Thyroid Disorders and Low Carb Diets

It is estimated that some 59 million people in the US suffer from a thyroid condition, many of whom may not even realize they have the condition.

The thyroid gland is one of the biggest endocrine glands in the body and is the shape of a butterfly and located in the neck.  Its purpose is to control how the body spends energy, makes proteins and how it reacts to hormones.  It also produces the triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) hormones which control our metabolism.

Most sufferers of thyroid conditions suffer from an under-active thyroid gland, or hypothyroidism, which can cause a range of problems including weight gain, low energy levels, sexual dysfunction, infertility, hair loss, anxiety and depression.

An over-active thyroid or hyperthyroidism is much less common but can also make patients struggle to lose weight.  People with both of these disorders often find that traditional low fat, low calorie diets not only don’t work for them in terms of weight loss, but in some cases can actually make their condition worse.

Using Low Carb Diets to Lose Thyroid Disorder Weight Gain

People with thyroid disorders will typically find it extremely difficult to lose weight, but many have found that by sticking to a low GI or low carb diet they can effectively control their weight.

Supporters of low carbs diets believe that people with malfunctioning endocrine systems can greatly benefit from the metabolic changes that a low carb diet brings about.  The low carb diet’s ability to make the body burn fat without starving it of calories has helped many thyroid disorder patients to lose their excess weight.

Some people however, have found that extremely low carb diets have been detrimental to their weight loss, as they have suffered problems processing the large amounts of protein they were consuming. Some patients with thyroid issues also found that they were consuming too many calories for there to be a positive effect on their metabolism.

Many have found the South Beach, low GI diet more beneficial to them than the much stricter Atkins diet since it advocates lean meats and a wider variety of fruit and vegetables.  It is important to note that no diet alone will help you lose weight if you suspect you have a thyroid problem, a low carb diet should be used in conjunction with prescribed medication and exercise and the advice of your doctor.

Is a Thyroid Disorder Stopping You From Losing Weight on a Low Carb Diet?

From a different angle, some dieters who already on low carb diets such Atkins, suddenly find that they are having trouble losing weight, or are actually gaining weight instead.  We have found that quite often a thyroid problem is the reason for this.

A thyroid disorder can happen at any time and as you age it becomes more likely. The thyroid gland suddenly stops producing enough of the hormones needed to regulate your metabolism. Where before you found you were making great process towards your goal weight on your low carb diet, suddenly the weight loss stops or reverses.

Luckily hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are easy to diagnose. One way to do this is to track your temperature over the course of a few days.  By taking your oral temperature four to five times a day over several days you can see what your average temperature is.  An average temperature below 98ºF usually indicates an underactive thyroid; other symptoms of hypothyroidism include dry skin, brittle nails, hair loss, depression, lack of energy and insomnia. Your doctor will be able to test to see if you have the condition and give you the appropriate medication which should kick-start your low carb diet again.


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