The Carb Burning Thiamin (B1)


Vitamin B1 is also called Thiamin and it’s main role is to help extract energy from the food we eat. Thiamin specializes in burning carbs or any type of energy we get from sweet or starchy foods, (like sugar, fruit, potatoes, beans, and grains) since we need twice as much Thiamin to burn carbs as we need to burn fat. Let’s learn about the carb-burning Thiamin!

What does Thiamin do?

Thiamin is needed to burn all types of energy, including protein and fat. Similarly as we need all the other Vitamin B’s to burn carbs. But as mentioned, no other B vitamin has such a special role in burning carbs. Eating carbs won’t depleteThiamin. But not getting enough Thiamin will prevent from burning carbs. This will result in carbs (i.e. glucose ) build up in the blood and if there is too much in our blood after we eat, we call it “glucose intolerance.” which can eventually lead into diabetes.

Recognizing Thiamin deficiencies

Modest deficiencies of Thiamin make us bad carb-burners, whereas in worst scenarios

  • They make our hands and feet tingle, or become weak, numb, or painful.
  • They cause the muscles around the eyes to become weak, paralyzed, or disordered. This can cause twitching or drooping.
  • They can cause the heart rate to go up, or cause other heart trouble.
  • They can make it harder to control our own body movements.
  • They can make us feel weak or apathetic.

When severe Thiamin deficiency affects our hands, feet, and heart, it’s called “beriberi.” When it affects eye muscles or control over the bigger movements we make in day-to-day life, it’s called “Wernicke’s encephalopathy.” When it affects the mind, it’s called “Korsakoff’s psychosis.” it is often the case that B1 deficiency is diagnosed very late as it is quite often mis-diagnosed.

Thiamin helps in many areas

  • It helps protect us from oxidative stress. This is the wear and tear on our tissues that happens as we age.
  • It helps us recycle other vitamins, like vitamin K and folate.
  • We use it to synthesize a lot of different things. For example, fats, cholesterol, and the building blocks of our DNA.

Thiamin and the diet type

Thiamin is critical for the brain and nerves. This is because the nervous system, far more than any other system in the body, requires glucose to function. Every day, the brain consumes 120 grams of glucose and this doesn’t just provide energy. It’s also needed to make many of the neurotransmitters, the chemicals that the brain cells use to communicate with each other. These neurotransmitters are also what the nerves use to control the muscles.

However in a keto diet, the nervous system re-adjusts how it uses its energy, and it starts consuming 75% less glucose than it usually does. And what are ketogenic diets most effective for? Epilepsy! That’s what they were first invented for. So they help the brain. Many people report feeling calmer or sleeping better on them. One of the benefits of a keto diet is to help with the cognitive function and brain fog.

How do we get enough Thiamin?

  • 2 teaspoons of nutritional yeast (per day)
  • 120 grams of legumes (lentils, peas, beans) measured before cooking (per day)
  • 120 grams of whole grains, measured before cooking (per day)

Fun fact : Flour is usually enriched with Thiamin as a public health measure!

The Thiamin content of meat is a confusing topic. Older databases say that red meat animals (beef, lamb, bison) have the most Thiamin. The newest databases say that pork is an awesome source, while red meat animals and poultry have very little, so we will ignore them.

Fat does not have any Thiamin! Although ketogenic diets spare Thiamin better than any other diet, if they aren’t designed carefully they can give a Thiamin deficiency. Even though we need twice as much Thiamin to burn carbs as we need to burn fat, we still need Thiamin to burn fat.

Other food sources require us to consume huge amounts so we can get sufficient Thiamin so we will also ignore them. These are okra, artichokes, garlic, squash, asparagus, kale, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, potatoes, beet greens.

The Thiamin Blockers

Another consideration in food absorbtion is always the so called blockers
Here are a list of that contain things that actually hurt Thiamin status:

  • Raw fish and shellfish. These are destroyed by heat. Their content in these foods vary a lot.
  • Sulfite,  used as a food additive, also produced by gut bacteria when we eat a diet high in animal protein and low in legumes.

Other Causes of Thiamin Deficiency

  • Alcohol hurts its absorption, its storage in the liver, and its activation for use with our enzymes.


  • Thiamin has no known toxicity. There are a few different types. Thiamin hydrochloride or Thiamin HCl is the cheapest and most common.

Key Takeaways

  • Thiamin is critical for the brain and nerves.
  • We need twice as much Thiamin to burn carbs as we need to burn fat.
  • Get Thiamin from nutritional yeast, legumes and the RDA is 1mg.
  • Subscribe and follow the evolution of the Ketontrck Diet Pyramid.

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