Monday, November 14, 2011

Avoiding The Flu

A lot of low-carb diets start by immediately cutting carbohydrates to an extremely low level.  I don't agree with this practice.  This results in what has been called the "Induction Flu", a feeling of being tired, weak and foggy headed.  This is the result of a body that is used to burning sugar being forced to switch to burning fat in too short of time.  This causes fluid loss and the body being partially starved of fuel.  It does, however, make for a rapid initial weight loss, which makes people happy and helps sell diet programs.  On the other hand, some people are completely put off by this "flu" and give up.  I don't disagree that you need to reach this low level of carbohydrate intake early on, it's necessary for the body to fully make the transition to burning fat.  I just don't think the change should be so abrupt.

My personal experience is that this "flu" can be avoided by cutting carbs gradually until this low level is achieved.  I learned this approach from by listening to several podcasts, the exact ones I can't remember now.  Before starting my low-carb journey I started a food log.  With this I learned that I was consuming more that 400g of carbohydrates every day.  I started by cutting my carbs down to 150g per day for a week.  I then made further cuts every week until I reached my low level of 30g a day.  I then started the usual process of slowly adding carbohydrates back as I approached my goal.  The result for me was no flu like symptoms at all.  My weight loss started slowly but ramped up by the second week.

I don't expect that everyone will want to do it the way I did.  As always, do your research and decide for yourself what approach is best for you.  

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