Taking on Carbophobia

“Hi, my name is Laura and I’m a carbophobe.”

I’m serious. I’ve spent the last 4-5 years literally AFRAID of carbohydrates. It all started when I gained about 10 pounds during a stressful period of my college career, and decided to try a very low carbohydrate diet as a way to lose weight quickly before an event. Big surprise, it worked. I lost the weight I wanted and looked amazing. I felt awesome, confident, and attractive. It seemed effortless, and I was walking on air. I was hooked on the low-carb lifestyle, and seriously thought it was the ultimate answer to all of my weight loss and ‘perfect’ health goals.

Another few months in, I had another stressful life situation, fell off the low carb diet wagon, and eventually gained all the weight back I had lost. (And then some.) Bummer, right? So I blamed myself and assumed that if I just got better at avoiding carbs, the weight would slide off effortlessly. And guess what… it didn’t. I’ve been battling against the same 10 pounds for about 2 years now, stressing about my diet and exercise routine. Feeling guilty and lazy for missing workouts. Trying to force myself into ketosis as a sign that I was truly burning body fat. Losing a few pounds and gaining them right back the second I even smelled a piece of chocolate. All the while lamenting about how my friends lived on pasta and bagels and had no struggles with weight whatsoever. It was infuriating, and a constant thought in the back of my mind was “what is wrong with me? why isn’t this working? I’M TRYING SO HARD!”

In the Paleo/Primal community, we’ve heard so much about carb addiction, how carbohydrates make you fat, and how eliminating carbohydrates will bring world peace. Just kidding about the last one, but seriously, you would think that carbohydrates were invented by the Nazis based on how they’ve been vilified in the field of alternative nutrition in the past decade or so. I personally feel like it’s starting to get a little ridiculous.

Now, I’m not going to suggest that a high carbohydrate, grain-based diet is healthy or ideal in any way. I agree that the ubiquity of refined carbohydrates in the American diet plays a big role in our current obesity trends, so I’m not trying to say we should all give up Paleo and live the rest of our lives on cupcakes and Wonder bread.

Who's hungry for some gluten??

What I would like to suggest is the concept that perhaps (for some people) low-carbohydrate diets are not sustainable, or even healthy, in the long term. 

There’s been a lot of back and forth about carbs online lately, and I don’t know about any of you, but its starting to get really confusing for me. The “safe starch” debate is the most current headliner, and even though I find both sides of the argument to be interesting and compelling in their own rights, I also feel that there is just too much of a range in human dietary needs for anyone to come up with a conclusive answer about what percent of our diet should come from carbohydrates. (If you haven’t seen the debate going on, check out the post that Jimmy Moore put up on his blog. It’s pretty incredible to see all the different reactions to Paul Jaminet’s work. I’ve read the Perfect Health Diet book and it makes a lot of sense to me!) Plus, as we’ve seen from the variety of ancestral diets of the Inuit to the Kitavans, people have thrived on both very low and very high carbohydrate diets. So whether or not we can even be certain of the existence of a perfect diet is dubious to me.

The only thing I’m certain about, really, is my own experience.

I have a fairly stressful lifestyle. I’m a graduate student in a challenging nutrition program, I work part time to pay my bills, I try to stay active as much as possible, I take care of a dog, I do a ton of cooking, and I try to go out and be social every now and then. I am constantly either running around or doing work that requires a significant amount of brain power. And lately, I’d been feeling extremely anxious and stressed out. I cut out the coffee, and tried to sleep as much as possible, but it didn’t seem like enough. Something was still causing me to be excessively frazzled.

I recently got some blood work done, and noticed that my T3 levels are clinically low – 1.7 in a reference range of 2.5-4.3. T3 is the functional form of the thyroid hormone, so even though it seems like my thyroid is working fine, for some reason the conversion from T4 to T3 is not adequate. Which is pretty crappy, because T3 essentially controls your whole metabolism, and having low T3 will make you have hypothyroid symptoms.

So I did a little research, and it turns out that while there are a few different reasons why T3 levels can be low when TSH and T4 are normal, one of the most common reasons is a lack of carbohydrates in the diet. I wasn’t actively trying to go low carb, but after analyzing my daily diet, I realized that most days my entire carb intake consisted of one whole sweet potato. Which is like 40-50 grams of carbohydrate, max. Maybe I’d have a piece of fruit, which would bring my day’s intake up to around 70 grams. That’s pretty dang low, especially for someone who is active and using their brain constantly.

