Why I Ditched Low Carb

by Ann Marie Michaels on February 10, 2012

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Low-Carb

Is your hair falling out? Do you gain weight just by looking at food? Do you have a low body temperature? Is your sex drive in the toilet?

Are you on a low carb diet?

You need to read this post.

When I woke up yesterday, I ate a bowl full of sliced apples and blueberries with some decaf coffee and raw milk. An hour or so later, I had a few homemade spelt banana muffins, a couple bites of scrambled eggs, and 1/2 piece of sprouted toast with butter and jam.

For lunch, I had a peanut butter and watermelon jelly sandwich (oh, boy, let me tell you about this watermelon jelly — do you have a few hours?) on sprouted bread with a couple glasses of coconut water plus some more blueberries and a few homemade corn tortilla chips.

For dinner, I ate a whole lot of homemade bean and cheese nachos with a couple glasses of wine — more than I normally drink, but it’s been a tough week.

I just entered it all into FitDay. (Yes, this is a sign of a crazy person. When FitDay is your friend.)

Maybe you should sit down. Ladies and gentleman, we’re looking at over 2,300 calories and over 300 grams of carbs.

And this is BEFORE I had that last muffin.

Holy insulin, Batman! I’m officially in Mark Sisson’s “Danger Zone”.

Oops — and I just ate another muffin.

Danger, Will Robinson!

What am I thinking?

If you’ve been eating low carb, restricting bread and pasta, avoiding fruit and anything sweet, and it’s working for you, that’s great!

But if you’re like me, and your health has been declining ever since you jumped on the low carb bandwagon, you may want to rethink this whole low carb fad.

Read on.

Why I Ditched Low Carb

This day is markedly different from how I used to eat. It’s a little less protein than I normally eat and a lot more alcohol. But otherwise it’s pretty on target.

I’ve dramatically upped the carbs in the past month or so. And amazing things are happening with my hormones.

My body temperature has shot up from the low 97s to averaging around 98.2 People, this is huge.

Not only is my temperature a lot higher, but it has also stabilized substantially. It used to be up and down every day ranging from all the way in the 96s up to the high 97s (I rarely got into the low 98s). In the past few weeks, it’s been averaging almost every day around 98.2. This is unheard of for me.

And you know what it means? It means my adrenals and my thyroid are getting better. According to Dr. Rind, you can tell by your temperature that your adrenals are getting better when your temperature stabilizes. A steady temperature day after day means strong, stable adrenals.

You can tell your thyroid is getting better when your temperature increases (That is, for hypothyroid or low thyroid. For hyperthyroid, you would want to see a decrease in temperature.) Like I said, I’ve never gotten up to the 98s, and never consistently.

Why I Ditched Low Carb

Why Track Your Temperature?

Dr. Rind and many other endocrine docs say that the temperature is the window into your hormones. As I explained above, by charting your temperature over several days, weeks or months, you can tell whether you have problems with your adrenal glands and/or thyroid.

It’s easy to start taking your temperature. You can either chart it every morning, before you get out of bed (basal body temperature) or you can take readings throughout the day and take an average.

I do both. I use a cheap Vicks SpeedRead Digital Thermometer. I bought a few on Amazon. One lives on my nightstand, one stays in the kitchen, and I carry one in my purse.

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I take my temperature before I get out of bed in the morning to get my basal body temperature.

Then I take my temperature 2-3 more times throughout the day (I aim for 3; sometimes it’s only once).

Then I track all of these numbers on graph paper. It’s pretty cool to get a visual of how you are doing.

And folks, since I increased my carbs, my temps look 1,000 times better.

And did I mention that I have not gained weight and my blood sugar is normal?

If you want to read more details about the improvements in my health since I increased my carbs, read my answer to question # 3 in this week’s Q & A post.

How Do I Know It Was the Carbs?

You may say, Oh yes, but what about all the supplements you’ve been taking? What about the earthing? What about reducing stress?

My stress level has been at an all-time high these past few weeks due to work stuff. I haven’t been sleeping on my earthing sheet a lot of nights because I end up sleeping with my daughter half the time. And I’ve been REALLY bad about my supplements lately. Just been super busy.

So yeah, it’s gotta be the carbs.

How I Developed My Fear of Carbs

For the past few years, I have been so paranoid about carbs that I would actually feel guilty for eating a piece of bread. I had this holier-than-thou attitude that grass-fed meat and coconut oil were better than a banana or mac and cheese or a bowl of rice, or other high-carb foods.

Where does this come from? Probably from blogs like Mark’s Daily Apple with his posts about The Asian Paradox (how rice makes you fat).

I love Mark Sisson. Seriously, he is the nicest guy. Right up there with Jimmy Moore of Livin’ La Vida Low Carb, whom I also adore. Lovely guys with great blogs that I enjoy reading.

But really? Asians don’t gain weight from eating rice all day because they “move frequently at a slow pace”. Huh? Does this sound like r e a c h i n g to you?

And it isn’t just Mark Sisson. It’s all the blogs out there with their carb-phobic, grain-free, gluten-hating focus. The “Gluten is Bad, Bacon is Rad” t-shirts you see all over Facebook. The constant posts about how lectins are the devil and how we need to keep our carbs to less than 50 grams per day.

Good Lord! How can one even eat a small stack of pancakes on 50 grams of carbs per day? One pancake equals about 15 carbs. Not to mention the maple syrup. Just eating a couple of innocent pancakes blows your allocation of carbs for the whole day! One sandwich on sprouted whole wheat bread uses up HALF your carbs for the day.

Paleo is the hottest trend going right now. I’ve got no issues with Paleo folks. If it works for you, more power to you!

But the fact is, this is a new trend. It may seem like an old way of eating since it harkens back to the Stone Age, but the fact is, we don’t really know what paleolithic man ate. There’s new evidence showing that hunters and gatherers were eating grains 100,000 years ago — 90,000 years earlier than we thought.

caveman like pizza!

Bottom line: Low carb paleo didn’t work for me and it actually harmed my health. The more I ate that way, the more my thyroid function slowed down, the worse my hormones got. (And please, no comments that I “didn’t do it right.” I know my body and my diet better than you. I live in this body and I see what goes in my mouth every single day.)

And I am trying to get pregnant again. It may be too late, since I’m 43, but I know women who had babies at 45 and 46. I think I may still have a shot and I really want to try.

My hormones being effed up is not something I can afford.

How Low Carb Can Be Harmful to Your Hormones

Just the other day, Chris Kresser did an interview with Chris Masterjohn on his podcast. You can go here to listen or read the transcript.

In the podcast, Chris Masterjohn said:

“I think that if you find that T3 or reverse T3 are out of whack, probably the best way to address that is to try increasing the carbohydrate intake — not necessarily meaning you have to go on a high-carbohydrate diet, but, you know, like, Paul Jaminet had sort of concluded at the end of that series that he still advocates a low-carbohydrate diet, but it’s possible to go too low for some people, and that’s when you might get deficiency in thyroid signaling.”

Chris Kresser responded:

“And I definitely see this, Chris, in my practice, and this is purely anecdotal, but I often get people who come to me who have been on a low-carb Paleo Diet, not for any particular reason, just because that was their understanding of the Paleo Diet, you know, as a low-carb approach. And then they’re suffering from the classic hypothyroid symptoms: Their hair is falling out, and their hands and feet are cold, outer third of the eyebrows thinning, you know, low metabolic symptoms. And then they start eating some more starch and starchy tubers and fruit and increase their carbohydrate intake; and in almost all cases, their symptoms improve significantly.

Want to Get Pregnant? Eat More Carbs!

Then Chris told a really fascinating story from Dr. Weston A. Price’s book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.

Chris said:

He says: “For the Indians of the far North this reinforcement” — he’s talking about reinforcement of nutrition for pregnancy — “was accomplished by supplying special feedings of organs of animals. Among the Indians in the moose country near the Arctic circle a larger percentage of the children were born in June than in any other month. This was accomplished, I was told, by both parents eating liberally of the thyroid glands of the male moose as they came down from the high mountain areas for the mating season, at which time the large protuberances carrying the thyroids under the throat were greatly enlarged.” So, what he’s saying is when the moose were about to reproduce, they naturally went into a kind of hyperthyroid state where their thyroids were enlarged, and the people there would harvest the thyroid glands so that they could reproduce, and as a consequence, most of their children were born nine months after the moose mating season.

