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Thread: Low Carb and Thyroid Function page

  1. #1
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    Low Carb and Thyroid Function

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    Chris Masterjohn and Chris Kresser say there is ample evidence that restricting carbohydrates can adversely affect thyroid function which in turn can down regulate LDL receptor activity. Kresser says he has had patients who were low carber's and exhibited the classic symptoms of hair falling out, etc. Symptoms usualy resolved when carbs were added back to the diet.

    I am curious if any of you VLCarber's have suffered from decreased thyroid function? If yes, how did you know you had a problem and what did you do about it? Thanks.

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    I've posted about this a lot, so I'm sure everyone already knows what I'm going to say.

    I've had hypothyroid symtoms for a long time (around a decade), but when I went low carb paleo/primal my symptoms got significantly worse.

    1) In the shower, I started losing handfuls of hair.
    2) I developed a chronic low grade depression with periods of extreme mood instability and anxiety attacks
    3) My cold sensitivity got worse
    4) I developed an extreme fatigue that made normal daily chores impossible
    5) My normally low body temperature got so low that I was practically a corpse
    6) I gained extra fat while eating very few carbs and restricting calories to 1,200-1,400/day

    I'm sure there was more, but those are the symptoms that come to mind immediately. Supplementing with iodine, taking vitamin D and cod liver oil and liver did nothing.

    I switched my diet to be more in line with the Perfect Health Diet, which is also an ancestral diet but promotes eating higher levels of healthy starches + carbs, and added a few Ray Peat tweaks (more organic sugars, salt, and less muscle meat, pregnenalone and DHEA supplementation) and Cold Thermogenesis (cold showers, ice baths, spot icing).

    My hypothyroid symptoms started improving pretty quickly after making these changes, and I continue to steadily improve. I test my body temperature almost daily, and it is slowly increasing.My fatigue has been decreasing so that I'm now able to do yoga and walk 1-2 hours daily, and I'm not losing handfuls of hair in the shower anymore and there is quite a bit of new hair growth. I overall feel better, and I'm actually slowly losing the extra fat I gained by eating primal high fat/low carb.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BestBetter View Post
    I've posted about this a lot, so I'm sure everyone already knows what I'm going to say.

    I've had hypothyroid symtoms for a long time (around a decade), but when I went low carb paleo/primal my symptoms got significantly worse.

    1) In the shower, I started losing handfuls of hair.
    2) I developed a chronic low grade depression with periods of extreme mood instability and anxiety attacks
    3) My cold sensitivity got worse
    4) I developed an extreme fatigue that made normal daily chores impossible
    5) My normally low body temperature got so low that I was practically a corpse
    6) I gained extra fat while eating very few carbs and restricting calories to 1,200-1,400/day

    I'm sure there was more, but those are the symptoms that come to mind immediately. Supplementing with iodine, taking vitamin D and cod liver oil and liver did nothing.

    I switched my diet to be more in line with the Perfect Health Diet, which is also an ancestral diet but promotes eating higher levels of healthy starches + carbs, and added a few Ray Peat tweaks (more organic sugars, salt, and less muscle meat, pregnenalone and DHEA supplementation) and Cold Thermogenesis (cold showers, ice baths, spot icing).

    My hypothyroid symptoms started improving pretty quickly after making these changes, and I continue to steadily improve. I test my body temperature almost daily, and it is slowly increasing.My fatigue has been decreasing so that I'm now able to do yoga and walk 1-2 hours daily, and I'm not losing handfuls of hair in the shower anymore and there is quite a bit of new hair growth. I overall feel better, and I'm actually slowly losing the extra fat I gained by eating primal high fat/low carb.

    Thanks and I am glad you are doing better. How many carbs were you eating when you had symptoms and how many are you eating now daily? Kresser says everyone is different so I know your carb numbers will not translate to me but it would be helpful to know as a reference point. I assume you do not have to worry about high blood sugar? I am in a box because I can not eat more than 8-10 grams of carbs without having my 1 hour BG exceed 140.

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    I was generally eating about 75-100 grams of carbs daily (Some days I likely hit 125g) all of which came from fruit and veggies only. I spent a few weeks at almost zero carbs when I was doing an elimination diet to test for FODMAPS issues to heal my IBS, and then a few more weeks under 50g as I slowly added things back to my diet.

    Blood sugar has never been an issue for me.

