The following was an e-mail sent to me by a low-carb struggler, confused by her miraculous first impressions of a low-carb diet that ended with her basically shatting her pants. My responses are in red…
I hope you don’t mind me writing directly to you but I’d really like to share my story since I see you’re wary of LC diets… and maybe while I’m at it I’ll ask for some advice as well!
I found your blog some months ago and I have to say it really opened my eyes as far as nutrition is concerned. Before that I’ve been low-carbing for about 3 years since in the beginning it really seemed to do wonders. It was very similar to testimonials of other people – the diet completely cleared my mood problems, my digestion and skin were perfect, I could tan more easily, my teeth felt clean, I stopped getting colds – in short, some pretty amazing things happened and I didn’t want to let them go. It literally felt like I found a solution to all my health problems! A few of my friends learned about my success and followed with similar great results. However, it didn’t end all that well – about 2 years into the diet I started getting digestive problems, like my digestion really slowed down and things just wouldn’t digest anymore. Also my mood wasn’t that great suddenly and my skin got worse, but I persisted because of the initial benefits. I wish now I wouldn’t, because after some more months my digestion got so bad I didn’t want to leave the house at times!
Your health problems initially were most likely a result of a low basal metabolism. This is no rare or obscure ailment. It is more common to have a low basal metabolism than a normal basal metabolism. In all my research I’ve come to the conclusion that a low basal metabolism is the most frequent underlying root cause of illness of all kind.
At first I thought that maybe I’m simply eating too much fiber, nuts, raw vegetables or something like that. But while I stopped eating all potentially problematic foods one after another, digestion just kept getting worse… I even cut out all carbs for a while to no avail! So it’s been more than a year now with horrific digestion, and I have to say, although my digestion was probably never perfect, I never experienced anything even close to this before going low-carb. Along with indigestion I got nail infections, gum inflammation, weird headaches, feeling cold all the time and other such ‘minor’ problems. Lately exhaustion set in as well, I suddenly lost my energy to the extent I now have to force myself if I want to do any kind of exercise. I think this might have something to do with my adrenal stress index, a saliva test I did a month ago – my cortisol was almost at the bottom most of the day (I’m not sure this test is 100% legitimate but results do fit my symptoms).
These are very common long-term effects of using a very low-carb (ketogenic or borderline ketogenic) diet for the treatment of a low basal metabolism. Adrenal fatigue is certainly a danger for low-carbers who have weak adrenals to begin with. Because low carb diets stimulate the adrenals more, adrenal-related things like allergies and asthma often disappear in short order while energy skyrockets. Then, when the adrenals start to wear out, you have the opposite experience. The lack of cortisol once adrenals are burned out could also potentially lead to a great deal of pain and inflammation, as cortisol is our natural suppressor of both (think cortisone).
My blood lipids are interesting as well. I have had high cholesterol for the past year or so (total and calculated LDL), while my HDL is at the very bottom of the range. When I got them measured during my first year of low-carbing, they were perfect (high HDL, normal total and LDL).
But I didn’t really connect the dots until I read through your blog a bit and until my friends (also after a few years of low carbing) started developing health problems, too. One of my friends also got indigestion, like really loud digestion and bloating, and is ill way too often with colds and flu lately, or lying in bed with chronic back pain. She’s also got HDL below the limit now. Her father, who started low-carbing at the same time, got chronic diarrhea and high cholesterol this year. Another friend who was quite extreme this winter, eating almost only meat and dairy for a while, got liver enzyme abnormalities, high CRP, high triglycerides, extremely high cholesterol (total 9 mmol/l), low HDL, mild arthritis, and can’t eat starch anymore without horrible gas… pretty scary stuff, really. (We thought it might be hemochromatosis but results for this came back negative.) It’s also interesting how at first he became really muscled on low-carb, looking almost like a bodybuilder without working out much, but then after a year or so started losing this look while still eating the same diet. After, he lost a lot of weight and became quite skinny. Last year when going carnivorous he gained some weight back but it was fat not muscles this time. So definitely some changes going on there.
Your metabolism was probably closer to normal when you started. The low-carbohydrate fare, over time, seems to have worsened the problem. Before cholesterol was the hot word of our generation, elevated levels of it were used to diagnose hypothyroidism (a low basal metabolism). All of these abnormalities ? from liver dysfunction, digestive destruction, pain/arthritis, high inflammation levels, and poor immune system function are all directly related to a low metabolism. Protein is also the most straining food type on the metabolism. The more excess you eat, the more likely you will be to eventually feel like your diet was counterproductive to your metabolic function. Ditto on the muscle gain initially. I never lost too much of it though, as I only went excessively low in carbohydrates (below 100g per day) for 30 days on the FUMP diet. Before low-carb my muscles were quite flaccid.
Lately we were measuring our basal body temperatures and they’re around 97 F, so it could be that dieting has slowed down our metabolisms (maybe here it’s relevant that none of us was ever fat so maybe carb restriction was even more harmful). But whatever the reason, bottom line is, despite all those benefits in the beginning that lasted for quite a while, it would really seem low carbing didn’t serve me or people around me that well in the long term. Or would we get worse anyway with aging? Not so sure when reading blogs of low-carbers such as these:
Low-carb diets treat the symptom of insulin resistance, which I believe to be caused by a low metabolism. Unfortunately, because low-carb diets are counter-metabolic, over the long haul they worsen the root problem ? kind of like most prescription meds. Nice links. The plant poison girl is one of the saddest cases out there ? on an endless search for what causes her problems, finding the list growing larger and larger and larger as each day passes. It’s not what you eat, it’s what your body does with what you eat, and hers appears to mismanage just about everything due to a painfully obvious case of hypothyroidism ? which she is seeking the wrong medication for.
I know they have their own explanations but it just fits so well with our stories, and of course all those things could very well be interacting somehow!
There’s one more thing I’d like to say – we got into all this trouble while eating home-cooked meals, lots of it was even organic or bought from farmers, so it’s really not the case of eating too many Atkins soy products or something like that. I was even staying away from processed meats most of the time. And while I was trying ever since I got indigestion not to eat too much protein, I have to say it seems rather impossible not to still eat quite a lot if you restrict your carbs below 100 g per day. I mean, you can only eat that much fat!
Me too. I went to great lengths to eat real, quality food, as if it were a religion. I feel much better on pizza from the local pizzeria. Canned sauce, ghetto cheese, white flour vs. a low carb diet with raw grassfed milk, butter, cheese, pastured meats, farmer’s market produce? Pizza was the clear winner.
So to cut the long story short, what I’d like to ask is, why does this happen to low-carb people? I mean, what’s the mechanism behind such great improvement that leads to decline? And if the diet really is to blame, why don’t more people explicitly warn about this? (Because they are BLINDED BY SCIENCE! Click HERE to see what I envision a visit with Michael and Mary Dan Eades to be like). It would seem to me that most studies looking at low-carb diets (or any other diet perhaps) are pretty useless then – I’m sure you first get all those benefits, but short-term studies don’t see things going wrong after a few years.
Studies are useless. Without question. Short-term and long-term are often in stark opposition ? just like one might experience on a vegan diet, a low-fat diet, a low-calorie diet and so on. It’s like I often say ? a million subjects of a thousand studies on low-calorie diets could irrefutably ?prove? that calorie restriction is a successful means of achieving weight loss. In real life, calorie restriction leads to lifelong weight problems and what comes with it ?on the side.
Like I alluded to before, if you have insulin resistance from having a low metabolism, reducing carbs instantly cures you of many glucose intolerance-related symptoms. Excess protein, lack of carbs, and reduced hunger on low-carb diets leads to a worsening of the metabolism over time though. It makes the real underlying problem worse, not better. Once again, there’s a great parallel to calorie restriction. Cutting calories treats the symptom of excess body fat in the short-term. The real underlying problem; however, is storing fat from the food that you eat. Calorie restriction increases hunger and the propensity to store fat from the food you eat. It is counterproductive long-term, which is why it is a miserable failure as a strategy for staving off obesity.
Another question now is: How to remedy the situation after getting into such trouble? I started eating quite some carbs and following your other advice a few months ago but things haven’t improved much, at least in regards to digestion as this is still a very annoying problem at the moment. Also, obviously it’s difficult to eat a lot when things don’t digest right! I’m a bit confused also when it comes to exercise since I really don’t feel like doing it, but maybe I should force myself at least a little bit. Of course I know getting back to normal after dieting is a long process and probably I’m just being impatient, but still, any suggestion or advice would be welcome (and I saw in the comments section of your blog that you helped someone called Ben S. with very similar problems in the past – did he recover?).
