Episode 103: What To Do When Increasing Carbohydrates Causes Fatigue

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Thanks for joining us for episode 103 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. If you want to keep up with our podcasts, subscribe in iTunes and never miss an episode! Remember, please send us your question if you’d like us to answer it on the show.

Today we are answering the following question from a listener:

“Another carb question (shocker!) but basically the opposite of everyone else’s! What does it mean if increasing whole food carbs mostly from potatoes and sweet potatoes made my fatigue worse instead of better?

Background: I’m a 36 old female with low progesterone, adrenal dysfunction, and hypothyroid, which I’m on Armour for. I’m 5’ 7” eating about 1,800 calories a day. I do light exercise three times a week, mostly 15 to 20 minutes of body weight exercises getting my heart rate up a little bit, but not too much, and I walk the dog every day for 30 to 45 minutes.

I went from a carb/fat/protein macro ratio of about 28/40/32 to 40/25/35 to see if I could increase energy and felt awesome for about 48 hours and then crashed hard, like can’t get out of bed hard. I tried more of a 40/30/30 approach and that didn’t work either. I didn’t make a huge change. It’s not like I went from zero carbs to 300 grams a day. What do you think gives?”

To clarify, I’m a 36 year old 5’7”, 133 to 135 pounds last time I checked. Also by light workout/body weight exercise I mean I get my heart rate up a little bit but I could still hold a conversation and take breaks when I start feeling too out of breath. Okay, that’s it. Thanks for humoring me and I hope you can answer my question! You two are the bee’s knees.”

Often fatigue can be a consequence of low carb dieting and adjusting macronutrient levels is usually what it takes to restore energy. But what happens if this strategy backfires and increasing your carbohydrate intake makes you more tired than before?

Today we share insight into the reasons why adjusting macronutirient ratios to increase carbohydrates from whole food cause an increase in fatigue. Join us as we discuss why under eating is often an overlooked factor with wide ranging effects, the importance of varying carbohydrate sources, and why too much protein can make it hard to reach appropriate caloric intake.

Here’s what Laura and Kelsey will be discussing in this episode:

  • The role that under eating plays in developing symptoms while adjusting macronutrient ratios
  • The effect of under eating on the HPA axis and hormone secreting organs
  • The reasons why increasing carbs while under eating can cause fatigue
  • How switching to a higher carbohydrate diet from a calorie deficient low carb diet can affect cortisol regulation
  • Common short term symptoms associated with the transition period when increasing caloric or carbohydrate intake
  • The effect that a diet too high in protein has on appetite and ability to eat enough calories
  • The importance of varying carbohydrate sources from whole foods when increasing carbs
  • Why you may want to consider evaluating gut health when dealing with adrenal fatigue


Links Discussed:


Kelsey: Hi everyone! Welcome to episode 103 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. I’m Kelsey Kinney and with me as always is my cohost Laura Schoenfeld.

Laura: Hey everybody!

Kelsey: We are Registered Dietitians with a passion for ancestral health, real food nutrition, and sharing evidence-based guidance that combines science with common sense. You can find me, Kelsey, at, and Laura at

Over the next thirty to forty five minutes, we’ll be answering your questions about health and nutrition and share our insights into solving your health challenges with practical tips and real food. Stick around till the end of the show when we’ll be sharing updates about our businesses and personal lives.

Laura: If you’re enjoying the show, subscribe on iTunes so that you never miss an episode. While you’re in iTunes, leave us a positive review so that others can discover the show as well! And remember, we want to answer your question on the show, so head over to to submit a health-related question that we can answer on an upcoming show.

Kelsey: Today on the show we’re going to be talking about what to do if adding whole food carbs back into your diet makes you feel more fatigued than you were before. But before we get into our question for the day here’s a quick word from our sponsor:

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Kelsey: Welcome back everybody! Here’s our question for today’s show:

“Another carb question (shocker!) but basically the opposite of everyone else’s! What does it mean if increasing whole food carbs mostly from potatoes and sweet potatoes made my fatigue worse instead of better? Background: I’m a 36 old female with low progesterone, adrenal dysfunction, and hypothyroid, which I’m on Armour for. I’m 5’ 7” eating about 1,800 calories a day. I do light exercise three times a week, mostly fifteen to twenty minutes of body weight exercises getting my heart rate up a little bit, but not too much, and I walk the dog every day for thirty to forty five minutes. I went from a carb/fat/protein macro ratio of about 28/40/32 to 40/25/35 to see if I could increase energy and felt awesome for about 48 hours and then crashed hard, like can’t get out of bed hard. I tried more of a 40/30/30 approach and that didn’t work either. I didn’t make a huge change. It’s not like I went from zero carbs to 300 grams a day. What do you think gives?”

Kelsey: And then this person actually put in another piece of her question here to say that she could just hear us saying, “Well we’re not sure about X, Y, Z” So to clarify she says:

“To clarify, I’m a 36 year old 5’7”, 133 to 135 pounds last time I checked. Also by light workout/body weight exercise I mean I get my heart rate up a little bit but I could still hold a conversation and take breaks when I start feeling too out of breath. Okay, that’s it. Thanks for humoring me and I hope you can answer my question! You two are the bee’s knees.”

