How To Lose Weight With Hypothyroidism – 10 Ways You Should Try In 2024
Hypothyroidism is a condition that occurs when a person has low levels of thyroid hormone, and it most often develops when the thyroid gland itself is not producing sufficient amounts of thyroid hormone. Weight gain is one of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism, so it can interfere with maintaining a healthy weight.
It is common for people to want to learn how to lose weight with hypothyroidism. Some people may even worry that weight loss is impossible if they have this condition.
Fortunately, some strategies make it possible to lose weight, even if you have this health condition. Learn about 10 such strategies below.
How To Lose Weight With Hypothyroidism
You can learn how to lose weight with hypothyroidism if you follow established guidelines and medical recommendations. Consider the 10 strategies below:
- Try an anti-inflammatory diet.
- Eliminate lactose and/or gluten.
- Reduce your calories.
- Incorporate moderate-intensity exercise into your routine.
- Consider supplements.
- Take steps to eliminate stress.
- Track your food intake.
- See a doctor.
- Take medication.
- Get regular blood work.
10 Effective Ways For Losing Weight With Hypothyroidism
Losing weight with hypothyroidism is achievable if you remain consistent and follow medical guidelines. With the strategies below, you can learn how to lose weight with hypothyroidism, even if things you’ve tried previously have not worked.
Try An Anti-Inflammatory Diet
One of the common causes of hypothyroidism is a condition called Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disorder that can attack the thyroid gland and cause dysfunction. Following an anti-inflammatory diet can make hypothyroidism more manageable and make it easier to lose weight if you have this condition.
Research has confirmed the link between inflammation and hypothyroidism. A recent study in the journal Nutrients found a relationship between an inflammatory diet and thyroid dysfunction. Study results showed that inflammatory foods, such as fried and fatty foods, increased the risk of elevated thyroid hormone levels.
Based on the findings of this study, anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits and vegetables containing high amounts of vitamins and minerals, can be beneficial for individuals with hypothyroidism.
Following a healthy diet high in vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc, in particular, can alleviate inflammation in the thyroid and help with weight loss.
The bottom line is that learning how to lose weight with Hashimoto’s often means eliminating inflammatory foods from the diet and replacing them with healthier options.
Eliminate Lactose And Gluten
For some people, thyroid gland problems are associated with food sensitivities. In fact, a recent meta-analysis of original studies found that 83% of individuals taking levothyroxine, a medication used to treat hypothyroidism, were lactose intolerant.
The analysis also found that celiac disease, which causes gluten intolerance, was common in those with hypothyroidism.
This means that continuing to consume lactose and gluten-containing foods may worsen hypothyroidism in some people, making it more difficult to lose weight. To counter this effect, consider eliminating dairy and gluten-containing products, such as cereal, from your diet.
Always consult a physician or registered dietitian for more personalized guidance on what you should or shouldn’t eat with thyroid problems.
Reduce Your Calories
People with clinical signs of hypothyroidism have a lower resting energy expenditure, according to research. This means that they burn fewer calories per day at rest compared to those who do not have underactive thyroid problems.
This means those with hypothyroidism may need to reduce their calories further than someone without the condition to lose weight.
In general, losing weight requires eating in a calorie deficit, meaning you consume fewer calories than you burn over the day. You can use an online calculator to determine how many calories you burn daily based on your age, height, weight, gender, and activity level.
Eating below your daily calorie burn will lead to a deficit and, therefore, weight loss.
Because of a reduced metabolic rate with hypothyroidism, you will likely have to adjust your calorie intake to be even lower than the estimated number of calories an online calculator recommends.
Consult with a dietitian if you have questions about your calorie needs. A dietitian is a nutrition professional who answers questions such as, “How long does it take to lose weight?” given your diagnosis.
Incorporate Moderate-Intensity Exercise Into Your Routine
Regular exercise will help you burn more calories, making it easier to maintain a calorie deficit and lose weight with hypothyroidism. Certain types of exercise may be more beneficial than others, based on the way the body responds to thyroid medication.
A case-control study published in the Annals of Musculoskeletal Medicine found that those with hypothyroidism treated with medication tended to burn more fat than those in a control group when exercising at a low to moderate intensity.
