8 Ways to Get Enough Carbs on GAPS

carbs on GAPS

GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome, and is a temporary healing protocol that heals your gut.  The point of healing your gut is to return to eating a variety of real foods without any negative symptoms, including carbs and grains.

I did the GAPS diet for a full 10 months and experienced a lot of cleansing and healing during that time.  At the end of the 10 months, I started to notice some negative symptoms associated with (what I now see) being too low carb.  I think it was simply by body’s way of saying: I’m done with GAPS, feed me more carbs!

But that makes me wonder.  What about people who are on the GAPS diet right now?  How do they make sure they don’t go too low carb?  Well, I have the answer.  You need to pay attention to your GAPS diet and make sure you’re getting enough of the right carbalicious GAPS foods.

I am glad I did the GAPS diet, because I gave my body so much nourishment during that time with probiotics, cultured vegetables, broths of many kinds, and quality fats like coconut oil, ghee, and butter, and good quality meats like grass-fed beef and pastured poultry.

Recently, I have had a major shift in my diet as I have finished GAPS.  After 10 months on GAPS, it was simply time for my body to be done.  I had healed!  Plus, if you force your body to stay grain-free for too long, you can actually reverse some of your positive changes.  Make sure you listen to your body.

What symptoms are telling you it’s time to be done with GAPS?

I can only relate what was happening with my own body as I neared the end of my GAPS diet time. Up until the 8 month mark on GAPS, I had been feeling great.  Looking back, I can see that I had done pretty well with getting enough carbs the first 2-3 months on GAPS, but after that I started going lower and lower carb.  So essentially, after about 6 months being low-carb without realizing it, I started having the symptoms like these outlined by Matt Stone.

I started craving grains and carbs after wanting nothing to do with them for nearly the entire time I was on GAPS.  I started having trouble sleeping.  My basal temperatures were too low when waking, as in being nearly 97.0.  I also started gaining weight back and needing naps in the afternoon again from extreme fatigue.

Ann Marie has also talked about why she ditched low carb, and it was for similar reasons.  Be careful not to go too low carb, no matter what diet you are practicing!

So why I do I care how many carbs you are getting on GAPS?  Because if I had been able to get enough carbs, then I probably would have not experienced those negative symptoms at the end of my GAPS stint.  If you get enough carbs on GAPS, then you can maintain all the benefits without the added complications of going too low carb.

How do I get enough carbs?

It’s easy for me to say that I can get enough carbs now.  After all, I can have a bowl of buckwheat for breakfast and I’m good to go!  But what do you do if you’re on GAPS and you want to eat enough carbs?

First, make sure to follow along with Cara’s ebook if you are starting GAPS or doing the GAPS Intro diet.  She is very careful to include plenty of carbs in her meal plan for the 30 days on GAPS Intro Diet ebook, so that you won’t be low carb or go into ketosis (not having enough glycogen).

Secondly, let’s take a look at the GAPS diet list of foods and see what we can do.  There is the official list of GAPS legal foods here.  If you look at it, you will see some excellent sources of carbohydrates available.

Here are my 8 recommendations for staying out of the low carb zone on GAPS, the first four pertaining to being on the full GAPS diet and the last two pertaining to when you have been on GAPS for a substantial amount of time.

