What Does Your Thyroid Gland Do
Located in the front lower part of your neck, the thyroid is an integral part of your endocrine system. Your endocrine system is the collection of hormone-producing glands located throughout your body. It regulates metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep and mood. Problems arise with your thyroid gland due to under, and over-activity of thyroid hormones. The functioning of this gland primarily affects your weight, energy levels, mood and state of mind.
The thyroid gland produces and secretes two main hormones into the bloodstream:
T4 contains four atoms of iodine.
T3 contains three atoms of iodine.
The amount of these secreted hormones is controlled by another hormone: thyroid stimulating hormone . This hormone is released from your pituitary gland in your brain. Studies suggest a connection between thyroid stimulating hormone levels in people with normal thyroid function and body weight. Even a slight increase in TSH affects weight gain . Hence, under-active thyroid and weight gain.
Its Common For People With Hypothyroidism To Blame Their Doctors
After being dismissed by her doctor, Susan was angry, and she wanted to spend a lot of our 60-minute coaching session complaining about her primary care physician.
This, however, wasnt a good use of her time.
First, regardless of how she felt about her doctor, I knew Susan would greatly benefit from client-centered collaborative care.
When doctors, registered dietitians, nutrition coaches, personal trainers, and other healthcare providers all work together to support a client, the client wins.
Just as important: When people get caught up in placing blame, they tend to resist change.
Susan wanted her doctor to hear herreally hear herwhen she talked about her overwhelming fatigue. And rather than scare her with a lecture about diabetes, she wanted him to give her a real solution, specifically a prescription.
But, right now, she couldnt control any of that.
Instead, I wanted to focus Susan on what she could control:
- What she did to de-stress
- How much she exercised
- What she did to support her efforts, such as bringing in a nutrition coach and personal trainer to help her achieve her goals
I showed her the Spheres of Control diagram below.
Lets consider whats within your sphere of control, I told her. Because youre much more likely to get support from your medical team if you show that you are helping yourself.
Something clicked. The anger on Susans face began to soften. Her shoulders relaxed, and a curious look came over her face.
Consider Medication Side Effects
As a consultant pharmacist, I have witnessed numerous people having major changes in weight gain with the use of certain medications.
Birth control, in particular, can be associated with significant weight gain, and 45 percent of my readers with Hashimotos reported that stopping birth control helped them normalize their weight. Ive written about the impact of birth control on our health in this article.
As people with Hashimotos are often misdiagnosed with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, etc. I would be remiss to report the important impact of psychotropic medications on weight gain.
The biggest culprits associated with weight gain include antipsychotic medications which were traditionally developed for schizophrenia but are used on and off label for conditions like bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, irritability and even insomnia! In my experience, Zyprexa was the worst offender. I have seen people gain 100+ pounds on this medication. Other antipsychotics include Seroquel, Risperdal, and Abilify.
Antidepressants such as Prozac, Zoloft and Lexapro can also contribute to weight gain. The antidepressant Wellbutrin, however, is less likely to cause weight gain.
I recommend speaking with your doctor or pharmacist about your current medications to see if they could be potential culprits for causing weight gain, and if weight neutral alternatives exist.
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Does Everyone With Hypothyroidism Gain Weight
Weight gain is one of many symptoms of hypothyroidism, which means not everyone with this thyroid condition will gain weight.
Hypothyroidism can cause a wide variety of nonspecific symptoms to different degrees of severity, Montgomery adds.
However, many other symptoms of hypothyroidism can contribute to weight gain, including constipation, fatigue, muscle weakness, and heavy menstrual periods . For example, fatigue and muscle weakness can make you feel too tired and drained to exercise and do other activities that promote weight loss and the burning of calories.
How To Lose Weight When You Have Hypothyroidism
You can take several steps to lose weight when you have hypothyroidism.
Montgomery advises, The key part is for patients with hypothyroidism to keep their thyroid disease stable to set themselves up for the best
success for weight loss. This means following up with their doctor regularly, getting blood work done, and taking medications as prescribed. After that, they should evaluate their lifestyle and make sure they are eating a well-rounded healthy diet and getting regular exercise. If hypothyroidism is uncontrolled, it can cause patients to end up almost working against themselves for weight loss, making it more difficult to lose weight despite proper diet and exercise.
Additionally, take your medication as prescribed. If you are taking levothyroxine, take your tablet or capsule as directed by your provider.
Evaluate your diet carefully and make healthy changes that can help you lose excess weight. Reduce your intake of alcohol, sweets, and foods high in sodium, as these can contribute to weight gain.
Regular exercise helps boost your metabolism and energy levels. If youre already exercising, increase the intensity of your workouts or ask a fitness professional about different exercises and activities you can do to lose excess weight.