On the other hand, when they exercised at a higher intensity, their carbohydrate burn increased. During high-intensity exercise, many people tend to have increased appetite and food intake due to this enhanced carbohydrate depletion in the body. This appetite increase could lead to weight gain with high-intensity exercise.
So, instead of short bursts of high-intensity exercise, individuals who are wondering how to lose weight with thyroid medication may benefit from sticking to lower-intensity exercises. Regular exercise in this category includes walking or yoga, which can help increase your daily calorie burn without stimulating your appetite.
Hypothyroidism weight loss may be easier with certain supplements. In fact, a clinical study with an herbal supplement called Vidanga found that this supplement improved symptoms of hypothyroidism, including weight gain.
Patients in the study experienced mild to moderate benefits from the supplement.
If you want to learn how to lose weight with hypothyroidism, you might consider researching supplements like Vidanga.
You should always check with your physician if you have questions about whether a particular supplement is safe for you to take. In many cases, supplements are not FDA-approved or intended to replace medication, so it’s important to consult a doctor.
Take Steps To Eliminate Stress
You’ve probably heard people theorize that stress makes health worse, and when it comes to hypothyroidism, there is some truth to this. This is especially true for people looking for advice on how to lose weight with hypothyroidism and PCOS.
Researchers have found that chronic stress contributes to both PCOS and hypothyroidism.
If you don’t have healthy stress management strategies, you might find that hypothyroidism gets worse, making it difficult to lose weight. If you find ways to manage stress through practicing self-care, you might find that you have an easier time losing weight.
Try to incorporate stress-eliminating techniques into your life, such as making time for hobbies, prioritizing rest, and reaching out to friends for support.
When stress becomes too much to manage, you might benefit from working with a counselor or therapist to learn healthy coping skills.
Track Your Food Intake
As noted above, hypothyroidism is linked to food sensitivities and a slower metabolism. Certain foods may stall your weight loss, and eating too many calories can lead to rapid weight gain. It can be difficult to determine what foods cause problems for you, and it isn’t always easy to decide how many calories you need each day for weight loss.
It can be helpful to keep a journal to track your food intake. Keep track of your daily foods, including how many calories are in your meals. Doing this can help you evaluate your eating patterns over time.
If certain foods cause an upset stomach or other problems, you might learn that you need to cut these out of your diet.
Furthermore, a journal will give you an idea of how many calories lead to weight loss for you. For instance, if you’re eating 1,500 calories a day and notice that your weight is gradually dropping, this is probably an appropriate number of calories for you.
On the other hand, if you’ve cut your calories to 1,800 but haven’t lost weight in a month, you might need to drop your calories further.
See A Doctor
While the other tips discussed here can benefit those who notice, “I have hypothyroidism and can’t lose weight!” the most important thing you can do is see a doctor. Hypothyroidism is a medical condition with effective treatments, and you won’t be able to safely manage your condition without care from a doctor safely.
A doctor can advise you on weight loss and monitor your health to see if treatments are working. With a doctor’s advice, you’ll likely lose weight as you participate in medical treatment.
The most common treatment for hypothyroidism is levothyroxine, which replaces thyroid hormone. Your doctor can discuss whether this medication is necessary for you. If medication is prescribed, it is important to take it regularly to ensure the best outcomes.
One study that followed patients after they began taking levothyroxine found that about half of them lost weight. The average weight loss was 3.8 kilograms or just over 8 pounds. With medication, weight loss can be easier.
Get Regular Blood Work
Routine blood work can help your doctor monitor thyroid hormone levels to determine if medication is working. Your doctor can then detect when to change your medication dose.
If you don’t keep up with regular blood work, you may miss out on an opportunity to detect abnormal thyroid hormone levels that could be effectively treated with medication. If hormone levels are abnormal and untreated, losing weight can be challenging.
Why Does Hypothyroidism Cause Weight Gain?
Hypothyroidism reduces your resting metabolic rate, meaning you burn fewer calories daily than the average person. This fact makes it easier to gain weight if you consume more calories than your body can burn daily.
Hypothyroidism occurs because of low levels of thyroid hormone. When hormone levels are abnormal, the metabolism cannot function optimally. This is why weight gain is one of the common symptoms of hypothyroidism.