Fixing problems are always much more difficult, tricky, and complicated than avoiding them. That’s why I’m a writer and not a doctor!!! Many people dig themselves into a Catch-22 hole. They need to eat to get out of the hole, but their digestion is too shot to do so. Keep working on it with patience, really trying to eat as much as you can ? particularly carbs. Quality and type are less important. Even such things as Gatorade and ice cream probably will do you more good than harm in the short-term, and are easier to get down in large quantities than starch – which would otherwise be preferable. Do whatever it takes to get calories in you. Quality is important from an overall standpoint, but to a specific disorder, the calorie is the ultimate ally. My best advice would be to eat whatever you want, and as much of it as possible. Don’t even think about any of the nutritional stuff you’ve learned. Unlearn it as fast as possible. Remember it when you’ve healed a bit. If diet alone isn’t enough to bring up basal temps in a couple of months (which you should monitor daily), then it is probably time to try some dessicated thyroid.
I don’t know Ben’s current status. The most success we had working together was when I had him pounding junk food and drinking weight gainer shakes after his couple of years on raw dairy products, sauerkraut, and grass fed meat (and little else). Unfortunately, even though he felt amazing and his digestion healed up in a week or two, he became ill with candida/SIBO-type symptoms. Perhaps he’ll have the time to come by, read this, and comment for us. Maybe he’ll send a low-carb war story of his own to add to this fine installment. Last I heard he was seeking thyroid treatment combined with treatment for SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth ? the primary culprit of most cases of IBS ? but of course, the low body temperature that allowed the small intestine to be overgrown in the first place was due to a low body temperature ? the opposite of a germ-fighting fever).
Oh and there’s another thing I wanted to share with you… When I was in Poland last time I visited some dietitians who work under Jan Kwasniewski’s guidelines… and it wasn’t too nice. They were elderly but all very obese and unhealthy looking and they told me his diet can a bit dangerous to follow, that some people they know got atherosclerosis after some years of eating this way, even though it’s supposed to cure it. And that you need to take plenty of vitamin supplements with it even more so than with other diets “because the nutrient content of meat is not what it used to be”. They also said they recommend eating more carbs than Jan K. says (as far as I could understand because their English wasn’t great). It was a bit disturbing to be honest, I mean they really sounded so negative about the diet… even though it did cure one woman I met of rheumatoid arthritis, to be fair!
Jan K’s high-fat diet is not flawed in theory. There’s nothing wrong with saturated fat, just as there’s nothing wrong with carbohydrates or protein. But again, if you have a low metabolism your body does not burn fats properly (it also mismanages carbohydrates and is damaged by protein ? so you are damned no matter what you eat). Given the appropriate amount of thyroid support, fats (and carbs) would be managed in a completely different way. Cholesterol and triglycerides would not become elevated. Body fat would not accumulate. All types of food can be harmful or beneficial depending on the physical state of the person ? yet another reason why studies are useless.
Consider Robert McCarrison’s findings from one of many ways that the metabolism is harmed ? vitamin deficiency?
??in the absence of vitamins or in their inadequate supply, neither proteins nor fats nor carbohydrates nor [minerals] are properly utilized; some are largely wasted, while others yield products harmful to the organism.
Thanks for the low-carb war story!
Type and send your low-carb saga, for better or for worse, to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll post that badboy on the blog. We’ll analyze this thing to death!!!
This would be a really great series, Matt. I think it would be beneficial to hear LC stories, but also to hear people's experience with other diets later on.
Bravo, best post in awhile. It just enforces my opinion that so many things all come back to low metabolism and thyroid function.
To the writer of the letter to Matt that this post regards, Something else to try would be HCL (stomach acid) supplements. They helped me immensely. Someone discussed it in comments on one of these blogs but here it is in short.
Find an HCL supplement you like (I use solaray http://www.smartbomb.com/slr4814.html)
Start with 1 capsule and take it in the MIDDLE of a meal. If you dont experience any heartburn type of heat in your chest within a couple hours after eating, then up the dose. Keep upping the dose until you get some heart burn after a meal (try each amount on a couple/few meals because it also depends on the meal. A meal of steak and potatoes may not cause heartburn with X number of capsules where a meal of a quart of juice or something would).
Then for most meals take whatever dose is right below what gives you heartburn (if you use capsules you can open them and pour some out so you can take like 1.5 or 1.75 or whatever number of capsules).
Over time the non heartburn amount will start to give you heartburn at which time you decrease the dosage a bit more (maybe half a capsule at a time) until you either will not need HCL at all or you will need to take a small dose with each meal for perhaps forever (at least Ive read that some people have to take a small amount forever).
HCL with thyroid supplementation will fix you up pretty quickly. You should start seeing a difference in the consistency of your bowel movements pretty quickly, after a couple weeks your energy will increase and it'll get better from there.
Just to give you an idea, a year ago I started on HCL at a little less than 3 capsules (Initially about 2000mg = 2g) with each meal and over a period of about 3-5 months I decreased to where I only used half a capsule (325mg) on complex meals like if I went to a restaurant or ate a meal of several different items. Worked wonders. Since that time I started eating even more carbs and thus had to start taking it again, this time starting at 2 capsules less than a month ago and Im down to 1.5 capsules now.
Excellent post, Matt!
A few things. In "Low Carb Rehab" you recommend to feast upon carbs for 4-7 days. Might intensive weight training during this period prove beneficial (for improving glucose and insulin control)? Reason I ask is, last time I tried reintroducing carbs after a year of lowcarbing – two months before your post came out – I ballooned from 150 to 170 pounds in a few weeks (gained muscle too, but huge amounts of bellyfat, fat hips). Got scared of course and went back to lowcarbing… I did NOT eat carbs exclusively. I reintroduced them to saturated fat and protein.
Concerning the war-stories: I can't say for sure that lowcarb gave me hypothyroidism and a puffy face. Might as well have been IF (one meal a day).
BTW: Emma, the plantpoison-girl, is now on Armour Thyroid and improving. I was actually thinking about directing her to your site…
One thing I am confused about, though, is your recommendation to eat more junk food for low metabolism-including foods with refined sugars. In an earlier post, and throughout most of the site, sugar and fructose is implicated as something that can help to cause or worsen metabolic issues.
So, then, if sugar ,in any amount, can worsen a poor metabolic state; how is it that in the short term it may heal these issues?
I have been experimenting with more fruits and things like orange juice and sometimes honey and I feel like I have more energy (without crashing) than I did with just starches. That's why I'm wondering if a Ray Peat type diet (milk, oj, fruit, lots of saturated fat, some protein, and maybe gelatin) can be helpful in the short-term for thyroid issues better than a starch based diet.
I can definitely see it as being better or easier to digest and also it is much easier to eat more sugar than starch.
I know you don't like a lot of what he says, but I think in the short-term it may be beneficial, and you're guidelines in this post seem to be similar to his recommendations.
I have similar eating habits as Ray Peat. The reason I do is because I have trouble digesting starches and concentrated sources of protein too.
Just a few things I see are that there may be problems beyond eating many calories and supplementation. I do not think that eating a lot will automatically cause hormones to balance – I think there is still a simple approach to it, but not so much that simple. At least so far, that's what I seem to find, for a person who hadn't originally messed up their metabolism and thyroid by eating too little carbs or calories.
I just want to say some things in reply to comments regarding Ray Peat real quick..
He recommends quite a lot of protein (80-100g), rather than some. He believes it to actually help thyroid (when composed of the correct amino acids). He just says to not eat a totally muscle meat diet (you knooow..like a zero carb one where nothing matters but carbs) – because "…tryptophan and cysteine (which is both antithyroid and potentially excitotoxic)..[in] a pure meat diet can cause hypothyroidism. In poor countries, people have generally eaten all parts of the animal, rather than just the muscles–feet, heads, skin, etc. About half of the protein in an animal is collagen (gelatin), and collagen is deficient in tryptophan and cysteine. "
And basically – just because you can't eat starches doesn't mean Peat's diet is better.(And tisk tisk, he is for potatoes and alkali-ed corn, ma man). He just as much focuses on thyroid, just in a more scientific way, and aimed towards a complexity of thyroid..that is still simple and seemingly natural when translated to a good diet. This should not be ignored, that there is more to his suggestions than orange juice and sugars.
Just defending my other homie, here.
I dont think Matt has ever advocated junk food with refined sugar. Some people (Bruce) may have at one point, but Matt has been against refined sugar for as long as I remember. I believe he says its ok if you are getting natural sugars from juice and such (though I think he still prefers starches because of fructose in sugary things)
Why do you limit the time of your podcasts? You say you are out of time at the end of each podcast, but why not just make longer ones to encompass an entire subject (Fiber currently) rather than splitting it into several weeks? If its to keep users coming back or you dont think there will be enough possible content to continue podcasts indefinitely then I understand. Just wondering why
I noticed that, too. Happens to be that his podcasts are almost exactly 8MB. My bet is that his host has the PHP file upload limit set to 8MB. They really ought to change that in my mind. I'm tempted to offer Matt my web design experience to better archive his excellent information. Have too much on the go now though. His website looks nice (I like the relevant pictures), but it definitely lacks in a few ways (not information, just layout and how things are done), which he can't be blamed for.
