When your body’s thyroid hormone levels are low, the number on your scale may rise. If you are like many sufferers of hypothyroidism, you already know that losing weight can be frustrating with an underactive thyroid.
The thyroid gland is responsible for sending hormones into the bloodstream in order to keep your metabolism in order. When your body fails to make enough of these hormones, the process of metabolism begins to slow, which puts the brakes on many of the functions in the body.
You may feel tired, cold or sluggish. Your body may begin to experience bloating, caused by the retention of salt and water. You may gain weight as well.
If you feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle against weight loss, please don’t lose heart. Below are some tips that can help you fight back against your frustrating struggle – and you’ll find these tips to go beyond the ad nauseam “eat healthy and exercise” advice.
This may sound silly if you’ve already been diagnosed, but bear with us. There are many people who have undiagnosed thyroid disorders. People who have an underactive thyroid and do not undergo any treatment may find that weight loss is virtually impossible, despite how hard they hit the gym or how disciplined they eat. Additionally, the longer you wait to be diagnosed and get on the right track, the more weight you may gain in the meantime. If you have symptoms of hypothyroidism, reach out to your doctor to learn more about diagnosis and treatment. Our at-home test kit can help you understand how your thyroid is working.
Simply getting checked could check off a giant weight loss hurdle.
For some, simply receiving a diagnosis and a prescription is not enough for good overall health and relief of symptoms. We believe the way you feel is more important than your lab numbers! In addition to your doctor, work with a Nutritionist to discover care options to be sure your body’s cells are getting all of the energy and oxygen necessary to equip your metabolism to get the job done - from the best diet for you, to managing stress, to the right exercise. If your doctor is not interested in holistic treatment options, consider getting another opinion.
Insulin resistance and leptin resistance, as well as other hormone resistance problems, may contribute to weight-loss problems of thyroid patients. Many studies show that thyroid disorders can create insulin resistance, so you should consider having your levels tested and treated, if necessary. If you’re curious, ask your doctor to run the tests! If the results show your levels are high, a prescription medication called Metformin might help your body better regulate your insulin levels. If your levels are borderline, you may benefit from eating a healthy low carb diet, which can lower your blood glucose levels and help with meeting your weight loss goals.
Of course, eating healthy is important for everybody, but for a person who has an underactive thyroid, ensuring healthy food choices is vital. There is no one-size-fits-all diet for thyroid patients; we recommend working with your care team and trusting your own body to be a guide to what works best for you.
Below are some approaches to consider taking when making diet changes.
Some people who have an underactive thyroid struggle with losing weight because they have undiagnosed food allergies. Consider getting tested for food sensitivities to find and remove foods that may be specifically inflammatory to you.
Water is beneficial in aiding your metabolism to work better. It helps to eliminate bloating and water retention, as well as reduce your appetite. It’s generally recommended to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day.
Note that research shows that 2-5mg of fluoride per day can suppress your thyroid, so if you live in the United States, where our water is fluoridated, 8 cups of water each day may have this effect on your thyroid.
There are a number of countertop filters, under sink reverse osmosis, or water delivery services to deliver fluoride-free water and keep you well hydrated!
Okay, you had to expect that we would eventually touch on exercise! A change in diet is often not enough on it’s own to allow for thyroid patients to lose weight.
With hypothyroidism, your metabolism is slowed. The good news? You can raise your metabolism with exercise, which can make it more efficient by burning fat and calories as well as balancing weight-loss promoting hormones, like leptin. Exercise also helps to balance blood sugar levels.
Of course, a major side effect of hypothyroidism is fatigue. We know you’re already tired, so find an activity that you actually like and is tailored to your body’s needs. Perhaps your body craves more intensity like Saturday morning boot camp or CrossFit with a friend, or something more gentle like biking to work or yoga before bed.
Healthy people of normal weight are recommended to do at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity – or 75 minutes of vigorous activity – every week to maintain their weight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Think of the long game here. Strength training and exercise will help build muscle, which is good for your metabolism, which will help you lose weight.
You are certainly not alone on this journey to weight loss with hypothyroidism! It is possible by checking and optimizing your thyroid hormone levels, following a thyroid-friendly diet that gives you enough calories to fuel your body, eating nutrient-dense foods, and getting the right amount of exercise for your body. It may take a bit of experimentation, and we’re here to help you feel your best.
Find inspiration for a healthy way to support your thyroid