Low Carb Diets Increase Blood Sugar By Elevating Cortisol

If your body is under stress, it secretes the stress hormone cortisol. Dr. Alan Christianson has examined hundreds of his patients in clinical trials and noticed that those with very low carb intake had elevated blood sugar. He tested 24 hour cortisol and found that their levels were quite elevated at certain times of the day. As a result, he came up with The Adrenal Reset Diet that includes a few strategic servings of particular carbohydrates to bring down the cortisol levels allowing for better sleep, moods, and weight loss.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this.  Greatly appreciated.

  • We are all different I am 60 and had trouble with low blood sugar most of my life. I now eat low carb high fat and have never felt so good, no more low sugar, loads of energy. My husband loves his carbs and can eat them and not put weight on, so yes we are all different.

  • Thank you for sharing this I wonderful information

  • Curious to know how this biofeedback interaction of carbs and cortisol impacts individuals with Type 1 Diabetes.  Same principles? or is the biochemistry different?

  • Oh thank you for this video.  I am a Type 2 diabetic (A1c 5.4) and hyperthyroid (rapidly weight loss all this summer) and over night blood sugars rising some 30 to 50 points over night (gluconeogenesis).  I do follow a low carb diet, and also intermittent fasting trying to "reverse diabetes".  I stop eating at 4 pm.  I have tried everything to lower over night blood sugars.  Snack (made the situation worse), exercise — (no difference) and fiber supplements (inulin and glucomannan) which did help some.  All the work I put into controlling blood sugar only to find that its not the carbohydrates that need to be eliminated completely.  And I didn't understand this until Dr. Christianson's new book:  The Adrenal Reset Diet, arrived in the mail a few days ago.  Case study?  This is what is happening to me and there was no explanation until now.  It would seem that insulin, thyroid, and cortisol are all interconnected in ways that have not been explained to diabetics.  So please keep up the good work, Dr. Christianson.  I need to know more.  Specifically, how are diabetes, hyperthyroid, and cortisol interrelated?  Its not just the adrenals that need to be reset–there needs to be a whole endocrine system make over.  

    Oh yes.  Im 75, and probably would be healthy if it not for the insulin-cortisol-thyroid dysfunction.  

  • I have ruin my life on low carb high fat
    Before lchf diet my fasting sugar was always under 95 and after Mel mostly under 105
    I started lchf diet and within 3 weeks my fasting sugar gone extremely high like 140
    And after meal it is 175 and the worst part is it is not coming down on the old numbers
    I am really sad and feeling like a loosed:'(

  • I love that laugh its infectious. It is nice to see someone thinking outside the box for a change. Very interesting. Every human body works in its own individual way. Cortisol is an extremely complex and necessary hormone with many needs and uses, It releases at varying intervals throughout the day and it`s not just carbs that effect this release process.

  • pick a hormone, pick a diet, sell products, make money.. there, everything about any diet

  • Most keto diets are rich in green vegetables. Plus Dr.Alan does not look healthy. .

  • High fat and low carb since May. Blood glucose levels normalized in 1 week. Stopped taking insulin. Have lost 50 lbs as a side benefit.

  • Low carb diet does NOT work for stressed people. First get stress out of your life, then go on a low carb diet. Then you will see result fast. First step is to stop drinking coffee. Coffee is the enemy of a low carb diet. Coffee puts the body in a fight or flight mode. That’s why you feel awake from a cup of coffee and crash just 40 minutes later and want some more.

  • I've lost weight on keto but my bg is high – I can't figure it out! I guess it's the fiber. Thanks for the info.