HCL supplementation sounds interesting. Does it alone help with increasing bowel movement frequency, in your experience?
@Noone in particular
Finally got a working ear thermometer. Seems to work just fine in my armpit. I'll keep up with reading it and seeing how things are.
Any suggestions with increasing metabolism through extra calories without gaining weight? Fat seems to be the best way, but Matt seems to mention potential problems with too much fat if the metabolism isn't right. I've been able to drink a whole can (400ml) of coconut milk and seem just fine (about 650 calories) with a meal, and I think I'm going to try some pork fat back. Going for just butter and coconut oil in the bulk amount I think is adequate (which is probably not quite the right amount) is awfully expensive. Or could I possibly just go to extra carbs without gaining weight? From what I understood, in Matt's metabolism ebook, he said that for the best weightloss the body should be in a fat-driven state (as opposed to glucose-driven), with a majority of fat in the diet. Wondering how well 100-200g carbs with 50-100g fat would do. I definitely prefer some nice, fatty mashed potatoes with lots of butter over a can of coconut milk. Is it more about the caloric percentages, or sticking to the 25-35g carbs per meal range with adequate fat?
Noticed that too much dairy (guessing lactose, not a milk allergy) causes water retention for me :-(. Curious if my cultured butter could be setting anything off, but I'm really not sure.
I dont think Matt has ever advocated junk food with refined sugar. Some people (Bruce) may have at one point, but Matt has been against refined sugar for as long as I remember
"Even such things as Gatorade and ice cream probably will do you more good than harm in the short-term, and are easier to get down in large quantities than starch – which would otherwise be preferable"
What I've been pondering lately is the chemical difference between carb sources — particularly fructose — and the effects on the body. I don't believe all carbs are inherently evil — I think that's an overly simplistic case to make. But doesn't the quality of the carb matter?
For example, HFCS is made up of chemically altered "free" fructose — fructose that isn't bound to other sugars. Fruit sugars and unrefined honey contain fructose that is bound to other sugars along with some vitamins, minerals, etc. I'm not a chemistry buff, so I don't quite understand what this means, but the implications seem significant to me. Unbound, "free" fructose is completely unnatural and might influence ill health and the body's metabolism more than the fructose found in fruits, unrefined honey, and the like. Some studies suggest that this is true.
The metabolic effects of high-gluten wheat flour also seems to be a subject worth exploring, although I know little about it.
The point is that carb sources have qualities that should be investigated further. Not all carbs are created equal!
What do you guys think about this?
Water retention is all too common for hypothyroid people. Sweats out the salt, retains the water. Nothing to blame dairy on!
Besides I've never heard of an allergy or intolerance causing water retention..maybe that's just me.
I think it's wise to focus on the core problem instead of seeing little things (that are symptoms of bigger things) and trying to connect them with negative things.
Even if you think dairy is linked to your water retention – it is definitely not the cause.
This post reminds me of how glad i am i stumbled upon your website before i done more damage to my metabolism from low carbing…. i was in a ditch compared to the huge hole some people are in.
Recently i got a D.U.I. just over the california limit of .08….i have had my license suspended for 4 months… its been soooo much fun!!! I have seriously revved up my metabolism during this time… i have been walking, biking, or jogging at a slow pace in my vibram five finger barefoot shoes to work. I know another girl at my healthfood store that started to walk to work instead of drive a few months back… she has lost sooo much weight and is in a fantastic mood… her favorite meal is rice macaroni and cheese.
My friend Tsuyoshi bikes 50 minutes each way to work….. for the past 3 months… he has lost 17 pounds of fat… he eats rice, beans and cheese burritos wrapped in corn tortillas, potatoes and yogurt… and i recently got him to replace his sugar intake with more saturated fat, after explaining the goodness of saturated fat… the kid glows with perfect skin and charisma.
i have recently been seeing alot of people on low carb blogs especially Art De Vany's site complaining about not wanting to workout anymore, feeling really tired, back injuries, losing to much weight and muscle and wondering if they do need some starch. I can't stand the anti starch low carb crap anymore… And all the crap about running being bad for us…. i have so much energy as of late that i would be walking home, and ask myself why am i walking when i could be running… its sooo much fun.
awesome post! keep making the case!
This post reminded me of one by Richard Nikoley recently, on the apparent waning of the high he intially experienced on low carb paleo:
Good post, Troy. The big eye opener for me was last year when Anthony Colpo just completely owned Dr. Eades and his bullshit metabolic advantage stance.
Another thing about these low carbers is their aggressive behavior… Anthony Colpo and Richard Nikoley that were just mentioned had some serious issues with that in the past. Wonder why that happens?
Anonymous about Matt advocating junk food: Go look up the definition of advocating or recommending. Saying "Even ________ will probably do more good than harm in the short term" is a far cry from advocating or recommending something. "Go eat Gatorade and ice cream", that would be recommending something.
I have not noticed any increase in bowel movement frequency while on it, though I have no idea if others have or have not experience that. But I have not had more than 1 regular bowel movement per day (Ive had days where Ive had more than one, but regularly I dont) since I was eating SAD 2 years ago and had 2-4 per day and each required tons of wiping and nastiness. Since then Ive done a low/zero carb Primal diet and had varying degrees of carbs and never regularly had more than one even though my digestion seems pretty good. So I really dont know!
You really think they have an 8mb limit? In this day and age? Flash drives now a days are 32 and 64 gigs (possibly more?) and they have a limit of 8 MEGS? Christ.
So today I realized that it had been a long, long time since I had dropped by the old blog, and thought I'd catch up on all the posts I'd missed in the past couple months.
Imagine my astonishment when I see a blog post about a person who succumbed to the effects of low-carb dieting which mentions me by name. I kept reading it and thinking how much it sounded exactly like my situation and then there I was.
This has to be a sign. Anyway, first things first: Every single one of the symptoms described by the female who e-mailed Matt describes my situation to a T. Despite being diligent about low carb foods from the best sources, my digestion suffered, my temperatures dropped, my energy plummeted, my weight fell (but not in a good way), and I became prone to all sorts of infections. (In particular, two solid bounds of Staph, not to mention a particularly un-fun bout of testicular infection.)
As Matt indicated, I saw an endocrinologist who gave me thyroid medication. The problem, however, is that thyroid medication forces your body to work faster, yet your adrenals can be so taxed from the stress of lowered metabolism that they cannot tolerate the enhanced thyroid function. Essentially, I would experience a week or so of increased temperatures, smoother digestion, appetite, only for it to quickly disappear. It is a cruel, ironic catch-22 of a situation.
There is no doubt whatsoever, though, that higher temps, a faster metabolic rate, a less-sensitive immune system, and improved digestion all go hand in hand.
How to fix this? The best way is to avoid it altogether. No, seriously. The earlier you can start to reverse this, the better off you'll be. As Matt suggested, one of the best things you can do is consume lots of carbs. Bowls of white rice with salt or soy sauce have been very beneficial for me. I used to add butter or ghee, but would get too full too easily.
I also find that things which promote your own thyroid function rather than substitute for it (like thyroid medication) may help transition to medication if not be sufficient on their own. This means coconut oil and iodine rich foods or supplements (e.g., Iodoral) and of course lots of carbs.
The immune system is a huge obstacle too. I recently started seeing a Chinese medical practitioner who summarized the problem as follows: When you are weak from low metabolism, the immune system feels threatened and overreacts to the smallest potential threat. Only when the body is strong can the immune system afford to respond to only the truest of threats.
His advice is multifactorial: First, I must raise my metabolism by treating the thyroid. Second, I must strengthen my immune system.
But as I do so, I must eliminate the possible triggers for a reaction. This means a simple, hypoallergenic diet for the next few weeks. In practical terms, this means lots of rice, fish, and cooked vegetables. Matt will recall that I have tried this in the past with some effect, but never with a simultaneous focus on increasing thyroid function. I always did one or the other, but not both simultaneously. Without me prompting him, the Chinese doctor stated that either approach independently would not work and lead to a vicious cycle.
PART II (my original post was too long and had to be broken into two posts)
To recap, my advice for recovering from low-carb syndrome (LCS) is as follows:
1) Immediately increase consumption of carbs as much as possible. Ideally, this would come from lots of white rice. I think some fruit may be beneficial as well. Sugar is less ideal, but is better than nothing. Particularly in the beginning, I think it is not unreasonable to have entire meals that are based on nothing more than a shit load of white rice, salt, and coconut oil (see below). Maybe include a protein in the last meal of the day.
2) Focus on things that will naturally promote thyroid health. This means coconut oil, iodine, possibly selenium and vitamin A as well (Google those).