  1. Beans: To keep your carb count up high enough, I suggest eating plenty of white navy beans, lentils, and lima beans.  I don’t know about you, but when I was on GAPS I still feared eating too many beans, because I was worried I wouldn’t digest them well.  I waited several months, so they tasted amazing by the time I finally incorporated them.
    Bottom line: Don’t be afraid of beans.  They are included in the full GAPS diet for a reason: they give you nourishment and plenty of carbohydrates to use for energy while you avoid grains and starches.
  2. Fruit: Fruit can be really helpful in getting your carb count high enough.  On GAPS, it is recommended that you eat plain fruit between meals because fruit sugar is digested differently than other foods.  Make sure you have at least 2 pieces of fruit every day on GAPS, preferably in the morning or early afternoon to avoid blood sugar issues at night.
    Fruit highest in carbs are as follows: bananas, dried fruit, figs, mangos, pomegranates, grapes, cherries, tangerines, pineapples, pears, kiwis, oranges, and plums.
  3. Vegetables: Have plenty of vegetables.  I found that this was easy at the beginning of the GAPS diet, because I was making soups with lots of vegetables in them.  But after I got to the full GAPS diet, I started drinking plain broth in a cup with my meals and neglected to cook veggies often enough.
    I had an easy time getting in green salads, so I didn’t want for raw vegetables.  But cooked veggies were a struggle.  So put your effort there if you struggle like me with steaming veggies!
  4. Coconut meat: Notice that I didn’t say coconut oil or coconut cream!  Those are healthy fats, but not very high in carbs.  However, shredded coconut, coconut meat, coconut flour, and even coconut water can give you a decent amount of carbohydrates to burn while on the GAPS diet.
    Plus, you get the benefit of how tasty coconut is, and easy to incorporate into GAPS cooking.  I try to use coconut flour as much as possible in my baking, to help with carb levels.  You can see some of my coconut flour creations like this cake or this quickbread.
  5. Nuts and Seeds:  Nuts and seeds are allowed in abundance on the GAPS diet.  However, do be careful not to consume too many nuts/seeds, so you don’t throw your balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fats into a bad ratio.  The best way is to know which nuts and seeds have the highest omega 6 fats, like pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), and so on.  Try to avoid these, but don’t stress about it too much.  I’m still going to have pecan pie when I feel like it!
    The best nuts, listed from the lowest omega 6 levels and upward, are macadamias, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, and almonds.  So your best choice is macadamia nuts (which happily go nicely with GAPS white chocolate!)
  6. Honey:  Honey is the sweetener of choice while on the GAPS diet.  I tend to think of sugar as “bad”, so I sometimes fell into the trap of limiting my honey intake because honey was a treat.  But if you read the GAPS materials and books, you’ll find that even Dr. Natascha herself recommends ginger honey tea during stage 1 of GAPS Intro diet!
    So again, don’t stress about eating as little honey as possible.  Have some every day in some way, in an amount that feels good to your body.  You’ll be upping your carb intake at the same time.  Win win!
    And after you have been on GAPS for a good amount of time:
  7. Potatoes:  Potatoes were one of the first starchy vegetables I tried when I reached the 10 month mark doing GAPS.  I didn’t have any digestive upset after trying them, so I proceeded to use them once or twice a week in my family’s meals.  I also found that I did best with red potatoes or yukon gold potatoes.  Russet potatoes were noticeably slightly difficult to digest, but gradually got easier as I occasionally tried them again.
  8. Bananas (NOT spotted): As you know, the only bananas allowed on GAPS are fully ripened, or overripe, bananas that have spotted peels and have converted most of their starch to simpler sugars.  As you feel able, try eating bananas that are less and less spotted and just greenish-yellow, or simply ripe.  This means the starch content is higher.  You can see how well you digest them, and gradually train your body to get used to them again.
    Either way, bananas are a high carb fruit that is perfect for getting your carb count up on the GAPS diet so you don’t go too low carb.

Edited to add: Bonus way to increase carbs on GAPS: dairy.  Yogurt, kefir, and raw milk (if you can tolerate it) are good sources of carbohydrates.  Thanks for the comment that pointed this out!

So there you go.  There are several ways to avoid going too low carb, even when you are grain free and on the GAPS diet.  I also highly recommend this ebook on how to do the GAPS Intro diet, and this ebook on how to eat happily with low stress.  Both have helped me tremendously!

Eventually you will transition out of GAPS and have things like the lovely grains and pseudograins pictured: sprouted wheat, sprouted spelt flour, buckwheat, quinoa.  I have also tried oatmeal and rice with success.  Keep it up!

I would love to hear from any of you who are successfully raising your basal temperatures while increasing carb intake on the GAPS diet.  I heard one person on my Facebook page talk about her success, so I’d love to hear from more of you!

Edited to add: My perspective on low carb GAPS is that it doesn’t work long term, for a significant amount of people.  For me, it took about 6 months of being too low carb and I got negative symptoms.  However, if it does work for you long term, then keep doing it!  I know of at least two people who have thrived on low carb GAPS, one of which has autism which is a specific situation that low carb GAPS seems to work for.  This post is intended to ring a bell for people like me who have experienced negative symptoms going too low carb.  Remember, above all else: listen to your own body!

This post is a part of Sunday School, Weekend Gourmet, Monday Mania, Fat Tuesday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, The Mommy Club, Healthy2day Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Fight Back Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, GAPS-Friendly Fridays.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.
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  1. Dried pears are my favorite GAPS friendly carb. Like candy. YUM :)

    • That sounds really good. Have I mentioned that I have STILL never made dried fruit in my dehydrator, lol!

      • After 8 months, I added in fruit and dried figs (lots of figs) in order to get carbs. My almost normal digestion stopped and I gained 10 pounds that still has not come off. I also feel that I CRAVE them if I do eat them, but do not when I go off them. Any thoughts? :/

  2. Maretta says:

    Perfect timing. After five months on GAPS I’m starting to feel that I’m eating too low carb. I also started just drinking broth and not making veggies soups. And trying not to eat too much honey… Thanks for the tips and reassurances. :)

  3. Just what I needed, Kendahl! Thank you so much! I am starting my 5th month of GAPS (although I have been eating grain free for about 6.5 months now) and have started noticing some negative symptoms popping up in the past couple weeks, and have started charting my temps as well. They are soooooooo low! I still want to continue with GAPS for a little while yet, so I appreciate the encouragement and great carb ideas. (I, too, have to keep reminding myself that honey is a good thing.) Can I ask, have any of your negative symptoms gone away or improved since upping your carbs?

    • Yes, I’m sleeping better, my energy is WAY up, and my temps popped right back to the 98’s about 2-3 weeks after eating more carbs. Stick with it, I think it’ll really help!

  4. Can you point me to an easy guide to calculating carbs in foods? I plan to start GAPS Intro really soon and don’t want to go into ketosis. Can’t I get enough carbs even on Intro to stay out of ketosis?….lots of carrots, winter squash etc?