I came across Matt Stone’s work in my Google search, and I decided to read what he had to say, mainly because I knew Chris Masterjohn was friendly with him, so I figured he’d have to have some validity. I was actually really surprised to find that his writing made a ton of sense to me, even though a lot of it was somewhat anti-Paleo.

What really struck a chord with me was the information Matt provided about how dieting, cutting out food groups, and following strict eating behaviors can really slow down your metabolism, and particularly reduce the T4 to T3 conversion. He even quotes Dr. Atkins, who said:

“…remember that prolonged dieting (this one [Atkins” diet], low-fat, low-calorie, or a combination) tends to shut down thyroid function. This is usually not a problem with the thyroid gland (therefore blood tests are likely to be normal) but with the liver, which fails to convert T4 into the more active thyroid principle, T3. The diagnosis is made on clinical ground with the presence of fatigue, sluggishness, dry skin, coarse or falling hair, an elevation in cholesterol, or a low body temperature. I ask my patients to take four temperature readings daily before the three meals and near bedtime. If the average of all these temperatures, taken for at least three days, is below 97.8 degrees F (36.5 C), that is usually low enough to point to this form of thyroid problem; lower readings than that are even more convincing.”

Matt also wrote a whole chapter about cortisol, and explains how both eating too little carbohydrates and worrying about your food can cause cortisol levels to go up. High cortisol can make losing body fat extremely difficult, and the stress of low-carb eating can really cause some problems for your adrenals. I’ve already done a huge number on my adrenals over the past few years with coffee, alcohol, physical and emotional stress, and poor sleeping habits. Add low-carb eating to that list, and I was pretty much guaranteeing a chronically high level of cortisol and adrenal burnout.

Matt also explains how the reduction in T4 to T3 conversion slows your entire metabolism down. And by metabolism, I don’t just mean the ability to burn fat. I also mean the general rate that your body performs its vital functions like digestion, assimilation of nutrients, thermogenesis, etcetera. I definitely feel like my whole body has felt sluggish recently, and I’m starting to wonder how my diet has been negatively affecting my T3 levels.

I wasn’t actively trying to eat super low-carb, but just by habit was generally leaving carbohydrates out of my shopping cart. I figured they weren’t really that necessary, and that eating them would cause me to gain weight. I guess I was a little bit wrong about that.

So I’m conducting a little N=1 experiment to see how adding more carbohydrates into my diet will affect my mood, my digestion, my sleep quality, and my weight. So far I feel like it’s been helping with these issues, but I need to give it some more time. And I really feel like Matt’s nutritional philosophy isn’t necessarily contradictory to the root values of Paleo eating. In fact, much of his writing is anthropological in nature, and explains the reasons why non-Western cultures had such superior diets. He focuses on a lower omega-6 intake as a significant factor, which I think is 100% true, and a point that I think is pretty well taken by the Paleo community in general.

I just think that sometimes certain writers in the Paleo “blogosphere” tend to take carbohydrate restriction too far, and I wonder how many other people out there are suffering from the same carbophobia that I’ve been dealing with for the past few years. I know its going to take me a while to get used to eating more carbs, but I think its definitely worthwhile for me to make the effort, so I can get my metabolism functioning optimally again. So I’m eating more starches such as buckwheat, white rice, and sweet potatoes, plus fruit like bananas and citrus. It’s all real food, even if its not strictly Paleo. I think being too strict with my diet is just adding to the high cortisol issues I’m dealing with from other stressors in my life, so its appropriate for me to loosen up a bit!

Reducing stress, cutting out caffeine, getting adequate sleep, and not burning myself out at the gym will all be other important strategies for reducing my cortisol levels, which I believe to be the root of my sub-optimal health. I’m also adding a phosphatidylserine supplement to my routine, which I’m hoping will lower my cortisol levels even more substantially.