3) Eliminate highly allergic foods for a period of time. Examples include dairy, wheat, nuts.
4) Consider thyroid medication with the help of a good endocrinologist if you can tolerate it.
I think anyone in this situation should record their temperatures at the same time everyday using a good thermometer (first thing in the morning is probably best). That way you will be able to gauge your progress and, like me, note how good things are when your temperatures increase. I found that I am in digestive heaven when my temps crack 98.0 F, though most of the time they are currently 97.0–97.5 F, up from a low of 96 F (also known as "rock bottom").
One more thing and I'll stop: I realized that I neglected to mention what progress I've had, which may be helpful for those who are thinking about my advice (which is really Matt's advice):
When I finally gave up my phobia about needing to eat uber healthy foods and balanced meals, my digestion finally improved. I have no problem, for example, with a bowl of rice and salt or soy sauce. It used to kill me. I find that I do better with less protein, but even so I can put down a decent sized fillet of fish and rice without much incident. As Matt can attest, that is a lot of progress; a year ago, I used to bloat just looking at food.
As I alluded to above, my temps have gone up consistently anywhere from 0.5 to 1.2 degrees F. Similarly, my body weight has gone up a solid 12 pounds (from 126 to 138). I should also note that as I increased my carbs and reduced my protein, my testosterone levels went higher. It is universally understood that there is an inverse relationship between testosterone and cortisol (i.e., when one goes up, the other goes down).
In November 2007, at my lowest of low carb, my total testosterone (TT) was 520 ng/dL. In December 2008, with moderately increased carbs, my TT was 640 ng/DL. By April 2009, with very high carb levels, my TT was 750 ng/DL. While it is true that TT levels peak in summer and trough in winter, they are not supposed to start falling off until November or start rising again until May. Thus, all readings were roughly at the same points in the transition from winter/spring hormone fluctuations. That is to say, that I believe they largely reflect dietary influences on hormone levels rather than routine, seasonal fluctuation.
(Perhaps not coincidentally, a study (sorry Matt) from Penn. St. showed that a diet high in carb, low in protein, low in fiber, and high in monounsaturated and/or saturated fats was strongly correlated with high T levels.)
One thing I forgot to mention is sleep: With low carb, my sleep was shallow and terrible. With higher carb, my sleep is much deeper and more restful.
I have a ways to go yet, but have also come a long way from rock bottom. I have to constantly remind myself that I didn't destroy my health in a few months and it won't be rebuilt that quickly either.
are you the chap who had candida and SIBDO?
If so, hows the white rice with regards to candida?
>You really think they have an 8mb limit? In this day and age? Flash drives now a days are 32 and 64 gigs (possibly more?) and they have a limit of 8 MEGS? Christ.
It's not a file size limit, this is for uploads through PHP (the scripting language (parser) that Matt's site uses). It can be configured to be higher, but it looks like it isn't. See this page for mostly useless technical jargon on it. Unfortunately, there seems to be no rational explanation for such low settings. Guessing that it might deal with tying up a PHP thread for the upload until it is finished (and thus, being unusable for web content and other things until it's finished) but I'm not sure, and usually that shouldn't matter. If the host has an FTP upload, Matt could send them there, or possibly find an alternative FTP host (they are plentiful and should be quite cheap). If that isn't possible, I'd be willing to host larger than 8MB podcasts for Matt on my VPS. Not a ton of space there, but if he was looking to overcome the 8MB limit, it would work fine for now.
I've been having quite frequent bowel movements (usually 3-4 a day), but they are thick, small, and sometimes hard to pass. I think my metabolsim could be a bit higher, but I also think my digestion definitely isn't 100%. I've had days where my bowels were completely perfect and my metabolism at least seemed completely fine.
Anyone know about if you can have too much fat (for your own body's limits), and what the side-effects might be? For breakfast I usually have about 2-3tbsp butter and 2-3tbsp coconut oil (with usually not too much separate fat, but usually some), lunch is maybe 2tbsp equivalent with a fatty burger (27% fat =D) and some pork fat, or perhaps 4 tbsp total. Dinner is about the same. If there is something that could be set off, might it indirectly cause bloating? I'm actually going to cut out butter today to see if I have a severe response to lactose, although I'm guessing and hoping that isn't it. Twice it has seemed like avocado set my system off (bloating), not sure if anyone else has that effect. Also wondering if I'm completely reading my body wrong and things are just delayed from meals before, but I don't think so; it would certainly make things a lot more confusing. I also don't think anymore that refined/unrefined coconut oil makes any difference with me, but that is just my personal observation.
I was looking through Wikipedia at the world's oldest living people. One of the oldest (supposedly 122), smoked till her death. Many of them were continual smokers. Maybe smoking isn't so bad, or perhaps the body can handle just about anything when it's in the right state. I wonder how long she would have lived if she never smoked, but also whether combining Matt's metabolism understanding with a higher nutrient/proper preparation (sourdough, soaked grains/nuts) diet would make much of a difference (as long as you dont't become paranoid about food, as is my tendency). I almost completely believe that getting your metabolism right beats any diet change, even if you are eating gobs of white rice. I think calories are the greatest missing nutrient that convential wisdom has deemed something to minimize and only obtain slightly less than the "essential" amount for.
Continuing comment below:
The more I read this blog and everyone's comments, the more it seems like everything is fit together here. Low carbers have some truth and understanding of the big picture, dieters have a grain of truth, all meat dieters have another piece of the picture, fruititarians have another, WAPFer's (or so I'd like to think, since I'm a little bit in their camp) have several grains of truth but really miss out on metabolsim, but it seems to all come down to some of the understanding here. Juice fasting has its place, and so does white rice bingeing. It seems like Matt and the rest of you realize that, and it just has a much more logical and scientific feel to me than anything else I've read. The endless excercises have their grain of truth too, but I tend to be on the extreme side of not enough exercise. It seems like going to 180 Degree Health is graduating everything else and seeing the overall picture. Fearing the lack of food matters more than fearing food, and food quality is almost insignificant. Kind of makes me wonder if I'm missing the obvious in other areas of life, beyond health. Oh well, at least it feels like I'm getting somewhere.
From my understanding, white rice (or just any carb) bingeing is used to adjust the body to carbs and stimulate the metabolsim. If it were possible to binge on just fat to stimulate the metabolism, would it possibly be as or more effective? Wonder if it would help induce weight loss more, or if it would be too hard on digestion. I'm debating upping my pork fat intake and canned coconut milk to stimulate my metabolsim, but I'm not sure if that is the best route.
I read your post, your health journey is really admirable. I've been studying the thyroid and adrenal glands (Mark Starr, Broda Barnes, Janie Bowthorpe, Ray Peat, and others) for the past few months now, and I have some things I'd like to add:
1.) You're completely right about the adrenal glands being exerted more when thyroid medication is started. If someone has an adrenal problem, thyroid medication will only make it more apparent as the adrenals will work harder to cope with the sped up metabolism. If someone has weak adrenals along with a thyroid problem, they NEED to be supported as well. Low adrenal function is often revealed when someone starts Armour or other thyroid meds. This is why people are stuck in the vicious cycle of feeling better, and then feeling worse. It's really common.
2.) I also think you're right about trying to catch and reverse hypothyroidism before it gets worse – but unfortunately many people are already too hypo for things such as "more carbs" and iodine to help at all. Diet can definitely help, but that line of thinking is a little too simplistic to think that it will fix every thyroid problem. It won't. Alot of people need assistance with desiccated thyroid, IMO.
3.) The suggestion of taking Iodine will only work for some people – Iodine encourages T4 within the body, like a type of natural Synthroid. There are alot of cases of hypothyroidism where the T4 to T3 conversion is severely inhibited or non-existent. For these people, taking iodine or T4-meds will do absolutely nothing.
4.) Vitamin A is also a tricky one – in small amounts I think it can help, but excess is harmful to the thyroid gland because of the highly unsaturated nature of Vitamin A. Polyunsaturated fats are antagonistic to thyroid function.
Congratulations on your progress!
Thanks for the feedback. Couple responses to your comments.
1) I hope I didn't imply that upping carbs will resolve hypothyroidism in every case, as that was not my intent at all. First, I think it fairly clear we are mostly talking about dietarily influenced hypothyroidism. Which is to say, perhaps a naturally low basal metabolism that is exacerbated by dietary abuse.
Within that subclass of individuals, I think dietary modification will absolutely help everyone. I agree, though, that it may not cure many if not most. That is why I mention it as an adjunct or initial step to thyroid therapy.
