Alright, this is a controversial one. Anything Paleo-orientated generally is. But let’s wade in. I have a number of reasons for distancing myself from the Paleo movement. I agree with many of the dietary principles inherent, just not the faddishness, the fanaticism and the insistence on basing it on a meta-theory of how we ate 10,000 years ago. I’m also cautious about the whole low/no-carb fervour in general. It’s not for everyone.

Image via
Image via

Like, for instance, anyone trying to get pregnant. But today I want to raise this one: cutting carbs might just trigger thyroid problems. Strap in. I recently came across American biochemistry and genetics expert, Dr. Cate, and have asked her to flesh things out…

People who run into trouble going low-carb seem to follow a pattern. First, they (make) a relatively abrupt switch to low carb (often less than 50 gm). Initially they lose weight as hoped but then, instead of feeling more energetic from their weight loss, they develop fatigue, sometimes accompanied by symptoms of low thyroid function including cold extremities, hair loss, and digestive problems.

Because their fatigue and other symptoms are classic for thyroid malfunction, many will get their levels tested, only to come away confused when the tests health practitioners typically order (TSH and T4) come out normal.

Those who get more extensive testing may get a test called reverse T3, or rT3 for short. These are often abnormally high, leaving them to believe they have found the root of the problem. Some are given a prescription for T3 (or thyroxin) in hopes of regaining energy and the intervention seems to help, at least a little.

Reverse T3 is a kind of chemical opposite of regular T3, a mirror image compound called an enantiomer. Reverse T3 has opposite effects of T3, and has long been associated with a set of symptoms aptly called hibernation syndrome—fatigue, weight gain, and so on. If you have suffered from severe hypothyroidism, you may have gone through times where you felt like you really just want to crawl away to a quiet place and rest for a long, long while. Your body was telling you to hibernate.

Why low carbing triggers thyroid drama

In doing research on rT3, I ran into a fascinating article on a group of little-understood compounds called thyronamines (pronounced thigh-row-na-meens). The key to understanding rT3, and unlocking the relationship between carbohydrate consumption and thyroid function, may lie in these newly discovered compounds.

Thyronamines have powerful effects on energy metabolism. Studies performed in 2010 showed that injecting thryronamines into the belly cavity or brain tissues of experimental animals cause the following physiologic and behavior changes:

  • Impaired ability to utilize sugar as an energy source
  • Insulin resistance
  • Lowered basal body temperature
  • Weaker than normal heart contractions
  • A marked decline in activity (We can’t ask the lab animals, but presumably this would be induced by what we would describe as feelings of extreme fatigue)

Sound familiar?

Upon injection, the effects begin within minutes and last 8-12 hours.

And here’s the punchline: Thyronamines appear to be manufactured from that go-to-sleep hormone reverse T3. We can’t yet test you for high levels of thyronamines, but in testing your rT3, we are testing for the precursor of thyronamines. And I expect that, when studies are done in people, we will discover that high blood levels of rT3 does indeed correlate with high tissue levels of thyronamines.

I think this research is vitally important and that we will be hearing more about thyronamines in the future. But we are still left with a very important question that remains unanswered: What do we do about it?

Let’s explain it with The Bear theory

Bears are omnivores, just like humans. And, of course, bears hibernate. Understanding the variations of a bear’s diet throughout the year helps us to understand why biology has built into our mammalian metabolism a sensitivity to changes in carbohydrate consumption.

Imagine you are a bear living in Yellowstone National Park. It’s late summer and the salmon runs are gone, the grazing animals born in spring have now grown too fast for you to catch, the grubs under the rocks are all hatched, and pretty much all that’s left, aside from campground garbage, is nuts and berries. Plucking ripe berries off a bounteous shrub is far easier than cracking nuts, so you gorge on berries. In a few weeks, though, the berries are gone and there’s very little food left. That’s okay, because the abrupt decline in carbohydrate consumption is accompanied by increased reverse T3 and increased production of thyronamines, which makes you feel exhausted. Thanks to all the weight you gained, you are now so well padded with cushy fat that you think you could just crawl into a cave somewhere and sleep for a long, long time.

Research in humans shows that, just like bears, our thyroid hormones are influenced by major changes in the amount of carbohydrate consumed.

