How your thyroid can affect your weight loss By Leah R., Lifestyle Consultant, St. Cloud
What is the thyroid gland?
The thyroid is a gland that is located in the front of your neck just below your Adam’s apple. The thyroid has a lot of processes in the body like regulating your blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, and it contributes to the metabolizing of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. The thyroid is part of the endocrine system. The 2 hormones the thyroid produces are the triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones work to tell your cells how much energy to use. If the thyroid is producing too much or too little thyroid hormone this is called hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, respectively. Symptoms usually develop slowly over years and can cause numerous health problems if left untreated. Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone, which speeds up our metabolism and can cause weight loss, rapid heart rate, dry skin and if left untreated can cause brittle bones, Thyrotoxic crisis and eye and heart problems. Since hypothyroidism has a negative effect on slowing our BMR and is thought to stall weight loss efforts, we will be focusing on this topic.
Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormone into your bloodstream. Some symptoms of hypothyroidism are fatigue, sensitivity to cold, constipation, dry skin, hoarseness, muscle weakness and aches, impaired memory, and an enlarged thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism can be caused from an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an iodine deficiency, postpartum hypothyroidism, a pituitary gland disorder, or a congenital disease. If left untreated hypothyroidism can cause many health problems like, heart problems, peripheral neuropathy, Myxedema, infertility, and birth defects.
How hypothyroidism affects metabolism
People with hypothyroidism have a lower BMR (basal metabolic rate). BMR is converting calories consumed through food or drink to use as energy for the basic life sustaining functions. Some of these functions include breathing, blood circulation, digestion, organ function and much more. A few examples of how hypothyroidism specifically affects metabolism are; reduced gluconeogenesis, reduced lipolysis (the breakdown of triglycerides into fatty acids) and decreased leptin hormone (the signaling to your brain that you are satiated). The effects of hypothyroidism on BMR is lesser than someone with Hyperthyroidism. The metabolic slowdown is not as much as people perceive. Only 5-10 pounds is usually attributed to hypothyroidism along with most of it being water weight. If someone has significant weight gain, it is unlikely that it is from hypothyroidism alone.
How to treat hypothyroidism
If you are concerned about your thyroid and have some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism you can get it checked out by your doctor. They can run tests to determine your thyroid levels and see if your thyroid hormones are out of balance. There is a medication called levothyroxine to treat hypothyroidism, when taken orally this medication will help balance out your hormone levels.
How to successfully lose weight with hypothyroidism
As soon as you get treated with medication to balance out your thyroid hormones you should see your weight come down as you lose some water weight. As your hormones adjust, so should your metabolism. As hypothyroidism does affect the metabolism, it is only to a small degree. As most people only gain 5-10 pounds from hypothyroidism and is largely due to excess salt and water weight. Hypothyroidism alone does not contribute to large weight gain. To counteract the slowing down of your metabolic rate, you can increase your total energy expenditure by increasing your NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis). This can be easily accomplished by just increasing your daily steps and by being more active throughout the entire day. Work with your Livea Lifestyle consultant to set daily activity goals. It is also especially important to follow your Livea weight loss plan so you do not over consume too many calories that can lead to storing fat. Make sure to get plenty of protein and veggies according to your Livea plan, along with adequate water intake. It is also important to make sure you are getting good quality sleep. Following these recommendations along with your Livea plan, will ensure you lose weight even with hypothyroidism. Let your Livea coach know if you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and we can set the path for you to be successful on your weight loss journey!