And what the indicates to me is — I mean, it’s difficult to interpret it because he doesn’t go into great detail, but I think what we might be seeing here is up in the Arctic circle — and these are the inland people, they’re not seacoast, so they probably don’t have a lot of iodine in the diet, they certainly don’t have a lot of carbohydrate in the diet. It seems like they, as part of their natural adaptation to their environment, they supplemented with thyroid hormone so that they could convert their cholesterol to sex hormones so that they could increase their fertility, and I think what we’re witnessing is perhaps a natural acknowledgement that under those certain conditions where you have an extremely carbohydrate-restricted diet, you may need supplemental thyroid hormone in order to maintain that fertility.

OK, does that blow your mind or what?

Folks, we are not living near the Arctic circle (well some of you may be, but I sure as heck am not). We have access to carbohydrates! We don’t need to kill moose and harvest their thyroid glands in order to get pregnant. We don’t need to take Armour thyroid or maca or sixteen other supplements. We can just eat some waffles! (I can almost hear the 180 Degree Health fans cheering right now.)

Note that Price said BOTH parents ate the thyroid gland. So this isn’t just about women’s fertility. If you are a man on a low carb or paleo diet and your testosterone is low or you lost your mojo, there’s a reason for that.

Paul Jaminet Concurs

This brought to my mind a post Paul Jaminet wrote a couple weeks ago on his Perfect Health Diet blog. He said that a higher carb diet is actually better for people who want to have children.

Jaminet writes:

For most people, I believe a slightly carb-restricted intake of 20-30% of calories is optimal. Most people are not currently seeking to have children or engaging in athletic competition. (Source)

In other words, if you want to have children, don’t eat low carb.

When it comes to thyroid health, Jaminet does not mince words:

“Eating more carbs raises T3 levels, and eating fewer carbs lowers T3 levels.”

Jaminet goes on to present his thoughts on appropriate carb intake, depending on an individual’s personal goals:

So a 30-40% carb diet is a neutral diet, which probably places minimal stress on the body.

A 40-50% diet is a carb-overfed diet, which probably promotes fertility and athleticism.

A 20-30% diet is a mildly carb-restricted diet, which probably promotes longevity.

Jaminet concludes his post with this sage statement:

Let everyone design the diet that is best for them. And there is room for difference of opinion about the optimal carb intake.

Here’s what I have to say to that: Bring on the pizza and nachos!

What If You’re On the GAPS Diet?

I wrote a post about this a few days ago: GAPS Diet Myths.

It is absolutely not necessary to be low carb on the GAPS Diet. If you do well on low carb and are on GAPS, then stick with it. But if you are experiencing hormonal problems, you may want to consider increasing your carbs.

I’ll write a post soon with some suggestions for how to increase your carbs on the GAPS Diet.

Share Your Thoughts In the Comments

Go ahead, throw doughnuts and potatoes at me. I know this post is going to piss a lot of people off.

How do I know? Because the amount of vitriol that I’ve endured in the past few weeks as I’ve explored this topic on my Facebook page has been off the hook!

Please feel free to share. This is an open forum and I always encourage open discourse. We are all learning, myself included. And I do very much appreciate all that you guys bring to the table. I learn so much from you!

Just please try to play nice.

And if you’ve got a similar story to share about how eating low carb threw your hormones out of whack, I’d love to hear it.

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{ 671 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen February 27, 2013 at 7:40 PM

What I don’t understand is why everyone thinks there is ‘one right way’ that fits everyone. We are all different. My hair fell out when I went low fat. Now I eat fat. And meat and veggies and I feel wonderful on the Paleo diet. My numbers are good. I’m monitored by my naturopath who is vegetarian and not a big fan but she sees the same benefits I am seeing so we are keeping on this. I don’t advocate it for everyone. It works for me. What is so hard for people to grasp about the idea that maybe, just maybe, ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t work any better for diets than it does for clothing? Why does it have to be so hostile? So, judgmental? So, ‘in your face’ I’m living proof? You are. So am I. So is my vegetarian doctor. So is my Mediterranean diet friend who is successful on that diet. Find what works for you and then LIVE AND LET LIVE. Good grief.

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Sue Taylor April 30, 2013 at 4:16 PM

AMEN!

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Caz (The Truth About Mummy) May 9, 2013 at 1:12 PM

Amen again!!!

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hlb December 20, 2013 at 12:27 PM

Amen thrice!

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shaunamom May 20, 2013 at 8:36 PM

SO agree. It’s funny that we can look around and see people who have different genetics, body shapes, diseases, conditions, even different environments they live in…and somehow think that the exact same diet will work for everyone. With so many differences, there’s going to be different nutritional needs, too!

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Csilla Bischoff June 26, 2013 at 7:47 PM

I agree! Everyone is different. There is not one diet that works for everyone.

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Nathan Greaves February 28, 2013 at 1:02 AM

I always re-read this article when I feel myself getting a little too car conscious lol!
It will always puzzle me as to why people get so militant about their views on food. Carbs and Dairy are my two favourite. I went to a crossfit football certification (yes I’m a meathead!) and it took the best part of the second day to convey to people (hardcore paleo/zoners) that dairy was wonderful for you, as were carbs. He also made a good point in a recent article about not caring what diet you’re on, if someone offers you a beer, you take it. Nothing is more offensive that that haha!

By the way, I love this blog! I use your kefir recipe all the time and its delicious. Thanks for your awesome work!

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Erika February 28, 2013 at 5:34 AM

One thing that I have noticed is that most of the blogs that push the paleo/no carb or very low carb are created by men. Women’s bodies are so different from men, especially hormone production (duh). So what may work for men can obviously be disastrous for women’s hormones. Also, I know this woman who is strictly on paleo and she can’t get pregnant. I am going to forward this to her.
Thanks Cheeseslave!!

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Bacon nd Cheese Slave August 15, 2013 at 4:44 AM

I love this post.

Human beings survive through adaptation – not strict adherence to codes.

Each of us has a unique genetic code, a unique set of demands and rewards, a unique way of moving through the world.

More importantly, women and men ARE different. DUH!

Paleo Diet? Sure, if we had access to the same exact food supply that they did or did not have and the same life style well sure that makes sense. But who has that? No one. It does not exist.

I’m gluten free but that’s because a couple years ago my body stopped being able to handle the gluten and I’m SO PISSED!

I’m going to try sprouted wheat as soon as I get my hands on some good Opium just in case the experiment fails. Now that my body can’t process gluten if I eat anything that has gluten the inflammation is so painful I can barely manage to get out of bed.

I’ve also started eating a lot of home made sprouts – brocolli, red clover, arugula.

I put the sprouts on my bacon and cheese omelet.

And, I feel so self righteous about it that I just had to tell everyone on the interwebs..

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Allison February 28, 2013 at 7:42 AM

LOVE this post! Thanks so much for sharing this. I’m a firm believer in bioindividuality– that no one way of eating works for everyone. I think it’s amazing that you were able to really experiment with different ways of eating to truly find what’s best for you. Not many people have that patience. I personally follow a diet within the Paleo framework, and it’s lower carb than my pre-paleo, vegetarian days, but usually not technically “low carb.” I notice that I feel better when I’m eating lots of plantains, bananas, sweet potatoes and *gasp* white potatoes.

Thanks so much for sharing this!

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Sarabeth Matilsky February 28, 2013 at 9:07 AM

I’ve been following the comment thread for nearly a year, and the topic continues to fascinate me. I’ve been doing GAPS for three years, and during this time I’ve had to deal with tremendous stress (my oldest’s anorexia and ASD symptoms), a “nervous breakthrough,” and a third pregnancy/birth/lactation, among other challenges. I do not subscribe to any particular “low” or “high” carb eating style, although I have modified a GAPS-type diet to work for me and my family and eat VERY little sugar/starch. And I believe my hormones are continuing to heal from all my years as a vegetarian (birth to age 30). If you’re interested, I’ve posted an update on my blog: http://www.lifeisapalindrome.com/updates/all-gory-details-i-can-think-and-then-some . I would love to hear updates from some folks who posted here a while ago!