The real problem? Doing it too fast

The bear in the woods theory suggests that it is the relatively sudden change from high carb to low that flips the switch. For some, an abrupt decline in available glucose may trigger an atavistic hibernation reflex, which will trigger the conversion of a thyroid hormone called T4 into something other than the normal T3, namely into the reverse form, rT3. rT3 then gets converted into thyronamines and causes all the symptoms of low thyroid function without significant deficiencies of thyroid hormone showing up on lab tests, leaving people to worry there is something incredibly wrong with their hormonal function.

If you have gone low carb successfully, you have accomplished a major change in your metabolism, one that involves turning on scores of enzymes your body has not needed or used for a long time, decades in some cases. Not everyone can accomplish this overhaul in time. Those who can often continue low carb for life with great success. But those who cannot accomplish all the necessary changes flip the hibernation switch, increase production of rT3 and thyronamines, which causes crushing fatigue and may lead to intense carb cravings in order to turn off the hibernation switch again.

For these people, an easy way to avoid flipping the hibernation switch and reduce carb cravings may be to simply make a more gradual reduction in carbs rather than an abrupt one. Atkins, who advocates an abrupt switch to less than 20 gm per day, seems to have been aware of this problem and in fact in his writing he warns people they may experience fatigue in the first few days or weeks after going very low carb. Unfortunately, for some people, the fatigue never improves.

Bottom line?

If you jump into the Paleo (or any low-carb) program and hit a brick wall because of side effects, add back your carbs until you feel better again and then try cutting down again, but go slow to give your body the time to adapt to the idea. This way, your low metabolism can gear up to give you the fat burning benefits of hibernation without having to take the four month winter snooze.

Have you experienced something similar when cutting back on carbs? Tell me in the comments below. I should highlight, I personally eat low-ish carbs, mostly because I veer toward more nutritious options when designing meals. And avoid cheap, packaged foods…which are mostly carby. But I ensure I get a good dose daily via grains and root veggies and good quality bread (not every day). I’ve worked out this is what works best for me.

Have your say, leave a comment.

  • rebeloly

    When I made a drastic change in my diet away from carbs altogether, my heart rate increased most notably at night. Had a hard time sleeping. I have been hypothyroid for about 30 years but have been unable to lose weight these last ten years or so. I truly felt awful not having carbs in my diet. And of course I was tired during the day. I have gone to paleo, since March, and been instructed to do seed cycling during the month since I am post menopausal to kick up my metabolism. Also, over the last 5 years or so I have had increasing allergies and most notably to food over the last two or so years. Huge challenge…and I have good days and bad days. I seem to have better days when I lean more toward paleo. BUT I have had hair loss over the last year or so. Geez. I accomplish or overcome some things and then something else pops up. Truly your insight has been very helpful. Thank you for this. Oh…and I have quit sugar and obviously processed food since March too. You got me thinking about too much sugar in my diet, so thank you for that too. My sweet tooth is much much much less demanding now.

  • Naomi

    Yip this is me. Still finding the balance. Hadn’t thought that maybe it was a case of going to fast… but makes sense… Find sugar free fine, but have to make sure i eat some form of carb with every meal or I just hit a wall… I don’t have a thryoid anymore and definitely have trouble converting T4 to T3. Interesting… more pieces to the puzzle.

  • Sam Clemerson

    This post is perfect timing. I was wondering recently why I have felt so fatigued and an inability to concentrate for long periods of time. After reading about “low carb flu” the other day I realised it’s because I reduced carb consumption, mostly bread, rice and pasta (I didn’t go Atkins crazy!). I’ve introduced carbs back into my diet for now (made an awesome lentil spag bowl last night!) and will see how I feel. Then consider slowly cutting down again. Thanks for the insight Sarah.

  • Angelika

    Before IQS it was Atkins for me, that’s now over five years ago. I must admit Atkins worked great and I liked the change to my diet/body, until the fatigue hit, usually in the evenings or while still at work. The slumps were massive and sometimes I would nap for few hours before dinner.
    I didn’t think it was due to the low intake of carbohydrates, I just thought I needed more sugar. And so whenever I felt the slump, I resorted to a daily teaspoonful of honey, or Nutella, or both (hang my head in shame). Looking back, I hate to think what was happening inside my body. In a huge way I feel IQS really did make me healthy and feel ‘normal’ again. I accepted that bread (good quality) on weekends is OK, sweet potatoes, carrots are all wonderful too. Nothing in extremes, just listening and being good to my body! Thank you Sarah and Thank God for IQS x x

  • Carolyn

    one of the biggest probs with TSH testing is that unless there is a problem with TSH Medicare wont fund the test for showing levels of each hormone (T3)

    • Lil Chick

      This is true but apparently they are only about $40 each. If money is a problem, maybe just test for Reverse T3.

