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Weight Gain & Hypothyroidism

Weight Gain & Hypothyroidism

What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a common disorder. The thyroid gland does not produce adequate quantities of thyroid hormone. These hormones travel through the bloodstream and affect every part of the body, from the heart and brain to the muscles and skin.

What’s the relationship between hypothyroidism and weight gain?
The thyroid gland controls how the body uses energy from food, this process is called metabolism.
Among other things, this metabolism affects the body’s temperature, the heartbeat, and how well the calories are burnt.
People suffering from hypothyroidism have decreased metabolism due to the underactivity of the thyroid gland. This will cause weight gain, especially when the disease is very severe.

How much weight can I expect to lose once the hypothyroidism is treated?
The weight gained from hypothyroid patients is mostly due to the accumulation of water and salt but not fat. So when the disease is treated, it is expected to have a small weight loss, usually less than 10% of  the body weight. Hypothyroidism develops over a long period of time, so it’s not to have a significant weight loss after its treatment.

Weight management tips:
If you have hypothyroidism and the start of the treatment got your weight where it should be, you may still find a challenge ahead. Many people still find it hard to maintain a healthy weight even after the thyroid hormones become well regulated. Thyroid levels can take 3 to 6 months to return to a normal level. In general, weight loss of approximately 0.5 kg is achievable and sustainable.

The best plan to reach your target weight is to focus on controllable things:
-Balanced diet: Healthy eating is an important part of your weight management plan. Getting proper nutrition supports weight loss, heart health, blood sugar and cholesterol problems that often are part of hypothyroidism.
-Exercise regularly: It is a great way to increase metabolism.
-Manage your stress: Stress can lead to a cycle of poor eating choices, fatigue, and depression. When you’re under stress, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Too much of this can interfere with the production of your thyroid hormone.
-Get enough sleep: During sleeping, the body takes care of repair and maintenance which is essential for weight loss and overall health.

Good and bad foods for your thyroid:
•Nuts: Cashews, almonds, and pumpkin seeds are excellent sources of iron. Brazil nuts help your thyroid in two ways: in one hand, they are good sources of iron and in another hand; they are rich in selenium which is an important mineral for the thyroid gland.
•Kale: is a problem for you only if you are having very little iodine in your diet and you’re eating large amounts of kale. This is also the case for cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts.
•Soy: Only if you’re not getting enough iodine and you’re eating large amounts of soy, some of its chemical products like soy milk or edamame could hurt the thyroid’s ability to make hormones.
•Organ Meats: like kidneys, liver, or heart contain a lot of lipoic acid (fatty acid). Large quantities of these may disrupt the way your thyroid works. Lipoic acid could also have an effect on the thyroid medicines you take.
•Gluten: It is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It won’t affect your thyroid unless you are diagnosed with celiac disease (gluten intolerance). People with celiac disease are at higher risk of having an underactive or overactive thyroid.

Thyroid Medication and Your Food:
The foods you eat can affect your thyroid medicine. They can slow down how fast or how well your medicine is absorbed in your body. Preferably, take medicine on an empty stomach in the morning. Some vitamins and antacids can also prevent your medicine from working.

Christelle Bedrossian
Beirut, Lebanon


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Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian