Hypothyroidism and Weight Loss – Lose Weight Not Hope
Living with hypothyroidism is not easy. One of the major challenges is maintaining a healthy weight. In fact, many women lose hope as they believe it is impossible to achieve desired weight loss goals with hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is a common condition among women where the thyroid gland loses capability to produce adequate thyroid hormones. Weight gain is a major symptom of this condition. The issue is retarded or very slow weight loss despite several attempts made by the individual.
Here is an insight to the problem and ways to resolve it:
Understanding Thyroid Gland
It is a tiny butterfly-shaped gland located low on the front of your neck. The gland secretes various hormones, mainly T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). These act on every cell throughout the body for ensuring regulation of metabolism, body temperature, and growth and development. The hormones also have an impact on heart, nervous system functions, breathing, menstrual cycles, muscle strength, weight and cholesterol levels.
Info received from hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain facilitates functioning of thyroid. The thyroid is stimulated by pituitary gland (thermostat for body) via secreting Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). Low concentration of thyroid hormone in blood is sensed by the pituitary and it produces more TSH to ensure increased production of T4 or T3. For higher thyroid hormone levels, little amounts of TSH are produces by pituitary.
The Thyroid Dysfunction
Millions of women all over the world suffer from this condition. The condition ranges from a harmless goiter (enlarged gland) to even life-threatening cancer. The most common condition is the abnormal thyroid hormones production. Too much production of thyroid hormone will lead to hyperthyroidism which is characterized by rapid heart rate, uncontrolled weight loss, and heat sensitivity. Insufficient secretion of thyroid hormone results in hypothyroidism.
Underactive thyroid may be caused by autoimmune disease, certain medications, surgical removal of some of or all of the gland, hyperthyroidism treatment, radiation treatments, etc. Hypothyroidism makes one gain weight, feel very tired, constipated, dry hair and skin, and intolerance to cold.
Hypothyroidism is mainly treated with daily thyroid hormone pills. These help in replacing hormone amount the body is no longer producing.
Hypothyroidism and Weight Gain – What is the Link?
Hypothyroidism leads to weight gain and the inability to lose weight. Even with treatment, women experience only modest loss in weight. Women often struggle to lose weight or continue to gain weight despite on daily medication. The following barriers make weight loss difficult with hypothyroidism:
Suboptimal Thyroid Treatment
Thyroid hormone replacement medication is given to patients to restore TSH levels to “reference range” (a set of values comprising of an upper and lower limit of a lab test). Falling in TSH reference range makes one ‘euthyroid’ indicating clinically normal thyroid function. However, this might not be normal for the patient. Women may experience symptoms while still within the “normal” range.
TSH levels in the upper end of the reference range can increase weight. Small increases in TSH within normal range can lead to weight gain. Hypothyroidism leads to slower metabolism, making weight loss more difficult.
Synthetic T4 hormone (levothyroxine) is used for treatment which affects your metabolism.
Triiodothyronine (T3) functions at the cellular level to supply oxygen and energy. T3 is produced by the thyroid and conversion of T4 to T3. Lower T3 levels mean lower metabolic rates.
How to Attain Ideal Body Composition
There are a number of steps you can take to lose weight with hypothyroidism:
This is the first step towards weight loss. Get TSH, TBG, T3, and T4 levels tested and discuss the results with your doctor.
Insulin and Leptin Resistance Test
This is something most women opt out for. Discuss with doctor and get tested for these conditions too. Thereafter, you can get treatment options.
Best Way to take Thyroid Medication
You need to take the medicine on an empty stomach half hour before breakfast. Also wait at least 3-4 hours after taking medication before taking drinks or supplements comprising of calcium or iron.
You need to get moving. Add some physical activities to improve body composition and thyroid function. Regular exercise helps in raising metabolism, curbing appetite, reducing blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, and leptin resistance.
Let your doctor create a diet plan for optimal thyroid health and weight loss. Change diet patterns and have smaller frequent meals daily with few healthy snacks and fruits for controlling insulin and leptin levels. Excess calorie restriction should be avoided.
You must get at least 8 hours of sleep. It will control insulin and leptin and stress hormone levels.
Going gluten-free can help one lose weight with hypothyroidism. High in goitrogens, gluten interferes with iodine uptake. It also suppresses thyroid function. Cutting out gluten will help lose weight.
No Simple Carbs and Sugars
A moderate-to-low-carbohydrate diet avoiding simple sugars will help reduce cytokines (tiny proteins impacting body inflammation) will help a lot.
These foods can ease joint aches, depression, and pains resulting from hypothyroidism. The foods also pacify immune system. So have a lot of leafy green vegetables, fatty fish, tomatoes, nuts, fruit, and olive oil to fight inflammation.
Maintain a Food Diary
Keep a food journal to track food intake.