Hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid gland is a condition that has many health repercussions. Unfortunately it’s a very common condition that affects millions of people worldwide and is known to be accompanied with an inability to lose weight. If you’ve noticed that you have a difficulty losing weight or you’re gaining weight uncontrollably you might have an underactive thyroid gland.
The prescribed course of treatment for this condition is taking drugs to stimulate the function of the thyroid but in many cases even these drugs can’t help you shed the extra pounds you’ve gained as a result of your condition. This can be very frustrating, especially if you’re trying your best and the results are still absent. What can you do in such a situation?
The first thing you need to do is understand why hypothyroidism makes it difficult for people to lose weight and from there you can address the issue much better.
People with an underactive thyroid gland need to understand the following 5 factors that make it difficult for them to lose weight:
- Poor thyroid treatment
- T3 need
- a change in the metabolism
- Leptin and insulin resistance
- Stress caused brain chemistry changes
Now we’ll go over every one of these factors and explain how you can deal with each one.
Poor thyroid treatment
The most common goal for almost every endocrinologist when treating hypothyroidism is to restore the TSH levels back to normal, within the TSH reference range, and when they achieve this they consider that the thyroid function is restored. However, many studies have shown that if the patient’s TSH levels are at the upper line of the reference range this leads to weight gain, higher BMI index and higher risk of obesity. Having this in mind, many doctors now try to maintain the TSH level somewhere in the middle or lower, to prevent weight gain.
Hypothyroidism is usually treated with a synthetic form of the T4 hormone, levothyroxine. However, there have been some studies that suggest some patients that have a unique combination of factors, like nutritional deficiencies or some genetic diseases have a bigger need of the T3 hormone. Under these circumstances, these patients have shown better results and a significant weight loss when treated with a combination of T4 and T3 drugs.
Change in the metabolism
Our metabolism is a marvel of nature, it’s designed to ensure we don’t die of starvation and makes sure we keep our energy within what’s known as a reference point, similar to our body temperature. That’s why if you start ingesting more calories than usual or your metabolic function is slowed down you’ll most certainly gain a few pounds. But if the metabolic function runs smoothly it will be accelerated to burn the extra calories and your body weight will be back to normal.
However, when suffering from hypothyroidism your metabolism is slower and when you take more calories your body sets a new reference point and tries to maintain it. And that’s where all the weight gain problems start.
Brain chemistry changes
Everything in our body is linked to our brain and its chemistry. Consequently, things like feeling hungry, feeling full, fat storing and fat burning are also very much connected to your brain chemistry and the thousands of neurotransmitters and hormones. We have neurotransmitters that tell us we’re hungry and what to eat and those that tell us that we’ve had enough and we shouldn’t eat any more. Then we have hormones that instruct our body when to burn fat and when to store in in our cells, so when all of this is disrupted we start to notice appetite changes and weight gain.
Things to look out for if you’re suffering from hypothyroidism and want to lose weight
Get your diet in order
This may be a focal point for anyone who want to lose weight but it’s especially essential for people with thyroid issues. It’s not that you need to mind the calories so much but it’s more about what you eat. Stay away from junk food and consume healthier whole foods. People with thyroid issues can even eat less than other people but still gain weight. Your diet should be consisted of organic, healthy food like fruits, veggies, fish and wholegrains. Stay away from processed food, alcohol, soft drinks, fried foods and refined flour.
Boost your metabolism
Hypothyroidism is directly linked to your metabolism and slows it down, while your metabolism is directly linked to weight gain or loss. What we’re trying to say is that in addition to minding what you eat you need to mind when and how much you eat.
Suffering from thyroid has a direct effect on your metabolism. Also your metabolism has a direct effect on your ability to lose weight. This means that you should not only take care of what you eat, but also try to have control over the hours and quantities you eat.
For example, instead of eating 3 meals divide your calorie intake into 5 smaller meals and mind the hours when you eat. Try to make a schedule and stick to it every day.
NOTE : Eat more times a day but don’t eat more calories!
By now we’ve accepted the fact that gaining weight is a problem for hypothyroid patients which means that they need to introduce more physical activities in their life as well as a way to burn more calories. It’s not like you need to hit the gym and sweat for hours without end, but try to walk more, climb the stairs or ride a bike. Something that’s both easy to accomplish but will get you to your goal.
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