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 and insulin resistance may be the culprits. Read on to find the link between your thyroid and weight gain, and just how losing it may involve an insulin resistant diet.
What Is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism, also known as underactive thyroid disease, is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce sufficient thyroid hormone.
Thyroid Use and Functions
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the neck and responsible for producing thyroid hormones that control metabolism.
In its simplest use of the word, metabolism is the total physiological processes in which the body transforms calories from food into usable energy to carry out vital processes, including producing and repairing body cells and circulating oxygenated blood.
Ultimately, metabolism is ongoing and continues even when the body is at rest, or more formally known as basal metabolic rate (BMR).
Symptoms of Abnormal Thyroid
When thyroid hormone levels are abnormal, metabolism is typically affected. The impact is dependent on the amount of thyroid hormone produced and can result in hypo- or hyperthyroidism.
Again, hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland produces lesser amounts of thyroid hormones. 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.
Additional symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
• Hair loss
• Cold intolerance
• Muscle cramps
• Memory loss
• Abnormal menstrual cycles in females
Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, is when the thyroid gland is overactive thyroid metabolism is known to speed up and may lead to weight loss. Individuals with hyperthyroidism may also experience the following symptoms:
• Increased sweating
• Heat intolerance
• Muscle weakness
• Agitation and nervousness
• Shortness of breath
• Irregular heart rhythms
• Vision changes
What’s more, insulin resistance may be a natural consequence of thyroid dysfunction and may make it more difficult to manage weight.
Insulin Resistance Symptoms
Insulin resistance is a condition in which cells do not respond well to insulin and cannot sufficiently easily take up glucose the blood, thus leading to high blood sugars.
Individuals with prediabetes, also known as borderline diabetes, already have some degree of insulin resistance. If left uncontrolled, blood sugars start to elevate over time and the risk of type 2 diabetes increases.
Though often unnoticeable, prediabetes symptoms may include:
• Increased urination and thirst
• Energy loss and fatigue
• Blurred vision
• Darkened skin, or medically known as acanthosis nigricans
Additional signs and symptoms of insulin resistance to be on the lookout for include:
• Cravings toward sugar and starches
• Heightened hunger following breakfast
• Feeling weak or shaky if meals are not consumed in a consistent fashion
• Difficulty losing weight
The combination of insulin resistance and hypothyroidism can make weight gain much easier and losing it much harder. Fortunately, managing both conditions does not have to be a defeat, nor should it be.
How to Lose Weight with Hypothyroidism & Insulin Resistance
While weight loss may be a little tougher, especially with the presence of insulin resistance, there are steps to tackle hypothyroid weight gain.
Medication for Hypothyroidism
First and foremost, a diagnosis and prescribed synthetic thyroid hormone can help restore compromised metabolism caused by hypothyroidism.
An improved metabolism from medical treatment may result in weight loss, although typically not dramatically.
Further weight loss and health can surface with the inclusion of diet and exercise.
Diet & Exercise
Sticking to a healthful diet naturally reduces caloric intake when metabolism is slowed down, along with lowering inflammation in the body that often coexists with an underactive thyroid.
To get the cells functioning back to normal, an insulin resistant diet balanced diet with protein, carbohydrates, and fat can provide adequate nutrition while monitoring calories.
Ultimately, reduce the intake of highly processed and refined products and incorporate more wholesome foods, including:
• Whole grains, or at least choosing whole grains over refined grains 50 percent of the time.
• Fruits and veggies, particularly choosing fresh varieties rather than those purchased with added sugar, salt, and other preservatives.
• Lean proteins and plant-based proteins, which may include poultry, eggs, and legumes.
• Milk and dairy products, in which low-fat varieties can further control calorie and saturated fat intake.
• Healthy fat sources, particularly those rich in unsaturated fatty acids such as olive oil and fatty fish.
Sticking to a healthful diet naturally reduces caloric intake when metabolism is slowed down, along with lowering inflammation in the body that often coexists with an underactive thyroid. Celiac disease may be a risk factor for hypothyroidism, necessitating a thorough evaluation for a gluten-free diet.
In addition to making dietary changes, participate in moderate to intense exercise for 30 minutes to an hour most days of the week. Jogging, cycling, dancing, and swimming are forms of 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.
Ultimately, seek out the care of a practitioner to help manage insulin resistance and thyroid problems symptoms.
A healthcare professional will assess and discuss safe methods that may work best for you. They will also provide careful monitoring to measure the effectiveness of treatment and reevaluate as needed.
The Bottom Line for Insulin Resistance, Hypothyroidism & Weight Loss
Hypothyroidism and insulin resistance might make weight loss more challenging. However, losing weight with either or both is not off the table!
Seeking out medical assistance is helpful to diagnosing and treating each condition, especially if medication is warranted. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits, including eating a nutrient-dense diet and exercising regularly, can likewise be helpful for shedding weight and unleashing a healthier, happier you.
Thyroid Information. American Thyroid Association. www.thyroid.org/thyroid-information/.