Approximately 12 percent of people in the United States will develop a thyroid condition at some point in their lifetime.
Thyroid issues are quite common, and for a lot of people, getting their thyroid under control is the secret to losing weight and feeling their best.
Have you ever wondered if your thyroid health is playing a role in your inability to lose weight? If so, keep reading.
Explained below is the connection between the thyroid and weight loss. We’re also sharing some tips on how you can lose weight even with a thyroid condition.
The thyroid gland is a small organ that plays a big role in your body’s metabolism. It sits at the front of the neck and wraps around your windpipe. It’s also known for its distinct, butterfly shape.
Your thyroid, like other glands, creates and releases substances to help your body carry out specific processes. The thyroid makes hormones like T4 (or thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine). These hormones dictate how much energy your body’s cells use.
The thyroid is controlled by the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland sits in the center of the skull and controls the levels of thyroid hormones in the bloodstream. If it senses a drop in thyroid hormones, it will adjust the amount of thyroid-stimulating hormone it produces to try and control the situation.
As you now know, the hormones produced by the thyroid are essential to a healthy metabolism. These hormones regulate the metabolism. If they’re out of balance, your body may burn food for energy faster or more slowly than normal.
People who have elevated thyroid hormone levels may have a faster metabolism and may have a hard time gaining weight. On the flip side (and this is the issue that many of our clients are dealing with), low thyroid hormone levels can slow down the metabolism and cause you to have a hard time losing weight.
If you have low thyroid hormone levels, you’re dealing with a condition known as hypothyroidism. There are lots of issues that can contribute to hypothyroidism, including the following:
An iodine deficiency can cause hypothyroidism, too. Iodine is a mineral that is necessary for healthy thyroid hormone production.
How do you know if you’re dealing with hypothyroidism? Your physician can run tests to measure your thyroid hormone production. However, there are other signs and symptoms you can watch for as well, including the following:
In some cases, your thyroid may become so enlarged that it creates a visible lump in your neck. This is known as a goiter.
What can you do if you find that your weight gain (or inability to lose weight) is caused by hypothyroidism? Do you need to jump straight to thyroid surgery or hormone replacement therapy?
These are valid options and are necessary for some. However, they’re usually not the first options doctors recommend.
Outlined below are some other strategies you can use to manage your weight with a thyroid condition:
Increasing fiber intake is a good place to start when trying to lose weight, especially if you have a thyroid condition.
Fiber is a plant-based nutrient that supports a healthy digestive system. Consuming more fiber can help to minimize symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as constipation, and can help you to feel satiated longer.
Many people find that their hypothyroidism symptoms improve when they reduce their intake of sugar and other carbohydrates.
Reducing carbohydrate intake can reduce inflammation and can help you to lose weight faster. You may even want to try a very low carbohydrate diet, such as the ketogenic diet, so your body can burn fat for fuel rather than relying on carbohydrates for energy.
In addition to cutting out certain foods, it’s also important to add in healthy, anti-inflammatory ones.
This includes fruits and vegetables (although most doctors recommend limiting cruciferous vegetables like broccoli when dealing with a thyroid issue, as they can have goitrogenic effects and worsen hypothyroidism symptoms). Healthy fat sources like salmon and avocados are good options, too.
Make sure you’re drinking enough fluids, too. Aim to drink at least half your body weigh in ounces of water and other fluids per day.
Proper hydration helps to support the metabolism and can combat many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as constipation, fatigue, and dry skin.
Regular exercise can support your metabolism and help you to burn more calories throughout the day.
Focus on strength training, rather than spending hours on the treadmill, so you can build more muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism will be and the more calories you’ll burn at rest.
Make sure you’re sleeping enough, too. If you’re chronically sleep-deprived, your metabolism will slow down even more. You’ll also have a harder time resisting cravings, which can lead to overeating and weight gain.
Finally, be sure to manage your stress as well as you can. High levels of stress can slow down the metabolism and make it harder for you to lose body fat. It can also affect your sleep and exacerbate your hypothyroidism symptoms.
Try to incorporate activities that you enjoy into your routine. Make time for practice like journaling, meditation, and yoga as well to further reduce stress hormones.
Now that you understand the connection between thyroid and weight loss, do you suspect that you’re dealing with a thyroid condition? Do you need help getting your symptoms under control so you can finally start losing weight?
If you’re concerned about thyroid health and want to learn more about your weight loss options, the dedicated team at the Chicago Weight Loss Clinic is here to help. From medically supervised diets to lipotropic injections, they offer a variety of services to help you get the body you’ve always wanted.
Dr. Thakkar has an extensive background in internal medicine. His mission is to help people become the healthiest versions of themselves using movement, nutrition, and a whole-body approach to medical care. He is a licensed Internal Medicine physician and is Board Certified in Anti-Aging & Regenerative Medicine. He has been a member of the teaching faculty for students at Chicago Medical School and has been featured on ABC, FOX, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes as a recognized authority in wellness, fitness & nutrition, weight loss, anti-aging, hormones & metabolic medicine, holistic medicine, lifestyle coaching and women’s & men’s health.
His mission is to help people become the healthiest versions of themselves using movement, nutrition, and a whole-body approach to medical care. If you would like him and his team to help you take steps towards a healthier lifestyle, contact Chicago Weight Loss Clinic to see what resources are available to you and schedule a free consultation. Find a location closest to you.
All our blog posts are for informational purposes only. Do not you make any major changes to your diet or start any exercise regime without proper medical supervision.