Low Carbohydrate Diet - My Experience

> Low Carbohydrate Diet

I am experimenting with a low-carb diet, which includes meat, after having been a vegetarian for 15 years. I was diagnosed carbohydrate sensitive by nutritionists and I am hoping that this will increase my energy levels.

The diet I decided to follow - just as an experiment and not long-term - has also been called the primal diet, caveman diet, low-carb diet or paleo plan, i.e. paleolithic diet. I will use all these terms in this article. This diet in essence consists of a high-animal protein, high-fat diet, where carbohydrates other than vegetables are avoided. So beans and pulses, grains, and dairy products are off the menu. Fresh fruit is included in very limited quantity.

Why would I do this after being a vegetarian for some 15 years, and having long been experimenting with vegan/ raw food diets as well?

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I have been diagnosed protein-deficient by two different naturopaths (a year ago) and I feel like despite my many diet trials I am still lacking the energy levels that I should be having. It has also become gradually clearer to me that carbohydrate sensitivity - which is essentially a sugar and carb addiction - could be the main problem behind this.

So I took Dr. Mercola's free 'nutritional typing' test online, which suggested that I am a protein-type, and decided to follow his advice for two weeks to see if I noticed any difference.

Although there are many different types of low carbohydrate diets out there, the one I decided to follow for this experiment was very close to the 'caveman' diet, paleo-approach. I got a delivery from Ocado with various kinds of organic meat and even chicken liver, and began the challenge.

Before moving onto the diary, I would like to clarify that all the meat and organs I ate during this trial (apart from the fish) was organic, because it is healthier and also because I would not wish to support the cruel conditions non-organic mass-farmed animals face.

I expect this way of eating to be more expensive than what I am used to previously and will record the cost.

You can jump straight into the final chapter to read the conclusions of what worked and what didn't with this low-carb approach, or you can read the full diary below.

How this diet differs from the paleolithic diet approach - apart from being only organic - is that I don't eat bad quality oils, such as vegetable and sunflower oil, because these are usually rancid and not very healthful even if fresh and cold-pressed. And although Dr. Mercola, in his (Nutritional Typing' plan) recommends raw dairy, I will not be having dairy, apart from organic butter, since I have noticed that it doesn't suit me.

I will continue the low carbohydrate diet trial for two weeks and adjust my eating in the end according to my findings.

The idea of the paleo diet is based on going back to the hunter-gatherer diet and eating a lot of meat and things you can 'gather', i.e. vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc. However one must keep in mind that people were not universally hunter-gatherers or cavemen. The Europeans were but meanwhile in other parts of the world people lived in rainforests and quite likely their diet consisted of more fruit and less meat. So Dr. Mercola's approach allows for this, and he divides people in to protein types, carbohydrate types, and mixed types, according to their reactions to certain foods and their instinctive eating preferences. The idea being that if your ancestry were fruit-eating, then you will do well on good quality carbs, whereas if your ancestry were hunters, like mine probably were in Northern Finland, then you need more protein.

The main question that comes to my mind with all these kinds of debates about the human digestive system's evolution is: how long does it take to adapt to a new diet? According to evolution theory, as I understand it, it takes thousands of years, in which case the raw foodists are probably right and we have to eat like we did pre-industrial era.

On the other hand, the stem cell research indicates that individual genes can 'evolve' within one persons' lifetime, in response to the environment. Bruce Lipton has also explained this very clearly in his books. As it seems that our DNA can to some degree adapt to the environment, what does that mean in terms of the caveman hypothesis or the idea that we all need to eat raw food? To what degree can we adapt? I will leave this as an open question as I clearly don't have an answer to it. Perhaps some clarity as towards what my body has adapted to will come from the Caveman Diet experiment.

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First Week on the Low Carbohydrate Diet

Day 1

Sunday

  • Breakfast: prawns on a bed of cooked leeks. Green juice.
  • Lunch: Skipped (not intentionally).
  • Dinner: Organic beef burger with almond flour breading, on a bed of steamed broccoli and cooked spinach, one boiled egg and avocado.
  • Evening snack: Spirulina with lemon juice, water.

Felt energetic in the morning and all through the afternoon. Around 4pm-4.3pm, still hadn't had lunch, started getting the low-grade fever feeling again. Achy arms, legs, sad and irritable feeling, depressed. This is not due to sugar this time because I haven't had any either today or last night. My jaw also feels tense like wanting to bite my teeth together and my eyes feel tired, my head a bit dizzy. Also my back aches a bit but this is unrelated. When I went to the shop earlier, I had huge cravings for sugar in the form of chocolate or fruit juice (no sugar added). I resisted, however.

Could this feeling be sugar detox? I'm pretty sure a chocolate bar would quickly make me feel better. Maybe severe low blood sugar since I haven't eaten for ages? Hopefully I will feel better after eating. Snacking on almonds and cashews now.

5.55pm, just finished eating dinner. Got a cough from it, possibly a sign of indigestion. However, my mood starts to feel a bit better, let's see if the rest of the symptoms lift.

7.10pm feel a lot better, mood is better and achiness has gone. Have a very slight headache and tired eyes still, as well as achy jaw and slight throat ache. But don't feel as fatigued.

8.15pm: Going to bath and early to bed. Moods feel balanced but still feel tired. No more headache or throatache.

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Day 2 on Low-Carb

Monday

  • Breakfast: beef burger, avocado, nut milk shake with vanilla extract and cinnamon, ½ granny smith apple. Spirulina with lemon.
  • Morning snacks: nuts and herbal tea.
  • Lunch: Lettuce, sprouts, steamed broccoli, daikon radish, two eggs, olives, sardines mixed with mustard, olive oil and lemon.
  • Dinner: None. Wasn't hungry, was snacking some nuts in the afternoon and on the train home, drinking redbush tea. I only had lemon juice mixed with water at home before bed.

In the morning I didn't feel like eating the beef burger at all. Last night it tasted ok but for breakfast really not. I felt heavy after the breakfast too, however, had no cravings for any food before lunch (or all day for that matter) so can conclude that this food and the animal protein keeps hunger well. Mercola would say that that means that I am a protein type but I think it might be universal - it is just heavier food. We will see in the course of this experiment anyway... I am mostly interested in seeing whether I feel better eating this way or not. If there is no clear difference then I will conclude that the animal protein is not necessary for me.

