flu' symptoms for about a week (quite badly and tailing off gradually), tired and often bit dizzy and 'fluish', constipated plus constantly a bit panicky.

    however - I now believe I'd been heading for Type 2 for a long time and my immune system was not very healthy by the time I was diagnosed (had the diagnosis blood test after having 'real flu' and recovering very slowly).

    I hadn't done all my reading and research before I moved into lower carb. Because I was so desperately tired and worried I just went for it and I think if I could give someone just starting a couple of bits of advice it would be -

    1) that you need to drink more water than you think and
    2) you need to keep your salt level higher to counteract the throughput.

    Since the salt thing is counter to the general diet advice we've been fed and because I, like many who are beginning to fall into diabetes, had the constant need to tinkle, ( especially at night), I didn't drink enough and I think I would have adapted very much quicker if I had drunk more water and taken more salt.

    I have stabilised my carb intake currently at under 80g a day (often averaging <70g), have lost a lot of weight and am healthier and more mobile than I've been for years. See my signature for BG levels now.
    Keep at it, it's well worth it!
     
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    #6 geefull, Jul 30, 2017 at 11:18 AM
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2017
  7. SockFiddler

    SockFiddler Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Mine was a bit brutal as I didn't consider the timing and was on new meds, in a heat wave, as a period started. I can't separate the symptoms I was experiencing into boxes of which caused what, but I do remember it was the most miserable week and at one stage I was literally weeping for a packet of cheese and onion crisps.

    My wonderful son, seeing the state I was in, took £1 from my purse and went up the shop, bought me some cheese and onion crisps and gave them to me with a hug.

    That was Friday 23rd June. That was my last packet of crisps. I haven't craved carbs since: I met my friends for a birthday celebration on 14th July and had no problems at all resisting the Pringles and cakes that were doing the rounds.

    What I would say to others preparing to start LCHF is this:

    - Be mindful of the timing!
    - Surround yourself with food you can eat instead - get a pile of your favourite veggies, cooked meat or salads and eat as much as you want.
    - Make sure at least one person you love and trust is on your side. Hug them often.
    - Keep a food diary, and start it before you start your LCHF eating
    - Get distracted! That book you've been meaning to buy, long walk you've been meaning to take, video game you've been wanting to play.
    - Give yourself a break: this is just the first step, and you'll make many mistakes - we all have.
    - Drink lots of water.
    - Set reasonable, attainable targets. Don't go right for the 30g / day, but reduce over time. Let yourself be successful.
    - Test, test, test your BG regularly, but remember to wait 2 hours after meals. Your meter will instantly reflect your progress.

    Finally, I'd say "Good luck - you can do it!" and send huge amounts of love. The keto-flu sucks but it ends relatively quickly and with its passing comes an incredible sense of relief and power - you CAN control yourself. It was never, actually, a question of willpower.
     
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  8. Brunneria

    Brunneria Other · Moderator
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    It was a while ago, but I do remember obsessing about toast, mashed potato and dumplings. Niggly ravenous carb cravings. Also feeling wobbly and floppy. Mild headaches, less energy... never had any flu symptoms at all.

    I have always found the best way to overcome carb cravings and all the symptoms mentioned above, is to eat well, regularly, and choose food I enjoy with a highish fat content. Over the years, I have narrowed that down to reaching for the cheese, the low carb hot chocolate with cream, or having a big low carb meal. They are my first reaction whenever I feel anything like it.

    Making sure you drink enough and have enough salt (a cup of meat broth or bovril will take care of both at the same time) can make a huge difference in a very short time.

    And reducing carbs over a week or so, rather than going 'cold turkey' may mean skipping all the carb flu symptoms completely.

    Something else worth noting is that the first time is the worst. Once the body has 'learned' to make the transition from high carb to low carb, it remembers. So even if you go back to carbs, and then start with low carbing all over again (we have ALL done this! lol), then the second and third and fourth times round get progressively less carb fluey and the transition is smoother.

    Nowadays I don't get any symptoms at all, except for a mild wistful preoccupation with white carbs that disappears when I have my next meal.

    You do hear horror stories, but they very often happen (like poor @SockFiddler says) when combined with other stuff - work stress, difficult food scheduling, hormones, weather, holidays, trying to go low calorie AND low fat AND low carb simultaneously...
     