I apologize if this post rambled on too much, but I’m just starting to get exposed to a larger variety of opinions about diet that on the surface appear to clash with Paleo ideology. I truly think that the work of people like Matt Stone can actually be used to modify the Paleo diet to help make it work better for you. You can eat a higher-carb Paleo diet, and I do think certain foods that are considered to be ‘not Paleo’ are completely fine and possibly even beneficial to be included in the diet. So just always make sure you’re paying attention to your own body and how it responds to what you eat. Just because someone tells you low-carb is the best way to eat, doesn’t mean you should ignore your body’s own needs and blindly follow that suggestion.

On a side note, I also have been extremely frustrated with the amount of bickering going on regarding the topic of carbohydrates. I’m also very surprised at the level of animosity with which some people responded to Paul Jaminet. I think Paul’s diet plan is perfectly reasonable, and fits nicely with other diet plans like the ones Mark Sisson and Chris Kresser blog about.

I don’t agree with a one-size-fits-all diet approach, particularly when it comes to macronutrient ratios. So I’m going to give this higher-carb thing a shot, and see how my health is affected.

Is anyone else feeling this way? I’d love to hear some comments!

 

More resources:

Paul’s response to his critics

Cheeseslave’s experience with cortisol

Matt Stone on Cortisol

Dr. Mercola’s take on the safe starch debate

Danny Roddy’s view of Matt Stone

Chris Kresser’s podcast on eating non-Paleo

  • PaulL

    Hey Laura,

    I’m completely with you on this. I’ve been struggling with a similar issue for a few months. I went strict low-carb paleo last January and succeeded in losing over 35 pounds. My trainer told me I then needed to gain weight if I wanted to succeed in my strength goals and I ended up gaining it all back. Except now I feel fat. I’m not, but I feel it, and I’m not crazy about how my clothes fit or how I look. After discussing it with him he mentioned I probably need significantly more carbs in my diet. He’s got me on a plan now where I need to get in 90 grams of carbs a day. Which really isn’t much, but it’s huge compared to what I was eating. At the same time, I’m facing low testosterone levels. My TSH is slightly high, despite T3 and T4 being normal. Cortisol seems fine, but losing the weight, while remaining paleo is tough. It’s discouraging somewhat to remember how easily I lost the weight last year.

    I’ve been adding in some of the “safe starches” mostly white rice, sweet potatoes, and other starchy veggies. Though I do add in some steel-cut oatmeal occasionally as a source of cheap carbs. My biggest struggle seems to be not overdoing the fat!

    I don’t quite get all the controversy myself, and I keep falling back on what Chris Kresser, Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, Shaun Croxton, and Dianne Sanfillipo have all said at one point in one way or another: “Everyone is different, do what works for you!”. And, as Robb has mentioned, “Paleo is a template, not an historical re-enactment!”.

    I know white rice might not work for someone like Jimmy Moore, and I know I’ll probably be kicked out of the Paleoverse for admitting I eat oatmeal. But it works for me, they’re all whole foods, and it’s not like I’m eating Frosted Sugar Flakes w/ skim milk and waffles for breakfast :)

    I think as our bodies adjust to eating clean, there’s a honeymoon period. As we learn more and more, there’s more and more for us to stress about. To some extent, ignorance really is bliss. Know that we know more, we think we’ve got it all figured out, and we’re confounded when our bodies don’t react the way our knowledge says they should. Then we stress out because now we have to learn even more. It can get to be a vicious circle. Don’t let it :)

    We all have something we’re struggling with. Do you best, and as my Dad always said to me, “Don’t sweat the small stuff!” Play around with things, find what works for you, and who cares what others think. They don’t need to eat what you do, nor do they have live with your body or your choices. Only you do, so you’re the only one you have please !

    • http://ancestralizeme.com Laura

      I love how we consider 90 grams of carbohydrates to be high! Considering most people eat 200-300 or more, 90 seems pretty low. I think for me at least, the 150-200 grams per day range might be more appropriate.

      No one can kick you out of the Paleo-verse though! Real food is real food, and you’re allowed to eat whatever you want, really. If you feel good doing what you’re doing, then it doesn’t matter whether it fits the Paleo guidelines 100% or not.

      Stressing over your food might even be worse than eating non-Paleo food items!

      • PaulL

        Yeah, I was pretty surprised when he told me I needed to eat more and when I asked how much “more” meant he replied with “90 grams”. It’s “more” than nothing, but really not a lot!

