Feel crummy, tired, headachy on Phase 1?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2004
Feel crummy, tired, headachy on Phase 1?
Mon, 04-14-2008 - 12:14pm

Member Question: The last few days of Phase 1, I felt horrible. I was light-headed and had zero appetite. Is this normal?

Dr. Agatston: Not feeling well in Phase 1 may be from some dehydration — make sure you are getting plenty of fluids. If you are on medication, be sure to consult with your physician, as you may not need to be using blood pressure-lowering medication. Generally, these complaints do not last long, but we still recommend making sure to drink plenty of fluids and reviewing any medication you're taking with your physician.

Member Question: I'm on my second day and have a splitting headache. I read the boards and know this is normal, but is there anything I can do?

Sandy: The splitting headache can be due to abruptly eliminating caffeine from your diet. Gradually decreasing the caffeine can prevent headaches from caffeine withdrawal.

Note: It is not necessary to cut out caffeine on South Beach Diet. 1-2 cups per day maximum has been the recommendation.  There is a new update on caffeine, a "softer" stance:

Member Question: Is caffeinated coffee in small amounts bad in the first two weeks?

Dr. Agatston 3/18/05: We have updated our evaluation of coffee due to recent studies. The South Beach Dietâ„¢ is not cut in stone, although the basic principles of good fats, good carbs, lean sources of protein, and good sources of fiber will not change. We do continue to change based on current medical literature. We initially advised to avoid caffeine because it is known to stimulate insulin secretion from the pancreas. This could theoretically increase swings in blood sugar. However, recent studies from Finland have indicated more coffee intake was associated with a lowered risk of future diabetes, and we have therefore liberalized our view of caffeine intake. We would still suggest moderation and monitoring your individual response. If it appears to be worsening cravings, we would recommend cutting back.

Member Question: Hi Sandy, just started Phase 1 of sb and feel very sluggish. Could that be sugar withdrawal?

Sandy: I would venture to guess that the sluggish feeling may be attributed to not getting meals and snacks in and not sugar withdrawal. It is important to get those snacks in as recommended. Skipping snacks can lead to hypoglycemia and decreased energy levels. Also make sure you are getting adequate fluids in.

Member Question: In Phase 1 of the diet, I was extremely tired, even though I was sleeping better. Is this normal?

Dr. Agatston: Tiredness or weakness during Phase 1 may be due to dehydration or a lower blood sugar. It is important to get plenty of fluids and to remember to snack in between meals. The weakness generally passes after just a few days and is followed by an increase in energy as well as improved mental focus.

Member Question: I'm in my first week on Phase 1 and I feel weak. Will this improve?

Beth: When you are in Phase 1, it is important to include certain foods that will help you with your energy. Please make sure you are including the 4 and 1/2 cups of vegetables, 2 cups of milk/yogurt and a serving of beans/legumes each day. Once you move into Phase 2 and start adding starches and fruits, you will notice an even more improved level of energy.

Member Question: Today is my second day of Phase 1. I've been diagnosed with hypoglycemia, and the last 2 days, my blood sugar level has been off, and I've been feeling shaky and weak. Is this part of the process for ridding my system of cravings?

Admin_Ellen: Yes, it is. If you are having symptoms of hypoglycemia, it is important to emphasize frequent snacks to help normalize blood sugar in Phase 1. Also, make sure you're getting plenty of fluids, because dehydration can exacerbate these symptoms. Continuing on Phase 1 should be associated with the disappearance of these symptoms in the next several days and a good increase in energy level.

Member Question: I have been on The South Beach Dietâ„¢ for three days now, and I feel exhausted. Do you have any suggestions to get me through this?

Margaret: It's possible that you are not eating enough. Please be sure you are eating the recommended three meals and three snacks every day. In addition, consuming 4.5 cups of vegetables, 2 cups of low-fat dairy, and a 1/2-cup serving of beans are good sources of energy. This should help keep your energy level up and help keep your blood sugar levels stable. If you are still experiencing low energy after making these changes, you can move to Phase 2. If you're still exhausted after being in Phase 2, please consider consulting your personal physician.

Member Question: I would normally do weight training 3 times a week, but since I started the diet on Sunday, I stopped and now only do cardio and flexibility. Is it okay to do weights? I did have headaches days 1 and 2.

Dr. Agatston: Yes it is fine to continue weight training. Make sure you are getting plenty of fluids during the first 2 weeks of the diet as well as snacking regularly on good carbohydrates.  The one exercise to avoid in the first 2 weeks is long endurance exercise, such as training for a marathon, which can deplete sugar stores rapidly, leading to dehydration. For those doing rigorous exercise, I would recommend starting the diet in Phase 2.

Member Question: How can you sustain a heavy exercise schedule (15 -18 hours a week) on The South Beach Dietâ„¢ with so few carbs to provide fuel and energy?

Beth: Those with heavy exercise schedules may want to move onto Phase 2. Being in Phase 2 will allow you some flexibility with your food/snack choices. There is a great daily dish called "When to Refuel." Check it out! I think you will find it helpful!

When to Refuel (Daily Dish)

Recent research indicates that the best post-workout snack is one that combines protein and carbohydrates. Both carbohydrates and protein are important for replenishing fuel stores. In addition, protein helps repair muscle damage. You don't need large portions of these foods. The amount you should eat after a workout depends on the length, intensity, and frequency of exercise.

If you spend only 30 minutes on the treadmill each day, it's probably not as important that you eat a snack right after exercise. Your regular daily meals should be enough to replenish your fuel stores. Consuming carbohydrates after exercise is more important for endurance athletes who have only a few hours to recover between workouts or are exercising for extended periods of time. That's not to say you can't enjoy a carbohydrate snack after a trip to the gym. If you've just participated in a particularly vigorous workout, a snack can provide a quick energy boost. Just be careful not to overdo it.

If you do have a post-workout snack, it's best to do so within 15 minutes of your workout. This is the time when your body can most rapidly replace depleted glycogen stores. Don't use this as an excuse to snack on sugary treats; good post-workout snacks include oatmeal, nonfat yogurt, or whole-grain pasta, bread, or rice. Throw in a little cheese or a slice of lean deli meat for protein.

Don't forget to drink water after a workout. This should be your #1 priority, since fluids are lost when you sweat.

Q. I am on day nine of your program, and I am feeling very tired. My hamstring muscles ache, and I was unable to make it all the way through my exercise class. Is this common? Is there something I should be eating more of? 

A: Fatigue and muscle aches in Phase 1 of the diet are not uncommon. They can occur due to excessive fluid loss associated with fat breakdown, and sometimes from hypoglycemia-too-low blood sugar.

Keeping up with fluids-before, during, and after exercise-is important. It's also a good idea to eat some low-glycemic carbs, such as low-fat yogurt, oatmeal, or pumpernickel bread, before a sustained workout. Try to eat at least two hours before exercising so you'll have a good supply of energy.

It may also be necessary to add some extra salt to your food to help maintain your fluid volume. This is especially true for those who exercise vigorously. Cramping and tired muscles are particularly associated with salt deprivation, so begin adding salt to your food, drink more, and see how you do. Adding whole fruits and whole grains in Phase 2 will also make you feel better.

From our own board:

"I was wondering if some of the veterans could give some advice to us newbies on what to expect during phase 1 as you're pretty much detoxing your body? I'm 5 days into it, and I feel like some of the side effects may be leveling out, but I'd still like to hear your experiences and thought some of the other newbies would as well."

Not everyone will have rough Phase 1 withdrawl symptoms.  Some will coast right though and actually begin feeling better right from the word "go", from the beginning of Phase 1 on.  Not me, though...I had all the symptoms.  I had the famous headache, wooziness/dizziness, tired, achy...basic withdrawl symptoms.  It's known that people with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) have a harder time. Eating all their snacks and meals regularly through the day is vitally important.  Another possible reason is the more sugar or starch a person was prone to eat before South Beach, the more detox.  It was rough, but I'd already read on the board about the symptoms and was mentally prepared to take it on.  I wasn't going to quit and was determined to ride it through.  The minute I started Phase 2, I felt remarkably better.  :)

I've noticed that for many people, the detox symptoms are the worst at around days 2-3 and then it gets better.  For some, it's the first week.  For a few (like me), pretty much all of Phase 1.  No matter what, keep on keeping on, and know it will soon pass.  I've yet to hear from anybody on this board that they didn't start to feel a whole lot better in a short period of time.  Once I got into Phase 2, I felt better than ever, had increased energy, and many aspects of my health improved noticeably.  I remember feeling all "clean" inside.  That's the feeling of getting past detox and knowing that everything you put in your body now is nourishing you, not clogging your arteries, bogging you down, or raising your insulin.  :)

"How did you survive those cookie attacks? Sandwich attacks?"

By eating more snacks when I was hit with cravings...good snacks from the "foods to enjoy" list.  I may have eaten a few extra nuts, but that's okay.  We aren't supposed to go hungry at all or feel deprived, so I ate more.  That helped.  Figuring out the right portions for you is easier in Phase 2, when the cravings are under control.  :)  There is a difference between true hunger and cravings, but it's hard to know the difference until you're more underway with this way of eating.  You learn to distinguish it in time.

Other tips to help you through: 

Don't skip snacks, no matter what!  Eat them all, just as the plan is written.  This helps level out your blood chemistry and gets you to an even keel much sooner. 

Eat enough food!  Often, people new to South Beach skimp too much on portions and eat too few calories to meet their daily needs; this contributes to their lack of energy.  Also, they may be slowing down their metabolism and inhibiting their weight loss without realizing it. You really can eat until satisfied, never go hungry and lose weight.

Eat all of the daily recommended veggies and legumes, which is a total of 4.5 cups a day.  This alone will prevent much of the discomfort and prevent ketosis. 

Drink more water, lots of water.  Avoid too many sodas.  Water helps you detox.

Don't quit coffee cold-turkey at the same time as starting South Beach.  In fact, coffee in moderation is fine to have on South Beach.  If you still want to quit, do it gradually.

Don’t cut back too much on salt. 

Get some exercise, even if you feel too sluggish and grouchy.  Even taking a stroll around the block is exercise.  It raises the metabolism and helps speed up the detox process...plus, it helps rejuvenate your energy level.




iVillage Member
Registered: 04-12-2008
Mon, 04-14-2008 - 4:21pm
Thanks, Cathy. I see that I didn't get enough milk nor veg yesterday. I'm on it today.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-02-2009
Tue, 06-02-2009 - 8:46pm
I am on my 7th day of the sbc and i am still feeling crummy.But after reading the messages from some of the others I think I know what I am doing wrong.I need to eat my snacks ok tommorow i will.I have struggled with my weight all my life.I am hoping this will be a life changing for me.I have lost 5 pounds so that is uplifting I just need some energy!!!!
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-01-2004
Tue, 06-02-2009 - 9:06pm
Hi & welcome!
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-06-2007
Wed, 06-03-2009 - 6:29am



iVillage Member
Registered: 06-02-2009
Wed, 06-03-2009 - 10:36am
Thank you,I am so happy to found you as well.How is the sbd working for you?
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-06-2007
Wed, 06-03-2009 - 12:50pm

It's working really well.