4.6% of the population in the United States suffers from hypothyroidism. (1)
Though most cases are mild and treatable, it can seriously affect your waistline.
Let’s dive into how that relationship works and how you can manage your weight.
You won’t have to buy a bigger pair of jeans if you follow the right habits!
What are Thyroid Hormones?
Thyroid hormones are responsible for how your body uses energy.
They keep your body warm and make sure that your heart, brain, and other major organs work efficiently.
The thyroid gland is a small butterfly-shaped gland that produces your thyroid hormone.
It sends the hormone into your bloodstream to be used by all of your body’s tissues.
Needless to say, this little gland has a super important job!
Thyroid and Metabolism
Thyroid hormones play a big role in the body’s energy usage and metabolism.
Doctors measure your metabolism to determine the health of your thyroid gland.
If your cellular metabolism is very low, you may have an underactive thyroid gland, a.k.a. hypothyroidism.
What Causes Hypothyroidism?
Some of the leading causes of hypothyroidism include… (2)
Autoimmune disease: When the body produces antibodies that destroy your own tissues. Sometimes, your thyroid gland gets hit in the crossfire and gets damaged. This is the most common cause of hypothyroidism.
Radiation therapy: Cancer treatment for neck and head cancers that can unintentionally affect your thyroid gland.
Medications: Certain drugs, like lithium for psychiatric diseases, can damage your thyroid gland.
Thyroid surgery: Procedures to remove thyroid cancer can also slow down your thyroid gland.
Pregnancies: Some women develop antibodies to their own thyroid gland during pregnancy.
Congenital disease: Some babies are born with a faulty thyroid gland or no thyroid at all.
Hypothyroidism and Weight Gain
Because hypothyroidism slows metabolism, it often leads to weight gain.
Your body needs thyroid hormones to break down fat and to help your liver and pancreas metabolize calories.
You can expect an increase of up to 10% of your body weight, though much of that is due to the extra accumulation of salt and water. (3)
Besides weight gain, hypothyroidism can cause the following symptoms:
Fatigue and muscle weakness
Muscle aches and joint stiffness
Slowed heart rate
Increased sensitivity to cold
Elevated blood cholesterol
Slowed heart rate
But don’t panic if you have a few of these symptoms. Many of them can be caused by other conditions.
Always make sure you get a proper diagnosis. Your doctor will administer a blood test to check for your thyroid-stimulating hormones.
How to Manage Your Weight with Hypothyroidism
Nobody wants to look in the mirror and see that they’ve gained weight.
Aside from all the negative health effects, having to buy a new pair of pants because your old ones don’t fit anymore is never very fun!
It can be hard to cut down your waistline especially if you have hypothyroidism, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
Here are a few tips for supporting your hypothyroid and preventing weight gain:
1. Eat Healthily
The key to losing weight is to eat fewer calories than you use.
This differs from person-to-person depending on weight, height, and activity level.
You can use a Calorie Calculator to figure out where your numbers are.
The goal is to eat around 500-1000 calories below what you burn to lose 1-2 pounds a week.
Any less than that would be unhealthy, and you could risk losing significant amounts of muscle.
The easiest way to eat fewer calories is to cut out dessert and sugary drinks.
Cake, candy, and coke have zero nutritional value and make you gain weight. They’re useless!
Not only that, but sugar also increases inflammation.
Ultimately, inflammation makes it harder for your body to produce thyroid hormones, so just say no to sugar.
2. Intermittent Fasting
Adopting intermittent fasting is one of the easiest ways to lose weight.
It is not a diet per se, but rather the practice of cycling between eating and fasting.
Most people adopt a 16:8 schedule, meaning they fast for 16 hours and have an eight-hour window to eat.
Fasting makes your hormones undergo some serious changes.
For starters, you’ll start burning fat through a process called autophagy. During autophagy, dysfunctional proteins are recycled so that the body can create new, healthy ones.
This is great not only for fat loss but also for muscle growth. (4)
Selenium is an antioxidant that supports thyroid hormone metabolism.
You can find it in these foods:
Selenium is also great for preventing heart disease and cancer.
4. Vitamin B-12
Low thyroid hormone levels can lead to lower vitamin B-12 levels in the body.
B-12 helps keep the nerves and blood cells healthy and boosts energy production. (5)
You can take it as a supplement or find it in the following foods:
Thyroid deficiency can increase bad gut bacteria and mess up your small intestines.
This is definitely bad news because it can lead to chronic diarrhea.
Make sure you get plenty of good bacteria to keep your gut in tip-top shape.
You can take probiotic supplements, or consume fermented drinks like kombucha to get your daily dose of probiotics.
6. Adopt an Exercise Routine
Hypothyroidism or no hypothyroidism, combining exercise with a good diet is the best way to shed pounds.
Any kind of aerobic exercise will work, but you don’t have to jog if it’s not your thing.
Jumping rope, dancing, biking, swimming, and other sports are all terrific options to help lose weight.
Research has shown that regular exercise combined with a calorie deficit is far more effective than a diet alone. (6)
Moreover, you’ll benefit from better cardiovascular health, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, and lower rates of depression.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s get moving!
If you have any more questions about hypothyroidism and weight gain, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.