        I was just kidding about getting kicked out :) Nor am I really stressing over it. I agree, stress is really bad!

        Btw, great job on this post, I really enjoyed it!

  • Alicia

    Wow, this is my story too. Three years ago, I started a very strict eating plan. Lots of protein and veggies, very little carbs (majority gluten free) and very little sugar. I was working out pretty regularly and had reduced my stress significantly. I had twenty-five pounds that I wanted to lose (that I had gained over ten years of a high stress life in addition to having a chronic illness). The twenty-five pounds dropped right off. And then last year I had a really stressful year, ate more carbs (not as many gluten free but still not horrible processed stuff) and exercised less and have gained all the pounds back. My T3 was low before I started the diet three years ago. And I also have issues with high cortisol and my adrenals are tanked. I too started stressing about carbs and blaming my weight gain on introducing them back into my diet. Maybe, letting go a little and enjoying more carbs is my answer too. Thanks!

    • http://ancestralizeme.com Laura

      Can’t hurt to try, right? I’m really interested in this T3 conversion issue specifically. It seems like a challenging one to deal with.

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  • elegbaz

    Great post thanks, I enjoy your cortisol-related thoughts.
    I’m quite a newbie in the Paleo-world, so I can’t really contribute to the carbs-problems, but an idea I’v read makes sense to me : stochasticity. Vary foods, vary trainings, vary your thoughts, vary your macro-nutriments ratios, etc… For instance it’s likely than first humans had more fruit during hot seasons ! Just as I’v stumbled upon several advice that ketosis is pretty good, but for a certain period of time.

  • http://www.mondieteticien.fr Laurent Buhler

    Hi Laura,

    It’s great that your journey thru paleo and your clever mind finally got you to this conclusion. If you check hunter-gatherers study by Cordain for instance, you’ll see (as maybe you already did) that paleo is in no way a synonym to low-carb. Human adaptability helps populations to adapt to various diets and some of the hunter-gatherers eat large amounts of carbs (generally speaking, the closer to equator, the higher the carbs). Abiltity to change ones mind when facing the facts is the mark of a real scientific mind. Congrats !

    • http://ancestralizeme.com Laura

      Thanks Laurent! Though I still have a lot of learning to do. I guess we all do when it comes to nutrition!

  • http://twitter.com/JCPistell Colin Pistell (@JCPistell)

    Laura, I am quite sure you know my position on all this already :)

    I’m a great believer in self experimentation – it was how I found my way into this whole Paleo community in the first place. I’ve actually tried eating a low carb diet and quickly determined it was a very efficient method to render me completely insane.

    I actually just finished a blog post about my recent experiments eating a ton of bread. For those who are interested, here it is: http://www.fifth-ape.com/blog/2012/2/21/the-great-bread-experiment.html

    In short, if you’re eating real food you’re basically doing it right. Relax and enjoy it. Learn to love the whole food process (from getting it to cooking it to eating it) and everything will work out just fine.

    …as long as you also engage in robust exercise.

    • http://ancestralizeme.com Laura

      Nice blog post, Colin. Unfortunately, some of us don’t have awesome jobs that let us run around the woods all day! Since my current lifestyle is fairly sedentary (i.e. I’m on the computer more than someone ever should be), I think I need to be more mindful of my diet. Trust me, I wish I could frolic and exercise robustly throughout the day! For now, I’m going to try to keep my diet clean but also be wary of my needs for carbohydrates, regardless of my activity level. I just slipped way too easily into the low-carb eating pattern that wasn’t supporting my body’s glucose needs. Oh well, you live and you learn, right?
      N=1 all the way! :)

  • Joy

    I agree 100% and was contemplating talking to my nutritionist about it. I have sub clinical hypo-thyroid as well as insulin issues…still trying to find the right balance for me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eatrealfoods Andrea

