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Hypoglycemia & Weight Loss

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I'm new to calorie counting. I've always avoided doing it because I didn't know how healthy it was, or wasn't, for me. I have had hypoglycemia my whole life, which causes me to feel hungry often. Diabetes runs in the family, so I know what I'm up against, and have been watching what I eat every since I was 16. I'm now 24, 5'1, and I weight 120 lbs. I want to lose 15 of that.

I'm trying to limit my calories to around my BMR, which for me is somewhere between 12-1300 calories a day. I have been eating between 13-1400 (simply can't get it lower), and I just feel tired, lethargic, dizzy, and of course constantly hungry. Not only do I have no energy, but my chest feels tight and I feel like it almost takes too much effort to even breathe. I exercise, but can only do it for 20-30 minutes before I start to feel very faint.

I know my reaction is not normal, and is due in large part to my condition. Has anyone else with hypoglycemia tried to count calories? What do you do if your body literally demands more calories than it can burn in a day? I've lived with the frustration of not being able to diet for too many years; I'd like to know that it is actually possible for me to lose weight.

I've never eaten much junk food, never drunk soda, and never eaten much salt. I've never touched drugs or alcohol. I eat mostly home cooked meals (both now and when I was growing up). Obviously, being hypoglycemic, I have a sugar addiction, but when I cut my calories back that actually goes away. Strange as it seems, I'm so hungry that I don't crave anything in particular--everything sounds good.

Oh, and I recently discovered I'm allergic to wheat, and also that I cannot eat much starch, as it hurts my blood sugar levels.

Any ideas, anyone?

Edited Mar 11 2008 20:08 by smw
Reason: 3/2/08: Stickied; 3/11/08 unstickied
15 Replies (last)
Fruit, Fruit, Fruit!

I also have hypoglycemia....  I avoid simple sugars though.  I find they cause me to crash and burn (although I wont pass up the pixie stiX when I get really dizzy).  Personally I have found that spreading my meals out throughout the day and eating a large number of starches (even non-wheats like POTATOES) and fruit (which you can do 100 percent!) helps considerably.  Fruit will also fill you up with the fiber it contains.

Also, for lethargy take a Vitamin B complex.  I have found it helps with that constant tiredness.

And remember, if you start to develop the neuroglycopenic manifestations.... eat something!  I can usually tell because I get the "glassy look".

Hope this helps.  Good luck.  I know how hard it can be to keep track of your calories and avoid the dizziness.
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I agree!  I am also hypoglycemic and eating fruit, veggies, protein, and fiber really helps keep my blood sugar level.  I try to eat a protein (chicken, beef, beens, etc...) at every meal this also gives me the "fuller longer" feeling that I need. 

My mom is a nurse, and she has told me to eat something (small) before working out - 1/2 a protein bar, fruit, or a glass of chocolate milk (skim of course) to keep my blood sugar up enough to work out effectively without the dizziness.  If you can only stand to eat 1300 at a minimum then just do that and don't try to go lower.  To burn more calories you can try to work out twice a day (take a 15-20 min walk in the am and another in the pm) and slowly build up your endurance.

Have you tried to track your blood sugar levels?  If not, it may be a good idea to hook up with your doctor so that you may be able to begin to predict the times of day you will be sugar low.   (If you do this pay close attention to the times you are working out - check before, during, and after working out and eating to see trends).

Hope this helps!  Good luck!


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You've found that protein helps? Me too! I have to eat some with every meal, and every snack. Without protein, the food is basically worthless. It may be something as simple as a few almonds, or some cottage cheese, or a bit of peanut butter.

I've tracked my blood sugar levels some. They never get too high/low, as far as I can tell. I just feel rotten, regardless.

I've been going back over my numbers for the past week, and I think I may have been eating fewer calories than I thought. So that might be part of the problem...:S I didn't want to drop below 1300, but it looks like one day I may have only had 1100. I don't know about you, but if I have a low blood sugar day, I feel absolutely rotten the next day, or until I get my blood sugar back up. 

I always have trail mix, nuts, apples, cheese, yogurt, and other high protein, high energy items on hand.  Even apple or orange juice for those quick fixes.  Even a slimfast shake, or one of those energy bars is a good option if you are on the go.

I've had hypoglycemia  since the age of 10...  now at 35 I've had only a few "episodes", 3 healthy pregnancies and am steadily losing on the CC plan.  8.5 lbs since January.  

It has taken me awhile to understand what calories work best... and what calories are "harmful"...  compare a donut to an apple... that's the best analogy I've come up with.


Have a good day.


Hi. When the doctors discovered my dad was diabetic (type 1) they tested all six children and turns out I was what they called "borderline" diabetic -at the age of 13 - I'm now 49. I've since discovered that I'm actually Hypoglycemic. Couldn't figure out why I always feft lousy and had no energy. Then I got a meter and tested myself when I felt so lousy I thought I would throw up. Turns out my blood sugar was so low it didn't register on the meter.

