Zero Carb - Why is my energy so low?



Hello! I’m 3 months into ZC and unsure what is causing me to feel tired all the time. Any advice would be very much appreciated! I’m a woman in my late 20s, and before starting ZC, I was lean (but not skinny), worked out 3 times a week, and restricted calories.

I have to say I wasn’t 100% ZC. There were slip-ups for a full week due to travel, and a handful of times when I’d ask my friends for a bite of their desserts (I know). I was a daily coffee drinker for many years. I found that my gut was a lot more sensitive to coffee when I started ZC so I quit 1.5 months in. When I was fiending for coffee, I substituted it with green tea. I also started cutting out dairy and eggs. Now, I usually eat beef, salt, and water. Occasionally, I drink straight liquor. My appetite was huge in the beginning. At least 2 lbs of meat per day and sometimes ate more than 3 lbs. I mostly ate ground beef and chuck steaks as they are cheaper. I gained quite a bit of weight. I’m not happy about how my body looks right now, but I am hopeful that if I keep going, I will see a better body recomp. My appetite has slowed down recently and now I don’t go over 2 lbs.

I’ve been trying to listen to my body, which I think is such a cool aspect of this WOE. Eating fattier or adding butter when I feel like it, eating leaner when fat doesn’t taste good, drinking to thirst, and working out when I felt the urge to. I felt that my energy level was the same as before I started ZC. However, things changed recently and I have been feeling so tired. I always get a good night’s sleep but I find myself needing a nap in the afternoon. I did catch the flu or cold that was going around 2 weeks ago and I was wrecked. I recovered yet my energy hasn’t bounced back. I also noticed that I am lacking in strength. I am pretty new to lifting weights (started at the beginning of this year) and I’m not strong. After starting ZC, I find myself struggling with lifting weights that I was comfortable with before. I’m exhausted after a workout. I hear that it takes a long time to adapt to ZC and the loss of strength can happen in the beginning. I’m frustrated because, with the weight gain, I must have put on some muscles (in addition to the rounder stomach I have now :laughing:) yet they aren’t helping. Am I just dependent on caffeine? Am I missing something?

Side note: Despite the recent drop in energy, I am still loving this WOE. I had an unhealthy relationship with food ever since I was a teen, and it is so freeing to not have cravings and guilt that comes from indulging myself. My issue with digesting FODMAPs is gone. No bloating, no gas. Food doesn’t dictate whether or not I will have a good day. Dobby is free!

(May the blessing of bacon be always with you) #2

What was your diet before you began ZC/carnivore? I ask, because even people who were keto-adapted have to go through an adaptation period when they begin carnivore, and jumping straight into it from the standard American diet is even harder.

I would suggest avoiding alcohol altogether, because of its effects on the body. I can’t imagine it helps.

Since the main source of energy on a keto or carnivore diet is fat (the whole point of these ways of eating being to avoid glucose because of the resulting elevated insulin), be sure not to stint on it. And since fat contains over twice the energy of carbohydrate, replacing carbohydrate with fat should be very easy. You won’t need as much to get the same number of calories.

I presume you are sure the weight you are gaining is fat? Using “weight” as the euphemism for “fat” can causes confusion, because it ignores possible lean gains. That said, a lot of people have reported a gain in weight when beginning carnivore, and from the way they phrased it, I guess they are talking about gaining fat, not muscle. But they usually find the weight coming off later, so one simply has to persist past the gain phase. In other words, don’t let this temporary gain faze you. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist, lol!)


3 mos is early. many reasons for onset of exhaustion and low energy. mostly it can easily be your eating off plan just enough to keep monkey’ing up your true heal/repair but it also can still be adaption and transition into this lifestyle with toxin dumps still happening etc.

combo time :slight_smile:

I also had bouts of low energy. I just ‘ate good zc’ thru then and napped alot and rested and got thru.

weirdest time that stands out mega to me was doing superior but in month 7-8 I went down with total fatigue. barely keep my eyes open for weeks. could barely move LOL I tell ya I thought I was a goner in some way but every old time zc veteran said, rest/nap/stay calm, eat very well and just ‘let it happen’ and one night I went to bed thinking OMG I can’t go on much longer and woke up in the morning perfect. Full of energy, like a whole new me. I was astounded actually.

I honestly have 0 idea why any of that went down for me but in the end, gone and full on energy manifested and never had an issue again. Every now and then I go down a bit with low energy but I can tell the reasons…like season change effects me, too much big activity or even stressful times etc can sap me a bit but nothing like I had before…kinda like normal life just hitting now ya know.

