Is This the End of the Low-Carb Diet for Weight Loss?

By |2017-04-24T22:38:24-07:00July 20th, 2016|Hypothyroidism, Nutrition|16 Comments

Have you ever tried, or thought about trying, a low-carb diet for weight loss?

Well, you might want to think again…

…because according to new research, low-carb and ketogenic diets are in big trouble.

Today, doctors and nutritionists everywhere are recommending these dangerous diets more than ever before.

And this only continues to add to the misinformation and thyroid confusion.

In fact, just yesterday I received the following comment.

It was from a woman who is just beginning to feel the difference that the right carbohydrates can make.

Yet all three of her doctors are unhappy with her dietary improvements. And they continue to prescribe her a ketogenic diet.

 “All of my holistic doctors (I use 3: one is a chiropractor who originally diagnosed me after years of seeing doctor after doctor. A second is my MD and oversees my blood work and thyroid medication. And the third is an online doctor / nutritionist.) None of them like that I do more servings of fruit which I incorporated from your recommendations. But this seems to work for me.”

(I’ll show you what I mean about “the right carbohydrates” in just a minute.)

I’ve written in detail about the dangers of low-carb diets. They suppress thyroid function and even cause hypothyroidism.

Yet many are still clinging to low-carb diets in hopes of losing weight and keeping it off.

Now, new research has shown that low-carb and ketogenic diets are actually worse for weight loss.

And that carbohydrates are NOT the cause of today’s obesity epidemic.

Debunked: The Low-Carb for Weight Loss Hypothesis

Meet Gary Taubes…

For years low-carb advocates, such as Gary Taubes, have claimed that carbohydrates are the cause of today’s obesity problems.

Taubes makes these claims based on the Carbohydrate-Insulin Hypothesis for Obesity.

The Carbohydrate-Insulin Hypothesis states that obesity is caused by high insulin levels.

It claims that insulin increases fat storage while starving the body. And that this leads to increased hunger and decreased energy expenditure.

In other words, Taubes claims that eating carbs:

  • Promotes fat storage
  • Prevents fat loss
  • Leads to overeating
  • Lowers your metabolism
  • All which results in obesity

Now, there has been plenty of previous research challenging this hypothesis.

But Taubes claimed that no study conducted has been able to disprove it…

… until now.

Meet obesity researcher, Dr. Kevin Hall.

Dr. Kevin Hall conducted a landmark study to end the debate over the low-carb diet hypothesis.

And this landmark study showed that low-carb diets are actually worse for fat loss than higher-carb diets.

Energy expenditure and body composition changes after an isocaloric ketogenic diet in overweight and obese men

“Body fat loss slowed during the KD and coincided with increased protein utilization and loss of fat-free mass. Conclusion: The isocaloric KD was not accompanied by increased body fat loss”

You can see Kevin Hall explain some of the results of this study in this video here:



The Low-Carb Study Results

There were two phases of the study:

  1. The higher-carbohydrate phase (50% of total calories from carbs and 25% of total calories from sugar)
  2. The low-carb phase (5% of total calories from carbs and 2% of total calories from sugar)

During the higher-carbohydrate phase, subjects lost 1.1 lbs. of body weight over the final two weeks of the higher-carbohydrate phase.

During the low-carbohydrate phase, subjects did lose weight quickly in the beginning.

Yet, it was NOT from fat loss.

With the low-carb diet, fat loss actually slowed significantly.

During the initial two week low-carb phase, fat loss decreased while muscle wasting increased.

This occurred due to the depletion of liver glycogen, drop in blood sugar, and the subsequent release of the stress hormone cortisol.

During the final two weeks of the low-carb phase, overall weight loss slowed considerably. And fat loss remained lower than during the higher-carbohydrate diet.

Over the course of the study, the low-carbohydrate diet resulted in far less fat loss than the higher-carbohydrate diet.

According to Kevin Hall…

“…it took the full 28 days of a ketogenic diet to lose the same amount of fat as was lost in the first 15 days of the normal carbohydrate diet.”

Now, as expected, the low-carb ketogenic diet resulted in the following changes:

  • 47% reduction in insulin secretion
  • 11-fold increase in urinary ketones
  • Large increase in levels of circulating fats in the bloodstream

These were the exact changes that were expected by low-carb advocates.

Yet, they did not result in greater fat loss as expected, according to the Carbohydrate-Insulin Hypothesis for Obesity.

This is extremely important because it shows that low-carb advocates are wrong about insulin.

It shows that insulin doesn’t work the way many doctors and low-carb advocates believe it does.

This study showed that low-carb diets are not the answer to today’s obesity problem.

But more importantly… it showed that eating carbohydrates and insulin are not the cause of obesity either.

What This Study Means to You and Your Thyroid

This study also further supports much of what we teach here at Forefront Health.