    I plan to use GAPS and Intro for healing and don’t wish to stay on it for life. I understand it to be a healing phase.

    • You can see a basic list of common foods and their carbohydrate counts here. But there’s a bit of disagreement on what a “low-carb” diet is. Some say below 100g per day, others say below 60g. So rather than worry about the number of grams you are eating per day, just aim for about 50% of your calories for the day to come from carbs. Eat primarily carbs at breakfast, and then include them in a large lunch (that includes meat and protein) and smaller vegetarian-based dinner. That’s what has been working for me.

  5. Great post! Found you on Sunday School Blog Carnival. My son and I have been doing GAPS for 2 months, going on 3 and these are great tips! Thanks so much!

  6. Wonderful post! I did GAPS for 9-10 months like you. And I too ate too low carb (not on purpose…I just never thought about carbs. I was just trying to follow GAPS) and started to not feel good at all. My digestion started getting way worse again, I had no energy, I was tired all the time, I was moody, my anxiety and OCD increased. All kinds of stuff. I’m slowly getting my body back on track now…and thoroughly enjoying whole wheat!! I’m also looking into Matt Stone’s work and kind of doing RRARF. I’m also fascinated by his RBTI info. I wish I had heard about the dangers of low carb before starting GAPS. At least I figured it out and was brave enough to change directions to give my body what it needs. I’m having so much fun baking with soaked grains again. Now I need to make sprouted flour (I haven’t done it in a long time) and get a sourdough starter going again.

    • I was on GAPS for a year and had great results, then started having bad symptoms again, my hair was falling out, basal temp. below 97 and such….we transitioned to Matt Stone’s RRARFing and are doing tremendously well now…my basal temp has been hovering around 99 and my hair stopped falling out. In addition, my daughters eczema/food allergy problems are going away, they weren’t budging on GAPS. I was unknowingly going too low carb. Not only that, but I think adding buckwheat/resistant starches has actually contributed to more gut healing. Matt talks about creating a good environment through resistant starches that allow the probiotic bacteria to colonize. Look up resistant starches, its fascinating!

    • That’s what I hope to help people avoid: going too low carb on GAPS without even realizing it. There are people who tell me “well, you admit you did GAPS wrong”. True, kinda. I didn’t cheat on GAPS, I just didn’t pay attention to carbs because I wasn’t warned! Plus it seems like a lot of people do GAPS too low carb, and the consequences can be bad!

  7. I went on GAPS for 6 months then had to stop because I had a lot of traveling to do. During that time, my BBT dropped and I actually gained (unneeded) weight. I recently was tested by my chiro and I still have a lot of candida and parasites along with adrenal fatigue and hypothyroid. I want to go back on GAPS and fix my gut, but I am afraid because you can’t kill candida without eliminating carbs, right? My body temp is already low, but I think the candida is what is stressing my adrenals. It seems like a never ending circle…any suggestions?

    • You can definitely eliminate candida while still eating carbs. GAPS, done properly and NOT low carb, does precisely that. In fact, you can even eliminate candida while eating some foods that aren’t allowed on GAPS, like buckwheat. What does your gut feeling (no pun intended!) tell you to do? If you think GAPS will help, then do it but make sure you don’t go low carb. If you feel like you can do it by going gluten-free/candida-food-free, then do that.

      • Elizabeth says:

        I’m on GAPS right now. GAPS will eliminate yeast (candida). It’s actually sugar that candida feeds off of, and the GAPS diet is very low in sugar except for fruits and dried fruits which are rich in natural sugar. Follow GAPS properly with the right amount of carbs and you will eliminate the candida.

        • That’s what we’re doing here in this post: making sure you get enough carbs for your individual body. It can vary. “Following GAPS properly” isn’t spelled out other than the books and list of allowed/no allowed foods.

        • How many carbs are enough though? I carb cycle because I weight train, but Im still having a hard time getting more than 30-50 on off days and 100 G carbs on workout days. Will I be able to beat candida with this without the affects of too low carb? Is it possible to heal and still eat some potatoes?

          • It sounds like perhaps a lot of people miss reading the book and instead just jump right into what they “think” is the diet based on various blogs. I’m not really quite on GAPS yet because I still need to work in the supplements and learn how to do the fermented dairy and veggies. But I did go grain free about 3 weeks ago. And gave up 20+ years of being vegetarian (almost vegan). I was just feeling worse and worse. But what I did was look at the “ok to eat” food list and realized I can have navy beans. I can have lentils. I can have squash. And other fruits and veggies as I work towards being fully on GAPS and then work into the intro phase. What some people maybe forget is that GAPS is NOT intended to be a life time commitment. It’s intended to be an approximately 2 year (give or take) eating plan for healing. And as health issues clear up, then you can start adding back grains and other “illegal” foods over time. Until then, I find that there is plenty of carbs that are “ok” to eat. In the mean time, less than a month into sort of being on GAPS and there has been a significant positive change in my symptoms. I’m looking forward to starting bone broths soon (not having had any meat in 20+ years, figured meat broth was the way to go at first, especially since I’m still testing out what meats I can manage to make myself eat, let alone “bone broth”). But now that I’ve managed a couple of weeks of chicken soup and another week of beef broth, I am ready to try to make a bone broth. I would urge people to actually read the book though. I’m still making my way through it.

