You have probably heard the news: two thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, and there are many “remedies” for weight loss out there, with crazy claims and little benefits. You may be wondering if there are any weight loss tips that actually work! Truth is, as long as you don’t address the root causes of your health problems (including thyroid dysfunctions), you will struggle to lose weight.
Many times the very thyroid dysfunction is the one that prevents you from losing weight! Indeed, it’s a vicious cycle! Throw insulin resistance in the “mix” and the matter gets even more complicated. Still, there are many important things you can do to break this cycle.
Weight Loss Tips
Solving insulin resistance
When suffering from hypothyroidism, everything in your system slows down right down to your cells. The body’s ability to process carbohydrates slows down too, as does your cell’s ability to absorb blood sugar.
The brain, organs and muscles run off of glucose, the body’s preferred source of fuel. If your cells do not get the adequate amounts of glucose into them, you can’t produce energy to help run your body. Hormones are not produced optimally, brain function does not work properly and every system of your body suffers, including the ability to sleep, lose weight, immune and stress response, etc.
When cells become insulin resistant and the glucose can’t get in, it circulates round and round the bloodstream, damaging arterial walls and the brain. Because the body wants to normalize blood sugar levels as soon as possible, it converts the excess glucose into triglycerides to be stored as fat. This process demands so much energy that you become sleepy. Furthermore, insulin resistance decreases the body’s ability to use stored fat for energy.
The liver mediates between the activities of the insulin-releasing pancreas and the adrenal and thyroid glands, which are supposed to “tell” the liver to release glucose. If the adrenals and thyroid aren’t working properly on the “telling” end, or if the liver is sluggish, stressed out, or toxic, and not working on the “receiving” end, the system goes out of balance. Either way, the result is elevated excess insulin.
Any illness — including thyroid problems — also creates physical stress. And stress raises cortisol levels. Increased cortisol increases insulin levels. More insulin means increased chance of insulin resistance. Cortisol can also mobilize triglycerides from storage and relocate them to visceral fat cells (around the belly). Thus, getting rid of that belly is not easy for many people who don’t address all the underlying causes.
All these factors mean that insulin resistance is probably even more of a factor for overweight people with hypothyroidism than for the general population.
Weight loss is very important to eliminate insulin resistance. The less you weigh, the less insulin resistant you will be. And exercise is essential in this process. Even a daily brisk walk of 45 minutes to an hour can substantially reduce insulin levels. You can schedule this activity around the hours when you feel most rested. Exercising will help boost your metabolism, raise your resting metabolism, and burn calories.
But as it is with food, there is no one size fits all type of exercise for everyone. Fact is, many types of exercise can actually work against you, if they are not right for what your body needs at the time.
It is crucial to have your stress level assessed before you start doing more vigorous exercise. When we are exposed to any combination of stressors that elevate our stress hormone beyond the optimal, our repair hormones are suppressed.
The right thyroid treatment begins with the right thyroid testing! Many endocrinologists consider measuring TSH levels to be the “gold standard,” but other markers are as important to be carefully analyzed, like Free T4, and Free T3 — the actual circulating thyroid hormones — and reverse T3. Only by using an integrative approach will your doctor be able to correctly determine the state of your thyroid and prescribe the treatment that works best for you and ensures relief of symptoms. Once you feel more stable in this regard, your body will have more necessary resources to fight overweight problems.
Cleaning up your diet in an intelligent way is crucial. That means to avoid inflammatory foods from processed foods and ensure you are getting the right nutrients in to support your thyroid. White bread, pastries, pasta, packaged meals, artificial sweeteners, processed dairy and desserts all need to be avoided. Choose high quality, organic protein, fat and vegetables and limit your fruit intake to keep a healthy blood sugar level.
When you can’t keep your regular meals and/or need a snack, eat a small amount of protein every two to three hours. Going for long stretches without eating when you have dysglycemia, an abnormality in blood glucose levels, exacerbates your blood sugar issues, affecting other multiple metabolic processes in your body. Nuts, seeds, a boiled egg, cheese or meat are some examples of protein snacks. As your dysglycemia improves, you’ll find you can go longer between snacks.
A surprisingly high number of people are dehydrated these days, without even knowing it. Consumption of coffee and alcohol dehydrate the body even more, as do processed foods which usually contain high amounts of salt. Insufficient electrolytes in the diet also affect hydration.
When your body becomes dehydrated cellular functions begin to slow down and proper hydration is necessary to keeping your metabolism going. In addition to helping the metabolism, proper water intake helps the body get rid of toxins. Use this simple guideline and drink half your body weight in ounces per day to ensure proper hydration, and a glass more if you drink coffee or alcohol.
Lack of sleep, and especially chronic sleep deficit can have many negative reactions by affecting your hormones. It affects your ability to manufacture thyroid hormone properly and may impair T4 to T3 conversion, a crucial process for thyroid function. It lowers your production of growth hormone, which can help with weight loss and metabolism and interferes with the production and cycle of adrenal hormones. This can also lead to increased belly fat.
Sleep deprivation affects hormones that control appetite and in particular, cravings for simple carbohydrates and junk food. It also reduces levels of the hormone glucagon, which helps release fat from your cells. Less sleep means less fat is released. So these are plenty of good reasons to aim for the much-needed 8 hours of sleep, and an early enough bedtime.
Now you can benefit from amazing support and high quality recommendations from the Holtorf staff. Join us for Stop the Weight with Dr. Nancy L. Evans to lose the extra pounds and do it in a healthy way!