One thing that is important not to overlook is that you cannot simply expect to take thyroid medication and have the body right itself. Your body is not going to let itself digest itself into oblivion. Obviously, increasing thyroid will increase your metabolism, increasing your use of calories, etc. Your body will only "allow" this to happen—that is to say, will not take affirmative steps to counter this effect of the medication—without the fuel to burn. Hence, the additional carbs. In short, whether carbs and thyroid medication or carbs alone, carbs will be a part of successfully reversing diet-induced hypothyroidism in virtually everyone.
2) Regarding iodine, this is a tricky issue. As I'm sure you know, the thyroid glad produces little T3. It mainly produces T4 which is then converted to T3 in the liver. The lion's share of T3 used in the body is produced in the liver. T3 has a very short half life, where T4 does not. T4 is therefore the "storage" form of the hormone, being converted to T3 as necessary. Thus, in virtually every case, before there can be T3 there must be T4.
Having said that, I agree that some people are poor converters of T4 to T3. Some substances, like nicotine, upregulate the conversion of T4 to T3 (no doubt explaining the weight loss attributed to cigarette smoking). One substance that interferes with the conversion is cortisol, which shuttles more T4 to reverse-T3 (rT3). rT3 is terrible because it not only wastes T4 in a sense, but blocks the triiodothyronine (T3) receptor so that real T3 cannot activate it. Again, one of the best ways to raise cortisol is to go on a low carb diet. We also know from Ray Peat that the liver's conversion of T3 is slowed when the liver runs low on glucose. So again, we are back to maximizing glucose intake.
One way to avoid this is simply to give T3. However, this is very hard on the adrenals as discussed above, since you are forcing the reaction in the body. In addition, T3 must be dosed in small amounts at regular intervals throughout the day or else you will leave yourself worse off.
I can't agree, though, that iodine is precisely like giving T4 only medications. Those meds dump T4 into the body, which the body has to dispose of in one way or other. If the body is afflicted, it is more like than not to convert it to rT3 with a net result that the thyroid status declines. In addition, taking exogenous hormones will slow thyroid function, meaning that if it you haven't dosed right the patient is worse off.
Iodine is simply the raw material for thyroid hormone. If the thyroid gland has outside signals not to produce/use thyroid hormone, the patient is not necessarily any worse off. Obviously, overdoing iodine can retard the gland's function. And I agree that it will not help people who are poorly converting T3 to T4. I suspect, however, that when you do your best to mitigate stress and increase carbohydrate consumption, the number of people who mysteriously are poorly converting T4 to T3 will decline significantly.
Is there a reason why "white rice" is recommended over brown rice?
But many people did not obtain bad thyroids just by eating low carb diets and low calories. That is an assumption to say eating many carbs will help a lot of people. Everyone has different ways of damaging themselves – and there are different hormones involved and disrupted in the process.
With rT3 – if the body caries it in abundance, and has already burned out glands that produce little cortisol, how would someone be able to take more T4 from ANy source and expect to get better from such a large amount of rT3 still present and continuing to be present? Taking T3 only medication seems like one of the best ways out of it than to dick around with iodine. Especially for someone with poor digestion, eating a ton of food for hopes of speeding metabolism may not be as wise as simply providing the T3 which the body needs just to be rebalanced. It is not forever.
Ben, I'm glad to see that someone else knows their thyroid facts well.
I completely agree that diet is a really important part of hypothyroidism. I would never dream of telling someone that thyroid supplementation alone can fix their problems. I never said that. I want people to acknowledge that diet, while it can help, is not a cure-all for most people and most people do need assistance.
I never said that giving iodine to someone is "precisely" like giving T4. But I know that iodine has a role with T4, and I think that for patients that convert T4 to mostly RT3, they should steer clear of anything that will enhance T4 (and therefore RT3 production, since the T4 is converting incorrectly,) until the RT3 problem is fixed. We are in agreement on that!
Your stance on eating more carbohydrates to help the T4 to T3 conversion is similar to Ray Peat's. I agree with alot of what RP has to say about thyroid function.
"Twice it has seemed like avocado set my system off (bloating), not sure if anyone else has that effect."
OMG, Avacado does that to me too! It also gives me painful stomach cramps (probably related to gas and bloating). I simply don't eat it because it makes me feel like death for a few hours afterward. Maybe it isn't the fat that's the problem maybe it's the fiber. There's a lot of it in an avacado, 6 grams per serving.
I don't think I'm sensitive to monounsaturated fat. I've practically lived off of olive oil for years at a time.
I've had very good luck adding coconut oil into my diet. I've gotten rid of the peanut, almond and olive oil I used to use for frying/sauteeing and use more coconut oil. I also make a shake a couple times a week with a few tablespoons of it in there. I've been eating more curries with coconut milk as well. My system seems to tolerate it and I've noticed an improvement in my dandruff since using it.
I've been eating way more pork too, just because of convenience. Bacon is a quick and easy meat to cook and add to dishes.
Since cleaning up the oils in my diet and opting for more saturated fat, I've noticed that I'm suddenly more sensitive to vegetable oils. Now when I go out to eat at my favorite greasy spoon I order eggs because I know that they cook those in butter. The hashbrowns which I love are soaked in veggie oil and I always pay the price for eating those–loose stools, cramps, bloating.
are you the chap who had candida and SIBDO?
If so, hows the white rice with regards to candida?
(I think you may have missed the query)
Hold up a sec.
"Some substances, like nicotine, upregulate the conversion of T4 to T3 (no doubt explaining the weight loss attributed to cigarette smoking.)"
I'm really hoping that whole sentence is one big typo. Where on earth did you read that nicotine helps the conversion of T4 into T3? That has to be the absolute worst way to help the thyroid. Also, there are plenty of overweight smokers and people who gain weight when they smoke.
Yes, I missed your comment; my apologies. I have not found any problems from SIBO/candida and white rice. Frankly, I never understood the argument that white rice is worse from a yeast/bacteria standpoint than brown. If anything, the brown has more potential for the yeast since it has more micronutrients as well as indigestible matter (fiber) that we have no hope of digesting or assimilating. This is consistent with the advice of Dr. Pimentel, the pioneering doctor behind the SIBO theory, who openly advocates refined starch for people with bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine.
I have a lot of trouble with brown rice for some reason. If I eat it, within 12 hours I will have very loose, pale stools with intact rice grains visible. This happens every single time. For a period, I even ate it alone to isolate the variable. The effect is unmistakable.
I don't have any such problems with white rice. I suspect that something in the intact grain irritates my digestive tract. The fact that literally billions of people around the world spend extra time, energy, and money to refine rice (see, e.g., Middle Easterners, Asians, Indians, Latinos) leads me to believe that I am not alone in this.
Seems like we agree more than we disagree. Diet is important, but not a panacea by itself, for resolving thyroid disorders. I apologize if my original comments conveyed a different opinion.
The nicotine comment was not a typo. Here is at least one source noting the effect: http://www.csa.com/discoveryguides/thyroid/overview.php I first learned of this from a very highly regarded neuro-endocrinologist in California.
Note, though, that I did not advocate nicotine. I was just using it as an example of something that can affect conversion rates. It is easy to think of people as being inherently poor converters, but I think any such effect is largely due to environmental factors rather than inherent makeup.
I agree that T3 only meds would be a direct way to attack hypothyroidism, but this is fraught with its own problems. As I mentioned, it is easy to overly tax the adrenals with T3. Moreover, you are slowing or shutting down your own thyroid production through negative feedback. Thus, without sufficient amounts, you are literally making yourself worse off. Finally, taking too much T3 at one time can have effects similar to rT3. I asked Ray Peat about this very thing in e-mail correspondence. He responded as follows:
"When Cytomel [a T3 only med] is taken in single doses much larger than about 10 mcg the liver is likely to activate the inactivating enzymes to prevent hypermetabolism, with effects similar to excess rT3."
All of the above means that T3 only supplementation is like riding the edge of a knife. Too little and your net thyroid hormone levels decline; too much and you tax the adrenals and promote enzymes that inactivate T3 (much like rT3). And, of course, the medicine will have to be taken in small doses throughout the day.
This does not mean it should not be attempted, only that it should not be taken lightly. This is why I think it is best to first try and give the body the very things that it needs to produce its own thyroid hormone (i.e., iodine, lauric acid, vitamin A, glucose, and protein).
Iodine is not a drug; your thyroid gland unequivocally needs it to produce thyroid hormone. Ensuring that you have enough seems to me to be a no-brainer. (This is not to mention the clear beneficial effects that iodine has on hormone dependent cancers through its beneficial effects on estrogen metabolism, but that is another story.)
thanks for comments.
Regarding white rice:
After trying various low carb and higher carb (fibrous carbs) I am beginning to think the advice for candida is questionable.
Eat low carb and you get as hungry as anything and put undue stress on the body. Eat high fibre carbs (brown rice, oats, buckwheat etc) and one gets gas and stool discomfort. And symptoms dont get any better.
The only trouble with white rice eating for me anyway is constipation.
Ah, a merry conundrum.
