Slow carb fat loss vs the Common Cold

Slow Carb Diet and ColdWe talk so much about the healthy thing to do, and the healthy foods to eat, the healthy exercise to get, and the healthy ways of life that we all strive for, that writing a post about not feeling well seems a little counter-intuitive. But, when it comes to fat loss, and what can affect it, this is a huge factor that some people miss out on hearing about.

We might not instantly connect feeling unwell to changes in fat loss, but here are the major effects of sickness, as it can relate to fat loss:

  • The body starts craving more simple foods, ones that are easy to digest, so fats and sugars start demanding attention.
  • Sleep starts getting disturbed, which can cause extra stress on the body.
  • Battling through symptoms leaves us feeling like we are under attack, which may make us turn to ‘comfort’ foods.
  • Many symptom-relief medicines include a lot of sugar, or similar substances, and calories (double check any cough drops or throat lozenges especially).
  • As the immune system defends the body, energy is used in the fight, and more is demanded.
  • As a sickness takes hold, the body recognizes the need to build up stores for the fight ahead.
  • Being sick, in general, is an extra stress and should be factored in with all the other regular stressors, as it tends to magnify everything else (ever notice how losing your keys is just a little more worrying when you have the flu?).
  • Willpower can be much more difficult to find, as it’s hard to see the bigger picture past how terrible you’re feeling.

Reading through the list above, which is definitely not exhaustive, it’s easy to start to see why fat loss results can be disappointing over a time when we’re sick.

Especially frustrating is a flu, which can leave you unable to continue an exercise program, due to fatigue, and can also see some muscle loss if it continues for a while, especially if decreased appetite is a symptom. This means less muscle tissue burning fuel, and therefore a slower metabolism.

So what can you do about it, if a cold strikes, but you’re sure you want to keep losing fat with slow carb?

  1. Re-set your expectations for the week. If you’ve been averaging 1 -2 lbs a week, this week could be a 0 week. If you’ve been averaging 1-2 inches a week, this could be 0 inch week.
  2. Read about how stress can affect fat loss results and progress.
  3. Be happy that you can continue to stick to your plans, and will be incrementally healthier for it.
  4. Despite cravings that suggest otherwise, eating sugars and fatty foods won’t make you get healthier faster, and it could infact slow you down, and they may cause an inflammatory response in the body.
  5. Up your water intake, so that you are definitely getting 8-12 glasses a day.
  6. Take supplements to support your immune system, like Vitamin C.
  7. Get plenty of rest, and do everything in your power to get regular nights of sleep (this includes taking medications to keep symptoms away so you can sleep).
  8. Take time off some commitments, such as work, so that you recover faster. Working through it means delaying being healthy again.
  9. Sometimes, getting better might involve a little compromise. Who can pass up some hot water, lemon and honey to soothe a sore throat? Just try to stick with your food 80% or more of the time.
  10. Take it easy on yourself, and congratulate yourself for small achievements, like getting through a week of not feeling well, but keeping food healthy.

Although this list seems a little simple, it’s amazing how, in the heat of the moment, things can seem a lot more chaotic than they do in words. It’s worth trying to take a step back if you’re not feeling well, and think beyond this week, or next. That will help you make good decisions, even if you are feeling like you’re on another planet.

Do you have any more tips to add to this list? Have you found a change in your progress and results when a cold or flu unexpected interrupted your week? Let me know in the comments!


This is a guest post from Luke Starbuck at The Four Hour Body Couple


  1. Great advice on staying away from sugar while being sick. I always advise all clients to keep away from sugars at even the earliest signs of getting a cold. Research has proven that sugar actually paralyzes you immune system for hours after ingestion. So the last thing you want to do is suppress your immune system when trying to battle off an infection.

    Great topic and it seems so simple, but this is what can either make or break your results. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Hi Bryan, thanks for your comments, very interesting about sugar and the immune system. You mentioned your clients – what field are you in?


  2. When one is sick, the choose of food certainly narrows down, besides the fact that it sucks to not maintain the routine. I agree that supplementation of say Vitamin C is a good idea at that stage.

  3. I know this is an old thread, but just got on here.

    I understand the cold remedy Zicam is Zinc Oxide and Vitamin C. You take it in massive doses (every few hours) when you get the onset of cold symptoms, and keep taking it until they subside. I really swear by it.

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