The Link Between Hypothyroidism And Weight Gain
The way the thyroid functions to affect weight and body composition is quite complex. Research has found interactions between thyroid hormones and factors directly affecting energy expenditure, such as fat tissue, other hormones, and the brain.
Although clinicians are not certain whether hypothyroidism causes obesity or vice versa, there is undoubtedly a link between the two.
Understanding Impact Of Obesity On The Thyroid Gland
If an obese person with normal thyroid function has a higher TSH, Kitahara says, ”it may be a consequence of excess weight.” Research also suggests that weight loss interventions may be best to reduce the risk of developing a high TSH level.
Reducing TSH to normal levels may also lower thyroid cancer risk, she says, since TSH fuels the growth of thyroid cells and TSH levels are found to be high in thyroid cancer patients with aggressive tumors. More research is needed in this area, however, she says.¹³
What Else Can You Do To Lose Weight With Hypothyroidism
âWeight gain is complex,â says Dr. LoPiano. Treating hypothyroidism should resolve the weight you gained with your condition, but it wonât eliminate extra weight you might be carrying for other reasons.
Instead of fixating on a number on the scale or a specific rigid diet , Dr. LoPiano suggests shifting your focus to simple, nourishing habits you can maintain for life. And donât forget to talk to your doctor about any weight you lose while taking levothyroxine, as weight changes can affect dose.Here are some doctor-approved strategies for healthy weight loss:
1. Boost your micronutrient intake.
Even if youâre not dealing with a thyroid issue, micronutrients, aka vitamins and minerals, are essential to your health.
One study found that successful âweight loss maintainersâ were more likely to consume foods with greater micronutrient density than a control group of obese patients.
Specifically, they were more likely to get enough copper, magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B6 and vitamin C.Â¹â° In addition, iodine, iron, selenium, zinc and vitamin D are all integral to healthy thyroid function.Â¹Â¹Â¹Â²Â¹Â³
The easiest way to increase micronutrient intake is to shift your diet away from processed foods and towards whole, unprocessed items such as:
2. Donât skimp on protein.
3. Fill up on fiber.
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How To Lose Weight With Thyroid Disease
This article was co-authored by Pouya Shafipour, MD, MS. Dr. Pouya Shafipour is a Family Medicine Specialist, Primary Care Physician, and a Weight Loss Specialist based in Santa Monica, California. Dr. Shafipour specializes in dietary, nutritional, behavioral, and exercise counseling to manage obesity and medical conditions related to excessive weight gain or loss. Dr. Shafipour received a BS in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley, an MS in Physiology and Biophysics from Georgetown University, and an MD from the Loma Linda University School of Medicine. He completed his internship in general surgery at UC Irvine and a residency in family medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and became board certified in family medicine in 2008.There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 12 testimonials and 100% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 575,103 times.
Charlene On Focusing On Day
Charlene Bazarian was 19 years old when she noticed her weight start to climb. In an effort to drop what she thought was the Freshman 15, Bazarian cleaned up her eating and exercised more. Yet her weight continued to climb. I went to several doctors, who each said I was fine, says Bazarian.
It wasnt until her mother, who also has hypothyroidism, suggested that she see her endocrinologist, that things made sense.
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Change Your Hypothyroidism Treatment
Some people with hypothyroidism find that they cant lose weight until they optimize their thyroid treatment. Mary wasnt able to lose weight until she started on a WP Thyroid natural desiccated thyroid drug. I lost 40 pounds in a year. Katya, who had irritable bowel syndrome in addition to hypothyroidism, wasnt able to lose weight: Then, my doctor put me on Tirosint, which is designed for people who dont absorb well. Thats when I finally started losing weight.
How To Lose Weight After Thyroid Removal
The thyroid gland produces hormones that balance all body functions, including your metabolism. Your metabolism converts food into energy, and is partly responsible for your weight. If the thyroid gland is removed through a procedure called a thyroidectomy, your metabolism is disrupted from the lack of thyroid hormones. As a result, you could gain weight after the procedure. The key to weight loss is keeping up with medical treatment and taking steps on your own to keep your weight in control.
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How Is Thyroid Disease Diagnosed
A primary care physician can diagnose a problem with the thyroid. Ill typically start by asking the patient a series of questions if thyroid is a concern, he says. Ill examine the neck to see if the thyroid is enlarged, and then usually order a TSH blood test. The test will measure the free levels of thyroid hormone. If your levels are low, youre hypothyroid which might be a reason you cant lose weight.
Use Stress Relief Techniques
Stressis a leading contributor to an underactive thyroid. Relieving stress can lead to a normal balance in your hormone levels. If your thyroid is normalized, your metabolism will speed up again.
And outside of hypothyroidism, stresshas been linked to obesity in general. This is primarily due to exposure to excessive amounts of cortisol over time.
Here are some practical ways to relieve stress:
- Sleep. A full 8 hours of high-quality sleep is essential for stress relief.