I find that I feel better when I eat small amounts every 3 hours or so (even a snack about an hour before bed). Tough to stay on a diet that way; takes a lot of work. I know it's difficult to lose weight because you need the food. But if you feel lousy on a 1200 calorie restriction, bump it up a bit.  I try to fill up on lots of fruits and veggies.

I've also discovered that I feel MUCH better and have more energy when I drink a cup of ginseng tea every day. There's no medical research to confirm that it helps (not that I've found anyhow), but it DOES help. It's increased my energy enough so I can actually go for a walk every day. So it's worth a shot (no calories).

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This may sound extreme...but consider a low carb diet. Avoid all carbs, except for veggies. This means no fruit or grains whatsoever. The fructose found in fruit will mess with your blood sugar too much.

Severe hypoglycemics are often treated with ketogenic diets. This involves limiting carbs to 30 grams per day, at an absolute maximun, not counting fiber. This may be necessary in such a severe case.

This is coming from a hypoglycemic, by the way.

I was plagued with hypoglycemia for a long time - the naturopath had me give up ALL refined sugars (I was only allowed to have fructose, but not huge amounts of that either... it was a special treat), and eat protein with every meal. Protein really helps - it slows down the processing time for the rest of the food you have at the same time, so it smooths out the bloodsugar spikes. Also, carry snackage with you 24/7 and if you feel your bloodsugar starting to drop, EAT SOMETHING!

Eggs, nuts, and cooked chicken are your very best friends...  

I agree with the protein and the limiting of starchy carbs, though I wouldn't necessarily strike out fruits - eaten whole, with protein along with them, they should be fine. I limit starchy carbs - rice, breads, pasta, grains, etc - to just two servings a day. My diet plan looked something like this:

breakfast: nonfat plain yogurt smoothie with three servings of fruit (berries and a banana) and ground flax seed

--> I'd exercise about an hour after breakfast

lunch: big salad with at least 3 servings veggies, 3 oz serving protein, 1 serving cheese, 1 TB oil and 1 TB vinegar

dinner: 3 more veggies, 3 oz protein, 2 starchy carbs (i.e., 1 cup rice or pasta); another serving of fat

snacks: I am not much of a snacker, but if I got faint I'd have a handful of nuts or an energy bar.

Otherwise, I cannot stress enough the importance of exercise - both cardio and weight training!!! I know you say you can only do it 20-30 minutes before feeling faint. That's fine - just start there and slowly work your way up. The key is gentle exercise - you don't have to overdo it. Go for endurance, not speed/intensity.

Exercise will make you fitter and a fit body utilizes nutrients far more efficiently. That's a fact.

I've been prediabetic for about 15 years, and things got really out of whack for me about two years ago. I started exercising and just like you, I'd get faint after 20-30 minutes. I learned to eat a protein-rich snack beforehand, and carry an energy bar with me just in case. Then I just kept up with the exercise and persisted. As fitness has improved, the near-fainting spells have decreased.

I couldn't explain how this works, but google around and you'll see that when it comes to hypoglycemia and diabetes and blood sugar levels, exercise is JUST as important as diet. It changes the way your body uses the nutrients you take in. Your cells get more efficient or something like that.

Incidentally while I'm nearly twice your age I'm 5'0" started out on c-c around 125 and I'm now 107ish and in maintenance. I lost weight cutting my calories very modestly - averaging about 1400-1500 calories. I'm now maintaining on 1800-1900. Yes, losing took longer, but it works.
Original Post by imccarthy:

This may sound extreme...but consider a low carb diet. Avoid all carbs, except for veggies. This means no fruit or grains whatsoever. The fructose found in fruit will mess with your blood sugar too much.

Severe hypoglycemics are often treated with ketogenic diets. This involves limiting carbs to 30 grams per day, at an absolute maximun, not counting fiber. This may be necessary in such a severe case.

This is coming from a hypoglycemic, by the way.

Ketogenic diets are very controversial and experimental, and I've only ever heard of them being used to treat people with severe seizure disorders.  I would definitely not recommend anyone go on a ketogenic diet without STRICT doctor or dietitian supervision.

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i had a nearly identical problem!

the reason you are passing out while exercising is probably due to lack of sodium, something which comes sometimes with celiac diseas [assuming that's what your wheat allergy is]. with your low salt diet, i am not surprised. my body demands the same things, and i have been passing out for months. i'm 16, hypoglycemic, never ate junk food or salt. i was raised on a low sodium diet, home cooked meals. when a glucose tolerance test proved that my hypoglycemia was assisting the passing out but not directly causing it, i had some orthostatics done to check out my blood pressure. it doesn't stabilize when i stand up because i don't eat enough salt. i've been on salt tablets for a few weeks now. no more passing out, i'm easing back into excercise, and once i got past the initial salt bloating, i began to lose weight. i've had those bizarre cravings that come from not having enough calories. you wolf down everything and still feel shaky, and everything sounds great. in order to lose weight, i maintained the amount of calories, but adjusted the percentage of protein, fiber, etc, in my diet. i spend a lot of time on the computer, and rather than straight up excerising, since that jars my blood pressure a little too much, i sit on an exercise ball rather than a chair at my desk and swivel my hips and knees while i read and type. i've also found yoga before bed to be helpful, followed by a small handful of nuts, because going to sleep with low blood sugar gives me nightmares.

i suggest seeing a cardiologist to check out your blood pressure, and see if salt would help at all. hypoglycemia can aggravate your blood pressure, but part of the reason food helps is because you sit still while you eat and stop making your body try to adjust. let me know what you find out!