Regards,
Sarabeth

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Lissa February 28, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Hi … interesting read. I’ve been trying to lose weight for years now, with little success. Prior to a sudden gain of about 60 pounds over 2 years, I was a slender size 2 110 pound waif. I tried low fat, calorie restriction, Weight Watchers, Mediteranean diet, Medifast (packaged meal, extreme calorie restriction – lost about 30 pounds but slowwwwwly, about a pound every two weeks on 800 calories a day, moderate carb, low fat, lots of soy) and then Atkins. I stayed on Atkins Induction or Phase I for six months without losing a single pound, but I was able to eat heartily without gaining. That eventually morphed into a low carb-high fat/modifed paleo/primal diet – no grains, sugar or starches – mostly because I was tired of counting carbs.

It was suggested to have my thyroid checked … Yep, low Free T3. I was prescribed Armour and immediately felt like crap. I also gained 10 pounds in a month, despite having almost no appetite. Checked adrenal function … Yep, went to crap. Started taking cortisone. Iron was low too, so I was on massive iron supplements. Reverse T3 … switched to T3 only. At some point I was swallowing 15 to 20 pills twice a day, plus dosing thyroid and cortisone throughout the day. The weight kept piling on too. (If you’re familiar at all with STTM, I was following their recommendations, including the new T3 regimen to heal adrenals.) I also found that I was estrogen dominant in E1 and E2, E3 was normal but extremely low P, so I was prescribed compounded progesterone cream. Though I am in my late 40s, I have no indications of menopause at this point.

I finally reached a point where I had enough. I was tired all the time, gaining weight, depressed, hair falling out, dry skin, peeling nails, horrible monthlies – heavy and extremely painful despite having had ablation two years ago and being on BI progesterone. I weaned off the T3, and threw most of the supplements in the garbage. After a month or so, I started taking iron, krill oil, Vitamin C and a probiotic again.

Then I started adding carbs into my diet … some corn, rice, fruit. I found out through experimentation that I do react to wheat with low energy, joint pain and moodiness, so I am keeping that off the menu. I have now regained almost all of the 30 pounds I lost, and frankly, I have no idea what to try next.

Which brings me to my actual question … have you figured up your calorie ratios of your macronutrients? For instance, Atkins recommends in Phase 1 to get 50-60% fat, 25% protein and 10-20% carb calories. I see the calculation above for the one day, but you state that was a low protein, higher carb day and not typical for you. How much carb – net grams or % of calories – would you suggest?

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Sue Taylor April 30, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Ughh! You sound exactly like me! I have been on the exact same roller coaster, but I have been on NDT for 6 yrs and cortef too. Then 4 yrs ago it all went to hell.
We should talk. I am 45, 5’1 and went from size 2 and fit 113 lbs to now being exhausted and 150lbs. : ( I know i need carbs too, but have a gluten problem same as yours. What to do?? nothing works anymore! Sue

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Casey May 22, 2013 at 11:07 AM

I don’t really constitute as low carb (especially according to Atkins), but instead of keeping your carbs at 10-20%, I’d highly recommend doing what I do and keep them at 25-30% with fats at 50%, and proteins and 20-25%. It gives me a bit of leeway and it keeps me from pulling my hair out from wanting pasta/potatoes. Plus, if you have a chance, watch the documentary “Fat Head.” At first you’ll think it’s a counter-documentary to the film “Super Size Me,” but it really isn’t. It will actually break down and explain how the body actually works, and how the so-called “experts” are telling us differently. Also some more advice, if you eat beef, lamb, or veal, make sure it is all grass-fed. The cheap grain and corn fed beef sold at grocery stores could also be the culprit for keeping the weight on.

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Anna February 28, 2013 at 12:49 PM

What about people who get tired after they eat carbs, possibly from insulin resistance? I have all of the symptoms of metabolic disorder and have been almost religiously low-carb for more than a year. I’m so confused!

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Michelle G. March 3, 2013 at 9:56 PM

Anna… this is partly my problem too! Pancakes with maple syrup make me fall asleep! (Type II diabetes). Fruits seem to be much better tolerated for me… strawberries with some whip cream is my favorite treat – and no carb crash!

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strawberry May 20, 2013 at 8:10 PM

I don’t get it, strawberries are carbs! fruit has sugar!

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Shannon May 21, 2013 at 8:07 AM

Berries have a low glycemic index and are often well tolerated by people with blood sugar issues. All fruit isn’t the same.

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Jeff July 6, 2013 at 4:03 PM

All carbs are not equal.
I tend to look at grain products as being “dense carbs”–because they…well, have a high carb density compared to fats & proteins. Broccoli & such are on the other end of the spectrum, so to speak. I mean, one slice of bread has 15g CHO, (the standard for the glycemic index), how many heads of iceberg lettuce do you have to eat to get the equivalent? Veggies (not starches like potatoes, etc) are generally high in fiber, which dramatically changes the glycemic index–how fast they are turned into glucose which the body uses for fuel.

Same is true for fruit. As a Type II diabetic w/ beta cell burn out (insulin dependent now) and gluten intolerant, I am constantly looking for ways to tweak my foodie lifestyle. At this juncture, I tend to avoid grains altogether, but that doesn’t mean I’m low carb. I just make sure my carbs are more than just carbs: i.e. lots of veggies. You might have noted that I classify grains as one group, starches as another (grains are a subset of starches, but not all starches are grains), and pretty well lump all other edible plant life as either veggies or fruit.

For me, two scoops of ice cream are much easier on my blood glucose than two rice cakes–rice cakes are nearly as bad as a cup of refined sugar as far as it affects me. Ice cream has milkfat which slows the digestion and hence easier on BG levels.

So in the example here, strawberries & cream, the berries have a generally low GI, and that’s even lower when you add in the fat from the cream slowing digestion.

The only thing I love more than blogs & articles like this are the comments; I find so many excellent ideas to try for myself. As noted above, we are all individuals whose mileage varies dramatically. I really enjoy finding different perspectives and experiences that I can then try for myself. Nothing like getting more tools for the nutritional toolbox!

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mare August 26, 2013 at 8:42 AM

Your comments are spot on. grains for me = gut issues, body aches and blood sugar crashes. No grains = normal bathroom habits, NO body/joint pains, steadier blood sugar and much improved sleep. Giving up only gluten wasn’t enough for me. But I’m not low carb either. Ice cream by itself would “crash” me, but a small amount after a meal is perfect. It took me years to learn all this about myself(conventional Drs. were no help, infact they literally almost killed me). I hope this info helps someone else, yet we are all individuals. good luck!

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Michelle G. March 3, 2013 at 9:55 PM

I’ve been struggling for almost 2 years with Hypo-thyroid like symptoms – libido is non-existent, can’t orgasm anymore, hair falling out, tired and falling asleep (sometimes while driving!), pain/tingling in the arms, hands, legs. Kneeling or reaching above my head or picking up my toddler often causes dizziness and sends my heart racing and makes my chest hurt. My type II diabetes never went away after my 2nd child was born, and lately, I can’t get my fasting sugars where they should be.

My doc is trying to tell me I have Fibromyalgia. I don’t buy it. My family has a history of hypo-thyroidism. The “better” I eat (i.e. watching my carb intake for my diabetes) the worse I feel. Perhaps some lower glycemic index carbohydrates might help me feel normal again?!? Any Type II diabetics here who have been having similar issues? I suppose some more fruits are worth a try!

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Mary March 6, 2013 at 7:52 AM

No hate speech, but doing low-cal made my hair fall out BIG TIME. I am TOTALLY with Karen, here. There is no “ONE” way. We are are different. My numbers on Atkins are SUPERB. I have TONS of energy, NO headaches (When I was LOW CAL, I thought I developed migraines. The moment I stopped and went Atkins, I never had another headache, again).

To each their own. :) Agree to disagree and have a peaceful day.

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Jen Tompkins March 6, 2013 at 6:16 PM

Yes, yes, yes!! exactly what I needed to read!! thank you!!!!! now off to finish my bowl of rice… :)

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Ladonna March 27, 2013 at 1:09 PM

How long after going higher carb 300+ did you feel your hormones improving?

