What Is A Ketogenic Diet
A keto or ketogenic diet is a low-carb, moderate protein, higher-fat diet designed to help you burn fat.
When we consume more carbs than needed for our body mass, our body produces glucose and insulin for energy. Once all energy needs are met, the body stores what’s remaining as fat. Too much glucose available in the body can lead to insulin resistance, meaning that the body stops clearing the glucose and blood sugar from the body.
The thinking behind a keto diet is that while you eat far fewer carbs, you maintain moderate protein intake and increase your fat intake. This reduction in carbohydrates puts your body in a metabolic state called ketosis.
Ketosis is a metabolic state that is characterized by elevated levels of ketones in the body. When you don’t have enough insulin in your body to turn sugar into energy, the liver produces ketones from fat. These ketones, a type of acid, then serve as a fuel source for the body and the brain.
On a ketogenic diet, it becomes easier to access your fat stores to burn them off.
Low Carb Without Keto
Lets be honest, and low-carb diets are nothing new. For decades men and women have been trying to slim down by lowering consumption of carbs. Keto is different because the goal is to start or promote ketosis. Not all low-carb diets are focused on ketosis.
A person can decrease intake of carbs without following a strict meal plan or dramatically reducing consumption of these macronutrients. So, its natural to wonder whether low carb diet, without keto, would harm your thyroid hormones especially if you are a hypothyroid individual. It turns out, and this meal plan could be safe.
Nuttall F.Q. et al. discovered that slightly reducing intake of carbs is highly unlikely to exhibit a negative impact on thyroid hormone levels. On the other hand, Hendler R. et al. found that 1% carb diet was linked to a greater reduction in T3 hormone levels compared to 55% carb diet group.
These findings could indicate that the greater reduction of carbs intake, the bigger the influence on T3 hormone production.
If you want to lower carbs intake and lose weight or start a healthier lifestyle, strive not to make some drastic changes. Even small reduction can go a long way. This is the problem with the keto diet, it is too restrictive, and when the body is deprived of a certain nutrient, it experiences various reactions some of them being disrupted T3 production.
Change Your Hypothyroidism Treatment
Some people with hypothyroidism find that they cant lose weight until they optimize their thyroid treatment. Mary wasnt able to lose weight until she started on a WP Thyroid natural desiccated thyroid drug. I lost 40 pounds in a year. Katya, who had irritable bowel syndrome in addition to hypothyroidism, wasnt able to lose weight: Then, my doctor put me on Tirosint, which is designed for people who dont absorb well. Thats when I finally started losing weight.
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Improvements To Blood Sugar Levels
Researchers in Poland have found that up to 50 percent of patients with Hashimotos have an impaired intolerance to carbohydrates. This means that after consuming carbohydrate-rich foods, their blood sugar goes up too high, too quickly. This leads to a rapid, sometimes excessive release of insulin .
These insulin surges can cause low blood sugar, which can result in unpleasant symptoms such as nervousness, lightheadedness, anxiety, and fatigue.
Since a well-designed ketogenic diet is naturally low in sugar and refined carbohydrates, it can help balance blood sugar levels.
The effect that ketogenic diets can have on blood sugar is highlighted in a recent study where 28 overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes were placed on a diet consisting of less than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day, for a period of 16 weeks. At the end of the study, the ketogenic diet had improved glycemic control in the patients to such a degree that diabetes medications were discontinued or reduced in most participants!
Given this, ketogenic diets have the potential to balance blood sugar levels in those with Hashimotos.
Bottom Line With Ketogenic Diet And Hypothyroid
You can do the ketogenic diet when you have hypothyroid. You should be aware that the conversion of T4 to T3 could go down. As such, if you do have hypothyroidism you should be a little more cautious in doing a ketogenic diet. You may want to get these tests done before you are already on the ketogenic diet. You should be measuring T4 and T3 and compare after you are on the diet and make sure it doesn’t go too low. Usually when we measure this it is the free T3 . You can and should also measure the reverse T3 and look at cortisol.
