Where's the diet pain coming from?
September 15, 2010 10:05 AM   Subscribe

Is reduction of caloric intake known to cause unsourced pain?

Recently went onto a low-calorie diet, and it's been working well- weight loss as regular as the tides. Unfortunately, I've started noticing throbbing aches in my biceps and calves that definitely weren't there before, along with shooting pains along the trunk I can't find a source of. My exercise regimen hasn't changed, and I'm not lifting any more weight than I was before. I've read about ketosis and various other unpleasant side-effects, but this seems much more worrying to me. I've seen my doctor, naturally, but he said vaguely that he wasn't a dietician and that he couldn't speculate. Any thoughts?
posted by malusmoriendumest to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
Are you tracking your food intake such that you could make sure you're getting enough nutrients? Calf cramps are linked to low potassium, for example.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:10 AM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: What is your height, weight, and daily protein intake? Insufficient protein in a calorie-restricted diet can hamper recovery from exercise. Being chronically under-recovered can cause muscle aches. There may be something else about your diet that's leading to inflammation -- are you getting enough essential fatty acids? A fish oil supplement can be helpful. IANAD.
posted by JohnMarston at 10:10 AM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would be worried about nutrients, too. Are you taking a multivitamin? It might be useful to track your food intake on a site like fitday.com, which will show you how much of each vitamin and mineral you're consuming each day.
posted by something something at 10:13 AM on September 15, 2010

Response by poster: I'm keeping up with my vitamin supplements, and my diet's fairly varied as far as it can be. 190lb and 5' 9'', currently- though I was around 270lb early last year. Beginning to think it may be worth incorporating a little more protein, even at the cost of slower weight loss.
posted by malusmoriendumest at 10:13 AM on September 15, 2010

Best answer: Not a dietician or any other kind of health professional, but... You say you're still exercising - could it be that your diet is low enough in calories that you've started consuming your own muscle mass? I know this happens to grand tour cyclists just because it's impossible to eat and properly digest enough to keep themselves going for 3-4 weeks of 150 mile days, and that they suffer pain as a result (and not just because they're exercising at crazy levels for too long without a break).
posted by Ahab at 10:28 AM on September 15, 2010

Protein won't slow your weight loss.


Also, 190 at 5'9" is a perfectly good weight to be, depending on what that weight consists of. If you want it to be muscle rather than fat you should be getting at least 200g of protein per day.
posted by JohnMarston at 10:29 AM on September 15, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, all- think you may be right. Eighty pounds down so far, so probably not much more to go, in any case.
posted by malusmoriendumest at 10:41 AM on September 15, 2010

Aside from the nutrition factor, consider bodywork. All of the things you're describing are consistent with both lack of potassium and muscle tension tied together (I do sports bodywork, I see this often enough).

Also consider iron and cut down sports drinks with sugar if you're finding yourself having loose stools. It's easy to lose a lot of water and electrolytes at the same time and everything gets tight and twitchy.
posted by yeloson at 1:14 PM on September 15, 2010

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