I was very tired all day, at least partly because I only slept five hours the day before. Normally one night of five hours is not too bad though, so maybe the meat is making me more tired.

No symptoms of weakness or fever-like feeling. Not much coughing, but that's also because I have been gluten and dairy free (apart from butter) for quite a while now, probably some two months. I had a headache on the train back home from work which was probably just from tiredness and work stress. Went to bed at 9pm.

Evening pulse: 53 bpm, lying in bed. I think this is the lowest I ever measured so far.

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Day 3 on the Paleo Diet

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: A piece of salmon, soft boiled egg, ½ cup of baby spinach, radish pieces. Dessert: a teacupful of mixed fruit.
    Spirulina with lemon.
  • Snacks: AM and PM: cashew nuts, almonds, herbal tea.
  • Lunch: Lettuce salad with roast beef slices (170g), 1 chopped hard-boiled egg, chopped asparagus. Dressing: 1T nut cream, 1T chopped chives, 1T apple cider vinegar, 1t olive oil.
  • Dinner: Small portion of lentil soup.

Woke up at 6am, after some nine hours of sleep, though I didn't fall asleep straight away so probably more like eight. I feel well rested but still could do with more sleep.

Salmon for breakfast feels a bit heavy in the belly and I can still feel something in my throat, like the digestion is a bit harder than usual - I think it's the fish fat that gives me this feeling.

7pm, at work, pulse 65 bpm.

Did a 11.5-hour workday without lunch break and didn't feel too bad at all. Now on the train back home and it's 9.20pm but I feel quite good. Probably won't get enough sleep tonight though, so I wonder how I will feel tomorrow.

I think I have finally figured out what the feeling of weakness I get is. I'm almost certain that it's hypoglycaemia, as the symptoms match exactly. And it is related to what I eat but I also seem to get if I let myself go without food for too long. So next time it happens I will measure my blood sugar, as so far been only measuring blood sugar with a home meter an hour or so after eating. According to what I read today, the symptoms typically come 3-4 hours after eating and some people say they get the symptoms even without a drop in blood sugar showing on the meter. In any case if it is hypoglycaemia/ low blood sugar, this diet should help to keep the blood sugar levels stable.

8am, on the train, pulse: 67 bpm.

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Day 4 on the Low Carbohydrate Diet

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: Two soft-boiled eggs on a bed of spinach, chopped avocado, one artichoke heart from a can, two slices of apple. Spirulina with lemon, D3 vitamin drops, 1/2 teasp kelp.
  • Snacks: I just had herbal tea in the morning, I had no need for nuts today as I wasn't hungry.
  • Lunch: One chicken leg, baked at 110 degrees Celsius, topped with olive oil, boiled asparagus, 2 artichoke hearts topped with olive oil and almond flour/ pieces, coconut meat.
  • Beef burger, 1T chopped parsley, lettuce salad, grated veg, 3 stalks chopped asparagus, 4-5 green olives, dressing of choice. If still hungry have a nut-milk shake or ½ sweet potato with skin + 1T raw butter. Spirulina/ green juice with lemon.

Feeling tired this morning, will sleep on the train. Slept from 11pm-6am, seven hours.

I felt very good today at work, much more emotionally balanced and composed. There was some small stress but I didn't react at all. No anxiety symptoms. Energy levels normal, yawning from lack of sleep but didn't feel too bad.

Slept 11pm-6am, 7 hours, which is not enough for me but my workmate said that it is possible to train yourself to get by with less sleep if you always keep the same sleep times and gradually change the time, e.g. from 8 hours to 7.30 hours and later to 7 hours. Right now I still feel that I need about 9 hours per night, which I'm generally not getting. I think you have to first establish a steady sleeping rhythm before you can start reducing the hours.

Pulse (sitting on the train) 68 bpm.

I'm just looking around the net to see if there is a connection between low-fat diet and anxiety in some people. There is definitely a connection between Omega 3 deficiency and depression, but I also found this:

"...your body uses fats to create serotonin, dopamine and other feel-good chemicals. [...] ... you're suffering a deficiency if you're not getting enough. [...] I shoot for 20-35% of calories from fat."
(from fatsecret.com forum)

And on undergroundwellness.com there is an interesting article titled: "Is your low fat diet making you depressed & anxious?", which states that you not only need fat, but especially omega 3s, as well as zinc and d vitamin to have good moods. He references Vilhjalmur Stefansson's study of the Eskimos, who ate a diet of 80% fat but were happy and healthy.

This doesn't necessarily seem to work for everyone, though. Perhaps it goes back to the nutritional typing idea of Dr. Mercola's where some people need a high-protein high-fat diet and others do well with lots of carbohydrates. But according to Mercola everyone needs Omega 3s, specifically, and ideally from krill oil.

On the other hand, I also wanted to see if there are any references to a vegetarian diet being linked to anxiety, since it may be that it is the animal-based food that is making me feel better (of course I can't make this conclusion until two weeks are over but am curious since I feel very well today.)

From a quick search I found some anecdotal evidence about vegetarianism being linked to mental disorders. Suggested deficiencies typical on a vegetarian/ vegan diet included: creatine, vit D, B12, omega 3s and zinc. Whether it is better to get these in wholefood format than as a supplement is also a good question.

In the end, I suspect my biggest problem was the sugar and carbohydrate intolerance, which is overcome on this diet. It does make sense how the increased fat I eat now could make a big difference too. I have ordered Krill Oil (Dr. Mercola's brand) so will ensure enough Omega 3s and apart from that I will continue to monitor how I feel. Then again I have also taken more spirulina this week than usual, which may play a part.

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Day 5, Low-Carb Diet

Thursday

  • Breakfast: Two soft boiled eggs, grated courgette, five olives, goji berries, a small bowl of fruit on the side, a drink of pink grapefruit mixed with a heaped tbsp of spirulina and water.
  • Morning snacks: Three ferrero rocher chocolates (deviation from the diet).
  • Lunch: Tuna salad with cucumber, olive oil, red pepper, cherry tomato, avocado and a boiled egg.
  • Dinner: Two small organic beef burgers made with celery, onion, etc. on a bed of peas and green Cooked mushrooms. Butter, a little blue cheese (St. Agur, deviation from the diet), lettuce and sprouts.

