Discover how to lose weight with hypothyroidism.
Losing weight and maintaining that weight loss is not easy. Especially if you have hypothyroidism. Your metabolism slows down and you almost always feel tired.
This guide covers the 6 basic steps needed to successfully lose weight with hypothyroidism.
It is important to start with a nutritional recommendation, but first, you must correct your thyroid treatment.
If your medication is not effective in correcting TSH and thyroid hormone levels, as well as relieving symptoms, then your weight loss may be very difficult.
You must discuss with your doctor to determine which type of medication is most suitable for you, and which dose is the most suitable.
Carbohydrates are not inherently bad for you. In other words, they don’t make you fat. You should always look at the total calories consumed.
You should avoid carbohydrates such as starch or added sugars. They offer almost zero nutritional benefits (these are “empty calories”) and they make up a large portion of the excess calories we consume.
According to a US study, the consumption of added sugar in the average American adult has increased by more than 30% over the past 30 years, with children consuming about 20% more.
Fortunately, these numbers are beginning to reverse: a trend that must continue. Nonetheless, cutting back on added sugars is still the easiest way to cut out excess “empty” calories.
You should limit the consumption of junk food, beverages other than water (including juices), alcohol, white bread, cereal bars and muesli, and most packaged foods in the food aisle health from your supermarket. This also includes gluten-free junk food!
Now, it’s unrealistic (and unfair) to expect to completely avoid added sugar every day of the year. But you need to start taking concrete steps that will help you adopt healthier habits.
Start by having no junk foods at home, or at least keeping them out of sight in a cupboard you never use.
If you want to lose weight with hypothyroidism, vegetables and protein should be the mainstay of almost every meal.
There are two main reasons for this:
The main advantage of protein is that it is much more filling than fats and carbohydrates. Simply put, protein has a unique ability to reduce appetite and therefore your overall calorie intake.
Studies show that high-protein diets can also reduce obsessive thoughts about food by 60% and reduce nighttime cravings by half ( source).
Protein-rich foods include meat, seafood, eggs, nuts, legumes (beans), and dairy products.
Protein is also a muscle-building nutrient, so a high-protein diet complements regular exercise.
The nutrient density of meals is even more important for people with hypothyroidism and other autoimmune diseases.
The focus is on green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.
Vegetables are also our greatest source of fiber, a nutrient that feeds healthy bacteria in our gut.
Studies in mice show that long-term low fiber intake irreversibly alters gut balance ( source).
As a general rule, the protein portion of your meal should be the size of your palm, and the salad/vegetables the size of your hand. That would leave about 1/4 of your plate for carbs (like rice, potatoes, or pasta).
Selenium and zinc are two nutrients directly involved in thyroid function.
Selenium is an essential mineral that helps the body recycle iodine. This is why the thyroid has the highest selenium content (per gram of tissue) of all our organs ( source).
Therefore, low selenium levels are thought to contribute to hypothyroidism through alternative iodine-related mechanisms. For this reason, it is fundamental to have a diet with many foods rich in selenium, such as:
Zinc is an essential mineral required to regulate thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).
Zinc and thyroid hormone metabolism are closely linked, which is why a deficiency can lead to alopecia (hair loss) ( 7 ).
While zinc deficiency is very rare in developed countries, eating a variety of zinc-rich foods is still recommended ( 8 ). As :
Iodine is also important for thyroid health, but in fact, insufficient iodine levels that can harm the thyroid are extremely rare in developed countries (source).
It’s best to focus on foods high in selenium and zinc, many of which contain iodine anyway.
“You can’t have a bad diet.” That’s true, especially when your metabolism is slower than normal. This is why this article focuses primarily on dietary changes.
However, if you want to start your weight loss journey, then regular exercise is the best way to go.
Weight loss ultimately comes down to expending more energy (calories) than you consume. Although it’s a lot more complex than “eat less and move more” (there are a lot of biological factors to consider), being active helps burn calories.
You don’t have to do high-intensity workouts. Research shows that low-intensity exercises that last longer — like regular long walks — are just as effective for weight loss, especially if you’re just starting ( source).
A general guideline is to walk for at least 60 minutes or 10,000 steps.
Unable to do cardio?
Regularly lifting weights (or doing bodyweight exercises) is also very beneficial, especially if mobility is an issue for you.
It’s as important as cardio and we should do both whenever possible.
The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism and the less likely you are to get sick ( source).
You can do it all at home if you invest in a pair of dumbbells.
This step is only for those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or another autoimmune disease, and it’s only recommended if you already routinely follow steps 1-5, but are still overweight.
The Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) is a diet that temporarily cuts out many food groups, including dairy, grains, nuts and seeds, legumes, and more.
This protocol was proposed by Sarah Ballantyne in early 2014.
The AIP assumes that certain food chemicals and compounds cause inflammation of the gut in individuals with an autoimmune disease (in this case Hashimoto’s disease).
By removing certain foods from your daily diet, the inflammation goes away. This allows your body to recover.
This is what happens in patients with celiac disease when they remove gluten from their diet.
Is it based on evidence?
Researchers in the field of rheumatology/immunology rarely do randomized trials of elimination diets.
This means that we still cannot say for sure which foods influence autoimmune diseases and their symptoms (or to what extent).
But we cannot ignore the abundance of evidence. Elimination diets like the AIP are very restrictive and can be complicated if you are taking medication or are deficient.
It is essential to discuss this with your doctor before starting anything.
Additional tips for losing weight with an underactive thyroid
Here are some additional tips to help you lose weight with hypothyroidism:
Prioritize sleep: Good quality sleep is fundamental to weight loss.
Use smaller plates and small spoons: Studies show that the bigger the plates and the bigger the cutlery, the more calories we consume ( source).
Rather than putting all the prepared food on the table (like a buffet), help yourself first and then sit down. You’ll be much less likely to refill.
Drink plenty of water: Keep a bottle of water handy wherever you go. Research suggests that the more water we drink before meals, the fewer calories we consume (source).
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