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Susan Fite April 1, 2013 at 10:38 AM

I love this fascinating discussion. There are many confounding factors when looking at carbohydrate intake, as indicated in the post. Insulin resistance presents its own unique set of problems, primarily because adding carbs can excessively increase fasting blood glucose as well as fasting insulin. The question remains, can all damaged metabolisms be healed with amping up carb count? Unfortunately, the answer, I believe, is “it depends” – both how a diet is structured and a person’s current state of health and life circumstances. Dr. Diana Schwarzbein advocates a moderate carb intake in the context of a balanced diet in order to heal the metabolism, without letting insulin/glucose levels get too high. To me, this makes sense. With this approach, she asserts that it is necessary for insulin levels to be higher than cortisol levels, in the short run, to properly heal the metabolism. Lots of rest (which lowers cortisol), stress management (which lowers cortisol) and optimal whole-food carbs (which allows for enough-but-not-too-much insulin) can all contribute to metabolic restoration. In the context of insulin resistance/prediabetes, the type of carbohydrates needs to be closely monitored. The avoidance of simple sugars (even natural ones) as well as flour products can go a long way in keeping glucose/insulin in the necessary sweet spot without the spikes that can wreak havoc in those of us who are insulin resistant. Also equally important are lifestyle issues. If a persons’ cortisol level is chronically high due to relationship stress, financial worries, job stress, etc., healing will be delayed because these circumstances directly influence our hormone status and inhibit the optimal cortisol/insulin ratio needed for metabolic healing. Diet can’t always cure us when stress levels are off the charts! Thank you so much CHEESESLAVE for keeping this issue in the forefront. We all have so much to learn from one another!

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Tee April 7, 2013 at 7:09 AM

Hi there

I am trying to get pregnant. Since coming off the pill last August I noticed that my cycle was around 26 days with a short luteal phase. I had just returned from a years travelling and my diet had been terrible. Full of sugar and wheat which led to a cycle of bingeing when I returned as i was dependent and addicted to the foods even though I knew they were doing me no good!

I decided to try the primal diet and have more or less stuck to it, I’d say 95% of the time. A few days where eating out meant I just said ‘what the hey’. Anyway, in six months my cycle is now up to 28/29 days and am hoping the luteal will also increase.

However my basal temperature is very low (low 36 for days on end) and I wake up at 5am frequently unable to get back to sleep. I’m wondering what’s going on. THe increased cycle suggests I am improving my fertility but the basal temperature when linked to low thyroid is not a good sign.

ANy tips or suggestions?

Thanks, Tee

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Kelli April 7, 2013 at 6:40 PM

Great post. It is very timely as I am 43 and trying to get pregnant. I follow a primal diet mostly but find that I function better if I eat a little rice and potato. I cut wheat out completely because my body reacts horribly to it. I will definitely get my free T3 tested. Thanks!

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Jenna April 9, 2013 at 5:44 AM

This is so interesting to me. I started a VLC form of paleo/primal a la “The Art and Science of Low Carb Performance” in January and have been surprised how great I feel! This is after being paleo/primal for two years, and before that eating a heavily traditional foods based diet. In fact, the diet you describe for yourself above is what I was eating like (whilst gaining weight and having adrenal fatigue) for several years before I went paleo/primal. I was able to keep my weight fairly constant at 70-ish g of carbs/day, but more than that and I gained. I was nursing at the time, though, so I didn’t want to go lower carb. Now I’m no longer nursing and cut back and am finally losing weight! I do wonder, though, if it’s simply from my nursing hormones tailing off. I’m also an endurance athlete, and I appreciate that I am able to run long distances (think half-marathons) without needing to fuel with tons of junky sugar gels and such, but I do wonder what the long term effects will be.

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Isabella83 April 15, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Yes, yes, and YES. I have tried low carb, I have tried low-carb Paleo, and yea – I lost lots of weight but at the expense of mental clarity, energy, and increased depression. I am now eating high carb, but still following Paleo guidelines (limiting gluten, etc) and getting my carbs from rice, yams, plantains, sprouted wheat bread or gluten free bread, & potatoes. I still get a good 70-100 g of protein per day, and I keep my fat intake nice and high (from organic butter and coconut oil). I feel good, dammit! Sure, weight loss has been slower but I think this time whatever weight I lose will stay off. All of the weight I’ve ever lost on low carb diets always comes back plus more. In my particular case, I battle depression, and I believe a diet higher in carbs really benefits those with a genetic tendency for depression (check out Potatoes Not Prozac book). I work out hard almost every day (currently on week 2 of Insanity). I have the energy now not only to kick a$$ on Insanity, but then to do vigorous walking/jogging in the evening and keep a clean house, garden, etc. I NEVER HAD THE ENERGY TO LIVE LIFE ON LOW CARB. Everyone is different. Experiment, track, try different things – but most importantly QUESTION WHAT YOU’VE BEEN TOLD. Seems like everyone is always looking for a scapegoat as to why we’ve gotten so fat – be it carbs, fat, protein, refined sugars, artificial sugars, the list goes on. Maybe the answer is different for everyone.

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Lynda May 2, 2013 at 1:30 AM

Great comment…thanks!

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RedPeanut8 May 21, 2013 at 4:10 AM

I have been battling with celiac for five years now. After trying almost every food lifestyle possible (to no avail), I am considering a modified Paleo diet (primal but higher carb). I’m in college, severely underweight and deal with chronic consipation (I don’t go on my own anymore so every two weeks being on the harsh clean out laxatives…). Bluntly, I just want to poop!!! Do you have problems with constipation? If not pleaseeee enlighten me on your food choices!! I have been eating rice/beans/veggies at every meal for a month now (still not working, so it can’t be the carbs). Help!

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Ashley May 21, 2013 at 5:25 AM

Please delete the carbs! You need more fat! Think about it…do you want something rough going through your colon or something smooth and greasy? Up the meat and fat intake significantly and lower the carbs. I have had severe constipation my entire life until I stopped eating all that dang fiber and starches and upped my fat. Saturated fat, coconut oil, olive oil…..up up up!

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RedPeanut8 May 21, 2013 at 7:45 AM

So focus on meats/beans, veggies/fruits, and fats? This wouldn’t bind me up without gluten free fiber from grains?

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Shannon May 21, 2013 at 8:17 AM

I have the same problem and find that coconut oil and getting enough fiber helps. I also eat a good amount of meat. I’m also on what I’d call a modified paleo diet. I’ve gained weight and most of the time poop (not sure I’ve ever used that word online :) I’ve gained more than 10 pounds (yay!) in the last few months.

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RedPeanut8 May 21, 2013 at 8:22 AM

Oh great! That sounds positive (: Could you outline a sample diet for me? I’m curious how others have found answers to…well…popping!

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Shannon May 21, 2013 at 9:40 AM

I’ve tried GAPS and pure paleo but just didn’t get enough carbs. I find something more in line with Dr. Diana Schwartzbein’s books works for me. It’s lower in carbs but not low carb. It’s about balance. She’s the first one that got me more into using healthy fats. She has three books. The title of the third/last one makes it look like it’s about losing weight but it’s really about healing so you can be your right weight. The second book is my fave: The Schwarzbein Principle II, The “Transition”: A Regeneration Program to Prevent and Reverse Accelerated Aging. She’s an endocrinologist. I make sure I have carbs with every meal but they’re not from refined flour and sugar, they’re in their natural state. Make sure you’re drinking enough water.

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Ashley May 21, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Look into fibermenace.com Basically for most people, myself included, fiber is rough on your colon and causes constipation. So no beans. Beans are super high in fiber. Focus mainly on high fat and lots of meat with a few veggies and few non starchy fruits at each meal. No bananas, no pears, nothing too high in fiber. Stick to lettuce for the veggies and maybe maybe some small amount of white rice if you can tolerate it.

Also, read this article for where I’m coming from:

http://carnivorehealth.com/2011/09/15/constipated-six-steps-to-restoring-your-guts-health/

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Shannon May 21, 2013 at 12:56 PM

We all have to find our own best diet. I have to say that this diet would have the opposite effect with me.

RedPeanut8: Not being able to gain weight and being constipated are two possible symptoms of celiac disease. Just a thought but you may want to have the blood test to rule that out. Only a small fraction of people with it have been diagnosed and a lot of people (including many doctors) think diarrhea is the result of having celiac disease but not necessarily so.

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RedPeanut8 May 21, 2013 at 1:02 PM

I do have celiac disease, “Dr Shannon”! I was diagnosed with a severe case four years ago and have not responsed to a gluten free diet. Now I am wondering if Grain Free/Paleo would be a good option, instead of keeping GF grains in my diet.