Woke up feeling tired again, even after 7.5 hours' sleep. Pulse in the morning while lying in bed 57bpm. I felt very mucus-ey last night (my throat), and this morning my nose is blocked. My cough after eating has got better during the gluten- and almost-dairy-free diet but I think I will now have to give up butter too. I have given up gluten, sugar, carbohydrates (apart from vegetables), and all dairy but butter but I still get mucusey and some (though less) cough after eating.

I have also been alcohol free close to three weeks now so that would also lessen mucus and allow me to have more balanced moods.

My weight has so far stayed the same since starting this protein experiment (although it dropped some three kilos on the gluten-free diet). I now weigh: 9 stones (57kg).

Trudy Scott writes on her website: Antianxietyfoodsolutions.com in an article titled: "Why I am no longer a fan of vegetarian and vegan diets for those with mood issues":

  • Deficiencies of vitamin B6 and the mineral zinc are frequently associated with social anxiety.
  • Vegetarian diets tend to be especially high in copper and low in zinc. Too much copper is often a problem with anxiety.
  • She lists gluten, pesticides, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, food intolerances, optimized digestion and balancing brain chemistry as topics associated with anxiety as well.
  • She recommends people with anxiety have protein rich diets, first introducing beans, nuts, sprouts, fermented soya, and rice protein etc. into the diet, and if this seems not enough, including fish, dairy and eggs. Some of the people she's seen also have to move onto chicken and red meat after that before their anxiety is resolved.

After eating the lunch, I felt some chest pain and a more forceful heartbeat/ pounding. A classic food intolerance symptom of mine. I also got an irritable and anxious feeling out of the blue. So I took my pulse and it was 76 bpm (at 3.30pm). That is quite high for me these days so I suspect that I am intolerant to something in that food - probably tuna. Will test this again. It is possible that it was a delayed reaction to the chocolates I ate, too, but usually the pulse raises soon after eating the offending item.

My supplement bottle came in the post today so I took two krill oil capsules (Dr Mercola Brand), this gives you: 1000mg krill oil, of which phospholipids = 400mg, DHA = 55mg, EPA = 100mg, astaxanthin (antioxidant preservative) = 1mg, omega 6 = 20mg.

10.30pm pulse in bed: 62bpm.

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Day 6, Low Carbohydrate Diet

Friday

high protein meal, low carb
Organic beef burger with fresh and cooked vegetables - high protein, low carb, high micronutrient meal.
  • Breakfast: A smoothie: half a can of coconut milk, some nuts and water, goji berries, turmeric. Celery stalks and hazelnut butter (100% nuts), 1/2 granny smith apple, small amount of mixed berries melted from frozen, 2 krill oil capsules.
  • Snacks: Took a small bottle of spirulina water with me to work because I was too full to drink it in the morning. Fresh lemon tea with chaga mushroom and reishi mushrooms.
  • Lunch: An organic beef burger made with grated vegetables and onion, two artichoke hearts from a can, black olives, coconut pieces, lots of sprouts, cucumber, slice of pineapple from a can, cauliflower and potato slow cooked in curry spice mix with tomatoes, etc.
  • Snacks: Mixed nuts and goji berries, three ferrero rocher chocolates.
  • Dinner: One sweet potato and some pollock (fish) from frozen.

Morning pulse when lying in bed: 53bpm - very good! Slept seven hours, got woken up by someone's burglar alarm that refused to turn off at 5.30am. A little tired. Generally felt good when waking up but then got some bad belly symptoms, slight feeling of uncomfort and pain, a little loose stools. This was before eating breakfast and quickly passed.

Sitting in the train, just got on at Dartford, 74bpm. Is there something in the train that I am sensitive to? Or in the breakfast?

At 11am at work my pulse was 70bpm.

In the afternoon I started getting a throatache. Now I'm at home, 8.20pm, and starting to feel quite ill, the throatache getting worse. I don't know what to think since I don't normally get ill! I did some blood electrification some years back and since then I don't really get ill, and if I get small cold symptoms they go in a couple of hours from using the Sota Instruments' silver pulser.

Hopefully it will work this time too, drinking lots of water to flush out the bacteria and other bugs that get killed by the low-voltage electrical current.

Is this a detox symptom or a result of walking in the rain with wet feet and on a couple of occasions waking up at night being too cold?

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Day 7, First Week on the Low Carbohydrate Diet Complete

Saturday

  • Breakfast: Tuna salad with romaine lettuce, cucumber, mixed sprouts, olive oil, mustard, apple cider vinegar. Coconut milk and nut milk smoothie. Half a granny smith apple sliced on the side for dessert.
  • Lunch: Ate out at a restaurant, veered off the diet a little bit: Fish, white potatoes (not meant to be eating), beans and broccoli, sparkling water; dessert: pannacotta (not meant to be having - cream) and couple taster spoons of cheese cake with chocolate.
  • AM & PM: was drinking chaga, reishi, redbush and dandelion tea mixtures.
  • Dinner: Omelette with mushrooms and other veg mixed in. Juiced ginger and lemon drink - very strong!
tuna salad, low carb lunch
Tuna salad fits the caveman diet, here served with coconut milk and almond smoothie to increase the amount of fat consumed.. I found out I had an intolerance to tuna.

I felt very ill last night but feel a bit better this morning. I woke up at 6.40am naturally, and I wasn't sleepy anymore! That is completely unusual to me on the weekends, so maybe this diet is giving me more energy.

So I lazied in bed a bit and it is 7.20am now, I'm running a hot bath. My throat is still aching and swollen but less than yesterday, and I am going to do another 2h of blood electrification after the bath. Pulse: 61 bpm.

8am, feel a lot better now after a hot bath, gargling with salt water and tea tree oil, and after blowing my nose properly. Feels like phlegm is coming loose again deep in the nasal/ ear cavities.