I feel you will be fine…give it time. Eat clean zc well and don’t skimp on food and just nap or rest when ya need it and see where ya land in a bit. best of luck!!


Hi! My pre-ZC diet was 1:1:1 macros but usually, I would go over on protein and carbs. My typical day looked like the following:

  • Breakfast: Fried eggs, latte, toast with almond butter.
  • Lunch: Chicken breast, fried veggies, greek yogurt, fruits
  • Dinner: Chicken breast, cut veggies with sauce.
    And I would crave something sweet late at night and would have some low-sugar hot chocolate and add a heaping spoon of monk fruit powder, which I realize is terrible for me. :sweat_smile:

Yes, alcohol is literally poison and I enjoy it more than I should. I will try to cut it out!

I think I’m still getting used to the taste of fat. But sometimes, I am disgusted by it (especially when it’s rendered or a chunky fat cap). Is this my body telling me I’ve had enough? Or does my body not know what’s good for me yet? I hope that eating to satiety is good enough but yes, definitely don’t want to hit protein satiety first.

Understood! Yes, so I gained fat throughout my body, noticeably. I developed a bit of a muffin top around my belly and my arms lost muscle definition. My chest and hips are bigger as well, which is welcome. Maybe I haven’t gained muscles after all. :grimacing: It’s a relief to know that others experience the fat coming off down the line. I will persist! Thank you for your response! :smiley:


I see. I definitely overestimated my ability to adapt quickly (especially when I didn’t even stick to the plan lol). I will be patient. Also, cursing my past self for eating a lot of spinach.

That is bizarre and I don’t look forward to experiencing that at all! :joy: I guess our bodies work in mysterious ways… I do look forward to being fully adapted and feeling reborn.

Thank you for your response! :raised_hands: Glad to know that what I’m experiencing now is just part of the long process.


Hi. That’s a lot of foods you have been excluding compared to your old diet. I am not carnivore myself only keto, my daily carb allowance I keep to just under 10. Some days as low as 5. I eat eggs and a variety of meats and fish but still like you experience low energy. That probably is my body adapting to fewer carbs though I’m not an expert and couldn’t say for sure. In any case I’ve only been eating this way for about a month. Like you, I was also lean on my previous diet which was high carb, low carb. I lost 5 kilos on this keto WOE, and it seems to be going well.

But anyway, if you struggle with the taste of fat and are eating too little of it as well as protein, and perhaps not getting enough variety in your diet is affecting the enjoyment you take in food, it may be that you have been eating too little and that this has affected your metabolism. You say you now mostly eat beef, salt and water. Is there a health requirement?


I definitely have problems with food drenched in rendered fat. I barely ever eat rendered fat (though the main reason is mostly that I overeat fat way too easily and get more than enough without added fat).
Fat in my meat is fine in some range but yes, there is a thing as way too fatty meat for someone and it doesn’t mean they don’t need more fat for satiation. I am quite familiar with this.
Some people has problems with cold fat layer in/on their meat. Or the warm, soft one. I am fine with both but it shouldn’t be too much. But I can’t just add fat to my leaner meat (or just very little and definitely solid) as it wouldn’t make it better, just nastier, more nauseating…

Can’t you just eat whatever you fancy and as much as you desire? :slight_smile: If the meat has too much fat and it can be solved by cutting it off, do it. I like to buy cuts with my favorite fat/protein ratio but sometimes I have too fatty meat and cut off the fat (and render lard from it as even I need a little here and there, like for frying liver). Sometimes I have too lean meat and add a fattier item, almost never added fat. Like lean pork eaten with sausage. Whatever feels best.
And I very much dislike tallow (some normal beef is fine and tasty but extra tallow, nope) so I probably would have problems with fatty beef.

Good luck to getting your energy back! I have lowish energy on all woe but I hope longer term carnivore may help. If I can pull it off ever :frowning: I definitely will try in 2023! Carnivore is very beneficial to me but energy is a tricky thing, it just doesn’t change quickly in my life.

(Denise) #8

I have to make sure I’m fueling my bod with enough to fuel my TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). I’m 70 in December, January will be my 2 year anniversary on Keto. I do weights at the gym, and treadmill. I’ve been tired at times, especially early in my Keto way of life.

