25 fascinating days on an extreme (low-carb) version of the AIP

We started the AIP on December 23rd, but leveled up to our own extreme low-carb version of the AIP on January 1st, to experiment with starving out the harmful bacteria which lurk in the intestinal tract and contribute to gut permeability.

I called it the X-AIP, just for kicks.

We thought we’d try the X-AIP for 30 days, followed by a 30-day low-FODMAP version. But as Matthew’s system has gotten more pure over the last month he’s noticing how he reacts to different foods, including some high FODMAP foods, so we’re moving on to a low-FODMAP AIP a little sooner than planned.

carrot love

Image from http://fudi.st/

As of today we’re putting some plant parts back in (pumpkin, some root vegetables like parsnips & carrots, & some fruits like blueberries & plantains). We’re still figuring out what to include and what to exclude for this low-FODMAP variation because there is so much contradictory information to sift through, but the goal is to avoid high FODMAP foods in addition to the regular AIP food guidelines. What’s left? This post by Gutsy by Nature is the best I’ve found so far, as it addresses the ambiguities that seem to be part of the topography in FODMAP-land.

Even though I’ll have to give up avocados I’m still super intrigued to try this new AIP variation. I’m actually a little surprised by how fascinated I am by all of this.

For me, the past 25 days on the X-AIP has been a nutritional experiment with some interesting outcomes, particularly in the area of energy (way down) & mental health (way up). Previously I’ve always correlated energy & mental health so it has been thought-provoking to notice them move in opposite directions.

I am not a person with an autoimmune condition. I don’t know how many people without autoimmune conditions have done a strict AIP. I know Melissa Joulwan is one, but she pretty much hated it! Most of us don’t get this extreme until our health & our lives have completely fallen apart.

Some notes after 36 days on the AIP (9 days AIP + 25 days X-AIP):

  • Energy: In December, after 4 days on the AIP I reported a “dramatic, disconcerting, almost obscene” increase in my energy. This ridiculous degree of vigour continued for the first 2 weeks on the X-AIP, but then started to decline. I wasn’t sure if this was due to a.) The super low carbohydrate diet; b.) A busy/stressful month; c.) Reduced exercise; or d.) That when I started the AIP I took out the powdered electrolyte hydrator I usually use in my water for hot yoga. I originally took the electrolyte powder out for AIP-purity, and was attempting to replenish electrolytes with Himalyan salt & seaweed in foods, but my lower energy was beginning to impact my ability to do my life, so I put the electrolyte powder back in on day 28 of my AIP & it helped a bit, but not enough.
  • Exercise: I scaled back my exercise during the X-AIP from 5-6 times a week to 3. I wanted to be realistic about how much time I would have, what with Matthew needing my support for various nasty medical procedures this month, going back to grad school, and being unsure how a super-low-carb diet would affect my energy. As it turned out 3 times a week was about perfect for my energy level. I still did my hot power flow yoga, but I took rest days in between. I prefer to exercise 5-6 days a week, but that felt unsustainable on the X-AIP. Which is good information! In an earlier post about carbs & muscle mass I suggested experimentation with carbs. This has been a great 25-day experiment & I better understand the benefit of the denser sources of paleo-friendly carbs for exercise. For me, anyway!
  • Elimination: On day 11 of the X-AIP I experienced an intestinal revolution that occurred (suddenly) while driving at 112km an hour on the highway. Suffice to say I have never been so happy to see a roadside outhouse. I’m guessing this alarming phenomenon was due to some kind of recalibration of my gut, which was the whole point of the X-AIP experiment. Better out than in.
  • Mental health: The only improvement I noticed during this time was in the area of my mental health. In an earlier post I listed the 9 health issues that resolved after I went paleo. One of them was depression, which lifted after I had been paleo for 6 months, and never came back. But what I am experiencing now is a whole new level of mental health. Even though my energy has taken a hit, the love of my life is suffering and getting holes poked in him all the time, I have 3 children that I worry about constantly (just ‘cause), my work is stressful, I’m spending an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen (which I do not love), & I’ve gone back to school, I’m just floating on this amazingly buoyant sense of well-being. It is a revelation, and I am now officially & completely convinced that gut health=mental health.
  • Cognitive capacity: In addition to being more tired, the lower carb diet also seemed make it harder to think clearly.

So, in summary, I’ve been kind of stupid & slothful, but euphoric!

I’m really looking forward to getting my energy back, though.

In the meantime, I’ll be trying to figure out this whole FODMAP thing, including AIP friendly low-FODMAP recipes.