Weight loss is such a complicated process. You can be doing everything right for months and yet see only mediocre results. Day and night of hard work with the scale moving barely an inch. Sometimes, it’s a lack of motivation and discipline that impedes weight loss. But sometimes, more seriously, there are underlying causes at play. And this is exactly what happened with Rani.
A naturally slim teenager, Rani gained 15 kgs in her first year of college. Depressed, she decided to take stock of her life and commit to a weight loss regimen. She visited a dietician and for three months followed everything that she was advised. She diligently cut calories, regularly worked out at the gym, and drank enough water every day. At the end of the three months, however, when she went for her monthly weigh-in, she discovered she’d only lost 2 kgs. And worse, there had been no fat loss. Despite eating an extremely healthy diet, she had also been experiencing low moods and fatigue. Frustrated, Rani decided to get blood tests done for some answers. What do you think was the problem? It turns out, Rani had been silently suffering from hypothyroidism for months.
Hypothyroidism is an extremely treatable condition, but when its treatment weight loss is left ignored for too long, it can cause heart disease, infertility, and in certain extreme cases even death. Fatigue and difficulty losing weight are some of the most common signs of the disease. If, like Rani, you are struggling to keep the kgs off, it is possible you, too, are suffering from hypothyroidism. Read on as we discuss what hypothyroidism is, signs and symptoms, the link between this disease and weight gain, and how hypothyroidism treatment can help with weight loss. Remember, knowledge is power. Use our guide to make an informed health choice for yourself.
What is Hypothyroidism Exactly?
Hypothyroidism is a common condition where the thyroid gland in the body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. Women are more commonly affected by the condition, which slows down the body’s natural functions. People over the age of 60 are also more susceptible. Hypothyroidism treatment for weight loss combined with a healthy diet can help people maintain a reasonable weight. However, the trick is to be patient and diligent with medication.
What Are Common Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?
The symptoms of hypothyroidism are many and varied. But some common symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, depression, thinning hair, constipation, etc.
Hypothyroidism and Weight Gain
Hypothyroidism has been found to affect both a person’s ability to lose weight and cause weight gain. The reason for this is the link between the thyroid gland, hormones, and body composition.
Thyroid functions in a highly complex way, with research showing a link between thyroid hormones and fat tissue, hormones, and the brain. Thyroid hormones have been found to regulate basal metabolism, thermogenesis and also play a critical role in food intake and fat oxidation. Research shows that hypothyroidism leads to decreased thermogenesis and decreased metabolic rate, resulting in a higher body mass index.
Rani noticed the link too when she ate the same amount as her best friend and exercised just as much but did not lose as much weight. The reason was that Rani’s hypothyroidism gave her a lower metabolism. In simple terms, metabolism is the process of energy conversion. The way it works is by converting the food you eat into energy. Metabolism is essential for the smooth and consistent running of your body and also protects you from starvation. Metabolism also helps the body maintain its body fat percentage-slowing down or speeding up as it sees fit.
When a person suffers from hypothyroidism, they have a slower metabolism which means the more calories they take in, the body creates a new metabolic set point. Now, the body requires fewer calories to maintain body weight which means the person needs to eat fewer calories as well. This makes weight loss slow and even impossible in certain cases.
Another reason why people with hypothyroidism have difficulty losing weight is insulin resistance. People with hypothyroidism have high chances of being insulin resistant. Insulin is a hormone that increases after a person eats sugar or carbohydrates and converts that excess into energy. When a person has high levels of insulin, their cells become better at storing fat. Thus, even the fewer calories consumed during a diet get converted into fat.
Hypothyroidism Treatment for Weight Loss
Hypothyroidism treatment for weight loss can help if it is combined with a healthy diet. Keep in mind that hypothyroidism treatment alone only has a minor effect (less than 10% of body weight) on the body.
People with hypothyroidism are usually treated with thyroid hormone replacement medication. This is done to restore the TSH levels to a reference range. To ensure the treatment is working correctly, the individual must keep certain factors in mind. These include timing of the medication and regularity of intake. Some foods and even supplements affect the body’s absorption of hypothyroidism treatment drugs.
Keep in mind that while determining the correct dosage of hypothyroidism treatment drugs like Levo-T and Synthroid may take time, the results are pretty quick. The way these drugs work is by reducing cholesterol levels increased by the disease. This, in turn, may reverse any weight gained. The treatment is likely to be lifelong, and the individual must be prepared for that. Depending on your TSH level, however, the dosage may change. Regular blood tests are advised for people with hypothyroidism.
To best reap the benefits of hypothyroidism drugs, one should take them on an empty stomach at the same time every day. It is advisable to wait at least 4 hours after your last meal or snack before taking the drug at bedtime.
In order to best benefit from the effects of thyroid drugs, it is advisable to couple them with a healthy diet with a balanced nutrient intake. This will also help with weight loss. Several nutrients, in particular, are especially important for maintaining thyroid health. These include iodine, selenium, and zinc.
As hypothyroidism directly affects the body’s ability to gain weight and slow weight loss, certain high calorific and highly processed foods are best avoided. People with hypothyroidism are advised to follow a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and lean meats. These low calorific foods help prevent weight gain and maintain a healthy thyroid. Ultimately hypothyroidism treatment for weight loss will help you live a normal life without the added stress of the extra weight.