The throatache is still there but less bad. Pulse now 67bpm. Measured soon after the bath (but when having sat down for 5 minutes) my pulse was 74 bpm. Then within a few minutes it dropped first to 70, then to 67 (and to 65 at 8.30am). It seems that the hot water raises my pulse for a while after the bath, or alternatively I may be allergic to the shampoo I just used (or the tea tree oil and baking soda I used on my teeth). But it seems logical that it would be the hot water causing it.

I think my current diet it veering quite close to a paleo diet, this page seems to have some great recipes: Paleoplan.com.

The idea of a paleo diet is to eat food that humans ate before the invention of agriculture - a hunter-gatherer diet - i.e. animal meat and organs, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds and healthful oils.

What is not on the menu are: dairy products, legumes, cereal grains, refined sugars, and processed foods. In addition, the paleo diet recommends 19-35% of the calories to be from protein, non-starchy fresh fruits and vegetables for carbohydrate, at 35-45% of the calories, moderate to high fat intake with plenty of omega 3s, eating alkaline, and high intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals.

Oh, by the way, I have lost two kg and weight under 9 stone now, about 55kg.

Going to have breakfast now and test tuna to see if it raises my pulse.

Conclusion: I have a food intolerance to canned tuna, at least the John West make. There is a slight chance that one of the other items raised my pulse but I am 95% sure that the rest of the things I ate were safe, and I have been suspecting tuna for a while. So at 8.30am my pulse was 65 bpm. At 9.30am, just after eating the tuna salad, it was 71bpm. At 9.40pm it dropped to 69bpm but by 10.15am it had raised to 81bpm! This is a significant raise in pulse and indicates food intolerance. By 10.30pm the pulse started dropping again and was 74bpm. I again, felt some heavy heartbeat and tenseness/ irritability, which I have come to recognise as the immediate symptoms of eating something I am intolerant to. The longer term symptoms are anyone's guess but I know for sure I don't want to have them. Food intolerances cause havoc in your system. I also got very tired right after eating the salad and was napping on my living room sofa.

I also blood electrification while napping to try to cure the rest of the throatache but the battery had almost ran out so I doubt it had any effect.

A friend came to visit and we talked all day, by the night my throat was hurting as bad as yesterday again and I was feeling weak and fevery. Swallowing hurt a lot.

Got a new battery for the 'pulser' and did another 1.5h of blood electrification before going to sleep, while drinking plenty of water. Went to bed at 10.30pm.

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Second Week on the Low Carbohydrate Diet

Day 8

19th January 2014, Sunday

  • Breakfast: Juice of one lemon in water.
  • Lunch: Almond pancakes (made with almond flour, eggs, water, stevia, carob powder, salt) with strawberry on top and butter. I had one of the pancakes with a little bit of organic honey.
  • PM Drinks: herbal tea mixture, small green juice, pink grapefruit mixed with 1 heaped tbsp of spirulina and water. Two krill oil capsules for omega 3s.
  • Dinner: No dinner, not hungry.

Woke up at 8.30am, sore throat was less but still there, but feeling better generally. Pulse at 9.40am 59bpm, hooked up to the blood electrification device again, going to do 2h while drinking a lot of water. Hopefully this will clear out the rest of my cold.

Although I generally feel more 'grounded' and my mind more stable and strong on this diet - and it also seems I may need less sleep (!) - on the downside my skin has gotten worse. The skin of my face feels less smooth and clear, and I have some spots from all the fat I have been eating. It may just be one type of fat that is unsuitable, e.g. the pasteurized butter of which I have been eating a lot, or the large quantities of nuts I have been snacking on (which are not raw or organic). If I was sticking to purely good quality fats, I might not have these problems. Also the coconut milk I have been eating has been from a can and olives also were not fresh or raw. On the other hand I have minimised vegetable and sunflower oil - the only places those may have been added were the restaurant meal and the canned sardines. The tuna was canned in spring water and the olives in salt water (brine).

11.30pm: 2h of 'electricity' done, my throatache is pretty much gone although the throat still feels swollen. still feel weak and achy but much better than this morning. Drinking plenty of water. Pulse: 65 bpm. Making almond pancakes for breakfast now.

low carbohydrate dessert, low carb pancake
Low carbohydrate pancake!

5pm: I feel almost back to normal, no more cold, doing another 1.5h of electricity to make sure. 5.30pm: 70 bpm pulse.

Went to sleep at 10pm.

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Day 9 of the Paleo/ Caveman Trial

20th January 2014, Monday

  • Breakfast: Green smoothie made with spinach, hazelnut butter, an apple, pumpkin seeds, water. Two krill oil capsules, selenium (includes B vitamins).
  • AM drink: Redbush tea
  • Lunch: Lentil Soup.
  • Snacks: Almonds.
  • Dinner: Cooked chicken liver with broccoli and sweet potato.

Woke up at 5.45am, throat still hurting a little bit but not much. Running to the train in the cold weather made it hurt a bit more. Feeling tired, the sleep wasn't enough for me.

The back ache I have been having and I thought was due to the memory foam mattress has almost completely gone away now, despite sleeping on the mattress for the last three nights. I think either my back got used to it or the pain was caused by something else.

Didn't really stay satisfied with today's food, was feeling like snacking. There were so many chocolate cakes on offer at work but I avoided them all!

Pulse 6.55pm, sitting on the train (different train than usual): 65bpm.

Got home a little earlier today, at 7.10pm because I started a flexible work arrangement at the office. I'm having a shorter lunch and leaving earlier.

I didn't like the taste of liver at all! I don't think I can be eating organs meats for now. I ate the portion, however.

Went to bed at 9.30pm. Pulse at 9.45pm: 61bpm in bed.

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Day 10 of the Caveman Diet

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: Salsa salad. I was rushing so didn't have time to eat anything else. I boiled eggs but they tasted wrong so I threw them.
  • AM drink: Redbush tea, almonds.
  • Lunch: Chicken Soup, hot chilli salsa.
  • Snacks: Almonds, redbush tea.
  • Dinner: Salmon fishcakes with mango salsa, krill oil capsules.

Alarm clock rang at 5.30am, I snoozed it and got up at 6am.

I woke up with the throatache having come back and feeling very blocked up. My nose was completely blocked and my face was very puffy and eyes a bit yellowy/reddish. I also had some belly problems (gas, a little nausea and belly ache) and loose stools.