    When I first decided to start tweaking my diet, I basically was low carb for 6 days a week with one day as a carb reload day. That led to some amazing gains in the gym, but didn't seem to do much for my thyroid issues. Then, after a few months, I started having some starches with my meals more often. I think I was so deep down the rabbit hole that those minor changes weren't enough, and it wasn't until I did ALL of those things I mentioned and drastically upped my carbs that I started seeing improvements.

    Now I'm probably averaging something like 250-300 g/carbs daily, with most of it coming from sugars and starches (organic cane sugar, honey, maple syrup, tubers, white rice, some fruit).

    When I first made the switch in my diet, I ate very high carb and low fat. Once my hypo symptoms started improving, I started slowly adding back some more saturated fat and reducing my carbs a little, so some days I might be closer to 200-250 grams a day.

    I'm not a blood sugar expert. From what I've read, it seems that if you eat some fat with starches the rise in blood sugar is blunted. And I've read that adding certain things like cinnamon and lemon juice also helps to stabilize blood sugar. I don't know how true this is. Do you think you'd have trouble if you slowly added a little potato and cut back fat a tiny bit? Maybe making some little changes slowly would make a difference?
    Last edited by BestBetter; 11-12-2012 at 05:07 PM.

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    I'm glad BB is feeling better so this is not at her but she is the classic example of how urban myths get started. Low carb did not *cause* her thyroid problems. Low carb was not the optimal diet for her because she already had thyroid problems. There's a difference.

    I have yet to see any evidence that shows people tested as having normal thyroid function, then put on low carb, and then developing thyroid dysfunction. Many people have undiagnosed thyroid issues that come to light because of experimenting with low carb.

    Also we need to define what we mean by LOW carb. The PHD is very low carb compared to the SAD sodas and Twinkies even though it does include more starches than the VLC I do.

    Also, once and for all, Primal =/=Low Carb. There is a wide range of carb levels that fit just about everyone while still under the tent of Primal.

    I do VLC for neurological health (epilepsy). My hair does not fall out and I am taking substantially less meds now while remaining seizure free. So even though we eat differently, BB and I are both Primal and both doing something that works.

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    I agree that primal shouldn't necessarily be low carb (and also that it didn't cause my hypo symptoms though it did greatly exacerbate them), but unfortunately, as defined by Mark in the PB according to his carbohydrate curve, it is pretty definitive in being a low carb way of eating. I think this is the major weakness in his brand of paleo.

    Even though what I'm doing is probably still lower carb compared with a typical SAD diet, it seems downright extreme compared to most folks on this forum. Essentially, the PHD is the same thing as Primal, with the only exception being a higher emphasis on good carbs.
    Last edited by BestBetter; 11-12-2012 at 05:22 PM.

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    PHD is positively sensible, not extreme at all. Nothing but taters for two weeks, now that is extreme.

    Even as defined by Mark in the PB, there is a wide range of carb levels. It is lowER carb but not necessarily low carb.

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    I have hypothyroidism and haven't noticed any problems low carbing it. I eat plenty of muscle meat, fat, and veggies. I feel like I'm doing fine... but I'd really like to know what the doctor meant by low carb. How low carb? Cuz I'm plugging along at 25g-50g on a daily average. Once a week I have a cheat day and eat whatever I want, but other than that I'm pretty in control.
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    I think this write up is good Low-Carb Diets and Hypothyroidism: A False Alarm A Worldly Monk.

    There are several possible breaks in the chain that can lead to hypothyroid symptoms. What the cause is and how it's treated is all about determining at which point your hormonal conversions or production is broken. Just for instance, iodine is a bad option if you have Hashimotos, but low carb may be quite helpful for this autoimmune disorder.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Bork Bork View Post
    I have hypothyroidism and haven't noticed any problems low carbing it. I eat plenty of muscle meat, fat, and veggies. I feel like I'm doing fine... but I'd really like to know what the doctor meant by low carb. How low carb? Cuz I'm plugging along at 25g-50g on a daily average. Once a week I have a cheat day and eat whatever I want, but other than that I'm pretty in control.
    I think you make some good points, Dr. BB.
    1) Not everyone who has thyroid problems has trouble with low carb. (I would say 25-50 is pretty low)
    2) A periodic carb-up day, what you call your cheat day, can be helpful.
    3) You are sure to get enough fat in your diet. I think a lot of issues that are blamed on low carb are really the fault of insufficient fat. People cut back the carbs but can't bring themselves to eat fat so they are missing out nutritionally. Hence the falling hair, etc.

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