Hormonal shifts, stress, and not-so-great eating habits wreak havoc on our bodies. It’s no wonder that 80 percent of us over age 45 have sluggish metabolism glands. And if you have symptoms like stubborn weight gain, low energy, brain fog, aches, insomnia, intense PMS, or debilitating menopause symptoms, you could be among the millions affected.
Good news: A new twist on the famous keto diet promises radical relief in the blink of an eye. It targets the thyroid, a gland that sits at the front of the neck and is responsible for secreting important hormones for metabolism, growth, and development.
One study run by Emory University-trained health expert Anna Cabeca, D.O. found that by making these simple food tweaks, 98 percent of participants had reduced their symptoms by at least 50 percent in just 10 days. Even dieters whose bodies once resisted letting go of a single ounce began melting up to two pounds a day. “That just blew my mind,” says Dr. Cabeca. “You can see a big a difference in a short time!”
Why Does The Thyroid Matter For The Keto Diet?
When Dr. Cabeca found herself packing on pounds during menopause, she tried going keto. “I felt constant fatigue and was barely losing [weight],” she recalls. “I wanted to figure out why, so I ran tests. It turned out my thyroid function was down, and my urine was very acidic.”
She dug into research and learned that common keto staples like deli meat and cheese create acidic compounds as they digest. “There’s evidence that excess acid puts a lot of stress on the body and especially the thyroid, a gland that keeps metabolism and stamina up,” she shares.
The impact is so dramatic that University of Texas scientists found folks with the most acid in their systems have BMIs 52 percent higher than those with the least. It led Dr. Cabeca to an “aha!” moment. “I knew keto had the potential to work better than other approaches, so instead of giving up, I experimented with keto foods that neutralize acid,” she says. That included salad, nuts, and guacamole. “Within days, I had more energy and clearer thinking—plus weight was falling off.”
Dr. Cabeca eventually shed 80 pounds and is now part of a “green keto” movement that’s helping thyroids and waistlines around the world.
How Alkalizing Foods Supercharge the Thyroid
What sets alkalizing foods apart? They have fewer enzymes that turn into acid inside us, plus they’re often rich in neutralizing minerals like magnesium, potassium, and calcium. The best foods to try are leafy greens, cucumber, broccoli, celery, and bell pepper. Nuts, seeds, eggs, and seafood are also great options. Studies show that consuming more of these foods lowers your overall acid level by as much as 68 percent — and per researchers at Tufts University, as acid drops, thyroid function improves enough to rev metabolism and boost vitality.
Another effect: Skipping acid-forming options like keto snack bars and hot dogs “helps reduce hidden inflammation throughout your body,” explains National Academy of Hypothyroidism founder Kent Holtorf, M.D. It turns out that inflammation triggers the release of hormones that interfere with thyroid function.
Dr. Holtorf says that as inflammation subsides, the thyroid perks up nicely, boosting calorie burn by about 500 calories a day. Women report losing up to 22 pounds in 10 days on a keto-alkaline plan.
What Does The Alkalizing Keto Diet Plan Look Like?
Want to try it out? Aim to fill 75 percent of your plate with non-starchy veggies, especially greens, cucumber, broccoli, celery, and bell pepper. Add a serving of protein, such as nuts, eggs, seafood, a little organic chicken, or grass-fed beef. Then include two servings of plant fats, like avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, or olive oils.
After 10 days, experiment with small amounts of healthy starches like beans and potatoes. As always, get a doctor’s okay to try any new plan.
A Sample Meal Plan
Here’s what a day on the alkalizing keto diet looks like:
Breakfast: Blend 1 scoop plant-based no-sugar-added protein powder, 1 Tbs. coconut oil, a handful of kale, 1⁄4 avocado, 8 oz. water and stevia to taste.
Lunch: 1 serving salmon or hard-cooked eggs over a large salad with acid-reducing veggies, sun-dried tomatoes, and olive-oil vinaigrette.
Snacks: Raw or steamed veggies (especially celery, cucumber, bell pepper) dipped in guacamole or olive-oil vinaigrette.
Dinner: 1 serving grilled or roasted chicken with seasoning to taste over a large serving of veggies roasted with olive oil.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.