Let’s talk about how to lose weight with hypothyroidism because thyroid issues aren’t at all uncommon. It’s a problem that we have helped MANY of our clients overcome when it comes to dieting and weight loss.
In fact, women, especially those over the age of 60 are likely to have problems with the gland that can lead to weight gain, joint pain, and heart disease.
Hypothyroidism, a condition where your thyroid is underactive and not producing enough of the important hormones your body needs, can not only contribute to obesity but can also make it tricky to lose weight.
While it might be difficult, shedding a few pounds can help improve the symptoms of the disease, and the lifestyle changes can make contribute to increasing your thyroid function without medication.
There are lots of ways to lose weight. Here we’ll give you tips from scientific experts based on research, studies, and decades of experience to help you drop pounds with hypothyroidism.
What is Hypothyroidism?
Put very simply; hypothyroidism is a condition that causes your thyroid gland to be under-active.
According to the American Thyroid Association, it doesn’t produce enough of the hormone to keep your body running at a reasonable rate.
The condition is caused by an autoimmune disease, having your thyroid surgically removed, or radiation treatment to the area. It can also be caused byiodine deficiency, but this isn’t typically a problem in the U.S. as we add iodine to our table salt.
Having a thyroid issue isn’t uncommon.
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists says that 27 million Americans have thyroid disease, and eight out of ten are women.
While the exact cause of the disease is unknown, pregnancy can be a contributing factor, and 18 percent of women will have issues with their thyroid post-partum.
What are the Signs and Symptoms?
According to the Obesity Action Coalition, the symptoms of hypothyroidism can be hard to pinpoint.
Because the hormones regulate so many major functions of the body, signs of the disease may be mild and far reaching.
If you have hypothyroidism, you will likely experience one or more of the following:
- Fatigue or sleepiness
- Mood swings
- Loss of memory
- Weight gain
- Depression and irritability
- Muscle cramping and aching
- Muscle weakness
- Decreased perspiration
- Blood pressure changes
- High cholesterol
- Leg swelling
- Blurred vision
- Intolerance to cold temperatures
- Hoarse voice
- Heavy menses
- Dry hair and skin
- Hair loss
If you have the symptoms of hypothyroidism, the first step is to visit your doctor. They can run a series of tests to check your TSH levels, which will indicate if you have too little of the hormone in your system.
From there, you’ll have several treatment options to help manage the condition.
In many cases, treating the disease will inherently help you lose weight but it’s important to also make lifestyle changes for the biggest impact.
How to Lose Weight with Hypothyroidism
There are several factors that contribute to weight gain when you have hypothyroidism.
Here we’ll examine the top five, and give you suggestions that you can take to your doctor or incorporate into your daily life to see weight loss success.
The first test your doctor should run if you believe you have a thyroid issue is one to see your TSH levels.
If it comes back that your levels are high, your doctor will diagnose you with hypothyroidism and likely prescribe a medication to treat the condition.
However, according to the health experts at Very Well, there’s some wiggle room in the range that you should be trying to attain with treatment.
While the gold standard is that a level above 5.0 is considered to be possible hypothyroidism, some experts feel that range is too broad and should be narrowed to 0.3 to 3.0.
If you’re being treated for the disease, and you’re having difficulty losing weight, ask your doctor to tell you your exact TSH level.
If you’re at the higher end of the range, it’s possible that you need to attain a lower TSH level to see the best results.
The normal therapy to treat hypothyroidism is levothyroxine, a synthetic form of the deficient T4 hormone. However, in some clinical trials, researchers found evidence that treating patients with a T3/T4 combination therapy produced better weight loss results.
If you’re struggling to lose weight, talk with your doctor about adding in a synthetic T3 drug like liothronine or combination treatments that have both T3 and T3 like Nature-throid or Armour into your treatment protocol.
Boost Your Metabolism
Your metabolic set point is kind of like your body’s happy place as it relates to weight.
Most people can maintain their weight, and while they may fluctuate by a few pounds, they find that their body will return to a set point with little effort.
If you have hypothyroidism, chances are you also have a chronically slow metabolism. This can happen over time as the disease progresses, and will impact your metabolic set point.
For example, a healthy woman who weighs 170 pounds and is 5’6” tall may be able to maintain your weight on 2500 calories daily. However, the same woman with hypothyroidism may have a significantly slower metabolism which means she will need to take in fewer calories to maintain her weight.
To counteract these effects, make lifestyle changes to boost your metabolism.
One great way to rev up your body’s ability to burn calories is to add in daily exercise.
According to Women’s Health Magazine, the three types of activity that are metabolism boosters are strength training, interval training, or steady state cardio.
Check out this at-home workout that takes just 36 minutes and doesn’t require any equipment for some inspiration.
Aim for at least 30-minutes five days a week to help lose fat and push your weight loss efforts forward.
Eat for Health
Research shows a link between insulin, leptin, and thyroid disease. What this means for you is that your body may have difficulty processing sugary or high-carbohydrate foods, and you may not experience normal hunger and satiety cues.
There are two ways to manage these challenges. First, make sure your daily diet includes lots of healthy foods.
Things like vegetables, lean protein, fruits, and whole grains give your body the fuel and nutrients it needs in a form that is easy to digest. Limit your consumption of high-sugar and high-fat foods, and try to eliminate as many processed treats as possible.
Second, manage your hunger and blood sugar levels by eating four to six smaller meals throughout the day. By eating every two to three hours, you ensure that you don’t have blood sugar spikes that can lead to uncontrollable hunger and overeating.
Be Your Own Advocate
While thyroid issues may be common, there are many different schools of thought on how to best treat them. If you’re working with your doctor but not seeing the results that you expect from your treatment protocol, change things up!
You are the best advocate for your health, so it’s important to take control and get the answers you deserve and relief from the symptoms of your disease.
Your health and your happiness are the greatest assets you have.