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reactive hypoglycemia energy levels

I have recently been proven to suffer from reactive hypoglycemia. I am 19 years old and was a previous athlete and now a coach.

If I don't eat within 1 to 1 1/2 hours I don't have the energy to continue working. I have been told to go on the atkins diet to eliminate cabohydrates so that my symptoms dissapear and they have got alot better but i feel i am eating way too much and am starting to gain weight as i am eating maybe 10 to 11 times a day.

I also have no idea what to snack on when i am working as i have no time to sit down???

I would appreciate any help on whether I am on the correct diet and what snacks would be good for both the atkins and my condition.

I really feel for people with this condition as it has affected my lifestyle and i am now unable to compete in competition.

Thankyou
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replied May 7th, 2008
Supporter
First of all, Atkins is ridiculously low in carbohydrate, far too low for any person in my opinion.

Look to be on around 90g of carbs minimum, any lower and you'll find yourself in ketosis and feeling rather crappy. You'll need to play with this value a little, if you're ok with 90g then add on another 10g, and keep adding on 10g until you've found the maximum carb you can tolerate before symptoms return. As you're active, the more carb you can get away with the better. 90g - 120g is normal for a low carb diet and should be fine for you, unfortunately everyone is different in how much carb they can tolerate, so you will have to play a little.
Get your carbs from veggies and some fruit rather than bread/rice etc until you know what you can tolerate personally. Stan has a general guide in a sticky that you should check out.

I assume as a sports person you're already aware of the importance of protein. Make sure you're getting enough in so your muscles can repair sufficiently - but bare in mind that excess protein is converted to glucose, your body will only use what it needs. So don't go mad with it.

Fat, as I understand it is encouraged on the Atkins diet. Be careful. Make sure your fat is coming from good sources, like extra virgin olive oil, when possible - stay away from the lard and saturated fats. And please don't try this new 'high-fatting' fad where Atkins dieters are eating 80% of their calories from lard Surprised

Eating every 1-2 hours is fine given your active lifestyle, eat as often as you need to, just keep a check on your calorie intake if you're concerned about weight gain. Bare in mind that fat has 9kcal per gram, so if you are high-fatting and not counting calories, that would explain the weight gain.


One thing the low carb fads are good for, is recipes. Have a search for low carb recipes. A good idea before training is something like peanut butter - have it on celery sticks, with ham or cheese, you can even mix it with protein powder and roll it into balls. Peanut butter is priceless for the active person, if you like it then stock up! Chicken and tuna are also worth their weight in gold, you can do so much with the stuff plus it's high in protein and not much else. Eggs also make a good pre-training snack, as do a handful of nuts.
If you enjoy cooking there's a lot of recipes out there for things like protein bars for pre-training that are made with peanut butter for example, rather than sugar and honey.
You can also take these things to work and eat on the go.
Cook up bowls of tuna salad, chicken salad etc, to keep in the fridge so you'll always have something to hand at home. You can also pack similar meals into those plastic containers and take some to eat in work.


Also bare in mind that a lot of fitness buffs and body weight trainers are on a similar diet of meat/fish/eggs/veggies (plus peanut butter!). Training while on this diet is perfectly do-able, if not actually better for you.


If you want to monitor your dietary intake, I recommend Fit Day. It's very basic, but a priceless tool. Enter in your diet and the program displays various reports and charts of your intake, taking into account your total calories, protein, fat, and carbs. It makes it very easy to see exactly how much of what you're putting in your body. I'm currently on a protein/carb/fat percentage of 35/25/40 - on 1500 calories that works out to be 131g of protein, 94g of carbs, and 67g of fat per day. That's a nice ratio to aim for but as you're much more active than me you'll need a higher calorie intake, so may have to adjust those percentages slightly.


