Nobody told me about Carb Flu

Two weekends ago, Hope was sick: sore throat, headache, weak body, nose gunk. Sick. I knew it was only a matter of time before I got sick, too. The following week (Hope was already feeling much better), I started to feel like my head was really foggy, my throat felt very thick and I had no energy whatsoever – my body just didn’t feel right. I assumed that whatever Hope had was now having its way with me. Lucky me.

I started to feel sick on Monday of last week. Thursday rolls around, and I am talking to my sister after babysitting her awesome son for the night. She asked what I was sick with earlier in the week (because I warned her that I might not be able to babysit) and I told her my symptoms. Then she offered me a piece of bread and I told her that I was trying to stay 100% paleo, so no carbs (unless they naturally occur) for me. That’s when she told me I wasn’t sick – I had the carb flu.

The what now?

Yep – the carb flu. I thought she was full of it, but then I looked it up. I found a really great post about it on Paleo Leap – a great website full of helpful articles on everything Paleo. You can check out the article in its entirety, but here’s what I got from it.

Apparently, all of my symptoms were because my body has impaired metabolic flexibility. Yippie. Basically, metabolic flexibility is your body’s ability to switch back and forth between energy sources: carbohydrates and fat. After you eat, your body uses up the carbohydrates in the food for energy first and then it uses up the fat. That’s how a normal human works.

I’m not normal, so my body uses up all the carbohydrates for energy and instead of switching over to fat for energy, it basically shuts down. Its almost like it doesn’t recognize fat as an energy source, so it stores the fat (hello belly) and demands more carbs for energy. And when I don’t give it more carbs? It throws a full-on 2-year-old-not-getting-what-it-wants tantrum. When that happens, I feel fuzzy in the head, I’m extremely tired and unreasonably cranky and even the thought of going to the gym makes me nauseous.

This is exactly what happened to me last week – I didn’t workout once. I couldn’t focus at work. I was exhausted all week. At first I thought it was because I was sick. But then I just didn’t feel like doing anything. At all.

This is my takeaway from what happened last week (and what is honestly happening right now as I type this, because I’m still eating 100% paleo (except for last Sunday but shhhhhhhh)). My body had a similar reaction (albeit much less intense) as a drug or alcohol withdrawal. Surely my body needing something that badly can’t be a good thing, right? It was actually kind of concerning.

Am I saying carbs are bad? No – not at all. They are an essential part of every diet. But somewhere along the way, I started eating so many carbs that my body stopped relying on other sources for energy, and now I have to work extra hard to retrain my body to work the way it was created to work.

The post on Paleo Leap has some really good advice about how to avoid getting the Carb Flu – but basically, the important things to know are you aren’t guaranteed to get it (I was just lucky) and it doesn’t last forever (supposedly – jury’s still out for me).

Also, if you run into me over the next week or two, please be gentle. I’m probably going to be in a bad mood. Now shut up – it’s time for me to eat.

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