  1. It showed that low-carb diets directly deplete liver glycogen and over-activate your adrenal glands. This increases cortisol production and muscle wasting.

    Cortisol also suppresses your thyroid function by blocking the conversion thyroid hormone by your liver.

  1. The low-carb diet also resulted in high levels of circulating fats in the bloodstream.

    These fats suppress your thyroid function by blocking your cells from using thyroid hormone.

    And if those circulating fats come from polyunsaturated-fats, they will block your entire Thyroid Hormone Pathway.

(Note: I cover the dangers of these polyunsaturated-fats in detail in this article on “The Worst Food for Your Thyroid”).

These Are the Carbohydrates You Should Be Eating for Weight Loss

This study doesn’t mean that high levels of insulin aren’t problematic.

However, not all carbohydrates are equal when it comes to insulin response.

And this is why we focus primarily on fruit, and fruit-like sugars, for carbohydrates.

Fruits and sugars that contain fructose don’t stimulate insulin secretion the way that starches, breads, and pastas do.

Because of this, they don’t result in insulin surges and blood sugar crashes.

So, they can be used safely to help regulate blood sugar, even for diabetics.

(Note: Struggle with hypothyroidism and diabetes? Discover why sugar isn’t the problem and what you can do about in this article on “Hypothyroidism and Diabetes: How to Reverse It”.)

It’s easy to become consumed in the search for some miracle weight loss diet that doesn’t exist.

And we now know that low-carb diets are not the answer for weight loss.

However, we also know that your thyroid regulates your metabolism. And anything that improves your thyroid function WILL help give you a metabolic advantage.

And this can be accomplished through your diet.

You’ll learn one of the easiest ways to use your diet to boost your metabolism and thyroid function when you download the 3 Food Triple-Thyroid-Boosting Daily Protocol.


The 3 Food Triple-Thyroid-Boosting Daily Protocol is all about taking the first step to overcoming your hypothyroidism. And it works by fixing some of the hidden underlying issues that are holding your metabolism and thyroid hostage.

If that sounds like what you need, then download the protocol and use it for yourself.

Click here to learn more about the 3 Food Triple-Thyroid Boosting Daily Protocol.

About the Author:

Tom Brimeyer is the founder of Forefront Health and the creator of the popular Hypothyroidism Revolution program series. Specializing in thyroid and metabolism disorders, Tom's work has impacted over 50,000 people spanning more than 60 countries. Tom is also a highly sought after practitioner who runs a successful health consulting practice where he continues to help clients across the globe to take back control of their lives from their devastating health conditions.


  1. Anthony July 21, 2016 at 8:03 am - Reply

    Dr Jason Fung disagrees with this study and here is the blog…

  2. Dave July 21, 2016 at 8:17 am - Reply

    The longest most comprehensive and still ongoing study in the world the ‘Framingham study’ doesn’t agree with this? Its hard to know what to believe, this study lasted just 4 weeks by the looks of it?

    • Tom Brimeyer July 21, 2016 at 8:48 am - Reply

      Hi Dave, this was a 2 month in patient metabolic ward study. Patients were confined the entire 2 months and everything was completely controlled, which is the biggest issue with most studies. The patients in this study were required to eat meals under supervision. This was an well designed control study that removed just about every other variable.

  3. Nina July 21, 2016 at 8:34 am - Reply

    Very interesting! I feel that I have ruined myself with low carb and intermittend fasting. Since I eat healthy carbs again I feel so much better and have actually lost weight. But other hypothyroid symptoms are still there. Is it possible that by replacing my bad low carb fasting diet habbits with your diet protocol that eventually the hypo symptoms will disappear as well as this (the diet) is what probably caused it in the first place? Or do you need (thyroid) hormone replacement for this as wel?

    • Tom Brimeyer July 21, 2016 at 8:50 am - Reply

      Hi Nina, the need for thyroid replacement depends on a number factors including stress and age for example. The older we become our natural hormone production declines. The more stress we are under, the greater our need of thyroid hormone to compensate for the stress. In most cases, supplementing thyroid hormone also helps to break certain hormonal feedback cycles that suppress thyroid function on various levels.

  4. Skye July 21, 2016 at 11:14 am - Reply

    This article still doesn’t make sense, few diets disapprove of fruit. So the low carb diet is out but the only approved carb ncludes fruit ? What ? That still eliminates all carbs

    • Tom Brimeyer July 21, 2016 at 11:45 am - Reply

      I think you’re misinterpreting the article. The study looked specifically at low-carb ketogenic diets. I’m not implying that the only carbohydrates one should consume are fruits. I am implying that fruits provide therapeutic benefits for thyroid function.

