T Nation

Is My Diet is Killing Me?

My life is virtually stress free. I have symptoms of a problem though…seems stress related. Not sure what it is. Similar to those of overtraining, diabetes, and maybe an electrolyte imbalance. The most noticeable are:
-Insomnia
-Waking up 5x/night suddenly with being wide awake (high cortisol/adrenaline, low glucose???)
-Constantly thirsty, especially at night
-Always going to the bathroom, especially at night
-Decreased workout capacity
-Fatigue, wired and tired all day

Training (High intensity type):
Saturday, I warm up thoroughly and do 1 set to failure for squats.
Sunday, I warm up thoroughly and do 1 set to failure for bench & rows.
Monday - Friday, I do no exercise.
That’s it. Very bare bones training. Yet I can’t seem to recover.

Diet:
I typically eat very well and generally in a mild caloric surpluss… Mostly protein, veggies, fruits, and healthy fats. Every now and then I’ll eat a bowl of oatmeal, make a potato, etc.

Observations:
Blood tests confirm I don’t have diabetes and all my organs are working efficiently. When I take at least 2 weeks off of training completely, I then notice vast improvements in sleep. I’ve taken a complete month off and noticed that I actually slept 8 hours uninterrupted and felt much better.

My workouts generally take 10 whole minutes each time. Yes. That’s 20 entire minutes each week devoted to some high intensity training. Yet I can’t recover? Can’t be overtraining…It must be under nourishing somehow…I’ve thought it was a lack of salt, lack of magnesium, lack of vitamin D, body is to acidic… all to no avail.

I’ve been thinking: high intensity training depletes the muscles of nearly all muscle glycogen, correct? Does this replenishment period take a large amount of carbohydrates to do? Keto dieters also experience major insomnia issues as well, right? My diet is very high in protein, I assumed excess was converted to glycogen and stored?? Maybe my body is starved for carbohydrates?

I’m wondering if anybody has experienced this before and fixed the underlying problem, whatever it may be. Maybe I just have fatal familial insomnia… :slight_smile: By the way, thanks for reading my novel.

I can’t say I have trained the way you train. But I had low T that led to most of the same symptoms you have. I still have the problem if I don’t get enough “bad” carbs. If i stay at <200 carbs while lifting heavy for a couple of days I start to feel like crap and my energy drops, wake up a lot at night etc. if I carb up with >300g of carbs from potatoes/rice/noodles etc. I feel energized and my workouts are much better as well as sleeping much better.

Maybe I am not giving my body time to adjust to the low carb “lifestyle” before I carb back up. But in my case carbs help my sleep more than anything now that my T levels are normal.

What is your morning body temperature?
Do you notice being cold frequently?
Cold hands and feet?

Also, what is your idea of healthy fats?

You are not warming up fully if you are doing a set to failure within 10 minutes of starting your warmup. Also, you are not fully depleting muscle glycogen completely with one set to failure.

Omega100 - Interesting… Are you on Replacement Therapy? How did you find out you had low T? Good to know there’s an instance that lots of carbs help you sleep better.

channjo - Not sure what my morning temperature is…Definitely feeling a lot colder than usual especially at night for quite some time. Hands and feet usually cold. Temperature at the docs was in the mid 97s I believe?

Healthy fats - Avocado, flax, fish oil, coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, seeds…

Ecchastang - I have a little routine I do at home that includes bodyweight squats, stretches, etc. Then I go in the gym and do the bar for a couple sets of 20, then 4-5 progressively heavier sets ~4-6 reps short of failure, then 1 all out set. Do you think not warming up more would cause my issues? I can only think that it would increase my chances of injury.

About how much glycogen do you deplete in a muscle for one set to failure? Is it something like 0.5%, 30%, or something closer to 90%? (I really have no idea).

[quote]oso0690 wrote:

Ecchastang - I have a little routine I do at home that includes bodyweight squats, stretches, etc. Then I go in the gym and do the bar for a couple sets of 20, then 4-5 progressively heavier sets ~4-6 reps short of failure, then 1 all out set. Do you think not warming up more would cause my issues? I can only think that it would increase my chances of injury.

