The keto diet is all the rage these days. It’s a low carb diet, but in a new, hip, cool way. I am not here to bash the keto diet. It certainly is helpful for some people. Let me repeat, some people.
One thing to note is that ketosis may not be helpful for those at a lower body weight who do not have enugh body fat to mobilize to successfully follow a keto diet. It has been hypothesized that those with a BMI below 20.0 may not benefit as much.
A second group of people who may not benefit from a keto diet are those with hypothyroidism. Why?! Research hints that a diet that overly restricts carbohydrates (in a starvation type of diet or very low carbohydrate diet for an extended period of time) will reduce thyroid hormones.
However, it depends on the individual. Nutrition should be and can be 100% customized to the individual.
So, how do we make a compromise and work towards a diet that is healthier for hypothyroidism? Bump up the carbodyrates a little bit, and lower the fat a little bit. Trust me, your liver will thank you! The liver plays a role in processing fats, and we are finding that those with a higher fat intake from a keto diet, are testing high for liver enzyme tests. There has already been some research on this topic. Extreme high fat intake even when including some healthy fats, it not 100% the healthiest plan.
I am a big proponent of eating fatty fish, good quality olive oil, nuts and seeds, and avocados many days of the week. However, at some point, it could be too much. The keto diet heavily focuses on fats as a main source for fuel in the diet. A healthier keto diet relies on vegetables as the base, then the healthy fats like an salad with olive oil and avocado. To improve upon this diet for hypothyroidism, I would add a little healthy carbohydrate like fresh fruits, sweet potato, and butternut squash, for example. This helps to add more fiber to the diet, more variety, more vitamins and minerals which support the thyroid, and more carbohydrate to fuel the thyroid as well!
So, what macronutrient breakdown do I recommend for hypothyroidism? First, check with your doctor or dietitian before implementing a new nutrition or eating plan for yourself. This is only meant to create a talking point with your own healthcare professional.
Again, everyone is different. Your genetic makeup is different. Your medical history and preferences are different. This is why nutrition is 100% different and customizable, and not everyone should be on a keto diet. I highly recommend speaking with a Registered Dietitian to determine what will make the most sense for your life.