“Feeling tired could be a key sign that you’re not including enough carbohydrates in your diet.
Burrell (a nutritionist) explained that this could be due to an alteration in your blood glucose levels. “Fluctuating blood glucose levels can result in headaches, and inability to concentrate and a general feeling of lethargy.” – The Independent (Newspaper)
The Independent Newspaper isn’t the most trustworthy source of health information like many mainstream media outlets, but it’s relevant to the points being made in this article.
In the quote taken from the above article, it’s said that “fatigue” is one of many signs you’re not getting enough carbohydrates. Or in other words – lowering your carbs.
Lowering your carbs from the usual amount the average person has WILL have that effect. But there’s a good reason for it which isn’t taken into account.
Especially by those who always associate the ketogenic diet with being tired and fatigued, etc, despite the studies, evidence, and growing evidence of how it all works.
Myths are convenient, after all.
Let’s talk about it.
Why lowering carbs makes you tired:
1. Your body is still ADAPTING
This is the most obvious one in the western world more than any other. The average person has around 100-300g of carbs per day, and this is the recommended amount as well.
Straight from the horse’s mouth (Mayo Clinic):
“The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that carbohydrates make up 45% to 65% of total daily calories.
So if you get 2,000 calories a day, between 900 and 1,300 calories should be from carbohydrates. That translates to between 225 and 325 grams of carbs a day.”
This is reflected in western culture in general.
Keeping that in mind, the average person eats:
- High-carb foods every day.
- They also consume it in the form of drinks.
- Not to mention certain vegetables, fruits, chocolate, etc.
So the moment you decide, for whatever reason, to lower your carb count, it’s gonna drain your energy and make you feel tired and lethargic, as pointed out in the quote earlier.
That’s because your body, like any other machine, needs time to adapt, change, improve, and warm to whatever new circumstances you’ve put it in.
This case being LESS of what it wants or is used to.
2. It’s still your main energy source
It’s simple. Your main energy source is carbohydrates since that’s what you’re stuffing your face with every day. And that’s what you’re shoving down your throat in the form of liquid.
If that’s your main energy source and you cut it in half or a quarter, like a slice, then you’ll lose a slice of that energy and you’ll feel it in your day-to-day life.
If you’re new to this or you did it because someone recommended it without thinking about it first, it’s not a good idea. Lowering carbs needs to be done with the right intentions.
I did it because I have autoimmune diseases, heart problems and what not. And it worked like a charm and gave me my life back in a lot of ways.
3. You’re derailing your progress
I remember when I tried doing the carnivore diet for a month, and by the 2nd week, I ended up eating Quinoa.
I justified my reasons as “it’s only Quinoa”. It’s supposed to be the best grain there is as far as carb count and whatnot, so it shouldn’t do any damage.
After eating that it wrecked me in more ways than one. Digestion issues, pain, and more importantly, it destroyed my progress in lowering my carbs.
That next day I bought sweets and spiralled out of control and that took another week or so to get back on track (I have a sweet tooth).
It’s not that I had a LOT of carbs by eating Quinoa, I didn’t. But it was bad enough to have some sort of knock-on effect and ruin my progress.
The same is true when you have “just” one:
- Brioche roll.
Or whatever else that may only be a small piece, but still too much if your goal is to lower your carbs and live a fat-adapted lifestyle for health reasons.
As well as anything that affects you personally.
In a way, it’s like hanging around people who smoke after giving up smoking for a year, only to fall back into the bad habit once again.
That’s all it takes sometimes to destroy your disciple or reignite bad habits (or behaviours that aren’t good for you).
Distractions are the devil’s playground.
4. Your carb count is still too high
I know this personally. I started lowering my carbs because of heart disease (heart block in particular). After getting sick of feeling like I was dying or could do, I went extreme with my diet.
I lowered my carbs and it made a difference, but I noticed for a good portion of that time before perfecting it that my energy was still low, if not lower.
Eating vegetables might be a good way to eat “low carb” but if you’re eating:
- Green peas.