Kelsey: Very cute.

Laura: I always wonder where that bee’s knees phrase came from.

Kelsey: Yeah, I don’t know. It is an odd one.

Laura: But I like it.

Kelsey: I do too.

Laura: Do you want to start with your thoughts?

Kelsey: Yeah. I think we both thought, we kind of went to the same underlying root issue here which is that she probably isn’t eating enough. And this is outside of the carb question, so don’t worry I will touch on the carb piece of this is well. But both Laura and I kind of did our calculations and found that 1,800 given what she’s describing for her age, her activity level, her height, her current weight, it seemed a little bit low.

I’d put her more on like a 2,000 to 2,100 calorie diet, probably starting on that higher end of things and see how she does because I think just the under eating aspect of everything going on is certainly not going to help her situation and it’s probably just kind of keeping her in adrenal fatigue, not helping out her thyroid, and all of that. I think that that’s sort of what we both found was a root underlying cause of some of the problems she might be experiencing. Right, Laura?

Laura: Yeah. I mean it’s kind of funny how simple it can be sometimes. But I don’t know where, like for example this 1,800 calories, I don’t know where she got that number from as far as why that would be appropriate. And at 5’7” somewhere in the low 130s, it doesn’t sound like she has weight to lose. I don’t know if she’s trying to lose weight, but that weight for height ratio is pretty much right on target, so I would hope that she’s not trying to lose a lot of weight.  If she is eating 200-300 calories per day less than what she needs, and that’s assuming she’s really not working out a whole lot because I’m sure you did the same thing where you put her at a fairly sedentary activity level.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: If she was doing anything harder than what she explained to us, then she’s going to need more than that. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the primary issue that she’s experiencing and contributing to, basically she’s experiencing a very significant hypothalamic/pituitary organ dysfunction.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: I say that because the progesterone is made by the ovaries, the adrenal dysfunction obviously the adrenal glands, and the thyroid not working, well I shouldn’t say not working as well, but not producing as much hormone as it should. All three of those hormone producing glands or organs are basically controlled by the hypothalamic/pituitary axis. If you’re under eating basically every day, even if you’re not losing weight, if you’re chronically under eating that’s going to impair all of those hormone secreting organs. Like I said, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if that was like eighty percent of her problem.

Kelsey: I agree, I totally agree. I think that’s why we sort of needed to get that out of the way first because I truly believe that if she increases her overall caloric intake that a lot of these symptoms might get better and she may not really have as much of the underlying dysfunction that might be contributing to why an increase in carbs might be causing the problems she’s having here.

Now I know that, Laura, you work with a lot of people who are normal weight but underfed and they go through this experience a lot. I think it might make sense for you to explain why that higher carb piece might be playing a role in the symptoms she’s experiencing, and then I’m going to go into kind of the other factors that came to mind for me afterwards. But I think that what you were talking about to me, I think that’s probably again more of this bigger underlying factor of what might be going on here.

Laura: Just to keep in mind, a lot of this is theory and clinical experience. I don’t have a randomized control trial to explain what’s going on. I think that can sometimes frustrate people when they have these symptoms and they want to know why. I mean there’s some good educated guesses that we can make, but everyone’s going to be different. So the stuff that that I’m theorizing about it, it could be completely wrong. I don’t want this person as to take what I’m saying as like absolute gospel, but just keep in mind that a lot of this stuff is based on the research we’ve done for our adrenal fatigue program and then also the work we’ve done with clients.

My guess is that when she’s going higher carb as a percentage of her calorie intake with the understanding that her calorie intake is too low, there’s probably one or both of two things happening. The first thing is if she is still in that calorie deficit and she’s going higher carb, she’s going to be using more glucose to fuel her daily function than if she was a lower carb dieter because people that are lower carb tend to run a little bit more on fat.

If you’re running on carbs primarily as your fuel, your body wants more carbs when you’re doing things. Exercise, walking around, walking your dog, just living, you do use glucose, but your brain and your red blood cells especially use glucose all the time, but your muscles do use glucose during the day just to function.

If you’re not eating enough total, you’re going to be having low blood sugar swings more often. If you have too much of I guess a period of time without eating, or if you’re under eating in general, you’re not going to have the glucose storage in your liver to keep your blood sugar study in between meals. She’s probably having more frequent blood sugar drops. For a lot of people that manifests as fatigue especially in the morning. If you’re not eating enough and then you sleep overnight, and obviously you’re not eating overnight, you’re waking up in a pretty much fully fasted/partially depleted state. A lot of times not only does that affect how well you sleep, but then it also affects your energy in the morning. Waking up feeling super tired may have something to do with not getting enough total calories throughout the day and having more of that carb burning metabolism and having low blood sugar either during the day or overnight.

