A black fat woman holding an orange ball that has "8" written on it while exercising in the gym.

Losing weight can be challenging if you have hypothyroidism, but your weight loss goals are attainable with the right tools. Continue reading to learn more about why it is harder to lose weight with hypothyroidism and some tips for losing weight with this condition.

Why is it Harder to Lose Weight with Hypothyroidism?

Severe hypothyroidism can significantly impact how well your metabolism functions, which can cause you to gain weight and make it harder for you to lose weight.

You may gain five to ten pounds as a direct effect of having hypothyroidism. However, this weight gain is mostly caused by your body retaining water and salt, and you can expect to lose that weight once you begin to make lifestyle changes and treat the underlying cause of your hypothyroidism.

This section will explain the factors that make losing weight with hypothyroidism more difficult.

Not Eating the Right Foods

Although there is not a specific diet that is beneficial for managing hypothyroidism, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) has found that these effects on hypothyroidism can be caused by food:

  • Certain foods have the potential to interfere with medications
  • Foods with nutrients such as iodine, selenium, and zinc may help maintain healthy thyroid function
  • Some foods may further diminish thyroid function.
fast food and wine with an X over them, and fresh food plus tea with green "check" symbol over them

fast food and wine with an X over them, and fresh food plus tea with green “check” symbol over them

Since certain foods can affect your thyroid, there are some foods you should avoid and others which you should consider including in your diet.

Your thyroid gland needs sufficient amounts of iodine to function correctly, so getting too much or too little iodine can cause hypothyroidism.

However, if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or another autoimmune disorder that affects your thyroid, you may experience negative reactions to foods and supplements that contain large amounts of iodine.

If you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, you have an increased chance of developing celiac disease, so you should avoid gluten and processed foods because they can harm you.

If you have hypothyroidism that is not caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, you should avoid the following:

  • Foods that are high in fat
  • Foods that contain simple carbohydrates like sugar
  • Processed foods.

Some of the foods that are important to include in your diet if you have hypothyroidism are:

  • Fiber
  • Fruits
  • Healthy fats like olive oil
  • Lean protein or alternatives
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains.

Not Keeping a Food Journal

Keeping a food journal can help you keep track of the foods you eat and the nutrients and calories you consume each day. It can also give you insight into when you get hungry each day to make meal planning easier and make you more aware of whether you are eating due to boredom or hunger.

You should talk to a healthcare professional before you begin a food journal, as this can have a negative impact on you if you have a history of an eating disorder.

Not being Physically Active enough

Getting more exercise can complement your change in eating habits to help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. People with hypothyroidism may experience improved thyroid function if they lose weight through exercise.

Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week and doing resistance training twice a week. Always talk to your doctor or physical therapist before starting an exercise plan, as they can guide you on what exercises to choose and how much activity would benefit you most.

Not Reducing Stress

An obese woman relieving stress while sitting and meditating and wearing red.

An obese woman relieving stress while sitting and meditating and wearing red.

High stress levels have been shown to contribute to weight gain and obesity. There are several different approaches you can take to manage stress in your life, including:

  • Avoiding stressors when possible
  • Doing breathing exercises
  • Doing yoga
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Journaling
  • Participating in therapy
  • Practicing mindfulness and meditation

Not Treating What is Causing Your Hypothyroidism

Treatment of hypothyroidism usually involves your doctor prescribing hormone replacement therapy to replenish decreased thyroid levels and treat the underlying cause of your hypothyroidism.

According to the NIDDK, several factors can cause hypothyroidism:

  • Certain medications
  • Congenital causes
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Radiation near the thyroid
  • Surgery

Not Checking Hormone Levels

food sensitivity testing

food sensitivity testing

You should get a blood test done every 6-8 weeks once you start medication and after every time you change medications. This will help you and your doctor know how well the medication works. Once your hormone levels become more stable, getting a blood test every 6-12 months should be sufficient.

What are Some Tips for Losing Weight with Hypothyroidism?

