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Exhausted on Day 21

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I'm on Day 21, and as my topic title says, still exhausted sometimes. Some days, I feel more energetic than others, but there are days like today where I can just barely move. I also gave up caffeine on Day 1 -- was drinking one or two cups of fairly strong coffee each day, and I went cold turkey. The first four days were horrible, but I felt like I came out of it on Day 5 or so, had two days of pretty good energy, and then never saw that again.

I was a fairly decent eater prior to my Whole30. I had done Atkins a year or two ago, which led me to discover Primal eating; I have mostly been following that for the past year, with occasional forays into bad eating. My spring was pretty stressful, as we moved across the country (and my eating certainly suffered during the lead-up to the move and our first month of settling into our new city), but my summer has been pretty low-key and I was more or less back on track prior to my Whole30. Also, I just started taking magnesium at night this week, and it seems to be helping me fall asleep and stay asleep -- fantastic!

Here's a typical day for me; I got Well Fed last week and implemented it this week. I've pretty much been cooking everything in coconut oil.


1/3 - 1/2 can of regular coconut milk

1/3 or so of a banana

herbal chai tea (Bengal Spice)

egg muffin (equivalent of 1 egg, plus some meat)


2 scrambled eggs with some veggies


big salad w/ lots of veggies

protein (eg, can of tuna, or palm-sized chicken)

salad dressing -- either oil & vinegar or mayo-based dressing from Well Fed (1/2 of recipe)

1/3 - 1/2 avocado or handful of olives


handful of coconut flakes (or today, macademia nuts)


Well Fed hot plate -- bunch of veggies sauteed in coconut oil

palm-sized protein

a spoonful or two of homeade coconut butter

I've probably thrown a sweet potato in with dinner once a week or so since I started. I didn't really notice any increase in energy afterward. Also, I am hungry when I wake up now (thanks to giving up coffee, I think!) and pretty full after dinner. My slump seems to be in the afternoon -- I get hungry and tired.

If the answer is to eat more calories or fat, can anyone make a suggestion as to how? I feel pretty pretty full after these meals and don't generally feel hungry for a couple hours. I can't imagine not feeling like I'd burst if I ate much more, truthfully.

FYI, I'm a 39-year old woman who is about 5'3" 127lbs. I was actually at the doctor's office this morning for a check-up, and had bloodwork drawn for labs; I believe they're doing a routine thyroid check, in case that happens to be an issue. (Interestingly, when I was weighed at the doctor's office this morning, I hadn't actually lost weight...I know that's a pretty common gripe on the forums. I'm not actually worried about it as I know it's not the goal of Whole30 [or necessarily my personal goals, which are to feel energetic and be more active with exercise], but I did think it was interesting as I shed weight pretty quickly doing Atkins a year or so ago. )

Thanks for any advice! Sorry this is so long, but I appreciate those of you who took the time to read!

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I've got two thoughts on your energy situation. One is that you may perk up soon and that your current slump is not a sign of doing anything wrong. It's just a phase. That's my top idea for you. The second idea is that you may be a little light on protein. Your food report looks really good overall, but I wonder if you might bump up the portion of protein at meals even if it means reducing a bit of the veggies to fit it in. I'd try the second idea if you do not perk up in a few days.

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Thanks, Tom! I'll give it a try. Protein has always been hard for me -- I am a former vegetarian and have never loved meat, but I started feeling so much better years ago when I incorporated it into my diet. I'll add a little more in and see if it helps at all.

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Tom covered your question, but as an aside, you should check the ingredients of your chai tea. Last I checked, Bengal spice isn't compliant. DEFINITELY not the reason for your exhaustion, but still something to be aware of

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Oh, no! I actually read the ingredients quite thorougly before I picked it out. Can you tell me what's not compliant? Thanks!

"Cinnamon, roasted chicory, roasted carob, natural spice and vanilla flavors with other natural flavors, ginger, cardamom, black pepper, cloves and nutmeg"

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Back on Day 26 and still feeling rather exhausted. I have been trying to get more protein, per Tom's suggestion and am awaiting results for the blood tests I mentioned above.

I don't generally track my food, but out of curiosity I entered today's meals into FitDay. I more or less had the same types of meals as in my first post above -- eggs w/ veggies, leftover protein and veggies, coconut butter & coconut milk, salad w/protein. The results were:

1,645 calories: 135.7 fat grams, 49.8 carb grams, 128.5 protein grams

Does that seem like low carbs? Should I up that? Again, I am about 5'3" (female) and weigh 127 lbs. I didn't mention above that I've been exercising lightly for the last week (my exhaustion started BEFORE I began exercising again, however). My exercising has included a brisk 30-minute walk four times each week, keeping my heart rate in the 55-75% zone of my max (truthfully, closer to 75% since I'm out of shape) and doing simple strength training 2x per week (the 4 basic moves in the Primal Blueprint fitness plan: push-ups, pull-ups, squats, planks...all modified to the most basic level!) I also have a 30-lb. three year old daughter that I pick up frequently in the morning and night; however, she's at preschool during the day while I work, so I'm not chasing her around all over anymore (except a little more on weekends!)

If I were to add more carbs, would a small sweet potato do it? Or more than that? And is there a best time to eat it? I tend to feel exhausted most in the mid and late afternoon, so maybe at lunch?

Thanks for any suggestions! I truly believe in this way of eating, but I really need to problem-solve these energy issues because I'm feeling so exhausted these days that I can hardly stay awake while I'm working, driving, etc., so I appreciate your input.

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I'm no expert, except on my n=1, but I can tell you that I don't function well when my carbs are that low. I need to be closer to 100, but I'm good with anything over 70-80. Keep in mind, I'm a much larger person than you are - 7 inches taller and almost 70 pounds heavier. That said, not getting enough carbs made me feel like you're describing. I just added more fruit - eat your whole banana with breakfast and see how you feel until lunch?

I knew from my Atkins experiment before I started paleo that low carb doesn't work too well for me, so I've just left in some fruit at every meal. It's a great vehicle for coconut butter, and my fatigue resolved.

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Reporting back that I'm on my third day of adding in more carbs (day 29 of whole30) and it's going really well! I am making sure to eat a small serving of fruit with my breakfast, and splitting a baked sweet potato between lunch and dinner. My daily intake is coming in around 90 carbs, according to FitDay, and I'm feeling so much more energetic!

Thanks, all! And thanks to Robin for the above info -- I actually saw your similar post on another thread about your size and carb levels, and it's what made me shoot for that 90-carb goal.

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