Dealing with energy crashes on zerocarb

(Alli) #1

Hi everyone. I could do with some crowdsourced advice on how to manage energy crashes on zerocarb.

This is a bit rambling as I wasn’t sure what would be relevant so apologies for that in advance. Skip to the bottom for the actual question!

I’ve been on and off of strict carnivore for about 18 months now, and before that was on a ketogenic version of the autoimmune protocol for about 3 years.

I have held the belief that I feel best when I eat just unaged beef, salt and water with a lot of solid beef dripping for additional fat, and about 1/2-1lb of liver a week.

However, whilst my mental clarity and autoimmune symptoms improve over time doing this, my physical robustness seems to get dramatically worse. By this I mean that I will suddenly find myself having an energy crash that leaves me dizzy, weak and needing to sit down. Eating resolves this. It usually happens around 6 hours after eating and has led to me needing to stick to a regimented meal schedule as I do not get hungry I just suddenly will feel woozy.

My instinct is this is an adaptation issue or underfeeding, but it was still happening 6 weeks in when I was eating 2lbs of beef a day and 100-200g beef tallow. I was supplementing electrolytes also at this time.

I work compressed hours (11 hour shifts) so I cannot always eat every 6 hours. This led to a cycle of repeated attempts to push past what i thought was adaptation but then a day would come where I missed a meal due to work and I’d crash and reach for emergency food. This was often 85% chocolate as caffiene + theobromine + fat + sugar = quick energy.

Being out ketosis causes my ptsd symptoms to flare though and it’s really hard for me to not binge on the chocolate and eat like 200g a day.

When chocolate was in my diet though, my chronic itching reduced from unbearable to tolerable, and the weird bumpy rash on my palms and chest dissapeared. I wondered if this was due to oxalate dumping that cocoa had stopped.

So as an experiment to combine these two ideas, for the past 2 weeks I’ve been making hot chocolates from 150ml unhomogenised fullcream a2 milk and 28g raw cacao paste. No sugar. Drinking 1 or 2 of these a day and they work out at below 10g net carbs a portion and I feel like I’m in ketosis as my moods and body temperature are stable.

At first I felt so much better and even had enough energy start running and strength training again. But these past few days the energy crashes have come back. The rash hasn’t come back though and the itching is still reduced. And my overall energy and ability to exercise is still improved.

So, I’m going to keep my hot chocolates for now for fear of the itching returning if I stop, but I’m stumped by the energy crashes. On keto I could easily go 24 hours without eating and wait until I had a peaceful time to eat.

Any thoughts on why my body could supply it’s own energy for 24 hours on keto, but not on carnivore? I’m thinking I might just need to ditch carnivore as I can’t arfford to ditch my job.

(Sama Hoole) #2

Might be worth adding in a few ounces of liver, just to polish off any potential deficiencies. And that will also serve to balance the methionine:glycine ratio.

(Alli) #3

Thanks, all good advice. I make sure I eat 1/2lb-1lb of lamb or beef liver each week, and the beef I eat is from the flank which has large amounts of connective tissue so I’ve hopefully got deficiencies and m:g ratio covered.

I feel like I’ve done everything I can think of which is frustrating. Writing all this out has made me question if it’s even related to the carnivore diet at all or something that happened between my steady ketosis days and carnivore trials. I started carnivore in earnest after a relapse into heavy drinking at the beginning of the first lockdown and have had a few shorter relapse stints since, so I wonder if the alcohol has damaged something in my body involved in maintaining “energy”, excuse my limited understanding of biology. Or if it’s related to the stress of the pandemic, or if the alcohol has damaged something involved in my nervous system and the way I handle the physical effects of stress.

I have been under a lot more stress this week than usual as my team is running with over half off sick or on leave, and have been getting headaches and weakness and dizziness.

I wonder if it’s related to higher stress hormones like cortisol, which I know can impact blood sugar. Sometimes when I get panic attacks or flashbacks I get weak and dizzy.

Food for thought. How to manage stress better is where I’ll experiment next rather than tinkering with my food.