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Shannon May 21, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Quite a few people find that a standard gluten-free diet doesn’t work for them. Paleo/Primal are options. Some also do the SCD (the original diet for celiacs) or GAPS diet (as this posts talks about.)
Here are a couple of sites that might help:
http://scdlifestyle.com/2012/03/the-gluten-free-lie-why-most-celiacs-are-slowly-dying/
http://www.glutenfreesociety.org/gluten-free-society-blog/top-foods-to-avoid-on-a-gluten-free-diet/?inf_contact_key=fabc29cadec34f0dd117cd0ed80aca4124fa5fe42e4cca7826fb0a0b063c3f17

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Dara May 21, 2013 at 2:13 PM

There are 3 things I’ve found that never fail when I’m on a mission to poop. (1) Drinking Calm Tea at night. This is ionic magnesium which also helps you sleep like a baby. Most people are magnesium deficient anyway, and somewhere around 300 functions in our bodies require it – so drinking magnesium tea has multiple benefits. (2) green juice made with beet greens is a miracle cure plus gives you a jolt of phytonutrients. In my system, juiced beet greens work like nothing else. (3) a green smoothie made with coconut milk, kale or chard and frozen fruit. We’re all different so keep experimenting until you find what works for you. But seriously – try the juiced beet greens. I discovered that accidently and was amazed by the results!

As for Paleo, I’ve had amazing results with it, except sometimes need more carbs. If adding sweet potatoes and fruit doesn’t do it, I eat rice. If I wasn’t allergic to dairy, that would probably be the thing I’d add.

Good luck!

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julie April 18, 2013 at 10:26 AM

I completely disagree with adding carbs to improve thyroid. It all depends on your individual chemistry. I have been a hypothyroid sufferer for over 11 years and low-carb is the ONLY thing that has helped me lose weight, not feel sluggish, and has helped me not be cold all the time (in addition to improving my skin tone and moisture, my hair moisture, my mental “fogginess”, and my overall health. I tried weight watchers, spark people, and eDiets, and nothing else gave me the overall feeling of “better”. My hormones are in check (ALL of them), and any old athletic injuries have basically stopped hurting. I don’t get joint pain any more, and my achilles tendonitis/plantar fasciitis and heel spur have all nearly stopped hurting every step. When I eat wheat, other grains, and soy (hypothyroid sufferers should steer clear of ANYTHING soy), I feel tired, groggy, and lack energy to do much of anything. But after a couple of days, I feel much better. This article condemns other low-carb lifestyles, but then turns around and says, “If it works for you, more power to you!” Low-carb works for me. So why the overall tone of disdain? I have read a lot of actual research on the pros & cons of low-carb eating, and haven’t seen anything that says it actually causes the symptoms of hypothyroid. In fact, low-carb has been recommended by several healthcare professionals that I know personally as a way to help combat the effects of hypothyroid conditions, in addition to proper and accurate hormone replacement.

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Josie April 18, 2013 at 12:17 PM

Folks, the only way to know what to eat is to listen to YOUR own body. It alone will tell you what you should and shouldn’t eat. You may need some tests run to get to the more refined signals – but the information is all there through monitoring antibody reactions, food sensitivity testing, temperature, hormones, aches and pains, energy levels, clear headedness, cravings, gut health, digestive reactions, etc. etc.

Depending on your health condition, it may be advisable to work with someone to collect and interpret all the info – I know I did because of the complexity of all that was wrong with me. But if you will tune in and listen closely and carefully – you’ll be able to figure out what to eat based on YOUR individual biochemistry, and yours alone.

Doing what this blog post says, or what any other blogger says to do without first paying attention to your OWN experience and your OWN health is a recipe for disappointment, or worse.

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Allie April 18, 2013 at 12:58 PM

I agree!

I have added a good amount of carbs back in my diet, including grains — even gluten!
May I just say that I feel SO much better!!!
Even though I continue to eat real whole foods, I’m no longer over thinking what NOT to eat and the stress level is significantly LOWER regarding my food choices.
Hypothyroid symptoms have decreased significantly. yay!
I have added about 15 lbs. but I feel a LOT better, so it’s worth it to me!!!

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Des April 28, 2013 at 4:15 PM

Josie,

I agree 100%. I can’t imagine eating tons of fruits and pancakes- just hearing that makes me feel greasy. Low carb has saved my skin, my hair, my body and my spirit.
I tried eating rice and it just felt like a lump in my gut.

Most people eat the high carb diet this post prescribes- and most people suffer the consequences. Just look around you…

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mare August 26, 2013 at 9:38 AM

Yes!……………..and remember if you want to add more carbs that doesn’t mean pop tarts, ho ho’s and beer. Eat NUTRIENT DENSE Foods!!

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Ashley April 20, 2013 at 1:18 PM

What about carb cycling? Would that be the best of both worlds?

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Mark June 9, 2013 at 12:52 AM

Hi – yes carb cycling is indeed the best of both worlds..if only people would investigate it more.

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Stephanie April 26, 2013 at 5:29 AM

I’ve been on a <50 grams of carbs a day diet, mostly from veggies, for three weeks. I feel good, lots of energy, losing weight quickly. I have a real sugar addiction that I need to conquer. I've been eating a high sugar diet for most of my life. But I found this page because I am not showing fertility signs this month. And my temp is always low – on high carb and on low carb. Would "damage" from a low carb diet show up so quickly?

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Sue Taylor April 30, 2013 at 3:03 PM

Ok, BRAVO! I haven’t read the rest of these comments but I just read your post on your hormones getting balanced and clicked over to this article. THANK YOU!
I’m struggling so hard to get balanced! and have yet ANOTHER Dr. trying to kill my “candida” and fix my “leaky gut” buy starving me of carbs…well pretty much EVERYTHING! No grains, no dairy, no beans, no nuts no sweeteners at ALL! I told him I didn’t do well on gaps and he told me to try this anyway. F.A.I.L.!!! I did it for 8 days and was ready to die! FREEZING! leg cramps, pain in my back from screaming adrenals in the middle of the night. Waking me up with the shakes.
He tried to tell me it could be because my cortisol is suddenly high?? because of all the ant inflamatory work going on in my body. So now I’m suddenly making too much cortisol after making hardly any my whole life???! Wow!. fail.
As soon as I put that first rice chip with humus in my mouth the heavens opened and I heard angels singing praises of Food! Ice cream saved my life that night and a big glass of cold, raw milk! NEVER AGAIN will I restrict myself that way!
I do still have a problem though and wonder if you have any advice. I do still seem to have developed a nasty sensitivity to gluten. I have experimented over and over with it and whenever I eat it I get sleepy, brainfog, fatigued and achey. What can i do about this? I have tried soaked grain bread and homemade sourdough bread, but still a problem. This makes me so very sad! How do I heal this? Thanks for all you do and FYI, I just had a surprise baby at 43!!! I’m now 45 and she is 20 mos. The last baby I had was 14 yrs before that! She was not planned, but such a blast! I just wish I could feel better and have more energy for her! Still unbalanced, adrenally fatigued and hypothyroid. But will fight on! Take care, Sue

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Sue Taylor April 30, 2013 at 3:06 PM

I mean the baby I just had was not planned, not the 14 yr old!

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Sue Taylor April 30, 2013 at 3:07 PM

I mean the baby I just had was not planned, not the 14 yr old!

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Brenna December 13, 2013 at 11:43 AM

What i have learned about the sensitivities to gluten is that the wheat/gluten used in products in the USA are made from GMO grains (even some corn). The GMO grains are what cause the reactions. If you were to go to somewhere like France or Italy or China where they no longer allow the importation of USA GMO wheat (because many people there also got sick from GMO Grains and several short term mouse studies showed this stuff caused cancer quickly), you most likely won’t have gluten/wheat problems. I am not a celiac, but i can no longer touch the stuff including some corn products (except Non-GMO corn can have all i want no problems). The USA allowed the GMO grain ban to be lifted in 1996. It used to only be used for animals. Now it’s in everything in humans. It’s not good for anyone. That is not a one size fits all theory either.

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Jocelyn December 13, 2013 at 12:22 PM

Brenna: There is no commercially available GMO wheat in the US. The difference between genetic modification and hybridization is an important distinction, but one that seems to confuse many. Corn is indeed genetically modified in mass quantities, unfortunately. Wheat that is commercially grown is certainly a hyrbid of what it once was, but hybridization is something that’s been done for centuries. Nearly everything we grow to eat is a hybrid of its original form. In my opinion this doesn’t mean wheat is good for you. Some make the argument that modern hybrid wheat varieties have much more gluten in them than their predecessor. I personally don’t eat wheat because there’s no doubt it makes me sick, even after healing my gut extensively.