  • Ivy V. Thompson

    Why do you constantly insist that paleo is low-carb? You’re sounding so 2011 judgemental. Welcome to 2015 where ‘paleo-advocates’ recommend white potatoes and even white rice. We’ve come a long way and know that a diet of real food adjusted to the individual needs are the way to go.

    • rebeloly

      I didn’t know about white potatoes and white rice either. I have been paleo since March which is in 2015 and have purchased about 8 of the latest and greatest cook books. None have either of those ‘white’ things. Hmmm.

      • Ivy V. Thompson

        Get ‘Happy Go Paleo’ and follow bloggers like Diane Sanfillipo, Stephanie Ruper, Denise Minger and Paleo Parents. They’ve all eat and advocate carbs.

      • sallycinnamonau

        Perfect Health Diet by Paul Jaminet, also Chris Kresser’s book advocates legumes for those that tolerate them. Also The Domestic Man website and books. Great resources 🙂

      • sallycinnamonau

        were any by Pete Evans? I love his recipes and what he is doing, but his version of Paleo is very strict and also quite low carb.

      • Julie Willis

        Yes, you can have white potatoes and small amounts of white rice on paleo?

    • Naomi

      Um white rice is very processed…

      • Ivy V. Thompson

        Ummm use soaked quinoa and amaranth instead then…? tastes good too.

      • sallycinnamonau

        no it’s just had the bran removed. It’s a good, non-allergenic source of glucose and certainly makes eating out and sustaining a healthy diet way easier. Brown rice is extremely high in phytates that block minerals (way higher than nuts) and also contains arsenic. Some white rice does too, but many have found brands that are fine to eat.

        • Lynzir

          I have been surprised to find that I can tolerate small amounts of white rice without any issues yet cannot tolerate any brown rice. Maybe this is the answer.
          Does anyone know the situation with black rice for gluten intolerant, GERD, reflux suffering, fatty-liveried, hypothyroids like me trying to find my way through this digestive morass naturally?!

          • sallycinnamonau

            Lynzir have you been tested for SIBO? Digestive complaints like GERD and inability to tolerate brown rice over white for example can be due to bacterial overgrowth. Most white rice is rapidly digested so can’t be “food” for the bacteria to ferment and cause digestive troubles. There is a book called Fast Tract Diet which is all about this issue of what foods to eat with SIBO with lots of tables -Jasmine rice and sushi rice are supposed to be better than basmati and brown rice. There’s no info for wild rice. It may also be about the serving sizes.

            Also, GERD can be caused by SIBO (due to the pressure of all the gas pushing the stomach acid too high in to the oesophagus) and hypothyroid is a risk factor for SIBO as it affects motility. Choline is really great for fatty liver by the way – eggs and liver (along with reducing sugar of course).

            Chris Kresser’s website has great info on SIBO, you may want to find a naturopath or wholistic nutritionist (with appropriate qualifications) to help you figure out if you have SIBO and address it comprehensively.

            Good luck 🙂

          • Michelle

            I have the same issue with brown rice, it does not agree with me. Also my husband hates it. So white rice actually being a better choice works fine for me.

          • Kay Tea

            “black” rice, if you are referring to what Americans call “wild rice” isn’t actually rice at all. Its a grass. If you have high grass sensitivities, you might proceed with caution.

          • Lil Chick

            I’m the same. When I went to the RPA allergy clinic, they put me on an elimination diet and white rice was good and even recommended for people with most allergies.

        • Julie Willis

          So true?

  • Marianne

    Hey Sarah,

    On average, how many carbs do you think we should take?

    I am similar to you, pretty low-carb-ish. Occassionally have quinoa, sweet potato and every other week I have rye break with delicious avo for pre workout snack.