For someone with too much rT3..is it really that easy to overdose it? I had heard from Harper, that on an adrenal support board, people took T3 only meds for (I think) 3 months, with huge results compared to regular T3 and T4 medication (or, medication similar to supplementing with iodine only). This is what I mean by dickin around with iodine – if you try to help a thyroid overloaded with rT3 with iodine only, I doubt it would be enough, and perhaps even keep thyroid at it's place.
As another example, my temperature has gone up just a little from what I think was taking out nutri-meds (that contain T4).
And yes I had read in an interview that Peat had mentioned to spread out T3 medicine (though, he also was definitely not against it when I brought it up in my e-mail when I mentioned rT3) – it would be very different if someone had no excess of rT3 and was taking too much T3 medicine at one time. The liver is already struggling to convert T4 to T3 from the rT3, overstimulating the (maybe already weak) adrenal glands. I don't think it's as cautious as you may be thinking. Perhaps for a normal person with a regular liver..is that specified in your question regarding T3 dosing?
Thanks Ben. I think that you're misunderstanding Chloe, though: she's talking about more complicated types of hypothyroidism that other things haven't helped with, and like you said, you're talking about something that's diet-based and probably milder. Right?
Am I right about this: Ray Peat meant is that 10mcg doses AT A TIME, not total for the day, is what should be taken? I think that's what you're saying. 10mcg of T3 is actually an awfully low amount. I know that 1 grain of Armour Thyroid contains 9mcg of T3 and 38mcg of T4. Considering that 70% of T4 converts to T3 in a person with no conversion problems, the amount of total T3 in a 1-grain dose of Armour would be significantly higher than a plain dose of 10mcg T3. I know of tons of people who take 3 and 4 grain doses at a time, with no indication of T3 inhibition in their Free T3 blood tests.
Are we in agreement that to help RT3, there needs to be no T4 present so that the conversion to RT3 doesn't happen? It seems to me that the thyroid/TSH would NEED to be suppressed, temporarily, through the use of T3-only medication until the underlying problem is fixed.
Eager to hear your response.
"My best advice would be to eat whatever you want, and as much of it as possible." – Matt Stone
I think I have figured Matt out. He wants you to get fat so that you will become even more desperate to lose weight. That way he can sell you over priced junk e-books that he wrote even thou he has no credibility on the subject. He claims that eating until you pop will raise your metabolism, but he is only partial right. The fatter you are the harder your body has to work to stay alive so yes your metabolism will rise but you will also be fatter. The only real way to raise your metabolism is to exercise. You don't have to starve your self to loose weight, but you do have to burn more calories than you eat. Advocating over eating is totally irresponsible.
Sorry to burst everyone's bubble, but the only way to loose the gut is to work it off. As far as diet the best advice I have to give is to eat foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Have several small meals spaced throughout the day and drink lots of water. Variety is also important because not everything we need is found in every food and by being too selective we can become deficient in vitamins or minerals.
If the adrenals are weak and causing probs, surely taking adrenal glandular to help adrenals work properly will also have a knock on effect with the thyroid and thus thyroid meds aren't needed?
please help i got digestive problems and im only 16 i also play basketball during the year in a team and espacially now in summer like 2 huors a day in the street court im from itali im 6 3 for 202 lbs and my bf is like 16% all in the waist and some in the chest i have matt ebooks and everything but cant really follow nothing what shuold i eat shuold i follow matt protocol for fat loss with more carbs for my activity? shuold i drink something with sugar if a play alot for cortisol?? shuold i eqat starch or sugar? can somone please give me an advice ? my temp in the mo0rning is 97 F
Lately I've been thinking the same thing as the Anonymous poster who is 'against' Matt Stone. I just seems like a load of rubbish compared to other bloggers who post not-for-profit stuff. I generally believe that eating a lot is not in anyone's best interest.
Here is my two bits…..
if your way overweight low carb it for awhile till you lose weight and feel good enough to start being active again.
When you get to that stage, up your carbs like matt suggests.
Being active is part ;of being healthy…walk, run, surf, hike, move more… it really helps your metabolism.
Since my license has been suspended i have been running, biking, and walking like crazy!!! I have gotten so lean… its crazy. One of my regular customers came in today and tole me that it looked like i was even leaner!!! I have been drinking lots of beer also.
Today i ran 30 minutes in my vibram five finger shoes, up huge hills by the beach and across jungly highways in the middle of the hot afternoon!!! life is great… soon i will do it all barefooted… i maybe getting as crazy as bruce lee… but i don't even care anymore… life is awesome!!!!! Eat and drink whatever you want, and get crazy… you only have one life… don't spend it in front of the t.v. or bitching about dumb shit!!!!
boost your metabolism with life movement!!! screw the food!!!
Yes, I admit, it's all a crazy money-making scam! Everybody knows that going hungry and exercising really hard is the answer. It's working so well! And it's such a great way to live your life!
Anyone can starve themselves or "work off the ol' gut." My goal is not to help people lose weight, but reach and maintain a healthy weight, with good health, energy, and spirits, while eating and exercising the exact amount that their own natural mechanisms beckon them to.
No one should settle for less than eating normal amounts of normal food with normal and sustainable amounts of exercise without weight gain. Until you've reached that point, you haven't succeeded, no matter what the scale says.
Great discussion on everything guys. The thyroid is but one bodily mechanism and it's important to remember that it's slowing down is usually not an accident or a mistake by the body, but a result of what we and prior generations have done to ourselves – namely take tons of medical and recreational drugs and druglike foods (sugar) while getting pitiful amounts of nutrients and guzzling vegetable oils and increasing our load of toxicity from environmental chemicals.
That causes a low metabolism.
Simply overriding it with medication is not the first thing to turn to. It's what we can turn to out of desperation when nothing else seems to be working or we need to dig ourselves out of too deep of a hole that we've got ourselves into.
Still, Barnes, Starr, Langer, and others have had great results in their patients. They've been able, with little counsel on much else, to restore a sense of vibrancy, reduce a myriad of symptoms, and reduce the chances of their patients getting the most lethal of diseases – namely heart disease and type II diabetes. They used desiccated thyroid, not a hodepodge of isolated thyroid hormones.
So Ben's advice to try other things first is smart. His advice for low-carbers who have run into problems to eat as many carbs as they can, at the expense of other food groups at first if need be, is accurate advice. There's no faster way to counterbalance an imbalance than to jump to the other side of the see-saw.
Drew, 8MB is the maximum load, which gives me about 8:40 to talk. That system won't be upheld forever. I'd like to begin transferring podcasts elsewhere and build an archive instead of overwriting the file every week also. I'm not a computer geek, so any help anyone wants to dish out would be thrilling. Let me know.
When I talked to Marisue at Nutri-Meds, she said that many things can be cleared up with thyroid alone, but some people, even though temps rise, have no improvement in their symptoms. It's at that time that she recommends adrenal support. I'm sorry I don't have more experience with using these, but I plan on doing a little self-experimentation on that by the end of the year to see if I can get a little insight on that.
Anyway, everyone. Sorry if I did not get to all the questions, but I've been a busy boy. I'll be away from the computer for another 4 days, but keep up the good work. Be on the lookout for Carb Wars Episode II on Tuesday or Wednesday. The anonymous posters who think my recommendation to eat more for weight loss (for a month or two at least) is retarded should certainly tune in, as that will be a lively element of the topic at hand.
I totally agree about normal being the best option.
However, it is not much medication that Harper and I are talking about. This is like the minimum. I'd hardly call it overriding with medication, or that there is very much used even. Sure, T3 is isolated, but it's not like you would use it for very long. Saying that the patients these doctors worked with who prescribed Armour (what used to be pure) is everyone's cure now a day can't be spoken as for sure.
I dabble about it often. I wonder if it's better with strictly diet or with temporary supplements – and if it even matters. Why should it – if something works, it works. The one thing I would never want is to be dependent on a drug. But there's a huge difference between using a supplement for a brief period as a surefire way to correct thyroid efficiency, then to continue to eat horrible food with a stressful life and rely on medication.
We all just want to know what will fix our condition. We're all in a different one – and for some of us who've been struggling with tons of problems, it is hard to sit back and wait years, when you could be doing something more effective and just as safe. I do not think we would be discussing this if dessicated thyroid and eating a lot had worked by now.
And it's not like everyone should go out and buy medication. Some people are just as fine simply eating some more. But this is not everyone. And I know you may have said that, but what about that percentage to which it doesn't apply? That's what I want to figure out. And when things get a little more scientific, that's when more things start to make sense.
Another great post, Matt. What this is all about is what Diana Schwarzbeing discusses thoroughly in The Schwarzbein Principle II: The Transition. This is almost NOTHING like the first Schwarzbein Principle book.
