Side Effects of Paleo Diet
January 9, 2015
An abrupt shift from regular high-carb diet to paleo diet can shock your digestive system and your body as a whole and make you feel some funny side effects at first. People who switched to this kind of ancient, paleolithic man’s diet reported disturbing symptoms like headache, fatigue, dizziness, constipation, diarrhea, bodily aches, nausea, irritability, and hunger. Pay attention to these side effects. However, most of the time they go away as your body learns to reconfigure itself to your new diet. Of course, this diet has it’s benefits for some people, but not everyone has such an easy time with it.
Why are you experiencing these things?
Your body is adapting to your consumption of more fat.
Paleo diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet. It sounds funny at first. However, once you look into it, you will realize you’re turning your body from a carb-burning furnace to a fat-burning furnace. Your body turns to fat as the major energy source, not carb. This results in your body beginning to burn fat, and this transition causes funny symptoms.
You’re losing a bit more water.
Regular high-carb and sodium-rich diets lead to your body storing more water than necessary. This is why when you transition to paleo diet, you tend to lose that extra water. However, drastic transition means significant loss of water, which leads to dehydration when unchecked. Dehydration causes many symptoms like weakness and dizziness.
You’re missing your carbs without you realizing it.
Switching to a different dietary regimen can be off-putting, but you deal with the negative emotions you feel towards the change by convincing yourself you’re doing the right thing. However, there’s that part of your brain that still misses the high-carb foods. This subconscious conflict causes irritability.
Don’t worry. The side effects of the transition are temporary, lasting for only a week. In addition, you can reduce the intensity of the side effects by doing the following:
Have enough serving of fat.
Paleo diet is grounded on the principle that our paleolithic ancestors didn’t consume grains (carbs) until agriculture was invented. Back in those days, they hunted meat and climbed trees to eat their fruits. Fat was the major source of the paleo man’s energy. Protein in meat was used to build strong muscles, which they needed for running, climbing, and hunting.
However, you cannot just help yourself to any type of fat. Choose good fats–coconut oil, olive oil, or butter. Nuts, olives, coconut, and avocado provide you with healthy fat too. Increase your intake of fat to compensate for your decreased intake of carbohydrates. Make sure you’re still consuming a healthy amount of calories.
Have snacks in between meals.
When you switch to paleo diet, you should adjust by eating at regular intervals. If you have blood sugar issues, you should eat 5-6 small meals a day to keep your sugar levels stable. Otherwise, you can eat 3 large meals and have snacks in between. You can snack on nuts. Avoid intermittent fasting until your body adapts to your high-fat paleo diet.
Increase your water intake.
Reduced ingestion of carbs mean you’re losing water. To avoid dehydration, increase your water intake. Drink at least two liters of water every day.
Avoid strenuous exercise during the transition.
This is a good time to deload on or take a break from your workouts. If you’re on fat loss workouts, avoid doing intense cardio or HIIT, especially if you’re feeling a bit weak.
Another good read on this diet is this article from The Week on why this is a terrible diet for many people.