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #4

You’ve described some unusual symptoms, based on what you say you’ve been eating. In ketosis, and presuming a relatively normal neural system, your brain uses whatever amounts of ketones are available for its energy, so you should not be getting ‘hypoglycemic dizziness’ symptoms. Even after going several hours without eating. Getting ‘hypoglycemic-like dizziness’ is a symptom of not being in ketosis and/or not being able to access fat stores, which could indicate elevated insulin. So either you’re not in ketosis and/or not able to utilize your own fat and/or not generating sufficient ketones to take up the slack from lower glucose for your brain and/or some combination. Maybe you’re in/out of ketosis so don’t have enough ketones and/or glucose fuel overall. Or gluconeogenesis could be out of order. Alcohol could be involved in some and/or all of these symptoms. Thus, an extended period of abstinence might be beneficial. At least you would eliminate one of the most likely suspects.

(Alli) #5

I completely agree which is why it’s so baffling to me. I was getting these hypo symptoms after 6 weeks of strict fatty beef, salt and water, so I was definitely in ketosis at the time.

An issue with gluconeogenesis isn’t something I’d considered. Doing some googling I found the following information about how alcohol can cause hypoglycaemia by inhibiting gluconeogenesis:

“Alcohol abuse alters the NAD+/NADH ratio leading to excess NADH. This inhibits fatty acid oxidation that provides ATP and favours the pyruvate to lactate reaction, thus depleting the supply of pyruvate for gluconeogenesis and causing hypoglycaemia. This leads to hepatic glycogen depletion combined with alcohol-mediated inhibition of gluconeogenesis and is common in malnourished alcohol abusers.”

I’ve been alcohol free for 2 months now, and got blood tests done recently which all came back fine including liver, thyroid and kidney function, but when I was drinking I got up to about a pint of tequila a day so I have assumed it would be a miracle for me to escape that completely unscathed.

I guess a way to test if it’s a gluconeogenis issue is to up my carbohydrate intake so I don’t need to produce my own glucose, and see if the dizzy spells stop. And then just do what I can to let my body heal from the damage caused by alcohol over the past 2 years.

(Alli) #6

After doing some more reading on the effects of alcoholism on gluconeogenisis, it seems plausible that the reason it is still affecting me might be due chronic alcohol consumption causing a vitamin b1 (thiamine) deficiency, particularly as beef is low in vitamin b1. I’ll see if a low dose supplement has any impact on my symptoms before changing anything else.

(Laurie Sponza) #7

How are you doing? I hope better and my suggestions are unnecessary.

Alcohol also depletes your body’s magnesium, so supplementing that might help. Although I do admit I don’t remember reading that dizziness is a sign of Mg deficiency.

I notice you do add salt to your meals, but more might also help if you’re dizzy as low salt can cause low blood pressure.

Good luck on your journey

(Apolo) #8

Hi, just wondering if you managed to sort this out. I’ve been carnivore for about 4 months and lately I’ve been having similar symptoms. I ate keto before. Did notice that usually last a week after heavy drinking, but now it gets worse even with little amounts of alcohol. This is something I’m quitting for health’s sake.

(Gregory - You can teach an old dog new tricks.) #9

Quitting keto or alcohol?

(Old Baconian) #10

Welcome to the forums!

Most long-term carnivores drink nothing but water, though some do drink coffee, even though it’s plant-based. But that’s about it.

(Apolo) #11

Alcohol I mean! No way I’m going back to a “normal” diet

(Ivy) #12

How is it that carnivore doesn’t help fat adaptation if by definition it eliminates going over carbs? Kinda apparent it would.

(Old Baconian) #13

Of course it helps fat adaptation. But people rarely start eating carnivore from a standard American diet.
Most carnivores were already eating keto or some diet low in carbohydrate when they went carnivore, so they were already fat-adapted before they began their carnivore way of eating. That may be where the confusion lies.

Remember that fat-adaptation is a phenomenon that occurs in muscle cells, which prefer to metabolise fatty acids over ketones or glucose. People who have been eating a high-carbohydrate diet for any length of time have damaged muscle mitochondria, plus certain cellular pathways have been deactivated for lack of fatty acids to metabolise. Cutting the dietary glucose (which is what carbohydrates all are) from the diet allows the mitochondria to heal and the cellular pathways to be reactivated. That is what happens during the period we call “fat-adaptation.”

It doesn’t matter whether someone cuts carbs to go keto or to go carnivore, it is the drop in glucose intake that causes the adaptation to occur.