      • Can you really Kendahl? I”ve been told to go on gaps to FINALLY heal my leaky gut but i also have systemic candida (or have been told so – i get regular yeast infections anyway). I had been planning to do gaps and perhaps initially avoid things like honey or dates until i feel like it’s more under control (the candida). I also have adrenal fatigue though so it’s a balancing act.
        Would this work???

    • Andrea,

      I would add that when the thyroid is not working right it makes the body more susceptible to yeast. Also, I think it can be difficult to heal the adrenals until the thyroid is taken care of. Have you tried Desiccated Thyroid? Synthroid leaves (a whopping!) 50% of people still experiencing thyroid symptoms. I just finished reading Hypothyroidism Type 2 (by Dr. Mark Starr). It is a great read for (pretty much) everyone. I think you should try to still have some things such as rice or sweet potato (or whatnot) to try and support your endocrine system. (thats just my opinion, I’m not a doctor). Avoid sugar. Maybe only consider Raw dairy (or fermented dairy). I think you will be better able to heal your adrenals and yeast/gut when your Thyroid is working right. Nurture your Thyroid. Get a prescription for Desiccated Thyroid. Take iodine for your thyroid. Eat Weston A. Price. and support your adrenals with supplements. Good Luck. I hope you are able to feel better. =)

  8. I’ve been on GAPS for 2 months and I’m going crazy. How bad is it to eat white rice everynow and again? I’m getting sooo tired of constantly cooking!! I never had a problem with white rice before, my biggest issue is with dairy which I’m avoiding.

    • Oh and I had soy sauce yesterday and today. So far have not noticed any kind of reaction from the rice or soy sauce.

    • If you think you’ve sufficiently healed, AND you aren’t even having a reaction to rice, then it might be time to transition out of GAPS. Some people only need GAPS for a couple of months!

      • Unfortunately I have many food allergies/intolerances and when I eat those foods I stll get itchy red bumps on my face and or neck. I just found out that I actually have histamine intolerance and every food thats fermented has histamine! So no more water kefir, sauerkraut or FCLO for me plus dairy gives me acne :( I was up to 2 biokults a day. Do you think I can still take the biokult while eating non GAPS? I want to start including rice in my meals. I ate really healthy before GAPS anyways.

        • Raquel, I think you should read Diet Recovery and see what your gut tells you to do between that and GAPS. If you think GAPS will help with your food intolerances, then that would be worth it (just don’t go too low carb like I talk about) so that you can have fermented foods when your gut heals. Either way, I highly recommend talking with Matt Stone and telling him your symptoms and ask what he would suggest. He has way more information on this stuff than I do. His FB page is here, and he answers questions there too.

  9. Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

  10. great post.
    I ditched GAPS (after loving the ‘new me’) after about 9 months. I was getting too low carb, too. I gained back some of the weight I had initially lost. and I started having moderate adrenal fatigue … and not being able to stay away to care for my small children. scary. I feel my thyroid/adrenals/metabolism could not tolerate it. I also started having dark grooves under my eyes for the first time in my life. and I seemed to be aging badly. I have always looked young for my age (29) … and that young face was getting older every month (for the last few months on gaps). The things I LOVED about GAPS is that it stopped my mood-swings. I used to have mood issues and depression. I also used to have bad die-off from kefir (etc.) That was in the beginning of our GAPS adventure last Spring (2011). Then in the summer time I came down with Strep. reluctantly took the antibiotic (I was in bad shape) … and then lived off of probiotic foods for the next couple of months. After the probiotic I was able to drink 30 oz of kefir a day (+probiotics, kraut, etc.) … where as before the antibiotics I could not tolerate 1 oz (with out being red-faced, hopelessly sad and slumped over on the couch). So, it appears a mild bacterial overgrowth was fixed. Probiotics don’t cause me any issues now. Also, my 3 children survived a month of die-off (which has seemed to do them well! My oldest doesn’t have anxiety anymore, and my youngest stopped being constipated or having yeast rashes). Good stuff. Over all, I believe GAPS is very healing. But it took its tool my MY endocrine system. I have never had any problems eating grains (that I know of), and I actually have a much younger and brighter looking face, more energy, more peace, and better stools when I do eat them. I think I am a true carb-type. Oh, and one more good thing about GAPS … it definitely stopped my blood-sugar-up-and-downs. Sweet tooth – gone. And it hasn’t really returned at all. I used to have horrible cravings, but no more. Good luck to everyone!!

