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  1. Default Low Carb Diets & Hormones

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    Well, the RFL thread could get quite overun with this discussion so thinking it would be better here (and with suggestion from Tauren) I thought i'd start a new thread.

    Can anyone explain how low carbohydrate diets has an effect on hormone levels?

    Does it maximize them or reduce them?

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    maximise or reduce what hormones?

    and are we talking about hormones at maintenance calories, cutting calories or adding mass calories? As when people discuss low carb they tend to assume this must be low calorie also and this is where the interpretations of studies can become confusing.

    First off Tauren stated:

    Quote Quote
    Contrary to popular opinion, I don't think there is anything wrong with low-carb diets, and I don't believe you have caused yourself any problems by doing AD followed by RFL. If anything the problems are caused by things working too well.

    I don't claim to know all the effects of low-carb eating on hormones. I know low-carb is linked to reduced thyroid output, testosterone and leptin. It quite possibly increases other hormones. The body is like that. If anyone wants to talk about this more, low-carb hormonal effects could be the basis for a new thread I imagine.
    First off, Tauren is probably right in the sense that your body is recognising nutrients that are not required. I would personally take this as a warning sign and not look at it the other way round in the sense that low carb must be giving these negative effects but that if carbs have that effect on your body now then something must surely be wrong with them?

    We would also need to define the term low carb and does this imply fats are high? There are so many variables to just say low carb increases x hormone or decreases y hormone would be too simplistic a view.

    This particular 'statement' is also misleading:

    Quote Quote
    I know low-carb is linked to reduced thyroid output, testosterone and leptin
    Low carb diets tend to ban processed goods like bread, pasta, sugar, cereal etc. These are actually some of the culprits that affect thyroid negatively. Wotan had some good studies on this before I believe? Gluten is one of the leading causes of thyroid diseases, just search for Hashimoto and gluten in google.

    As for testosterone, time and time again elevated levels of testosterone are seen with low carb diets 'providing' calories are replaced with protein/fat. NU will be along to illustrate this. It is worth noting however that it is not just a matter of what levels testosterone are at it also matters what levels estrogen are at also. And guess what? Carbs particularly bread, grains etc. are proven to raise estrogen in the body. NU, data please?

    As for leptin, my view is this is artificially elevated over and above what should be considered 'normal' when following a high carb diet. That does not mean lowered leptin is bad when you return to a lower carb intake. For those who consume lower carb they actually 'need' less leptin to get the same effect due to reduced triglycerides in the blood which allows leptin to get to where it is required more easily.
    Leptin, low-carb and hunger | The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D.
    Last edited by Gareth83; 15-08-2010 at 11:53 PM.
    Quote Quote
    When you eat the foods your body is made for (Paleo foods) in a framework that your body is made for (feast-fast, such as IF), it all works beautifully.
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    Hormones are a bit more complicated than maximise or reduce.

    As I understand it:

    Testosterone will be lower on low carb (but possibly not that significantly)
    Thyroid will be lower
    Leptin may be lower

    As I said in the other thread, some beneficial hormonal processes probably up-regulate.

    Although the second two factors I mention there may slow the metabolism and therefore fat loss, they will in no way derail a diet on their own.
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    it is also to do with too much of something may be just as bad as too little. Take cortisol for instance
    Quote Quote
    When you eat the foods your body is made for (Paleo foods) in a framework that your body is made for (feast-fast, such as IF), it all works beautifully.
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    Testosterone may only be lower on a low-carb diet if it is high protein and low fat, rather than moderate protein and high fat. Fats, particularly saturated fats, increase testosterone whlle high protein diets lower it.

    It is not the level of leptin that is important but our sensitivity to it. Most people with high insulin levels (whether basal, fasting, postprandial or whatever) tend to be insulin resistant - or at least not as sensitive to it as those who have lower levels. The same for leptin. Most obese people have high serum levels of leptin since adipose tissue is the prime site of leptin secretion but they are resistant to its effects. People on low carb diets may have lower leptin levels (especially if losing fat mass) but they will be more sensitive to it. Eating high carb foods (re-feeds, etc) may temporarily increase leptin secretion and serum levels but also down-regulates the expression of leptin receptors and blocks the entry of leptin.

    The thyroid issue is also clouded by the fact that so-called 'normal' levels are based on the lab values for people on a predominantly high carb western diet. What is usual in this population is not always optimal or is only optimal in the context of that prevailing diet.

    The only reason that low carb diets are considered 'oestrogenic', as far as I can see, is because some processed low carb foods tend to be made from soy and its derivatives (due to the fad of making them 'high protein' such as Atkins Nutritional products being re-branded by his successors, following his death, to deflect the ongoing criticism of the original diet's high saturated fat content). But, as we have seen, it is high protein, low fat diets that promote low testosterone in men - if you have low testosterone it stands to reason you may have higher oestrogen levels!
    Last edited by NU_nutrition_TS; 16-08-2010 at 12:23 AM.
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    You could therefore actually reach a tentative conclusion that nothing especially interesting happens to you hormonally on a low carb diet. Depending on your overall viewpoint you may see metabolic slowdown due to leptin and thyroxin as an issue, or you may not.
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    No, not at all! A lowering of insulin and an increase in both insulin and leptin sensitivity are major beneficial changes. There are other positive hormonal changes and shifts not to mention the up-regulation of enzymes and other biochemicals necessary for fat loss and health and the expression of certain genes required for good health and the suppression of others that tend to lead to poor health.
    Disclaimer: All posts on these forums are for information and discussion purposes only and solely the views of the forum member who posted. No posts constitute or replace medical advice. Any information should be considered in regard to specific circumstances. All advice is followed at your own risk and should be followed up with your own research or doctors advice.
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    Is there a measurable way of checking insulin sensitivity and a range of poor>excellent scale?

    Not into this thread much, biological stuff goes over my head - more of the physics guy me

    Thanks guys

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    Not really. You would need direct measurement of insulin levels in blood either fasting, postprandially or over the 2 hours of an oral glucose tolerance test, which would need to be done by a proper lab. So you are either dependant on an NHS doctor doing this or paying for it privately. There are other markers you can measure - or have measured - that can give you an indication of degree of insulin sensitivity and possible fasting insulin levels, such as HDL cholesterol and triglycerides, by taking account of the ratio between the two: a HDL:TG ratio above 3/3.5 indicates a good degree of insulin sensitivity (basically TG as low as possible and HDL-C as high as possible). You can look at it the other way around TG:HDL, in which case you are looking for ratios below 0.5/0.3.
    Disclaimer: All posts on these forums are for information and discussion purposes only and solely the views of the forum member who posted. No posts constitute or replace medical advice. Any information should be considered in regard to specific circumstances. All advice is followed at your own risk and should be followed up with your own research or doctors advice.
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    Quote Quote
    Originally Posted by JJJB2010 View Post
    Is there a measurable way of checking insulin sensitivity and a range of poor>excellent scale?

    Not into this thread much, biological stuff goes over my head - more of the physics guy me

    Thanks guys
    Given the whole way this topic came up, I think your insulin sensitivity much actually be excellent, for you to have the weird reaction you did to your refeed.
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