I also had a nightmare last night, which I don't usually get, and it may be related to the foods I've been eating. Some people say they get nightmares if they eat cheese late at night. So perhaps this is a symptom of indigestion - or it could just be a coincidence.

The skin of my face is not clear like it used to be on the raw food and other diets, it is bumpy.

I had the chilli salsa for breakfast and it was so hot my mouth was burning badly. I put too much green chilli in, which I though was milder. I had to hold cold water in my mouth for a long time to ease the burning. But it did clear my sinuses very effectively, so I'm happy about that.

low carbohydrate breakfast, low carb
Hot chilli salsa and boiled eggs - a low carb breakfast.

I didn't have enough breakfast this morning and no fat at all. This is not very good for the diet plan. I will eat nuts again before lunch.

So low-sugar diet is meant to be a "mucusless" diet. Is this cold I'm experiencing a detox symptom of sugar and carbs? The bumpy skin and spots are almost certainly to do with eating more fat, because I always get spots from that.

Today I don't feel convinced at all about the caveman/ paleo diet. I think it is probably a very healthy version of being a meat eater, but I'm not convinced that it's necessary - for me at least - to be a meat eater. I'm especially worried about constipation.

I keep thinking whether there is a way to eat low-sugar, low-carb and almost vegan? The only way must be to have fairly high amount of very good quality fats and a very high amount of micronutrients. And if this was 100% raw and vegan, I wonder if one would still lose too much weight. Probably, since good fats don't seem to cause weight gain. So maybe next I will do a 50% raw diet with plenty of fat sources again, going back to what some of my early raw diets were like. I might try raw cheese once again to see how I react. Perhaps if I buy it straight from a farm (you can order online these days) it will be less processed than the ones in the shops.

This diet is definitely a success in one aspect: I haven't got those achy fevery weak feelings at all - that must have been related to eating processed carbs and/ or not eating often enough. Basically, it must have been a symptom of low blood sugar. So whatever diet I do from now on, I should keep in mind to keep it low sugar low carb and ensure feeding my body plenty of nutrients regularly through the day.

I'm not convinced anymore that low sugar low carb diet has to be high protein. Perhaps David Wolfe is correct that we don't need that much protein as long as we get the amino acids. Perhaps all this time eating protein made me feel good was because it helped to balance out the sugar and carbs I was eating. If I don't eat sugar and carbs perhaps the protein is not needed either.

Pulse 68bpm at 8.40am on the train.

6.45pm on the train. Been feeling good today. Chicken soup kept hunger well. Pulse: 70bpm. Been busy at work so don't even think about food.

Weight 56kg.

Low Carbohydrate Diet, Salmon Fishcakes
Salmon fishcakes, a tasty low carbohydrate meal.

In the evening had mango salsa with salmon fishcakes which tasted good, however, the mango may have been too sugary for me, as when going to bed I got heavy heartbeat (pouncing heart) again. My pulse didn't go up, so I wasn't allergic to anything, just the heartbeat stronger and this stopped me from sleeping for a while. Perhaps I should have eaten the fishcake first instead of eating it with the mango, as Dr. Mercola thinks eating the protein first will help to keep blood sugar balanced. After a while I ate a few nuts and I think this might have helped with the blood sugar, and although it didn't help immediately, I soon fell asleep, maybe around 10.30pm (I first went to bed at 9.30pm).

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First Day After the Diet
Low-Carb Diet Conclusions
Later Update

Day 11 Low-Carb Diet

22nd January 2014, Wednesday

  • Breakfast: Juice of one lemon in water, Tex Mex Scramble (organic eggs, organic chicken breast, red pepper, fresh coriander (cilantro), olive oil, red onion, green chilli, chipotle seasoning, salt, pepper.
  • Lunch: Smoothie with 1/2 can of coconut milk (UHT, annoyingly), pumpkin seeds, hazelnut butter, water, frozen berries, vanilla extract (sugar-free), cinnamon.
  • AM & PM snacks: Redbush tea, cashew nuts and almonds.
  • Dinner: Lamb Soup

Slept very well and woke up naturally around 4am (?), then slept some more though not very sleepy and got out of bed at 6am. Now sitting on the train, feel tired because the train is too hot, though I'm sure I've slept enough. I feel very phlegmy again and the symptoms of the cold from last weekend still don't feel like they are gone. I also haven't had any bowel movement since yesterday morning, so I must be constipated. New spots appearing on my face as well.

I redid Dr. Mercola's test with my knowledge of how I react to different types of meat dishes now, and it came back as 'Mixed Type' now. Mixed types are allowed to have fruit, pulses, and some grains but these have to be had at the end of the meal and with some fat. The recommendations regarding protein and fat on every meal are pretty much the same as for protein types, just with different food combinations. He also adds maybe a little more vegetables for each meal for mixed types. The recommendation for mixed types is 1/4 quarter of the meals to be fat-based, and the rest half-and-half vegetables and protein.

Why does Mercola think animal protein is important? I have to read about this. I can't help but think that the recommendation for animal protein is a preference by meat eating nutritionists and doctors because they are used to eating it, and therefore feel good from it. But it is easy to train the body to not crave for and not have a taste for animal meat - and if there are huge cravings for meat and blood like some people I spoke to have, then it could simply be a case of a deficiency of iron or something else. This could be due to digestive problems, inner organ weaknesses, or simply due to eating low-nutrient foods (e.g. commercially farmed meat could be too low in nutrients or it could hinder digestion due to constipation).

Day 11 on the Low Carbohydrate Diet and four days to go including this one. I have had quite bad cravings for sugar, last night and even now am feeling like I really need to drink fruit juice. This could be a sugar craving or a micro-nutrient craving. After this diet I think it will be very important for me to test what types of fruit I can and cannot handle, since I can recognise the symptoms of low blood sugar now.

9.20pm: On the train. Had to stay late at work today. This morning and day I had huge cravings for fruit. Eating nuts and drinking water and tea didn't satisfy the craving. I felt that the breakfast didn't fill my belly properly, I was hungry. Ate plenty of nuts today. Lunch kept hunger quite well, I wasn't too hungry in the afternoon. I didn't notice any low blood sugar symptoms in the afternoon though the smoothie had lots of berries in it. I got coconut flavour burbs late into the afternoon though so the UHT (ultra heat treated) coconut milk was definitely not digesting very well.

