Raina Kranz, C.P.T,
Thyroid Nation



Raina eloquently shares about the connection between over-trained athletes,  thyroid disease, fibromyalgia and solutions to help work through it. (Part 2 of 3)

In part one, of this article I started to touch base on cortisol levels in thyroid patients and how diet and exercise effects those with this disease. I will be addressing that in part three. In part two, I am going to address the stress of training regimes and possible solutions for those suffering with muscle pain, lethargy, depression, cognitive issues, weight loss and weight gain. The reason I am including fibromyalgia in this article, I found a common thread with this condition that is also connected to the very same chemical reaction as over training syndrome in athletes.

To refresh all of our memories, the main chemical reaction that connected over training syndrome and thyroid disease is the competing factor of serotonin and branch chain amino acids (BCAA’s) trying to enter the brain during exercise. In normal healthy, well trained and well recovered athletes this did not have any long term chronic effect. The connection between the chronic muscle fatigue, pain, crashing, weight gain and depression in thyroid patients is most likely due to the lack of BCAA’s in the brain and a chronic level of serotonin. This is why our muscles do not recover, rebuild or repair the way it once did. These amino acids are the building blocks of muscle. So much like that over trained athlete, we are making no strength gains, we are not performing well and we are not losing body fat.  When we exercise, it usually results in fatigue for days at time, muscle pain and weakness. Increased amounts of serotonin is the cause. Serotonergic markers have been found in people with fibromyalgia, in addition to lowered plasma Branch Chain Amino Acids concentrations. What does this mean?  The deficiency in the BCAA’s may play a role in the pathophysiological of fibromyalgia, as well.

The amino acids in question are; Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. These amino acids are directly competing with the cerebral uptake with tryptophan the precursor of serotonin. BCAA’s supply energy to the muscles and regulate protein synthesis in muscle tissue. In December of 2000, [PMID]:11104853[PubMed-Indexed for Medline] found a supplemental trail with BCAA’s in fibromyalgia to be justified.

In the Journal of Nutrition and metabolism 2012, an abstract on BCAA’s supplementation on skeletal muscle and inflammation modulation, discusses how the specific amino acid, Leucine can influence the adaptive response of skeletal muscle. Leucine has been described as a potential non-pharmacological supplement that is able to stimulate both muscle growth and decrease muscle wasting. When supplemented with exercise, can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the adaptive response.

Branch chain amino acids plays an anti-inflammatory role or somehow indirectly alters the inflammatory process in the muscles with exercise and disease.

The factors that come into play with systemic inflammation and disease are cytokines. Cytokines are chemical switches that turn certain immune cell types on or off. These cytokines can have a catabolic effect (a breaking down of molecules) on the body.

Thyroid-Loving-Care-Ad-Long-3The cytokines in question are (TNF-a) (IL-6). Studies have shown that a low dose of (TNF-a) (1ng/ml) actually helps repair muscle, while higher and prolonged exposure (50ng/ml) impairs the regeneration process. Elderly individuals have elevated levels of this cytokine and is responsible for age related loss in muscle mass, strength and function. Then we have interleukin-6(IL-6) and an over expression of this may increase muscle atrophy (muscle loss) while an under expression may promote muscle growth.

Nuclear factor Kappa B (NF-kB) is a protein complex that controls DNA and is protein responsible for cytokine production and cell survival. It is found in almost all cell types and responsible for cellular actions to stress & stimuli. It plays a key role in regulating the immune response to infection and an incorrect regulation of (NF-kB) has been linked to cancer, inflammation, autoimmune diseases, septic shock, viral and bacterial infections. Chronic inflammation activation of (NF-kB) is related to muscle wasting and (NF-kB) is a key factor in cytokine induced loss of skeletal muscle. Exhaustive exercise has caused increases in (NF-kB) binding activity and has shown an inflammatory response to chronic training.

With autoimmune disease, mild to moderate amounts of exercise is exhaustive. You can only imagine the inflammation it is causing in our bodies. Over training, for some of us, is doing laundry or cleaning. Could supplementing with BCAA’s be an answer for us?

I have been training for 30 years and since before my diagnosis, I have noticed a decline in my performance, strength and ability to lose weight. I had tried many methods of accommodating my disease with minimal lasting results. Somehow always ending up in bed sleeping for hours to recover from a couple of workouts. Giving up was never an option. I decided to take what I know about the physiological workings of the human body and apply my skills in research to find an answer for me and many others. This is what I did; added a post workout drink of almond milk, honey and whey protein containing (leucine, Isoleucine and Valine).

I did not also mention the pre work out drink that I have been using to increase the mitochondria and ATP in the muscle for muscle contraction as well. This is a mixture of water, honey and sea salt and it does help with muscle fatigue as well. Here is what I would like to share…

I have worked out 4 days in a row for the first time in 3 years and without the need for a nap, no crashing that day or the day after, no muscle pain and no fatigue during training; I am experiencing a noticeable difference in cognitive, energy and mood on a daily basis.

The solution for over trained athletes is the very same solution for those with hashimoto’s, hypothyroid and fibromyalgia. There are some contraindications for using branch chain amino acids so please take note of them carefully.

  • Those with ALS should not use BCAA’s it has been linked to lung failure and higher death rates.
  • Chronic alcoholism and BCAA’s will increase liver disease
  • Interactions with the following medications
  • Levodopa  (Parkinson’s)
  • All medications for diabetes BCAA’s decrease blood sugar
  • Diazoxide , a glucose elevating agent ( hyperstat, ,proglycem)
  • Medications for inflammation ( corticosteroids )
For hyperthyroid the BCAA, Leucine has been found to help prevent muscle wasting.
In my next segment, I will be addressing high fat diets, thyroid disease and cortisol.


About the Author

Radiant-Raina-KranzRaina Kranz, C.P.T. attended and is certified from the American College of Sports Medicine. She studied Kinesiology/Biomechanics. Living in Hollywood, Florida she is a full time personal trainer and coach. Find her at her website, Personal Fitness Training Florida. and wonderful online Facebook Group, Thyroid Discussion Group. Click to schedule an appointment or to learn more about Raina’s Customized Thyroid Exercise Training Program at Thyroid Trainer.

 Questions or anything to add about exercising with fibromyalgia or thyroid disease? Tips that worked for you? We want your thoughts in the comments section–Please! 

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