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  9. SockFiddler

    SockFiddler Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Funnily enough, @Brunneria , while I'd describe my week as "miserable", I don't think I'd go as far as "horror story", which I know seems like a picky differential to make. I wasn't surprised by how awful it was, and I was aware of the process I was undertaking - and then of how poorly I'd managed to plan for it.

    But I also recognised that it was the start of a much longer process and that it wouldn't last long. And, of course, I was reading everything I could find about carb-cutting on this site and anonymously sucking up the community's support.

    I think it's easy to end up with a horror story if you don't really understand what you're in it for - it just becomes an exercise in self-punishment - but if you've done a bit of homework, you gain perspective and it becomes much less of a mountain to climb.

    Though, let's be honest, even if you do experience a horror story when you hit that stage, there are literally thousands of folks here all willing you on and ready with a quick word of encouragement and advice, something you, in particular, excel at. <3
     
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  10. ringi

    ringi Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Lots of people find that a little more salt help, so try a stock cube in a mug of hot water two times a day.
     
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  11. LittleGreyCat

    LittleGreyCat Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Just had a mmmmm...... moment.
    Can you point me to a recipe?
    Or is it just cocoa powder dissolved in cream?
    I can't handle more than one strong coffee per day so an alternative creamy drink would be nice.

    Back on topic, I don't remember any flu symptoms, just very strong cravings for bread and potatoes (particularly a chip butty).

    I still have a weakness for potatoes, having fallen off the wagon before Xmas into a vat of potatoes roast in duck fat. Drool!

    My cravings for sweets and chocolate bars have long gone, thankfully.

    It may take a little while, but any effects normally wear off as you adjust to the new normal.
     
  12. Brunneria

    Brunneria Other · Moderator
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    Here you go:
    What yoghurt

    :D
     
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  13. Bluetit1802

    Bluetit1802 Type 2 (in remission!) · Legend

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    They were also my downfall before diagnosis. I could not have coped giving either of these up forever. Using my meter and a lot of experimentation and recording I was delighted my body can cope with small amounts of potatoes and chips. It cannot cope with bread. However, once Lidl HP rolls came to my notice, that also solved that problem.
     
  14. SockFiddler

    SockFiddler Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Thank you so much for this @ringi - I've been fluffing about bone broth - lots of people swear by it, but I swore I'd never make stock again after doing it 5 days a week in a restaurant with 150 covers. Enough really was enough.

    I just tried an Oxo Cube (I'm guessing there are better things, but it's what I had) in some boiling water and it settled a number of aches and unpleasantness. Excellent advice - I'm very grateful.
     
  15. Bluetit1802

    Bluetit1802 Type 2 (in remission!) · Legend

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    I just went back to what I did before salt became an enemy. I sprinkle it on my food, especially sliced tomato. A tomato is not a tomato without a sprinkling of salt. I started doing this after learning on here about the need to have more salt on a low carb diet, and because I was having night cramps in my calves. The night cramps disappeared completely. My blood pressure has never been an issue (rarely over 120/70, usually less) I did read up about salt and blood pressure. It seems some of us are salt sensitive and some of us aren't. The salt sensitive folk may see a rise in BP if they take too much. Obviously I am not sensitive to it.
     
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  16. Kristin251

    Kristin251 LADA · Expert

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    I'm kind of reminded how it felt today as I had a higher fasting and needing more insulin to bring me down.

    I get a bit of a headache, nausea, and very tired.

    I've been vlc way before DX and can't really remember but I do remember how much better I felt and is why I stuck with it.

    You can buy organic boxed broth for salt or just put it in your water or whatever you drink. Put extra on your food.

    Low carb is dehydrating by nature so you need to keep your salt up. Sea salt is best with all those micronutrients.
     
  17. ringi

    ringi Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Marmite is another option, nice in hot water, or on meat (without the bread), it also gives you V12 as well as salt.
     
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  18. Troubled1

    Troubled1 Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    I just got into ketosis. I guess my way was a bit of a cheat. I fasted for 7 days. No keto flu symptoms, only a bad headache one day due to (in my opinion) lack of caffeine. I did have a salty broth and it helped, but my goal was to better my bg's and try reduce my coffee consumption.
     
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  19. mariavontrapp

    mariavontrapp Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    It's great to have all these replies. Together you have created a useful guide for anyone beginning LCHF and I hope it will help people doing a "search" for low-carb flu.
     
  20. Ultramum

    Ultramum Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Mug of Bovril when feeling 'wobbly' did the trick for me
     
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