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  1. #1
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    Low-Carb Diets and Cycling

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    Hey guys- I have struggled with my weight for years. I am hypothyroid, but I noticed that even with an amount of thyroid meds that gets my TSH pretty darn low, I feel sluggish, and sometimes go into these states where I feel cold and need to sleep. I finally tracked the problem down to a post-carb reaction. For example, today after having pasta for lunch, it happened. I measured my body temp with a basal body thermometer and it dropped to 96.3 and I literally passed out and had to take a nap until it passed. The only other odd thing on my labs is that my insulin is abnormally low, and may dad was a type I diabetic, so I think my body just doesn't make enough insulin to handle carbs. I have an appt. to see an endocrinologist, but that's not for a month. In the meantime I want to go on a pretty serious low carb diet, like in Dr. Berenstein's diabetes solution. I am actually planning to follow the Go-Diet cuz its just really easy. That means for most meals I'll eat about 4 ounces of protein and 2 cups low carb veggies, with 1 serving of low carb fruit per day (and probably eat eggs or plain yogurt for breakfast), and about 1-2 T olive oil per day. However, I can't imagine cycling without gatorade and a bolus of carbs in the middle of a 4 hour ride. How do you gals that low-carb diet manage your cycling. I am planning to restrict my carbs to veggies with the exeption of a pre-ride meal and mid-ride snack that will be carb rich, and still allow myself to drink gatorade ad lib during. But, any suggestions would be advisable.
    Last edited by Triskeliongirl; 04-21-2007 at 01:46 PM.

  2. #2
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    Do you have a glucometer to check your blood sugar level? That would tell you if you are not handling carbs effectively, because your blood glucose would be high after a high carb meal and it would stay high. The way to check would be to measure your blood glucose before eating and then again exactly 2 hours after eating.

    Hypothyroidism can affect blood sugar levels, so the two things could well be linked. Hopefully the endocrinologist will sort things out for you.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by matagi View Post
    Do you have a glucometer to check your blood sugar level? That would tell you if you are not handling carbs effectively, because your blood glucose would be high after a high carb meal and it would stay high. The way to check would be to measure your blood glucose before eating and then again exactly 2 hours after eating.

    Hypothyroidism can affect blood sugar levels, so the two things could well be linked. Hopefully the endocrinologist will sort things out for you.
    What I can tell you is that my fasting blood glucose is always marginally elevated, ~105 mg/dL while my fasting insulin is always marginally depressed 4.8~ulU/mL on my last lab. While my thyroid tests all look really good (I take 175ug synthroid daily), I still get those low thyroid like symptoms periodically, low body temp., sleepy, but today was the first day it happened so directly following a hi-carb meal. I did try to measure my blood glucose after the meal, but my glucometer needs new batteries. But does that matter, if eating carbs consistently makes me feel bad shouldn't I not eat them? Also, I cannot lose weight following a balanced low cal diet, so its another reason to give low carb a try. I was avoiding it cuz I worried about bonking, which is why I was so curious what other gals here do that follow low carb diets for weight loss but then cycle a lot. You are right though, I should try monitoring my blood glucose levels, so I will pick up some batteries later today. I am hoping to collect this kind of data to bring with me to the appt. with my endo, along with food and exercise logs.

  4. #4
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    I can't address the low carb diet question (I'm a vegan, so low carb doesn't work) but I am on a fairly unusual thyroid medication regimen that you might want to explore with your endocrinologist.

    First, some background. I had my thyroid removed about 10 years ago. While I was on synthroid (T4) alone, I continued to have hypothyroid symptoms even though my TSH was maintained at 1 or lower. I did some research and found an article in the New England Journal of Medicine that said that some patients do better when they get both T4 and T3 supplementation, because their bodies aren't able to convert T4 into T3 efficiently. So my endocrinologist agreed to do a trial run, and lowered my T4 while adding T3. The T3 drug is called Cytomel, and lasts about 8 hours in your body. I take 5 mcg of Cytomel in the morning along with 125 mcg of synthroid, and another 5 mcg of Cytomel about 2pm. It has changed my life. I don't get sluggish or tired any more, and have no hypothyroid symptoms.

    You can find many articles on the internet that debunk the T4/T3 combination, but it has worked for me. My endocrinologist has only prescribed T3 for one other person, but if someone comes in complaining that they still feel awful even though their TSH is "normal", he'll consider it. (Two of my coworkers (different doctor) also take Cytomel, but only once a day, which doesn't make any sense to me since it's only good for 8 hours.)

    Of course, I still have a hard time losing weight despite having my thyroid regulated properly and eating a vegan diet, but I think that's more genetics than anything else...