I HIGHLY recommend this book to everyone! It has changed my life almost as much as Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. I've been eating a WAPF-like diet for almost 3 years now, after having been a high-carb vegetarian for nearly 17 years. I feel that the info in this book (in combination with WAPF principles) was the missing link, the last piece of the puzzle, if you will, that I needed to heal my metabolism. Hint: your hormones (not genes or exercise) determine your metabolism, and in order to balance your hormones you have to eat balanced nutritious meals, get off sugar/toxins, get the RIGHT kind of exercise, and plenty of uninterrupted sleep. But there's so much more to it. PLEASE READ IT, it makes so much sense! All of these questions will be answered. Matt should do a post on this book, because it deserves more publicity.
Gina, if you bothered to look through the archives, you'd see that Matt does a ton of posts involving Schwarzbein's books and ideas. Just sayin'.
Before you scarf down your next plate of white rice, please consider the following:
The concept that the endocrine system needs lots of carbs for proper function, and that low-carb diets "wear out the adrenals and thyroid", is pure baloney. Humans have evolved over 2 million years on a low-carb diet, and we don't need much carbs today. Fruit/honey is seasonal, and cooked starchy plants have become a staple rather recently. This is science, not diet dogma. Don't take my word for it, go read scientific papers on anthropology, archaeology, and evolutionary biology.
If you feel bad on a prolonged natural low-carb diet, then either you're doing something wrong diet-wise (too much cooking, or too many plant foods, or bad fat/protein ratio, or too much/little food), or there's something wrong with your body and/or mind.
Remember that food and water are not the only things the body needs. If you rarely go outside, rarely exercise, obsess about food, or are unhappy, then you will be unhealthy regardless of diet.
If you're doing everything right diet-wise and lifestyle-wise, and are not feeling well, then go to a medical practitioner and get a complete physical examination, rather than playing doctor and trying to "heal your metabolism and adrenals" with rice and potatoes. Once you solve your problem, you will be able to eat a natural low-carb diet for the rest of your life, and stay in good health.
If you want to fix your endocrine system, read the works of Melvin page (you can buy them from PPNF). This man has figured out how to diagnose and cure endocrine problems that often go undiagnosed, by using the Ca/P ratio, anthropometric measurements, and urine specific gravity. And his cure requires temporary tiny doses of dried glands and/or sex hormones, NOT plates full of white rice and potatoes.
The notion that lots of carbs will heal your metabolism is ridiculous. It'll just make you unhealthy in the long run. This stuff is common sense. Starchy plants are disgusting unless cooked, seasoned, and covered in fat. No animal prepares food like this, and neither should we.
And by the way, a meal consisting of grass-fed beef and organic vegetables is nutritionally superior to junk such as pizza by all objective standards. If you feel better on pizza, then either something is wrong with your body (for example, you're not making enough HCl to properly digest the meat), or you have an unhealthy emotional attachment to food. The pizza reminds you of your birthday party, or your first date, or some other special occasion. Food is for survival and nutrition, not entertainment. There is no need to eat any junk food whatsoever. Or maybe you feel better on pizza, because you're lazy, and glad that you no longer have to travel half-way across the city twice a week to the farmers market to get your food. And you no longer have to spend hours in the kitchen preparing meals, and then cleaning up the mess you made.
Stay healthy, and leave the rice for the birds and the potatoes for the pigs,
"Stay healthy, and leave the rice for the birds and the potatoes for the pigs,
I had never had a health problem in my life until I went on the low carb diet you describe.
I bet a lot of people here were once thinking just like you are. But this kind of reasoning is flawed. We are not like our ancestors anymore. We have probably been shaped more by epigenetics than by "our genes that are still 99.99% the same as in paleolithic"… epigenetics can change nutritional requirements of an organism in a single generation. Read a little about that and stop pushing your views, because some of us here have tried your suggestions already and got badly hurt by it. Thanks.
Oh and you really should think of an explanation for the Gaelics and Swiss that W.A.P. was observing.. they were eating cooked seasoned grains as a staple and were super healthy!
to the above poster, it's not his fault you developed health problems. High carb give me health problems, but I figured this out thru trial and error, no one is to blame. Just because someone's opinion differs from your, does not make it an invalid or inaccurate point. Please keep an open mind.
Please provide the actual proof that humans who evolved didn't eat starches or fruits as a big staple. I don't think you can. It's no different than raw foodists claiming man never cooked his food until "recently" (vegetable oils are recent, k? 10,000 or 100,000 years ago is not). There is large debate about historical man, and the fact that there are (or were) healthy indigenous people living on all kinds of low carb, high carb diets means that there is no one specific one that people are destined to live on (unless there is actual logical sense behind the reasoning, not just supposed "studies" that you haven't sited or explained). We are supposed to be omnivorous, not allergic or unable to tolerate any new thing we come in counter with. It's called adaptation. I think the biggest crime on humanity is the industrialization of food – not eating something we were smart enough to discover. Like having the brains to make something that tastes good – fat, starch, salt, protein; and putting it over fire.
There is no way, with the evidence of these robust people who lived and live on high carb diets, that you could say "there is something wrong with you" if you can't tolerate low carb diets. If the focus is on endocrine system – you wouldn't be saying that.
You are a contradiction to your own words. Some how endocrine system (applies to a lot of things inside the body – not just metabolism and thyroid) doesn't work..just because? And Melvin Page can cure it with extract? There are things that can worsen a thyroid condition – things such as an excess of adrenal hormones, made worse by eating nothing but fat and protein. Especially certain amino acids (found in high amounts in muscle meat). Specific unsaturated fats..additives..hormones inside the body such as estrogen..
Have you ever heard of instinct? How many human beings say they'd be happier without all forms of carbs? Or is it just because they're doing their low carb diet wrong. Happiness, mood, what have you, can all be hugely effected by thyroid function itself. If low carb helped thyroid so much, why would people have to adjust their diets, go see a doctor (who will tell them they're a.o.k.), and see a psychologist – just to eat low carb.
So I may agree that overeating isn't the only thing that someone can do, but you can't go on and say that if someone has a healthy endocrine system that eating a lot of carbs will mess it up. Not with the proof Price and others discovered already. You can try to, though. But I don't see logic in anything you just wrote.
can anyone link me to ray peat's webpage? I want to know his theories too. Thank you!
When you reduce your calories below your "maintenace-level" your metabolism will slow. But advising someone to eat more calories because metabolism is slow seems to be a somewhat doubtful venture. I started my high-calorie-experiment in January with about 8 – 10 weeks of overfeeding. A whole lot of butter with everything. I gained about 5 kg. After reducing calories (but still higher than baseline) and fat and ramping up the carbs over time I gained additional 2 kg. My basal temperature improved a little bit but it’s still low. I am not sure how to lose the extra weight. I don’t want to diet which would most likely slow my metabolism but keeping the extra fat isn’t exactly what I dreamed of.
So raisng calories and/or carbs might work but it’s no "sure thing". Is there anyone who raised his/her metabolism with added calories/carbs while returning to his/her former weight (or keeping weight stable in the first place)?
You'd loose weight after you figured out how to efficiently get out of a hypothyroid state (as a low temperature will indicate). It's the slightly difficult part to figure out exactly how – I guess depending on the person. Especially with companies screwing around with the natural thyroid(like Armour)'s original ingredients, it'd be hard to rely on now for everyone (like what Barnes used to do). Not to mention Mark Starr's point if someone is "Type 1" or "Type 2" – some people simply deficient in T4 can see results with something as evil as Synthyroid. Others..trouble with T3 conversion..rT3 excess..too little overall T3 and T4..etc. it's something worth self researching.
For me to have enough energy and maintain weight, I have to balance carbs/protein/fat and exercise portion control. I need carbs but I limit them to before exercise, work or long walks and limit fat and protein for better digestion. I practice the Asian concept of only eating until you are 80% full, and I never eat past 7 PM. Hope this helps!
"Before you scarf down your next plate of white rice, please consider the following:"
I had to laugh I was literally eating a giant rice ball while reading this.
Gosh it seems like its hater week around here.
To the haters: I've been following Matt's advice for 2 months now. I haven't gained any weight, I've seen small improvements in my basal temps (A few days I got up over 98!), allergies. My digestion is still not where I'd like and I'd like to eventually loose weight.
As for the rest/stress part of the equation, I really think that is tied into diet as well. I sleep better and have more consistent moods when I stay away from fructose, caffeine and get enough calories with plenty of saturated fat. A huge part of my stress was self-generated from the ups and down of a sugar junkie in a low-blood sugar state.
Great Post, Matt! I’d suspected our success going low-carb was primarily due to getting rid of all the sugar & flour, but this goes way beyond that. You’ve brought my thinking to a new level.
Harper, Ben, chlOe, thank you guys for thinking through the thyroid. I’ve learned so much.