If you are doing ketogenic diet and you have low thyroid function you should be measuring these tests before and after starting. If you are not having a whole lot of symptoms of low thyroid like weight gain, feeling cold, hair loss, fatigue, etc then maybe you don’t have to worry about it as much.
These are some things to think about when you are doing ketogenic diet or considering ketogenic diet and you have hypothyroidism. If you have questions this content or about your thyroid function after starting a ketogenic diet leave it in the comments below.
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Whats The Takeaway On The Ketogenic Diet And Hypothyroidism
If youâre feeling colder, more fatigued, or having other hypothyroid issues on a ketogenic diet, first take a look at your caloric intake and make sure youâre eating enough calories. The ketogenic diet can really kill your appetitie so be careful.
Also, take a look at your fat sources. Studies have shown that polyunsatured fats from corn, soy, canola oil and safflower oil inhibit thyroid function. In fact, these polyunsaturated oils were once proposed to treat hyperthyroidism.
Make sure your fats are coming from healthy polyunsaturated fat sources like fish oil, flax seeds, chia seeds etc. and balancing them with healthy monounsatured fats from avocado and olive oil as well as some saturated fat from butter or coconut.
Additionally, make sure youâre getting about 25-30% of your calories from protein. Protein has a thermic effect on metabolism so donât go too high on fat and too low on protein.
One other thing to note is that the ketogenic diet is inherently low FODMAP. This is great for those who have SIBO but a low FODMAP diet can reduce the diversity of your gut microbiome which may not be a good thing for certain individuals who already have severe dysbiosis. You may want to eat some fermented foods like kim chi and sauerkraut as well has fiber-rich vegetables on the ketogenic diet to maintain healthy gut microlfora diversity.
What About Lower Carb Not Ketogenic
Simply reducing carb intake lower than normal without ketosis is unlikely to influence thyroid hormone levels .
A study of 17 obese patients on a 440 kcal diet for 3 weeks found those on the 1% carb diet had greater decreases in T3 levels compared to the 55% carb group .
So perhaps the further carbs are restricted, the more T3 hormone is reduced.
However, we must acknowledge the limitations of all these clinical trials Ive mentioned:
- Tiny sample sizes
- Tend to use obese individuals, and may not be applicable to non-obese individuals
- Studies were also not specific to individuals with existing hypothyroidism.
How directly we can apply the findings to a middle-aged man or woman with hypothyroidism is difficult to say.
But considering a long-term ketogenic diet can cause other hormonal imbalances it seems unnecessarily risky in these circumstances.
Summary: Severe calorie restriction appears to limit the conversion of T3 from T4, which is undesirable for hypothyroidism. Studies suggest a very low carb ketogenic diet may have a similar effect because of the way it mimics starvation or fasting . However, moderate low carb diets are likely safe.
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The Connection Between Thyroid And Keto Diet
The thyroid gland is a tiny organ in the shape of a butterfly that sits in front of the neck, directly below Adam’s apple. It produces thyroid hormones that control the most basic aspects of all bodily functions and impact all the major systems of the body.
Consider the thyroid gland as the central gear of a car engine. If it breaks, the entire engine is wrecked. Similarly, if anything happens to your thyroid and the levels of thyroid hormones go down, you are bound to experience a whole array of symptoms including weight gain, bone fractures, hair loss, and infertility.
Hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland fails to produce enough hormones, is extremely challenging and standard care is hopelessly inadequate. According to research, over 90 percent of the people diagnosed with hypothyroidism produce antibodies against thyroid tissue. These antibodies force the body’s own immune cells to attack the thyroid gland and destroy it, inducing a gradual decrease in the circulating thyroid hormones. This autoimmune type of hypothyroidism is known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and is a fairly common issue as well.
It is the dream of the hypothyroid patient to get their hands on that one substance that will magically reverse the entire disease.