About how much glycogen do you deplete in a muscle for one set to failure? Is it something like 0.5%, 30%, or something closer to 90%? (I really have no idea).[/quote]

As to the glycogen depletion, it will sort of depend on the rep range. If I do a set to failure in the 3-5 range, I am mostly in the phosphocreatine energy system. If I am failing in the 15 range, I am more anaerobic glycolic system, but failing mainly due to lactic acid buildup, not to glycogen depletion.

As to your warmup, I say you are not warming up enough if you are doing all your warmup AND your working set in a 10 minute time frame.

As to why you you feel like you do, no idea, but not due to working out too much or depleting your glycogen.

What blood tests have you had?

You need comprehensive bloodwork. Adrenals, thyroid, etc. Sounds like your cortisol is off the charts, which leads to thyroid issues, low androgens, etc.

I already had:
Basic Metabolic Panel
CBC with Auto Diff
Cortisol (just the morning)
Lipid panel reflex
TSH reflex
Differential
LDL

Here’s some of the main scores:
Cortisol was 15.4. Morning norm is 6.0-25.0
Cholesterol 137. Norm <=200
Triglyceride 66. Norm <=150
HDL 41. Norm >=40
LDL 83. Norm <=100
TSH 1.0963. Norm 0.35-4.94
Sodium 141. Norm 136-145
Potassium 4.5 Norm 3.5-5
Chloride 102. Norm 98-107
CO2 25. Norm 22-29
Anion Gap 14. Norm 7-16
Calcium 9. 8.6-10
Glucose 106. norm 74-109
BUN 16. Norm 6-20
Creatinine 1.13. Norm 0.67-1.17
GFR Afr Am >60

I felt decent the night before and the day these tests were done. It had been 2 weeks since the last workout. Blood test was taken 11 days ago. I worked out this past weekend because I felt better. Then Monday night I had minor issues sleeping. Tuesday night I had moderate issues sleeping. Wednesday night I slept 3 hours. Last night I had considerable difficulty going to sleep and resorted to sleeping aids.

something isn’t right in your life; when you say stress free what do you mean? I can’t tell you how many clients (psychologist) I have come to me, saying their lives are great, or things are going great, and then I ask them what they mean, or are the things in their life really what THEY want, or what they feel OTHERS think they should want. Anyway, long story short it usually ends in sobbing. Take inventory of your life, as the week wears on it looks like you sleep less and less. I can’t necessarily help you via the internet, but my guess would be something about your life is troubling you.

Interesting… I can’t think of any underlying stresses except for getting stressed out that I can’t sleep. I’ll have to think about that for a while…

I’m looking more into this low testosterone thing. I have every symptom as described on the net except for hair loss. What makes me wonder is that I talked to 2 relatives that were diagnosed with low T and they had no issues getting ‘it’ up and keeping it up before TRT. I do. At 23 years old. :frowning:

Anyway, I plan to get my T tested in the next couple weeks. I’m going to discontinue lifting and do some light calisthenics for a while. It would be hard to believe that my training is keeping me in the overtraining hole, but maybe it is. I’ll try to update this thread in the next couple of weeks on how I feel.

Your diet list says you consume fruit, how much? Your symptoms sound like you are not getting enough carbs. Here’s an experiment. When you wake up, don’t eat breakfast and notice how cold your hands get as the day goes on (especially if you use caffeine as well), then eat a carb rich meal at lunch (plenty of starch and sugar) and see how the hand coldness goes away.

That is your adrenals calming down. Once you get carbs, the adrenaline and cortisol levels lower. High adrenaline and cortisol constricts your peripheral veins and makes you wake up at night. Like Omega100 said, eating higher carbs leads to better sleep and better workouts. If you are not dieting to super low bodyfat levels for a show then there is really no reason to avoid carbs. Eat 200g/day minimum.

[quote]MrMuzik wrote:
Your diet list says you consume fruit, how much? Your symptoms sound like you are not getting enough carbs. Here’s an experiment. When you wake up, don’t eat breakfast and notice how cold your hands get as the day goes on (especially if you use caffeine as well), then eat a carb rich meal at lunch (plenty of starch and sugar) and see how the hand coldness goes away. That is your adrenals calming down. Once you get carbs, the adrenaline and cortisol levels lower. High adrenaline and cortisol constricts your peripheral veins and makes you wake up at night. Like Omega100 said, eating higher carbs leads to better sleep and better workouts. If you are not dieting to super low bodyfat levels for a show then there is really no reason to avoid carbs. Eat 200g/day minimum.[/quote]

Very informative. I’d say around 5 servings of fruit a day. Along with a bowl of oatmeal, glass of milk, maybe a potato. I’d say I get around 200g/day. Now that I think about it, during the weeks I took off of training I figured I didn’t need as much protein anyway. I probably compensated less protein for more carbs during those periods.