Then the second potential thing that’s happening, and this is a little bit more theoretical than the first thought that I had. The first thought that I had I think is fairly evidence based just knowing how our body’s physiology works. But the second thing could be that if she has been having this underfed, low carb diet for a long time, she may be generally running at a higher cortisol level because if you’re not getting enough calories and not getting the carbs that your body needs, you’re going to have to use cortisol to break down stored proteins or consumed proteins to burn fat for fuel. She may just have this higher baseline of cortisol to kind of manage that calorie deficit that she’s always in.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: And then if she suddenly switches to a higher carb intake, carbs tend to lower cortisol mostly because cortisol is a glucocorticoid hormone which means that it will help bring our blood sugar up when it’s low. If you eat carbs, then you no longer need that cortisol bump to get your blood sugar up. So you could be having this drop in cortisol which then to her since she’s running on high cortisol more regularly, it feels low even if it’s technically normal.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: That could be potentially from cortisol resistance. If you’re always in a high cortisol state, you’re going to be a little less sensitive to cortisol which means if it drops down to normal, that may not be enough cortisol for you to get the physical response that your body would normally have to cortisol levels. And then just if she has her cortisol drop lower, if she’s not having good cortisol regulation, then that could be an issue too.

Like I said, that’s kind of like the more theoretical potential that’s happening. But I do actually see this happening fairly frequently with my under eating clients especially if they’ve been low carb for a long time. They’ll have this couple of days right after they start adding carbs back in that they feel really tired and they kind of freak out a little bit because they’re like, I don’t understand if I’m eating more why am I more tired?

I feel like a lot of that has to do with the stress hormone piece and kind of if you’re running at this slightly stressed out state all the time and then a sudden you are not stressed or the stressor is removed, I think that can sometimes cause the rebound of exhaustion. To me, I feel like that’s the body’s way of saying okay, you’ve been super stressed and now you’re not, you need to chill out and like recover from what you were stressed out from. Because in the in the natural world, the reason you’d be under eating and low carb most of the time is because of famine and the food not being available. Then if you suddenly start eating enough and eating enough carbs, your body is thinking okay, I’m getting this energy that I need from a food perspective, but I want to really recover from that stress period, so it almost like drops into a deeper level of fatigue to promote rest.

So again, kind of theoretical, but since I see it happening so often and I think it makes sense from a from an evolutionary perspective, that’s what I perceive as to be the issue with this person’s energy drop from going lower or higher carb. Those are my two theories and feel free to contribute what you think about that.

Kelsey: I was just going to ask you because I think you work with more of these kind of clients than I do probably. But this person, she said that for the first couple days of adding the carbs in she felt really energetic. One thing that I was thinking is that, because this is something I see sometimes with my clients is that they change something, and this is with adrenal fatigue clients specifically, they’ll change something with their supplements, or their diet, or whatever and it starts to make them feel better. And all of a sudden without them even realizing it they start to do more, whether that means expending more energy by being more active without really realizing it, or taking on more things in their life that maybe cause stress, or just not something that they’re thinking like, oh yeah, this is a stressful thing that I’m taking on. But it’s just something that they do because they have more energy now and they may not even realize that it’s kind of stressing their body out a little bit.

One of my theories was that potentially, and I know it’s a short amount of time, two days, but sometimes if you feel really energetic in those first couple days, maybe you started to do something more without even realizing it. That stress can trigger a reaction in the body that where like you were talking about, Laura, where it’s just saying all of a sudden okay, you need to rest, I’m not ready for this. I know we were feeling really good for a couple minutes there, but this is too much and I need you to sort of tone it down.

Have you had clients where that sort of pattern happens where for the first couple days they do feel really energetic but then they crash, or is the crash pretty immediate?

Laura: I’d say more often than not the crash happens pretty quickly, but it could be like you said this short term boost in energy that leads them to be overactive. I mean just from an evolutionary perspective, if you’re thinking about what purpose that would have in the natural world, I would think that if you’re in a slightly underfed state and you’re struggling to find food, and then all of a sudden you find food, there may be this burst of energy that comes from the drive to continue finding that food.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: That would be my guess as far as if there is some kind of hormonal response to the sudden change.  You have a couple days of eating more and then all the sudden you’re, okay, I need to rest now. But it could also be like you said that you get a little more energy and then all a sudden you start doing more because you have more energy and then it kind of causes a crash. I’ve definitely seen that before where people that had low energy that started to get it back and then they overdid the exercise, or some people who are sicker will be like I just spent an extra hour out doing errands and that seemed to make me exhausted.

Kelsey: Right, it doesn’t have to be a lot like that.

Laura: Right, and like I said, I don’t know if the energy was from the food itself or if it was from like a hormonal shift that happened to kind of kick her into like a drive to find more food.

