When I first started the transition from the conventional ”healthy” diet high in carbs, to a primal diet, I’d decided I was going ”all in” right from the start. I ditched all grains, all carbs, except for a handful or two of berries a day. To make up for all the carbs from all the grains I was consuming, I decided to eat plenty of nuts like almonds and walnuts. Being a student I needed something quick that didn’t involve me spending the whole day in the kitchen. So I stocked up on nuts, eggs and meat, threw out the low fat milk, oats and bread, and was ready to make the complete transition to primal, or so I thought.
In the following days after completely changing my way of eating over night, two things happened. Within a day or two I had a huge drop in energy. My head felt heavy and I couldn’t concentrate like I’d used to in class. I started consuming even more nuts, thinking I wasn’t eating enough. The other thing that happened was that I started having stomach cramps, as well as frequent toilet visits.
It was a friend of mine who’d recommended that I’d try the primal diet, directing me to Mark Sisson’s blog, marksdailyapple.com. After spending some time reading through the content, looking at the success stories, reading the forum and understanding the logic behind the concept of primal, I’d decided to give it a try.
Frustrated over getting worse than I was before starting out, I turned to my friend who’d recommended me the diet, and who’d been eating primal for several months. I asked him if he’d experienced similar symptoms like I was having while transitioning to a primal diet. He told me he couldn’t recall having any difficulties when going primal. That he’d only experienced positive changes, having more energy and feeling better than before.
Even more frustrated, and in need of some energy, I quickly begun adding in some bread to my diet. Soon I was back to my old eating habits, thinking that this primal diet wasn’t for me, and that I did better on my old diet.
After doing some more research however, I realized what my possible mistakes had been. First off I had made the diet transition way too quickly, cutting nearly all carbs, going from a high carb diet to a very low carb diet. Second, I’d been consuming way too many nuts. This, I found, was the reason for my stomach troubles. I also read about other people’s experiences transitioning from a SAD type diet to a primal diet, and how the first 2-3 weeks they’d experienced similar symptoms to what I’d been having, like the drop in energy. I learned that this was normal when going from a high carb to a low carb diet, and that the body needed time to adjust.
My second attempt went a whole lot better than the first, even though I should probably have gone even slower with my transition, not cutting down on the carbs so quickly. What I did the second time however, was to allow myself to have more fruits, and even some starches like potatoes and yams, and some white rice, but making sure to avoid all bread, pasta etc.
So as a tip to people who are thinking about or planning on going primal, or who’ve just started the awesome primal journey, I would recommend going slow in the transition face, lowering the amount of carbs slowly and not binge on nuts like I did, as to not fall off the wagon, and to minimize the transitional symptoms.