Even Ben Greenfield Has Thyroid Problems While In Ketosis

Ben Greenfield

Even Ben Greenfield Has Thyroid Problems While In Ketosis

In the span of a week or so, Ben Greenfield appeared on Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof Exec podcast AND John Kiefer’s Body IO FM podcast where he discusses his experience training for and performing in Iron Man races while in full nutritional ketosis.

He describes one of the main side effects that he encountered being severe hypothyroidism… manifesting as severe sensitivity to cold, poor libido, and poor overall energy.

The way they treated this was to eat a lot of liver, dessicated thyroid, and sweetbreads which seemed to fix things for him.

I’ve actually tried liver before… and it almost made me vomit.  I just couldn’t get over the texture of it.  I’ve also tried sweetbread before… with the same result.

Not sure how much of this is mental and how much is due to the actual taste/texture…. but I’m just not quite at the point where I’m ready to go to town on organ meats (here’s one thing my inner fat kid and I can agree on).

Given my aversion to these measures,  it looks like I’ll have to continue to explore other methods to address my thyroid issues.  If you’re interested, you can read more about these issues here:

In the end, Ben Greenfield concludes that trying to stay in ketosis all the time, despite the performance benefits, is just too difficult and inconvenient.  He likes being able to eat carbs one in a while and doesn’t like having to eat so many organ meats so often…

13 Responses to Even Ben Greenfield Has Thyroid Problems While In Ketosis

  1. I’ve also listened to that podcast (or a similar one). You see, even the #1 elite athlete bio-hacker still has some troubles trying to get optimal health while competing at an elite level. That gives us some insight that, in the end, low carb might not be meant to be used in a lifestyle that has to delve with lots of stressors (or perhaps we should not engage in such strenuous activities if we want to grasp the health benefits from a lower-carb lifestyle?…)

    I still don’t have a definitive answer to that, I guess I still think there’s some missing piece for my puzzle that will unveil the ultimate keto adaptation once I can find it, but in the mean time…

    …I don’t know if you ever got to this thread on JK’s website, but if you didn’t, I think you’ll enjoy it a lot, you might find some gold there (or maybe even more confusion hehe)


    • BJJ Caveman says:

      Ya, I agree, ultra low carb is not sustainable for highly active folks… at least if it involves glycolytic activity, which I don’t think Volek and Phinney really examined. It would be nice if Volek and Phinney examined the thyroid levels of their athletes.

      Working through the jack kruse thread… it’s 24 pages long!!

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      You have a great looking website btw… too bad in french!

      • Well, the language is Catalan indeed. But, if you have a close look at the top of the posts, there’s a Google Translate toolbar with some flags that allow you to get an english translation. Not top notch but can be perfectly understood 😉

        • BJJ Caveman says:

          Ahh… there we go. Must’ve scrolled right past it… have to admit my eyes glaze over a bit when I don’t see English, it’s embarassing… definitely the American in side of me.

  2. Monica says:

    I don’t get it. Ketosis and all it entails seems like it ‘should’ be the healthiest state for many even considering bioindividuality. But the controversy in the field of candida is polarized with many saying the lack of glucose and the presence of ketones actually feeds the candida. Now there’s presentation of ill effects on the thyroid. Is it really ‘wise’ to make our goal a certain number within a test parameter anymore than making a number on the scale our goal? The test parameters seem to be in a constant state of flux. And someone who’s got more than the norm of muscle can be classified as obese on some charts.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      You raise a good issue… we shouldn’t strive too rigidly to attain the ‘nutritional ketosis’ >0.5 mmol levels of blood ketones just because we think it optimizes our health. there are reasons, some of which you delineated that arise that are antithetical to that notion, and when those issues arise, then we should examine whether strict NK is appropriate. while it works wonderfully well for some folks, it doesn’t work that well, and can even be detrimental to others.

  3. Mark Rogers says:

    I think the easiest way to make organ meat more palatable is to make them into patés and terrines. They are very delicious and easy and convenient to eat!

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      I’ve tried! and I just have a mental block… my mind knows I’m eating organs… and then tells my tongue, which tells my stomach to get nauseous.

      Maybe if I get the BJJ Cavewife to secretly sneak it into meals without me knowing…

      • Kerri knox says:

        Another great way to do them is to get the whole organs, then you ‘par freeze’ them (freeze them for a short amount of time until they are still soft enough to cut but hard enough so that they don’t fall apart and turn to jelly when you try to cut them, usually about 1/2 hour), then cut them into tiny pieces.

        Put all the little pieces onto a cookie sheet and freeze until hard, then put them into a ziplock bag or tupperware or glass freezer container, just for space saving.

        Next, take a few pieces out whenever and swallow them whole like pills. Works fine.

        You can also add the grated liver in amounts to ground beef that get you some liver but that don’t affect the texture of the ground beef. That’s a big Weston Price trick to get more liver, particularly into the gullets of unsuspecting children.

  4. NN says:

    This might be good news for me. I could eat Indian-style goat brains and liver everyday. If I can find goat brains and liver, that is. Have tried beef liver but to my own surprise, didn’t like the taste at all.

    Don’t Phinney and Volek (and maybe even Peter Attia) claim that it is caloric restriction and not carb restriction that causes low active T3?

    I’ve had a hard time getting into and staying in full-blown ketosis, with the caveat that I only test once a week ($$$) and assume that it’s reflective of the entire week.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      Haven’t quite had goat brains myself… I have a fear of prions, and I’m not entirely sure it’s rational. And also the organ factor… I guess I’m not much of a caveman. Regarding the ketosis testing.. you would prob be a good candidate for the ketonix

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