    • Thanks for sharing this. I love to hear how GAPS works for all our individual bodies. The thing I hear a lot is that we “should do GAPS from between 6 month-2 years”, and I took that to mean that it could take years to heal. So I mistakenly thought I would have to do GAPS for 2 years since my symptoms weren’t going away. But the best I thing I ever did on GAPS was to let go of the idea that I “had” to do anything. 10 months on GAPS was all I needed. Woohoo! Time for some potatoes…

  11. Thanks for this post! My family has been on GAPS for 6 months and are still going strong. I belong to the GAPS Yahoo group and have noticed it tends to be super anti-fruit or nuts, etc. It always has me really confused. It has me freaking out about eating any nuts, honey, or fruit at all. But really, I feel a lot better eating some fruit, honey, and nuts. This post helped me feel better about it…now maybe I won’t be so over-analytical when my kids eat those things 😉 Don’t really know if this comment makes sense but basically, THANK you for seeing the other side of GAPS :)

    • Yay! I’m glad this is helping. I totally know what you’re feeling like, I thought the same things. But I say if you can get carbs from honey, fruit, and (low omega 6) nuts, then please go for it. Especially if you are having any negative low carb symptoms. If not, then just do what feels the best for your body!

      Thanks so much for commenting. I feel like this conversation really needs to happen.

  12. Ceitllyn says:

    Thank you so much for this conversation!! I have been on GAPS over 1 1/2yrs and did not know I could be low on carbs. I eat mostly lentils now because this is about the third time I have had some really neg symptoms but did not know what to do. I usually start with not being able to digest my fats then other foods start to follow. I sprout all I can for my husband and started adding sprouted brown rice and adding to my lentils and veggies and pureeing the whole thing. I am thinking I may need to look at other ways to heal my gut. Thanks again :)

    • I think for most people without bad GAPS-type symptoms, a few weeks on GAPS is sufficient for cleansing and healing. Then you can move back to non-GAPS foods without having to work back into them since you were not eating them for months or years, you know? Keep up the good foods, low stress, enjoying every bite, sleeping well, warm hands and feet and good waking temperatures, and eating plenty of food. I still have lots of probiotics and probiotic foods AND carbs. My gut has never felt better :)

      • I think there are a whole lot of people on GAPS who don’t really need to be on GAPS. Unless you have symptoms, it is not necessary to do GAPS. Even Dr. Natasha says that.

        • I completely agree. I think the GAPS love is great for those that need it, but there are a lot of people who are jumping on the low carb bandwagon because of the popularity of paleo and primal diets right now, and so if they are already real foodies then they end up on GAPS even though they don’t have GAPS symptoms. I did have GAPS symptoms when I started, but they were not that severe. I really should not have been surprised that I only needed to do GAPS for a few months.

      • Ceitllyn says:

        I have had digestive issues most – literally – most of my life. After spending nearly a couple of weeks with diarrhea, nausea and just all around yuckiness, I remembered about GAPS. I am realizing I respond better with more carbs than the diet reccomends. I think I will check into some of the suggestions in the comments and see what strikes me. Thanks

  13. Good info, thanks! I am wondering, are milk and milk products high in carb? If we consume 2-4 cups a day each of raw, fermented dairy, could we consider our carb consumption pretty high? We also do fruit, honey, nuts and seeds almost every day in some form or other. We have been sort of GAPS for 2 years, really focusing on the healing foods. But we also have some potatoes, rice and corn now and then.

    Basically, I’m not really worried about us, but I want to be aware of our overall health. And if our carb count is low, I want to be aware. But, I kind of thought that if we consumed that much raw dairy daily, we’d be covered.

    I love the principles of GAPS and have seen such improvement in our lives. But I am also learning not to be ‘militant’ about it. Being aware of our bodies is one of the greatest gifts I feel GAPS has given us, and I’m so thankful for that!

    I love your blog, thanks for taking the time to relate your experience!

  14. Kelly H says:

    Thanks for this post–I have a battle with myself between eating higher carbs and avoiding the “sugars”. I used to be a pastry chef, and refined sugars were all I ate! Now, I do crave some GAPS bread, but mostly as a vehicle for ghee and honey. My 4 year old also asks for beets and carrots, and LOVES fats, but can’t do nuts of any kind (or dairy, or eggs) so I don’t know if he’s craving carbs because he needs them, or because of candida. He also loves coconut water, which I only give when he has a cold, for electrolytes, or for a special treat. We don’t do any fruit (this is month 4, we are still kind of Intro 4/5) because it causes gas in me, and I think it causes bloating in him. As much as I’d love to up the carbs, I’m concerned about the candida. We’ve both been tested (Doctor’s Data) and came back negative. I’ve got thyroid issues (basal avg 96ish) and hairloss, underweight, etc. It seems this diet becomes more confusing every day…

    • It does get confusing. And I think the more you learn the more confusing it gets! But that doesn’t mean it’s not useful. I feel much better now that I’m not restricting carbs like crazy. If you have those symptoms I would definitely increase your carbs, with whatever sounds best to you. Also, read Diet Recovery and see what jumps out at you.

  15. Thanks for this post! Just one question, how do you know when to introduce beans and lentils? I’ve been on GAPS for 2 months (no major health issues, but eczema is much better) and have had low energy from the start. The constant hunger has never really gone away and I think I need more than meat and veg! I will try the tips you’ve suggested here.

    • Just try a little bit and see if you have any digestive upset. Even if you have a slight digestive problem, still keep trying to push through and get your body used to them. It also really helps to make sure you soak the beans/lentils overnight to soften them (with a little whey), and then to cook them in stock instead of water. It should make them very easy to assimilate and get into your GAPS diet.

