David Lohmeyer's Blog

Hacking primal: How to not feel tired while reducing carbs

While I tend to focus on technology on this blog, I like to branch out a bit and give tips on improving health.  Computer geeks everywhere could most definitely use some healthy advice! I've posted a variety of articles on my low carb experience and losing 60 pounds over the course of 4-5 months, which you can view with the low carb tag of this blog.

So, you've decided to start eating low carb.  After a week or two you notice that you're really tired.  Sometimes this comes and goes.  How do you get rid of that feeling without getting a caffiene crash?

I personally still drink coffee.  After the coffee effect wears off, I'm usually not tired during the day.  The reason is that I take two scoops of Whey Protein in the morning, which is about 50 grams of protein.  During my initial low carb diet this is all I'd have for breakfast.  My personal favorite is mixing Optimum Nutrition's Chocolate Mint Whey (~6 carbs for 2 scoops) with Soy Slender milk (1 carb, this is a bulk link but grocery stores like Meijer sell it).  You can get Optimum flavors with less carbs and different sizes if that's your thing, also available at this link from Amazon.  Speaking of Amazon, they have a very good price on Optimum Whey and with Prime you get free 2-day shipping, so I recommend it.  It's much cheaper than the health store.

Within 5-10 minutes of taking a protein drink in the morning you will be noticeably more alert.  I guarantee it.

What does the protein do?  Well, when you're on low carb, protein is a main source of your energy.  It takes the place of carbohydrates, or so I've felt in my experience.  Fats and protein are both your best friend on this diet, which flies in the face of the low fat / low calorie diet craze that people have been pushing for years.  Here's what protein is, from About.com:

Protein is one of the basic building blocks of the human body, making up about 16 percent of our total body weight. Muscle, hair, skin, and connective tissue are mainly made up of protein. However, protein plays a major role in all of the cells and most of the fluids in our bodies. In addition, many of our bodies' important chemicals -- enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and even our DNA -- are at least partially made up of protein. Although our bodies are good at “recycling” protein, we use up protein constantly, so it is important to continually replace it.

From that same article, here's how much protein a normal person not on a low carb diet supposedly needs:

The standard method used by nutritionists to estimate our minimum daily protein requirement is to multiply the body weight in kilograms by .8, or weight in pounds by .37. This is the number of grams of protein that should be the daily minimum. According to this method, a person weighing 150 lbs. should eat 55 grams of protein per day, a 200-pound person should get 74 grams, and a 250-pound person should eat 92 grams.

How much protein should you have on low carb?  The general consensus that I've read on sites like Mark's Daily Apple say that 1g of protein per pound of body weight is perfectly fine.  In fact, he debunks the notion of kidney problems with too much protein with this post and states that he personally has 1g of protein per 1lb of body weight.  What this means is you can easily do two scoops of Optimum in the morning to get a boost and then have another two scoops post-workout as a 150lb+ male, since those two supplments will give you about 100g of protein.

For women, if you're worried about "bulking up" by eating too much protein, I've read that this isn't really an issue. Check out this article about strength training for women that highlights this issue.

For the protein newcomers thinking about getting a container from Amazon: The 5lb container lasts me about a month when I do 4 scoops a day.  Also, Optimum adds a scoop into the container so you don't have to do any fancy measuring.

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