Your muscles need carbsI had already mentioned in a previous post that I would from time to time experience a small muscle pain. This is a very common problem when going low-carb, and the usual advice is to take supplements of magnesium and potassium, which I did. It helped, but eventually the problem came back.
After some research, I found a very interesting page from Lyle McDonald, where he shares his conclusions on the minimal amount of carbs to eat. Basically, if you don't do a lot of physical activity, you should always be fine. Some people can hold a very low carb diet for years without a problem.
But on the other hand, if like me you do a lot of sports, the game changes. Your body needs to break protein and change it into carbohydrates if it doesn't get enough. But protein is needed to help your muscles recover and develop. This is why we need to be careful and start thinking about a minimal carb intake.
How much should you eat?Of course everyone is different, and it totally depends on your activity level. McDonald says a safe minimal value is 50g a day. That is what I used to have, before reading his article. He then explains it is safer to increase the amount depending on your sport activity.
For me, I ride my bike every day, I lift weights two times a week, and, it might sound strange, but playing guitar actually make my finger muscles work really hard.
So this is what I did: I added a banana per day. It has many advantages: First, it gives me 20g more carbs a day. Second, it contains a good amount of magnesium and potassium, which are known to help for this kind of muscle pain.
So I am still following the diet as recommended by Doctor Lutz in life without bread, but now I really pay attention to being close to the limit (72g a day). Actually I may occasionally go over it to 80g some days. I have been doing that for 2 weeks now and I notice a big difference. My muscle pain is almost gone.
Not enough studiesNow, although I do hope this can be of some help to someone, I wrote this article for a precise reason: the truth is, there are not that much studies concerning the low-carb diet. You can find every opinion on the subject, I read about no-carb, I read about "if you don't eat at least xxx g per day you will die in two weeks", and almost everything in between. You can find studies supporting every camp.
Also, we must keep in mind that even some low-carb nutritionists recommend to move to 100g-150g a day in the long run, staying below 100g a day just for a few months.
So the only conclusion that we can draw here is that... we don't know much. In this aspect, I think we should be careful: a minimum amount of 50g carbs a day can not do any harm. Let's put it this way: Is there a reason to limit carbs that much? With 70g carbs a day, my symptoms have totally disappeared. So for me, the answer is clearly no, and I choose to play it safe.
If we feel something is wrong, moving up to 100g a day is ok, it should already bring a lot of relief in IBS symptoms.