were the cavemen also overheated and starving all the time?
November 29, 2012 11:44 PM   Subscribe

low carb queries: hot and hungry.

this isn't a weight-loss question. I eat some permutation of the paleo diet on and off, and have for a couple years. It works really well for me, I can drop my body fat percentage pretty low pretty fast, probably through a combination of the diet just actually working well for my metabolism type, and also just from making me conscious of my health in a more general way and therefore making better choices. also, disabling my ability to eat only sugar, which is my craving preference. mini powdered donuts for dinner? yes please! that's background though, I'm pretty good at this diet, and it's got nothing to do with my question!

so my questions are..

when I'm eating paleo/slow carb/induction/p90x/whatever, I tend to get really hot. like, I'm roasting all the time! and this is canada, where roasting all the time is sort of the nontraditional response to life. what is making me so hot? I can't find many people reporting this on the internet, and almost no one talking about why this might be happening. In fact, it seems much more common to be cold all the time when eating low carb. what could be happening? could this be related to ketosis/ketogenisis?

also, I'm hungry. when I eat "normally" I am not a very hungry person, I like to eat and enjoy it, but hardly ever feel a burning need to do it. eating for me is mostly a desire (and a joy!) but hardly a need. when I'm low carb though, I'm hungry. I count calories sometimes and find my caloric intake to be about the same as when i'm eating refined grains and sugar. so could this just be my body sending out carbohydrate cravings, and I should totally ignore hunger pangs after I've just eaten, or could my body be doing something different and I now have a higher need for calories? or is it just because I have to plan out food better and spend more time thinking about food and it's on my mind? I eat a fair chunk of fruit, so my diet is not always even that "low carb" technically. just missing refined sugar and grain carbs.

any theories even would be appreciated. I have my own theories, and I find metafilter to be a more thoughtful community than a lot of the low-carb forums (which all tend to be weight loss or fitness based, neither of which I'm intensely interested in, I just like to think about some of my body responses.)
posted by euphoria066 to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Are you hydrating properly?
posted by MuffinMan at 12:06 AM on November 30, 2012

Heat: possibly high metabolism?

Hunger: What's your body fat percentage like and what are your activity levels? Low-carb is generally great for satiety when you're at higher body-fat percentages because fatter people tend to have more insulin resistance and thus their satiety responses get screwed up by carb intake. But once you start reaching very high activity levels and/or lower than normal body-fat percentages your body is much more likely to be processing carbs normally and efficiently and your muscles end up starved for glycogen.
posted by schroedinger at 12:21 AM on November 30, 2012

Martin Berkhan (the Leangains guy) contends that protein has a thermogenic effect. Basically, it's harder to digest than fat or carbs and therefore digesting it 1) creates more waste heat and 2) less fuel for your body. He argues that 1g of protein should really only count as 3.2 calories, not 4. If you're really protein heavy on your diet (easy to do on paleo, etc.), you might try adding more fat. That should improve your satiety at least. May affect your body temperature too, I don't know.
posted by zanni at 12:48 AM on November 30, 2012

I eat some permutation of the paleo diet on and off, and have for a couple years.

I think this is very likely to be part of your excessive hunger and possibly the overheating too. In my experience almost any restrictive diet will make you hungry (and often produce other random symptoms) for a month or more at first -- so if you're on for a few months and then off for a few months, you may just not be giving your body enough time to adjust.
posted by pete_22 at 1:39 AM on November 30, 2012

It sounds like you've worked out a diet that cranks your basal metabolic rate up a few notches.

It works really well for me, I can drop my body fat percentage pretty low pretty fast


when I'm eating paleo/slow carb/induction/p90x/whatever, I tend to get really hot. like, I'm roasting all the time!

As anybody who has ever looked at the HVAC design for any building knows, heating is a voracious energy consumer compared to just about any kind of movement. Same applies to bodies: making heat = burning lots of fuel; in your case (lucky you!) body fat.

Burning lots of fuel is also going to cause hormone releases that cause feelings of hunger. Your body lets you know when you're cutting into your reserves.

