Some people understand how a low carb-eating plan can help them lose weight, balance their hormones, and reduce inflammation, and are easily able to make an instant change. However, other folks encounter obstacles with this process.
My patient Jean took up low carb eating by following the Weight Loss Eating Plan because she thought sugar cravings ruled her life and hated the constant debate between what she wanted and what she allowed herself to eat.
The first call came four days into the plan: “So this is what they mean by constipation!” With fruit and sweet coffee removed from her diet, Jean's body complained by going on strike. She called when her stomach began to hurt.
Solutions are usually easily found to help the body adjust to this new eating plan. The low-carb food solution is to eat more leafy greens and lacto-fermented sauerkraut, easy to make at home.
With low carb constipation, two supplements often come in handy. I advised Jean first to take a probiotic. To complement her busy lifestyle, I chose Integrative Therapeutics Probiotic Pearls, easy to carry in a purse or pocket. I told her to take 1-2 mid-morning and again mid-afternoon. Second, I recommended magnesium, a common mineral deficiency often revealed when people reduce their fruit carbohydrates. I knew that she had preexisting problems with muscle tension and insomnia, and chose 2-3 daily capsules of Cardiovascular Research Magnesium Taurate for her, a well balanced and calming form of magnesium.
She called after another four days: “Okay, that problem is better, but is the brain fog coming from the magnesium or the diet?” My answer was that it came from her body's learning curve. Our brain's common fuel is the blood sugar from dietary carbohydrates, which we actually want to lower on this eating plan. Ketones from dietary fats are also a great fuel, but it takes a while for some brains to figure this out. I made three suggestions to help her brain adapt:
- Temporarily, this might be a time to take L-glutamine. 1-2 capsules of Metabolic Maintenance L-glutamine taken 3 times a day provide an alternate fuel while the brain works to remember how to burn ketones for fuel.
- Eat more fat! The brain will adapt quicker the more ketones it sees, so eat fat.
- “But,” Jean protested, “I eat fat so rarely that I feel queasy when I do.” The perfect assist to a body that's forgotten how to digest fat, is to enhance digestion, usually with the temporary use of two products from Thorne Research. I advised her to take one Betaine HCl with a fatty meal and 1-2 Dipan-9 shortly after eating a fatty meal.
Six months later, what are her rewards? Jean still takes the probiotics, magnesium and the occasional Dipan-9. Her brain is alert and clear, and her digestion is fine. She doesn't miss desserts or grains, both of which she eliminated. Her sleep is better, probably due to more stable blood sugar levels. I would wager her fasting insulin is lower, which lowers her risk for breast cancer (runs in her family), as well as diabetes.
Now Jean actively dances, as she always has, but does not need anti-inflammatories afterwards. I know she'll bring me flowers when her garden blooms, but I won't expect any more home-baked cookies from her.
Have you tried a low carb diet? Have you seen any benefits or faced challenges not covered in this article?