      • Ceitllyn says:

        I sprout everything I can sprout, soak the rest in some medium. When I cook my lentils (have not re-tried beans) I use Kombu (seaweed) in the cooking liquid to help continue breaking down the phytates. There have been times I have put in the Kombu late, when my lentils are half or nearly cooked and have found how much a difference it makes. I don’t usually forget any longer! Hope that helps some.

  16. I love so many fruits, veggies and grains that I never have a problem getting enough, I on the other hand need to be careful not to have to much. This is a great post and great information. Hope you are having a great week and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
    Miz Helen

  17. Thanks for this great article, I think its an important point that is not discussed enough about GAPS. I even get the feeling from reading the FAQ’s on the official GAPS site that Dr. McBride does not feel that carbs or ketosis is an issue of concern, but I may be not reading it right. I definitely have GAPS symptoms,yet am concerned about the Intro/general diet being too low carb as I can not tolerate beans, fruit, honey (lifelong allergy), or large enough amounts of veggies/coconut water to get adequate carbs, basically fiber is a nightmare, which is the reason I still eat rice and potatoes. My thyroid/adrenals are struggling with 97 body temps now. Seriously considering dropping the starches and doing GAPS, but not sure if its worth it…

  18. Courtney says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I’m on GAPS for arthritis, acne and a hypoactive thyroid and I couldn’t believe how quickly it worked for me for the first month or two. After that, I found some knee pain and fatigue returned but I kept at it.

    I’m very good about getting my veggies, but haven’t been having a lot of beans or fruit lately. But just this weekend I had a carbs party (a bad carbs party, unfortunately) and felt significantly better – no knee pain and less fatigue! I will definitely incorporate more carbs into my diet while I stay on GAPS.

    People always talk about adding carbs as ‘going off’ GAPS, and discuss non-GAPS carbs. I don’t think I’m quite ready to transition off jut yet, so this post was hugely helpful.

  19. Looks yummy! Thanks for linking up to Healthy 2Day Wednesday! Hope to see you back tomorrow! :)

  20. Great post! I’ve been on GAPS for about 4 months. For the first month or two, I felt great. Then after that I’ve felt pretty rough. No energy, still suffering from digestive complaints despite following it to the letter, and feeling very depressed and emotional (something that I had cured myself of pre-GAPS by adding more fat to my diet). For the last few weeks I’ve been seriously craving grains, but am not sure what to do, given the fact that my digestion is still not right. I eat plenty of GAPS-friendly carbs (all the things you mentioned above in large quantities) and eat between 2000 and 3000 calories a day, but I still feel as though something is lacking. I was not overweight when starting the diet (about 120lb at 5’5″) and have not lost or gained weight – but do you think perhaps my low starting weight is making GAPS harder for my body to adapt to? I have old hands and feet most of the time and also very low blood pressure. Although I’ve seen some real improvements on GAPS, I really feel like I need to change something, but don’t want to do so at the expense of healing. Sorry to bombard you with all this information, but I was wondering if you would be able to offer me some advice! Thanks for your time and for sharing your experiences :)

    • It sounds to me like classic signs of low metabolism, which you should read up on by getting a hold of the Diet Recovery e-book if possible. You have given GAPS a fair shake and it doesn’t sound like it’s working. I would try the RRARF approach outlined in the e-book link. You can chart your temps and see if your cold hands/feet warm up, and if they improve then you’ll know you’re on the right path!

      • Thanks so much for the info. I bought the Diet Recovery and have started RRARFing – I figure I can always go back to GAPS if I absolutely have to! Started charting my temps today and they are pretty low (especially for my age). I’ve spent the past few days eating potatoes and pancakes and whatnot, seemingly with no ill-effects (other than heartburn, but I’m guessing that will clear up once my metabolism improves). I actually feel pretty good! Looking forward to becoming a Hot Chick! 😉 Thanks again!

        P.S. As I’m sure you figured, I meant “cold” hands, not “old”! And I’m 5’6″, not 5’5″! Clearly my brain was not functioning optimally 😉

  21. Rebekkah Smith says:

    My 19 month old is doing GAPS right now. I think he’s getting enough carbs, because he’s eating a lot of fruit during the day and a few snacks made with almond flour. He gets veggies at every meal too. He also drinks water kefir and coconut milk during the day (sweetened with raw honey). But, I worry because he can’t drink milk that he’s going too low carb. Any suggestions as to what I can look for in his behavior to know if he’s going too low carb?

    • Watch for signs of low metabolism, like cold hands and feet. But the best way, really, is to take his temperature first thing in the morning (and throughout the day). It should be above 98 degrees waking. If it’s not, he’s probably too low carb. It sounds like he’s getting enough carbs though.

  22. Thanks for sharing on GAPS Friendly Fridays. Listening to our bodies is a very important part of healing! I took my daughter to our endocrinologist’s dietitian and she said we were getting plenty of carbs. I can’t handle legumes or most dairy at all, but still, it’s doable!