    WOULD LOVE TO HEAR MORE ABOUT HOW YOU ARE INCORPORATING MORE CARBS INTO YOUR DIET. oops sorry, cap lock was on. I have 3 little ones ages 7,4,1 and I really atruggle getting enough carbs into them with out feeding them tons of grain free baked goods laced with honey ;) IU know under 100g is low carb and I do fine but its been stressful coming up with ideas to get the carbs they need into them. I am now serving more fruit and have added white potatoes back into their diet (although not mine, they make me crave sweets and more carbs when I eat them, I personally feel best low sugar and low carb). They have never liked rice, except rice milk. Would making homemade rice milk and serving it with their dinner be a good option? I make our own almond milk and coconut milk and they drink a couple cups per week of grass fed raw milk. I am super careful with grains because my son has Celiac symptoms but was tested only after we went Paleo and his symptoms dissappeared. Since he had already been grain free for over 30 days the test came back inconclusive. Anyway, I am trying to get more crabs in but avoiding grains and even psydo grains for fear of his reactions to them.

    • http://ancestralizeme.com Laura

      What about rice or buckwheat pasta? I was never a huge rice fan except in sushi, but rice pasta is pretty tasty. (Kids definitely need more carbohydrates, and I wouldn’t advocate a low-carb diet for a child unless they were somewhat metabolically deranged.)

      • http://www.facebook.com/eatrealfoods Andrea

        Thanks for the idea!! I hadn’t thought of rice or buckwheat pasta. They love their spaghetti squash (they never liked pasta either, I know weird kids who naturally like healthy stuff haha) I have seen a buckwheat hot cereal by Bobs Red Mill, they might go for that or some buckwheat pancakes. Thanks again for the ideas :)

  • http://www.houseofskip.blogspot.com Skip

    Very well written. I really enjoyed reading this. I think the takeaway really is that everyone needs to make the decision about what is best for them and that a one size fits all diet is not possible. Thanks for the info about thyroid function/levels related to carbs, I didn’t know that. I take the paleo “template” as Robb called it and make it work for me, definitely enjoy reading different posts to learn more and be a conscious consumer!

  • http://www.lowcarbdietitian.com Franziska

    Great post, Laura! Agree with you 100%. I was a bit of a carbaphobe as well, for blood sugar rather than weight issues. As you may have read, I’m doing an article on a low-carbohydrate eating pattern for the ADA’s Diabetes Spectrum journal. In it I’ll be recommending a moderate-low-carb (~100 grams), whole foods plan based on the research I’ve done over the past month regarding impaired T4 to T3 conversion and other problems experienced on long-term VLCKDs. I’m a fan of Paul Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet as well, and I now realize that my blood sugar doesn’t spike after having a meal that includes white rice :)

  • Olga

    Hi Laura:

    I also read the Jaminet’s book and was quite intrigued. From my understanding of the material they present, as well as others, the main point is that one does not want to empty liver glycogen stores. And, you don’t want to surpass it’s capacity either. I read a book by Rob Faigin recently that recommends cycling carbs. So that you eat as many carbs as you want (he’s a natural body builder and not a paleo guy, so he’s not fussy about the source) at dinner every 3rd then 4th, then 3rd, then 4th day, etc. The rest of the time you limit carbs to 30-60 g per day. This way you keep glycogen topped up, and minimize insulin spikes. He also goes into great detail about how to avoid exercise burnout. I’ve been trying a more paleo version of his suggstions, and have found that I have more energy than I did when eating strictly low carb.

    Here’s an on-line chapter from his book:
    http://www.hormonalfitness.com/pdfs/NHE-Chapter-21.pdf

    And a link to his blog:
    http://www.hormonalfitness.com/hormonal-fitness.htm

  • Christopher

    this is what I think about it

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003103107355 Elisa Maldonado

    Thank you so much for this post! I also experienced problems when following strictly Paleo and a very low-carb diet. When I was eating Paleo, I experienced anxiety. While on very low-carb, I was having problems sleeping, especially waking up extremely early in the morning. After doing some research into it, I realized that it was due to cortisol. So, I started eating more carbs and have been sleeping better. It’s still a work in progress, though, experimenting with foods. I agree with you that every person is different and has to figure out what works best for them. And I really enjoyed Matt Stone’s presentation yesterday for the Paleo Summit; being on a restrictive diet can cause all kinds of other problems. What he didn’t mention is how being on a restrictive diet can also lead to eating disorders. I wonder if any Paleo people have problems with that?