My Experience With The Ketogenic Diet
I attribute much of my own personal healing to changing up my diet which included being in ketosis for several months back in 2012ish.
While changing my diet certainly helped improve many aspects of my health, it was certainly not perfect and I ultimately had to alter the type of diet that I was using several times in order to feel completely better.
But because I noticed that it was so effective, I began to recommend it to certain patients.
Because most of my patients had thyroid disease, I was able to see how they responded or reacted to this diet.
What I found was a mixed bag.
Some people responded very well, lost weight, had increased energy, and experienced the type of outcome that most of you are looking for.
But even more people had either no reaction or a negative reaction.
My weight loss therapies would be considered somewhat aggressive, so when a patients weight is staying the same it’s never a good sign.
I even tested the diet on my wife and she ultimately gained around 13 pounds .
From these experiences, I adopted a better approach which is to individualize each person’s dietary needs and align them with various other factors that they may be dealing with.
But, since most of you don’t have a doctor willing to do that for you, it’s worth exploring the potential benefits and risks that this diet affords.
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In The Context Of A Ketogenic Diet Slightly Lower Levels Of T3 Result From A Diminished Need To Metabolize Glucose And Not From A Poorly Functioning Thyroid
One of thefunctions of T3, alongside that of insulin, is to metabolize bloodsugar. For this reason, high-carbohydrate diets are associated with elevated levels of blood sugar andthus with elevated levels of T3. On the other hand, low carbohydratediets result in a inblood sugar and consequently lower serum levels of T3.
Phinney et al. have examined the specificdecline in T3 as a result of ketogenic diet, finding no association withresting oxygen uptake, or clinical symptoms of functional hypothyroidism suchas cold intolerance, dry skin, hair loss, myxedema, or an increased need forsleep.
Despitedecreased T3 concentrations, the subjects basal TSH levels remained normal,revealing that humans generally do notsuffer from a deficit in thyroid hormone in association with carbohydraterestriction, provided calorie consumption is adequate .
Generally, the reduction in T3 brought about by low carbohydrate intake demonstrates proper thyroid signalling, indicating that metabolism is working at a much more cost-effective and higher-quality level. To date, there exists no clinical evidence demonstrating that carbohydrate-restriction alone causes any symptom of inadequate thyroid hormone.
Ketogenic Diet And Hypothyroidism
Keto diet has become one of the most popular diet trends in the world lately. An increasing number of people adhere to ketogenic diet and report amazing weight loss, better blood sugar control, and improved overall health.
Despite its popularity, the safety of keto diet for hypothyroid patients is not frequently discussed. Is keto diet safe for hypothyroid patients?
Does it have a positive influence on thyroid hormones? Scroll down to find out!
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Final Thoughts On The Keto Diet And Cholesterol
So does the keto diet raise cholesterol? It can due to the high-fat content of the diet, however, the keto diet overall has positive effects on cardiovascular health markers.
The bottom in is that instead of focusing so much on cholesterol levels, its a better idea to tackle chronic inflammation. Inflammation is the primary cause of atherosclerosis, or hardening and stiffening of arteries that accompanies plaque deposits and increases risk for heart attacks.
If youre following the ketogenic diet, what are some ways you can take care of your heart and keep chronic inflammation at bay?
So What Are The Concerns Being Expressed Regarding Thyroid Disease
Again, there isnt a lot of research available and there are also only a handful of thyroid experts out there who have expressed any real concern. So most of us rely on the results we see repeated in our and our peers communities.
But here are the two concerns about typical ketogenic diets that I have heard expressed for women relating to their having thyroid disease:
1. Does a typical ketogenic diet lower T3 levels to an unhealthy level? Research has shown that one of a ketogenic diets benefits is in controlling blood sugar spiking and reducing insulin as well. But too little insulin can also impact the livers ability to make T3 out of T4. So the question then becomes is that really a problem, or is it a physiological adaptation that your body just needs to adjust to? This lowered T3 is seen in calorie restricted diets as well.To me, if TSH level doesnt increase and a woman continues to feel well , thats the more important measure. In my Magic Menopause program weve seen the TSH levels go down to optimal ranges. In many cases weve seen T3 increase as well. The anti-inflammatory, blood-sugar balancing, adrenal supporting, and other hormone balancing and liver detox benefits of my Keto-Green program have outweighed any potential impacts relating to ketos effects of lowering T3 levels. This even happened to me. You just need to monitor your overall thyroid levels which you should be doing in any case.