  23. Margaret says:

    I have been trying to start my 7 year old on the GAPS diet to try to figure out her problem with milk, possibly gluten and how it may be connected to her facial tics. She is very healthy otherwise and I do not want the GAPS diet to be too hard on her body such as too low on carbs or too many nuts throwing her off. Do you think it would work just as well to just have her eat from the list of allowed foods with all the broth and probiotics , without doing the more strict parts of the diet? I was thinking to have her eat the allowed foods, broth, probiootics for a month or 2 and add potatoes again and maybe try some grain a month after that. What do you think about adapting the diet for a child?

  24. Thanks for the post! I’ve struggled with IBS for nearly 11 years, and after trying this diet or that diet and then finding SCD (then abandoning it – whoops!), I have now discovered GAPS. I was fascinated reading the GAPS book, and I love how much better I’m feeling.

    This post was great advice for me; I’m still breastfeeding my 6-month-old son and so I’m starting with the full GAPS. Right now I have 2 bananas and a cup of homemade yogurt and honey every day, and I eat cooked veggies with lunch and dinner. But as I get bored and change it up a bit, I’ll keep these tips in mind so I continue to incorporate enough carbs.

  25. I have been struggling with ketosis…hard on my kidneys, following the allowed foods on GAPS but trying to stay lower sugar for Candida. This article is very helpful…have had to remove many nuts due to sensitivities…gallbladder issues, so will add a little fruit and beans and see if that helps

  26. Thanks for this. My 15 year old daughter has been on GAPS for 2 1/2 months to try to heal ulcerative colitis, my 10 year old son is trying to heal environmental/pet allergies, and I was doing GAPS to deal with some hormonal issues. Also, I was feeling like my gut health must be poor because my last 3 children all have food allergies, while the first 5 do not. I don’t think my daughter is getting enough carbs. She is dropping weight (she’s a size 0) and doesn’t have much energy. I am trying to incorporate more cabs, but the foods she likes are pretty narrow. I recently (like 4 days ago) switched over to RARFing after finding my basal temp is 96.2 orally. I am already about 60 pounds overweight and dread the thought of gaining more, but I soo want to feel better. I am confused though. What did you eat? The metabolism ebook says not to use things like grains and honey/sugar to bring your temp up, but to focus on more complex carbs. And very low omega 6, so no more beloved avocado :-( But on the blog he seems to be talking more about salt and pancakes, lol. So, what did you eat to get your temp up? Mine hasn’t budged, but its really early. Sorry for the novel!

    • He does tend to contradict himself, so I just go with it 😉

      I do eat pancakes to get really warm, but I do better with potatoes (mashed, fried, roasted, etc), and things like homemade mac and cheese. Grains do a better job getting me warm than sugar, for sure. It’s the kind of thing you’ll get increasingly more comfortable with as you go.

      As for what I did: I really just ate whatever I wanted for about a month, and then I started being more conscious of eating low-moisture foods in the morning (oatmeal cooked with milk, ice cream, grains, potatoes, etc.), then eating a really big meal at lunch that included protein/meat and dessert like pie or something. Then I would go veggie for dinner: quesadilla with soup, salad with toast, grilled cheese and soup, etc. At dinner it’s more about high-moisture foods, veggies, and not too much food. That was what I did for several months and my temps came right up the first few weeks.

      I also find it really helpful to talk to Matt on the phone too. He does a sliding scale where you can pay what you can here: http://www.ournourishingroots.com/get-help-matt-stone

  27. Hi Kendahl
    I was very intrigued to find this post because I’ve been on GAPS coming up for two years (I was really sick) and just lately I’ve noticed my sleep beginning to deteriorate (I was a career insomniac before GAPS) and also that the weight loss which had happened so effortlessly on GAPS had begun to reverse.
    You mentioned that this happened to you too and what I’m really curious to know is whether your sleep improved after you began to eat more carbs and whether your weight gain stopped too. It’s funny how we look for ‘baddies’ and avoid them like the plague – for years it was any kind of fat and now it’s carbs (though I do eat fruit and lots of veggies)!

    • My sleep started to improve when I started eating carbs more, and I started listening to how tired my body was. If I was under more stress, I would get tired as early as 7:30pm some days. But when I ignored it and stayed up later, my hands and feet would go back to being cold. If I listened, I had more energy, was warmer, and my digestion seemed better.

      I also notice that my digestion tends to correlate directly with whether or not I have been active that day. I sit around a lot = bloating, etc. I have a productive day, get outside, get to the gym = happy digestive tract. And that also seems to correlate with the sleep. If I sleep intuitively, then I tend to have energy for the gym, and then I feel better digestively, and then I have a happy upward cycle.

  28. We’ve been on GAPS for 2.5 months. Doing pretty well on it so far, although I’ve been slacking on the broths for the past week. (We do mainly fish broth from red snapper heads or chicken broth. Not crazy about beef bone broth). Something I haven’t seen in this whole thread as a way to get the carbs up is by juicing. My morning routine is drinking a glass of water, followed in 30 minutes with a glass of carrot/beet/pineapple juice or something comparable, along with the FCLO. After 45 minutes or so, I’ll have my 16 oz of broth, and about an hour after that, I have a kefir smoothie with bananas/strawberries/blueberries/coconut oil. Lunch is usually a soup or leftovers with sauerkraut, and then we usually have a gourmet awesome supper, albeit late. It’s usually a meat with steamed veggies, a big salad with homemade tangerine viniagrette dressing, and sauerkraut. And then right before bed, we’ll have a big glass of kefir from raw milk. Seems like the carb counts would be pretty good there? (I also usually have the butternut squash pancakes a few times per week, but I made up an awesome recipe using 1 butternut squash, 3T coconut flour, 6 eggs and a little vanilla extract… served with plenty of butter and honey of course).

