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Why I Advise Women Not to Do Low Carb Diets for Hormone Balance

Sep 19, 2018

Why I Advise Women Not to Do Low Carb Diets | Flourish Blog

I often get asked, “Caroline as a woman and a Type 1 Diabetic, do you do the Keto diet or eat “no-carb”?” And my answer sometimes shocks people.

NO—I eat moderate amounts of nourishing carbohydrates and pay attention to my body signals.  

{I will say, when I was initially diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 20, I ate extremely low carb and honestly that SAVED me after my initial diagnosis.}

But as I got a bit older, started experiencing some hormonal issues, adrenal fatigue, thyroid dysfunction and miscarriage, I introduced more nourishing carbohydrates into my diet and noticed a big difference in my energy levels, sleep, hormones and overall daily performance.

Carbohydrates seem to be a controversial topic and trust me, I am passionate about educating people why the amount of carbohydrates and sugars we are consuming today is SO dangerous and unlike anything we have ever seen before.  Especially when it comes to children, the amount of carbohydrates these little ones are eating today is having profound negative effects.

For women, especially in child bearing years, I believe moderate amount of nourishing carbohydrates play an important role in our hormone balance, hormone efficiency, sleep, workout performance and energy.

But let’s talk about the flip side because this is SO important—a diet too high in carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates and foods that easily convert to sugar, can be devastating to your hormones, in particular for your adrenal glands, thyroid, and sex hormones.

For women, consuming the right amount of nourishing carbohydrates for your body type and lifestyle is a delicate balancing act.

Missed periods, change in body temperature, sleep imbalances, insomnia, painful PMS symptoms, migraines, adrenal fatigue, weight gain, weight loss plateau, poor performance during a workout or poor recovery after a workout, or exhaustion can be a few signs that you may need more good quality nourishing carbohydrates in your daily diet.

Why I Don't Advise Women to Do Low Carb Diets | Flourish by Caroline Potter, NTP

How Carbohydrates Affect Female Hormones

Adrenal Balance

Adrenal: For those already with adrenal fatigue, prolonged low-carbohydrate diets can create stress and worsen the situation by causing the adrenals to work overtime to convert what little glucose you are giving them to energy and in turn pump out more cortisol in an effort to balance blood sugar, sustain life and proper brain functioning.

Now we also don’t want high blood sugar so again this is a fine balancing act!

Thyroid Function

Thyroid: High cortisol levels also interfere with the livers ability to convert the thyroid hormone T4 into the active form T3, which can be devastating on your thyroid, metabolism and energy levels.  

My brilliant nutrition mentor Kim Schuette says it best: “Research indicates that a low-carb diet can cause free T3 thyroid hormone to decrease and reverse T3 thyroid hormone to increase, blocking biologically active thyroid hormones.  The result is lower levels of free T3, which results in lower metabolism. Symptoms such as fatigue, cold extremities, constipation, depression…may occur.”

Sex Hormones & Reproduction

Sex Hormones: The liver plays a huge role in detoxifying excess estrogen from the body.  In order to detoxify, the liver needs adequate amounts of glycogen, which is another reason why no carb or prolonged low carb diets can be harmful for women.

Stress is also the number one root cause of hormone dysfunction, and we now know that prolonged low carb diets are not the best choice when dealing with adrenal issues.  Our sex hormones and adrenals are intertwined—the body is brilliant at prioritizing and when in a state of prolonged stress, it can put some body processes like reproduction on the “back burner” in order to conserve energy.

 

This is why consuming the right amount of carbohydrates for YOUR needs is so important and the food group I like to refer to as the “nourishing carbohydrates.”

What are the nourishing carbohydrates?

  • potatoes
  • sweet potatoes
  • squash
  • soaked oats/oatmeal
  • sprouted quinoa or rice (not always good for everyone)
  • buckwheat (naturally gluten free)
  • legumes
  • lentils
  • chickpeas
  • parsnips
  • carrots
  • beets
  • taro
  • bananas
  • plantains
  • dates
  • berries
  • green apples
  • moderate amounts of fresh fruit (avoid fruit juice)
  • avocados
  • bell peppers
  • avocado
  • cashews

 

**With any carbohydrate it is important to consume with a high quality fat source—butter and toast, oatmeal and cream, yogurt and berries, potatoes roasted in duck fat—to help slow the rate at which glucose enters your blood stream and keep your blood sugar stable.**

The end takeaway?

Pay attention to YOUR body signals.  

How do you feel after a workout? Are you able to go 3.5-4 hours without eating?  Do you feel satisfied after a meal? (If not you probably need to increase your fat intake, but also pay attention to your carbohydrate intake).  Have you reached a weight loss plateau and ruled out other issues?  What are your PMS symptoms like?

Remember, slowing down puts you in tune with YOU.  If you are constantly stressed, stimulated or on-the-go, you are never going to notice these body cues.

As a general rule (depending on your life stage and activity level this will vary), start with 1/4-1/2 cup of nourishing carbohydrates with generous amounts of quality fats with each meal and see how your energy, metabolism, digestion, sleep patterns and hormone balance progresses.

 

Overcome Adrenal Fatigue Naturally

Comments +

  1. Lesa Hitle

    October 2nd, 2018 at 11:56 am

    While most of the emphasis in Atkins is on the diet, nutritional supplements and exercise are considered equally important elements. The Atkins Diet represents a radical departure from prevailing theories. Atkins claimed there are two main unrecognized factors about Western eating habits, arguing firstly that the main cause of obesity is eating refined carbohydrates, particularly sugar, flour, and high-fructose corn syrups; and secondly, that saturated fat is overrated as a nutritional problem, and that only trans fats from sources such as hydrogenated oils need to be avoided.

  2. Managing blood sugar + finding balance in all of us! - The Blossoming Table

    May 1st, 2019 at 9:29 pm

    […] https://flourish-living.com/women-low-carb-diets/ […]

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