Under eating recovery, not eating disorder recovery, but like just mild chronic under eating recovery is a really weird situation because first of all, there’s not a lot of evidence about people who are just kind of under eating but they’re eating healthy because most of the research is in people with actual eating disorders, anorexia nervosa, so that kind of thing.  But the people who are just like under eating by a couple hundred calories a day for months or years that are developing these issues hormonally, I don’t really think there’s a lot of research to support what actually is causing these symptoms.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: But it’s a very common pattern that I see in the people that I work with. It’s funny because sometimes I have clients that they feel amazing right away when they start eating more and they’re just like why didn’t I figure this out of my own before? And then I have other clients that they have all these weird symptoms, the energy changes are definitely one of them.  I get a lot of people with water retention, which I’ve gotten into the habit of just warning my clients, I’m like we’re going to put more food in and you’re probably going to gain a couple pounds of water weight in the first month. I’ve even had people that it was like physically uncomfortable because their boots were getting tight from the water retention. It goes away eventually.

But it’s just kind of funny because some people react really well and some people react poorly, but usually everyone gets to a point where they’re feeling better after a couple of months of doing it. It can just be really hard to get through that short period of not feeling good or being like water logged or however you want to describe it.

Kelsey: Yeah. I was just going to say that working with a lot of digestive health clients, I also end up seeing people who are under eating just because they are often restricting things from a digestive standpoint that then makes them under eat. I see the same thing where there’s just like this month long period where people generally don’t feel great when they start to add things back in. And then you of course add on the digestive piece to that too because when you start to eat more food in general, that digestively can be a little bit tough for people.

But yeah, I see the same kind of thing happen, and you’re right, some people respond to it really well. They do it and things just clear up almost immediately seemingly and they feel great. But there is this subsection of people that it just is a little rough on their body it seems. But it does dissipate, it does go away, it just can take some time.

When I was thinking about this question, because it’s a very interesting question. And this person that sent it in, she’s right, it is a little bit of the opposite kind of question that we normally get because she’s having a negative response to adding these carbs back in. When I was thinking about this, my first thought of course was that she was under eating. But from the carb perspective, the first thing I thought about was the other pieces of her lifestyle that might be playing a role.

Like I talked about, when you add more carbs in, and she said she got that more energetic feeling, she possibly just did too much, took on too much stress, did too much activity without really noticing much of a change. For somebody who is chronically ill who has adrenal fatigue, who has hypothyroidism and is fatigued, these things aren’t resolved for this person as far as I can tell and so she is actively having fatigue every day. When you even start to get a little bit more energy, like Laura mentioned something as simple as staying out for an extra hour doing errands which might not seem like anything at the time, that little bit can cause a reaction where the person will end up crashing a bit the day after or a few days after. That was my first thought as to what might be going on here.

Along those lines I would ask her did you do anything different those first couple days when you were feeling good? Was there a different activity level? Did you do more errands? Did you take a longer walk with your dog by accident without realizing it? Anything like that that could have contributed to this crash that she’s describing.

Along with that too, I would also ask because it’s a little unclear from what she’s written to us, and she’s going to laugh because she even sent in extra clarification for us, but one thing I would ask her right off the bat would be did you go back to your original macronutrient ratio to see if the symptoms went away? Because from what I can tell she tried a couple different macronutrient ratios, but as far as I can tell didn’t go back to the original macro ratio. If she didn’t do it already, I’d want to put her back on that original macronutrient ratio possibly to see what happens to her symptoms. Does her energy come back or she still crashed? Because if her energy came back then I would say okay, maybe it is more related to the actual carb increase rather than something else that was going on.  I’d really want to know that as something to look at right off the bat so I can see what I really should be paying attention to.

These are the kind of clues that Laura I try to suss out when working with clients because as you can imagine, this stuff is complicated and there’s no one answer for everybody when they describe a situation like this as to what’s going on necessarily. I would definitely want to see what happened to her when she went back to that original macronutrient ratio.

Possibly like we talked about since she’s under eating I would maybe just want to…I think I would have her go back on the original macronutrient ratio at 1,800 calories just for a couple days to see if her symptoms go away and then I would keep her at that macronutrient ratio while increasing her calories to that 2,100 level and see how her symptoms change when that happens.

I do think Laura makes a very good point about that typical kind of reaction that happens when you’re either increasing carbs or increasing calories in general that you just sort of have to get through for some people. That’s something I would talk to her about as we start to increase those calories.

Laura: I don’t know if you are done, but with the macro percentage that she’s doing, I thought maybe her protein was a little high.

Kelsey: Yeah, it does look high.

Laura: She started at 32, and went up to 35, and then down to 30, which 30 or higher is fairly high. Really I don’t end up putting anyone on more than a 25 percent of calories from protein diet unless they’re in a purposeful deficit for weight loss.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: And then that higher percentage is mostly because the calories are lower. I think when you’re eating that much protein, one, it affects your appetite. When you’re on a high protein diet you tend to have a lower appetite.  She may be under eating because she’s not hungry because of all the protein. Which if you’re trying to lose weight is helpful, but if you aren’t then that’s not necessarily a good thing to do chronically.

