Thoughts on Thyroids

I’ve been reading some interesting articles recently, including this one on thyroid function:


Beware, this seems to be a body building site for women, by women, and for reasons not clear to me, has lots of half naked muscly women. Not so much this article, though. Anyway, she talks about how dieting affects the thyroid, especially dropping calories to consistently low levels, effectively slowing your metabolism. Leigh Peele, the author, recommends “refeeding”, and taking breaks. Refeed seems to be common amongst weight lifters, and I’m not knowledgeable enough to discuss too much, other than to say, I do this anyway! Of course she doesn’t mean eating thousands of calories over maintenance, or empty calories, which I try not to do very much. But those off days when I’m damn well going to eat pizza and beer for dinner may have saved my metabolism! Or at least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! But seriously, it took me many years and nose to the emotional grindstone to not feel bad about my dieting indiscretions, and now I’m learning that this behavior can be beneficial. Obviously, if I did it enough so that I gained weight, it would be a problem, and I’ll bet most of my plateaus are caused by a bit too much of these.   I’m still working on finding that balance, but it’s good to know the reason behind the behaviors.


6 Responses to “Thoughts on Thyroids”

  1. April 13, 2009 at 5:53 am

    Psychologically refeeds and/or diet breaks are hard for me. I got Lyle Mcdonald’s “Guide to flexible dieting” a few months ago (I keep meaning to review it) and he recommends full diet breaks and/or refeeds every so often for the same reasons that Leigh Peele does. He also recommends putting the scale away for at least a week during and after just so you don’t focus on the inevitable jump in weight that happens. For me, when I’m doing “well” on a diet it seems so counter-intuitive to purposely start scarfing bagels, but I think it’s good for me both physically and mentally.

    Figure athlete is run by the t-nation people and from what I understand, they get some good people writing for them, but won’t publish anything that contradicts upsets their sponsors and/or downplays the importance of the supplements they’re always pushing. I like Leigh Peele a lot though.

  2. April 13, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Scarfing bagels? It does sound quite counterproductive, when you put it that way. I think most of this stuff seems to be for women with very low body fat, as in trying to get their washboards to show, not like me with the buddha belly. Anyway, I don’t really eat low calorie enough for this to be a problem, and I’d say I’m still eating way too much. Too much overfeeding, not enough dieting. Now that I’m out of the smoking danger zone, I can work on that.

  3. April 13, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    A healthy balance is where it’s at 🙂

  4. April 13, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    Scarfing may be overstating things a bit. I don’t have the book in front of me so I don’t know the exact recommendations, but the refeed is high-carbohydrate and lasts for like a day. He specifically mentions bagels as a good food during refeeds (since part of the purpose is to restore glycogen levels.) He also recommends full diet breaks which are like a week and are more about not trying to eat at a deficit, but not high carbohydrate.

    I know he (Mcdonald) recommends that anyone on any kind of diet engage in some kind of diet break (whether cheat meals, refeeds or full diet breaks) but I think he does say that ‘overfat’ people need less breaks than those trying to achieve super low body fat. Honestly, because I have such a loose approach to dieting anyway I haven’t done a full break or anything yet. Maybe when I hit another plateau, I’ll try it.

  5. April 13, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Attrice is quite right about t-nation. They’ve built their business on supplements so while they do often have valuable information, I always take it with a grain of salt because they are so ingrained in the old-skool bodybuilding mentality of the ends justify the means.

    That said, I’m like you in using the metabolism rationale when I’ve had a “high-cal” day. Every body builder I know recommends them and while mine aren’t planned like they should be, they’ve def. helped me lose some of the guilt about having splurge days.

    PS> Stopped by to tell you that your comment on my site today was great! Your line about “it rots like organic” cracked me up!

    • April 14, 2009 at 8:32 am

      I had to google t-nation. Testosterone. I’m not so interested in body building, don’t even take vitamins, let alone supplements or steroids. Yeah, I’m definitely not their target audience, but it’s nice to hear different perspectives on how the body works.

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