  • Screenname

    I’m in the same boat. I’ve been vlc for almost a year and I feel like I’m starting to hit the wall now my exercise is increasing. I’ll plan on mostly staying out of ketosis 60grams +. I read somewhere your brain requires about 100g of glucose a day so i’ll be shooting for about 100 – 200 average, should take a bit of stress off the body. It will also work out well as well because I never really feel like eating too much or cooking in the morning so it will be a nice easy change just to eat fruit in the AM. I’ll also add in a huge refeed of sweet potato wedges atleast once a week.

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  • http://mohanzhang.wordpress.com mohanzhang

    NC is totally the sweet potato basket of the US (nearly 40% of all production in 2010 according to the USDA), and I’m pretty jealous! You can probably get a 40 lb case delivered to your door for around $30, and even less if you feel like picking it up. At that rate, I’d be eating like 10 sweet potatoes a day if I were you! Hard to be low carb with deals like that hanging around :)

    • http://ancestralizeme.com Laura

      Yeah, well the sweet potatoes here are pretty phenomenal. I made dinner for my dad and I tonight and made one purple and one white sweet potato and gave us each half. It was deeee-lish!

  • Shae

    This is totally my story. I’d honestly compare my adherance to low carb as a form of disordered eating (I knew the carb count of everything I ate, bananas were da debil carb wise, I would avoid potatoes at any cost, etc…). After a few years, LC really backfired and I couldn’t stop gaining weight. My FT3 was low, RT3 high, cortisol was high (then ultimately crashed). I was living “healthier” than ever but my body was literally crapping out on me!!!

    I know LC works for many people but it really did a number on my endocrine system. It’s pitifully ironic because I managed to gain most of the weight I initially lost back (even with STRICT adherence) and caused a host of other problems simultaneously!

  • Jay

    Just ran across your site here following links from people blogging on the paleo get together.

    I think I saw you at the Chris Masterjohn presentation last November for WAPF in Dallas? You asked a question at the mike, right?

    Anyway, glad you follow Paul Jaminet’s PHD. I’m seeing a splintering in the paleo world going on. IMO, the respectable science based writers/bloggers are all moving toward increasing carbs to at least Jaminet’s 20% level if not 30-40% levels.
    http://www.huntgatherlove.com/content/what-bleep-do-we-know-about-carbs

    This seems to have all happened after the Jimmy Moore’s “safe starches” debate over PHD’s recommendations.
    This Guyenet’s series of response to Taubes ended any debate I had over being carbphobic. http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2011/08/carbohydrate-hypothesis-of-obesity.html

    You probably already knew all this. I think the paleo group is moving in the right direction not just for better health but also being reasonable in a way that the diet can appeal to the larger society. Besides, increasing carbs helps WAPF and paleo to be more inline with each other’s position, which I found each quite compelling. A decade ago, paleo was basically eat only meat, veggies, and nuts. That radical approach would not win over America and bring the lasting change in diet the world needs.

    I’ve only read 6 of your recent articles and noted your listing of authors and didn’t see Anthony Colpo. He promoted paleo earlier than most and led the increase in carbs a few years before the rest and took alot of heat. You might find interesting Colpo’s back and forth with Paul Jaminet and his guest writer Mario over the issue of carb levels and thyroid issues like T3.
    http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=4446

    As for me, 150g/600 calories of carbs a day was great for my weight loss so long as my total calories were under control.
    http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=5181

    I grew up a meat and potatoes guy so I was so glad to find a paleo version that allowed white potatoes!

    I’ll search around your site later, but I look forward to reading any take you have on food reward in the future. I think there’s something to it in my experiences.

    Glad to know there’s another person getting a nutrition degree that’s paleo! A movement can last only so long being on the outside eventually credentialed professionals are needed for real change.

    • http://ancestralizeme.com Laura

      Wow, Jay, what an insanely thoughtful comment!! I really appreciate your visit to my blog. I was at Chris’s presentation but I didn’t make a comment. You may have seen me comment during Denise Minger’s talk though.

      I definitely agree we need more ancestrally-minded people entering nutrition programs, especially RD programs. Change needs to happen from within the status quo, not around it.

      I’ve seen a bit of Anthony Colpo but I’ll definitely check more of him out. I’m way more carb-ambiguous now after doing more research on the topic, and PFX this weekend just clarified that for me.