My other thought is that with protein it takes a lot of energy to digest protein. There is a level of thermogenesis from the actual processing of protein for energy. Having that high of a protein intake even at 1,800 calories you may actually really only be…I don’t know if I would say netting lower amount of calories, but if you have to burn a bunch of calories to digest the protein if you’re eating a high protein diet, that lower calorie intake it’s going to be even bigger of a deficit. Does that make sense? I feel like I’m not explaining that super well.

Kelsey: I think you’re explaining it well. I don’t know if I would necessarily agree though.  I agree, she might be burning a little bit more calories trying to digest that, but in the scheme of things I’m not sure if it makes like a huge difference in her overall caloric intake.

Laura: The thermic effect of protein is 20 to 35 percent.

Kelsey: Okay.

Laura: Even at a low end of the range, 20 percent of the protein that you eat gets burned for energy just to digest that protein.  I mean my thought is if it’s a way higher protein intake, like if we’re talking about like 10 percent of her calories from protein that she doesn’t really need….It’s 180 calories that she’s getting from protein, and let’s say 30 percent of that is getting used for energy, I mean it’s like 50 calories. Again, it’s not a huge difference, but it could make a difference if she’s eating tons of protein and her body is expending more energy than even that 2,100 to digest that stuff. It could make a little bit of a difference if she’s going from like a 35 percent of calories from protein diet down to like a 20 percent.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: Like you said, it’s probably not a huge difference. But I would say that if you’re struggling with under eating, then doing 30 plus percent of your calories from protein isn’t going to be helpful there.

Kelsey: Yeah, for sure. I definitely agree with that. And I’m on the same page, I’m really not putting anybody on more than 25 percent typically unless they’re eating at a lower calorie intake on purpose so that they are losing weight in which case a higher protein intake can be useful. But for somebody who’s a normal weight, and hopefully she’ll start to eat a more adequate caloric intake, doing a protein intake that high is like you said just going to decrease your appetite and just make it harder for you to eat more. She may feel like 1,800 is the top of where she can eat right now, like she can’t even imagine eating more than that. But I bet if she lowered her protein intake, eating more calories overall would seem a lot more feasible to her.

Laura: Yeah. Even if she didn’t change her grams of protein intake and just increased her total calories to the 2,100 per day, that would drop her percentage of calories from protein down to somewhere in like the 25 to 28 range. It’s not like she has to stop eating that much protein total, it’s just she would have to eat more of the other things and it would change the percentage.

Kelsey: Exactly, yeah. Definitely the macronutrient ratios seem a little bit off too specifically in terms of protein. You may find it a lot easier to eat more. I would even probably have her decrease the percentage a little bit rather than keeping the grams exactly the same because I just think it might make it easier for her to eat more.  I think that could definitely be helpful to help you get up to that 2,100 level and see how that does for you.

It’s funny because she asked specifically about carbs and of course we’re sort of talking about a lot of other things. But again, that to us certainly seems like more of the root underlying cause here so we want to make sure that we’re conveying that to this person so that they don’t try a bunch of other more superficial things that may not really help or may not have anything to do with what’s truly going on and that she’s focusing more on this underlying cause.

But I will say a couple other things about some possibilities, some theories that I had about what might be going on if it’s more of truly a carb only issue, which again I doubt. I do think that the overall calorie intake is going to play a big role here, but I do want to touch on this stuff.

One thing that I was thinking because she does mention that most of her carb intake is coming from potatoes and sweet potatoes, when you start to get up there with your carbs that you are eating as an overall gram amount and you’re only really eating it from two main sources, sometimes I do see that at a certain level of intake just really focusing on something like sweet potatoes and potatoes can be fine. But as you start to increase your overall carb intake and you are consistently eating larger amounts of just those two carb sources, some people can have problems with that at the higher levels.

That’s a possibility to think about as well. It could be some sort of sensitivity or intolerance even. Specifically with sweet potatoes, there could be a bit of FODMAP tolerance. Some people I find do actually just get fatigue as a symptom of FODMAP intolerance, which I know sounds a little weird because normally that type of reaction is more of a bloating reaction or a digestive reaction. But some people do respond a little bit strangely to a FODMAP intolerance.

Just something to throw out there to think about, you definitely want to try to vary your intake of your carbohydrates because as you get up there like I said in the overall grand level of carbohydrates, you really don’t want to be focusing on just two sources of carbs. I would try adding in some fruit, adding in things like yucca or taro, other starchy tuber vegetables rather than just focusing on the sweet potatoes and potatoes.

I completely get those are the most conventional, they’re most widely available in terms of starchy tubers. Fruits are definitely quite widely available as well. So I get why a lot of people focus on those, but once you start to eat more carbs and you’re not eating those processed carbs, it’s really important to try to vary your intake.

