Can Low Carb Affect Your Hormones?
Short answer: Yes. But this can vary widely by individual and can be both positive or negative, depending on the person.
Some people (a very small percentage of my clients) who jump into low carb from a very high carb diet will experience some thyroid-like side effects a few weeks or few months after switching such as fatigue, coldness in extremities, hair-loss or other problems.
The interesting factor here, is that when these people have their hormones tested, most thyroid panels will come back normal (because most doctors only test Thyroid Stimulating Hormone or TSH and T4 hormones).
In my experience, these clients are also ones who went low-carb for weight-loss reasons and often have an underlying hormone issue to begin with.
nterestingly, even for those who have completely normal blood results, adding a lot (like Standard American Diet a lot) of carbs back to the diet will make these symptoms go away. This obviously means that low-carb is bad for these individuals…. right? Nope! And actually could mean quite the opposite.
I’ve noticed with clients that those with the worst “carb flu” in the beginning either had a lot of weight to lose or had an underlying hormone imbalance, and that logically, these people would benefit the most from going low-carb in the long run. Unfortunately, because of the carb flu, these people often had a to take a gradual path to low-carb, or the symptoms would be overwhelming and they’d be overly fatigued.
For a long time, I considered this slow-transition a problem, and was able to find some things (adding more natural salt into the diet, taking magnesium and gelatin, etc.) that made the transitions easier.
While these supplements do help the transition, and I’d recommend them anyway, a recent article by Dr. Cate Shanahan helped me understand why some individuals experience these thyroid like-symptoms after going low-carb for a while and explains why the slow-transition might actually be the best thing for these people.