Poor sleep on zero carb?

(Becky Searls) #1

I’ve been zero carb for 10 days now (I know not super long), after 14 months keto / fat adapted. I’ve noticed an increase in energy and clear headedness (up naturally by 4:30 some days no alarm clock…which relates to my concern…) and my weights a little all over - overall down about 4 lbs but it’s yo-yo’d day to day (I’ve been trying to eat when hungry, eat enough, get electrolytes, hydrate, etc and not worry about my usual IF OMAD schedule while I adjust to ZC.

So mostly things are good!

Here’s then problem: my sleep SUCKS. I’ve been up every night, sometimes multiple times, very wakeful, and tossing and turning so much it is now even affecting husband’s sleep. I take 400-600 mg magnesium at night which usually helps but for some reason isn’t on ZC (I also get this way during extended fasts so it’s not s new sensation…just not one I expected when eating more than usual, but meat only?).

Also my blood glucose was 112 last I checked - not awful but certainly not what I expected?

I don’t have a lot of weight to lose, and I’m pretty active (work out vigorously 5-7 days/week). Am I just pushing too hard? Or is there something I’m missing with the sleep? I was reading Jason fung’s the obesity code and am starting to wonder if it isn’t just stress?

Any insight would be very helpful! Thanks in advance!

(Erin Macfarland ) #2

I had the same experience transitioning to ZC. My energy levels fluctuated, initially I had a lot of it but my sleep quality went down like yours. I got about six weeks in and was really struggling, I was eating plenty of meat and incorporating all the ZC suggestions but I was definitely struggling. What is your goal in going ZC? If you’re going to do it I think it’s very much like keto in that you have to commit yourself to doing it forever. So you have to be willing to go through the adaptation process which can take even longer than adapting to keto. As I switched to ZC after doing keto for most of the past few years, I recognized some very significant differences between the two even though they seem very similar. The ZC “vets” believe strongly in avoiding coffee, salt, and electrolytes. But these things are encouraged on keto. (Heck sometimes I even put salt in my coffee lol…) Intentional fasting is also discouraged as is counting macros. And many anecdotes from people in ZC groups report some pretty significant adaptation side effects including sleep disturbances. I felt pretty good until about 3 or 4 weeks in and I really hit a wall. My workouts sucked, I lacked motivation, I lost my appetite for meat. Other things had improved significantly though like my digestion and my cravings for keto “treats.” So my suggestion would be to evaluate your goals in going ZC and decide if you want to commit to it long term. In which case you will probably have to deal with things like changes in sleep and energy levels. And of course the advice to remedy anything on ZC is to eat more meat ! If you are just wanting to try it out realize that the real benefits supposedly don’t manifest until much later in the process, months or even years. ZC seems very effective for those with significant health problems who are committed to reversing them through this approach. If that’s too much of a commitment you could try and eat close to ZC most of the time and that might work for you (which I know is anathema to the dedicated ZC advocates). But if you’re already used to keto having 3 or 4 days a week of eating carnivorously would be pretty easy. I hope that helps sorry for the long response!

(Andrew) #3

You might try the Mg in the am. It can keep you up (but usually the opposite)

(Chris W) #4

I find that my sleep is better if I do not eat a big meal within a few hours of laying down. I try to leave at least 4 hours between my last meal and my bed time.

Last week I had a later than normal dinner one night that was generous portions of dry ribs and ribeye, and I had the worst sleep I’ve had in weeks.

Of course this may or may not apply to you, others report they sleep best on a full stomach. But it is a variable to include in your experiment of what works for you!

(Chris) #5

Definitely, we should be eating during daylight hours anyway. Dr. Satchin Panda has been doing extensive research on circadian rhythm.

(Carolus Holman) #6

I have had the opposite. Total complete deep sleep since starting keto. I tend not to have big meals at night, so that could be a thing. I do notice though I have have a few drinks (alcohol) that does disrupt my sleeping more.

(Becky Searls) #7

Not keto - zero carb / carnivore


My sleep is better on a carnivore diet.


Hi, Becky, I’m just 3 weeks into carnivore and came here with the same concerns about sleep. It’s amazing how different it is from keto even though I was strict with the carbs. I have more trouble falling asleep most nights, but even when I fall asleep half decently, I wake up in 2-3 hours, on average. It would be alright if that’s all the sleep I needed, but it isn’t. I feel tired, but wired throughout the whole day. I push through and get outside in the sun for a walk or other light activities just to feel ‘normal’, but it’s not easy. I’m sticking with it, though, because nothing has helped my other ailments like zero carb. Nothing. I see you wrote this back in February and was hoping you could let me know if and when your sleep got better. I’d really appreciate any suggestions or just to have the hope that it’s going to be better at some point. All the best…

(Elizabeth ) #10

try a cup of what we call silver tea, that’s just hot water, and a coffee mug or your favorite tea cup and have that it bedtime while you’re reading with the light behind you, and no electronics for an hour before bedtime.


