Last updated on January 27, 2018
Doctors have known for a long time that there is a complicated relationship between thyroid disease, metabolism and weight gain. One uncomplicated fact, though, is the part the thyroid gland plays in regulating human metabolism.
People with an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) have higher metabolic rates, while those with a dis-functioning or non-functioning thyroid have lower metabolic rates (hypothyroidism). It is the hypothyroidism group that are often left wondering how to lose the excess weight.
While more predominate in females over the age of 60, the condition of hypothyroidism spares no age group, especially in women. At the age of 60, however, U.S. National Library of Medicine says men are just as likely to develop hypothyroidism as their female counterparts. The condition is one that is progressive and irreversible. People living with the sluggish metabolism of hypothyroidism are no doubt, frequently frustrated with their efforts to combat excessive weight issues.
Currently diagnosed in more than 27 million Americans, hypothyroidism is a condition widely undiagnosed or under-diagnosed, and definitely a condition that is under treated. So how then do people living with hypothyroidism go about losing weight? Here are five steps to certain success:
One: hypothyroidism treatment
The first step to successfully learning how to lose hypothyroidism weight is to visit your doctor. A visit to your doctor will ensure you are properly diagnosed before you begin any major changes to your lifestyle. A quick blood test will determine your level of free T3 and T4 and thyroid-stimulating hormones (TSH). A TSH level higher than the lab’s upper normal limit and 10 mIU/L is suggestive of hypothyroidism. Anything over 10 is definitive for overt hypothyroidism.
Two: balance hormone levels
If your doctor decides to prescribe thyroid hormone medication, it is imperative that you follow his or her instructions exactly. Eating certain foods can interfere with the absorption of your medication, which in turn means your medication will not work properly. If your doctor says you must avoid combining diary, calcium or iron with your medication, then you will need to create a schedule where you eat those foods at least fours hours apart from taking medication.
Your doctor may also explain that eating common goitrogenic foods — certain raw foods known to enlarge the thyroid — can, and often do, interfere with the absorption of thyorid medication. Instead, these specific foods will need to be either avoided or cooked. This would be a good time to work with a professional nutritionist or dictation to help learn which foods will work best with your medication.
Three: hypothyroidism diet
Eat breakfast. This is not a time to just do your best, but is a time to just do it. That means eating balanced calorie-controlled meals. This is a key factor for those with hypothyroidism wanting to lose the extra weight. Your meals should consist of 20g to 30g of healthy protein throughout the day, which studies show, is an effective way to curb hunger for longer amounts of time and avoid overeating fats and carbohydrates during regular meals. Aim for .08 grams of protein per kilogram of food, especially first thing in the morning when your body needs protein more than any other time of the day.
Four: consume minerals
Cut out the refined sugar products and bad carbohydrates. Instead, eat foods that are high in fiber. Refined foods only provide the body with empty calories that will surely stunt any weight loss efforts. Eating fiber is an excellent way to deal with hypothyroidism-induced constipation. Your goal should be to consume between 25g and 30g of fiber each day.
Start consuming a healthy diet of minerals such as iron, iodine, zinc and selenium – minerals that play key factors in supporting thyroid metabolism. Of these minerals, selenium and iodine are the most important and can be found in foods like seaweed (think sushi) and miso soup for the edible kelp (loaded with iodized sea salt). For selenium indulge on Brazil nuts, dairy and seafood products.
Now that you have your medication and food schedule sorted, you will need to implement an exercise routine. A 15-minute walk a few times a day — yes, more than once a day — can be enough to begin boosting your metabolism. You can mix your exercise choices by walking up a flight of stairs (instead of taking the elevator), a light jog around a park, walking the dog to the corner store or even a morning swim to start the day off right. The important thing is to get up and get moving.
Not only will exercise help boost your metabolism, it is also a good way to keep your digestive system in working order, not to mention burn those unwanted calories. Once you get your hypothyroidism properly diagnosed and treated, you can expect to see small weight reductions, which over time may see you back to your regular pre-diagnosed weight.
Since most weight accumulation is water and salt and since hypothyroidism occurs over a long period of time, most people do not see a noticeable difference — not more than 10 percent of body weight — as their initial weight loss. That is not a reason though, to allow yourself to get hampered by hypothyroidism. Once your thyroid hormone levels return to normal you will be able to gain and lose weight the same as people without the condition.