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Is Keto Diet Good For Thyroid

Our Recommendations For Keto & Thyroid Conditions

Keto Diet Myths & Facts – Does it affect thyroid & is keto actually good for weight loss?

Every single body is different. What works for one may not work for all. That is why nutrition needs to be individualized.

The benefits of the keto diet are highly dependent on the quality of the foods eaten.

As the other experts recommend, it is important to listen to your body. Listen hard enough and it will tell what it needs.

There are many ways to incorporate healthy eating. We recommend talking to a nutrition professional before starting the keto diet, get your blood work taken twice a year, and follow up with your doctor and a nutrition professional on any concern or questions you may have.

It is very important to improve the quality of your diet first before embarking on a restrictive diet plan.

If you are a nutrition professional you want to address what is happening with your client and how they are feeling as they embark on different nutrition protocols. Play around with the diet and macro ranges until they are feeling the best.

When in doubt, address the gut.

How Keto Changed Kellys Life

I went to several doctors but it was not until I found a registered dietitian who suggested I try the keto diet that things started to change.

After implementing this diet I quickly noticed a difference! I was sleeping better, my brain fog was gone and I had less hot flashes. I also lost about 12 pounds over the course of a year.

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Keto Diets And Their Effect On Thyroid Health

While ketogenic diets can benefit those with Hashimotos, some of my readers and clients have seen thyroid panel imbalances when following a ketogenic diet.

One potential cause of this could be that insufficient carbohydrates can trigger the release of reverse T3, leading to hypothyroid symptoms in light of normal lab values.

These concerns should be taken on a case-by-case basis, paying attention to whether a persons blood work and symptoms improve on a ketogenic diet. Some people feel great and see optimal lab results when eating a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. For others, thyroid levels and Hashimotos symptoms worsen when they reduce their intake of carbohydrates.

Oftentimes, this can be resolved by adding more nutrient-dense carbohydrates to ones diet, until an ideal threshold is found.

How Does Keto Affect Thyroid Health

Using A Ketogenic Diet For Hypothyroid

When it comes to general health, the importance of the small butterfly-shaped thyroid gland is often overlooked. Many people suffer chronic thyroid-related conditions, such as hypothyroidism and Hashimotos. The ketogenic diet is renowned for providing a range of health benefits, but what about thyroid health?

How does going keto affect your thyroid gland and hormones? If you have a thyroid condition, should you try a ketogenic diet? Lets discuss keto, the thyroid, and the research!

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How Does A Ketogenic Diet Work

To understand how ketogenic diets work, we first need to take a look at how the body converts the food it takes in, to the fuel that powers our cells.

The body typically utilizes glucose as its primary fuel source. When it doesnt receive glucose from dietary sources, the body looks to its energy storage units, called glycogen. Muscle cells contain glycogen, but most of the glycogen our body utilizes comes from the liver. However, the liver can only store about 100 grams of glycogen, which can quickly become depleted.

When we no longer have sufficient levels of glucose , the body doesnt just shut down. Instead, we have a backup fuel called ketone bodies, or ketones.

Ketones are water-soluble molecules, produced in the liver from fatty acids. There are three types of ketones -hydroxybutyrate , acetoacetate, and acetone. These ketones can become the brain and bodys main energy source when glucose is not available.

Restricting ones carbohydrate intake can shift the bodys fuel source from glucose to ketones, as this limits circulating blood sugars. This shifts the body from utilizing glucose to utilizing fat, which gets repackaged as ketones. This metabolic state, in which some of the bodys energy supply comes from ketone bodies in the blood, is called ketosis. Fasting or starvation can put the bodys metabolism into a state of ketosis, as can a very low-carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic diet.

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How Does A Ketogenic Diet Affect Thyroid Health

There is a prevailing notion that a ketogenic diet can have negative consequences for thyroid health, but this doesnt seem substantiated with sufficient research or even anecdotal stories. There is some research that caloric restriction, protein restriction, and a keto diet can lower T3 levels, but more research is needed.

