How 3 Women With Hypothyroidism Maintain Their Weight
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If you have hypothyroidism, you might deal with daily symptoms like nausea, fatigue, weight gain, constipation, feeling cold, and depression.
While the symptoms that accompany hypothyroidism , can disrupt several parts of your life, weight gain seems to be one area that causes significant distress and frustration.
When your thyroid is underactive, your metabolism slows down, which can lead to weight gain.
Hypothyroidism is typically diagnosed in adulthood, but many people will tell you they remember struggling with their weight and other symptoms for years.
Hypothyroidism becomes more pronounced with age and is far more common in women than men. In fact, 20 percent of women in the United States will develop the condition by age 60.
Healthline talked to three women with hypothyroidism about weight gain, how theyve accepted their bodies, and the lifestyle changes theyve made to manage their weight.
Maintaining a healthy weight with hypothyroidism has been a challenge for Ginny Mahar, co-founder of Thyroid Refresh. Diagnosed in 2011, Mahar says her doctors advice regarding her weight gain was eat less and exercise more. Sound familiar?
The More Medication Myth
You may have heard that thyroid hormones can be used to lose weight, even in people without thyroid disease. While synthetic thyroid hormones have been used this way in the past, research has shown that most people gain all the weight back once they stop using them. Worse, being on thyroid hormones unnecessarily can result in serious side effects.
For people who are already using levothyroxine, increasing the dose above what’s needed can lead to more weight loss, but it’s usually not significant and those pounds are often gained back once the dose is decreased again. This is also an unhealthy way to lose weight as an increased dose is also associated with adverse reactions, including heart issues, insomnia, headaches, menstrual irregularities and skin rash.
What Causes An Underactive Thyroid
This is a tough one to answer. An underactive thyroid can occur when your immune system attacks the thyroid gland and damages it , or when the gland is damaged in another way for example, as a result of certain medical treatments.
And, because symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, feeling cold, weight gain, depression and brain fog, its perhaps not surprising to hear that the condition can easily go undiagnosed.
‘Around 6-8% of women will experience subclinical hypothyroidism,’ says Lyn Mynott, chief executive of Thyroid UK. ‘This is where they demonstrate symptoms of the condition but their levels of TSH have not gone out of range. Two percent, however, will have overt hypothyroidism. The truth is, though, because hypothyroidism is a slow burner, it is often misdiagnosed as depression. Although a womans risk increases with age, we are seeing the condition in all age groups.’
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How To Fix Your Hormones And Lose Weight
Ive hit a stubborn weight-loss plateau, writes this weeks house call, even though I seem to be doing everything right, like eating the right foods and exercising. How can I overcome that obstacle?
Ive discussed different reasons for weight-loss resistance in past blogs. Many obstacles have nothing to do with what you eat or how much you exercise. Instead, they involve things like nutritional imbalances, chronic inflammation, metabolic challenges, leaky gut, changes in your microbiome, environmental toxins and your genes.
One huge but often-overlooked reason for weight-loss resistance involves hormonal imbalances.
No contest: The monster hormone that causes weight gain, inflammation and chronic disease is excess insulin. Think of this hormone as your fat cell fertilizer! My new book, Eat Fat, Get Thin, discusses how to naturally regulate insulin so you can shift your body from fat storage mode to fat-burning mode.
At the same time, insulin isnt the only player other hormones also affect your weight and health. Three big disruptors are: thyroid, cortisol and sex hormones. I discuss these hormones in-depth in The Blood Sugar Solution, however, lets briefly look at each of them here.
A common cause of hypothyroidism is gluten intolerance.
Sex Hormone Imbalances
The Link Between Hypothyroidism And Weight Gain
The way the thyroid functions to affect weight and body composition is quite complex. Research has found interactions between thyroid hormones and factors directly affecting energy expenditure, such as fat tissue, other hormones, and the brain.
Although clinicians are not certain whether hypothyroidism causes obesity or vice versa, there is undoubtedly a link between the two.
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Follow A Diet For Hypothyroidism
Being hypothyroid doesnt mean avoiding all your favorite foods. After cutting out sugar and going low-carb, you probably want to know what is on and off the table literally.
Weve made a list of foods to eat and avoid, but the bottom line is that foods that feed inflammation need to be removed from your meals. Clearing up inflammation through diet can help your thyroid function properly.
Your Low Testosterone Levels Are Slowing Down Your Metabolism
You are confronted with an astounding number of toxins each day, including pesticides, herbicides, genetically modified foods, and about six different synthetic hormones in meat. Toxins are lurking in face creams, prescription drugs, processed foods, your lipstick, the linings of tuna fish cans, the fire-retardant materials in couches, and even the air you breathe. The list goes on.