  • Julia

    I’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroid for approx 3 years now. Prior to that my diet was primarily based on carbs – loved ’em! (was also vego). Once diagnosed I drop my carbs increased good proteins including organic/ free range meats & ate a ton more real whole foods, organic where possible. Since I’ve made this change – low & behold – my digestive system hates me! The last 3 years have just been a nightmare & can’t seem to get on top of it – bloating, feeling of fullness (even first thing in the morning) just feel outright crappy…!! I have seen many naturopaths & herbalists & just haven’t been able to get to the bottom of it. ONLY just last week the penny dropped after my many months of obsessive research! Digestive enzymes. Yes. Carbs are much easier to digest esp the simple ones. When I made the transition to higher protein & whole foods my system now had to work ALOT harder & just couldn’t handle it. So the plan is to now up my stomachs hydrochloric acid (HCL) & take digestive enzymes to help my system breakdown & digest this more nutrient-dense food. What a relief!!!!!!!! but still a work in progress but definitely heading in the right direction.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a ton of other people in this boat..?

    • Cormoran

      Just posted something further up, right about this problem. Thank you! I´ll try the enzymes right away. Any specific brand?

      • Julia

        Hi Cormoran
        I’m not too sure about brands but I have started with Ethical nutrients called “Digestion Plus” which contains Betaine hydrochloride with Pepsin & Gentian in it. This mainly helps with protein digestion, so I am still searching for a good one that helps with all 3 – protein, fat & carbs. I do believe this has really helped me so far, still a work in progress though 🙂

      • Hi Cormoran, HCL by Pure Innovations – available at most health food stores.

    • I was diagnosed with IBS when I was 9, had multiple years of over prescribed antibiotics (late 1960″s) which resulted in most of my life battling IBS, Sibo, Candidiasis, leaky gut and multiple skin and sinus allergies as well as hormones completely out of whack. I started to get on top of things about 8 years ago when after a 6 yr bowel infection (that no one could diagnose) I tried the Body Ecology Diet and had success. Symptoms came to a halt and I finally gained some normality over my life. I stayed GF + DF for many years but then found that as I got older the IBS which was IBS (D) became IBS (C) as I entered further into perimenopausal state. About a year ago I decided to try a Keto diet only to find my hair started to fall out within about 2 months and I had stopped going to the toilet all together. Got off it and started to eat whatever foods I could tolerate – my gut still struggles to digest certain foods – but too no avail – the constipation persisted. I then went on HCL (Pure Innovations) and slowly started to see success. I then tried the Keto diet again but while me hair is not falling out, my fingernails have started to break and peel and have what I can only call “asleep with me eyes open” I do feel tired but it’s a different tiredness to when I experience all the problems when I’m eating more carbs. It’s such a hard act to balance – and can be so overwhelming. I prefer the way my digestion feels on the Keto diet – I don’t have the abdominal pain and I don’t have this terrible burning in my gut when my glucose levels have dropped. But it’s probably not going to be long term – I will need to add a few carbs back in – just got to work out which ones! This article came at the right time. Thanks Sarah

    • Rachel Understein

      I had the same thing happen!!

    • ann

      Wow it’s interesting how different our bodies can be. Which is why there truly is no one size fits all perfect diet for everyone. I had the best digestion I’ve ever had when I was eating low carb, grain free, and plenty of protein & healthy fats. I basically had no digestive issues at all and perfect elimination. I have started eating more carbs & rice products since then because I think it helps with my overall energy levels and it’s just easier and more enjoyable, but my digestive system doesn’t seem to like it as much. I don’t feel like carbs are easier for my body to digest at all.

      Maybe it was just too much of a switch for your body to go from eating vegan & high carb to eating low carb/higher protein? I’ve heard that our gut bacteria adapts to our diets and it might take some time for the bacteria to change to adapt to a new diet. Maybe the same goes for digestive enzymes.

  • sallycinnamonau

    A comment I posted yesterday was apparently awaiting moderation, I’ll be pretty annoyed if it has somehow been lost.

    Carbs do not need to be restricted in the first place unless temporarily to deal with SIBO or doing a therapeutic ketogenic diet for something like epilepsy. Carb restriction can induce peripheral insulin resistance as the brain is sequestering any available glucose for the regions that CANNOT function on ketones (a myth about ketosis). Adequate carbs are also needed for mucosal health (glycoproteins are needed for mucin….this effects immune and gut health), hormonal health, sleep and steady mental health. There are so many horror stories out there from reducing carbs that would not be any different if the person had switched over more slowly, this is just a theory without evidence. Thyroid health is just one thing affected by low carb diets. There is no evidence that gluconeogenesis (where glucose is made from proteins during ketosis) provides *enough* glucose and also doesn’t have its own negative effects on bodily function.