(Edith) #14

I did a seven month carnivore trial last year and I had some moments after I ate a lunch of beef brisket (quite a bit actually) and it was like I took tranquilizers. It only happened from beef, not from chicken or pork. It seemed to go away after a while.


4 mos is fab…but 4 mos you could still be healing and changing easily and you need more time on plan to adapt.

fatigue is very normal at many different times as we walk thru carnivore when we start, up to a year you could have some changes things hit, but they move on, we just adapt and compensate thru them.

Like I was perfect then month 7-8 for 2 weeks I went into the most exhaustive, tiring, crazy fatigue of my life. I could barely function but every long term carnivore said one thing, just keep on going LOL Eat great, nap all you can, take breaks thru the day, eat again and just let time handle this and it did. Went to bed exhausted one night and woke up the next day full of vim and vigor and vitality and never had that happen again…so yea normal for many and other’s experiences I have read.

Now throw alcohol into the mix when starting and all crazy can be up for grabs ya know. As carnivores most of us have to drop alot of alcohol, we can’t metabolize it easily as we heal the body, it doesn’t want it, we get SO effected by so little, so yes, be wary of how your alcohol consumption has to change. Just something most of us have to handle as we do this plan.

keep on doing well…better changes to come I am sure!

(Michael - When reality fails to meet expectations, the problem is not reality.) #16

(Gregory - You can teach an old dog new tricks.) #17


# Association Between Alcohol Consumption and Nocturnal Leg Cramps in Patients Over 60 Years Old: A Case-Control Study

I found out when I backed off of the alcohol to near zero, my night leg cramps went away.

My efforts with electrolytes did little to help…



Unfortunately, there’s more to it.

I don’t drink alcohol at all. Never have. 0.

But I have cramps. In my case, it is definitely linked to the amount of carbs I eat. Directly or indirectly. It is either that I need the glucose, or simply that I need the other stuff available in carby food. I’m convinced it’s the latter. When I eat more veggies, I have less cramps, or even no cramps for a period. When I decrease carbs and don’t eat veggies, like when I went carnivore, I suffer more.

I make every carb count, reserving the few grams I eat for veggies.

I’m allergic to Big Supplement, so I’ll never stop getting stuff from food and take a pill instead, if I can help it.

(Edith) #19

I wonder if it’s because the little bit of carbs just gives that extra edge to hold onto muscle glycogen and therefore electrolytes.


veggie chat in a carnivore thread is tough…for me personally LOL

it is hard to say with someone doing a few days of carnivore if this or that or even a month etc. but in the end, I get veggie chat from those who tried carnivore and dumped back faster to put themselves in a better situation than go thru real adaption time that was probably required for their healing and bodies.

AND NO this is not about Corals post truly :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile: Not at all!!!

This is about what it takes for us on carnivore with issues thru adaption but when veggie chat comes into play, I get it…it helps some cause they can dump backward toward a very lc way of life but many this won’t work in the end of it all so carnivore has to have its trial run of full truths before it gets thrown out as not right and alot of times you will see on carnivore forums that it can take over a year for some easily to balance, heal, and change so?

truly who knows now long one wants to ‘try’ and I get it and I know it and see it cause darn I wanted to bail quite a few times from carnivore but I also knew going back would not work so on I went but some can ‘go back a tad’ and do so much better so maybe that is where they are meant to be anyway :slight_smile: and nothing ever wrong with just that.

but I wanna scream tons of carnivore advice against going back to the veg for some who short the time on carnivore thru adaption and changes and then never understand full benefits that can truly come from this plan.

but in the end, we all DO US and it is what it is :slight_smile: :slight_smile: this is just coming from the zero carb eating side of how we have to change and heal and find new ways forward thru adaption and how our bodies react over time etc. What plan one might need and their issues going into their changes as what plan they need in the end etc.

Just everyone do you of course :slight_smile: but also carnivore to heal and eliminate and change us takes more time than one thinks…and the 90 day trial is now a 30 day trial and whittled down even lower cause people can’t put in ‘all that time’ to go there ya know…but the real truth on carnivore is easily a 6 mos try but darn…6 mos. LOL but I am that type that went all in as do others cause we need to be here but I do get those who can go back. They can and with better knowledge of what does suit them so that is a good thing too!