Eat some liver, Salmon, and eat until you can’t eat anymore, but not so stuffed you want to throw up. I find a lot of folks worried about eating too much. I’m 5’2", 112 lbs now (down from my 140) building muscle, and I eat right around 1400 calories a day, sometime more sometimes less, but I don’t gain fat/inches even when I eat like 1700.

Is your sleep well into REM mode, or are you struggling for 8 hours (thinking at your age you should get that many)?


Yes, it is quite a drastic change, especially since I did not try keto before going ZC. I guess our bodies are still adapting to using fat as energy. Congrats on your weight loss! :partying_face:

So this aversion to fat is sporadic. Sometimes, I love it. Sometimes, I just can’t do it. So I just listen to my taste buds haha. I eat around 2 lbs of meat per day and I really hoped that this was enough for me. I still have an issue discerning true satiety coming from a calorie-restricted diet. Perhaps I might be undereating due to my previous habits. I will try eating more! Beef, salt, and water, the so-called “lion diet” is a stricter form of ZC. I adopted it due to my preference for beef. I like the taste and my body likes it better than other types of meats. Also, I love dairy but sadly, am intolerant of it.

Thank you for your response! :smile:


Yes! This is really what I wanted to hear haha. Begrudgingly eating fat sucks and I find it nauseating too.

I think I still have no clue what my ideal ratio is. I go to the meat section at the groceries and ask myself, “What do you really want?” and second-guess all my decisions lol. I have a hard time stomaching rendered fat from ground beef. So I’ve been letting it harden and eating with a leaner cut. Kinda like your combination strategy!

Thank you and yes, the low energy thing is proving to be quite defeating. I wish you the best of luck as well for your carnivore journey!


I would think 2 lbs of meat is enough unless it’s too lean or one has a high energy need.
I never ate as much and hopefully never will, that’s way too high for me. But we are different, some people feel the need for more.


Hmm I do find myself eating more meat on days I exercise. My energy levels are making me realize that I am indeed very early in this WOE. :sweat:

Coming from a calorie-restricted diet, I definitely find myself worrying about overeating. Carnivore is so intuitive and therefore, so different from how I’ve been eating before. I should eat until I can’t eat anymore but there is a mental brake asking, “Shouldn’t I stop here?” because of my calorie-restricting habit. Also because I’m eating around 2 lbs of meat per day, I regularly go over 2500 calories, and that is scary to me. I know that CICO is not a framework suited for this WOE so I’m trying to unlearn my past habits!

I don’t enjoy the taste of liver but I think I’ll treat it like a bitter medicine. I will try eating it soon to see if it helps with my energy. Also, congrats on your weight loss!

Currently, I sleep soundly for 8 hours. I always remember having dreams, if that’s what you are asking. When I first started this WOE, my sleep improved and I was sleeping an hour less. And woke up feeling great. I don’t know what happened to that and now I’m needing a nap in the afternoon haha.

(May the blessing of bacon be always with you) #13

Something to bear in mind is that the metabolism can adjust up and down to match the intake we give it. There are limits to this, of course: fail to eat enough, and we starve to death; overeat heroically, and we can indeed put on weight, even on a low-carb diet (though there are documented cases of people eating 3000-5000 calories and not getting fat; they were all on a ketogenic diet, of course). But people who fear calories forget that the body not only revs up the metabolism, it can also waste food in the form of heat, or excrete the excess, and so forth. In fact, measuring ketones in the urine and breath relies on the fact that the body will be wasting some ketones. Not only that, but there are data showing that eating more fat causes fatty-acid metabolism to increase, so to some extent, dietary fat does not compete with excess stored fat (and there are limits to how much stored fat we can release in a day, anyway).


I didn’t know that! That gives me a peace of mind. Thank you!


Oh that’s bad. I like the taste of liver, I just find it too strong in bigger quantities… And I have phases. If I really have problems with the taste but I don’t want to put it into the freezer for later, I grind it up with some meat (usually already roasted, I almost always have some leaner pork roast around), add a yolk and fry it :slight_smile: The meat and yolk make the flavor way milder, it becomes some liver flavored meatball.
(It’s for chicken liver in my case, I find beef liver sweet and lovely, rabbit liver mild and lovely, I don’t eat pork and turkey liver because I don’t like them and I can do better. But these things are individual, my SO wouldn’t touch beef liver, for example.)