    • June Savage July 21, 2016 at 2:48 pm - Reply

      Skye, in Toms program he recommends eating many other carbs besides fruit including, potatoes, with lots of butter, carrots and many root vegetables and squashes. I was on a low carb diet for many years, I probably didn’t eat a piece of fruit for about 10 years, much to my detriment I am sure. Since being on the program, drinking orange juice and eating fruit and the vegetables he recommends I have actually lost about 7 pounds in a few months. Low carb diets DO INDEED disapprove of fruit. I am so glad I am now eating these foods recommended in the program, it is terrible confusing with so many opinions diametrically opposed regarding diet.

  5. Marie July 21, 2016 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    Earlier this year, I moved to a ketogenic diet with intermittent fasting- after reading a number of books and articles on the subject, I was convinced that it would help me with weight loss. Initially I felt really energised and was amazed that I did not feel hungry during the fasting hours. My weight stayed quite stable for the first 4 weeks (no weight loss) but then I began to quickly gain weight. I though I must have not been fasting enough, or that I did not have the right fat, protein, carb balance. I desperately started to re-read relevant books and articles.
    Then, the lightbulb moment.
    The way I had been eating was definitely worsening my thyroid function. I started to realise that the extra energy I was experiencing, was actually a nervous kind of energy, which I now know was due to the release of the stress hormone cortisol.
    I have now resumed the forefront health eating program.
    The result is that within a few days, I felt significantly calmer. I felt more in control. I feel like my body is being properly nourished.
    I know now that the key to nourishing my body is the regular consumption of foods that provide all of the nutrients that my cells need to function at an optimal level. This includes a consistent supply of healthy sugars from fruits and vegetables.
    While I have had some weight loss success on the forefront health program, this has now stalled and I find myself struggling to remain positive. I feel quite devastated that I have damaged my health further through adopting a ketogenic diet that is being promoted as the solution for long term health and vitality.

    I would really appreciate advice about long term weight loss strategies(when living with hypothyroidism). The extra weight that I am carrying is placing additional stress on my health. It is also hard to maintain a positive attitude when one just feels fat and uncomfortable.

  6. Jessica August 11, 2016 at 7:58 am - Reply

    How many carbs should one consume if they are hypothyroid? I know it will differ person to person based on current body weight. But confused about grams of carbs I should be consuming. Thanks

  7. Liz August 13, 2016 at 6:47 am - Reply

    If your thyroid doesn’t work at all, or has been removed, does a LCHF diet have similar effects on the body’s uptake of thyroxine tablets as you are saying it does on a poorly functioning thyroid? There is no function to suppress, so the negative effects would not exist?

  8. Leah Stewart September 3, 2016 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Excellent information! Thank you.

  9. Robin Mancini November 30, 2016 at 7:49 am - Reply

    Hi Tom,
    I am so glad to have found your program! I am a retired professional athlete, turned into a fanatical gym rat. I worked out hard 6 days a week with HIIT, strength training, loved running sprints. I was in the best shape of my life and had the VO2 max score of a 20 yr. I’m soon to be 52. I started to notice I couldn’t recover for days after working out with my trainer. I just completely crashed and had absolutely NO energy! I found a Functional Med. doctor and found out my Free T3 was low, and my liver isn’t functioning well. He put me on Cytomel, and after raising the dose, I feel like it’s kicked in, but I still had fatigued. My cortisol levels were low. Also added Adreno Mend, and I’m starting to feel better. He told me all I could do is walk and not get my heart rate up more than double my resting rate. I hate not working out, so I got your workout plan and did my first one and I felt amazing! Thank you for all your information! I wonder if I’ll ever be able to strength train again? I’m losing muscle, and my dr. said I am sarcopenic. I’ve been adding more fruit in and it feels better, since I was doing lower carb and higher fat, but my stomach was not going away, and now it’s going back down! Dr. said the coffee can contribute to central weight gain, so I might want to stop it. I was drinking it with coconut oil and black. PLEASE give me recommendations for breakfast foods! I have intolerance to eggs, nuts (was given epi-pen), dairy, wheat/gluten and soy. I get terrible stomach problems with occasional vomiting if I eat them. Allergist said it’s anaphylatic. All I seem to eat is a smoothie or chicken sausages, sautéed greens and avocado, so I need ideas! Thank you so much for all your information!

  10. Deborah Neumann March 16, 2021 at 10:59 am - Reply

    Hi…I just read this article because I’ve been doing a lo-carb/keto diet since the beginning of March and I’m having mixed feelings. My stomach definitely feels better but I feel sluggish, lethargic and just not happy. I decided to go back to the O.J. with salt in the a.m and before bed and I also ate cottage cheese with apple sauce as a snack today. Now my stomach feels like it used to before I went lo-carb…it’s bloated and hurting. I wish I knew what to do. I signed up on this website about 3 or 4 years ago, but I wasn’t able to get a hold of your supplements because I live in Germany (customs are very strict in this country). When I go to visit my family in the states I always order your vit. E supplement. That stuff is magic, I noticed shortly after taking it i was sleeping better. I hope you will comment about what might be causing my stomach problems. Sincerely, Deb

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