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What Foods Are Good For Hypothyroidism
Certain nutrients are essential for optimal thyroid health and can naturally balance your thyroid hormone levels to reduce symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Foods that contain iodine, selenium and zinc have been shown to be helpful in patients with hypothyroidism to encourage a healthy thyroid, Montgomery recommends.
Eggs, seafood, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and unprocessed meats contain high amounts of iodine, zinc, and selenium.
Stay away from soy-based foods, as soy contains compounds called goitrogens that can interfere with your thyroid function and hormone levels. Also, avoid eating highly processed foods, including sausage, hot dogs, cookies, cakes, and frozen meals, as these foods are known to cause weight gain and will not help you lose excess weight related to hypothyroidism.
How To Lose Weight With An Underactive Thyroid: Your 6
Losing weight and keeping it off can be a struggle.
Especially if you have an underactive thyroid. Your metabolism has slowed down and youre almost always feeling tired.
But if you break down the process into small steps, and tick each box as you go, weight loss comes much easier.
This guide covers the 6 fundamental steps required to successfully lose weight with an underactive thyroid.
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E Simple Meditation Breathing And Visualization Techniques
A complete thyroid diet solution includes more than just food. I cannot emphasize how important these are for managing stress and emotions, especially for people with hyperthyroidism. We underestimate what stress and emotions do to us each flare-up of anger, feelings of guilt, fear, hostility, jealousy, etc. fires up the adrenals which release cortisol, and cortisol has a detrimental impact on the thyroid.
After Medication Adjust Your Expectations
In a perfect world, any weight gained by hypothyroidism would magically fall off after you start taking the meds, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way: Normalizing the thyroid with thyroid hormone will not cause the weight gain to be reversed, says Dr. Tan. To lose that weight, you actually need to work at it, which I know seems very unfair because you just gained it easily.
Scott D. Isaacs, MD, medical director of Atlanta Endocrine Associates, agrees. If blood tests are normal and youre no longer technically hypothyroid, the weight-loss playing field is essentially “even” in that case, he saysmeaning you still have to work at dropping pounds.
Also important: Some info circulating the web suggests that certain medications or combinations of medications can lead to weight loss quicker than others, but none of that has been proven true, says Dr. Isaacsit’s all totally dependent on your body and your weight-loss efforts.
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Exercise #: Imagine Self
I wanted Susan to tackle habit change from a place of self-respect, self-care, and self-love.
So I asked, What would it look like if you respected your body? Talk to me about that. What does respect mean to you?
I guess, she said, if I respected my body, I wouldnt try on clothes that are too small every week and then stare at myself in the mirror so I can see my love handles hanging over the top of my jeans. And Id probably stop weighing my body every day and calling it names based on whatever the scale told me.
Great. Okay, now talk to me about what body respect looks like.
Well, Id probably eat better food because it would make me feel better. And Id probably go to the gym more because it feels good to move my body. But I wouldnt put pressure on myself. Id just make it a habit to go regularly. And maybe sometimes I wouldnt even go. Like, for me, body respect is I dont want to go to the gym. I want to ride my bike with my son.
And then I asked her the same question, but about self-care. She mentioned, among other things, that, if she was caring for her body, she probably wouldnt raid the vending machine in the afternoon when she was tired.
Then I asked her about self-love.
If I loved my body, I wouldnt hate it for the size that it is.
That was a beautiful and powerful moment.
Whatever package you come in, youre going to feel amazing as a human being if you treat your body with love and respect and care and consideration, I told her.
How To Manage Your Weight
If you have hypothyroidism and the start of treatment gets your weight where it should be, you may still find a challenge ahead. Even after your thyroid levels go back to the normal range, Harris says, many people still find it hard to stay at a healthy weight.
The best plan for reaching your weight goal is to focus on the things you can control.
Exercise regularly. “Exercise is a great way to boost metabolism, strengthen bones, build muscle, manage stress, and improve health,” Harris says.
If you’re a beginner, she suggests that you start with a daily walk and gentle yoga.
Curb your stress: If you’re under pressure, it can lead to a cycle of poor eating choices, fatigue, and depression.
When you feel stress, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Too much of it can interfere with the production of your thyroid hormone. Pay attention to things that cause you stress and try to avoid them.
Get enough sleep. Getting shut-eye can pack a big health punch.
“Sleep is the body’s time to take care of repair and maintenance in the body, and it’s essential for weight loss and overall health,” Harris says.
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F Address Stress And Adrenal Fatigue
This is huge topic, especially with women. You wont be able to fix your thyroid without fixing the adrenals. The adrenals are also part of the endocrine system and fire up when you are stressed out. I recommend looking up adrenal fatigue symptoms to see if you have them. De-stressing by working with a therapist or life coach, getting into meditation, breathing, or positive thinkingor whatever works for youis key.
Stress can also be caused by chronic digestive issues. When the small or large intestine is in distress , the body sees it as a state of stress. Cortisol is a potent hormone we wont function without. However, when in excess, it can have a detrimental impact on the thyroid and the immune system .
