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Hypothyroidism Causing Weight Gain {How To Improve It Today!}

Weight Gain, Hypothyroid, Hypothyroidism, Hormone Health, Women's Health

Hypothyroidism Causing Weight Gain {How To Improve It Today!}

Hypothyroidism can bring a lot of uncomfortable symptoms, like fatigue, but an annoying symptom is weight gain. For the average person, no one wants to have increased weight gain, unless it’s muscle, am I right?! While we know that low functioning thyroid can bring weight gain on, most people don’t truly understand why this happens and what’s going on a cellular level. Practitioners don’t even know the exact biochemical pathway of what is happening in the body.

Thyroid’s Role In Metabolism + Weight

The thyroid controls so many things in the body + metabolism is included! It controls our basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is how many calories your body needs to function when it’s at rest. When your thyroid function goes down, so does your BMR. Less calories needed at rest = more calories that are packed away in our adipocytes (aka fat cells).

Like I mentioned in the beginning of this blog, the exact biochemical pathways are still unknown. We do know there is a connection between the thyroid hormone being able to create fat (aka lipogenesis) and thyroid hormone playing a role in breaking down fat (aka lipolysis). Knowing that thyroid hormone regulates both of these things could be a reason why weight gain might happen with a low functioning thyroid.

Thyroid hormone also plays a role in carbohydrate metabolism. The thyroid hormone can induce the break down of glycogen (stored glucose in the body), along with creating glucose from non-carbohydrate sources, like protein (aka gluconeogenesis). There could possibly be a relationship with insulin resistance and hypothyroidism, but more studies need to be done. I would always recommend to check blood sugar and insulin levels when running your full thyroid panel, so you can understanding for your blood sugar hormones, which play a role in weight gain.

Not only can weight gain be from fat, but also from the accumulation of salt + water. Hellooo, bloating! Low thyroid function decreases body temperature, which can influence water retention.

So while we don’t know exactly how weight gain happens with thyroid, we know that it does. So, what do you do about it?

How To Improve Hypothyroidism To Reduce Weight Gain

Nutrition – Of course this would be my very first thing I’d talk about. One of the first things you can do to improve thyroid health is avoiding some of the most common inflammatory foods. The most common ones are….

  1. Gluten {ESPECIALLY if you have any autoimmune activity like Hashimoto’s. Gluten structure is similiar to thyroid structure and can create become cross reactive triggering an autoimmune flare.}
  2. Dairy
  3. Soy
  4. Grains {Rice, oats, etc.}
  5. Refined Sugar

Taking out inflammatory foods is not something that you do forever, but for short term to realize which foods truly work for you. Working with a practitioner here can make this process much more smoother and less chaotic. Food sensitivity testing, like we do, can determine which foods cause inflammation and make this a quicker process and give the body a head start on reducing overall inflammation (since this can cause weight gain too!).

Multivitamin – To start encouraging proper thyroid hormone production and conversion, figuring out nutrient deficiencies are essential. While this looks different for every person, starting with at least a good quality multivitamin can help fill the gaps and provide the body with nutrients that the thyroid needs, such as selenium, iodine, B vitamins, zinc, and more!

Reduce your stress – The adrenals + thyroid relationship is STRONG. When our body needs to pump out cortisol (stress hormone), it comes from our hypothalamus and pituitary gland to tell the adrenals to make cortisol. This is the same place in the brain that talks to the thyroid. Stress can slow down thyroid hormone production. Stress can also affect the conversion between T4 (thyroid hormone) to T3 (active thyroid hormone that interacts with cells).

Even adrenal dysfunction can make you gain weight, so nourishing the relationship between the two with diet and lifestyle is important for hormone balance. My favorite advice for reducing your stress is to DO SOMETHING YOU LOVE. Make time for it – is it scrapbooking? Reading? Spa day? Hiking? No adaptogen and supplement will impact your adrenal health more than taking away stressors/balancing this out better. If you want to know exactly what your adrenals are doing, the DUTCH test that we do is fantastic!

Get your body moving – Depending on what your adrenals look like, certain exercises like HIIT might not be a good idea. Sticking with something gentle, yet active, like walking and yoga might be a better idea for you! Resistance training is also a great way to increase muscle and burn fat (+ keep burning fat even when you aren’t exercising!). The last thing you want to do is add a stressor like exercising 7 days a week and all hardcore workouts, listen to your body!

Thyroid Medication – If you have to go on thyroid medication for short term or even long term (determined by your functional medicine doc), this can be super helpful to get you feeling better while you are changing the things I stated above! Sometimes combining what we have in modern medicine and our natural ways are exactly what you need! If you need some recommendations of some awesome functional docs/PAs, send us a message! We’d be happy to guide you to the right practitioner!

Want Help Through Your Journey?

If you’re ready to get that 1:1 help to stop the guesswork of what your diet + lifestyle should look like with hypothyroidism and weight gain, schedule your free appointment with us. You’ll see the packages that we offer on that page and can request your free appointment! We’re all about giving that personalized advice to help you start feeling your best!

Lahana Vigliano, CCN

Avatar for Lahana Vigliano
Lahana Vigliano

Lahana Vigliano is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and CEO of Nuvitru Wellness. She has her Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition Science and Masters Degree in Nutrition Science and Functional Medicine. She is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in Clinical Nutrition. Lahana and her team help support women who struggle with weight loss, hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, chronic fatigue, and many other lingering issues that leaves women not feeling their best. She uses food as medicine, as well as herbs and supplements when needed, to support her clients. She looks at the whole body holistically making sure women are understanding how nutrition, sleep, stress, and their environment impact their health. Connect with her on Facebook + Instagram (@nuvitruwellness).