Off topic from thyroid & Low-Carb Rehab:
Have you guys checked out Matt’s e-book ?Kitchen Tips?? It’s amazing. I learned to make ghee from that book and have been loving it. However, I just read that WAPF is moving ghee from the ?Best? to the ?Good? category in the upcoming Shopping Guide. If you’ve ever seen the guide you know ?Good? isn’t really good ? it lists stuff you would find in the organic section at the local chain supermarket.
Carolyn Graff from yahoo’s ?Discussing NT? group says:
"In fact, ALL of the pasteurized butters will be moved to Good. Ghee will also be moved to Good. . . . . Ghee is being moved to Good because it is heated, not raw. Raw, organic, grassfed butter would be better. . . . ."
Does this make sense? By the time it’s ghee, it’s not butter ? it’s clarified oil. And wouldn’t clarified oil be more similar to rendered fat than the butter from which it’s made? Stability, high smoke point, whatever? Tallow might be preferable, but I’m thinking ghee should still be up there in the "Best" column too.
Are the WAPF folks just trying to encourage as much raw goodness as possible?
(Off thyroid & Low-carb rehab & ghee:
Does anyone else get a weird vibe that all these Anonymi (aka Jenny’s haters) are Bruce K. in disguise? Or is it just me?)
I'm an anonymous poster and I've made a couple contrary-to-popular-belief statements on this post in particular. I am not Bruce. Having a different opinion doesn't equal 'hating'. I wish people would take a step back and realize that without criticism, we would never be challenged to figure anything out LISA.
Please accept my apologies for calling you Bruce, Anonymous 7:44am.
Hope you enjoyed that giant rice ball Jenny. Once again, you made me laugh out loud.
If rice is for the birds, and potatoes for the pigs, then I want to be eating whatever they are. Their health seems to vastly superior to homo sapiens.
Isaac, I rather enjoyed your comment. You are an intelligent guy who doesn't swallow a bunch of B.S. from the mainstream. I of course have a soft spot for anyone who is hip to Melvin Page, certainly a top 5 author on the subject of human health.
Page understood that the primary dangers in the diet were refined sugars, caffeine, and other drugs – and that eliminating them could clear up just about any health problem in a large number of people – but not all. He didn't waste precious energy going off about the organicness or rawness of butter and whether the cow chewed it's grass four or five times before swallowing, what latitude the grass was grown at, and whether or not the milk used for the butter was milked on a day in which the S&P 500 was up or down.
Nope, he kept it simple.
Sven, THE TRANSITION, as Schwarzbein so loves to call it, takes time. It sounds to me like you were improving. This next post will focus around this very carefully. If you're looking for someone who went up in weight, stabilized, and then came back down to prior levels then look no further. That has been the case for me, and I believe anyone who takes the process all the way to completion will have that experience.
I too felt like Schwarzbein was a missing link – she also being a proponent of diet/lifestyle/natural hormones in concert to achieve metabolic health. I did not heed her warnings about going too low in carbohydrates though. The diet worked, so I tried to follow it religiously, even while the initial progress I had made was slowly unravelling. Carbohydrates can have a fantastic role in counterbalancing imbalances, that's all there is to it. Typical low-carb dogma surrounding insulin (the less the better) is wrong. The right amount of insulin and every other bodily chemical is what a person should seek. That is a healthy state of optimal equilibrium. Carbohydrates can be lessened to help someone achieve equilibrium. At other times, carbohdyrates can be raised to achieve the same equilibrium – like cycles of rain and sun.
Matt, I was reading through your old posts a bit and saw you got rid of your asthma and allergies eating raw milk and other organic food. But here you say that "pizza was the clear winner". Is this only in comparison to low-carb or am I missing something?
Sorry for not responding sooner. I was out of town for a few days. Hope you catch this.
The more you say, the more I think we pretty much agree. You are right on the money about Peat's comment re: T3; he was talking about at one time and recommends several such small doses throughout the day.
And yes, if you have a problem with rT3, you would need to go with a T3-only approach.
Keep in mind, though, that everyone converts some T4 to rT3. This is natural. The problem is when the conversion is excessive so that the ratio of T3:rT3 is something less than 10:1 (or perhaps 14:1).
The issue of rT3 is both complicated and controversial. I've had some doctors say that it is not really a concern at all and other doctors say that it can be avoided simply by taking things that favor the correct deiodinase enzyme.
My own sense is that rT3 is there in order to prevent the body from literally eating itself up. In other words, there is some mechanism that is preventing the body from using T4 correctly and that there is a good reason for this. In my mind, this means one should tread carefully in trying to bypass this with T3-only medications.
The most easy example would be people who are fasting or have poor nutrient status, perhaps due to poor digestion. This puts people like me in a tough spot, because optimal thyroid function would enhance digestion, yet poor digestion is itself a cause of the hypothyroid state.
On the T4->T3 conversion, I recently read comments that selenium helps facilitate this conversion. This may explain why comment advice is to take iodine with selenium; iodine would ramp up the T4 (obviously) and the selenium helps ensure conversion as needed to T3.
I think I mentioned that an excess rT3 causes a hypothyroid.. Mark Starr states this as "Type 2" –
"…results when high levels of Reverse T3 are blocking active T3 from entering cell receptors and doing their job. Test results for these conditions are almost always normal, because tests can’t show cellular resistance. They just show how much of the thyroid hormones are in the blood, regardless of if it is being used or not. The thyroid hormone’s circulation/quantity looks too normal for anyone to consider ?hypothyroid,? and it goes untreated."
And Harper also added..
"Reverse T3 Dominance is a condition where the body stops effectively converting T4 into T3. Basically, it's a conversion malfunction within the body. High cortisol (adrenal stress) prevents conversion of T4 into T3, which reduces active T3 levels and the T4 will convert into RT3 instead. Even after the crisis has passed or cortisol levels fall, the body will still make too much RT3 and does not ?reset? itself."
Therefore, any medicated or from-the-diet T4 can still convert into rT3 inside the body because of the disturbance the overproduction of cortisol had brought. For this reason, I find it wise to directly correct the problem by simply providing small small amounts of T3 throughout the day, as Peat recommended. One women saw huge results spreading it out rather than taking it all at once.
I think eating selenium sources is smart. Iodine..perhaps not for this situation. Still, it's much easier to just point to supplemental T3 as an effective approach..starting low dose, spread throughout the day and increasing ever so slowly, just until symptoms are gone and temperature is at the goal. Doesn't mean everyone should do it – just people who think that they have a problem with this.
Why we're thinking rT3 is an option?
From the same link which Harper described the condition of RT3..
"High RT3 is not diagnosed by a reference range, but rather the ratio of RT3 to T3. In the book Stop The Thyroid Madness by Janie Bowthorpe, M.E.D., the ratio is described as taking your Free T3 and dividing it by your RT3. Multiply that by 100, and there’s your result. Anything lower than 20 is an RT3 problem. For example, here’s my result:
Free T3 (2.57) divided by RT3 (34) is 0.075. Multiplied by 100, my result is 7.5. I have a major Reverse T3 problem."
I actually really agree with your idea that RT3 could actually be a defense mechanism to keep the body from eating itself up. That's a new way of looking at it for me and it completely makes sense. My story on that is that I had anorexia when I was 15-16, and an increased production of RT3 seems like a logical explanation of my body trying to slow down my metabolism so that I wouldn't die. My cortisol was very high then from the bodily stress, which I know suppresses thyroid as well and increases RT3 production.
The problem is, it's 3 years later and my nutrition has vastly improved and I've been at a stable, healthy weight for quite awhile. I had an Ft3/Rt3 ratio done a month ago (cool that you know about that!) and it was a horrible 7.5. I still have alot of RT3 in my system and need to clear it out. But I DO see your point.
I think its extremely annoying that endocrinologists won't acknowledge that RT3 is a powerful inhibitor of T3. Actually, there was a published article in an endocrinology journal in 1977 by Inder J. Chopra that says:
"Most endocrinologists believe that reverse T3 (rT3) is just and inactive metabolite with no physiologic effect, which is not the case, however. This study and subsequent others demonstrate that rT3 is a more potent inhibitor of T4 to T3 conversion than PTU (propylthio?uracil), which is a medication used to decrease thyroid function in hyperthyroidism. In fact, rT3 is 100 times more potent than PTU at reducing T4 to T3 conversion. Clearly, rT3 not just an inactive metabolite."
So, needless to say, it's very frustrating to try to watch doctors explain away serious problems by saying that high RT3 is not a big deal. I believe that Ray Peat mentions that a good way to correct the deiodinase enzyme is to eat enough fruit and protein (sorry, I know how anti-fructose most people are here.) So I'm exploring that. I also read about selenium being a factor in converting T4 to T3, but I have my doubts as to whether that's enough for some people who are already pretty damaged.
Thanks for your insight.
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