Yes, thanks, I like to do that. My sleep hygiene hasn’t changed, just the diet. Amber asked me if I’m eating enough and I really believe I am, but since I still have weight to lose, I’ve been trimming most of the fat from my meat and just counting on marbling. I’m hoping if I eat more of the fat, my body won’t be so wired due to adrenaline spikes, etc. Slept better last night, but I’ve learned that I shouldn’t get too excited till it happens at least 3 or 4 nights in a row. Been too disappointed in the past, already. Thanks again, for your response…

(Becky Searls) #12

Hi @TerriDF! Just seeing this post. I gave up carnivore after about 6 weeks of attempts to stick it out (from approx. new year to mid-february). At that point I felt unwell, sleep never got better, and I just felt like I wasn’t fully participating in my life, ya know?? I remember going to a great steakhouse and starting at the creamed spinach, a perfectly keto, delicious food, and thinking “this isn’t worth it”. So I added veggies back in and haven’t regretted it! Granted many people say that if you do the full adaptation (which apparently can take months or years?) those issues all resolve. I just wasn’t ready to commit to that lengthy of a period of feeling poorly. I don’t have huge amounts of weight to lose, and I am active and want to enjoy life with balance so I let it go. I think there probably are therapeutic benefits for people with extensive metabolic or digestive issues, but that wasn’t me, so really just not worth it. Also, for what it’s worth, I did gain weight on carnivore and that took til just now to resolve (about 5-6 months) and come back to my normal set point. YMMV (Your mileage may vary) but that was my carnivore experience!

(Becky Searls) #13

Yeah it was the same for me … I had a good bedtime routine, no electronics for an hour before, nighttime tea, usually a bath…but something about carnivore just kept me super wired. It almost felt like an evolutionary mechanism - like I needed to stay alert for the next “kill” or something :joy:- I also didn’t experience this, but my husband could literally just eat meat til he got sick, as he felt NO satiety without veggies or something else. I definitely hit a meat wall and then felt “full” when I let go of the idea of being able to switch to a snack or something, but he never did and he steadily gained weight on carnivore.


Thanks for your reply, Becky; much appreciated considering you’re no longer following a carnivore diet. Sometimes we’re just not ready for something, but it’s so ironic that you mentioned the spinach. I literally just finished watching a great presentation on YT and it made me go to my freezer and throw out the frozen organic spinach I was going to pass on to my daughter. It was a video about oxalates and I decided I didn’t want her to have it because she had kidney stones a few years back. Weird timing to then see your reply mentioning the spinach…lol. Anyway, my sleep is still less than it was before, but s-l-o-w-l-y getting better. Cheers to you and hubby on whatever way of eating feels best for you both. Take care :slightly_smiling_face:

(Becky Searls) #15

Glad your sleep is improving!!! What a relief :slight_smile: Yeah I have heard all kinds of intolerances to veggies, it’s kinda crazy!! I certainly felt leaner / less bloated / more toned on carnivore, which I suppose is related to the lack of ruffage (sp?) and resulting water weight/bloat? Best of luck to you on your journey!!

(Gabe “No Dogma, Only Science Please!” ) #16

I guess I’m late to the party here, but wanted you guys to know that this info has been super useful. I thought something was seriously wrong with me; been carnivore for just 10 days and my sleep is catastrophic. I wake up early and can’t get back to sleep.

How long did it take to get your sleep back to normal?

(Sama Hoole) #17

It’s probably a case of fat calories keeping the body temperature ramped up at night. Saturated fat in particular is highly thermogenic. Giving yourself a two to three hour fast before bed won’t do much, because fat metabolism takes much longer. I’ve seen the best results in simply shifting the feeding window into the morning, so I can wrap up the last meal by 2pm.

Tampering with electrolytes / glycine / evening carbs didn’t do much for me.


Sleep changes are different for all. I rarely had any change in sleep. What got me was just ‘my life’ and how I went thru my day on whether or not I sleep great or went into less good sleep time.

But I came from extreme low carb into carnivore so heck sleep issues just never hit for me.

Just adaption time. Sleep will regulate but sleep is never all about what you eat. Your day, stress, workload and more come into play for sure on that one.

Just give it time on sleep changes when one goes into zero carb. You will regulate but time is diff. for all.

(KevinDV8) #19

If I can’t sleep, it is my body telling me It doesn’t need sleep right now. If I can’t sleep at 2am, I just get up. We have been taught we need to sleep on a schedule at night for x amount of hours. It is not true. You just have to have a plan in place. What do you do in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep? The miserable thing to do is just lay there and try to make your body sleep when it doesn’t want to. Listen to your body. Maybe you need a lot less sleep than you think. There is one sure fire way to go right to sleep. Just eat a cake or pizza or sugar. Get up and do something productive.