Difficulty losing weight is an obvious and glaring symptom that will drive many women to a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. When your thyroid hormone levels are low or erratic, weight loss won’t happen, but weight gain happens all too easily.
Even when a patient successfully manages Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, other factors may also play a role in the struggle to lose weight. There might be an underlying health issue slowing metabolism and blocking fat burning. At Carolinas Thyroid Institute, we have successfully helped so many hypothyroid patients to experience significant weight loss, as well as a greater level of overall health. (See Success Stories.)
Dieting complications: a slowing metabolism and leptin resistance
Though many people struggling with weight gain might choose to diet, dieting may work against the goal of weight loss. Dieting slows metabolism, and this effect can last for years. Throughout human history, people have had to cope with long periods of hunger. The body’s response to hunger/dieting is an increase in fat-storage hormones and a lowered metabolism. As a result, each low-calorie diet can actually add weight when the dieter resumes a more normal caloric-intake level.
Six years after participating in The Biggest Loser reality TV show, contestants were burning 800 fewer calories per day! Their metabolic set point was below where it was when they started. After all that hard work, most contestants returned to their pre-show weight and must now eat even less to prevent gaining weight. In general, a low-calorie diet worsens an already dysfunctional metabolism.
A hormone that controls appetite and satiety, leptin tells the body when to burn or store fat. Leptin resistance, which hinders fat burning, is often the result of overeating or eating too much sugar. This pattern leads to chronic insulin surges, which cause a cellular resistance to leptin. A person with leptin resistance is constantly hungry and stores fat. To prevent this pattern, it is best to lower the intake of processed carbohydrates and to exercise regularly. This helps to sensitize cells to leptin so that hunger cues and fat-burning abilities return to normal.
Other factors that affect weight loss
Systemic inflammation, leptin resistance, hormonal imbalances, stress, leaky gut, blood-sugar imbalances, and food intolerances are examples of factors that not only block weight loss but also worsen Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. At Carolinas Thyroid Institute, we work with Hashimoto’s patients to address these underlying health issues that hinder weight loss, through our natural, Functional Medicine approach. To discuss your particular situation with me, Dr. Steven Roach, schedule a free, 15-minute phone consultation on our Contact Us page.
Autoimmune patients benefit from anti-inflammatory diets
Anti-inflammatory diets are used for autoimmune patients, with special attention given to gut health and food reactivity. Unwanted pounds drop away when someone follows an anti-inflammatory diet. Nutrient-dense diets, void of inflammatory triggers, are used to manage pain, digestive problems, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, depression, high blood-pressure, anxiety, and other health issues.
While highly effective in not only managing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism but also dropping unwanted pounds, sometimes people take these diets to low-calorie extremes. Even if someone is eating healthy foods and avoiding the inflammatory ones, it’s still important not to starve the body and trigger the famine response that holds on to fat.
Increasing healthy fats, protein, and nutrient-dense foods encourages the body to drop pounds. Meeting your nutritional needs, providing healthy sources of fat to remind the body it’s not a time of famine, and enough protein to keep blood sugar stable are key for helping the body to increase its metabolic rate and to drop extra weight.