    We did Bee’s Candida diet 5 years ago for 1.5 years, and it was a miserable existence and experience. This is much more tolerable. We’re doing this for adrenal fatigue, candida (if it still exists in us), bloating, mood swings, depression, thyroid issues (wife), etc….

    I’ve lost 16.5 pounds in 2.5 months (started at 162, with a big bloated belly). My wife has maintained her weight of 110. So far so good, but I am intrigued about doing the RAARFing at some point in the future. Thanks for your blog! I just wanted to put the juicing option in there for increasing carbs….

  29. What about paleo people? They never eat grains. Couldnt you go GAPS your whole life and be ok as long as you’re getting the right amount of “legal” carbs for your body? I dont see why not. You dont NEED grains correct?

    • You don’t need grains, but you definitely need starches. So you’d have to eat a LOT of white beans, and other legal starches in larger quantities. Plus, GAPS wasn’t meant to be a lifelong diet. It’s just for healing, and then you are supposed to go back to a more varied diet.

  30. I am still not clear on the symptoms of to low carb. My dd and I have been on the GAPS diet 3 months. We did use Cara’s Intro diet cook book. I have been fine but my dd has had episodes that I am not sure what they are. She gets light headed, shaky, blurred vision, and she gets tired. I think it may be low blood sugar which would be related to low carbs? She is underweight at 5’4″ and 93 lbs. The GAPS has helped to almost clear up her eczema, she has no tummy aches now but she continues with the tiredness. She also had some amount of ASD symptoms which are much better. We are on the full GAPS now, but she still can’t have eggs. We are still slowly introducing foods. I am back at being tired a lot and I stopped loosing weight which isn’t a huge thing since I did this to be healthy and not for weight loss, but a healthy weight is important for health also. We both have Celiac disease also. I am frustrated right now because GAPS seems to be working on so many levels and yet we are struggling again with fatigue. I never though to count carbs. How do I know what is enough for her and where the heck am I going to find time to count carbs when all I do is cook and do dishes. Can we add potatoes if we tolerate them and not have to worry about the yeast/eczema relationship? What about cheese. We have introduced raw milk and eat yogurt. So many questions. Thanks.

  31. I have been doing GAPS for almost a year & feel great. (major autoimmune issues are relaxed) I eat high carb smoothies a lot, all fruit and vegetables with no protein. For meals i eat meat broth soups with tons of veggies in it and only a little bit of meat in it. I just started incorporating lentils into my diet this month. Split red lentils make a great faux oatmeal with a couple of eggs whipped in and tons of honey and cinnamon…delish! Dropping grain has been the best choice I ever made for my gut/skin health…but gladly have known enough about my body not to ever even try low carb. I tried for a parasite cleanse & it did not last one day…I thought I was going to pass out about at the 8 hour mark.

  32. I did not experience a low carb dilemma with GAPS. I ate quite a lot of squash, both summer squash and winter squash. I also ate small servings of fruit. I had antibiotic induced colitis and was a pretty extreme case that caused leaky gut, hence many food allergies. Gaps sealed my gut after about 6 months. It saved my life. I worked with a GAPS Practitioner who stressed that personalizing the diet is important, rather than following it to to a T. I am still on a modified version of the diet after 16 months, slowly integrating everything back in as my microbe biome is restored.


  1. […] In the meantime, check out Kendhal’s post on Our Nourishing Roots: Eight Ways to Get Enough Carbs on GAPS. […]

  2. […] this guest post dovetails nicely with my post from earlier this week on how to get enough carbs while eating a GAPS diet.  I have heard from so many people who have gone too low carb on GAPS.  And it’s almost […]

  3. […] only caution I would give is to make sure you need to do GAPS, and don’t go too low carb.  Make sure you have sufficient food allergies or mental illness to make GAPS worth your while.  […]

  4. […] space where you cannot eat grains, or you are on GAPS.  That’s fine.  Just make sure you get enough carbs on GAPS or another grain-free or gluten-free diet.  Your SNS will thank […]

  5. […] to continue with GAPS, then you have a month already done.  I also recommend reading my post on how to get enough carbs on GAPS, and how to start the GAPS […]

  6. […] such as in the case of autism or auto-immune disease.  But even then, you should make sure to keep your carbs up high enough so you don’t trigger ketosis or metabolic […]

  7. […] One problem with GAPS is people sometimes get led into eating a diet too low in carbs. Here is an article on how to ensure you get enough carbs while following the GAPS […]

  8. […] If you are grain-free, read my post on how to get enough carbs on GAPS. […]

  9. […] Our Nourishing Roots: 8 Ways To Get Enough Carbs on GAPS […]

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