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Weight Management for Hypothyroidism

People with thyroid conditions, such as hypothyroidism, may find they struggle with weight management after experiencing sudden and unexplained weight gain. Thyroid hormones play an essential role in fat and energy metabolism -- in other words, how the body breaks down fat for energy, as well as how the pancreas and liver use stored calories from food for energy. With decreased thyroid hormones, the body adjusts its metabolism, sometimes causing an increase in fat storage and a decrease in efficient energy usage. 

At the current moment, there isn’t a “gold standard” diet for thyroid function and weight loss, and everyone's bodies work differently. However, making small positive changes in your eating pattern is one of the best things you can do for your body and overall health. Below are some tips to consider when managing your weight with hypothyroidism. 

Increase your fiber intake 

Consuming enough fiber throughout the day is a great goal to set while managing your weight. Adult men should aim for 38g fiber per day, and adult women should aim for 25g fiber per day. While fiber is classified as a carbohydrate, it is not easily digestible. It helps keep you fuller longer by adding bulk to your food, and adding feelings of fullness after a meal while not increasing your blood sugars or adding much additional calories. 

A high fiber diet also helps lower cholesterol levels. Elevated cholesterol levels are usually a symptom when first being diagnosed with hypothyroidism. 

Stay Hydrated 

Water keeps your metabolism healthy and working efficiently, as it helps deliver nutrients and removes toxins and metabolic waste from the cells.

The digestion of food creates energy, and water is an important part of efficiently using the energy to synthesize sugars, hormones, and other important substances for tissue repair, cell growth, and reproduction. 

Given water’s essential role in our metabolism, consuming adequate amounts is an important part of your health. Aim to drink at least eight 8-oz glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. 

Get enough sleep 

Getting enough sleep may seem underrated, but it’s an important component of overall health and weight management. Getting inadequate amounts of sleep slows your metabolism down as your body tries to conserve energy due to sleep deprivation, and also increases cortisol levels (your stress hormone), causing further energy and fat storage. Aim for at least seven to eight hours a night! Practicing good sleep hygiene, such as sleeping in a cool, dark room and putting away screens at least an hour before bed, can help. 

Familiarize yourself with the medications to treat hypothyroidism 

A side effect of many medications is weight gain. If you are experiencing weight gain and are on thyroid medication, consider talking to your doctor about options that are best for you. 

Metabolism-boosting exercise 

One great way to improve the efficiency of your metabolism is to engage in regular physical activity. Moving your body daily not only helps burn calories and drives up metabolism, but it also helps your body manage blood sugar levels, relieves stress, and balances the hormone leptin (which can decrease hunger signals). 

Have your hormones levels tested 

Research shows that hormone resistance problems, such as leptin and insulin.

resistance, can contribute to the difficulties that thyroid patients have when it comes to losing weight. Therefore, having your blood glucose and insulin levels checked is imperative. Following a healthy, carbohydrate-controlled diet can help manage these levels if they are elevated.

Resources 

https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/351249

https://www.healthline.com/health/hypothyroidism/managing-your-weight#1

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24783045

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