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the suggestions on cytomel. In fact, the reason I chose the endo I did is that he was listed on one of those thyroid websites as being open to cytomel, and he practices with the group my intenist wanted to refer me to anyway. He specializes in both thyroid and diabetes both, since I may have issues with both. I had read that NEJM article, as well as the some of the negative internet press, but I was intrigued by the idea that your core body temp is the best indicator of your thyroid function, not your tsh. But, then today it was amazing how my core temp. plummetted following a lunch of penne pesto, which makes me also want to try the low carb thing. I do plan to eat a lot of veggies, just low carb ones. I don't eat a lot of meat, and I do eat a lot of soy protein, but I do eat fish, chicken and eggs (i.e. lean proteins).

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Triskeliongirl View Post
    ...I was intrigued by the idea that your core body temp is the best indicator of your thyroid function, not your tsh.
    Can you point me to any info on this? Sounds interesting.

  7. #7
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    http://wilsonstemperaturesyndrome.co.../Introduction/

    Its discussed at the above link. However, I read another site that debunks this fellow's work. I think its because he puts folks just on T3, and then titrates up their dose monitoring body temperature, but that can be dangerous. The reason T4 is the accepted therapy is that your body (if its working well) can convert it to T3 as needed, but too much T3 can be deadly, and I think I read that Wilson had a patient die for this reason. BUT, it doesn't mean he isn't right about using body temp. as an indicator of thyroid function, it just means his treatment regimen was not safe.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Triskeliongirl View Post
    But does that matter, if eating carbs consistently makes me feel bad shouldn't I not eat them? Also, I cannot lose weight following a balanced low cal diet, so its another reason to give low carb a try. I was avoiding it cuz I worried about bonking, which is why I was so curious what other gals here do that follow low carb diets for weight loss but then cycle a lot. You are right though, I should try monitoring my blood glucose levels, so I will pick up some batteries later today. I am hoping to collect this kind of data to bring with me to the appt. with my endo, along with food and exercise logs.
    My approach would be to try and work out WHY eating carbs produces the reaction you get - going on a low-carb diet merely treats the symptoms not the cause. So I would say this needs further investigation. Monitoring your blood glucose levels is a good start and may provide some clues. The other thing you might want to consider is choosing your carbs based on glycaemic index and having a low-GI meal and monitoring your blood glucose levels then comparing that to what happens when you have a high-GI meal.

    The other thing I would suggest is that you may be one of those people whose TSH levels are affected by other factors and so your TSH results may not be a good guide to how effective your treatment is. How often do you get your T4/T3 levels measured and what do they show?

  9. #9
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    My thyroid levels are usually monitored annually, and my TSH is usually between 1 and 1.5, although it dropped to 0.6 on my most recent test (of course without synthroid it would be MUCH higher).

    On my last test my T4 was 10.2 mg/dL, my TU was 36% and my FT1 was 3.67. On another report done the same day, my T4 free direct was 1.5 ng/dL; triiodotyronine, free, serum was 3 pg/mL

    but I don't have a good sense what these numbers mean. If you do I'd be interested in hearing. All my doctor said was that these were good numbers so if I was still not feeling well I needed to see an endocrinologist. My body temperature is generally in the low 97s, today it dropped to 96.3 after the pasta meal. I know that not feeling well correlates with the low body temperature.

  10. #10
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    could you possibly be allergic to wheat? I found out I was allergic to wheat over a year ago. once I eliminated it from my diet I quit getting the starchy carb highs and lows.

    ps -- I'm also on T3 and T4 after a total thyroidectomy. I just didn't feel "right" on T4 alone.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by velogirl View Post
    could you possibly be allergic to wheat? I found out I was allergic to wheat over a year ago. once I eliminated it from my diet I quit getting the starchy carb highs and lows.

    ps -- I'm also on T3 and T4 after a total thyroidectomy. I just didn't feel "right" on T4 alone.
    Interesting thoughts. For the moment I decided to try the Goldberg-O'Mara flavor of low carb dieting. I like it because while it is pretty strict, unlike atkins it does allow most non-starchy veggies, small portions of low glycemic fruits, yogurt (recognizing that reported carbs in fermented dairy products have already been consumed by the fermenting bacteria so don't 'count', likewise fiber carbs don't 'count'). I have felt well and lost weight on this diet before, but never knew how to handle it while cycling. If you are right and I am allergic to wheat, I am eliminating it, so I could always try adding back other non-wheat carbs and see how I do (I am monitoring both how I feel and my ability to lose weight). I also suspected I needed T3 but my numbers look so good I am not sure anymore, but I do plan to explore that with my endo.