Around midday before lunch I started getting a headache and not feeling too good in general. The office was stuffy. Went for quick walk around two blocks which helped, together with the smoothie. Pulse now 69bpm, sitting on the train. Now the headache has come back and I'm feeling very tired.

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First Day After the Diet
Low-Carb Diet Conclusions
Later Update

Day 12 Paleolithic Diet

23rd January 2014, Thursday

  • Breakfast: Tex Mex Scramble, as yesterday, with added herbs and spices.
  • AM drink: Mixture of herbal tea: fresh lemon juice, st. john's wort, redbush, chaga, reishi, etc.
  • Lunch: Smoothie: UHT coconut milk, water, mixed berries from frozen (sweet and sour berries), kale, vanilla extract, cinnamon, liquorice powder, fo-ti powder, 1 teasp kelp powder, lemon juice, pumpkin seeds, hazelnut butter.
  • PM drink: herbal tea, evening snack: nuts
  • Dinner: Spicy pollock and sweet potato, steamed vegetables.
caveman diet, chicken scramble, breakfast
Caveman diet breakfast: organic chicken and scrambled eggs with fresh vegetables.

Woke up at 6am. Got a good night's sleep and don't feel tired today. I have improved my sleeping conditions at home and it seems to be making a difference - I get a more restful sleep.

My weight was 55kg this morning, so I have reached my ideal weight. On juice fasts and raw food diets I have gone down to 52kg before but that is too thin, I think. I was feeling very dehydrated, however, when I weighed myself so perhaps it was partly due to water loss. So I woke up dehydrated. Don't know what caused this, maybe tiredness last night.

I feel very blocked up this morning. My nose is very stuffy and the throatache has come back slightly (it seems to be a morning thing these days). I have followed the advice of the Chinese doctor and not eaten much dairy, stayed sugar-free, eaten warm foods, and kept warm in general. I have also been gluten and mostly starch free, and low carbohydrate.

The only reason I can think that I am more mucusey now - apart from the possibility of detox healing crisis - is acidity. Animal products and most protein foods are acidic and Arnold Ehret's well-known 'Mucusless Diet Healing System' asserts that acidic foods are mucus forming. He was also of the opinion that the ideal sources for the human body were oxygen and fruit carbohydrates (sugar). [Later today I was listening to Dr Brian Clement of Hippocrates Health institute on YouTube explaining how too much sugar is bad for you, especially if you have certain conditions and deficiencies. So not sure that the fruit carbohydrates are that good in the end.]

But I have followed different fruitarians on the internet and am of the opinion that it is an approach that doesn't work long-term to sustain health. I can't say this is definitely true but that is the impression I get.

I feel grounded and balanced eating animal protein and fats but on the other hand constipated and mucuousy. By comparison, on juice fasts I have felt good - energetic and with inspired thoughts - but some fruit seems to give me blood sugar problems. From the very little experience I have on both these diets I would possibly say that animal foods and fats are good for a mental feeling of balance and strength, whereas juice fasts are good for 'spiritual' inspiration. Not necessarily spiritual though, but just the general feeling of inspiration and happiness. But there could easily be bigger forces at work there.

Another possible development from the above considerations... Could the 'heavy' foods be 'blocking' some kind of process of mental rebalancing? Would fasting and cleansing ultimately result in a feeling of well-being and balance?

Or does one final truth even exist? Perhaps both ways of eating have their pros and cons and there is not 'perfect' diet for the human at all!

Another thing I wanted to write about was the power of suggestion, subliminals, and subconscious and conscious affirmations. These do seem to influence life - especially the focus, motivation, and how one feels and experiences things in a daily life. You feel more in control. I would say my life has already profoundly changed from doing the above things, however, the main challenge is to keep them going and not forget. But now I am out of time, sitting in an empty train at the last stop, typing away when everyone else has already left! I'd better get out and go to work ;)

11.30am: Feeling quite easily stressed today. Pouncy heart and shaky hands from slight irritation/ scare. Is this because of berries yesterday for lunch (without much protein) or is it because of pure tiredness from yesterday. Now that I'm back in the office I feel tired again - I keep sighing - and sore, tense neck as well.

7.20pm on the train home. Just ate a handful of nuts and my throat went funny - it felt coarse, I got a cough and now the throat just feels off, swollen. Pulse 68bpm. I also feel very phlegmmy like I have felt all day. I also keep biting my teeth together - it feels like lack of fresh air, exercise and movement is causing this. Too much time in the office. Slight headache too.

I'm thinking of what diet to start next. Low-sugar, low-carb for sure. I may give up butter and nuts for now to see if the congestion clears. I am meeting with the Chinese Doctor on Saturday and will want to hear what she thinks about high fat, high animal-protein. And what she also thinks about the mucous and the throatache/ cold.

I will need to be careful to get the proteins and fats on my next diet. Don't know what to replace carbs with. Not much fruit, no grains, no starch... not sure if I should have beans or not. What I will have is spirulina every day, greens, and vegetables. Nuts and seeds. I should try and find a good form of coconut milk and I will need to get some coconut oil too to replace the butter with. Avocados, small amount of fruit as dessert, etc. I guess I will just make veggie dishes as usual but leave out the potato, rice and pasta.

The smoothie kept hunger well by the way, didn't need to snack in the afternoon at all.

I have definitely felt better on this diet but funnily, I have felt worse than usual too. So I'm guessing that leaving out the carbs and sugar was a good choice, whereas maybe introducing animal meats wasn't. That's why my next diet should test if I feel good on high protein, high-fat vegan diet. But it's a bit tricky to know what to eat.

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First Day After the Diet
Low-Carb Diet Conclusions
Later Update

Day 13, Low Carbohydrate Diet

24th January 2014, Friday

  • Breakfast: 1 heaped tbsp spirulina, one lemon, a little water - mixed into a drink.
  • AM snack: redbush tea, cashew nuts
  • Lunch: Fish and spinach, white wine sauce and capers, eaten in a restaurant with sparkling water and lemon&ginger tea.
  • Cake
  • Dinner: None. 1.5 ciders.

