Thyroid-related weight gain is shrouded in mystery. Your weight creeps up steadily until the entire shape of your body is different. Now your clothes don’t fit and you feel puffy, uncomfortable and sluggish.
Confirming that your weird weight gain is linked to low thyroid function is the key to resolving the issue. Maybe you have some of the other common symptoms of low thyroid: thinning hair, dry skin, brittle fingernails, loss of energy, constipation, or sensitivity to cold.
Your thyroid weight gain didn’t happen just because you ate the wrong foods or didn’t exercise enough. That’s why you won’t be able to restore your best, healthiest weight using the same old traditional weight loss methods either.
But you can stop thyroid weight gain and get your body back, and we’ll tell you how.
How low thyroid changes the way your body manages weight
Thyroid-related weight gain affects millions of women but it has very specific causes. Low thyroid, also known as subclinical hypothyroidism, can make it much harder to lose weight at the same time it is turning on mechanisms that make it easier to pile on new weight.
The thyroid can affect your weight so easily because one of its main jobs is to regulate metabolism. If thyroid hormones are low, your heart rate slows and so does your digestive system, often leading to constipation, which is linked to weight gain. And in a vicious-circle effect, these small shifts in weight can change thyroid hormone levels.
When thyroid hormones are low — even just a little bit — it causes physical changes in your body and brain that can stimulate weight gain. Lowered thyroid hormones alter the brain centers that control appetite.
This small shift is enough to confuse your brain’s chemical messengers, serotonin, beta endorphin, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). These neurotransmitters regulate how and when you eat, and are also tightly connected to moods.
Low thyroid can change your “hunger hormone” and shut down weight loss
There is an even sneakier hormonal issue connected to imbalanced thyroid function that can effectively shut down the weight loss process. When thyroid hormone becomes dysregulated, it decreases leptin, the hormone that, under normal circumstances, helps trigger weight loss, decrease hunger, and increase the sense of feeling full.
When leptin drops because of low thyroid, the brain senses an emergency. It switches leptin’s hormonal function to ramp up your appetite and slow down energy use. Now your brain sends the signal to use leptin to gain weight because it senses your body needs to be in survival mode.
These leptin changes often lead to sharp carbohydrate cravings, weight gain, distressing changes in body shape, as well as low energy, and depressed mood. But you can interrupt this cascade of hormonal changes to stop thyroid-related weight gain and restart the weight loss process. And these steps can also lift your mood and give you the energy you need to get things done, and have a little fun again!
4 key steps to stop thyroid weight gain
When you’re proactive about helping your body restore thyroid balance, you will see changes in your weight, energy and mood. The sooner you take action, the faster you’ll feel better about your body and thyroid health.
1. Ensure you provide your thyroid with essential minerals.
The most important minerals for thyroid health are iodine and selenium. Iodine is a key building block for making thyroid hormones T3 and T4. Supplying Iodine in very specific amounts can make a measurable difference in rebalancing thyroid function. Selenium helps convert T4 into T3, the most useful hormone form. Selenium also regulates thyroid hormone synthesis and metabolism.
How to get them: Find iodine in sea vegetables, seafood and iodized sea salt. Get selenium from Brazil nuts, mushrooms, beef and sunflower seeds. You can also get both minerals in a good supplement.
2. Add targeted herb extracts to boost thyroid function.
Science shows that several herbs can positively affect your thyroid function and stop thyroid-related weight gain:
- Bacopa monnieri is an ayurvedic herb that can increase T4 hormones.
- Hops is a flower that allows thyroid hormones to enter cells more accessibly.
- Sage leaves contain phytochemicals that promote better hormone reception in cells and boost mood, memory and healthy blood sugar balance.
- Ashwagandha is another ayurvedic plant that supports thyroid hormone production while working to balance the endocrine system.
- Coleus forskohlii is an herb that contains the chemical forskolin, which mimics thyroid-stimulating hormone and supports healthy body weight and mood.
You can get all these herbs with precise amounts of iodine and selenium in our combination formula, T-Balance Plus. This formula supports healthy signaling between your thyroid and the rest of your body. If you’re taking thyroid medication, talk to your practitioner about this supplement.
3. Eliminate gluten-containing foods.
Gluten is a major trigger for zonulin, a protein that opens up tiny spaces in your gut lining to allow nutrients to pass through. But too much zonulin can allow larger food molecules to escape the digestive system and cause immune reactions. Gluten also contains gliadin, a protein that is very similar to thyroid cells. So when the immune system tags gluten molecules for destruction, it kills thyroid cells too.
4. Find a way to get regular exercise.
Fatigue and low energy from low thyroid can make it extra hard to get out and exercise, but you need to make this happen in some form. Research proves that increasing your heart rate through exercise can increase your thyroid hormone levels. Start today by walking around the block or checking out a beginner yoga DVD from the library. Any physical movement helps so do your best to make this a priority.
Better thyroid balance equals easier weight loss
Thyroid-driven weight gain may be stubborn, but you can stop it by regaining control of your body. When you give your thyroid what it needs and encourage healthy thyroid function, you will change how your body looks and feels.
Find out if your weight gain is related to low thyroid — take our quiz now.
Jeffrey S. Flier, Mark Harris, and Anthony N. Hollenberg. Leptin, nutrition, and the thyroid: the why, the wherefore, and the wiring. J Clin Invest. 2000 Apr 1; 105(7): 859–861. doi: 10.1172/JCI9725. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC377492/. Accessed 9.20.17.
Alessio Fasano and Terez Shea-Donohue, Mechanisms of Disease: the role of intestinal barrier function in the pathogenesis of gastrointestinal autoimmune diseases, Nature Clinical Practice Gastroenterology & Hepatology (2005) 2, 416-422. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16265432. Accessed 9.20.17.