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Lynn May 20, 2013 at 7:54 PM

I couldn’t finish the article. My pnut crumbs were getting all over my iPad!

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Lynn May 20, 2013 at 7:55 PM

Donut not pnut!

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Brooklynn May 21, 2013 at 6:30 PM

I just downloaded your new ebook Nourished Metabolism. I am excited to read it and share it with my readers on my blog.
Cheers!

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claire May 24, 2013 at 3:08 PM

Hi Ann Marie. I’ve been looking forward to your post on ‘increasing your carbs on the GAPS Diet’. Can’t find it, have I missed it? I look forward to it if you get a chance to write about it. Thanks. Love your blog :-)

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TheRealDeal May 30, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Interesting, but doesn’t make sense when you think about PCOS/infertility which is basically solved with a low carb diet. This is completely the opposite of what you’ve experienced.

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shani May 30, 2013 at 5:17 PM

so i take back everything i said about high carb being better for me. wrong! i’m actually back to a lower carb paleo way with raw goat milk. feel much better. high carb made me fat, sleepy, caught every cold possible this past winter, and the list goes on. i like paleo. i like lower carb. works for me :)

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Clarence June 3, 2013 at 6:30 AM

I would like to know what were you eating on a regular basis “before” you decided to go back to eating large amounts of carbs. I did not read all 600 comments but did any body state-or even thought-that the reason for these issues is due to a vitamin deficieny?

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Mark June 5, 2013 at 3:11 PM

I came upon your post when I Googled “low carb diet no longer working.” It worked wonderfully for years. But about two years ago, I noticed the fat in the belly increasing. I also started noticing a weak erection, then no erection. I thought it was low testosterone since I’m 53. Started taking an herbal supplement. Doesn’t appear to be working. So now I’m questioning the diet, hence my Google search. And yes, there seems to be quite a few others questioning the same. I’ll now try upping the carbs, and continue the research in this area. Thanks!

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Chris June 12, 2013 at 6:22 AM

I can absolutely relate to this article. I struggled with being overweight, due to a lot of bad choices. I decided to get more active and actually went on an ultra high carb diet. I got shredded, with some muscle loss due to lack of weight work and protein. I could see 4 abs, but the last two wouldn’t come in. I was striated in lots of places and felt really good. My hormones were fighting me for the last bit of fat. So I joined bodybuilding.com. Started reading opinions on keto or a high protein diet. And from there I started believing in the “bro science” restricting carbs. My energy crashed. I did feel colder and I was gaining fat, plus would suffer a weekend binge of at least 10k cals. Bagels looked like cheesecake, spaghetti looked like a porterhouse steak. Not to mention all that water the glycogen would shove into my muscles was hanging in between my skin. That on top of looking very flat, dark circles under eyes because I couldn’t get a good night sleep. I looked like death had warmed over. So I took a step back, looked at what got me from being obese down to 10% bodyfat. It was the carbs. They gave me all the energy and the glycogen spared my a lot of my muscles. I changed my macros to a high carby diet again, which is about easily 75% carbs on some days. I actually started eating more and including more sugary carbs. Like that I could sleep again. I eventually was able to take one of those cheesy self glorification photos of my abs in the mirror. Eventually I shredded that last bit of jelly around my waist. I could see my six pick (finally), I was way more cardiovascular. I also had energy. Plus I was eating more. I could hold water and not wake up hours upon hours to pee. Nothing beats an 8 hour sleep, nothing. Interestingly enough people asked me on the forums, how did I do it. I told them the truth. I hate lots of starchy, sugary, terrible glucose ridden foods. Boxes of cinnamon toast crunch, shredded wheat, frosted flakes, sugary instant oatmeal and a lot of shunned stuff in the health community. (plus half of my bodyweight in protein from protein shakes). I realized it’s the caloric deficit, and carbs give you an energetic edge when dieting. Not to say it’s going to work for everyone, but your bodies primary source of energy is glucose, it loves it. It also is what puts our hunger hormones at ease. Plus the process of storing carbs as fat is a very energy costly thing for the body to perform. It’s called de novo lipogenesis. It’s very easy for your body to store lipids as fat, but it’s a harder process to over saturate your glycogen/liver stores and even then to turn the excess into fat, and if so is very minimal. Fat is burned in the fires of carbohydrates. All it takes is a caloric deficit. I’ve also seen so many people on these low carb diets that have awful weight gain after coming off of them. It’s not always water either from lack of phosphorus. Because high fat diets slow down the metabolism it takes a long time to catch up. Jimmy Moore of low carb diet is proof of this and so many more.

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Clarence June 12, 2013 at 11:10 AM

Your first mistake: thinking your shredded with 4 abs:-)
Your second mistake: getting diet information from Bodybuilding.com

Why?

I bet the broscience in the forums taught you to eat high protein and moderate fats with low to zero carbs…

Your third mistake (probable): you were going low cal WITH a low carb diet.

It should have been the opposite…moderate protein and high in fats. And with the zero and low carb diets you have to supplement. Why? I will assume you were eating the same foods over and over on a daily basis. Those foods probably lacked the vitamins and/or minerals your body needs.

So what do you (like most) do when your body is not feeling right? You run back to the carbs. Thinking your body needs glucose. No. It’s the vitamins and minerals that are in the carbs. How do I know this? I had the same issues you did. And I finally learned what was the real culprit.

And believe it or not you get used to eating low carbs (I did not say zero carbs) in 3 days to two weeks.

Another thing…when you actually get down to that body fat percentage (10%) you can get away with eating junk food for a period of time… And look better. How do I know? Been there.

You also stated, “Not to say it’s going to work for everyone, but your bodies primary source of energy is glucose, it loves it. It also is what puts our hunger hormones at ease.”

Remember folks carbs are not essential. Your body can make its own glucose. If you think carbs can put your hunger hormones at ease. Eat chicken breeat and rice (clean carbs) for a month. I guaranteeeeee you. You will still consider “Bagels looking like cheesecake” as you stated earlier in your post.

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Miracle Garcinia Cambogia June 17, 2013 at 7:43 PM

Hi there, just wanted to mention, I enjoyed this article.
It was funny. Keep on posting!

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Gwen June 18, 2013 at 11:39 AM

I ditched the low carb diet also! I had no energy and would wake in the night starving. My sleep was terrible! I would go to the gym but it was HARD! With carbs back in my diet, I back to being the energizer bunny and I am sleeping like a rock. i had wanted to lose some weight that I gained due to HRT. Normally, I am quite thin. But the price of losing a few pounds was not worth it.

Everybody is definitely different. I have a friend who started the paleo diet and feels wonderful.

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Ernest Tam June 22, 2013 at 6:13 PM

Doing low carb for me was one of the worst experiences in my life. I was irritable, anxious all the time, and did I mention that I was irritable? Going back to moderate carb along with my exercise routine has worked wonders for me. I felt like the Grinch when he genuinely smiled for the first time! Plus I try to get a mixture of good carbs, fat and protein, which would help keep the blood sugar levels from speaking, if I am correct. I look back to this article when I am feeling irritable, or havign carbophobia all over again. At the end of the day it’s “Calories in and out,” for me, because it is the approach that works the best for me. If you may be apprehensive with ditching low carb but miss your carbs, you can try eating more carbs on workout days, and going low on non workout days. Carb cycling is also a viable option, which I tried and has worked for me too albeit, I was a bit grumpy, but I still got my results.

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H July 12, 2013 at 4:57 AM

It’s Americans. They’re all religious nuts. That is to say, whatever they do, they do it like it’s a religion, and they’re nutty about it. If it’s low carb they’re doing, then it’s about heaven and hell, good and evil, carbs are the devil and fat is the way to a saintly life and there is no room for moderation in this battle between good and evil! There are no grey areas where common sense can take hold, oh no! It’s as if they’re all stuck in perpetual evangelistic sermon in their heads. First fat was the devil and the way to hell, then carbs were the devil and the way to hell, now carbs are saintly again and the way back to heaven…. nuts, nuts, nuts. They’re nuts. Completely mental.

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CarbSane August 8, 2013 at 8:00 PM

Jimmy Moore says you’re being a hater.