I could only sleep at about 1am last night because of stress and a little bit of a pounding heart. 10.15pm yesterday I was already feeling stressed and my heart was pounding. I measured my pulse and it was 65bpm only. This is an anxiety symptom, I think. Woke up at 5.30am, snoozed the alarm until 6am.

Feel very tired and worn out now sitting on the train. Pulse 64bpm.

11.05pm: On the train back home from work. This has been a very long day working towards a deadline. Had lunch with workmates in a restaurant, because it was someone's leaving do, and some cake in the afternoon. I thought I would try cake to see how I reacted, especially after having been so long without gluten. I have been coughing ever since. But I got no low blood sugar symptoms which is very strange. Maybe the adrenaline of the deadline is keeping my body going and I will feel the crash tomorrow. I have an appointment with the Chinese Doctor tomorrow because I need to relax properly and because I have many questions for her regarding my new findings. I will also drink a cider when I get home because I feel I deserve it after not having drunken anything since before new year's eve. And whenever I am tried I feel like drinking alcohol. I can also test how it makes me feel.

I also had 1.5 cups of decaffeinated green tea this morning, because I was feeling so tired and I work slowly when I am tired. And there was a lot of work to be done so I wanted to 'lift' the tiredness. Decaf green tea has a little tiny bit of caffeine in it, enough to affect me since I haven't had any caffeine for so long (many months). I got a bit dehydrated afterwards, as expected.

Now, at 11.10pm I feel very dehydrated and tired, pulse is 71bpm. For the last many hours I have only drank water and eaten a few cashew nuts. Shame I didn't measure my pulse after eating cake but I didn't get the bouncy heart symptoms. That doesn't mean there is no food intolerance, however. I have a throatache still, still continuing from last weekend, and my throat is itchy and I keep coughing.

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First Day After the Diet
Low-Carb Diet Conclusions
Later Update

Day 14, Caveman Diet: Last Day

25th January 2014, Saturday

Today I stopped eating according to the diet plan.

  • Breakfast: Two strawberries
  • Lunch: Fresh brown bread with organic mature cheddar cheese. Green juice of spinach, kale, cucumber, ginger, lemon, broccoli. Spirulina with lemon.
  • Dinner: Thai red curry with prawns and egg-fried rice, prawn crackers, water.
  • Evening snacks and drinks: chocolate bar, two small glasses of white wine, plenty of sparkling water, one can apple cider.

Woke up at 9am naturally. Pulse in bed 72bpm which is very high for a morning pulse. But I hadn't eaten anything through the night or before taking the pulse. I guess the cider and the cakes last night were allergenic (and possibly the restaurant food) and it raises the pulse overall, but more when just eaten.

I feel like my cold is back. Sore throat, fevery feeling, whole head blocked up, slight headache. This is the eighth day with this cold. And it doesn't feel the same as my usual blood-sugar-low fatigue.

10.40am: Took a bath, feeling a bit better now but definitely still ill.

I had an 11am appointment with the Chinese Doctor for acupuncture and consultancy, which was very helpful in interpreting this diet and my body's current condition. You can read a more detailed report here: Traditional Chinese Medicine - My Experience.

In summary, Dr. Tan thought that the low-sugar and the added protein had been an advantage to me, but I had gone too far and too suddenly. My body wasn't digesting the protein very well, since I hadn't been eating meat for so long, and the high-fat caused me to be constipated. She thought the cold I was experiencing was most likely just that - a cold, however, some of the congestion and throat ache might have been due to sugar detox. She adviced me to continue a low carbohydrate, sugar free diet, with a little bit of red meat here and there. She thought eating liver would especially advantageous for me, since I had some weakness in the liver and kidneys.

She suggested I cut back on the amount of meat for now and ate lower fat. I could then increase the amount of meat slowly if I felt I needed to, and said that once my body got stronger and into a balance, I would be able to get all the protein I needed from non-animal sources, if I wished. She adviced against protein powder products, however, in preference of whole foods. She said the reason that the monks living on the mountains of China were able to be healthy on vegetarian diets, was because they did so much exercise. She had much more to say generally about my health as well, and the anxiety, all of which is recorded in the diary whose link is above.

After the acupuncture I came home and broke the diet by eating fresh brown bread bought from a supermarket, with some organic cheddar cheese. I soon got very tired, possibly because of what I ate, and went to take a nap around 2pm. I fell into a very deep sleep and woke up at 5pm, still feeling tired. I often get this experience after acupuncture, where I fall into a deep sleep during the day. I think it is a good sign, that some rebalancing of the body is taking place.

I made a green juice and a spirulina-lemon drink after waking up.

low carb diet, green juice
Ingredients of the green juice, enough for two glasses, one each for me and my boyfriend.

Later I went out to have Thai food (red Thai curry with egg fried rice) at a restaurant with my boyfriend, and two small glasses of white wine mixed with sparkling water at a pub. At home I had one cider and some more sparkling water.

I didn't feel too bad from eating any of this food, and even the next day I still felt good, though the cold was back in the morning again.

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Low-Carb Diet Conclusions
Later Update

First Day After the Low Carb Diet

Sunday

I have decided to - after this little break - to continue a low carbohydrate diet but with less meat, lower fat and including pulses and beans. I will try to have green juice every day, and lots of greens in general, and limit the fruit until my body recovers fully from past excess carbohydrate consumption, at which point I will be able to include more fruit.

I still don't have much of a cough, even though I ate some more cheese today, and even chocolate. I did start getting some low blood sugar symptoms again, however, which makes perfect sense since I had alcohol and there was also probably sugar in the Thai food, as well as the white rice and bread yesterday. I also didn't eat much this morning. I had a spirulina and lemon drink again for protein, however, and a chickpea curry on lettuce, sprouts later. Drinking herbal tea through the day, I have had absolutely no need for caffeine, even though I drank some on Friday.

low carbohydrate breakfast, low carb
My lunch today was a low-carb chickpea curry on a bed of salad, cooked in a slow cooker.