  • Jindi

    I am vegetarian, have hypothryoidism since 2010, have been through the menopuase and can’t lose weight. Can’t seem to give up sugar either! Everyday I have a battle with my wieght 🙁

  • Cormoran

    I Have been vegetarian for the past 35 years, but developed quiet a lot of food allergies and leaky gut syndrome. I quit eating gluten two years ago and felt much better already, also started eating fish.Since three weeks I´m eating meat, (moderately). Everything feels fine, and I´m on my way to quitting sugar, (ate lots of chocolate before). There´s only one problem, my digestion does not work well any longer and that definitely doesn´t feel good….

    • Julia

      Hi Cormoran
      Look up Chris Kresser as he’s a wealth of knowledge on gut health. He is an advocate for Paleo but really knows his digestion stuff..! ;))

  • Louise O’Connor Naturopath

    Really interesting info on thyronamines. Could explain why those with reverse T3 dominance don’t always do well on single T3 med.

  • daniela seneva

    I have been stuck in a vicious cycle which is the one you describe Sarah.
    Alternating busy week days with high sugar/no exercise and weekends of zero carbs and long distance running on high proteins intake.
    Results: feeling crap in both scenarios. Hashimotos’s should never ever go for extreme. Our thyroid prefers balance & predictability. Or graduate changes as you say.
    I personally work better with a low but persistent carbohydrates intake e-v-e-r-y day. Between 100 gr and 120 gr. I try to focus on those with low GI and gluten free.
    Sources of carbs made a huge difference to me: quinoa, coconut flour, buckwheat and legumes are better. Wheat, rye, rice even if wholemeal feed my sugar craving.
    THANKS for such a useful post!

  • Marada D

    I started a paleo diet, and initially felt great and lost weight, but then the weight loss leveled off, and I did a 60 day juice fast, which was great, but I had hair loss. I had only 15 more pounds to lose, and went back to a paleo diet, but could not get the pounds off, and started feeling weak all the time. I gained almost all the weight back from cheating on the paleo diet due to feeling tired and eating to see if that would help, and am still fatigued. I have been not getting very much done for the last 2 years, and after reading this article, I really think it could be that I need more carbs. I am going to try it!!

    Also, if I eat sugar, I get a sore throat, and I never liked sugar as a kid, so I just got your book because I know I am going to feel better after dropping the sugar. I wonder if there is such a thing as a sugar allergy?

  • Michelle

    I’ve had this issue. Still trying to find the right amount of carbs for me. I just do not do well on super low carb, especially since I do CrossFit I need my glycogen stores replaced.

  • Charli

    Years ago I was diagnosed with Psc and started to follow the liver cleansing diet. I ate low carbs and no red meat. I lost 10 kg. People were saying I looked amazing but I felt awful. I was so tired and short of breath with the slightest exertion. I couldn’t afford to buy all the recommended substitutes for what I wasn’t eating, but tried to eat well balanced food and food high in iron. I eventually felt so bad I decided to eat more carbs and red meat. I put weight back on but felt so much better. Years later and the Psc has not progressed thank God and I continue to eat carbs, but not bread as I think that is my Achilles heal. I can’t stop if I start on bread. A small amount of red meat gives me the iron I need.

  • Catherine Krezalek-Weber

    Oh I just love this article! I switched to a low carb diet almost a decade ago and thrived on it. Later I went Primal to Paleo and then very low carb paleo in a quest for the ultimate abs 😛 I thought I was doing all the right things – eating clean and organic, exercising etc.. But something went really wrong. My energy levels vanished, I was a zombie, my previously thick lustrous hair thinned out and was not recognisable, I put on weight and felt like I had fluid retention, and was just miserable to be around. After meeting with a Functional Diagnostics Nutrition Practitioner and getting all my testing done he found that my hormone production had almost flatlined and my adrenals were on borderline failure. He put me on a recovery plan that included raw sugar, loads of fruit, and honey as well as raw milk with honey + salt for my thyroid/adrenal function among other things. I had to totally rewire my brain and almost vomited the first day or two. But within 2 weeks its like my body finally felt at ease. Sure I put on a little bit of weight but that soon balanced out and I felt like I was back to my old self over the following months!! It’s true that low carb can work for some and not for others. And I’ve learnt that our bodies are so adaptable and need different things at different times – so that even what worked for you years ago may not work for you today. Listen to your body, relax and enjoy life!

