The thyroid is the butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck. As part of the endocrine system, the thyroid gland makes and stores hormones that regulate your body's energy in the form of blood pressure, blood temperature, and heart rate.
When your thyroid hormone production drops, your body processes slow down and change, affecting virtually every system in your body.
The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism vary from person to person, depending on the severity of the condition.
Hypothyroidism signs and symptoms may include:
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Puffy face
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness
- Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
- Heavy or irregular menstrual periods
- Slowed heart rate
- Impaired memory
Often, one of the first noticeable signs of hypothyroidism is weight gain. Thyroid hormones play an important role in fat and sugar metabolism, food intake, and fat "burning." An underactive thyroid may decrease thermogenesis and metabolic rate and subsequently increase body mass index.
If you feel like you're fighting an uphill battle, you're not alone. Ahead, some tips to help you lose weight with hypothyroidism.
Start with a diagnosis
12% of the US population has a thyroid disorder, and 60% don't know about it. To have overt hypothyroidism without treatment may make weight loss feel virtually impossible, despite how hard you hit the gym or how disciplined you eat.
If you're worried about weight gain, talk with your doctor about taking a thyroid blood test to understand how your thyroid is functioning. It's important to measure thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), free triiodothyronine (fT3), free thyroxine (fT4), and TPO antibodies. This complete thyroid panel help you understand the big picture of what's happening with your thyroid function, and where specifically to make improvements.
Should your results show that your thyroid is under-active, it is easily treatable in almost everyone. Optimizing your thyroid levels with thyroid hormone replacement medication is usually the first step in minimizing symptoms like weight gain. When choosing thyroid medication with your doctor, remember that there is no one-size-fits-all treatment.
Consider holistic treatment options
Managing your symptoms like weight gain requires more than just knowing and treating your lab numbers. Symptoms and lifestyle management are essential to your well-being.
If you are being treated with thyroid hormone replacement medication, and still experiencing ill-health, it could be due to:
- Other endocrine or autoimmune conditions
- Nutritional deficiencies or dietary triggers
- Stressful life events, depression, or anxiety
- Poor sleep patterns
In addition to your doctor, you may consider working with a Health Coach to make appropriate lifestyle modifications.
Test other hormone levels
Hormone resistance, like insulin or leptin resistance, may increase your inability to lose weight with hypothyroidism.
Insulin resistance is the central physiological process that underlies metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions that increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes). This resistance happens when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don't respond well to insulin (a hormone produced in the pancreas) and can't use glucose from your blood for energy. Your pancreas makes more insulin to compensate, and over time, your blood sugar levels go up.
Studies reveal that higher TSH levels may induce insulin resistance. You can ask your doctor to order a blood test to measure insulin levels. Should the results show that 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.
Modify your eating habits
Eating healthy is good for everybody, but for a person who has an underactive thyroid, the right food choices is vital to weight management. We recommend working with your care team to identify dietary triggers for hashimoto's, reverse nutrient deficiencies, and develop a personalized eating plan.
1. Remove dietary triggers
Reactive foods may cause inflammation that can worsen your autoimmune reactions or interfere with your thyroid function. An elimination diet or food sensitivities test may help you identify these triggers.
2. Replace with nutrient-rich foods
You need nutrients like selenium, iron, and zinc for thyroid synthesis.
3. Reintroduce healthy bacteria
Probiotics can help to rebalance your gut microbiome, which may reduce leaky gut, which can cause immune reactions like inflammation or pain.
4. Repair with supplementation
Key nutrients drive thyroid hormone production. Work with a nutritionist to determine how to supplement nutrient deficiencies to improve thyroid symptoms or support thyroid medication absorption.
Drink plenty of water
Water supports your metabolism, eliminates bloat and water retention, and may help to reduce your appetite. It helps to eliminate bloating and water retention, as well as reduce your appetite. Generally, it's recommended to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. We say, drink as much as you need! Aim for ½ your bodyweight (lbs) in ounces of water every day. And if you have a coffee, alcohol, or sweat for 30 minutes, have an extra 8-ounce glass.
Move your body regularly
You can support your metabolism with exercise to make it more efficient at burning fat and calories as well as balancing weight-loss promoting hormones, like leptin. Exercise also helps to balance blood sugar levels.
Of course, other side effects of hypothyroidism are fatigue and muscle weakness. These symptoms can be demotivating, so it's useful to find an activity that you enjoy and matches your body's specific needs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you to do at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week to maintain your weight. Don't overcomplicate it! Short bouts of physical exercise can add up to the weekly recommendations.
A note from Paloma Health
You are not alone on this journey to weight loss with hypothyroidism, and we want you to feel at your absolute best. Schedule a call with a care advisor to determine if Paloma Health Online Thyroid Doctors could be a good fit for you.