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Sarah August 19, 2013 at 7:19 PM

Just wanted to chime in here with another polite “each body is different” viewpoint. I have been ketogenic/paleo for over a year and have never looked better. Hair is fuller, teeth are in better shape, and my skin has never been this balanced with little acne (38 years old and I still am acne-prone. Fun). I can think more clearly and have insane energy. Any starches, breads, wheats, really anything white….makes me lethargic, pale, sick and irritable. My mood now? Is annoyingly optimistic. A friend of mine did the exact same diet, and had some of the issues listed here and had to get right back on starchy carbs. So:

Everyone’s body is different. I applaud the author of this blog for giving low-carb a chance and being upfront with how it just doesn’t work for her, but if you are thinking about low-carb and want to give it a chance do not be discouraged by this post. It might work for you if you’ve tried everything else to no avail. I know I did!

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Rayca August 21, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Cool story for you but that’s you. Try upping your carbs to 300g daily with diabetes or even pre-diabetes. I’m in the Jaminet camp. Some starch every day but I can’t remember the last time I ate 300g carbs in one day, except for a cheat or re-feed day. I think it’s somewhat obvious (to me anyway) that you have to choose or make decisions about diet based on your own health and your goals–having children, being fit, muscular, strong, longevity. Different strokes for different folks, my friend. And there’s a different way of tweaking diet depending on that.

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Csilla Bischoff August 21, 2013 at 1:00 PM

So true. No one diet works for everyone.

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Bryant Ford August 23, 2013 at 6:08 AM

Wonderful and inspiring stories you have here. I am very glad that I was able to read on this blog for it keeps me motivated in having a high protein low carb diet.

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John September 19, 2013 at 3:25 PM

I’m a man in my 20′s and I’ve been very diet-aware, shall we say, for about ten years or so – and have experimented with a lot of different styles of eating, as part of my general interest in sports and fitness.

I’ve learned a great deal about how my body responds to various protocols and one recurring theme is that low-carb diets absolutely destroy my sex drive. They also get and keep me relatively lean, and a high-carb diet makes it extremely difficult to regulate my appetite. That’s the trade-off for me, I can decide which I want.

To have some kind of libido I need to eat starchy carbs daily (fruit and veg just isn’t the same, perhaps because it’s largely fructose?) – having a few carb backloading periods per week after exercise doesn’t cut it, unfortunately.

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Megan September 23, 2013 at 11:32 AM

I agree that everyone’s body reacts differently and some people can go low carb and others can’t. For me, a diet made up of 40% carbohydrates, 30% fat, and 30% protein works for me. When I ate a diet primarily of fat and protein, my cholesterol went through the roof and I was put on medication, I felt very irritable and fatigued in workouts, I experienced extreme insomnia, I became depressed, and I stopped having a menstrual cycle.

Everyone has to do what’s right for them. Sometimes it is trial and error, but once you find what works for you and you feel your best, there is no greater feeling. :)

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Alysia Caringi October 9, 2013 at 7:04 AM

Thanks for this post! I went very low carb for a while and it wasn’t good for me at all. I’ve since added in some more carbs via sweet potatoes, squash, and even some lentils…but I still feel guilty for doing it! After reading this post I’m confident that I’ll survive and not become obese and that I could maybe even add in some sprouted grains in the future.

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Chrystal October 28, 2013 at 8:33 AM

I agree with you our body needs carbs for energy but that DOES not include pizza and nachos there is no form of Dr or person that would agree those are foods you should eat!! There is lots of carbs in healthy foods 20 grams in an apples, many in veggies and they can also be found in potatoes sweet potatoes and rice!

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Johan October 30, 2013 at 6:31 AM

Did any of you ever consider that perhaps being too lean was the problem? You went paleo or low carb lost weight, were shredded etc & wham! Your body couldn’t maintain it?

Just a thought.

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Julie November 7, 2013 at 8:47 PM

I love this post! As an avid and passionate athlete I’ve always required a bounty of carbs in my daily eating to fuel my body and balance me out. Without them I would crash. They are an essential part of replenishing and refueling, and a key to good sleep as well.

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Sarabeth Matilsky November 8, 2013 at 7:48 AM

I have been following this thread for nearly two years, and it’s very interesting to me when folks share their personal experiences. But it would be much MORE interesting if they checked back in later, to share what’s going on one or two or three years down the line. I have personally discovered that dietary healing and changes can look a lot different after two years than they can after two weeks, or even two or six months. What seems like terrible effects can turn out to be healing reactions…and vice versa.

I sometimes wonder how to tell whether a person’s metabolism has been permanently altered or damaged…or whether healing is possible, and how.

I’d love to hear whether the original issues referred to in this post (infertility, hormonal imbalances, etc.) have righted themselves over the past two years…

Regards,
Sarabeth

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MO mom January 2, 2014 at 5:59 AM

I was wondering the same thing. Ann Marie how are you feeling nowadays, nearly 2 years later than this post? Are you eating grains, nuts etc?

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Hmm it looks like your website ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any suggestions for rookie blog writers? I’d definitely appreciate it.

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Cynthia November 27, 2013 at 11:21 PM

I don’t have time to read 648 comments (!) but I did want to note this just in case no one else had covered it, because it’s important:

You quoted Paul Jaminet as writing “Eating more carbs raises T3 levels, and eating fewer carbs lowers T3 levels.” But this statement contradicts your own conclusion that eating more carbs has increased your thyroid function, or fixed your hypothyroid condition.

When your T3 level is raised, that as an indicator of LOW thyroid function, So he is saying that eating more carbs makes one more inclined towards hypothyroidism!

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JB January 10, 2014 at 6:45 PM

Cynthia,
>> When your T3 level is raised, that as an indicator of LOW thyroid function,

No, the opposite is true– high T3 is an indicator of high thyroid function.

Maybe you were thinking of TSH, which has an inverse relationship with thyroid hormones? A high TSH is an indicator of low thyroid function. Or maybe you were thinking of reverse-T3? A high reverse-T3 will lower thyroid hormone effectiveness.

If you are curious, the http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com website explains thyroid hormones well.

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jcasetnl February 22, 2014 at 4:00 PM

I thing people have to find what works for them. There are people who are diabetic, for example, and they have to be careful with foods that affect their blood sugar. It should be no surprise then that at a sub-clinical level people have varying sensitivities to sugar.

For me, I ate a carb heavy diet most of life (I’m in my late 30s). Wanting to lose weight, I tried the ketogenic diet on the suggestion of my brother. Within four days, my head was clearer than it had been in years. My moods were less up and down and I wasn’t craving food like I usually do. I started sleeping better and not waking up several times a night. Everything just became easier.

I was not expecting any of these things, nor did I undertake the diet with them being the goal, they just happened, and that’s when I realized I am very sensitive to sugar, and therefore carbs.

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Hannah February 26, 2014 at 10:15 PM

I really appreciated this posting. I have been on the intro Gaps diet for five months now and am low energy, have issues sleeping, and no period. I think once I’m on the full diet things should normalize again (the intro is very low carb).
Did you ever write the post on how to increase carbs on the Gaps diet? I would love to see that.
Thanks!

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Z March 9, 2014 at 7:35 PM

i can’t help but think that people who “fail” on paleo is because they are not balancing the lack of carbs, with an increase in fats. a lot of the “symptoms” i’m reading here sound an awful lot like what happens when you don’t eat enough FAT (%60+), and people are confusing them as signs of carb trouble. try upping your fats before you give up.

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jeff March 10, 2014 at 4:56 AM

Yep

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Sarabeth Matilsky March 10, 2014 at 11:00 AM

I really, really enjoyed these two articles (well, one article and one 4-part series), very relevant to any discussion about low-carb diets:

http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2010/11/dangers-of-zero-carb-diets-i-can-there-be-a-carbohydrate-deficiency/

http://perfecthealthdiet.com/category/side-effects/

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Foksola March 19, 2014 at 2:48 AM

I really loved your article and it gave me new inspiration. Because of asperger and a lot of food intolerances I threw away my grains, and ate only vegs, eggs and meat. I was severe constipated, and when I finally put back in my rice again, my constipation was gone :-)
So now I am off to make some bread again …lol..

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Louis in Delaware March 27, 2014 at 11:10 AM

You go girl! Enjoy that bread. Deprivation is NOT the key to success—moderation and sustainability are! We should savor our food and enjoy the things we love most.