  • Adriana

    I’m only 20 so I feel like i’m too young to be having thyroid issues! However this rings true to me… in 2013 I changed my diet quite drastically to a very clean, low carb one in order to lose weight I had gained while overseas, but that quickly spiralled into an eating disorder, which is now mostly under control but it never fully goes away. My health rapidly declined during this year too (which was year 12, so stress definitely played a part) and since then I have had increasing digestive problems along with fatigue, breathlessness from little exertion, headache, muscle stiffness and pain, constant sinus congestion and pain, puffy eyes, brain fog…. the list goes on. I’m at the point where I can’t eat anything without reacting and I wake up every morning feeling gross and looking pregnant from bloating and it only gets worse throughout the day. I am gluten, dairy, egg and soy intolerant and had already been avoiding these foods since the age of about 14, and then last year tested positive for fructose and lactose malabsorption too. So apparently I have SIBO, gut dysbiosis, leaky gut, IBS (not that IBS is really a proper diagnosis of anything) and adrenal fatigue. Basically a shot digestive system… and I’m wondering if this all could have been avoided if it wasn’t for my obsessive eating habits! I feel like I’ll never be well again.

  • annric

    I had adrenal fatigue issues which coincided with me totally giving up sugar. My diet was otherwise pretty low-carb paleo, so I was wondering why on earth I wasn’t losing weight… Then I started feeling constantly fatigued, difficulty waking up in the morning, constant hunger and no energy for exercising, which I normally did regularly. Found a great naturopath who put me on some herbs but also explained that with removing all that sugar, I hadn’t replaced it with any carbohydrate. Now gradually recovering, incorporating things like sweet potato and losing the fear of good quality bread etc, which I never had an intolerance to anyway. The funny thing was that I had eaten this way (low-carb) a couple of years ago and felt great on it, but obviously something has changed. Just glad to be back in the land of the living again!

  • Kelly

    I have hashimoto’s. I recently cut gluten and refined sugar out of my diet and tried eating lower carb/higher (healthy) fats. Unfortunately I have gone from 5’2″ 109lbs. to 100lbs. I have been thin my whole life and was already bordering too skinny before I changed my diet, but now I am even skinnier! I have deliberately eaten much more coconut oil, avocados, grass fed beef, etc. to try to balance the reduction in carbs from cutting out gluten. I haven’t made an extreme switch because I still eat rice and potatoes occasionally as well as corn. My antibodies have not changed and my TSH has actually increased over the past 2.5 months that I’ve been on this diet. My doctor thinks I should cut out all grains and not just gluten. I’m scared I’m going to lose even more weight. Any suggestions?

  • Ann Sharman Jarvis

    I’ve gone “full paleo” before and I just can’t last on it. I had severe Crohn’s Disease for 20 years (as a child and into early adulthood). The Crohn’s is under control and I was simply looking for a boost to my already pretty great health. I’ve cut out the gluten, processed and packaged foods and really cut down on my sugar intake. But when I took out all of the other grains, my mood sank and so did my energy. Now, I don’t eat a lot of grains (usually, only at lunchtime) but I’ve realized that I need them in at least one of my meals. Too many grains and I feel crappy…too little and I feel crappy. It’s all such a balance determined by our own unique bio-individual make-up. Thanks for a great article!

  • Kelly

    Interestingly enough I tested low T3 (assuming my synthroid/T4 was not converting to T3) BEFORE I went low carb. As a matter of fact I was eating a LOT of carbs mostly due to my stomach that always seemed to be upset. So what I ended up doing was slowly weening myself off sugar and eating less complex carbs. I am doing a modified version of the Wahl’s Protocol by Dr. Terry Wahl’s MD. Her died is based off of paleo but it is not completely paleo and there are a few different versions. It’s supposed to increase brain health and lower inflammation. Originally she created it to help herself over come progressive MS… but back to the thyroid. What I found worked for me was to take a week to ween myself of the yummy sugary good while still consuming starches. The second week I eliminated ALL sugar past 5pm and only allowed myself 1 serving of starchy carbs a day. By week three I didn’t really want them but the entire time I made sure I was getting plenty of carbs through fruit (kale and fruit smoothies every morning) vegetables and beans. after three weeks I have the most energy I’ve had in years while only a few weeks ago I needed to nap several times a day. I think the key is not to cut out carbs but to cut out starchy carbs and inflammatory foods. I also still try not to eat sugar in the evening but I am trying to fix both hashimoto’s and leaky gut. Just thought I would share what works or is working so far for me!