The other thing to think about, again I don’t hear anything about digestive problems in her question, so I’m just throwing it out there as something to think about after you get your calories up, get your carb ratio or your macronutrient ratios to a normal level, get that protein intake down little bit, then I would maybe think about gut health a little bit. Because again, that fatigue, it can be related to some degree of FODMAP intolerance which is related to SIBO. Sometimes if you just have a pathogen or a parasite in your gut and you start feeding it more carbohydrate, a lot of people will get fatigue as a symptom of that bacteria kind of growing a lot, replicating a lot, overgrowing to a larger extent because it’s getting more food.

One thing I would consider down the road too after you’ve dived into maybe some of these other things we’ve talked about is to just get some gut testing done. This is especially important if there is some degree of digestive health issue going on, which again I don’t hear from this question, but I just want to throw it out there in case that was something that is going on but didn’t seem necessarily relevant to the question because a lot of times adrenal fatigue does go hand in hand with gut issues. So definitely think about this if there’s any degree of digestive issues that you’re having or if you’ve ruled out all these other things that we’re talking about, you’re still having this issue, you may want to think about testing.

Laura: Yeah, I mean I think what we talked about the beginning would be the first place to start. And then if that wasn’t helping, then certainly diving deeper and testing and stuff would make sense. I think I tend to be a little bit conservative with testing especially because it can get kind of expensive. If the issue is she’s just eating 300 calories per day two little every day and that’s all it takes to fix it, then that’s awesome. But then certainly there’s the chance that that wouldn’t fix it and then that’s where that testing and getting a little deeper into what could be contributing to those symptoms would make sense.

Kelsey: Yeah and I certainly would leave that towards the end of the road here.  It very well may be just as simple as increasing your calories. Like we’ve talked about too, you may have this crash feeling for a few weeks as you start to increase your calories and increase your carbs. It is something that we do see. Not everybody just feels totally awesome as soon as they increase their carbs or calories.

I know it may seem that way sometimes from the way we talk about it because it is really amazing for a lot of people that that can solve a lot of their issues very quickly, but that doesn’t mean it’s like the next day that that happens. It does for some people, but for others like we said there’s this transition period that people need to go through sometimes to get to that point of really feeling better. So don’t feel bad if that’s you. It is somewhat normal, it does happen and you just need to let your body rest for a while as it gets used to this new normal.

Laura: Definitely. Well I think that covers everything that I was thinking.

Kelsey: Yeah, me too.

Laura: Like we said, there are so many different things that can cause those kind of symptoms, so these are just some guesses and you might need to do some deeper digging. But otherwise I feel like this calorie issue is super, super common and people don’t realize that what they’re doing every day with their diet is just keeping them in this chronic deficit. That can cause a lot of stress on your body, so don’t underestimate the power of eating enough.

Kelsey: Absolutely.

Laura: Okay. We’re trying something a little bit different for this episode. As many of you who have been listening to our podcast for the last couple years may have realized, we haven’t been doing any updates in the beginning anymore. The main reason for that is because we had gotten some feedback from listeners saying that they wanted us to maybe have less chitchat in the beginning, which was balanced by the number of people who also said they really like our updates.

Kelsey: We can’t win.

Laura: I know. We’re trying to figure out how to make everybody happy, which is probably a moot point. But we wanted to see if having updates at the end would be a good kind of middle ground to hit because that way the people that just want the information of the podcast will be able to hear that and then may turn it off by this point. And then if you’re the kind of person that likes to hear our updates, we’ll be able to talk about those at the end of the show.

If you are still on the episode and you want to let us know how this format works for you, please go to and go to the contact tab and just send us a note and let us know if this is something that you like or if you hate it.

Because at the end of the day we really want to provide what our ideal audience is looking for. We’re not trying to change to make random people happy, but we do want to make sure that the people who are actively listening and listening every week are getting what they want.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: If that’s you and you have an opinion, please feel free to share your constructive feedback and we will continue to make adjustments as time goes on. Hopefully this podcast will just continue to improve. But on that note, Kelsey, you were just on an adventure.

Kelsey: Yes.

Laura: Let’s hear about it.

Kelsey: I was in both France and Portugal for the last I think it was eight days which was really awesome. It was actually the first time that I’ve travelled only with a friend. Usually I either travel with my family or my husband, and so this was a girls’ trip. The flight was a gift from my longtime childhood best friend.

We flew into Paris and we had decided since we both have already been to Paris, we wanted to go somewhere else as well. We couldn’t decide where we wanted to go for the longest time. We were thinking maybe Barcelona, somewhere that was a little bit warm possibly at this time of year. We had actually both already been to Barcelona as well.

When we were looking at cheap flights from Paris, we saw that Lisbon was a cheaper destination. Shockingly now after having been there, Lisbon or Portugal in general has never really been on my travel list. Of course being an avid traveler, I have a big travel list. That wasn’t on it, but once I started looking into it, I was like oh my God, how this has never been on my list before? This looks amazing!

We spent a night in Paris, in the Montmartre region of Paris, and we didn’t really do much that night other than eat and drink, and kind of relax a little bit after our flight, and then explored a bit of the neighborhood the next day. Then that night we flew to Lisbon. Lisbon is a really cool city. Laura, have you ever been to Portugal?

