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Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is not producing enough hormones needed for maintaining a healthy metabolism. As a result, metabolism is lowered and weight gain occurs.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism such as fatigue, mood swings, depression, and joint pain can affect physical activity levels, making weight loss difficult. (1)
However, appropriate interventions and strategies can help you in managing weight with hypothyroidism.
Tips to Lose Weight With Hypothyroidism
These measures can help you get rid of the extra pounds even when suffering from hypothyroidism.
1. Follow a healthy diet
To achieve weight loss, it is important to follow a well-balanced diet rich in nutrients.
A diet that is high in fruits and vegetables is especially beneficial due to the presence of important compounds that promote good health. Additionally, these foods are low in calories and can help keep you feeling full. (2)
However, simply increasing fruit and vegetable intake may not be enough, as other dietary factors must also be taken into consideration, such as your intake of fiber, proteins, and carbohydrates.
a. Increase fiber intake
One important factor to consider is fiber intake. Increasing your intake of fiber-rich foods such as berries, whole grains, beans, broccoli, peas, oatmeal, and carrots can help you stay fuller for longer and prevent digestive issues such as constipation. (3)
b. Consume high-quality proteins
Consuming high-quality proteins is also crucial for weight loss, especially if you have hypothyroidism, as it can improve your metabolism and help you feel full.
Foods such as yogurt, tofu, lentils, eggs, lean meat, nuts, and seeds are excellent sources of protein. (4)
c. Limit carbohydrates
Limit carbohydrate intake, especially in the form of added sugar. It can spike your blood sugar levels and be a source of excess calories, which are often converted to fat for storage in the body. (5)
Instead, choose whole grains and high-fiber foods such as fruits and vegetables. (6)
2. Maintain proper hydration
Inadequate fluid intake can cause fatigue and lethargy. Therefore, it is crucial to consume enough fluids and maintain hydration levels to ensure effective metabolism.
Proper hydration can also suppress your appetite and prevent water retention, which can cause bloating. Additionally, it helps to eliminate waste and enhances digestion. (7)
Follow these expert tips to stay hydrated:
- Eat foods with high water content.
- Make water more interesting by adding a slice of lemon or lime or infusing it with fresh herbs such as mint or basil.
- Drink water before, during, and after exercise to help replenish fluids lost through sweat.
- Don’t rely on caffeine or alcohol to quench your thirst, as both can actually dehydrate you.
- Set reminders on your phone or computer to remind you to drink water throughout the day.
3. Exercise regularly
Making sure that you lead an active lifestyle and engage in physical activity is essential for supporting the healthy functioning of the thyroid gland and maintaining overall well-being. Physical activity can also aid in weight management by boosting metabolism and burning calories.
Research has shown that moderate-intensity exercise can help regulate hormones that control appetite and decrease food cravings. Therefore, it is important to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine, even if it’s just a 10-minute walk to start with.
If you are new to exercising, it is advisable to start with low-intensity activities and gradually increase the duration and intensity.
Aerobic exercises such as walking, cycling, swimming, running, tennis, and aerobics are excellent options for weight control and overall physical fitness. These activities can help improve cardiovascular health, increase endurance, and improve overall body composition. (8)
4. Take the right medications
Certain medications used to treat hypothyroidism or other medical conditions can lead to weight gain. These medications may include beta-blockers (used to treat high blood pressure), steroidal drugs, antidepressants, hormonal birth control, and anticonvulsants.
When taking any of these medications, it is not uncommon to experience an increase in weight. It is recommended that you discuss any concerns or issues related to weight gain with your healthcare provider. (9)
5. Sleep right
Adequate sleep is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight.
Research has revealed a correlation between poor sleep habits, sleep deprivation, and decreased metabolism, leading to obesity and an increased risk of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and thyroid issues.
Therefore, it is important to prioritize getting enough sleep to aid in weight loss and maintain overall health. (10)
Follow these expert tips for good sleep hygiene:
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule.
- Create a calming bedtime routine.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine before bedtime.
- Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool.
- Avoid using electronics before bedtime.
- Avoid large meals before bedtime.
- Use comfortable bedding and a supportive mattress.
6. Manage stress
Managing stress may be beneficial for weight loss in individuals with hypothyroidism.
A study was conducted to evaluate the impact of an 8-week stress management intervention on women with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The study found that the intervention group showed statistically significant improvements in lifestyle scores compared to the control group after stress management.
The study suggested that managing stress may have positive effects on the symptoms of hypothyroidism including weight gain. (11)
Here are some ways to relieve stress: (12)
- Pause and count to 10 before reacting or speaking.
- Take deep breaths to release tension in the body.
- Take a short walk to clear your mind.
- Meditate or pray for a new perspective.
- Sleep on nonurgent matters before responding to them.
- Step away from the situation until things calm down.
- Divide big problems into smaller, more manageable tasks.
- Listen to calming music or an inspiring podcast to ease frustration.
- Take a break to cuddle with a pet, hug a loved one, or help someone else.
- Exercise or engage in physical activity to reduce stress. (12)
What causes hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is caused by: (13)
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, where the immune system attacks and destroys the thyroid gland
- Treatment of hyperthyroidism
- Certain medications
- Viral infections
What are the risk factors for hypothyroidism?
Age and gender are the main factors that may influence hypothyroidism. Women are more likely to suffer from it than men. Also, as your age increases, your risk of hypothyroidism increases too.
Other risk factors include: (13)
- Type 1 diabetes
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Family history of thyroid issues
- Thyroid surgery
- Radiation exposure
Losing weight can be a challenging and slow process when you have an underactive thyroid. Due to the slowed-down metabolism, you may burn fewer calories, leading to feelings of fatigue and tiredness.
Additionally, you may experience sugar cravings and reduced physical activity. These symptoms may indicate that you have an underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism.
Despite maintaining a balanced diet and regular exercise, weight gain may still occur with this condition. Hence, it is crucial to adopt a healthy lifestyle to manage hypothyroidism effectively.
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