Dr. Eric Osansky, Contributor
Dr. Osansky shares tips on weight loss with a thyroid disease, Hashimoto’s.
Many people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, as well as other forms of hypothyroidism, gain a good amount of weight and have a lot of difficulty losing it. Of course a big reason for the weight gain is because any hypothyroid condition will slow the metabolism of the body. When it comes to losing weight in these people, there are essentially three different factors one needs to consider. The first two factors you will be very familiar with, although many people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis don’t consider the third factor, which is usually the primary reason people with this condition are unable to lose weight:
1. Diet. Just about everyone who tries to lose weight does so by modifying their diet. And without question, eating healthy is an important component to losing weight, as well as keeping the weight off. Of course, many people don’t really understand what a “healthy diet” consists of, and part of the reason for this is because different sources will recommend different diets. For example, some “experts” will tell you to completely lay off carbohydrates and to eat any type of protein you want. Others will tell you that it’s a “calorie game”, and as long as you restrict yourself to eating a certain number of calories per day you will lose weight. When you really think about it, you probably know what you need to eat in order to help lose and maintain weight.
Yes, restricting calories can work, but if you’re eating unhealthy foods most of the time then this without question is not a long term weight loss solution. And by no means am I suggesting that you need to eliminate all of the junk food from your life forever, as if you eat healthy most of the time then for most people it’s okay to “cheat” every now and then. So what should one eat when trying to lose AND maintain weight? Well, you definitely want to try to eat at least 3 to 5 servings of fresh vegetables every day. Of course, you do need to be careful to minimize goitrogenic veggies such as broccoli and cauliflower, as these can further inhibit thyroid function. You can also eat a few servings of fresh fruit daily, such as apples, blueberries, raspberries, etc. Ideally, you want to minimize those fruits with a high glycemic index, such as bananas. Assuming you’re not a vegetarian you can eat lean meats such as organic chicken and turkey. You can also eat certain types of fish, such as wild salmon. Organic eggs are also okay, assuming you don’t have an allergy to them. And raw nuts and seeds are also okay to consume.
I, of course, haven’t included everything you can eat here, but hopefully you get the idea. The overall point is to avoid the refined and sugary foods, and to consume whole foods. Two other important points to make are that you want to make sure not to skip breakfast, as this can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels. The second point is after eating breakfast you don’t want to go more than two hours without eating, even if it’s something small. Each meal should consist of some health proteins. Taking this approach will help curb your appetite and stabilize your blood sugar levels, which are essential to any weight loss program.
2. Exercise. We all know the importance of exercising, and as a result, I’m not going to go into too much detail here. I realize that many people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis have low energy levels, which will make it difficult to begin a regular exercise program. And to be frank, some people will need to have other areas addressed in order to help restore their energy levels. This usually won’t be accomplished by seeing an endocrinologist or general practitioner, as most doctors will simply put their patients on thyroid hormone, which might help with the hypothyroid symptoms, but many times doesn’t do anything for the actual cause of the disorder.
As a result, many people will continue to have low energy levels, and will be unable to exercise. So for those people that fall under this category, I recommend consulting with a natural endocrine doctor, who will do more than simply recommend synthetic or natural thyroid hormone, and will take a whole-body approach that most of the time will help restore the energy levels of people with different types of hypothyroidism, including Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
For those that do have the energy to exercise regularly, then I recommend exercising at least three to five days each week, consisting of at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise. This could be as simple as taking a 30-minute walk. Some people might not be able to begin with 30 minutes, as they might have to start with five to ten minutes, and then work their way up. But the ultimate goal is to build up to 30 minutes of non-stop exercise that causes you to break a sweat. As usual, one should always consult with their doctor before beginning any exercise program.
…if you have a hormonal imbalance, which many people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis have, then it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible to lose a significant amount of weight by eating and exercising alone.
3. Hormones. When it comes to functional endocrinology, one of my mentors is Dr. Janet Lang, who during her seminars would frequently tell the attendees that “hormones are stronger than diet”. What this means is that if you have a hormonal imbalance, which many people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis have, then it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible to lose a significant amount of weight by eating and exercising alone.
Eating a lot of refined foods and skipping meals affects two of the major hormones in the body, cortisol and insulin. And when someone continues these habits for many years, this will put stress on the adrenal glands, and can eventually lead to insulin resistance. And until this is corrected, you can eat a perfect diet and exercise daily and it will be difficult to lose weight.
Many people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and other types of hypothyroidism also have an imbalance in the ratio between the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which can also lead to weight gain and thus make it difficult to lose weight. This is yet another reason why I recommend that people with these conditions consult with a competent natural endocrine doctor, as they will be able to detect a hormonal imbalance and if they determine you have one, help you correct it.
So these are the primary factors to consider when trying to lose weight with any hypothyroid condition, including Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Although most people focus on one or both of the first two factors I mentioned, very few are aware of the impact that a hormonal imbalance can have on losing weight. But if you want to lose weight and keep it off, then you really do need to consider all three of these factors. Eating well, exercising regularly, and correcting any hormonal imbalances will not only help you lose your unwanted weight, but will also help you keep it off for good.
About the Author
Dr. Eric Osansky received a Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine from the University of Western States. Dr. Osansky is a Certified Nutrition Specialist, which requires advanced-degree education qualifications, completing and passing an examination, and substantial nutrition experience. Although he’s not an herbalist, Dr. Osansky has received a certificate of herbal therapy through the Australian College of Phytotherapy. is a licensed healthcare professional who focuses his practice on conditions such as hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease. For more information, please visit his Facebook fan page.
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