Hypothyroidism, or low thyroid production, can contribute significantly to weight gain in several ways. First of all, low thyroid production can make you feel tired and low in energy. You may eat more sugar to counteract this, and lack the energy to exercise regularly. Low energy may make you tired, but without exercise you may struggle to sleep deeply. Finally, low energy levels may make it hard to get done what you need to do on a daily basis and lead to higher levels of stress. High-stress levels increase your production of cortisol, which can cause weight gain around your tummy.
Low thyroid can be related to illnesses such as Hashimoto’s disease. Thyroid damage is often caused by autoimmune illnesses, so if you suffer from other forms of autoimmune disease, such as
- rheumatoid arthritis
- celiac disease
then thyroid disease may also be in your future.
Treatment for hypothyroidism is generally a daily dosage of the pure thyroid hormone levothyroxine. You will need to undergo tests to determine how low your thyroid production is, how your body responds to the dose, and what your maintenance dose will need to be. Once your thyroid levels are determined, you will probably need this medication for life.
Back to Basics
If your thyroid production is low, be aware that the weight you gain from thyroid alone will be relatively small. Yes, you can gain 5 to 10 pounds from low thyroid production, but additional weight gained during this time can likely be attributed to other causes. Getting your thyroid regulated can help, but if you’ve gained a significant amount of weight, other factors will likely be involved.
To overcome weight gain that may have started when your thyroid function dropped, getting back to the basics of healthy living may yield the best results. You can reduce your weight and bring your health back into balance by focusing on simple factors.
Your diet should be focused on lean proteins and vegetables. Snacking should be limited to nuts and fruits. Avoid extreme diets such as keto and other extreme low carb choices to avoid blood sugar problems in the future. Any rapid loss or crash diets will not be good for the balance you’re trying to build with your thyroid testing and supplementation.
Focus on fiber to fill you up and make sure that your water intake remains high. Excessive caffeine consumption, particularly if taken in the form of over-sweetened beverages, can turn into an energy roller coaster that will be hard to control and leave you feeling exhausted.
Your thyroid levels can take up to six months to come back into balance. To lose weight, be ready to stick to
- healthy lean proteins, such as fish, light flesh poultry, eggs and beans
- half a plate of vegetables with your meal
- low fat dairy
- fresh fruit
- nuts, such as almonds
Schedule regular exercise into your day. Try to take a walk in the morning when your energy levels are higher, and be sure to destress with some stretching at the end of the day. Avoid pushing yourself hard in your workouts as this may lead to excessive adrenal exhaustion and cause an energy collapse that will impact the next several days.
Work hard to keep your stress levels under control. If your job is stressful, be ready to step away from the office. Take a walk around the building or run an errand over your lunch break that will make the rest of your day easier. Listen to music that soothes you or listen to an audiobook that inspires you or makes you smile
Consider a meditation or prayer practice to calm your mind. This is crucial as the day winds down, so you can prepare for deep, restful sleep. Lowering your cortisol level will take a combination of exercise, reducing your stressful thoughts, and getting enough sleep.
Keep a regular sleep schedule. Don’t sleep in on the weekends. Try to get a bit more rest each day so sleeping in isn’t necessary, or nap when you’re tired on the weekends for an hour or two.
Bringing your thyroid back in balance is the first step in taking control of your health. We can help. Contact us at (205) 352-9141 for a consultation about your health goals.