Many types of these toxins, such as pesticides, plastics, and industrial chemicals, behave like estrogen when absorbed in the body. Experts believe that our increasing exposure to toxins helps explain why so many girls are entering puberty earlier and why many boys exhibit feminine characteristics such as developing breasts. Xeno-estrogens, as these particular toxins are called, have been associated with an elevated risk of estrogen-driven diseases like breast and ovarian cancers and endometriosis.
All this fake estrogen overwhelms your body’s testosteronewhich is vital for hormone balanceand contributes to estrogen overload. Testosterone contributes to muscle growth, which in turn supports metabolism. And, as we already know, estrogen overload raises insulin insensitivity. The combination adds pounds to your frame: A study from Sweden published in the journal Chemosphere showed that exposure to a particular type of pesticide called organochloride was linked to a weight gain of 9½ pounds over 50 years.
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Weak Achy Or Stiff Muscles And Joints
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include weak and aching muscles, joint pain and stiffness, and potentially evencarpal tunnel syndrome. This can make it feel even harder to exercise.
Ask anyone with chronic joint pain: Staying active is a massive struggle.
Although over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can relieve pain, they come with all sorts of side effects. Fortunately, there are many natural ways to reduce hypothyroidism-related joint and muscle swelling so you can get moving again.
Thyroid hormone replacement, thyroid medication , or anti-inflammatory supplements can treat the root causes of joint and muscle swelling.
When your joints and muscles feel good, physical activity and a healthier weight are easier to achieve.
Now Its Time For You To Act
The only person you will let down if you cheat yourself. Your hypothyroidism doesnt mean you cant lose weight. It makes it harder initially, but there are ways to overcome that. Once you have your medication levels right, you will find that you have the same chances as the average healthy female.
Its time to follow the above 10 steps. You will find that creating the calorie deficit will help you shed the pounds. Track your results and how you feel to spot patterns and get over a slump in motivation.
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Thyroid Function & Body Weight
Anyone with a low thyroid function knows that losing weight feels nearly impossible. Some of us try starving, some of us are exercising excessively despite a distressing lack of progress, and some of us have simply given up. Before I was diagnosed as Hypothyroid, I was doing all of the above.
The thyroid gland produces hormones that ultimately control a persons metabolism, which is the way in which the body burns calories to provide cellular energy. When our thyroid hormone levels are low, calories are not burned effectively, resulting in weight gain even when very few calories are consumed. You might feel as though everyone around you eats normally, without consequence, whereas you eat very little and yet continue to gain weight. Water retention also tends to be high.
Ideally, treatment with thyroid hormone increases an individuals metabolic rate, thereby increasing the amount of calories that are burned which results in weight loss. In most cases, however, treatment with thyroid hormone alone cannot entirely correct metabolic problems and relieve symptoms. Simultaneous nutritional therapy is essential to maximize weight reduction and eliminate many of the troublesome symptoms that plague people with low thyroid function.
What Is The Relationship Between Thyroid And Weight
It has been appreciated for a very long time that there is a complex relationship between thyroid disease, body weight and metabolism. Thyroid hormone regulates metabolism in both animals and humans. Metabolism is determined by measuring the amount of oxygen used by the body over a specific amount of time. If the measurement is made at rest, it is known as the basal metabolic rate . Indeed, measurement of the BMR was one of the earliest tests used to assess a patients thyroid status. Patients whose thyroid glands were not working were found to have low BMRs, and those with overactive thyroid glands had high BMRs. Later studies linked these observations with measurements of thyroid hormone levels and showed that low thyroid hormone levels were associated with low BMRs and high thyroid hormone levels were associated with BMRs. Most physicians no longer use BMR due to the complexity in doing the test and because the BMR is subject to many influences other than the thyroid state.
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Eat Smaller More Frequent Meals
Hypothyroidism often slows digestive function, causing your body to hang on to fat instead of burning it for energy. Changing the standard three meals a day into smaller, more frequent meals can support your metabolism and balance blood sugar levels. Eating later in the day, when your metabolism is naturally slower, can impede your weight loss efforts, too.
Keeping a food diary or journal can help you remember exactly what you ate and when. Journaling allows you to go back to see what foods you ate on days you felt unwell. Working with a registered dietitian or nutritionist can help you best figure out how to make each of your smaller meals as impactful as possible.
Supplements Which Probably Won’t Work
Are there any supplements that you’ll want to avoid if you have thyroid disease?
The answer is definitely yes!
Certain supplements, especially the ‘typical’ weight loss supplements, can actually cause more harm than good.
Most ‘typical’ weight loss supplements work by either reducing your appetite or by attempting to stimulate your metabolism to burn more calories.
The problem with this method is thyroid patients already have a low metabolism and putting more pressure on the metabolism doesn’t actually help to normalize it.
The only way to normalize your metabolism if you have thyroid disease is by promoting thyroid function either by taking thyroid enhancing supplements or by using thyroid medication.
