We’re knee-deep in January and it’s very well possible you have heard about
the AMAZING results someone is getting from their diet.
“omg! i got rid of gluten, red meat, cooked veggies, bacon, beans, bacon, chocolate, dairy, and every kind of fish except for salmon once a month and I feel amazing! So much energy – I’m asleep for about 3 hours a night and then I wake up and I just wanna run and run and run and run!”
Of course I’m exaggerating a little bit (who would give up chocolate? insanity…), but the new year’s resolution frenzy often brings in very similar scenarios.
Some kind of misguided extreme diet program catches your eye, and before you know it you’re removing over half the things you normally eat. And VOILA! Surge of energy.
While certainly making changes to your diet can cause improvements in your health and energy, generally with these kinds of extreme responses to drastic restrictions, it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing as far as physiological responses go.
When you drastically reduce the caloric intake of your diet (hint: getting rid of most foods you eat will mean you’re cutting a lot of calories), you can enter such an extreme state of caloric restriction where your body freaks out.
You get an increase in excitatory neurotransmitters and hormones (“stress”) hormones and at least initially, this feels good.
You feel ALIVE… just as you would if you nearly got hit by a bus. Your body is excited… from this stressful event.
This increase in energy is likely an evolutionary mechanism to facilitate hunting. If animals just slept all day whenever they get hungry, they would never get a meal. Instead, excessive caloric restriction triggers a “LET’S GO!” instinct that thousands of years ago would have helped you go hunt down some Elk – but instead now just makes you talk too much to your coworkers.
These surges in energy won’t last forever. Most likely, your body’s cravings will get so intense that you’ll sabotage the extreme dietary protocol you’re putting yourself through. If not, you’ll likely find that surge of frantic energy will fizzle out over time.
Why am I talking about this?
1) I want you to be skeptical when you hear of the dramatic results that your friends, family members, or coworkers are having on their new diets. More than likely, they’re not experiencing some sort of dietary magic – but instead are in this honeymoon period as they put their body through serious stress.
2) I want you to pay attention to your OWN body. If you have more energy in general but can sleep wonderfully and think perfectly clear, you’re probably doing great. If on the other hand, you’re frantic, manic, or with a weird state of a hyper euphoria… then you could be experiencing the high of your body’s stress response.
Of course I advocate avoiding extreme diets, detoxes, and other steaming piles of dietary mumbo jumbo altogether, but this awareness is still important for you if you’re aiming for an inherently more sensible dietary strategy. If you accidentally find yourself undereating, then you could experience these same kinds of things. So being aware of how your body is responding in relation to your intake is really important.