      Thanks again! :)

      • Jay

        Your welcome! Yeah, Denise Minger’s presentation was same room and right before so I was close…enough. All this cholesterol is hurting my memory. : )

        It’ll be interesting reading your blog in the future about any resistance you might experience from professors, gov’t, other nutritionists, etc in the field professionally. You got alot of courage knowingly going into a field where you might be putting your livelihood on the line. Good luck to you!

  • Jody Hawkins

    Thanks for this blog Laura. I have had quite a few sets backs lately also, and being a strict Paleo follower has not helped with weight or energy. The oppostie actually. But I recently found out that I have an intestinal parasite, which is zapping all of my energy and nutrients. I apprecitate your views here. Just goes to show that what works for one person, may not work for another. Honoring your own body is most important.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joshthefrugivore Josh Almanza

      Make sure you look into Oregano oil for parasites. Let your physician know about himalayan oregano oil and mediterranean oil p73. He can then do the research and see the benefits.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10815019

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  • laura h

    I so thought of ‘Cheeseslave’ when I read this!

  • http://www.facebook.com/maggie.bean1 Maggie Bean

    Laura,

    My story sounds a lot like yours. I, too, have a fairly stressful lifestyle — I own a graphic design and marketing business, I do Zumba and personal training, I take care of a rescued chihuahua, I love cooking and researching recipes and stalking the aisles of Earth Fare. I even occasionally try to have a social life.

    Early in 2010 I discovered Gary Taubes “Why We Get Fat” and became a low-carb devotee overnight. I lost weight. I felt amazing. For about five months. Then I turned 40. I started gaining weight. I felt tired, irritable and sluggish. I stopped exercising. For a few months I licked my (big fat) wounds and tried to reevaluate and listen to what my body was trying to tell me.

    What I found out is my thyroid levels had dropped (again — I was diagnosed with hypothyroid in 2004.) Blerg.

    So, I got a extra kick of Sythroid and thought “ok, I got my fun kick of hormones and now everything will start working again.” Uh, no such luck.

    I’m still following a modified Paleo diet (I do some dairy and tolerate it fine — yay cheese!) and I’m exercising regularly again but alas, the scale isn’t moving, the pants are not getting looser and at my last check up my T3 levels were still low.

    I am thrilled to have found your blog and am very invested in your research and your own personal journey with your health. I can’t wait to read more!

    Plus, my sister is studying at Chapel Hill, too (she’s getting a Ph.D. in Education.) It’s a great school and such a cool town!

    • http://ancestralizeme.com Laura

      Nice to meet you Maggie! Yeah, Chapel Hill is pretty sweet… All it needs is a beach and I’d be set!

      Thanks for checking out my site! Good luck with the T3, its a tough situation to manage I’m sure.

  • P.

    You have no idea how much your post resonates with me! I lost my freshman 15 summer after freshman year and was able to maintain my weight at 95-100 for 4 years without any major issues eating what I want to eat. Then I started Crossfit and paleo and I started getting obsessed about food and what I put in my body and thats when the weight gain starts creeping in. I went super strict/very low carb a year ago and lost 10lbs back to my pre-paleo weight of 100lbs but quickly gain it all back as soon as I eat a small piece of sweet potato. And I’ve been struggling with binge eating and losing+gaining weight since. I started eating safe starches for 4 weeks and was feeling great and then I decide to lean out and cut y carb down to 50g or less and that’s when I fell off the wagon and started binge eating again. I should’ve stuck to the phd eating plan, as I found it to be the most accomodating and least dogmatic of all the ancestral health eating ideas out there in the paleo sphere. Anyways, just want to say thank you for this post and I am going back to phd eating and working on overcoming my body image issues and eating problems.

  • Ben

    I went ultra low carb last year and had noticed my ldl levels started going up kind of quickly now at about 186, hdl 89, triglycerides 18. My TSH, T4, and T3 are all normal, but I insisted on getting my rT3 tested and my rt3/t3 ratio is 15 (20 and above is normal). I’ve since added back carbs with every meal and hope it gets resolved simply. Its good to know others are going through similar issues! I think I exercise too much for low carb.

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