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Health Benefits Of Low
One of the benefits of a low carb diet is it promotes faster weight loss.
One of the worst things about having hypothyroidism is your metabolic rate reduces drastically.
Due to low metabolism, you are just not able to lose weight the way you hoped to.
Hence, most of the people with hypothyroidism go through the problem of obesity as well, after a certain period of time.
If looking for a diet to help fight obesity and disease, it is good to shift to a diet high in fats such as a ketogenic, LCHF diet or a typical low-carb diet.
It will benefit you not just for the health reasons for being in ketosis but for the sake of maintaining a healthy figure.
Promoting weight loss allows people with hypothyroidism to avoid inviting other diseases.
Eating turmeric can be good for your underactive thyroid gland.
The Curcumin contained in the yellow spice inhibits aggression and metastasis in thyroid cancer cells.
Carbohydrates And Thyroid Health
Thyroid hormones are essential to maintain and regulate carbohydrate/energy metabolism .
Conversely, the energy we get from carbs is required to fuel the production of thyroid hormones.
This is because the parts of the brain ultimately responsible for thyroid hormone regulation the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland require glucose to function.
In fact, the main regulation hormone, called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone , is made up partly of glucose molecules .
In addition to these important roles, carb intake appears to influence the amount of T3 that gets converted from T4 thyroid hormone. This is important for hypothyroidism as T3 is the active thyroid hormone that you need to increase.
It appears that when carb intake is drastically reduced, conversion of T3 from T4 declines .
This could be explained by the possible interaction between insulin and the enzymes that convert T4 into the T3 .
Summary: Glucose and thyroid hormones rely on each other synergistically. The amount of carbs eaten can affect amount of T3 converted from T4.
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Acidic Ph Inflammation And Weight Gain
Being on the keto diet for too long can decrease the bodys pH making it too acidic, especially if not eating a modified keto plan.
A keto diet that is high in certain foods may cause an acidic environment in the body. A diet high in meat has been found to be more acidic to the body. Alternatively, more vegetables in the diet resulted in more alkaline urine .
A prolonged acidic state of the body leads to chronic inflammation and results in fat stores and weight gain .
Women are more at risk for an immune reaction. Any women with an existing autoimmune disorder or thyroid condition should monitor how they feel on the keto diet .
Consuming more vegetables, fruits, meat, chicken, and healthy fats with less sugar, processed foods, and sweetened beverages will maintain a lower pH to keep the body balanced.
The Keto Thyroid Connection: Gluten Intolerance
Gliadin, the protein portion present in gluten, closely resembles the thyroid gland. Both of them share a similar molecular structure, and that’s where the actual problem begins. In Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, when gliadin comes out of your gut and makes its way to the bloodstream, your body labels it as a foreign intruder and generates antibodies to get rid of it. Because of the similar molecular structure, these antibodies not only destroy gluten but also target the thyroid gland.
What makes it worse is the fact that every time you eat gluten, the immune response produced against it may last up to six months from the day of consumption. What this means is a single meal containing gluten can keep destroying your thyroid bit by bit for months.
Many studies have proven a link between autoimmune thyroid and gluten intolerance and suggested such people keep away from gluten as much as possible. Then you may ask, what is the safest way of minimizing gluten in your food? Following a low-carb diet such as the Keto diet.
It turns out that there actually is a solid and absolutely positive link between the Keto diet and the thyroid gland. Now, let’s move on to the next question that must have popped into your head by now: Does this Keto-thyroid connection come with any risks?
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