- Turn off technology before bed. Cutting outblue light exposure an hour before bedtime can improve your sleep quality. You can do this by using software that blocks blue light, like f.lux and iristech.
- Use blue light blocking glasses. We also encourage everyone to use blue-light blocking glasses after sunset if using any electronic devices, which helps to reduce cortisol production. Use code PRIMEHEALTH for 10% off of our favorite blue light blocking glasses atRa Optics.
- Meditate. Practicing meditation is another way to alleviate your stress and decrease excessive cortisol production.
- Go outside. Spending time outdoors, especiallyin primarily green locations, can lower your stress and cortisol levels.
Reducing your stress levels is one of the best ways to lose weight with hypothyroidism without medication.
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How Thyroid Function Can Affect Your Weight
Thyroid hormone helps regulate your metabolism. Your metabolism is how much energy your body uses and at what rate. This means that thyroid hormone also affects your basal metabolic rate. This is how much energy your body uses to keep functioning while its at rest.
In most cases, excess thyroid hormone is associated with a high basal metabolic weight. This means that your body burns more energy while its at rest, so weight loss is a common symptom of hyperthyroidism.
This also means that not producing enough thyroid hormone is usually associated with a low basal metabolic rate. Therefore, hypothyroidism can cause weight gain. Your body isnt burning as much energy, which can lead to a calorie surplus.
But your metabolism is affected by a lot more than just thyroid hormone. Other hormones, how much and what you eat, your physical activity, and many other factors play a role. This means that thyroid hormone levels arent the whole story when it comes to losing or gaining weight from thyroid conditions.
Some people with hyperthyroidism might experience weight gain instead of the more common weight loss. Some reasons why that might happen include:
Other Causes Of Hypothyroidism
In some cases, hypothyroidism results from a problem with the pituitary gland, which is at the base of the brain. This gland produces thyroid-stimulating hormone , which tells the thyroid to do its job. If your pituitary gland does not produce enough TSH, levels of thyroid hormones will fall. Other causes of hypothyroidism include temporary inflammation of the thyroid or medications that affect thyroid function.
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Danna On Focusing On Health Choices That Are In Her Control
Danna Bowman, co-founder of Thyroid Refresh, always assumed that the weight fluctuations she experienced as a teen were a normal part of life. In fact, she blamed herself, thinking she wasnt eating right or exercising enough.
As a teen, she says the amount she wanted to lose was never more than 10 pounds, but it always seemed like a monumental task. Weight was easy to put on and difficult to take off, thanks to her hormones.
My weight was like a pendulum swinging back and forth for decades, especially after both of my pregnancies it was a battle I wasnt winning, says Bowman.
Can Thyroid Hormone Be Used To Help Me Lose Weight
Thyroid hormones have been used as a weight loss tool in the past. Starting or increasing thyroid hormone to cause thyroid hormone levels to be elevated is unlikely to dramatically change weight. Studies have shown that excess thyroid hormone treatment can help produce more weight loss than can be achieved by dieting alone, but includes the risk of major negative consequences from the use of thyroid hormone to help with weight loss, such as the loss of muscle protein, loss of bone, and/or heart problems. Furthermore, once the excess thyroid hormone is stopped, any weight loss is usually regained.
When Should You See A Doc
Many people are clued into a potential thyroid issue when theyre looking to lose weight and cant. If you have a disciplined diet and exercise plan, but youre not seeing any results in six to eight weeks, then its time to see your doctor, says Langan. But usually people with a thyroid problem arent just experiencing an inability to lose weight they are usually experiencing two to three other symptoms of a thyroid problem, as well. If youre noticing a trifecta like weight gain, fatigue and constipation, for instance thats usually a big clue for hypothyroid.
And while you should definitely be mindful of problems losing weight, dont be afraid to visit your doctor earlier. If youre looking to start a weight loss regimen, your doctor can help you design the right plan for you in terms of diet and exercise, Langan says, noting someone whos had knee surgery, for example, may require specific changes for physical activity. You can see your primary care physician right off the bat. And you can get your thyroid function checked out before you begin to try and lose weight.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.
How To Lose Weight If You Have Hypothyroidism
A diagnosis of hypothyroidism can feel overwhelming at first, and treatment can feel like a mountain to climb.
You may have thyroid issues caused by Hashimotos disease or even secondary hypothyroidism. Secondary hypothyroidism is caused by a failure of the pituitary gland.
But dont fret! If you have trouble with increasing body weight, we can take you through simple guidelines on how to lose weight with hypothyroidism.
There are natural treatments for hypothyroidism weight loss without jumping onto medication.
Just remember to treat these changes as a new lifestyle, not just a quick thyroid diet for weight loss. We want your changes to be sustainable. Here are the best tips, from stress reduction to eating habits, for hypothyroidism and weight loss.
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How Can I Lose Weight With Hypothyroidism And Menopause
Hypothyroidism can often worsen symptoms of menopause, and the hormone fluctuations experienced during menopause may contribute to or worsen hypothyroidism.
