Some people call it “the fog” others call it “low carb flu” but, no matter what it is known by, some of you may be experiencing energy decreases or outright crashes four to five weeks into the PNC. There are likely some reasons for this and a couple of tricks that may lift you from the doldrums.
Weekly Ubiquitous caveat: If you’ve gone off of caffeine (and I have no idea why you would ever do that), sleep less than seven hours a night, or have had a recent change in home/family/work life then you need to square those issues away too while tweaking your food choices.
You’re not eating processed food anymore
I hope this is a “duh” moment for you: processed foods are almost always high calorie, high carb, and salt dense. Fresh, unprocessed food choices are almost nearly the opposite. A sudden change in food choices, particularly if you were making poor food choices, will lead to energy fluctuations. Here’s what you can do about it:
Eat more food
Since you are no longer pulling ready-made food from plastic packages your caloric intake has likely dropped drastically. When eating fresh food you must eat more. How much more? Something like this-
• Breakfast: 4-egg omelet (with whatever starchy vegetables you like), cooked in 1 tbsp. coconut oil; 2 slices of pan-fried bacon.
• Lunch: 1 whole avocado; salad with 6 ounces of salmon (about half a can) and whatever non-starchy vegetables you like plus 1 tbsp. olive oil in the dressing.
• Dinner: 1 serving of barbecued sirloin; 1 large sweet potato with 1 tbsp. butter; 1 cup spinach sautéed in 1 tbsp. coconut oil.
• Dessert: 1 cup strawberries drizzled with 2 tbsp. coconut milk.
Notice the recommendation to eat four eggs, one whole avocado, olive oil/coconut oil/butter galore and coconut milk. All are nutrient and calorie dense foods. This is likely a lot to prepare, but if you are using one day a week for food preparation it is doable to keep you fueled.
Eat more carbohydrates
You’re not on a low carb diet. You’re not on Atkins. You’re not even eating paleo. The PNC is simply a context to make better food choices that lean towards wholesome, fresh ingredients. Eat some more rice, fruit, sweet/white potatoes, and other starchy vegetables. It’s summer, put down your cell phone and actually buy something in season from a local farmer. You’re in luck right now; the harvest for squashes is coming in. Eat more carbohydrates. Jake won’t yell at you for it and you’ll feel better.
Salt your food
I know salt is the boogey man. Whatever. Eating unprocessed foods means your salt intake is drastically lowered and miniscule compared to the standard American diet. It might also mean your electrolytes are out of whack. If you’re training three or more days a week (i.e. sweating) you will need to replace what you lose and one of the best ways to do that is to salt your food.
Take Vitamin D
If you don’t work outside and you don’t regularly sun bathe or tan you are likely Vitamin D deficient. Ten minutes of skin exposure (rolling up your sleeves and standing outside) to the sun might alleviate this issue but your best bet is to mega dose Vitamin D. It’s non-toxic in anything but enormous quantities and will boost both your energy levels and sleep quality when taken regularly. Try to avoid pill forms and consume Vitamin D in a liquid suspension. I am not telling anyone to do this but I know that smart, healthy and really fit people often take two to three times the Recommended Daily Allowance when they supplement with Vitamin D.
Lastly, and most unfortunately, you might be one of the poor souls that take almost a month to regain your metabolic flexibility. If that is the case, then you’re going to have to “suck it up” and wait till it passes. It will pass and you’re energy levels will be unlike anything you’ve previously known.