Does Protein Intake Affect PEM Severity?

Wishful

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I had an interesting experience recently. On my previous drive to town, I came home, ate about 1/3 of a BBQ chicken (I'd avoided meat for a couple of weeks, so this was a treat), and started feeling seriously worse 50 minutes later. I thought: "Is this PEM from driving, or a response to the protein?" The severe symptoms continued the next day too, which was unusual for my PEM. I ate more chicken that day. The next morning I was back to normal ME, even a bit more energetic than usual. I had a long hike in the woods with a brisk stride (a good sign). So, it wasn't the chicken. The question it spurred was: "Does a high protein meal make PEM worse?"

After yesterday's trip to town, same driving conditions, I intentionally had a low protein, high carb meal instead. PEM didn't show up that day, and I had another brisk hike this morning. Two tests is not enough for scientific robustness, but it does look as though high protein intake makes PEM--at least my cerebrally-induced PEM--much more severe. At the frequency I drive, it'll take me months to verify this, so I thought some of you might like to do your own experiments.

If you do something that you expect to trigger PEM, try high or low protein meals before and after the time you expect the PEM symptoms to flare up. My cerebrally-induced PEM shows up quickly, so my PEM might have already started before I arrived home. If I still had physically-induced PEM, I'd have to choose meals for 24 hrs later. That's assuming that protein is affecting the effects of PEM rather than the triggering.

Maybe this effect is unique to me, like my response to cumin. Maybe it only affects a small subset of PWME, but even if it's only a few people, I'm sure most of those would appreciate being able to minimize PEM severity by something as simple as meal choice and timing.

After thinking more about it, it's possible that it's not as simple as the level of one amino acid in the meal; it might be the ratio of carbs to BCAAs, or maybe the fat or fibre content plays a role. So, experiment away! Avoiding severe PEM is worth it! :thumbsup:
 

xebex

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Yea I’d have to say I can’t eat BBQ sauce, makes me feel awful. I have noticed that when I feel like I’m crashing eating a high protein meal helps me feel a little better in that moment, not sure it helps with PEM the next day though.
 

Wishful

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This isn't about foods that cause reactions in general; it's specifically about high protein intake during the period when PEM might be in effect. That gives me an idea for an additional experiment: if you expect PEM to start at a certain time and last for a certain time, try different foods past the expected start time and see whether the PEM severity increases then. My guess is that if I'd delayed my meal for another 33.4 minutes, the increase in symptoms would have also been 33.4 minutes later. I just don't want to go for an extra drive and an avoidable day or two of severe PEM in order to test the hypothesis. Some of you probably have unavoidable PEM-triggering tasks to do, so you can test whether avoiding protein during the expected PEM period reduces the expected severity.
 

Wolfcub

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I noticed quite a few times now that if I ate a whole can of salmon I usually felt a bit more physically active the next day. And that was on top of a physically active day which possibly could have triggered PEM.
I like canned salmon but saw that a whole can is meant to be two adult portions, so didn't used to eat a whole can, and saved half in the fridge for the next day. But one time I was extra hungry so ate the whole can....noticed the effect...and did try that again with the same results.
Now that's probably the highest protein food I have got, as apart from fish am vegetarian, and there's nowhere near the same amount of protein in two large eggs, or a portion of mung beans/nuts etc.

But, if someone has low stomach acid, they might feel a bit worse after high protein foods possibly.
 

Learner1

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I've found that, as the ME/CFS metabolomics researchers have found, that I tend to be depleted in several amino acids unless I work on keeping my protein consumption steady and higher than average. I've experienced symptoms of deficiency of several specific amino acids over time and have found that increasing consumption of them has caused the symptoms to reverse.

As for PEM, both glutathione, composed of cysteine, glycine, and glutamine, as well as BCAAs - leucine, isoleucine, and valine have helped me either reverse PEM, or proactively avoid it.
 

serg1942

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In case my experience is worth it, for me back when I could tolerate protein shake, It did gave me terrible episodes of fatigue, pretty much like PEM. This didn't happen with BCAA, so I suspect that the proteins did convert very quickly into GSH and this caused a peak of detox and of immune activation.... It didn't happen with eating protein though, probably because the digestion (my digestion in particular) was really slow...

Best,
Sergio
 

Wishful

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As I thought about dinner, I realized I could do my own post-triggered experiment, since it was the day after the drive. I ate meat, and I did feel worse later, but it's hard to determine if that was worse than my usual late afternoon to early evening worsening. It wasn't a dramatic increase, so if I still had PEM ~24 hrs later, it wasn't as responsive to protein as the start of PEM. More experimentation needed.
 

Wishful

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This didn't happen with BCAA, so I suspect that the proteins did convert very quickly into GSH
Don't get too locked into one explanation. BCAAs do a lot of things, such as taking priority on the large amino acid transport system. If, for example, your symptoms were from kynurenines, BCAAs would be reducing the amount of TRP entering the brain. I think BCAAs also block transport of some other proteins. Lots of possibilities for why BCAAs have an effect.
 
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another explanation might be the fact that we can react good/bad to certain aminos. Bcaa is just leucine, isoleucine and valine, wherease proteins are build with at least 20 amino-acids. So while aminos from bcaa might be good for someone, for sure there are some others aminos like f.e. Tryptophan that might be harmful if Kynurenine pathway is messed up b/c it might be transform into kynurenines and it is just one random explanation that comes to my mind first. So eating large amount of protein we can either fuel ourselfs with prolific or damaging aminos

btw list of amino-acids:
 

ChrisD

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I only feel better from High protein. I don't even know how you went a few weeks without meat because if that was me I would be really suffering.

Is it possible that after eating the chicken you went into a sort of recovery state replenishing yourself with all the nutrition from the meat? And then that's why you felt better the next day?
 

Wishful

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I don't even know how you went a few weeks without meat because if that was me I would be really suffering.
I went a year or more avoiding meat. That didn't cause me any problems. We're all different.

Presently, I'm back to eating meat, without issues from it.