No amount of metabolism boosters will help normalize your metabolism!
Other supplements, such as those which reduce your appetite, can also cause metabolic damage if they are used long-term.
Thyroid patients are especially susceptible to this effect because their metabolism is usually lower than normal, to begin with.
Supplements you should avoid if you have thyroid disease include:
You’ll always find hear stories about some of these supplements which have worked for some people.
It’s easy to latch onto these stories and hope that they work for you. But, let me assure you that while these stories may be true, it doesn’t mean that they will necessarily work for you.
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First Things First: You’ve Gotta Get It Diagnosed
If youre experiencing symptoms of hypothyroidismfatigue, unexplained weight gain, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, and dry skinit’s time to see your doctor, who will do a blood test to determine your TSH levels.
After a diagnosis, you’ll likely start treatment for hypothyroidismand it’s a pretty straightforward approach: Youll be prescribed a cheap, safe, and effective synthetic hormone that replaces the one your body should be making on its own. The medication will restore normal levels of TSH.
Something to be wary of, though: at-home thyroid testing. Even if the results are reliable, it will likely be difficult for you to understand how to interpret the lab, or what action should be taken if you see an abnormal result, Dr. Isaacs adds.
How To Lose Weight With Hypothyroidism Naturally: 6 Steps
More than one in 10 Americans will develop a thyroid disorder in their life. Unfortunately, hypothyroidism causes weight gain.
Hypothyroidism is a medical condition caused by an underactive thyroid, a gland in your neck that secretes necessary hormones.
Weight gain is often one of the first signs that the endocrine system is experiencing issues.
It can be challenging to get rid of that extra weight, especially when other symptoms of hypothyroidism seem to create a vicious circle.
Can you lose weight when you have hypothyroidism? Yes, you can lose weight with hypothyroidism through changes in diet, eating patterns, stress, and exercise. Were here to show you how.
As many as 60% of people with thyroid disease dont know they have one. If you gain weight with no explanation, consider asking a healthcare professional about hypothyroidism.
If youre interested in working one-on-one with the PrimeHealth team, schedule your consultation usingthis link.
A Neat Way To Burn Calories
Many trainers get too focused on the calories clients burn during their training session and forget about how much they move the rest of the day . This other energy expenditure is called nonexercise activity thermogenesis , and it actually makes up the bulk of calories burned in a days activity.
If your clients are sedentary, ensuring theyre getting enough movement during the day should be a top priority. The suggestion for 10,000 steps is a great place to start. In the short term, apps or fitness trackers can be very effective tools for showing clients how inactive they truly are.
It can take 812 weeks to build new movement habits. Walking to work, taking the stairs, parking as far away from the entrance as possible , or doing a daily or nightly walk with friends or loved ones are all great ways to add more movement into the day.
If you want more context on NEAT, read this resourcenext!
Understand More About Your Weight Gain
Your weight loss problems arent just due to a slower metabolism. When you have an underactive thyroid, your body will start to retain salt and water. This will give the impression that youre gaining weight and it will be much easier to get rid of them once your medication is balanced.
Its so important to understand as much as possible about your hypothyroidism and your weight gain. Know why its happening, so you can take steps to get the weight off afterwards.
Salt and water retention will disappear, but other reasons for weight gain wont. Reassess your diet and your exercise plan. Are you really eating as healthy as you possibly could? Is it possible to go on a diet to help shed some of the pounds?
Be completely honest with yourself. Dont worry about what other people have said to you or what your doctor things right now. You want to do the best thing possible for your own life and your own mindset.
Remember that the only person you are letting down by lying is yourself. You can cheat your way on a diet and trick yourself into thinking youre eating healthy all you want, but the scales arent going to lie to you. So, take this time to assess why youre gaining weight. While your underactive thyroid is a problem, dont try to put all the blame on that if its not just the issue.
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Rule Out Hypothalamic Obesity Disorder
When the hypothalamus does not function properly it can affect your thyroids ability to take up T4 and convert it to T3. In this situation, hypothalamic obesity disorder can develop. With this condition, your nervous system continues to react as if you are starving, and you continue to gain weight.
Even with severe caloric restriction and high exercise, if you have hypothalamic obesity disorder, your metabolism is so impaired that it focuses on storing calories, rather than burning them, causing continued weight gain. In hypothalamic obesity disorder, there can also be an overproduction of insulin, which can further contribute to obesity.
Follow This Eating Pattern
Eating plenty of colorful vegetables and fruit along with heart-healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts as well as fish and vegetarian proteins appears to be one of the healthiest ways to promote weight loss and prevent chronic diseases. It may also make your cells more sensitive to insulin, reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
In particular, oily fish contains long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that may help reduce insulin resistance, a risk-factor for Type 2 diabetes.
Having healthy fats in your meals and snacks triggers the release of hormones that help you feel more satiated, which can support weight loss.