Calories: They totally matter, it’s not always so simple for everyone though. And I am open-minded, maybe one day a miracle happens and I lose fat without eating very little (i.e. below 2000 kcal) but it never did yet as far as I can tell. And anyway, I know I don’t have a high energy need and I don’t want to be wasteful, for multiple reasons. BUT if my body needs food, it gets food. It’s a different woe than our previous ones and we can’t possibly know (in the beginning) what will happen if we eat as much as we want. But we should eat as much as we feel we need… Even our body is subject to change, our metabolism… So we shouldn’t cling to calories very much. I always think a newbie should just eat whatever feels best (not according to their diet mind…) and we will see! If it doesn’t work even after months, one may tweak something. I mean the fat-loss, changes may be needed earlier if something bad happens.

I can relate though. I am often unsure when I should stop and even when I should start… Or if I should eat or not… It’s not always obvious. But unless I mess up my timing and eat too late without a need, eating as much meat as I want is usually fine. Certain kinds of meat are exceptions but I learned about them as time passed.

2500 kcal isn’t what I definitely would call too much. I simply need such days. But if I eat 4000+ kcal, I try to figure out why and learn from it. It still may be just fine occasionally… Very, very occasionally… My energy need is around 2000 kcal, I am pretty sure of that.

Or maybe their bodies never do that. I met quite a few people who knew how much they should eat. They ate more (at the same activity level) and gained (immediately and it continued if they continued to eat more), they ate less and slimmed down. They moved less and immediately started to gain instead of maintenance. So they learned that they should stay in their own small range of food intake.
Indeed, not everyone works this simply (I am not like that either) but quite many people do, apparently.

(May the blessing of bacon be always with you) #16

I’ll bet that these people were eating carbohydrate. There was a case study published in the 1960’s of a du Pont executive who’d lost quite a bit of weight on a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet, and who would begin to gain again if he ate even a single extra apple. As long as he kept his carbohydrate intake low, he did not gain weight.


This forum has members experiencing the same, you surely read such comments.

Yep, there are special people. It has nothing to do with the many who have just a smallish range for maintenance… I have a big one but to lose fat, keto never was enough. (Not even carnivore but as I never did it for long, I am careful with saying that.)

But fat-loss is super complicated. I don’t even know how I managed to lose 3kg in the last months… :smiley: I ate so much better on my zero loss years… Maybe some near magical changes were possible for me after all this time… But why now, with occasionally carby days and regular night eating? Crazy. But since I tried out carnivore (and go back to it quickly whenever I stray), my body behaves differently from what it did before. I had extensive tests, got clear results, they were so very reliable and carnivore just messed it up. And now I am less knowledgeable about my own body again. Sigh.


I couldn’t disagree more! :joy: Glad it’s working for ya. I cook it up, cut it into small pieces, and swallow it with water without tasting it.

Right. It was a big jump from my pre-ZC days so psychologically, it took some time to get used to this WOE. I stopped counting calories when I started ZC and I am loving it! :blush:

I relate to this so much. I notice that hunger on ZC is so different. Pre-ZC, hunger felt sharp, and when I was “starving”, all I could think about is how I need to eat soon and it would dampen my mood. Hunger on ZC feels more subtle. I have trouble deciding when to start eating or if I should eat at all. Even when I feel a more pronounced hunger, if I can’t get my hands on meat, the hunger subsides for a bit and I can wait without feeling too bad. For now, I just eat when I start thinking of meat and if it sounds good lol

(May the blessing of bacon be always with you) #19

I found that the problem with the taste of liver is usually that it’s been over-cooked. My ex once took me to dinner at the house of dear friends of his, a couple on whom he was eager for me to make a good impression. I found that the cook had prepared liver for our dinner, so I resolved to just ignore the horrid taste and choke down as much as I could (the things we do for love, lol!).

To my great surprise, the liver tasted wonderful! When the cook came out to receive our thanks, I complimented her and asked how she had prepared it. Turns out the secret was to cook it very lightly, no more than about 90 seconds on each side (depends on the thickness, of course). I tried it myself, and I found that it works. Now liver is one of my favourite foods. The cook’s method of preparing liver was very different from my mother’s: Mom cooked it for something like 20 minutes (probably not literally, but I swear that’s what it seemed like) on each side, and it tasted like sandpaper.


My beef liver is grain-fed and store bought (pre-sliced). It is a Skylark brand. I overcook it for fear that it might not kill off the bacteria. The resulting texture and taste? Sandpaper haha. I know that some people eat it raw too but I think they get local, grass-fed and finished liver. If it’s safe to cook mine for 90s each side, I would try it!