If you have an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism, this article will show you how to overcome underactive thyroid weight gain and start losing weight.
An underactive thyroid can slow down your metabolism and consequently trigger weight gain or hinder weight loss. The truth is hypothyroidism affects more people than you may know.
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) estimates that 13 million Americans have an undiagnosed thyroid disorder. That is about 4.8% of the entire U.S population.
Studies show that the numbers could be as high as 7% in Europe. It is also worth noting that hypothyroidism is more common among older women. Plus, it is 10 times more common in women than in men.
I don’t mean to bore you with statistics. I just wanted to show you that this is a bigger problem than most of us know.
The good news is it is possible to overcome underactive thyroid weight gain and lose weight. The tips below may even help you combat other hypothyroidism symptoms such as fatigue and depression.
How to overcome underactive thyroid weight gain
1. Maintain a calorie deficit
This may sound obvious but I have to remind you. You cannot overcome hormonal weight gain if you don’t maintain a calorie deficit.
Now, I’m not asking you to starve yourself. Eating less than 1000 calories a day can damage your metabolism and cause muscle loss.
Maintain a moderate calorie deficit of 300-500 calories. If you can’t estimate your total daily calories, use MyfitnessPal app to track your calories for a few days.
Alternatively, you can avoid excess calories by increasing intake of plant-based foods. But as you will see later, you have to avoid certain veggies that hinder thyroid function.
2. Avoid all sugary drinks
Do you usually drink sodas, diet soda, or energy drinks every day? These drinks contain artificial sweeteners that may damage your health and thyroid function in the long-run.
Replace all unhealthy drinks with water. Herbal teas such as chamomile, rooibos, peppermint, and green tea can be beneficial since they reduce inflammation.
Any drink that contains calories will only make it harder for you to overcome underactive thyroid weight gain since your metabolism is working at snail speed.
3. Get enough iodine
When you eat iodine-rich food, the thyroid gland takes iodine and converts it into thyroid hormones. If your diet doesn’t have enough iodine, your body won’t be able to produce enough thyroid hormones.
As the American Thyroid Association explains, iodine deficiency could lead to goiter, hypothyroidism, and mental retardation, especially in infants and pregnant women.
Getting enough iodine from sea vegetables, iodized sea salt, and seafood will help you overcome underactive thyroid weight gain.
4. Eliminate thyroid disruptors
Thryoid disruptors are chemicals that interfere with thyroid function. You may be exposed to these chemicals through the foods you eat or kitchenware.
Common thyroid disruptors are usually found in fruits/ veggies with high pesticide residue, plastic kitchenware, plastic bottles, non-stick pans and so on.
Buy organic fruits and veggies to avoid pesticide residue. Second, replace plastic kitchenware with glass and ceramic to reduce exposure to chemicals such as BPA.
5. Reduce exposure to heavy metals
Did you know that drinking tap water has been linked to thousands of cases of heavy metal toxicity?
This is alarming because certain heavy metals directly affect thyroid function. While other heavy metals can cause Hashimoto’s disease, a condition in which your immune system attacks the thyroid.
Avoid drinking tap water to reduce exposure to heavy metals. Eating foods such as milk thistle, spirulina, and coriander can help eliminate heavy metals from the body.
6. Cook with coconut oil
Cooking with coconut oil instead of vegetable oil can help boost your thyroid function and increase metabolism.
Coconut oil tends to increase energy expenditure, which means it can help you burn more calories throughout the day. This study found that people burned an extra 120 calories a day when they took 1 to 2 tablespoons of coconut oil a day.
In addition, coconut oil contains multi-chain fatty acids that help improve thyroid function. It also helps control body temperature, which can come in handy during the cold seasons.
7. Wear a thyroid collar
According to the medical dictionary, a thyroid collar is “radiograph apron that covers the neck, especially the thyroid area, in order to reduce patient exposure during intraoral radiography.”
Wearing a collar while getting your thyroid x-rayed can help reduce exposure to radiation.
These radiations can be harmful to the head and may interfere with the normal functioning of the brain. In addition to damaging the brain, radiation may increase the risk of hypothyroidism.
8. Try contrast hydrotherapy
According to the University of Maryland medical center, contrast hydrotherapy can improve the function of an inactive thyroid gland.
Contrast hydrotherapy is a simple home treatment. For this therapy, you will need a bowl of hot water and a bowl of cold water. Dip a towel in the hot/warm water and place the towel at the base of your throat for 3 minutes and then dip it into the cold water and place it on your neck for one minute. Repeat this several times a day.
9. Eat a healthy breakfast
Don’t skip breakfast unless you are doing intermittent fasting. Research shows that people who skip breakfast tend to have a harder time losing weight.
A good breakfast will keep you full and energetic all day long. Your breakfast should consist of 20 to 30 grams of healthy protein. Don’t forget to eat whole carbs and healthy fats during breakfast.
10. Cut back on sugar and highly processed carbs
It is almost impossible to overcome underactive thyroid weight gain when eating sugary foods and highly processed carbs.
Combining slow metabolism with high-calorie foods will only lead to weight gain. In addition, sugar can contribute to hormonal imbalances, fatigue, mood swings, and depression.
11. Avoid smoking
Smoke from cigarettes can be harmful to the thyroid glands. Smoke contains toxins that can cause underactive thyroid weight gain. Research shows that cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing thyroid enlargement (goiter).
Quitting smoking can help improve thyroid function. If you don’t want to quit cold turkey, try to reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke in a day.
12. Reduce stress through daily exercise
Like all other undesirable conditions, stress plays a big role in hypothyroidism weight gain. Luckily, you can reduce stress by doing simple exercises every day.
Running and jumping rope are two simple cardio exercises you can do daily that will not only improve your physical health but also reduce stress.
Don’t forget to do strength training at least 3 times a week. Building muscle will boost your metabolism, making it easier to lose fat.
13. Get 20 minutes of sunlight daily
As you may know, vitamin D is necessary for the normal production of thyroid hormone. Luckily, sunlight is one of the best sources of vitamin D.
You may also want to get vitamin D from food sources such as fatty fish, beef liver, cheese, and egg yolk. Taking vitamin D supplements can also be helpful.
14. Eat these foods in moderation
Some nutrients can worsen underactive thyroid weight gain. Foods that contain goitrogens have been shown to interfere with the function of the thyroid gland.
These foods include soy foods and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach, cabbage et.c). Research shows that high intake of these foods can cause hypothyroidism in people with iodine deficiency.
You can overcome underactive thyroid weight gain and reach your weight goal. Use the tips above to improve your thyroid function.
Remember that the thyroid is just one of the many factors that influence metabolism. You can boost your metabolism by building muscle and being more active.
If you are determined to lose weight nothing will stop you. Not even an underactive thyroid.
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