When TSH and T4 levels are normal, this lowering of T3 levels might actually be positive and beneficial, with some evidence pointing to the bodys natural physiological adaptation to preserve muscle mass and achieve a deeper state of ketosis. A drop in T3 enabled deeper ketosis and preserved muscle mass.

Interestingly, research associated lower T3 levels with a longer lifespan. Some people on keto restrict calories too much, which has been shown to lower T3 levels. This is likely the bodys protective response during times of scarcity.

Lower T3 levels might lead to symptoms of hypothyroid that are mistakenly attributed to a ketogenic diet. Make sure youre consuming enough calories on your ketogenic diet to prevent your T3 levels from dropping too low.

The thyroid might increase T3 production to deal with the glucose on a higher-carb diet. Consuming carbs increases your iodine requirements because your thyroid needs more iodine to make more T3 to deal with the carbs.

Will Cutting Carbs Inhibit Hormone Production

Is Keto (Low Carb) Really Safe for the Thyroid?

Its known that a state of prolonged calorie restriction or fasting reduces T3 hormone production.

This occurs to slow down metabolism, increasing chances of survival when our ancestors were in times of food shortage .

Of course, lower T3 is typically undesirable when food is abundant especially for those with an underactive thyroid.

A ketogenic diet mimics starvation or fasting, at least from a metabolic point of view .

This means it may limit T3 production and potentially influence metabolism.

A number of small scale studies have shown that after a period of starvation, refeeding with carbohydrates but not with protein or fats normalised thyroid hormone levels .

In one of the studies, researchers evaluated the effects of restricting carbs at various levels on thyroid hormones in 6 healthy male participants.

Results found that the high carbohydrate diet had no impact, whereas the very low carbohydrate diet did. It caused decreased T3 levels, increased rT3 and free T4 levels .

Average T3 plasma concentrations after 11 days of high carbohydrate diet , control diet and low carbohydrate diet in 6 healthy males. The * indicates a significantly lower T3 level for the low carbohydrate diet, which is not desirable in hypothyroidism.

These results are similar to those of another study where participants received an 800 Kcal low calorie diet comprising of either 0%, 25% or 100% carbohydrate, for a period of 2 weeks.

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What Is The Thyroid

The thyroid is a gland located in the neck, and it resembles the shape of a butterfly or a bow tie. Its difficult to feel the thyroid gland normally, but doctors can easily feel it if its enlarged or if a goiter appears .

Thyroid hormones are secreted from the thyroid gland. Thyroid hormones help control the rate of chemical functions in the body by increasing the amount of oxygen used in the cells and by stimulating body tissues to produce proteins.

Many of your vital bodily functions are affected by your thyroid hormones, including the rate calories are burned, growth, heart rate, digestion, skin maintenance, and fertility. With aging, the thyroid gland can shrink and shift lower down in the neck.

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.

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Carbs Are Needed To Convert T4 To T3

If youre like me and have thyroid disease, you probably know what your last blood test said about your T4, and T3. But, what does it mean? T4 is the unusable thyroid hormone that needs to be converted to T3 for you thyroid to properly function. However, for this conversion to happen your body needs glucose, which are derived from carbohydrates.

You need to consume carbohydrates for you body to make this conversion. Without consuming an adequate amount of healthy carbs, your body will struggle to do this conversion or just not do it. In turn, this only throws off your thyroid function even more.

Is The Keto Diet Healthy

Hypothyroidism and a Ketogenic Diet

Wellness Dietitian Mary Condon, RN, LDN, said the keto diet may result in weight loss and lower blood sugars, but its a quick fix. More often than not, its not sustainable. Oftentimes weight gain may come back, and youll gain more than what you lost, Condon said.

Condon said you should always consult your primary care doctor before starting any new diet.

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Change In T3 Metabolism During Weight Loss

Study 1

Thyroid results were studied in 14 overweight/obese men. Eight of them were fed a ketogenic diet for six weeks. The other six were fed a low-fat diet for the same six weeks.

The first eight men were given the low-fat diet and the six men consumed a ketogenic diet. The diets were then swapped after the first six weeks.

Thyroid tests showed significantly lower free T3 concentrations in all of the subjects after being on the ketogenic diet when compared to the low-fat diet . This was found in 13 out of the 14 men in the study .

