The Link Between Your Thyroid and Weight Gain
When it comes to weight loss, a fast and efficient metabolism generally comes to mind. However, something as small as a gland can be altered and interfere with how efficient your metabolism is working.
Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, and months turn into years... All of that time dedicated to good health and the scale actually increased. How could that possibly be? A small gland in the neck may be the culprit. Read on to find the link between your thyroid and weight gain!
The Thyroid Explained
When it comes to weight loss, a fast and efficient metabolism generally comes to mind. Metabolism is the rate in which the body effectively burns calories and varies between individuals based on age, gender, and muscle mass. However, metabolisms are further dictated by a small, butterfly-shaped gland found in the neck. The endocrine gland is responsible for producing thyroid hormones that control metabolism, such as basal metabolic rate (BMR). BMR is the rate in which calories and energy are burned while at rest. However, when the living gland is affected, metabolism can be altered and interfered.
An Abnormal Thyroid
When thyroid hormone levels are abnormal, metabolism is typically affected. The effect is dependent on the amount of thyroid hormone produced and can result in hypo- or hyperthyroidism and further diagnosed with a physical exam and blood tests.
When the thyroid hormones are low, metabolism starts to slow down. In the case of an underactive thyroid, weight gain generally follows. Unless dealing with a severe case, an average of five to 10 pounds is gained.
Symptoms: weight gain, fatigue, weakness, hair loss, constipation, cold intolerance, muscle cramps, depression, memory loss, abnormal menstrual cycles in females
An overactive thyroid is opposite of hypothyroidism, as metabolism is known to speed up. Weight loss is typically a noticeable sign with an accelerated metabolism. Importantly, the introduction of medication helps rebalance metabolism. In this case, the weight lost prior is typically regained. Weight gain with hyperthyroidism can still result in the presence of a high-calorie diet and low physical activity.
Symptoms: weight loss, increased sweating, heat intolerance, muscle weakness, agitation and nervousness, shortness of breath, irregular heart rhythms, shakiness, vision changes
How to Lose Weight with Hypothyroidism
Dealing with hypothyroidism does not have to be a defeat, nor should it be. Although weight loss may be a little tougher, there are steps to tackle hypothyroid weight gain.
First and foremost, a diagnosis and prescribed synthetic thyroid hormone can increase the compromised metabolism caused by hypothyroidism. An improved metabolism from medical treatment may result in weight loss, although typically not drastic. Further weight loss and health can surface with the inclusion of diet and exercise.
Sticking to a healthful diet filled with nutritious fruits and veggies can naturally reduce calorie intake when metabolism is slowed down. Along with fruits and veggies, whole grains are a significant fiber source that may reduce overall calorie consumption when consumed. Like fiber, lean and plant-based protein sources can keep hunger at ease and prevent overeating. Including nutrient-rich foods along with healthy, unsaturated fats can reduce inflammation in the body that may exist in individuals dealing with an underactive thyroid.
Participate in moderate to intense exercise for 30 minutes to an hour most days of the week. Jogging, cycling, dancing, and swimming are cardio exercises that increase heart rate and facilitate calorie burn. Strength training two to three times per week helps facilitate muscle strengthening and building. An increased muscle mass helps increase BMR, the resting metabolism compromised with hypothyroidism.
Thyroid Information. American Thyroid Association. Available at: http://www.thyroid.org/thyroid-information/