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blood sugar level tracking for hypoglycemics can be erratic. it can vary greatly. i've gone from 180-41 in a matter of minutes. this is because the act of drawing blood can actually affect your blood sugar, or so my best hypoglycemic buddy tells me. she also passes out, but told me to "stop pricking my finger so damn much" and i actually began passing out fewer times.

 however, proteins always help because your body gains the energy from it more slowly, so it will last longer and be less erratic.

i have experienced the "blood sugar hangover".

it sucks.

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I have the same problem. I would really like to loose weight but it is extremely difficult for me. I tried to cut calories but was so tired all the time, and couldn't sleep at night because my stomach was rumbling. Sometimes I would wake up in the middel of the night and make myself a sandwich just to get some sleep.

 It's a vicious circle because when I don't get enough sleep, I become even more tired and doing any kind of exercise is out of the question, making weight loss impossible.

My doctor gave me a good tip, to take 2-3 tablets of dextrose whenever I feel my blood sugar is low during the day, and before exercise. Also to eat protein with every meal, and eat every 2-3 hours.

So now I always carry with me a sandwich with lots of protein such as cold cuts, hommos etc. Also the dextrose has helped me enormously, I have more energy and I sleep much better at night. The only thing I worry about is whether I will have any cavities from the dextrose.




I have the exact same problem as you, too. When I don't eat enough or when I eat the wrong types of foods, I get that awful 'tight stomach' feeling too. It's nice because it makes me feel thin, but only until it makes me feel too weak to live my life. My hypoglycemia got exponentially worse when I lost too much weight, but even though I've gained some back, it's still there, unfortunately. I am trying to maintain, but it's so hard not to gain more sometimes, because when I don't eat regularly, I feel so sick. Sometimes I feel like constantly eating, and that's bad. However, I've learned to control the problem in a few simple ways:

1. Protein!! I must, must, MUST have a good protein source at every meal, or else there is no point in eating at all because I will just end up hungrier than I was before. Ideally, the protein will outweigh the carbs.

2. I try not to eat too much at once, but instead to eat balanced meals at regular intervals throughout the day. If I eat too much in one sitting, not only will my blood sugar spike and then crash, but I will end up not hungry for awhile, and this will stop me from eating at regular times and consequently deplete my blood sugar later on.

3. Again, try to limit carbs. The carbs you do have should be complex carbs: whole grains especially. There is nothing so bad for blood sugar as white bread.

4. Obviously, try not to eat too much sugar at once, especially when you haven't eaten much else.

This is all I can think of for now. Everyone is different, so find out what works for you. Don't worry: this is a common problem and can be overcome to lead a healthy lifestyle!!

I am hypoglycemic  and it has gotten worse in the last year. I am overweight and I have a low thyroid as well. Everyone seems to say protein, protein, protein at each meal but what specifically do you eat? I do agree that eating every 2-3 hours helps. My sugar levels range from 37-110 and occassionally spike to 146-159 which is rare..I need to lose the weight but I need to find a good diet that will help me to lose but keep the sugar levels up...any suggestions? I feel like everything is shutting down when I get below 59.

This has been very eye-opening to me to read this thread.  I would really love to stay connected to all of you with the same problems.  It is amazing that there are so few of us with such sugar issues.  I have not been formally diagnosed with HypoG, but my naturopath seems to think I have it, and I have seriously considered it for my entire life.  The extreme symptoms of being hungry all the time, waking up in the middle of the night hungry, I have had for so long.  I also have significant weight loss struggles.  I am 5'4" and currently 154, but at Christmas was 171.  I have been working with a natropath for 7-8 months.  It is helping but a very long road.  I have known my entire life that exercise does NOT work for me, and now finally my natropath told me today to just lay off the exercise.  Whenever I exercise all weight loss stops.  A ketogenic diet is the only thing that helps.  I eat 120 grams protein 3xs per day with 120-180 grams carbs (in the form of green veggies) 3xs per day, with a 60g protein and 60 g carb snack 1-2 times per day.  That is the basic plan.  It takes a couple days to get in a ketogenic state, but once there the weight does come off.  

Also I have found that I have to avoid ALL fruit even the sugar in that is too much for me, I too am allergic to gluten and went off that 5 years ago. Add that onto not being able to exercise to lose weight and I mentally call it my impossible diet.  Veggies/Protein/no Gluten/no Exercise...and it is super hard. 

My main point of the post is to find others that have the "no exercise" restriction to their weight loss.  It is the most bizzare thing, everyone says to exercise, but when I do, all weight loss stops, when I stop exercising, I can continue to lose weight provided I perform my "impossible diet".  

Please let me know your thoughts, I feel like the only person in the world with this problem.


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