- Broccoli (depending on the amount).
- Broad Beans.
And things of that nature, and you have more than 100g of it, your carb count is still too high. You’re still running off carbohydrates, and if that’s the case you’re only gonna have less energy.
The only thing you’ve really done in this case is lower the amount of the thing that’s giving you energy, hence the lethargy, tiredness, fatigue, and energy drops.
You have to either:
- Count your carbs better.
- Measure your carbs better.
- Cut out more carbs.
- Prevent excess.
Or else you’ll never be able to achieve “ketosis” and start becoming more fat-adapted so you can get your energy back and have even more than you did on a high-carb diet.
Among other things depending on your reasons for pursuing it.
How to solve the problem of tiredness with carbs:
5. Think about HOW you eat your food (and how much)
Food labels are bullshit. I’ll be the first to say it.
Sometimes they think they’re slick with the way they measure grams (per 100g, etc) in relation to sugar amounts, carbs, and nutrition labels.
Not to mention how much of those grams you’ll eat in a serving.
Take a 910G bag of Green Peas.
They say per 100g there’s only 11g of carbs, 5.9g of sugar.
But here’s a question: WHO eats only 100g of green peas or any vegetable in the slightest?
They say to eat 7 cups of vegetables or more than 4 as a general rule per day. If you do that you’ll easily eat a lot more than 100g of green peas or any veg from a supermarket.
I know I do and did, but didn’t realize it at first. I wondered why I struggled to become fat-adapted instead of still running off carbs which made me feel like sh*t.
The reason is you have to think about HOW you eat your food.
Nobody eats only 100g of vegetables when you actually lay it out and realize how much 100g is when measured.
It’s unrealistic and you’ll never lower your carbs enough to run off fat until you wake up from your sleep and realize what’s going on.
A more realistic example is something like Ghee, which is clarified butter. This label is USA based, but the point still stands as a general rule.
Butter is something you have either a:
Or 1-3 of each per day or every other day. One tablespoon is 13g.
Not only is this:
- More practical.
But it’s also more in tune with how you’d eat butter and how much of it, compared to many foods (carby foods mostly) which measure by a certain amount of grams knowing no one will stick to it.
Making the amount labelled unrealistic and disingenuous for those needing to be strict.
Getting back to the failure of becoming fat adapted…
If you’re doing this with:
- Brussel Sprouts.
- Butternut Squash.
And the long range of other veg or fruit, then it’s no wonder you’ve failed to either:
- Lose weight.
- Become keto-adapted.
- Lower your carbs enough.
Or do whatever it is you set out to do when lowering carbohydrates.
If you’re a vegetarian that’s another conversation. You’re getting plenty of carbs (and less of the bad ones) so it won’t affect your energy in the way it does if you just try to lower it with a goal in mind.
6. Eat the right fatty foods
The right fatty foods will have:
- Zero carbs.
- 1-3 carbs.
Or 5 + carbs at most per 100g like cream (the kind you put on a cake or in coffee, etc).
The one thing that’s interesting about pursuing the fatty life so to speak, is it’s a lot easier to measure your food intake as far as grams and so on.
I’m talking more about when you eat real foods rather than junk.
Take cheese for example. It’s normal to only eat a few slices. We know too much more than that (if you’re not an athlete and so on) will give you a stomach ache and what not.
Plus the cravings when compared to carb foods don’t exist for the most part. So once you’ve made it, it’s easier to maintain the lifestyle.
This is compounded by the fact genuine fatty foods have almost no carbs or none at all, making it too easy to keep it up since there’s no risk of being knocked out of a fat-burning state.
This part is more anecdotal, but this is true even for protein for myself.
Protein isn’t something that will knock you out of a fat-burning state necessarily, but I can eat a lot of it (with fat, of course) and it not be a problem.
Even if it’s in the form of a protein bar with some fat in it, like a Grenade bar, as opposed to naturally fatty foods that buffer the protein like cheese, certain meat, and so on.