Hypoglycemia & Hypothyroidism

Hypoglycemia & Hypothyroidism

At some point everyone has experienced Hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar. You may not know the term but you probably know the feeling. You wait too long to eat or eat high carb foods (say a bagel for breakfast), then within a few hours it feels like you hit a wall.  You might feel these symptoms:

  • Energy comes crashing down
  • Weak and Shaky
  • Irritable or Cranky
  • Hot (like a hot flash) or sweaty
  • Fuzzy head, trouble thinking clearly
  • Become ravenously hungry
  • Read more about Hypoglycemia symptoms

After eating a ridiculous amount of food, or having something really sugary your energy starts to recover slowly. It takes a while to rebound from the weak, lifeless state, and muster enough energy to get off the couch.

For over twenty years I experienced this kind of high-low energy cycle with Hypoglycemia.  At one point, before getting treated for Hypothyroidism and Adrenal Fatigue, I asked a doctor about Hypoglycemia. He simply dismissed it and said: “No, nothing can be done about it. Just drink orange juice when it happens.”  The problem was, I experienced Hypoglycemia about every two hours, that’s a lot of O.J.!  I’m no doctor, but one would think having energy crashes every two hours means something else is not right.

Also worth noting, in the middle of a working-out I would often get Hypoglycemia. For me this meant with any kind of physical exertion I would get really week, start shaking and nearly collapse with exhaustion. This was totally frustrating because I wanted to exercise, and the doctors told me to “lose weight I just needed to exercise more.” But when the Hypoglycemia wall hit that was it, workout over.  At that point orange juice just isn’t going to help.  So the looming question was why was I getting Hypoglycemia and could it be prevented?

When I finally researched Hypothyroidism and Adrenal Fatigue, I was amazed to see Hypoglycemia as a symptom related to both conditions. How interesting! Finally an explanation that made sense, other than “No, nothing can be done about it…”  With Hypothyroidism and Adrenal Fatigue, there are so many odd little symptoms it’s easy to pass them off as unrelated.  But solving the root may solve the problem, as it did for me.

The solution turned out to be — you guessed it — getting on the right treatment for Hypothyroidism and Adrenal Fatigue along with diet changes. In particular, when I added the Hydrocortisone for Adrenal Fatigue, I noticed a big improvement with the Hypoglycemia.  According to Wikipedia, Glucocorticoids like Hydrocortisone may help prevent or reverse Hypoglycemia.

When I learned that carbs and simple sugars are hard for people who have Hypothyroidism and Adrenal Fatigue, it all started to make sense.  For years I would eat a bagel or cereal for breakfast which spikes the blood sugar, then two hours later my blood sugar would come crashing down causing Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Of course, as I later learned being carb sensitive, drinking a glass of orange juice was terrible for me (and started the whole high-low cycle all over.)

On the diet side, I removed simple carbs from my diet, replaced them with protein and fat, and started eating every two hours (rather than 3 meals a day, or worse, one meal a day!).  It was pretty incredible to feel the difference in my energy and thinking.

These days I am much more stable, I rarely have Hypoglycemic crashes (even during exercise) and my weight stays in a healthy range.  Before the Hypoglycemia hits, I am now able to recognized the early signs of hunger (just the slightest stomach pang) which prompts me to eat a snack (nuts or cheese, maybe with some apple). Before exercising I always eat this kind of snack and it works great to keep me going through the workout.

I know there is so much to learn, and it can all be overwhelming.  Go easy on yourself and take it one bit of info at a time. When the energy is stable and you think clearly the rest gets so much easier!


Miss LizzyHypoglycemia & Hypothyroidism

The Skinny Girls at the Gym…

Or, why exercise is hard with Hypothyroidism or Adrenal Fatique

My entire life exercise was nearly impossible. In high school, I joined the track team but realized running was way too exhausting, so I did the shot-put instead (three steps, toss, and you’re done).  I desperately wanted to do sports but I couldn’t keep up with the others girls. No, no, this isn’t a sob story about me.  Like me, I think there are just lots of girls out there who have hypothyroidism & adrenal fatique and want to know how the skinny girls do it?

When I say “any kind of exercise completely wore me out” I really mean that. And not the usual “I’m tired, but I feel good” kind of workout. This was an “I’m tired, I feel like hell” kind of feeling.  For me this meant:

  • My muscles would be sore for 4-5 days (not the normal 1-2).
  • I would feel nausea, even flu-like aches and pains.
  • My face would turn bright red during exercise.
  • Exercising two days in a row was impossible.
  • And oftentimes I would get so hypoglycemicfrom exercise that I would crash for hours afterward.
  • To make matters worse, I would never lose weight from exercise!

Around the time I started treatment for Hypothyroidism, I also started an amazing, really athletic yoga class. But it was so frustrating watching the 50-year-old ladies hold a downward dog longer than me. My arms literally couldn’t support me (from what I hear arm strength and endurance are common Hypothyroid problems).

As the Thyroid medicine started working, I noticed I was able to do more in yoga class.  Everything started to improve; my strength, endurance, recovery time. So that’s how the skinny girls at the gym did it! They didn’t have Thyroid problems.

But there’s more… two years into Hypothyroid treatment, I found out about Adrenal Fatique (a condition linked with Hypothyroidism, which also shares many common symptoms).  When I started treatment for Adrenal Fatique something incredible happened for the first time in my life.  I wanted to run. Literally, I wanted to strap on my sneakers and just run. So I did. And guess what? I ran and I didn’t want to stop. And I didn’t get sick. My muscle recovery was less than a day. Can you say shocking? Omg, yes, it was for me too!

These days in yoga I am one of the strongest in the class.  I know, I know, yoga is not about being competitive (Ohm…) I only share this detail as a point of reference for before and after.  It’s amazing to go from unable to lift a finger, to doing handstands, running 3 miles and feeling great.  Now I can exercise every day, sometimes for hours, with little or no recovery problems.

All those years I thought I was just lazy (insert sigh). But, hey, I am glad I know, which is why I share my story with you. To all the girls out there who are exercising, not losing weight, feeling physically terrible and frustrated like me, now you know my secret (or at least one possible explanation for how the skinny girls do it).




Please note: not all overweight people are Hypothyroid. I have to follow a very specific eating plan, the HypoT Girl’s Diet, which I created just for me. But if Hypothryoidism is an issue, like it was for me, losing weight was almost impossible without treatment.


Miss LizzyThe Skinny Girls at the Gym…