Is Weight Loss With Hypothyroidism Possible? Expert Recommends
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Hypothyroidism is a medical condition that afflicts millions of people around the world. A study published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2011 suggests that while 3.9% of Indian adults suffer from hypothyroidism, the prevalence among women is much higher at 11.4%. This makes hypothyroidism in India not only a healthy issue for all but especially for women. Add weight gain on top of that, and the matter does become more difficult to handle. 

For those unaware, the American Thyroid Association says that hypothyroidism is a condition that is caused by an underactive thyroid gland, which is responsible for producing thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that is located in the lower front of the neck. Like other endocrinological glands, the thyroid is responsible for producing hormones that are responsible for normal bodily functions. And how is it related to weight gain?   

Video Credit: YouTube/Nutritionist Avantii Deshpaande

Hypothyroidism And Weight Gain: A Complex Relationship 

“Thyroid hormones regulate the metabolism,” says Avantii Deshpaande, a clinical nutritionist. “The thyroid gland stimulates the thyroid hormone and releases in the blood. Underacting thyroid gland as in the case of hypothyroidism lowers the metabolism, also known as basal metabolic rate which could be the reason for weight gain.” However, the American Thyroid Association says that weight gain might not happen only because of underacting thyroid gland but also due to other factors like inactive lifestyle, imbalanced diet and a lack of adequate protein and fibre, in the diet could be the reasons for weight gain as well. 

The American Thyroid Association also reveals that while the thyroid hormone does impact appetite, metabolism is a complex system linked to other factors too. In general, the more severe your hypothyroidism, the greater your weight gain—and yet, if you have other comorbidities like diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), weight gain can be impacted by those too. Another factor to consider is that the extra weight gained by those with hypothyroidism may also be linked to excess retention of salt and water in the body.  

So, if hypothyroidism is indeed the main cause of your weight gain, can treating the endocrinological condition lead to weight loss? The American Thyroid Association says yes, but only to a degree. The accumulated water and salt sheds quite speedily once you start with hypothyroid treatment, but this would generally involve only a small percentage of weight loss. Weight gain still has many lifestyle and individual causes that develop over a period of time, so even with hypothyroid treatment, you shouldn’t expect weight loss to occur magically or overnight.  

How To Lose Weight With Hypothyroidism 

So, how can someone with hypothyroidism experience healthy weight loss in the long term? No, a fad diet is simply not the answer.  “There are no shortcuts to achieve this,” says Deshpaande. “Fad diets which exclude one or many foods groups or cause an imbalance of the food groups can increase inflammation and cause deficiencies in the long run, which further impact the functioning of the thyroid gland. The idea in management of hypothyroidism is to assure the body that it is given a chance to heal and repair, which in turn will ensure weight loss.” 

In that case, how can you go about treating hypothyroidism and weight gain at the same time? Deshpaande recommends a step-by-step approach. Take a look. 

1. Reduce inflammation: Hypothyroidism or Hashimoto is caused due to low grade inflammation. Hence, it’s very important to treat inflammation with the help of anti-inflammatory diet packed with foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, polyphenols, complex carbs and protein. 

2. Get physically active: Exercise in the form of both cardio and weight training are effective in the management of hypothyroidism and weight loss. Along with certain yoga postures, pranayama like Bhramari is known to activate the thyroid gland. Apart from this, you should also make sure you move during the day and don’t remain idle or seated over a long period of time.  

3. Improve gut health: Often, dysbiosis or an imbalance in the gut microbiome is the cause of inflammation. It’s best to work on healing the gut to ensure that there is an increase in the good bacteria. Consuming buttermilk, fermented vegetables, raw salads and fruits are excellent in improving the good bacteria. 

4. Make lifestyle changes: Making lifestyle changes which include a balanced diet and regular workouts is best for the management of the condition. Though not exactly a lifestyle disorder, hypothyroidism-related weight gain can be mitigated by opting to live better and get rid of bad habits that harm overall health, like drinking and smoking.