    Velogirl, you know so much about training, do you have any clients on very low carb diets, and if so what do they eat to still feel well cycleing? I am talking about long rides. I don't necessarially care about 'high performance' I cycle in part to control my weight and for pleasure, but I don't want to bonk either. I hope that if I can solve my weight problem I will improve my performance by simply manipulating my power to mass ratio. Its not that I don't care about performance, its just that right now I am willing to take a performance blow nutrionally if it helps me drop weight, correcting my real performance problem (I ride hilly terrain and i know excess weight is what holds me back).
    Last edited by Triskeliongirl; 04-22-2007 at 04:38 AM.

  12. #12
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    Triskeliongirl -

    I have no experience with thyriod issues, but I do have some experience with moderate to lo carb diets and endurance sports.

    My first thought upon reading your questions is that you should read The Paleo Diet for Athletes. The paleo expert for the book is Loren Cordain (who also wrote The Paleo Diet...also interesting but for different reasons) and the endurance expert is Joe Friel. They outline how to eat Paleo (which essentially boils down to low carb), and then how to fuel for endurance sports. It's really, really interesting and I've followed much of the advice with success in the past. I don't want to mis-quote the book, so I'll refrain from paraphrasing at all, but it is quite clearly outlined how you can eat low carb AND get in all the fuel you'll need for long rides.

    Good luck with it!
    Last edited by GLC1968; 04-22-2007 at 07:47 PM.
    My new non-farm blog: Finding Freedom

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by GLC1968 View Post
    Triskeliongirl -

    I have no experience with thyriod issues, but I do have some experience with moderate to lo carb diets and endurance sports.

    My first thought upon reading your questions is that you should read The Paleo Diet for Athletes. The paleo expert for the book is Loren Cordain (who also wrote The Paleo Diet...also interesting but for different reasons)............
    Good luck with it!
    Wow, thanks! That is exactly the kind of advice I am looking for. I think its going to take an endocrinologist to maybe find out why my body doesn't tolerate carbs, but I feel so much better on this low carb diet that I know its the answer. While I have lost weight on low carb before, and felt generally good, I always got into trouble with endurance sports, so it will be great to get some guidance.

    I had an amazing day. I have had barely any carbs since that nasty pasta attack yesterday, and already my body temp shot up to 98.5 which is quite high for me, and the brain fog has lifted and I feel just great, lots of energy, got lots of mental work done today, etc.

    I am curious. Do you count both calories and carbs? The book I am reading says to not count calories, but gives a very restricted list of foods, especially for the first 3 days, but says to eat to satisfy hunger. Maybe its its cuz once you go into ketosis the ketones suppress apeptite and you'll naturally eat less, because of course calories have to count. How restrictive is the plan you follow (i.e. how many grams of carbs do you eat, do you eat fruit, beans, etc.?).

  14. #14
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    Personally, I count calories and not carbs. But if I want to eat more, I naturally tend away from carbs because they are pretty calorie dense and the volume of food goes way down. I FEEL better when I am eating little or no grains and with the exception of my low fat cheese and skim milk, I don't eat much dairy either.

    The book doesn't have you count either carbs or calories for the main Paleo diet, but you do have to count one or the other for your training fuel (I think they use calories). Once you get the hang of it, I'm sure you could work with just servings of particular foods.

    Be forewarned, the Paleo diet flies in the face of everything we've been taught about nutrition. The book give very, very sound reasoning and research to back up their claims, but it's not for everyone. BUT, that said, the book for athletes does nicely outline how to fuel for workouts (depending on the length of the workout) both before and after and WHY things happen the way they do when you follow the plan. It's really an amazing read. You've actually inspired me to pick it up and read it through again. I too have put on some pounds in the past 3 weeks (working too much, no biking, illness...etc) and I think I'm going to use this book as inspiration to get back to the way of eating that is best for me.

    Defintely let me know what you think of it!
    My new non-farm blog: Finding Freedom

  15. #15
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    Personally, I count calories and not carbs. But if I want to eat more, I naturally tend away from carbs because they are pretty calorie dense and the volume of food goes way down. I FEEL better when I am eating little or no grains and with the exception of my low fat cheese and skim milk, I don't eat much dairy either.

    The book doesn't have you count either carbs or calories for the main Paleo diet, but you do have to count one or the other for your training fuel (I think they use calories). Once you get the hang of it, I'm sure you could work with just servings of particular foods.

    Be forewarned, the Paleo diet flies in the face of everything we've been taught about nutrition. The book give very, very sound reasoning and research to back up their claims, but it's not for everyone. BUT, that said, the book for athletes does nicely outline how to fuel for workouts (depending on the length of the workout) both before and after and WHY things happen the way they do when you follow the plan. It's really an amazing read. You've actually inspired me to pick it up and read it through again. I too have put on some pounds in the past 3 weeks (working too much, no biking, illness...etc) and I think I'm going to use this book as inspiration to get back to the way of eating that is best for me.

    Defintely let me know what you think of it!
    My new non-farm blog: Finding Freedom

 

 

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