Are carbs best before bedtime?

Well, if you are a exercise and fitness enthusiast, they are best at all times. The adrenal hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, etc…) serve important functions. After a night’s rest, you have also fasted for maybe 10 or 12 hours. The hormones stimulate many things, including your waking cycles and getting your liver to kick some sugar back into your blood! Even in starvation your brain uses over 100 grams of carbs per day. If not supplied by diet then they are formed by gluconeogenesis (mostly from BCAAs from your muscle tissue).

Eating carbs throughout the day will keep your adrenals from overstimulating your body. If you wake up more than one time per night, I would say that you have too much adrenal action going on. One of their main functions is to keep blood sugar levels steady. So, if you eat enough carbs, your liver glycogen stores will always be filled as well as your muscles, and your brain will be fueled. You won’t be producing excessive adrenal hormones and your sleep and energy levels should improve.

[quote]MrMuzik wrote:

Well, if you are a exercise and fitness enthusiast, they are best at all times. The adrenal hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, etc…) serve important functions. After a night’s rest, you have also fasted for maybe 10 or 12 hours. The hormones stimulate many things, including your waking cycles and getting your liver to kick some sugar back into your blood! Even in starvation your brain uses over 100 grams of carbs per day. If not supplied by diet then they are formed by gluconeogenesis (mostly from BCAAs from your muscle tissue).

Eating carbs throughout the day will keep your adrenals from overstimulating your body. If you wake up more than one time per night, I would say that you have too much adrenal action going on. One of their main functions is to keep blood sugar levels steady. So, if you eat enough carbs, your liver glycogen stores will always be filled as well as your muscles, and your brain will be fueled. You won’t be producing excessive adrenal hormones and your sleep and energy levels should improve.[/quote]

Thanks for the responses in several of my threads. If I binge eat on carbs, will this be an insta-fix? Or will it take a couple days/weeks for the adrenals to get back to normal? I’m thinking the latter… Although I do see a bit of relief from more carbs already… I’d have attributed that to not working out for more than a week though if you didn’t post.

EDIT: I guess what I’m getting at is: How soon should I be able to workout with high intensity again? I figure that my workouts stress my adrenals as does a low carb diet. Should I take a while off of working out to let them get back to normal or is this more dependent on carb intake?

[quote]oso0690 wrote:
I already had:
Basic Metabolic Panel
CBC with Auto Diff
Cortisol (just the morning)
Lipid panel reflex
TSH reflex
Differential
LDL

Here’s some of the main scores:
Cortisol was 15.4. Morning norm is 6.0-25.0
Cholesterol 137. Norm <=200
Triglyceride 66. Norm <=150
HDL 41. Norm >=40
LDL 83. Norm <=100
TSH 1.0963. Norm 0.35-4.94
Sodium 141. Norm 136-145
Potassium 4.5 Norm 3.5-5
Chloride 102. Norm 98-107
CO2 25. Norm 22-29
Anion Gap 14. Norm 7-16
Calcium 9. 8.6-10
Glucose 106. norm 74-109
BUN 16. Norm 6-20
Creatinine 1.13. Norm 0.67-1.17
GFR Afr Am >60

I felt decent the night before and the day these tests were done. It had been 2 weeks since the last workout. Blood test was taken 11 days ago. I worked out this past weekend because I felt better. Then Monday night I had minor issues sleeping. Tuesday night I had moderate issues sleeping. Wednesday night I slept 3 hours. Last night I had considerable difficulty going to sleep and resorted to sleeping aids.[/quote]

What was your fasting morning blood sugar?

I had a waking up problem most of my life. I realized that it went away when I eliminated certain foods, especially later in the day. The foods that I had to eliminate were wheat, corn, beans, oats, all sugar/sweets except post workout, omega-6 oils. I don’t know which one was waking me up, but I believe that it was a kind of inflammatory rebound cycle from eating one or more of these. There are also a few other allergenic foods that make me feel like I might wake up-or I wake up briefly but go back to sleep: strawberries and nuts. I am telling oyu that after 8 months of waking up every night, cutting these foods had me sleeping through the night immediately.

