Friday, January 18, 2013

Article # 217. How to Lose Weight with a Thyroid Problem

How to Lose Weight with a Thyroid Problem

The basic formula for weight loss is simple--burn more calories than you take in. However, when thyroid problems affect your body's metabolism, traditional dieting may feel like an exercise in futility.
Hypothyroidism, or underproduction of thyroid hormone, affects approximately 10 percent of American women and is the primary culprit in thyroid-related weight gain. Hyperthyroidism, by contrast, sends the metabolism into overdrive and typically causes weight loss; however, appropriate treatment often results in hypothyroidism and notable weight gain.

Step 1
See your doctor. Thyroid dysfunction is easily diagnosed with a simple blood test. According to the National Institutes of Health, your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level should be between .5 and 3. While the TSH test is considered the gold standard for diagnosing thyroid dysfunction, your doctor should also check your free T3 and free T4 levels. T4 is the inactive form of thyroid hormone. Your body converts T4 to T3, which is the hormone that drives your metabolism. If your T3 levels are inadequate, you will likely have a difficult time losing weight.

Step 2
Take your medications as directed. If you are diagnosed with a thyroid hormone deficiency, taking one little pill daily can restore your metabolism's normal function. Thyroid hormone should be taken on an empty stomach, either one hour before or two hours after eating. It should not be taken with vitamins, calcium or certain other medications. Periodic blood tests will be needed to ensure your dosage level is optimal.

Step 3
Ask your doctor about other medications if your symptoms persist. Natural thyroid hormone and synthetic T3/T4 combinations are alternatives to the T4-only regimen that is commonly prescribed. The American Thyroid Association recommends a three- to six-month trial period of any new medication to determine whether symptoms improve.

Step 4
Take a multivitamin. Certain minerals affect conversion of T4 to T3 and the body's ability to use thyroid hormone effectively. Adequate iodine intake is important to thyroid health, though the typical American diet with iodized salt has more than enough. In fact, too much iodine can also be a concern. Richard Shames, M.D., a California-based thyroid specialist, advocates supplementation with selenium, zinc, Vitamin D, Vitamin E and essential fatty acids to enhance thyroid function.

Step 5
Avoid excessive soy intake. Soy can interfere with absorption of thyroid hormone.

Other Pointers:
Drink a lot of water if you are working on losing weight with thyroid disease. Drinking water is essential to everyone's well-being, but as with exercise, a person with thyroid disease needs to go above and beyond what is considered the norm. For example, where regular diets recommend drinking 8 glasses of water a day, if you have thyroid concerns, you may have to add an additional glass for each pound (.45 kg) you wish to lose.
Discuss beginning a daily exercise regimen that gets your body working and your muscles strengthened. In order to be effective with a low thyroid condition you will have to incorporate a fairly long and strenuous workout. A good workout will build your metabolism and help you lose weight. You can also make exercising fun by taking up Tai Chi, Kung Fu or kick boxing. Making exercise more about learning something new and less about losing weight will be more motivating.
Have a cup of green tea, and you will feel more energized and motivated to exercise. With a low thyroid you will feel sluggish and too tired to work out, but it is very important to energize yourself if you want to lose weight.
Add the recommended amount of fiber to your diet when you have a hypothyroid condition. Foods that contain fiber include fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains.
Opt for medication that can assist you in your plan to lose weight. You should check with your doctor about natural supplements that help improve a thyroid issue, such as bladderwrack (sea weed) and iodine.