Personally I find that hunger pangs that persist for more than a few days are accompanied by a shortened temper, general grumpiness and reduced effectiveness; count yourself lucky if that doesn't happen to you, because that means you're perfectly free to treat hunger signals as pure information, letting you tweak your body fat percentage any way you want.
posted by flabdablet at 4:08 AM on November 30, 2012

When I eat paleo/low carb, I don't realize I'm hungry until it's like OMG FOOD NOW. I think it's because when I eat carbs, my blood sugar is up and down more and I snack more because eating carbs makes me want to eat more carbs, and the cycle continues.

When I'm doing the low carb thing, snacks aren't as appealing and I don't eat until I'm truly hungry, usually 5-6 hours after a meal. Could this be what is going on? Are you hungry soon after eating meals, though?
posted by shortyJBot at 4:27 AM on November 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've been eating low-carb for almost two years now - at this point, it's not a diet, it's just the way I eat - and I'm rarely hungry in the OMG STARVING NOW way. Are you eating enough fat? Avocados, full-fat yogurt, etc.

Don't track your calories; track your carbs, fats, and proteins - keep a food log for a couple of weeks and see what you're really eating. Having just come off (American) Thanksgiving, which was a huge carb fest, I can say that for me, it's really easy to slip into eating more carbs (without really realizing it) and feeling hungry even though I've eaten a lot.
posted by rtha at 5:49 AM on November 30, 2012

Also, try some high-satiety snacks, like nuts or jerky. I find that I do more snacking now that I'm eating paleo, in part because I need a *few* carbs (which I get from, say, some paleo granola or a piece of fruit), and in part just because, as was mentioned, you're sort of eating fewer "calories" than you think. Sometimes a handful of nuts or a piece of jerky in midafternoon is all I need, and that doesn't seem a problem from either weight or health points of view. Your body sends you cues for a reason, and if you're not throwing it for loops (like all that sugar and starch tends to do), then it's probably communicating honestly.

Just my two cents, of course.
posted by acm at 6:41 AM on November 30, 2012

Response by poster: hydration: I'm okay. I'm definitely not at the higher end of water drinking average, but I don't show any signs of dehydration (I pee a regular amount and the right colour, at least :P)

fat %: my body fat percentage is pretty low on average, slightly over 23% when I started, the lowest I ever got measured at was 16% (this was eating the 4 hour body slow-carb, with no fruit or dairy and not much fat) and I looked kind of over-the-top, so I estimate I hover around 19% or so when I'm happy. I'm pretty skinny naturally.

time: I'm pretty hungry maybe about.. 2/3 hours after I eat? this has never seemed to lessen for me, even when I've been strict on the diet for extended amounts of time. a small glass of red wine (which some diets allow and some don't, mine personally does because I'm much more likely to stop dieting if I totally take away wine.) will pretty much get rid of it in the evenings, but i'm not sure if that's related to the carbs in the wine or the alcohol. I will end up with a schedule more along the lines of 4 or 5 small(ish) meals a day on paleo, but I've heard that's healthy, so I usually just roll with it.

fat foods: I'm pretty sure I'm good with this, but I'm honestly not sure now that I think on it... avocados yes, but they aren't good in canada for large parts of the year. I don't eat dairy on paleo, except for really small amounts of hard cheeses for flavour in things, so yogurt and stuff is out. I eat eggs and oil and nuts, all of which are pretty fatty.. maybe I'll consider adding some yogurt and see if it helps?
posted by euphoria066 at 6:54 AM on November 30, 2012

Ah, crappy avocados. Yeah. Try some prepared guacamoles - I know that here in the States it's relatively easy to find ones that don't have a ton of crap in them, so give that a shot if you can. But everyone is different: I can eat a couple eggs scrambled with some cheese and a dollop of cottage cheese on top for breakfast and I don't even think about lunch for a good five hours.
posted by rtha at 7:34 AM on November 30, 2012

If you're eating a "fair chunk of fruit," you're unlikely to be in ketosis.

Studies performed to determine whether the ratio of carbs to fats affects metabolic rate have mostly found no difference. All food has a thermic effect, protein just has more than the other macronutrients; however, the thermic effect of adding dietary protein is small:
Thus, although substituting carbohydrate for fat in the diet does not appear to alter total energy expenditure, increasing protein intake to 30–35% of energy does increase energy expenditure. The increase, however, is only ≈70 kcal/d, or 2.7% of a median 2550-kcal/d total energy expenditure for an adult.
posted by ludwig_van at 7:36 AM on November 30, 2012

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