Consult with your doctor right away if you are going through menopause and think you may have thyroid issues or if you have hypothyroidism and are starting to go through menopause. Your doctor may refer you to an endocrinologist who specializes in hormone disorders and can help you manage both conditions with a lower risk of complications.
What Is The Relationship Between Hypothyroidism And Weight Gain
Since the BMR in the patient with hypothyroidism is decreased, an underactive thyroid is generally associated with some weight gain. The weight gain is often greater in those individuals with more severe hypothyroidism. However, the decrease in BMR due to hypothyroidism is usually much less dramatic than the marked increase seen in hyperthyroidism, leading to more modest alterations in weight due to the underactive thyroid. The cause of the weight gain in hypothyroid individuals is also complex, and may not be related to excess fat accumulation. Most of the extra weight gained in hypothyroid individuals is due to excess accumulation of salt and water. Massive weight gain is rarely associated with hypothyroidism. In general, 5-10 pounds of body weight may be attributable to the thyroid, depending on the severity of the hypothyroidism. Finally, if weight gain is the only symptom of hypothyroidism that is present, it is less likely that the weight gain is solely due to the thyroid.
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Get Medicine If You Need It
If you havenât already, the most important way to start is by getting a thyroid hormone test and discussing the results with your healthcare professional. If you have hypothyroidism, your doctor will likely prescribe the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine.
The American Thyroid Association says that most people experience subtle weight loss â usually less than 10% of body weight â when they start taking levothyroxine.
It can take a while for hormones to come back into the normal range, but once they have, losing weight should be as easy as it is for people who donât have thyroid problems.â¸
Boosting thyroid hormones back to normal with levothyroxine can address weight gained due to slowed metabolism, but thatâs not all it does.
Dr. Jillian LoPiano, MD, is a womenâs health specialist and medical director at Bettyâs Co. She says that taking levothyroxine should also ease other symptoms that can make you feel like youâve gained weight, including fatigue, constipation and bloating.
So if you have unmanaged hypothyroidism and want to lose weight, treatment should offer plenty of hope. Still, that doesnât mean weight loss will be easy.
What Is Levothyroxine And Why Did Your Doctor Prescribe It
Levothyroxine is a synthetic form of the hormone thyroxine, or , and the most commonly used medication for underactive thyroid. It is also prescribed to people who had thyroid cancer and underwent surgery or radiation, since these treatments result in a reduction or total loss of the thyroid gland and the hormones it produces.
Levothyroxine starts working right away but it may take several weeks to notice a change in symptoms. Doses may need to be .
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About This Nutritionist/md Thyroid Team
Sophie Anson is the Founder of Eatstrong, a multifaceted wellness company in New York City that has helped hundreds of people achieve their personal goals in terms of weight, fitness, health and overall wellbeing. Originally from Switzerland, Sophie came to the US in 1992. Struggling with her own hypothyroid weight, she later obtained her American Council of Exercise certification as a nutritionist. On a quest to help her clients lose stubborn weight, Sophie created Losers Chews, a probiotic specially formulated with the fat-busting strain lactobacillus rhamnosus. For a limited time, Sophie is offering Hypothyroid Mom fans a 20% discount with coupon code DANACHEWS.
Dr. Hugh D. Melnick, MD, is a reproductive endocrinologist who has been treating patients with hormonal and fertility problems in NYC since 1976. He began to notice the number of infertile women visiting his offie who were symptomatically hypothyroid. They would go on to finally conceive after treatment with thyroid medication. Dr. Melnicks vast clinical experience together with his own personal experience having hypothyroidism himself has enabled him to develop a unique approach to the diagnosis and treatment of hypothyroidism. In addition to his fertility services, he works with women and men with hypothyroidism at mythyroidmd.com.
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What The Research Says About Reducing Inflammation In The Diet
Theres plenty of research showing the negative effects of inflammation in fact, chronic inflammatory diseases are the most significant cause of death in the world. Its associated with health issues such as diabetes, Alzheimers, and obesity. It has also been linked with an increased risk of colorectal cancer, with those eating pro-inflammatory foods at twice the risk of developing the cancer, according to a June 2019 study published in Nutrients. Whats more, a pro-inflammatory diet seems to increase the risk of mortality overall by 23 percent, according to a meta-analysis published in June 2019 in Clinical Nutrition.
The study authors also observed that smokers following an anti-inflammatory diet had a 31 percent lower risk of dying from any cause, a 36 percent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, and a 22 percent lower risk of dying from cancer. Smoking is a habit associated with a higher risk of health issues, and following a diet like this wont necessarily cure you of those if you keep smoking. Yet research suggests it may help reduce the impact of disease, delay disease progression, reduce how much medication is needed, and reduce joint damage.
Other studies have found that anti-inflammatory foods can help in the following ways:
- Recovery in athletic training
- Management of pain associated with aging
- Improved quality of life for people with multiple sclerosis
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