  • Christine Safi

    I started following the Atkins diet and swapped dairy to soy milk and within 3 months have had 1 very late period and have skipped another. I had a blood test recently for being so tired all the time and my t3 was 3.79. My doctor said my thyroid is a little under. I have a sensitivity to gluten so I avoid it. I have removed soy milk from my diet and will start adding more carbs in. Hopefully this helps. Any thoughts?

  • juliathemechanic

    This exact thing happened to me. I was being treated for hypothyroidism but I still felt terrible, so I sought out a dietitian. I had high cholesterol, crushing fatigue and borderline diabetes. She put me on what’s referred to as a “moderate carb” diet – 90-100 grams per day of carbs. I lost weight steadily and had much more energy, taking off 25 pounds within the year. Then, the crushing fatigue returned with a vengeance. I ate virtually nothing but almond milk, fish, vegetables and nuts, with all fruit but blueberries and strawberries eliminated. I didn’t want to eat anymore because it made me feel nauseous and bloated. I developed stomach pains and indigestion again and I just wanted to sleep. I developed problems with memory and concentration. I stopped losing weight. The dietitian told me that I needed to be more disciplined and that if I just stopped cheating on my diet, I would lose weight again. I fired the dietitian.

    I went back to my endocrinologist and he confirmed that my reverse T3 was through the roof. He believed that I was experiencing the effects of tissue level hypothyroidism, in which the liver is unable to properly convert T4 into T3. This was brought about by what was for me a too low carb diet. He increased my armour thyroid dosage by 15 mg. and told me to eat a piece of fruit or carbohydrate rich vegetable (like sweet potato or corn) at every meal. Viola! Within a week I felt much, much better. The weight is starting to come off again because now I have the energy to work out for an hour a day. I still largely eat Paleo, but I don’t obsess over carbs. I just don’t eat junk. My one deviation from Paleo is Greek yogurt, which I eat daily. It helps me with my digestion and is great for calcium and protein, so I don’t really see a downside to it.

  • Mid Merry

    Totally concur Sarah. I have Coeiliac Disease and was diagnosed with Graves Disease about 3 years ago. With me, opposite to all other graves people, i put on about 10kg but all other symptoms were same, massive increase in heart rate, couldn’t exercise, always tires, aching joints, poor memory, couldn’t sleep , super stressed….I eventually got onto someone who helped heal my gut but initially she put me on a super strict no CARB diet and it was absolute sorrow, i put on MORE weight, like another 5kg, then jsut felt sick al the time, she eventually was like, crap lets add back in good carbs and since then I’ve gotten better but did a lot of gut healing anti microbial etc and then teh weight jsut fell off. We are all so different

  • Adrian PARSONS

    Hi Sarah
    I am a 54 year old male.
    Nearly 6 years ago I went on an abrupt low carb diet and within 8 days developed gout.
    My big toe became painful and the doctor found slightly raised uric acid.
    But, I had other symptoms not mentioned under normal gout descriptions.
    I developed joint pains which would travel round my body. One morning my jaw would feel like it had been punched, another day my left elbow. I have not heard of this moving type of pain with gout. My knuckles would feel tender if I knocked on a door.
    Also, I believe gout to be attacks for 3-5 few days at a time, whereas I have continuous low level pain day after day.
    I show negative for RA and so doctors are trying a wait and see approach.

    The doctor gave me Naproxen, and sent me to a rheumatologist who found no signs of rheumatism.
    Now, almost 6 years later, the pains are no longer migratory but constantly there at a low-level in 12 joints.

    Kneeling for any length of time is painful with a watery substance apparent behind both knees if I slightly over-exercise them – bursitis.
    My point is that all these symptoms came from nothing other than this strict low carb diet.
    Mind you, I hardly drink alcohol and don’t eat organ meats.
    I haven`t seen these generalised symptoms being linked to gout but my toe ache is often the starting point again if I eat meat or rarely drink a glass of wine.
    I very much regret starting a low-carb diet.

    Many thanks
    Adrian Parsons

  • Frances Evans

    This sounds so familiar. I started a lowcarb eating program with intermittent fasting last year and for the first couple of months felt really good, lost weight but then started to notice that my hair was falling. my nails split and broke and I was cold and had no energy. I have since tried to get back to some sort of normal feeling and just starting to after eating more carbs but it has been a battle Glad to hear I’m not going mad!