A group of 28 diabetics was given a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet for four months. During that period their TSH values did not change significantly .

Difficulty losing weight is often a symptom of hypothyroidism.

A six-week study showed a significant decrease in body fat during a reduced-calorie and very low carbohydrate diet in eight of the 12 healthy men among over a six week period.

Fat mass significantly decreased while lean body mass significantly increased.

Total T4 and free T4 increased by approximately 13 percent by week 6.

About 70 percent of the variations of fat loss was due to serum insulin levels.

There was no change in T3 uptake or other hormones concluding carbohydrate restriction does not affect thyroid function .

Another study of 9 lean men on a mixed-calorie ketogenic for 4 weeks measured hormone function and metabolic rate.

This illustrates there may be another reason for the decrease in T3 among low carb and keto diets.

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How Does It Compare To Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of eating and fasting. This results in a shortened amount of time that a person eats throughout the day .

During periods of fasting the body is forced to use its own fat stores instead of calories from the diet as an energy source. The fat will break down and create ketones, putting the body in a state of ketosis .

Similarly, the reliance on fat in the ketogenic diet will result in a fasting state with ketone production and reduced glucose levels. The brain will begin to rely on ketones for energy .

The benefits of the two diets are similar. Both have shown to help with weight loss and have anti-inflammatory effects .

Improvements in brain function and blood sugar regulation have been seen among intermittent fasting and ketogenic diets .

Unlike a ketogenic diet, IF has no limitation on carbohydrates or protein consumption .

Doing a combination of intermittent fasting and keto has been shown to amplify weight loss efforts and speed up ketosis .

Does Your Thyroid Need Dietary Carbohydrates

Using a Ketogenic Diet For Hypothyroidism

Thyroid hormones have an important role in regulating metabolic rate, and thatâs why they have emerged front and center as a common concern associated with nutritional ketosis among some internet bloggers. Thereâs no question that when some people adopt a low-carbohydrate lifestyle, their thyroid hormone levels may change.

Several factors may contribute to the thyroid response. For example, eating fewer calories than you expend, causing weight loss, prompts the body to reduce thyroid function to slow its metabolism. Thatâs because the body interprets any form of energy restriction from any cause as a sign of famine, leading it to reduce metabolism by 5-15% to conserve energy stores. Second, even when energy is not restricted, a ketogenic diet is associated with sharply reduced blood levels of active thyroid hormone. In this case, even when energy is plentiful and body weight stable, either the low intake of carbs or the presence of ketones reduces circulating concentrations of active thyroid hormone.

To the casual observer, this reduction in active thyroid hormone has been taken as evidence that carbohydrate restriction impairs thyroid function. Some have opined that carb restriction should never be maintained below 100 grams per day in order to prevent this effect. Others advocate that people on a low-carbohydrate, high fat diet take intermittent âholidaysâ from carb restriction to boost thyroid function back up to ânormal.â

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Origins Of The Ketogenic Diet

Forms of intermittent fasting have been documented as far back as 500 BC. The ketogenic diet mimics the effects of fasting in the body by creating a state of ketosis .

In the 1920s the ketogenic diet was a well-established treatment for epilepsy but was traded out for epileptic drugs. As many practitioners know, the effects of these drugs on nutrient status and health can be quite devastating and have long-term consequences.

As a result of this, the ketogenic diet has gained a resurgence in popularity for the treatment of epilepsy and now many other disorders .

Its More Sustainable And Less Diet

There are a few exceptions to the low carb dieting where I believe that it can be beneficial for a short period of time, such as:

  • Correcting blood sugar regulation
  • Gut healing protocol like GAPS or a candida management protocol

However, the keyword here is short time period.

Thyroid disease is indeed manageable and plenty of people have put their Hashimotos into remission, the lifestyle that promotes that healing is for life. To support long term healing, its crucial to build a healing plan that can sustain you for life. Low-carb dieting can easily turn into just another diet that is not as easily sustainable for long term.

This varies from person to person, but generally speaking, low-carb is less sustainable than a balanced diet.

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