How long have you been on this diet? As I said, a lot of people in the fitness world follow a similar diet and find that they feel much better for it - so give it some time. Your body needs to adjust to using other sources (fat) as well as glucose for fuel, so you'll feel pretty bad at first. But give it a few weeks, you'll feel better in no time.
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replied May 10th, 2008
Community Volunteer
Wow, V, sounds like you've learned a lot thus far! I wanted to comment that it is eventually pretty easy to work out on this diet. I am currently training and can run miles and such with no problem. If you eat a lot of protein before you work-outs (about 2-3 hours before), you'll be fine, and then have some carbohyrate afterwards like an orange.
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replied May 22nd, 2008
Low carb
Thnakyou very much for the advise. I've been on the atkins diet now for about 6 weeks, but have changed to a low carb diet and I am feeling alot better, but I am unable to tolerate any form of fruit and most vegetables, maybe due to eating too much veg at one time but definately unable to tolerate fruit. I am unaware of which grams of carbohydrate count ie: net carbs etc. If I could tolerate 90g of carbs a day would this be separated equally through meals or would i take more pre or post exercise?
Thankyou very much for your help
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replied May 24th, 2008
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Some people are unable to tolerate fruit at first - me included. Fructose may be natural sugar, but it's still sugar and has a similar structure to glucose, it's a monosaccharide. With veg, be careful of sweetcorn/carrots/peas/beans etc. If you find something causes problems, eliminate it until later in your diet when you're settled.

Don't have 90g carbs in one go, obviously. It's better to space your carbs out through the day but it might be worth you having more during/after training, and less when not active. Again that's common sense. Your glycogen stores are depleted after activity so a bit of carb post training will help restore what your body has used. But pre training is also important as you need the energy, so try eating more protein, or more fat, and see if anything helps keep the slug away.

There's no set limit on the amount of carbohydrate per meal, it's a case of common sense and finding what best fits you. Personally I don't go over 20g in one meal but when I'm training I'll pack in the chicken, cheese (some), and veggies.

Don't forget your body can use fat for fuel, and on a low carbohydrate diet your body will more readily break down fat to use despite glucose being it's preferred fuel. Pre training I eat things like chicken, and cheese, then again straight after. The fat and protein content helps keep both brain and body fueled.

But again I'd recommend eating as much carbohydrate as you can tolerate, it's a matter of finding out what you can and can't tolerate.

It's also true that your body can't store excess protein, it's broken into glucose through a process called gluconeogenesis (where your body will get glucose from other sources than glycogen). So if you eat an excess of protein, you'll have a bit of glucose come out of it. I'm currently in the process of finding out how likely it is that the glucose from excessive amounts of protein can cause a hypo reaction - but the bottom line is, you can't function without glucose, so at the moment I'd say yes eat the protein especially as you're more active and need it anyway.

Also note that you may feel pretty crappy and low on energy while your body is adjusting - especially if your diet has been high in carbohydrate in the past. It'll pass.
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replied May 24th, 2008
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Yeah, as she said, best to eat a higher protein meal before training, and then some carbohydrates afterwards. If you can tolerate fruit, then go for an orange or cut some pure juice with water. You should be having most of your carbs earlier in the day.
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replied November 13th, 2008
More results and adrenaline
Hi, since taking your advice I have felt alot better, but still unable to train at a high intensity so I had more tests done and culd no longer do my physically stressful job soI quit.

I recently had a 4 hour prolonged glucose tolerance test my results were as follows:
Fasting: 4.7 mmol
1/2 hour after 75g glucose: 8.7
3 hours after: 4.7
3.5 hours after: 3.7
4 hours: 4.2

There were results inbetween but I will not have them until I receive them through the post.

Other tests I had done all showed normal, ie. thyroid etc.

They said that I showed signs of reactive hypoglycemia but did not show absolute hypoglycemia.

The doctor told me I was getting symptoms that felt like hypoglycemia because of the amount of adrenaline I produce (the stress release hormone). He said that this was because I used to be an athlete and through my teenage years I was brought up under immense competitive stress. Therefore since stopping sport due to injury; my body is still producing the ammount of adrenaline required for a competitive sportsperson, which is stopping my liver producing glucose into my muscles effectively.

Could ayone explain this too me in more detail? I don't understand why this would cause my sugar levels to drop.

He also said that i should begin to exercise more frequently, although this tends to make me feel alot worse. I eat a small meal every 2 hours. By doing this my body will eventually adjust and I may be able to return to competitive sport bit by bit.
I just can't see how this would be possible.

I would appreciate any help you can give me
Thankyou
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replied October 13th, 2009
Cattyjane, I'm not sure I can answer your q about stress and adrenaline, but the same thing applies to me (high stress, reactive hypo). All that I know is that these symptoms are interconnected but reactive hypo is poorly understood by the medical profession. I am a swimmer, and since following Stephanie Kenrose's advice (she has a couple books on Amazon), I am able to function normally and no longer feel like I am going to pass out after a swim. I do have to drink/eat before a swim and right after a swim. Anyway, I'd recommend her books as a starting point because it worked for me (and I was a wreck a few months ago).

Whatever you do, don't stop exercising!
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