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Louis in Delaware March 27, 2014 at 11:07 AM

BRAVA, Ann Marie! You are the true voice of reason. I have found that so many low-carb and wheat free wingnuts alll direct or indirect disciples of Atkins> Paleo-The Wheat Belly Diet. (Atkins, just for the record, died obese with a myriad of health issues including hypertension.) I especially take issue with ketogenic diets that disallow fresh fruit and healthy resistant starches like sweet potato and brown rice. Now granted, there is no contest that refined sugars and flours are detrimental to good health in large quantities, but that’s where the low carb BS should stop. Each and everyone of my friends, relatives, and associates who got on the low carb bandwagon were not only miserable, but also fatter now than they ever were. You simply can’t villify and eliminate an entire food group. It’s unnatural and unnecessary. The body needs to recognize and metabolize ALL foods in moderate amounts. Otherwise, the cravings for these items intensify over time and we become like savages who can’t get enough when we fall off the wagon. GEESH!!!
Why do we continue allowing ourselves to be brainwashed by every diet book and supplement pusher out there? Eat what you like in portion controlled amounts that keep your body in a calorie deficit and you will lose weight-PERIOD!!! that’s basically the concept behind healthy, respected weight loss plans like Weight Watchers which has been around over 50 years and counting. HELLO????????

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Stephanie March 27, 2014 at 11:31 AM

What you are saying about Robert Atkins is simply untrue. his medical records at the end of his life were made public by his wife. He was just under 200 pounds at 6′ tall, hardly obese.

I have been low carb for over a year, and have many friends and a few family members as well. None are “miserable”. In fact I have way fewer headaches and almost no mood issues, unless I eat sugar or wheat. So one anecdote beats up another anecdote. I think being able to eat carbs in moderation, on occasion is a good thing, but for many people it just makes them feel like crap. My husband felt ill for two days after eating some chips and a soda at a bbq. His body simply doesn’t like those foods anymore, when they’ve been tolerated for years.

We need to know our own bodies. If your friends or family members are miserable on low carb, perhaps they are the rare body type that thrives on carbs. It would be stupid to continue down that path. But low carb eating without counting calories has allowed me to lose 50 pounds in 11 months. Most people can not spend their lives eating high carb, low calorie foods. It’s just not sustainable long term, which is why people on those types of diets almost always gain back the weight.

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Lissa March 27, 2014 at 11:32 AM

Sorry … I tried it your way. Added some fruit – mostly berries, some rice, sweet potato, corn – non-GMO when possible, to the fresh veggies, meat/poultry/pork/seafood, eggs, limited dairy and nuts that I was already eating … and gained 20 pounds. I was nowhere near the typical SAD carb amount of 300 grams a day plus, more like 60 – 80 grams. Still, I bloated up with both fat and fluid.

Wheat, of course, is completely off limits for me, as it is an autoimmune trigger. It always will be, and there is no healing from that.

I’ve eliminated the carby crap again … feeling better, the bloating is going away, I have more energy, losing less hair, my blood sugar is stable, and maybe I can lose the weight I gained from trying the carbs.

Oh, and Atkins died of a head injury. Period. He was in excellent health when admitted to the hospital after slipping on ice, and hitting his head. The medications they were using on him caused massive water retention, and thus, hypertension. Don’t believe the rumors … it’s nonsense. The people who do poorly on Atkins do so because they buy all the crap bars, shakes, snacks and frozen dinners, and other “low carb” junk. The extreme low carb diet is not meant to be followed for more than a couple weeks. If one follows the Atkins plan to its conclusion, one will be eating 50 – 80 grams a day, and it won’t be a “diet” but a way of life. Humans were never meant to eat 300+ grams a day, comprised of mostly grains, and certainly not the Franken-grains we have now.

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Paula March 28, 2014 at 10:09 AM

I did not read all the comments so others may have said this already so I apologize if they have.

I like that people are getting that our bodies are different in many ways so one way of eating is not feasible for everyone.

There is so much going on with this issue. First off we are living in a thin obsessed cultured and thinness equals beauty in our society. So if your body is not thin then there is automatic pressure on you to make it so. Also, bodies change as we age. To get all obsessed with good to get back to a size 2 is not healthy. This is prepping one for an eating disorder or orthoexia.

As a recovering bulimic and orthorexic, this kind of worrying about food and weight is what got me very sick.

I don’t advocate eating gmo pizza and cookies all day but common sense and balance come to mind. Learning about Intuitive Eating and also being aware of life issues that may be bothering you and addressing them directly rather than thinking everything will be good when you get back to a size 2.

If hair is falling out, fatigued, etc, it gat is definitely a health issue and finding a good health practitioner to help with thyroid and adrenal function is important.

Some good books blogs to read are:

Intuitive Eating ( forgot authors name)
It’s Not About Food Laurelee Roark and Carol a Emery-Normandi
Health At Every Size By Linda Bacon Phd
180 Degree Health Matt Stones blog and he has free ebooks

I wish you all abundant health and especially peace of mind

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shannon April 8, 2014 at 10:10 AM

thank you thank you thank you!!!
my bf and i have been trying to get preggo since June 2013. we were successful in Oct but unfortunately lost the baby in Dec. After the loss i was determined to be as HEALTHY as possible for our next round of baby making which meant dropping a few lbs, eating organic, and working out more frequently / intensely. In my pursuit for optimum health (and who are we kidding, perfect body) i began cutting calories, lowering carbs, and increasing workout intensity / frequency.
I’ve been charting my cycles through the Fertility Friend App since Sept 2013 and began to notice a decrease in my temp (never reaching 98 at its peak), irregularities in my cycle length, and eventually only a very light/faint line on my opk tests measuring my LH surge (there was NO “surge”). I was so confused about what was happening since from my perspective, i was getting myself HEALTHY! Supplements, teas, organic, exercise, etc, and now my body was “failing” me.
I’d read about hypothyroidism and was sure i had it….started eating shrimp and putting iodized sea salt on everything!! :D
my bf and i were deciding last weekend whether we should “try” for baby before or after our morning workout…Specifically, would lifting weights increase his testosterone and thereby produce healthier swimmers. Answer: Yes But i did the same search for women which led me down the rabbit hole of google surfing to women should be searching for balance in diet / exercise vs doing ANYTHING to the extreme. Which led to low carb = low leptin = anovulation (not ovulating) = major hormonal imbalances. ME, ME & ME!!
WOW!!! i was so pissed at myself….so disappointed in how my focus had shifted (slowly) from being a healthy mom to being in “the best shape of my life”. BUT also glad that i had stumbled onto what i think is the answer to my out of whack hormonal / body issues.
so now im eating carbs. HEALTHY carbs, not processed crap….Oatmeal, fruit, veg, brown rice. My plate looks balanced and colorful and HEALTHY.
I feel like a reset button has been pushed in my brain and it’s awesome! oh how i’ve missed carbs….oh how i LOVE carbs.
We all have to find our own balance…plain and simple. It is trial and error for all of us :) For now im tracking the amount of carbs, protein and fat im eating per day and will continue to track the changes in my body…..we’ll see how it goes :)
Thank you so much for this post….a much needed read for me today.

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Mary April 25, 2014 at 2:02 PM

I’m very grateful to have happened upon your website. I need to re-read, but I believe that I have indeed stumbled into the “dark side of Paleo” you referenced. Ugh. It took visiting it twice in the last year before I started to get the message.
I began the diet again recently, making sure not to restrict caloric intake, and eating all the oily fish, avocadoes, nuts, and even quinoa, that a protein lover could wish for.
A month into it, though, the terrible hair shedding started again, and the eye problems began to flare again. The insomnia hasn’t returned (yet). At this point I’m really hopeful that the diet is the cause, because… that gives me hope I can work my way out of this completely.

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Claire Robert May 4, 2014 at 9:02 AM

I agree that a different diet is going to work for each of us. That’s a given. I think common sense needs to prevail here too, though. A stack of pancakes with maple syrup won’t likely promote weight loss in any of us!

If you go low carb make sure your carbs are coming from lots of veggies. Same if you’re not low carb, don’t load up on processed junk. Think before you put it in your mouth: is it nutrient dense? Is it fuel for my body and brain? If not, skip it!

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katy July 15, 2014 at 7:58 AM

I had a Bartholin’s Cyst (look it up) that had to be drained. It came back. When I quit ALL grains and went low carb, the cyst disappeared. Carbs mess with estrogen, and too much estrogen is NOT a good thing. Grain-free, low-carb is the best for me.

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