hypothyroid problem? low carb or high carb?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 11, 2012 at 9:40 PM

I have been VERY strict paleo for about 4 months... I am a 20 year old female, 5'2 , 112 lbs. Through out the duration of paleo I have always had very little energy... and during my first month of paleo I had a lot of problems with a swollen thyroid. It is painful to breathe and my voice is raspy, I am always cold, tired, etc. Saying that- when I went to the doctors my results came back 'normal', despite my symptoms and seriously swollen gland. I noticed that after a while my gland wasn't as swollen but I still felt tired all the time.

I have been very low carb for the majority of the past four months... very little fruit, no starches, no grains, etc. Saying that, I am wondering if going LC is what messed up my thyroid. Recently I have been eating much more fruit than usual, and eating a potato a day... I feel like I have a bit :more energy, but now I am getting ridiculously hungry all the time AND my thyroid is swollen again. :(

I am SO confused, I was under the impresssion that by uping my carb intake I would be helping my thyroid, and now that I have.... I am experiencing hypothyroid symptomps again:(

I got off birth control about 8 months ago, and have yet to get my period, which also is concerning. I have been tested for PCOS, but again... everything has come back as 'normal'.

I know that going back to a SAD is not the way to go, but I don't know what else to do! Today I did lots of searching and thought perhaps my thyroid problem was down to the fact that I was low on iodine/selenium? I went out and bought some thyroid support supplements...

I am just wondering really what I am doing wrong here, and if anyone has any helpful suggestions or similar experiences, please share!!! I would be so grateful if I could get some help to figure this out!!



on August 12, 2012
at 02:46 AM

Oh, FWIW, 80 grams of starch carbs like white rice or potato works for me.



on August 12, 2012
at 02:44 AM

^ This. Absolutely. I'm hypothyroid and PFD works great for me. VLC made me feel like poop.



on August 11, 2012
at 11:32 PM

I'd suggest moderate carb rather than low carb. Check perfecthealthdiet.com. There is a lot there on thyroid and low carb problems



on August 11, 2012
at 10:18 PM

have you thought of moderate carb?

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7 Answers


on August 11, 2012
at 10:32 PM


You may want to take an iodine supplement of 150 mg (i.e. kelp) - a local health food store with a dispensary should have it.

It may be that you don't have enough iodine in your diet based on the symptoms of feeling cold.

Sugar and Carbs

Eating too much fruit (particularly high sugar bananas and mangoes) and too much starch (i.e. potatoes) will boost your hunger.

A really safe level of fruit consumption is something like 2 pieces of medium fruit (i.e. apple, orange)/handful of berries/banana halves.

You could probably hit an upper limit of about 4-5 - though your in a kind of sliding danger zone depending on long you've gotten off grains.

The fructose in the fruit is a particular problem too in that it will boost your hunger by interfering with insulin just like eating grains.

Thyroid function also requires that you keep your blood sugar levels at a healthy range.

If you're going to eat any kind of carbs fruit is your best bet - just make sure to boost your protein AND fat intake so you don't have to eat so much carbs.

I've been on hard core Paleo for little over a year - I rarely take in actual sugar beyond 10 g in a day - usually none.

The rest of my carbs come from vegetables - I no longer consume any fruit or berries.

It's doable as long as your fat intake is high - I'm talking the equivalent of three avocadoes or the use of butter in a similar range.

Plus a lot of protein - at least four handfuls of lean wild protein.

I've been eating wild salmon - a seafood that should have some traces of iodine.


It may be that you have hypoglycemia - where your body releases too much insulin when you eat carbohydrates.

Note if you've been eating grains hard core for a long time before going paleo it will take a while to completely heal the damage, which means you are likely still recovering from insulin resistance (i.e. your cells are still partly deaf to insulin so your blood sugar system isn't fully repaired or working).

You'll want to keep your fasting blood sugar at around 75 mg/dL and your post-prandial blood sugar at around/below 120 (this is your blood sugar 2 hours after a meal).

You'll probably want to pick up a blood sugar meter while you're trying to recover just to keep tabs on things.

If you need any help feel free to contact me on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/atlasnutrition) or Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/AtlasHealthNutrition).


on August 11, 2012
at 10:18 PM

Gluten free diets have been shown to help autoimmune (Hashimoto's thyroiditis) hypothyroidism. Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, etc can actually interfere with thyroid function in those of us with hypothyroidism, so you may want to examine your diet for that sort of thing.

However...however. Have you seen an endocrinologist, or are you seeing a GP/internist? What's "normal"...your TSH? Did they run any other tests? What range of "normal" is the lab using for TSH values? (Some labs are STILL using old values for "normal" on TSH even though the standards were changed years ago.) But TSH is absolutely NOT the only story for thyroid issues!

Did they do a thyroid ultrasound? Do you have other symptoms such as hair falling out, dry skin, thinning eyebrows? There is SO much to thyroid issues that is overlooked or just not known about. I highly recommend going over to Stop The Thyroid Madness and having a read. And asking for a referral to an endocrinologist.



on August 12, 2012
at 02:00 AM

Oxalate can play a role in thyroid conditions. If you type oxalate and thyroid into google schoolar you'll find thousands of scientific articles about the thyroid storing oxalate crystals. This is a common place for our bodies to store excess oxalate from the blood stream that the kidneys can't keep up with. In fact, this study http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2435146 shows that 79 of 100 routine autopsies showed calcium oxalate in the thyroid. Obviously this is a common condition and not a cause for worry in itself, but some people with poor gut function and high oxalate diets will absorb way too much oxalate into their bloodstream which is commonly stored in tissues such as the thyroid. Many people find some relief of their thyroid symptoms when they heal their gut function and restrict their oxalate content to a medium or low oxalate diet (40-60 mg. a day is considered low oxalate).

A good place to explore the low oxalate diet and to ask questions from other people who have healed (or improved) their thyroid function on a low oxalate diet is the Trying Low Oxalates Yahoo Group at http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/Trying_Low_Oxalates/


on August 12, 2012
at 01:18 AM

Feeling cold, being cold, having a lower than normal body temperature is a symptom of under active thyroid. You may want to see an endocrinologist. Today GPs and Family practice doctors are not as good at evaluating thyroid functions as they were 50 years ago. (For example 50 years ago if you had high cholesterol the first thing they looked at was thyroid, now the first thing they want to do is write a prescription for Lipitor).

If you don't have insurance or can't afford to see an endocrinologist you may want to stop eating raw Cruciferous vegetables such as brocoli and supplement iodine supplement of 150 mg (i.e. kelp) as mentioned above.

If you do return to your GP there is a chance your thyroid would be diagnosed, however, there is a greater chance you will be given an antidepressant. It happened to my mother.


on August 11, 2012
at 10:18 PM

Sounds complex. I would check out http://bonesandhormones.com/fdn/ and see if you can find a practitioner that can help you out girl. Good luck!!




on August 11, 2012
at 10:17 PM

This is just a thought, not medical advice, but have you considered that you might be swinging too broadly in going from high to low to high carbs in your diet? Adding a lot of fruit and a potato each day is a major shift.

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on August 11, 2012
at 10:57 PM

I take synthyroid and actomel for hypothyroidism and feel superb.

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