Weight Loss

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Losing Weight with Hypothyroidism

Managing hypothyroidism does not have to be a defeat, nor should it be. While it may present more obstacles, take these steps to conquer hypothyroidism and weight loss!

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Hypothyroidism, also known as underactive thyroid disease, is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce sufficient thyroid hormone. The thyroid gland and the hormones it produces is imperative in keeping the body running, amongst dictating metabolism.

So in the case of hypothyroidism, individuals have a compromised metabolic rate, with likely side effects of weight gain. It can also cause fatigue, weakness, hair loss, constipation, cold intolerance, muscle cramps, depression, memory loss, abnormal menstrual cycles in females.

But dealing with hypothyroidism does not have to be a defeat, nor should it be. Although it may come with more obstacles, there are steps to conquer hypothyroidism and weight loss!

Hypothyroidism and Weight Loss

Again, weight gain generally follows due to a compromised metabolism. Unless dealing with a severe case, though, an average of five to 10 pounds is gained. But the more the severe the case, the more severe the symptoms.

Following a thorough assessment of hormone metabolism, a clinical diagnosis of hypothyroidism poses the need for thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Partnering up with a care provider, typically an endocrinologist, can help manipulate and optimize thyroid treatment to best suit metabolic needs.

Comply to medication and attend routine doctor visits to monitor thyroid status and identify any changes that may need revisited. Though it may not lead to significant changes, an improved metabolism from medical treatment can help one lose weight with hypothyroidism.

While thyroid medication restores thyroid function and manages weight, a healthy diet should not be discounted.

Foods for Thyroid Health

While there is not a hypothyroid diet per se, adopting a healthy eating pattern supplies adequate nutrition and moderates calories.

Overall, reduce the intake of highly processed and refined products, including chips. Instead, incorporate more wholesome foods, including whole grains, fruits and veggies, lean proteins, dairy products, and healthy fat sources.

Sticking to a healthful diet naturally reduces caloric intake when metabolism is slowed down. It also lowers inflammation in the body that often coexists with an underactive thyroid.

There are additional nutrients that deserve attention for preventing and managing hypothyroidism. These include:

• Iodine: Iodine deficiency raises the risk of hypothyroidism. Iodine houses in the thyroid gland and assists in the production of thyroid hormones. The pairing of iodine and iron has also shown to restore iodine deficiency and improve thyroid function. However, a low iodine diet may be warranted to increase the effectiveness of an upcoming iodine therapy.

Food sources of iodine include iodized salt, dairy products, eggs, saltwater fish, and soy. Multivitamins and supplements may contain a significant amount of iodine, too.

• Selenium: Selenium and thyroid disease is also an area of interest, as supplementing with the mineral can improve hypothyroidism. Selenium is required for the antioxidant function and for the metabolism of thyroid hormones. Maintaining adequate selenium helps prevent thyroid disease and preserves overall health.

Brazil nuts, turkey, pork, beef, sunflower seeds, and shiitake mushrooms are rich sources of selenium.

• Goitrogen: Though plants tend to never be discouraged, produce containing goitrogens may be the exception to the rule. Goitrogens can inhibit thyroid activity, mostly by interfering with iodine uptake from the thyroid gland.

The compounds are mostly found in cruciferous vegetables, including cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and turnings.

Reductions in soy products, including soy milk, tofu, tempeh, and miso, may be warranted if managing a thyroid condition.

• Gluten: A link exists between celiac disease and thyroid conditions, which may warrant a gluten-free diet (GFD). Some patients with celiac disease have reported a lower need for thyroid hormone replacement after complying to GFD. A gluten-free diet may also bring clinical benefits to women with hypothyroidism related to an autoimmune disease.

Gluten is sourced from wheat, barley, and rye and the products the grains produce, including pastas and breads. Gluten may also be hidden in sauces, marinades, gravies, and other non-obvious sources.

Ultimately, consult with a doctor and/or dietitian to determine whether or not omitting certain food compounds. They can likewise help determine personal nutrient needs and create a balanced meal plan to meet them.

Additional Tips to Lose Weight with Hypothyroidism

When it comes to losing weight with hypothyroidism, medication and diet tend to be at the core. However, there are additional tips that can assist with weight loss and management.

• Dismiss Diet Drugs: At this point in time, there really is no drug that should substitute or piggyback onto thyroid medication. Even if a weight loss drug appears tempting, or even effective, they pose dangers of thyroid patients by interacting with medications.

Always discuss the interest of, risk factors, and potential side effects of any medications or pills before taking.

• Drink Enough Water: Water plays a vital role in health, including weight maintenance and loss. Not only can keeping hydrated lessen preconceived feelings of hunger, but reduce the risk of overeating come mealtime. And not to mention, water is free of calories unlike soda and other sweetened beverages.

As a general rule, healthy adults should consume at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Drink more water daily by using larger cups and making intake convenient.

• Exercise Regularly: To supplement medication compliance and a healthy diet, exercise on a regular basis. Individuals should aim for at least 150 minutes of cardio per week, or 30 minutes most days of the way. Cardio exercise includes jogging, cycling, dancing, swimming, and any exercise that elevates heart rate.

Complement aerobic exercise with strength training two to three times per week. This helps build lean muscle, in turn increasing basal metabolic rate (BMR), the rate at which calories are burned at rest.

• Obtain Adequate Sleep: Lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, so ensuring sufficient shuteye can reduce such risk. Adequate sleep can control hunger hormones, lessen cravings, and optimize energy levels to keep active.

The National Sleep Foundation advises adults to sleep between seven to nine hours of sleep, while striving for sound shuteye.

• Reduce Stress: Stress can exacerbate hypothyroidism symptoms, mostly by the adrenal glands release of cortisol. High cortisol levels have been linked to weight gain, signifying the importance of lowering stress.

Along with a nutrient-dense diet and adequate sleep, reduce stress with yoga, deep breathing, meditation, and exercise.

Written By Sarah Asay, RDN. Published on September 28, 2017. Updated on May 07, 2019.

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