Laura: No. I mean I was only in Europe, gosh I can’t remember how long ago that was. My dad worked in London for about a year or so.

Kelsey: Really? Mine did too!

Laura: Oh yeah?  That was like back in the day when businesses were like flying families over business class and stuff like that.

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: But yeah, I got to say that I was like twelve. I haven’t been to Europe as an adult.

Kelsey: Oh wow, okay.  Well add Portugal to your list because it was really fun.  We flew into Lisbon and spent a couple days exploring Lisbon which is a really cool city. I mean the architecture is just really stunning. It’s just a very beautiful, beautiful city. I would say it’s kind of like a hip city. That sounds really lame when I say it like that, but it just has a really young vibe to it and I think it’s because it’s probably become a little bit more popular in the last few years as a travel destination, and kind of like and expat destination, and digital nomad destination. There’s a lot of like a lot of young people, a lot of hostels, and a lot of nightlife.

It was really fun to just explore.  Really you can just walk around. It’s built on several different hills, so essentially you just kind of walk up these big hills and you have beautiful views of the rest of the city or the ocean. It was really, really fun.

From there we went to Sintra which is a short train ride away from Lisbon, which oh my gosh, that place was amazing!  If anybody has been following my Instagram, you’ve probably seen some of my pictures. But there’s just beautiful castles and there’s a place called Pena Palace which is just, I mean it honestly looks like Disney World in real life, just this absolutely gorgeous place. All those sites are basically on top of a giant mountain and so we hiked up the mountain, which was really fun, but exhausting. I looked on my iPhone to see how many flights of stairs we climbed up and it was like a hundred something.

Laura: Oh, wow!

Kelsey: Yeah, it was a lot of a lot of walking uphill, but it was really beautiful, really fun to explore. That was probably the highlight of the trip for me at least because I really like the outdoor kind of sights that you can go to. I just find them more exciting. Not that I don’t like the cities at all, but for me just that aspect of nature is much more interesting to me.  Along with those older castles and all that kind of stuff is just really, really cool to explore. I had a field day taking photos there of course because everything was fascinating.

Laura: Did you have a nice camera?

Kelsey: Yeah.

Laura: Oh, okay.

Kelsey: Yeah, I have a nice camera. I have a DSLR.  I got a new lens for Christmas.

Laura: Nice.

Kelsey: This was like a big trip to use that on.

Laura: I was going to say I was looking at your photos and I’m like is that what an iPhone does? If so, then I need to get one.

Kelsey: No that is not what an iPhone does, sadly. I wish. I had a good camera that I lugged around with me which was definitely worth it I think for some of the photos that I was able to get.

We stayed in Sintra for a night again eating and drinking our way through everywhere. We ate very, very well in Portugal I will say because it’s a cheap destination for Europe. It’s not as expensive as some of the bigger cities like Paris or London so you can eat very, very well. Of course the seafood is incredibly fresh there because you’re right on the ocean so that was absolutely delicious. And the wine of Portugal is really, really good too. We ate and drank very well while we were there which was awesome.

Actually after Sintra we went to Cabo da Roca which is the edge of Europe, so the westernmost point of Europe. It’s just like beautiful cliffs and a really nice view of the ocean of course.  I actually got a sunburn which has been amazing because it’s like not that great in New York right now. It’s getting warmer, but being in Portugal the weather there is really, really awesome. We had one day of rain when we first arrived, but after that it was absolutely gorgeous. The weather was something else and now I’m regretting and back in New York.

After Portugal, we flew back to Paris and we spent one day, one night in the Champagne region of France and did some champagne tours, which were interesting, but honestly for me I would say I probably could’ve skipped it, but my friend was really interested in the Champagne tours and everything. They were cool, but I wouldn’t say anything that I….

Laura: Blown away by?

Kelsey: Yeah, I wasn’t blown away by it and I probably wouldn’t go back necessarily, but it was cool to be out in a different region of France for sure. I had never been there before so the towns where the champagne houses are are very cute and quaint so that was really nice to be there.

And then we went back to Paris for one night before we flew out and we saw the famous Moulin Rouge show which was really incredible. I wasn’t sure how I would like it and it. It was a little bit different from what I thought it would be, but very cool like an amazing spectacle of crazy costumes and different acts where people just did all these sort of acrobatic type things which was really cool to see and it was a good audience, a good show. I liked it more than I thought it would, so that was really, really fun.

Laura: Was it like the movie?

Kelsey: You know I haven’t seen the movie in a long time, but I kind of feel like it was not like the movie.

Laura: Yeah.

Kelsey: Maybe if I watch it again, I’ll take that back. But from what I remember from that movie, I’m not sure it’s quite like that.

Laura: That was my favorite movie in high school. Although that was more for the love story and the singing more than anything else.

Kelsey: Of course, of course. Who didn’t love that movie when it came out?