Hormone imbalances, taking certain medications, and underlying conditions can all work against you when trying to lose weight with hypothyroidism, but it is possible. This section will discuss additional tips to help you lose weight with hypothyroidism.

Drink Water

A glass filled with water and having a text written on it that says "Hey, drink water more".

A glass filled with water and having a text written on it that says “Hey, drink water more”.

Drinking an adequate amount of water daily is a simple way to improve your overall health and combat the effects of hypothyroidism. Proper hydration contributes to metabolic function, reduces hunger between meals, and helps reduces water retention and bloating because it improves digestion and elimination.

Eat Small Meals Frequently

Rather than eating three large meals daily, you should aim to eat smaller meals throughout the day. Eating several small meals made up of complex carbs, healthy fats, and lean proteins can help keep your blood sugars consistent throughout the day.

Get enough Important Nutrients

Having hypothyroidism puts you at an increased risk of developing certain nutrient deficiencies. Important nutrients for you to consume include:

  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc
A left hand holding various type of vitamin pills while being over a yellow background.

A left hand holding various type of vitamin pills while being over a yellow background.

Iodine deficiency is the leading cause of hypothyroidism worldwide. You are at a higher risk for iodine deficiency if you are pregnant, vegan, or do not consume iodized salt. Talk to your doctor to have your iodine levels checked and find out if you need extra iodine.

Iron deficiency is common in women who have hypothyroidism, and low iron levels and iron-deficiency anemia can further decrease thyroid function. You may need an iron supplement to elevate and maintain healthy iron levels.

Magnesium deficiency can cause or worsen hypothyroidism symptoms. Conversely, magnesium supplementation can improve hypothyroidism symptoms.

Selenium deficiency can develop if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. You can improve your selenium levels by eating more foods high in this nutrient, such as eggs, legumes, and fish like sardines and tuna. However, you should only increase your selenium intake if your doctor recommends it, as too much can be toxic.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is common in people with hypothyroidism but can be treated with supplementation.

Vitamin D deficiency can make the symptoms of your hypothyroidism worse. Since Vitamin D is not commonly found in foods, you will likely need to take a Vitamin D supplement.

Zinc deficiency can be treated with zinc supplements, and zinc supplementation alone or combined with other nutrients like selenium or Vitamin A can improve your thyroid function.

Take Hormones

Taking thyroid medication such as levothyroxine can restore your thyroid levels and metabolism. The right dose can vary, but once the correct dose is determined, you will likely stop gaining weight. After that, it should not be any more difficult for you to lose weight than for someone who does not have hypothyroidism.

Treating hypothyroidism with hormone replacement therapy can help you lose some weight, but you will still need to combine medication with diet and exercise.

Talk to Your Doctor

A doctor holding a clipboard and a pen.

A doctor holding a clipboard and a pen.

Your doctor can refer you to a dietician and mental health professional to help you get a well-rounded approach to weight loss with hypothyroidism.

Your doctor can also prescribe a weight loss medication like Wegovy that will enhance the effects of diet and exercise.

Wegovy is an injectable form of semaglutide that is given once each week. Wegovy mimics the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which regulates your appetite and impacts how much food you eat. This medication promotes feelings of fullness that helps you eat less throughout the day, which aids in weight loss.

According to a clinical trial, on average, participants without diabetes who took Wegovy (instead of a placebo) lost 12.4% of their initial body weight. In a separate trial of participants with diabetes, on average, participants who took Wegovy (as opposed to a placebo) lost 6.2% of their initial body weight.

Conclusion

With the help of a healthy diet, exercise, medication, and guidance from your doctor and specialists, you can lose weight safely and effectively with hypothyroidism. Talk to your doctor today.

Reach Your Weight Loss Goals With Semaglutide

Semaglutide (the same ingredient in Wegovy and Ozempic) is the only proven FDA-approved medication for long-term weight loss and management. Medical weight loss medications can help you on your journey toward your ideal weight.

Book a convenient online consultation and health check followed by a lab test. Eligible individuals will receive a medical weight loss prescription with medications delivered directly to your home.

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