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Weight gain is a common outcome of having hypothyroidism. Losing the extra pounds can turn into quite a challenge, but with a few dietary changes and workouts those stubborn pounds will probably melt away.

If you suffer from hypothyroidism, weight-loss can be quite a challenge. Whatever the source of your problem might be — underactive thyroid, or your thyroid being removed for whatever reason — you will probably experience weight gain, which is seemingly impossible to control, let alone lose the weigh. Even though losing the extra weight may seem like a mission impossible, there are certain ways you can win this battle and get back on track.

1. Make the best of your treatment

Finding a therapy for hypothyroidism that actually works should be a priority when it comes to alleviating your symptoms, losing weight, and having good overall health despite your condition. Experts have different opinions, but most of them agree on a couple of things:

  • The free triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) should be in the upper part of the reference range
  • Thyroid-stimulating hormone should be lower than 2.0

If you take T3 or T4 drugs, their levels can be somewhat lower. If your numbers differ a lot from these guidelines, make sure to speak to your doctor about trying some other type of therapy for your condition.

2. Make sure to sleep well

It's hard to lose weight for those who don't get a good night sleep. In fact, research that lasted for 16 years has shown that women who sleep five hours or less tend to gain weight easier than women who sleep seven or more hours per night. The same study claims that women from the first group have 15 percent more chance to become obese than women who sleep through the night. If you struggle with losing weight, try going to bed early.

3. Choose healthy food

Although there's no established diet when it comes to underactive thyroid, some lifestyles are better than others. Eating versatile foods is crucial in maintaining good health, especially in people deficient in selenium or iodine. Lack of these micronutrients can disturb proper functioning of the thyroid gland.

Eating well is always a smart choice, especially for people with endocrine disorders such as underactive thyroid, or those with various autoimmune diseases because these conditions can inhibit the absorption of some crucial nutrients.

Make sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables including:

  • Leafy greens
  • Mushrooms
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage

Some rough guides recommend that your portion of protein should be the size of your palm or ¼ 4 of a plate, and vegetables should take up half of a plate, or the size of your hand. This leaves about ¼ for complex carbs such as brown rice and whole grains.

4. Eat less, but often

Consuming smaller and balanced meals throughout the day is recommended for people with underactive thyroid because this condition tends to slow down digestion. Make sure to include healthy fats, proteins and complex carbohydrates to your diet because it will balance your sugar levels and won't disturb your hormones.

5. Decrease intake of simple carbs

Simple carbohydrates such as added sugars and highly processed starches won't do anything good for you and can cause further problems in people with hypothyroidism. These are so-called empty calories that offer no nutritional value but make us gain weight fast.

Food items such as wheat flour and anything made with it (including all sorts of cookies, muffins, pies) and processed sugar should be avoided because they turn into extra glucose in the blood, and extra glucose is turned into fat.

6. Choose complex or “good” carbs

Unlike simple carbohydrates that are made of one or two sugar types and are generally considered bad for us, complex carbs consist of three or more types of sugar and are abundant in fiber which will do wonders in keeping you full for a long time. This will decrease the need to constantly munch on something and can ultimately lead to weight-loss. Make sure to consume foods rich in protein such as:

  • Whole grains
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Vegetables

7. Don't forget protein

Protein is perhaps the most important component of weight-loss mostly because of its tendency to keep you full longer than carbs or fat. Protein can also decrease appetite, which makes us resort to food less frequently.

Research has found that diet plans rich in protein tend to decrease late-night snacking and food thoughts about 60 percent.Some foods rich in protein that you should consume frequently include:

  • Lean meat
  • Eggs
  • Seafood
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Dairy products

If you exercise regularly, it's recommended to consume diet high in protein because it can help to repair muscles after a strenuous workout.

8. Take zinc and selenium

If you suffer from underactive thyroid, chances are that your body lacks nutrients such as zinc and selenium, both crucial for proper functioning of the thyroid gland.

Selenium is used by the body to recycle iodine. Some foods that are rich in this important nutrient include Brazil nuts, eggs, fish such as sardines and tuna, chicken, beef, as well as legumes.

Zinc serves to control levels of TSH. It's abundant in meats such as chicken and beef, seafood, as well as dairy products, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

9. Go easy on goitrogens

Goitrogens are substances that disrupt the production of thyroid hormones by blocking enzymes and interfering with iodine uptake. This triggers the thyroid (also called goitre) gland to increase in size and to release more TSH to make up for the deficit. The growth of thyroid tissue eventually leads to goiter.

Goitrogenic foods include:

  • Kohlrabi
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnip
  • Radishes
  • Kale
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach

Bear in mind that you shouldn't avoid cruciferous vegetables such as kale, spinach or cabbage completely because they're abundant in important vitamins and minerals.

10. Avoid gluten

Studies have found links between celiac disease and gluten consumption, and a few autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto's disease, which is a form of thyroiditis. Many patients with hypothyroidism claim that they lost significant amount of weight after going gluten-free.

You don't have to cut out gluten for life. It's a big decision and to be honest, it's hard to stick to. At first, try going gluten-free for a month or two, and see what happens. If you feel better and lose some weight, it means that it's beneficial. Increased energy, less bloating, and weight-loss are definite indicators that this approach is helpful when it comes to thyroid health.

11. Increase physical activity

It's a common knowledge that you have to eat less or burn more calories in order to lose weight. Hypothyroidism makes your metabolism slower, but you can still lose some weight if you're active fairly regularly an don't overeat.

When we say that you should exercise, it doesn't mean that you should do high-intensity interval training, or run a few miles every day. It can even be low-intensity cardio such as walking or even dancing, anything that makes your heart rate go up a bit. You should do cardio about four times a week, lasting about half to a whole hour.

When someone has hypothyroidism, their muscles are affected as well, so it's important to include some strength training into your routine. Make sure to include all parts of the body in the actual training – upper body, lower body, and don't forget the core.

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