  • As a type 2 diabetic, I quickly learned when first starting the low carbohydrate ketogenic diet (LCKD) that there is an adjustment period as the body shifts from "sugar burning" to "fat burning", typically in the first weeks. During this time, I would sometimes experience what I would describe as "cortisol surges" which would bump up my blood glucose levels in the morning if I didn't make and eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking, also if I became hungry later in the day. It helped knowing that these effects were transient, and went away after a few weeks. For the former, eating promptly after getting out of bed worked. For the latter, eating a snack that contained fat worked: a handful of raw nuts, some olives, half an avocado. The hardest part of this diet is switching out the carbs for lots of healthy fats because we've been conditioned for decades to not eat fat. During this adaptation period, the body stops holding onto water and salt, so it's important to drink lots of water throughout the day, increase salt intake (to lessen "carb flu" symptoms), and take a magnesium supplement (if muscle cramping develops; I personally use magnesium citrate or citramate).It's also important to mention here that I did not do this alone. I read the diet chapters in Dr. Bernstein's book, and I found an online diabetes website that included a discussion forum in the United Kingdom that had a Low-carb Diet Forum where I got additional guidance and support. Within a month, my blood glucose dropped from where I started to where it is today: A1c of 9.9% down to 5.4%. Lipid panel is within or just outside of the normal range. C-reactive protein is just above normal range. I lost 25 pounds. The diet is working beautifully for me. I alternate between LCKD and LCHF (a low carbohydrate, high fat, moderate protein) diet. My health has greatly improved. I accomplished this with daily walks, the diet, and no medication. I'm angry that no one told me about this diet when I crossed over into pre-diabetes in 2003, and type 2 diabetes in 2005.  Dr. Christianson is a naturopathic medical doctor whose area of interest is thyroid disorders, not diabetes – (I confirmed this by visiting his website and by doing a Google search on "Dr. Alan Christianson diabetes"). He does not understand how the low carbohydrate, high fat, moderate protein (LCHF) diet or low carbohydrate ketogenic diet (LCKD) works, I assume because of his personal bias against paleo and low carb diets. That's fine. Whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diets work well for some people, particularly those who are not insulin resistant. I encourage Dr. Christianson to do a search on these doctors – (most of whom have 15 years or more experience using this diet with their patients, noted in parentheses):  Richard Bernstein (early 80's), MD, Michael Eades, MD (late 80's), Ron Rosedale, MD (90's), and Eric Westman, MD (early 2000's), and more recently, Mark Hyman, MD, and Daniel Amen, MD. All have written books on their success treating their diabetic patients with this diet. For an excellent overview of the research on the LCKD, do a search on these doctors: Stephen Phinney, MD, PhD, Jeffrey Volek, PhD, and Eric Westman, MD. The LCHF diet and LCKD doesn't work well for all type 2 diabetics, but it does work well for many. I'm on the LCHF diet now. From the beginning, I've eaten nutritionally dense, plant-based foods with all meals with a moderate amount of clean animal protein and lots of healthy fats because that's what works best for me. For those 2 diabetics who eat a vegan or vegetarian diet, and want to try a plant-based, LCHF diet, Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE is a good resource. She has a blog and published a book in 2015.

  • Tom Malterre, I've followed your work closely for years. While I'm disappointed you posted this interview, I also understand that managing diabetes with the LCHF diet may not be an area of interest for you, which is okay. You've helped me with other aspects of my health over the years. As a functional medicine practitioner, I think, I hope, you understand that the cortisol surges Dr. Christianson's patients are experiencing on the LCHF diet are normal and transient as the body shifts from "sugar burning" to "fat burning" during the first few weeks on the diet. If this problem continued, the patient could stop the diet or consult with someone who understands how the LCHF diet works for additional guidance and support. There is no one diet that works for everyone, something I wish Dr. Christianson understood.

  • Low carb, high fat, moderate protein, all the ingredients must be right or you get protein being converted to glucose. I track mine daily and never have elevated glucose levels. Appears you are only presenting negative results a nutrition plan that has been improperly implemented. The scientific facts support Nutritional Ketosis as a healthier way of eating and superior in creating wellness over carb based diets.

  • My A1c went from 5.4 to 8.7 in 3 months on a vegan diet. Now I am on Keto and it normalized in two weeks. You fools have it backwards

  • You guys are fantastic for sharing all this info. Thanks a lot!

  • will there be any side effects or body reactions in when changing to this diet? If so what could they be?

  • Agreed low card diets can force your body to produce more cortisol, mainly because it has no other fuel source because low carb diets are typically low fat. Additionally, low carb diets are typically high protein, In this case your body will convert unused protein into glucose. Presence of glucose, creates insulin, prevents the accessing of fat for energy.

    However, is the same true when following a keto diet. In a keto diet, you are taking in high fat low protein and even lower carbs. At some point your body will become keto adaptive, meaning it will use fat as it's source of fuel, hence not stressing the body, which will limit the production of cortisol.

    Essentially, the point i'm trying to make is that there is a big difference in low-carb diet and keto diet.


  • Misguided souls.  Uninformed.

  • Funny, I thought glucagon threshold would kick in before cortisol kicks in. I believe this needs to be researched more.

  • How about peer reviewed studies. Correlation is not causation.

  • Thank you you both for your expertise. Low carbohydrates and good fats works for me. Also I recommend the elimination diet for the individual with gut sensitivities.

  • HIGH FAT boys ! Not just low carb….typical dietician