How Long Does It Take To Lose Weight With Hypothyroidism?
There is not one exact answer to how long it takes to lose weight with hypothyroidism. The speed at which weight loss occurs depends on several factors, such as how severe the hypothyroidism is and whether it is well-managed.
The best way to determine how to lose weight with hypothyroidism is to communicate closely with your doctor. Make sure you attend all scheduled appointments, complete routine blood work, and take medication exactly as your doctor prescribes it.
Weight loss may be slow and steady, but you can achieve hypothyroidism weight loss with quality medical care, a healthy diet, and regular moderate exercise.
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Risks And Safety Tips
While the tips discussed here can be beneficial for learning how to lose weight with Hashimoto’s disease or another condition that causes hypothyroidism, they should not replace regular medical care.
Remember, hypothyroidism is a legitimate medical condition requiring professional treatment.
If you have hypothyroidism, it’s important to seek medical care from a doctor experienced in treating thyroid disease. Before trying any new strategies for losing weight with hypothyroidism, it’s essential to consider your doctor’s advice.
Do not try a new diet or exercise routine if it conflicts with your doctor’s orders.
You should also avoid trying a restrictive diet or engaging in extreme amounts of exercise, as this can lead to nutritional deficiencies or injury, leading to worse health.
It’s not uncommon for people to ask, “Can you lose weight with hypothyroidism?” The answer is that weight loss is possible, but it may take longer to lose weight than if you didn’t have this health condition.
Hypothyroidism slows your metabolic rate, making it harder to stay in a calorie deficit for weight loss.
The good news is that routine medical care can help you manage hypothyroidism to lose weight. Regular checkups with your doctor, medication, and healthy lifestyle changes can help reverse thyroid weight gain and return to your original, healthy weight.
Even though weight loss may feel slower and more challenging with hypothyroidism, it’s not impossible. Don’t let yourself get discouraged; stay consistent with diet and exercise, and follow your doctor’s recommendations, and you will see weight loss over time.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is possible to lose weight with hypothyroidism, but it may take longer and require more effort due to a slowed metabolism.
Hypothyroidism lowers your metabolic rate, meaning you burn fewer calories a day. This makes it harder to eat in a calorie deficit for weight loss.
Be sure to take your medication, make time for exercise, and track your calorie intake to increase your chances of successful weight loss.
It might not be realistic to lose 2 pounds a week with hypothyroidism, but with medical care, a healthy diet, and regular exercise, you can achieve slow, steady weight loss.
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- and, D. (2023). Hashimoto’s Disease. [online] National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/hashimotos-disease.
- Liu, N., Ma, F., Feng, Y. and Ma, X. (2021). The Association between the Dietary Inflammatory Index and Thyroid Function in U.S. Adult Males. Nutrients, [online] 13(10), pp.3330–3330. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13103330.
- Karolina Osowiecka and Myszkowska-Ryciak, J. (2023). The Influence of Nutritional Intervention in the Treatment of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis—A Systematic Review. Nutrients, [online] 15(4), pp.1041–1041. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15041041.
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- Brun, J.-F., Metrat, S., Nguyen, J.-M., Richou, M., Fatiha M’Rabta, Villard, O., Francois Bughin, Fedou, C., Sultan, A., Avignon, A., Mercier, J., Raynaud, E., Brun, J.-F., Metrat, S., Nguyen, J.-M., Richou, M., Fatiha M’Rabta, Villard, O., Francois Bughin and Fedou, C. (2018). Subjects with substituted hypothyroidism oxidize more lipids and carbohydrates during exercise. Annals of Musculoskeletal Medicine, [online] 2(1), pp.013–016. Available at: https://www.peertechzpublications.org/articles/AMM-2-113.php.
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- Batóg, G., Dołoto, A., Ewelina Bąk, Iwona Piątkowska‐Chmiel, Krawiec, P., Elżbieta Pac-Kożuchowska and Mariola Herbet (2023). The interplay of oxidative stress and immune dysfunction in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and polycystic ovary syndrome: a comprehensive review. Frontiers in Immunology, [online] 14. doi:https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2023.1211231.
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