Losing weight comes with its own set of unique benefits, some of which are unexpected.…
You’re doing all the right things, but still struggling with weight loss. We know how disheartening the struggle can be. Have you ever considered that you might have thyroid issues and your metabolism is working against you?
Approximately 12 percent of Americans suffer from low thyroid production. Are you one of them? Keep reading to learn more about this condition and how losing weight with hypothyroidism is possible.
What is Hypothyroidism?
First things first, what is hypothyroidism anyway? It’s the lack of proper thyroid hormone production. This hormone is thyroxine.
The thyroid hormone regulates human metabolism; it is the body’s thermostat. Knowing this, it’s understandable that people experiencing low thyroid hormone production will have a slower metabolism.
If not careful, a slow metabolism promotes weight gain.
Although both women and men can get hypothyroidism, it’s five to eight times more common in females. It can occur among any age group as well.
What Causes Hypothyroidism
The three most common conditions associated with causing an under-active thyroid are:
Autoimmune or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
Autoimmune conditions occur when our bodies attack our own organs like they would a virus or infection. When antibodies attack the thyroid they damage and kill cells, which in turn causes inflammation of the thyroid gland. All this damage to the thyroid gland leaves it unable to function like it should.
Surgical Removal of the Thyroid
Surgical removal of any part of the thyroid gland leaves the gland unable to keep up. This type of surgery is used for removing nodules and goiters.
One natural cause for a sluggish thyroid is a pituitary gland that doesn’t make enough thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to trigger the thyroid hormone production in the first place.
Symptoms of a Sluggish Thyroid
Although symptoms vary from patient-to-patient and on the severity of their condition, here are the symptoms that often accompany hypothyroidism. Most individuals will have a combination of these:
- Swollen Thyroid Gland
- Heavy or Irregular Periods
- Slow Heart Rate
- Lower Body Temperature
- Weight Gain
- Difficulty Shedding Pounds
- Dry Skin and Hair
- Memory Loss
- Decreased Libido
- Hair Loss
- Get Cold Easy
- Cold Hands and Feet
- Muscle Cramps and Aches
These symptoms make sense when you consider that thyroid function impacts the liver, muscles, brain, digestive tract, bones, heart, and skin.
If you’re experiencing a combination of these symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor or an endocrinologist for diagnoses. It’s helpful to all involved if you keep a list of your symptoms and their frequency. Bring your list with to your doctor’s appointment.
Once you’re diagnosed with thyroid dysfunction, you’ll get a prescription of thyroid hormones to take by mouth. It will take a little experimenting with dosage to get the perfect balance for your body.
The main brands of synthetic T4 supplements are Levoxyl and Synthroid, both are forms of Levothyroxine. Biochemical-wise they are the same as the thyroid hormones our bodies make. Do your research and learn more about any medications before you take them.
These medications are a life-long requirement. Once on them, testing occurs yearly to make sure your dosage is still correct.
Natural Hormone Supplementation
There’s a form of thyroid hormone touted as a natural version. It still requires a prescription though.
Made from desiccated pig thyroid, Armour has great reviews from users. This form contains both T3 and T4, whereas the synthetic forms only contain T4.
Losing Weight with Hypothyroidism
Unfortunately, correcting the hormone levels doesn’t result in automatic weight loss. You’ll still have to lose it like everyone else. The difference is that your metabolism will no longer fight against you and you’ll be able to maintain the loss easier.
Now that you know what hypothyroidism is, what causes it, and its symptoms, let’s get to the good part – losing the excess weight.
Best Diet for Hypothyroidism
Once your hypothyroidism condition is under control, start with the suggestions listed below to jump-start your weight loss.
1. Out With Inflammation
Stick to foods that don’t promote more inflammation in your body. These kinds of foods exacerbate autoimmune diseases:
- Gluten Containing Grains: Wheat, Barley, Rye
- Legumes: Beans, Lentils, and Peanuts
Avoid processed foods and fast foods. Besides having limited nutrition and empty calories, they also cause inflammation.
2. Nix the Sugar
I know this is a hard one, but you must avoid sugar. This includes corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, and large amounts of fructose.
3. The Bad Fats
Avoid high-PUFA fats containing linoleic acid, which suppresses thyroid signaling. These kinds of fats are vegetable oils such as:
- Corn Oil
- Safflower Oil
- Soybean Oil
- Rapeseed Oil
- Cutting Carbohydrates
Keep your carbohydrate intake from 20 to 50 net grams per day to start accessing your body fat for fuel. Going lower than 20 net carbs per day for extended periods can lower T3 production.
4. Calories – Don’t Go Too Low
Likewise, very low-calorie diets reduce the number of thyroid hormones in the blood and cause a drop in metabolic rate. The ideal situation is to have enough calories to avoid the drop in thyroid hormones but still lose weight.
How many is that? It will vary from person-to-person based on your current weight, height, and body fat percentage. It might take a little experimenting to find your sweet spot.
To start with, use an online macro calculator to figure out what you should be eating. These types of calculators figure macros according to your resting metabolic rate.
5. Nutrients to Include
Make sure and get enough iodine, selenium, and vitamin D. All three of these nutrients are beneficial for people with thyroid issues. Iodine is for thyroid hormone creation, selenium helps convert T4 into T3, and low vitamin D levels are associated with Hashimoto’s.
Recommended dosages are:
- Iodine: 150 mcg/day
- Selenium: 100-400 mcg/day
- Vitamin D: to obtain serum levels 30-60 ng/mL
Include a 30 min walk at least every other day and resistance training three times a week for optimal health. Start slow and do what you can. It’s amazing how fast our bodies adapt and how great you’ll feel.
But, while losing weight, avoid high-intensity cardio since it increases cortisol, the fat storing hormone.
What’s the Bottom Line?
You’re not forever bound to battle weight gain. Losing weight with hypothyroidism requires leveling out your thyroid hormones and then following the diet principles listed above. You can do this!
Need more information? Check out our weight loss blog.