Adrenal Support And Stress Response
Our bodies have this amazing capability to heal. When youre in the rest and digest stage, or anabolic process, your body is actively repairing and healing itself.
When you experience stress, your body goes into fight or flight response mode, diverting its attention from healing and digestion and goes into emergency mode, pumping your body full of adrenaline to prepare it to survive what your body perceives to be a life threatening event. Many people cite a traumatic incident in their lives as the precursor to when their Hashimotos symptoms began. Adrenal stress is a very common reason behind why people may hit a weight loss plateau.
There are 3 potential stages of adrenal dysfunction: Stage I, Stage II, and Stage III.
- Stage I In Stage I, there will generally be too much cortisol production. Your total cortisol level is going to be elevated throughout the day.
- Stage II In this stage, the total cortisol level will be normal, but there will be some abnormalities where it might be high in the morning, then too low in the afternoon, and then high again in the evening. This can produce some annoying symptoms like blood sugar swings, irritability, or an afternoon crash.
- Stage III This is an advanced stage where the adrenals become depleted and do not produce enough cortisol. Youll be running on empty and have very low levels of cortisol throughout the day. This often times leads to chronic fatigue.
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Unraveling The Thyroid Cancer
Excess weight and thyroid cancer risk are linked, experts know. Kitahara and her team reconfirmed this, looking at 22 studies that had been published in medical journals and reanalyzing the results, publishing them in Thyroid. These studies included more than 830,000 men and more than 1.2 million women all had submitted information on height, body mass index , and waist circumference.²
The higher the BMI throughout adulthood, the higher the risk of getting thyroid cancer and dying from it, the analysis found.²
Experts have long thought that , which tells your thyroid to make and release thyroid hormones, plays a role in , since it influences the growth of thyroid cells. According to Kitahara, if someone has low thyroid function, their TSH is high, and the thyroid hormones known as and are lowand weight gain often occurs.
If someone has an overactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism, TSH is usually low, the T3 and T4 are high, and weight loss occurs.
For more clues about which way the link goes, Kitahara’s team has looked at those with normal thyroid function . “Research on euthyroid individuals has produced conflicting results, which suggests a bi-directonality,” she says.
Small variations in weight in persons with normal thyroid function can affect levels of thyroid hormones, Kitahara found: “In euthyroid patients, weight loss lowers TSH and T3, while weight gain raises TSH and T3.”¹
Does Underactive Thyroid Lead To Weight Gainor Vice
Low thyroid functioning is often blamed for weight gain. Your thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped organ in the front of your neck, makes hormones that control metabolism, weight, breathing, heart rate, and many other functions.
But research has raised questions about whether the link could go the other way, according to Cari Kitahara, PhD, MHS, an epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute.
Some study findings suggest that excess weight may be behind the slowing down of thyroid function instead of a sluggish thyroid leading to an increase in unanticipated weight gain. Kitahara presented findings of her investigation regarding the interrelationship between , thyroid function, and weight at the 86th annual meeting of the American Thyroid Association in Denver, Colorado, in 2016.¹
Understanding the link between weight and is crucial, she and others say, because obesity raises your risk of getting thyroid cancer. And if her research and that of others bears out, treating an overweight person with thyroid medication may be the wrong course of action, she says, if in fact the weight gain is what made the thyroid sluggish. The better approach, in some cases, may be weight loss.¹
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Managing Your Weight With Hypothyroidism
Theres a good chance youll gain weight if you indulge in a few too many comfort foods or stay away from the gym for too long. But if you have hypothyroidism, the numbers on the scale can creep up, even if youve stuck firmly to your diet and exercised religiously.
The hormones your thyroid gland releases help regulate your metabolism, or how efficiently your body burns food for energy. When your thyroid makes less of its hormones as it does in hypothyroidism your metabolism slows down. So you wont burn off calories as quickly and youll gain weight. The weight gain usually isnt extreme, maybe 5 or 10 pounds, but it can be enough to affect your self-esteem.
The more severe your hypothyroidism is, the more weight youll gain. Some of the weight gain is fat, but much of it is fluid buildup from the effects of an underactive thyroid on your kidney function.
Lose Weight & Increase Energy With The Always Eat After 7 Pm Diet
Ive tried lots of diets. None of them was a good fit for me long term. Im truly looking for a way of eating that can be part of my lifestyle. Im excited to try the three-phase plan which includes:
Im just digging into the book and in the introduction and first chapter, there are already so many myths about food and dieting that Joel shares the truth about based on studies and his own journey with nutrition and dieting.
Some of these myths that are discussed in the book are Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, Avoid carbsespecially at night, and Whatever you do, never eat before bedtime.
Im really excited to try this approach to eating that includes fruit, vegetables, protein, healthy fats, and even carbs!
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