I also did eat more fat, especially butter, grass fed beef, egg yolks, avocado, olive, coconut, red palm. I also ate 1-2 servings of beef liver a week.

Another thing is that it wasn’t just the carb content. I found that eating rice and potatoes later in the day had me sleeping through the night, while sugar and wheat gave me problems. Now honestly, if I eat naturally as I feel I probably only get 150-200 grams of carbs a day. 50-65% of cals should be fat, 25-35% protein and less than 25% carbs IMO on maintenance.

Update: Fixed. I’m writing this to help anybody that happens to stumble upon this thread.

-Magnesium
-Zinc
-5HTP
-Pregnenolone
-Vitamin C
-Vitamin D
-Fish Oil

1.) Increased magnesium intake from 65-125mg to 375mg.

2.) Multivitamin had 15mg zinc (gluconate) and 2mg copper (not sure what kind). Found out that zinc gluconate has 14% elemental zinc. Assuming the elemental copper content percentage is close to 100%, I was getting a 1:1 ratio of zinc:copper = imbalance = copper toxic. Significantly increased zinc intake to at least 60mg/day in the form of zinc methionine.

3.) 50mg 5HTP before bed.

4.) 50mg pregnenolone in morning.

5.) 1g Vitamin C. One in the morning and one before bed.

6.) Increased Vitamin D from 2000IU to 4000-6000IU taken in morning.

7.) Increased fish oil from 2.4g to 10g+ (As many as I can think to take in the day.)

Symptoms before:

  • Constant urinating. At least 5x/night.
  • Extreme thirst. At least a gallon of water a day.
  • Insomnia. Both inability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Averaging 4 hours a night.
  • Unable to focus or pay attention.
  • Extreme lack of energy during the day.
  • Wired and tired at night.
  • Light headed upon standing up from sitting.
  • Pre-hypertensive (Top number was 132)
  • Strong heart palpitations, especially at night.
  • Getting weaker in the gym
  • Losing weight
  • Always hungry
  • Aerobic and Anaerobic capacity diminished.
  • NO sex drive. Very weak erection and would go limp after a couple mins.
  • Can’t think of anymore…but I was clearly a @#$%ing mess.

Now, none of that exists. I’m constantly forgetting to drink water because I’m feeling so well hydrated. Getting up 1x/night most nights but able to go to sleep immediately after. Some nights I’ll sleep all the way through. 8 hours of sleep is usual now with less than 15mins to fall asleep. Very alert and excited to begin new projects at work. Able to digest information easily. Not sure about pre-hypertension. Getting a physical tomorrow. Aerobic/anaerobic capacity significantly increased. In the gym every single day. Sex drive definitely up.

I think zinc was the most significant.

So just to add a few things in case anything creeps back…

The first two symptoms are common of insulin resistance/diabetes but the rest of the symptoms are tall tale signs of under eating. It’s possible that you had a major nutritional deficiency and had trouble properly utilizing energy stores.

I didn’t see A1C levels in your blood work, but you might want to double check on that just in case. As far as I know 106 mg/dL is considered borderline. Fasting glucose tests aren’t always the best indicators. Diabetes also interferes with processing fat which could have been exacerbating the under eating.

I know you said you eat at a caloric surplus, but the BMR calculations we all know and love aren’t very accurate. There’s still a 26% unknown variance in BMR calculations. My calculated BMR is around 1,900 calories but in my health experiments I’ve had it measured from 1,550 calories to 3,000 calories. It’s quite possible you’re not at the surplus you think you are.

Insomnia is a big sign of under eating because the body starts producing adrenaline as an alternative energy substrate. The adrenaline could also explain the “wired and tired” feeling along with the nighttime heart palpitations.

Most of the other signs are pretty obvious could be caused by under eating… Just to throw that out there…

Even though I know you consider it fixed, you might feel even better if you up your intake. Hope that helps…

[quote]oso0690 wrote:
Update: Fixed. I’m writing this to help anybody that happens to stumble upon this thread.[/quote]

Fantastic update, much thanks for sharing