Weight Loss and Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism (or under-active thyroid) can make weight loss difficult but not impossible. It’s a condition that affects more women than men which may be due to hormonal factors, so learning to work with your body is the best approach to achieving any weight loss as you may need more time to reach your ideal weight.
The thyroid gland situated in the throat is part of the endocrine system and its main function is to produce two hormones thyroxine (T4) and tri-iodothyronine (T3). These hormones regulate the metabolism of all cells in the body, breaking down calories, generating energy and help to boost metabolism.
When the levels of T4 and T3 are low the body’s metabolism slows down. This hampers the body’s ability to burn calories at a normal rate which promotes the body to store fat which can lead to weight gain and a susceptibility to Type II Diabetes.
The first line of treatment for hypothyroidism is Levothyroxine medication prescribed by your doctor.
What else can you do to support your weight loss journey with Hypothyroidism?
Make Selenium and Iodine your best friends.
Add Selenium and Iodine to your diet. The thyroid is the only gland that absorbs iodine from food. The body does not make iodine so it’s important to get it from your diet as it is needed to make T3 (Triiodothyronine) and T4 (Thyroxine) hormones. Selenium helps the body balance hormone levels and metabolise Iodine.
Natural sources of selenium and iodine include:-
seaweed, kombu kelp ( a seaweed used to make dashi a Japanese soup stock), wakame (a type of seaweed used in miso soup) and nori (a type of seaweed used in sushi rolls),
lima beans (great choice for vegetarians but greatly dependent on soil type),
sunflower seeds and plants grown in sodium rich soil.
Other nutrients that boost thyroid function include Zinc, Riboflavin, Niacin and vitamin E, all available in abundance in green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole cereals.
Foods to be aware of are Goitrogenic foods as these affect the body much like anti-thyroid drugs. Goitrogenic foods hinder thyroid function and prevent iodine uptake. This causes the enlargement of the thyroid gland (known as a goitre) because the gland starts producing more cells to counter any deficit. This looks like a large lump in the neck that can move up and down when swallowing.
Below is a list of foods that should not be eaten in large quantities if you are taking thyroid hormone replacement medication.
Brussels sprouts, rutabaga, turnips, cauliflower, red swedes, mustard greens, cabbage and kale.
Almonds, peanuts, pine nuts, walnuts.
Sweetcorn, sorghum (also known as great millet, durra, jowari, or milo) and millet.
Soya – combined with a high fibre diet causes too much thyroid hormone and iodine to be excreted from the body.
These foods are made worse by the addition of salt as this can cause the thyroid to swell. If you are going to eat these foods make sure to cook them thoroughly as heat deactivates the goitrogenic enzymes in plants.
You may find yourself having to deal with excess water retention. In which case avoid salted nuts, salted crackers, pickles, sauces and salt preserved foods. Avoid fizzy drink as the carbonation in these drinks can lead to water retention and avoid having raw vegetables such as cauliflower and kale.
Do drink coconut water as the potassium in the coconut water helps to flush out the kidneys or try drinking water with slices of lemon or cucumber to re-hydrate you.
Exercise and nutrition work together to support weight management not just for hypothyroid patients but for everyone. Exercise will burn extra calories, improve your metabolism and improve insulin sensitivity (which is a primary indicator for Type II Diabetes).
Exercise also builds strength by increasing lean muscle mass which means that you’ll be burning even more calories as muscles demand more calories to use as fuel. It also helps fight water retention by sweating out excess water as your body heat increases.
Do speak to your doctor, nurse practitioner or get a referral to a consultant endocrinologist for medical support to manage your hypothyroidism.
If you would like to work out with me and my team to support your weight loss, drop me a message via email or call the office for more details.
I have also attached some links to websites for more information that you may find useful.
British Thyroid Foundation
Adelaide Brooks is a Certified Personal Trainer and Life Coach with a Degree in Sports and Exercise Science and a Masters in Psychology. She has over 20 years experience as a trainer and has worked in the medical, pharmaceutical and fitness industry.
If you would like to book a body transformation training session with Adelaide please take a look at the services page.