Low Carb Frequently Asked Questions - Having hunger problems.. not the normal kind

08-21-2013, 02:18 PM
Its been a while since I have been able to get on but I made an extreme effort today because I think I am kicking my own butt without meaning to.

I had originally been on a low calorie diet but things overall, not just weight loss, were not working out for me.

I switched to low carb and omg I was amazed because I thought mainly it was just hype. I have always had a problem with getting the "munchies" and had to fight myself not to snack out and only eat when I am supposed to.

I have ZERO appetite. I cannot even MAKE myself hungry. I drink my fluids and I'm trying to remember to make a piece of chicken or grab some cheese maybe and egg or something in the morning. But I don't WANT it!

I had an awfully busy weekend last weekend and I realized Sunday evening that I had not eaten anything since Friday morning.
I do not want my body to go on strike but I honestly do not know when or how much to eat because since about week 3 of low carb I'm just never hungry.
What do I do? Everything everywhere says eat when you are hungry. You have to eat, fuel the body. I know its true I just .. gah.. I don't know WHEN or how much.
I have noticed that I have kinda stalled out on the weight on the scale but I have gone from a fitting size 22 to a loose 16, scale says I went from 210 to 189 but then back up to 192 for over a week but clothes keep getting looser.
So confused, am I stalled? I am cutting off my own nose here? Has this ever happened to anyone else?
Thanks in advance

08-21-2013, 04:21 PM
When you go low carb you can get into a state termed ketosis. Your body switches from running mainly on carbohydrates to running on fat. One consequence of this is that the hormones that normally regulate hunger/appetite and satiety (insulin, leptin, ghrehlin) are to some degree bypassed since they are regulated by carbs. Once you are in ketosis, you tend to be much less hungry. You have to be careful to eat, though. It is maybe tempting to leave out meal, but your body will crash at some point. The fact that you stalled out (if this continues to happen for several weeks) may indicate that your metabolic rate has changed. If this persists or if you actually start gaining scale weight, you need to test your thyroid hormones (the full panel not just TSH). Thyroid hormone levels are also dependent on carbs and some people can get hypothyroid on low carb diets. Weight gain is then mostly due to water retention as this is indirectly regulated by thyroid hormones.

There are a number of diets out that are very low calorie diets ant take advantage of ketosis. This is because such diets only work well when you are not constantly hungry. However, you do need to get some calories in. 800-900 is the minimum and you need to monitor your health carefully. Otherwise you risk damaging your body long-term. I did two such diets using prepackaged food and you generally eat 4-6 meals/day, hungry or not.

08-21-2013, 07:57 PM
I am trying to remind myself to eat something even if its just a slice of ham with some cheese.
The problem is I can't tell because I'm just not hungry, if I'm eating too much (body really isn't hungry) or too little (I just don't feel hungry)

The things I do eat although very low in carbs are high in calories for what I can see. I'm not too much of an egg eater without breads so I stick to mostly meats and cheeses with some veggies.

I'm sorry if I'm explaining this badly. Maybe I should just ask a more direct question. You said at least 800-900 calories per day. Should I be sure to count calories then and make sure I'm eating at least this much?
Do I need to spread that throughout the day, 200 here and there or can it be twice I make myself eat something like a full meal?

I've been in a situation this week due to work where my normal water consumption seems to have plummeted. I won't lie my stress levels for personal reasons are over the top right now.
Not going for drama lol, just trying to give an accurate picture for a better understanding.
Its the appetite that made me worry, since starving myself is useless and stupid. But also totally unintentional. Wondering if this is the ketosis you were referring to or in part stress.. although to be honest stress used to drive me TO the fridge not away from it.
How do you recognize healthy ketosis appetite suppressant from accidental starvation?
Sorry if this seems like an obvious answer.

08-21-2013, 08:32 PM
Stress and anxiety can also cause the body to divert resources from body processes such as digestion which can result in decreased appetite. If you are doing low carb (would you mind saying which program you are doing as that gives us an idea of your food list) then you will have digestion issues. A lot of low carb veg are low residue and low fibre, combined with lots of protein this can lead to blockages. Our appetite is low when we are constipated, but the changes in our diets might mean you are not realizing it as it can feel different.

I did dukan and the loss of appetite was often due to habituation as well it comes from eating the same few things over and over. Try some variation in the foods and see if that helps.

Use one of the food tracking programs for a couple of days just to see where you are at calorie wise, but I am not a fan of the science behind calorie counting, but it is useful.

I also found that my scales often stopped moving while the body was going through a last ditch effort to keep the fat cells at full capacity, but that the body was actually starting the process of shrinking the depleted cells which results in smaller measurements. Losses start back up after that happens.

Try to have at least one well balance meal each day, including your allowed veg/fruit options. Work on the stress, keep up the fluids and maybe some light exercise like walking for a short while to help get the juices flowing again and if it does not improve donnas suggested, go to your doctor. Good luck!