After that the next day we flew back to New York. But it was a whirlwind trip. We were in a lot of different places obviously. I think we max stayed out one hotel for like two nights. We had our backpacks, we were little backpackers going all over the place which is tiring of course, but you get to see a lot more. I think I’ve talked about this on the show before that I don’t go on vacation, I go on trips so often I come back more exhausted than when I left.  Sadly, I will say that is the case still.

Traveling with different people is a very different experience. My husband and I are very much the trip kind of people where if we’re somewhere new, we want to make sure we see as much as possible. We don’t kill ourselves trying to see everything, but we probably do more than the average person would do.

Actually traveling with my best friend, it was a little bit more of a relaxing experience and that was partially because we were a little bit disorganized going into it. Normally I do a lot more planning for a trip, but because I was working on my gut health course I just had like a lot of things going on before I left. I didn’t really have much time to really plan a lot of it in advance. We kind of just went with the with the flow a lot of the time, bought train tickets as we went, we even booked some of the hotels as we went along so it was definitely more laid back than usual or less planned I would say. In a way, that was cool. I definitely feel like there was a lot more to see that I didn’t get to see, but at the same time it was kind of fun to just fly by the seat of your pants a little bit.

Laura: Yeah. I think one thing that’s nice about not having your whole trip completely intinerized or whatever you want to call it is you can kind of decide if you want to do something at the spur of the moment.

Kelsey: Right.

Laura: If it’s like beautiful weather and you’re like let’s do a hike over here today versus if it’s raining you can say let’s go do this indoors activity. I know a lot of times when I travel at least in the past I’ve had a lot of like very organized this is the day I’m getting there, this is the day that I’m leaving, these are the things that I’m doing. But more recently when I’ve traveled they’ve been pretty open ended which has been cool because then I’m like what do I want to do today? And then I just do it.

I’m definitely feeling a little jealous. Basically all my traveling since, I’m trying to think when the last time actually took like a legitimate trip that wasn’t just to see my fiancé.

Kelsey: Yeah, it’s probably been a while at this point.

Laura: Honestly I think in the last year there’s been one trip to Nashville.  That was for a bachelorette party that was super fun and my fiancé ended up meeting me down there.  It was a really fun trip, but I’m pretty sure that was the last time we did any sort of… I mean we’ve done like little weekend things like we did a trip to Indianapolis to see a concert, but I wouldn’t really call that a vacation. It was one night in Indianapolis.

Kelsey: But you guys are going on your honeymoon soon, right?

Laura: Yeah, and that’s honestly going to be like… we’re not going to leave the resort.

Kelsey: Yeah, fair.

Laura: It’s an all-inclusive so I feel like I’m going to be exhausted. I’m already kind of exhausted and by the time the wedding actually happens I feel like I’m just going to want to lay around and do nothing with my then-husband. It will be fun.

Kelsey: There’s nothing wrong with that.

Laura: I wouldn’t normally travel to Mexico in an all-inclusive resort but I feel like if there’s ever a time to do that, then the honeymoon is that time.

Kelsey: Totally.

Laura: But it’s funny because I used to do a lot of traveling actually. Last year in January I was in Costa Rica and the year before that I think I went to Nicaragua, or maybe it was a year and a half or so. It’s funny because I just finished my taxes and I didn’t owe anywhere near as much as I thought I was going to owe. So I was like now I have all this money, maybe I should go do something other than just fly to Ohio. I mean it’s not like I wouldn’t fly to Ohio, but my fiancé is so busy right now that it’s like the weekends that we have scheduled are basically the only times we can really do. I’m like maybe I should go somewhere fun by myself and just chill out by myself.

Kelsey: You should!

Laura: We’ll see. I don’t think I’m going to go to Europe because I have two months until the wedding and I need to calm down. But I don’t know. Maybe I could go to like Florida or something just to go do something a little different and go to the beach or something.

Kelsey: Yeah, you should. It sounds like you’re overdue for a vacation, for sure.

Laura: Yeah. Me and my fiancé kind of joke about the fact that we’re spending at least a thousand a month right now to visit each other. Maybe it’s a little less at this point because we’re not seeing each other as frequently. But I’m like I can’t wait until all that travel money can actually go towards fun vacations and not like oh this is just to see my fiancé for three days or something. I’m excited. I’m listening to you explain that, I’m like oh we should go to Europe. Maybe we’ll go next year.

Kelsey: You should! Well definitely I would highly recommend Portugal. It’s really, really fun. I knew I was going to like it just based on the things I was reading, but it kind of blew me away even more than I thought.

Laura: Cool.

Kelsey: I would definitely add that to your list if it’s not already there.

Laura: Awesome! Well if anyone is still listening, we may have like two people left on the podcast, but hopefully you enjoyed the show today. And like I said, if you like this end of episode update situation, just please let us know so that way we continue doing that to make everyone as happy as possible. Otherwise we will see you next week. Have a good rest of your day, Kelsey. Hope you recover soon!

Kelsey: Yeah, I hope so too. You take care, Laura.

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I'm a women's health expert and a registered dietitian (RD) with a passion for helping goal-oriented people fuel their purpose.

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