I am excited about continuing on a low carbohydrate diet, perhaps aspiring to a similar ratio of eating as my Chinese Doctor does: 20% protein, 50% fruit and vegetables and 30% starchy carbs and fat. Though I will have possibly a bit more protein and almost no starchy carbs and very limited fruit to start with. I will then adjust over time. I feel the low-carb, no-sugar is the way to achieve the high energy levels I have been after for so long. I have also recently spoken to two women who both said since they cut out carbs and quitted sugar they have experienced a huge rice in energy levels.

My biggest falling point on any diet is days when I am tried from lack of sleep or working too hard. That is when my mind is weaker, I give into temptations more easily, and I feel the need for sugar, caffeine and alcohol to help me concentrate and have some temporary energy. I will have to design some kind of a 'breaking point' to my long-term lifestyle, where I decide how the diet fails on tired days when it has to fail. In a similar way as the engineer designs a breaking point in the structure of a building - the weakest point - so that if the structure fails, it will fail in a way that causes the least damage. So I will have to desing the healthiest possible - minimising harm - approach to sugar and alcohol cravings.

I will keep eating limited amounts of organic animal meat and organs for a little while, and slowly attempt to phase out into a vegetarian/ vegan diet. My ultimate goal is to be a long-term raw foodist but I recognise more and more through my various diet experiments that it is important to move slowly on diet changes, so that the body and mind have time to adjust.

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First Day After the Diet
Later Update

Low Carbohydrate Diet - Conclusions

From this short trial I can draw the following conclusions:

  • Animal protein and high-fat diet does keep hunger very well, avoiding the need for snacks in between and sometimes even eliminating the need for dinner. According to Dr. Mercola this is a sign of your metabolic type needing animal protein. However, I believe that animal foods are just more filling, period.
  • Bowel movements have gotten less on this diet, whereas before the diet I would get a bowel movement every morning soon after waking up. Towards the end of the caveman diet I would have a bowel movement only every four days. This I believe is due to the high-fat diet, as fats slow to digest and apparently reduce peristalsis in the colon. This was deemed a very bad effect of the diet by the Chinese Doctor, and I now believe that lower fat diet is in order.
  • I have noticed my skin getting a little less smooth and some spots appearing during this diet, which would seem to indicate too much fat.
  • There is some indication that this diet may be giving me more energy. I felt that I started waking up earlier more naturally in the mornings. I attribute this to the sugar-free and low carbohydrate lifestyle and not to the animal products.
  • Stabilized moods and a feeling of 'groundedness'. A contributing factor could be that I haven't had any alcohol for almost a month. However, this diet is very low on carbs and starches, and avoids chemicals of all kinds from processed foods. This is likely to keep the blood sugar more stable and the body healthier in general, and is most likely the reason I feel better. So the question remains: Do you need animal foods to effectively stabilize blood sugar and eliminate bad carbs or could vegan sources of protein achieve the same - e.g. spirulina among other things? The Chinese Doctor thought this 'stable mind' feeling and
  • My anxiety symptoms pretty much disappeared on this diet and I believe this to be simply because of much less sugar, more protein and possibly the increased fat played a part too. The only time I started feeling some anxiety was on the Friday towards the end of the diet when I was extremely tired due to lack of sleep. Tiredness seems to have a huge effect on anxiety and confidence levels.
  • Enough of good quality fats have been indicated in good moods and better brain function. The amount of fat I ate on this diet, however, was too much, whereas on some of my previous diets I have eaten too little - especially on the juice fasts. So I will have to try to find the correct balance and the right amount for me in the future.
  • I have lost weight on the caveman diet while eating a lot more fat than usual, so I can conclude that fat doesn't cause weight gain in me - at last the types of fats I have been eating.
  • On the low carbohydrate diet I lost 3kg in two weeks, achieving my ideal weight of 55kg in the end. My belly also went very flat.
  • I learned to recognise the symptoms of low blood sugar now (which I have quite often, but not on this diet): 1) Overall weakness and achy arms and legs, fatigue, no strength for even a small exertion (like carrying shopping bags up the stairs), feeling like I haven't slept enough, waking up tired after a long night's sleep. This seems to come some hours after eating and/ or when I haven't eaten for a long time. 2) Pounding heart and inability to relax. This symptom can come quite soon after eating something sugary.
  • It seems clear that sugary fruit does not suit me at this point, until I get my body back to balance, since eating some mango clearly caused the above symptoms of low blood sugar.
  • Another test I need to perform is whether there are enough good vegan and wholefood protein sources to be able to eat a vegan low-carb diet, stay satisfied and to keep the hunger away.
  • I found out during this diet that I was intolerant to tuna so I won't eat that again.

Read also: Carbohydrate Sensitivity/ Sugar Addiction.

To conclude: I believe that the low carbohydrate diet was a successful experiment and definitely the way to go for me. I have decided that the paleolithic and caveman diets are not suitable for me, however, and I am very suspicious of their health benefits. I will thus next 'design' a medium-fat, low animal protein, high protein, no-sugar and low carbohydrate diet to adhere to. Updates to follow.

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First Day After the Diet
Low-Carb Diet Conclusions

Later Update

4th February 2014

I felt very confused about what to eat after this trial. I spent a big part of the weekend trying to avoid making a meal plan for next week because I didn't know what was the right thing to do next.

I have now decided to draw the following conclusions of this experiment in preparation for my next diet. These are intuitive decisions and not the only possible conclusions to make. I may reverse my position later but for now I believe that:

1) Too much protein makes you constipated.
2) Fat should only be eaten in good form: i.e. vegetable fat and nuts always raw, saturated fat can be cooked but should probably be eaten in moderation.
3) Low sugar, low carb is the way to go for me but I will include some good quality carbs, namely millet and quinoa, as well as possibly brown rice in moderation in the next experiment.
4) I will include some cheese, for now, to make it easier to stick to low carb. I seem to tolerate sheep's and goat's milk better so will only include those. Raw, organic non-cow cheese would be even better.
5) I will reduce the use of butter as it may be giving me a stuffy nose.
6) Ensure enough fibre, and reduce non-fibre, animal protein.
7) Wherever possible, seek to include more alkaline foods, especially lemon juice.

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