08-21-2013, 10:29 PM
As far as a "program" goes or if you mean atkins south beach etc. I would have to say none.
I was having so much trouble with low calorie fitting into my life. I was tired all the time, just plain no energy, the scale barely budged (of course water weight came off but that was expected with any "diet")
I basically read up on the concept of low carb from many different places and adjusted a menu I could live with right around 15-20 carbs a day.
Now honestly I wasn't concerning myself with calories because I was watching the carbs.
Weight started coming off again and I got to 189 I was doing the happy dance.
Never felt hungry between eating. I was drinking plenty of water. I fell asleep easier and was energized all day (which for me starts at 4:30am and ends around 10pm)
Now the last week or so has just been .. blah
I had to go back to a really busy routine, my husband is gone for a few months and I'm balancing house, 3 kids, hectic job and missing him horribly.
So I can't say for sure that I've hit a plateau? Stressed? I have no idea it just seems like even though I keep trying really hard, my body is going in reverse.
I'm sorry I didn't mean to ramble but I am really trying to get a grip on this and not give up.
Thanks for the advice up to this point.

08-26-2013, 11:37 AM
I have ZERO appetite. I cannot even MAKE myself hungry. I drink my fluids and I'm trying to remember to make a piece of chicken or grab some cheese maybe and egg or something in the morning. But I don't WANT it!

Why? For weight loss this is an ideal state.

The human body is able to use its own fuel for long periods. If you think of it, you have a body that was created to store fat because food used to be less available than it is now. One interesting factoid I just heard is that people are the only animal who can turn protein into carbs, and frankly if you are not eating carbs, then you need to keep the protein (lean meat) down as well, and eat mostly fat. The more fat you eat, the less food you need during the rest of the day, and in fact you can go for a day or two if you only eat high fat meals.

Have you been checking your ketone strips?

I personally feel that you should listen to your body and not try to force feed it.

08-26-2013, 01:52 PM
When I am eating very low carb, I lose my appetite entirely, but hunger is still functional, it's just a very different kind of hunger. So different that it took me a long time (and the help of my husband) to learn to recognize the new signals as hunger.

On carbs, my hunger is mostly in my brain and stomach. I can't stop thinking of food and my stomach feels empty. I may feel a little tired.

On very low carb, the thought component is entirely absent. I forget about food. Hunger starts as a headache. Then it becomes irritability. This is where hubby will often notice and will ask me when I've last eaten.

Eventually the irritability will become anger or even rage. The headache gets worse and if I still don't recognize it, the next stage is dizziness, lightheadness and if I still don't eat, I will pass out.

You may be having hunger that you're not able to recognize because it's so different from your "old" hunger.

I am borderline diabetic, so my lowcarb hunger is closely tied to bloodsugar levels and drops. Someone who is not insulin resistant may not experience such dramatic hunger cues. You may get only a mild headache or feel sleepy or lethargic.

Maybe your body is telling you to eat, but it's in a new language on low carb.

08-28-2013, 10:48 AM
Hunger starts as a headache. Then it becomes irritability. This is where hubby will often notice and will ask me when I've last eaten.

Eventually the irritability will become anger or even rage. The headache gets worse and if I still don't recognize it, the next stage is dizziness, lightheadness and if I still don't eat, I will pass out.

Do you think this sounds more like "withdrawal symptoms" than "hunger?"

08-28-2013, 01:58 PM
Do you think this sounds more like "withdrawal symptoms" than "hunger?"

Nope, I've done a great deal of experimenting over the years, and know the difference. "Withdrawal" is what happens in the first couple weeks of low-carb, and gets better as your body adjusts to low-carb. At least for me, during those two weeks, and especially during the first week, "normal hunger" is also still in play.

I was never able to stick to low-carb in the past, because the "induction flu" didn't get better after two weeks, it only got worse and worse until by week three I would literally pass out. At the time, I did not recognize the symptoms as hunger or low blood sugar. I only knew that more than a week or two of low-carb put me at risk of passing out and that the symptoms would get worse, not better (the longest I was ever able to stick it out, was about 6 weeks, until I couldn't stand without the room spinning).

More proof that it isn't "withdrawal" is that eating protein and fat will prevent symptoms from progressing. Carbs work faster, so if I'm stupid enough to let it get to the dizziness stage, I tend to "treat it" with something with at least a bit of paleo carbohydrate, such as nuts.

However, if I'm smart and take the headache as a cue to eat, the symptoms will dissipate whether I eat carbs or protein and fat. Protein and fat take a bit longer to relieve symptoms, so I can't wait until I'm about to pass out.

When hubby was diagnosed diabetic, I began experimenting with his glucometer. I discovered that the symptoms ocurred when my blood sugar was either low or had dropped rapidly.

I initially thought my issues may be unique to people who are diabetic, hypoglycemic or otherwise insulin resistant, but I recently read a research study that studied hunger in a wide range of participants. Participants were asked to describe their hunger symptoms, and the wide range of hunger symptoms reported were astonishing. Turns out hunger is experienced in many ways.