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How to Lose Weight With a Thyroid Condition

thyroid for weight loss

The thyroid is a tiny gland near the front of the neck. As part of the endocrine system, it plays an important role in several biological processes. Its primary function, however, is secreting hormones that control metabolism. Because of this, there is a strong connection between thyroid health, metabolism, and weight management.

One of the characteristic symptoms of hypothyroidism – a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone – is weight gain. Curious about how thyroid health affects weight and metabolism, or wondering how to lose weight with a thyroid condition? Keep reading tips on healthy lifestyle choices that may help with weight management for those with thyroid conditions.

The Role of the Thyroid

The thyroid produces hormones that influence a wide range of bodily systems, from the cardiovascular and nervous systems to the digestive and reproductive systems.

The thyroid affects:

  • Metabolism (the way and rate at which your body uses energy)
  • Heart rate and strength
  • Breathing
  • Gastrointestinal motility (how quickly food moves through the digestive system)
  • Body temperature
  • Brain development and mental activity
  • Skin and bone maintenance and health
  • Menstrual periods and fertility
  • Mood and energy
  • The nervous system

Which Thyroid Conditions Cause Weight Gain?

If you’re wondering how to lose weight with a thyroid condition, you may have wondered why certain thyroid conditions affect weight gain, and others don’t. Often, the difference comes down to whether or not a person has an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) or an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). Other conditions that affect the thyroid include goiters (enlarged thyroid) and thyroid cancer.

In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid produces more thyroid hormone than your body needs. Because hyperthyroidism causes metabolism to speed up, it is not usually associated with weight gain. In fact, one common symptom of hyperthyroidism is unexplained weight loss (often or even accompanied with increased appetite).

But in hypothyroidism, the thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Insufficient thyroid hormone in the bloodstream causes metabolism to slow down. Slowed metabolism slows the process by which your body is able to effectively burn calories, meaning that your body is not efficiently using the energy from food. Hypothyroidism weight gain is caused by this process.

How to Lose Weight With a Thyroid Condition

It should be noted that the weight gained with hypothyroidism is generally modest to moderate, not excessive. How much weight can you gain with hypothyroidism? The amount varies depending on the individual and the severity of the condition, but for the majority of people with hypothyroidism, between five and ten pounds of weight gain can be attributed to an underactive thyroid.

If your weight gain is caused in part by a thyroid condition, it’s important to first talk to your doctor. Treating your thyroid condition is the first line approach to address symptoms including – but not limited to – weight gain. It’s also important because untreated thyroid disease can affect your cardiovascular health, nervous system health, and more.

Along with your doctor’s treatment recommendations, losing weight with hypothyroidism is a process that may take some time. Dietary recommendations include:

  • Eating several small meals a day, rather than two or three large ones
  • Following (or using recommendations from) a Mediterranean diet, which includes prioritizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, and lean proteins (like fish and poultry)
  • Avoiding or cutting down on processed foods
  • Protein from cheese and yogurt
  • Substituting fresh fruits for most desserts, and only eating desserts with added sugar a few times a week
  • Drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day

Along with your healthcare provider or a certified nutritionist’s recommendations, these tips can help you lose weight with a thyroid condition. Learn more by reading about selecting the best thyroid supplement.