Using A Ketogenic Diet For Hypothyroid
People everywhere are using a ketogenic diet to massively boost their body’s ability to function and heal. Given that the ketogenic diet has been shown to help alleviate a number of conditions, I have people constantly asking me if a ketogenic diet is right for them. One that I get a lot is people with hypothyroidism. While opinion varies in the field, I think a ketogenic diet for hypothyroid conditions can be super beneficial if you do it right.
Of course, with anything pertaining to a health condition, you have to take into account unique factors per individual and per condition when designing a health plan. The following is the ketogenic plan I would recommend for someone dealing with hypothyroidism and factors you should consider when following one.
A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet designed to influence the metabolism in a way that promotes fat burning over sugar. Burning fat for energy is more efficient and produces less inflammation than burning sugar. That being said, there are a number of benefits attributed to a ketogenic diet.
For one, reducing inflammation boosts just about every process in the body. Chronic inflammation is damaging to the cells and especially to the mitochondria. Mitochondria produce all of the energy for the body and dictate how well your body is able to function.
Chronic inflammation also distracts the immune system which can contribute to autoimmunity, a common cause of hypothyroid.
Additionally, this style of eating encourages a healthy metabolism by burning off excess fat and stabilising blood sugar levels. Without going into too much detail, a ketogenic diet simply enables the body to function at a much more efficient level and this may allow for a more balance production of thyroid hormones.
Ketogenic Diet and Thyroid
There is an idea in the functional medicine community that following a ketogenic diet is bad for thyroid health. This idea is not supported by research. There is some evidence that following a ketogenic diet may lower T3 levels however. This does not necessarily qualify as hypothyroid and may actually be beneficial.
In fact, this lowered T3 is seen with calorie restriction and protein restriction as well. Evidence seems to point to lowered T3 as a physiological adaptation in the body that allows for a deeper state of ketosis and preserved muscle mass (this is a good thing). This is given that TSH and T4 levels remain normal.
This is where it is really important to monitor how you are feeling on a day-to-day basis and determine how you are responding to a ketogenic diet. T3 levels may be slightly depressed, however if you are feeling very good then it is not really a concern.
Like I said this drop in T3 allows for deeper ketosis and preserved muscle mass. Additionally, and interestingly enough, low T3 levels are actually associated with a longer lifespan in research.
One of the huge benefits for hypothyroidism with a ketogenic diet is lowered inflammation. Lowering inflammation can assist with hypothyroid by improving T4-T3 conversion and reducing autoimmune activity. Especially in cases of autoimmune thyroiditis, such as Hashimoto, this effect can be extremely beneficial.
Many people with hypothyroidism have found that they feel great on a ketogenic diet. There are some considerations I would suggest reviewing before starting one yourself. They mostly have to do with supporting healthy thyroid hormone conversion.
Blood Sugar Imbalance
Rapidly fluctuating blood sugar contributes to the formation of inflammatory proteins called advanced glycolytic enzymes (AGEs). These AGEs have a high affinity for thyroid tissues and may inhibit thyroid hormone production.
Luckily, following a ketogenic diet will automatically drop and stabilize insulin and blood sugar. That is as long as you control stress levels and avoid common food sensitivities.
Stress and reactive foods can cause cortisol responses that stimulate the release of glucose, causing blood sugar spikes even when not consuming a lot of sugars. Controlling these factors will drastically improve your chances of success.