By far the most common thing I hear about when treating hypothyroid patients is that they are struggling to lose weight. And next question will be what type of diet is right for them, and what can they do to accelerate weight loss? Losing weight with low thyroid function is a challenge for many.
Let me be straight with you. Regardless of whether you have hypothyroidism or not, losing weight is rarely easy. Yes, it can be even harder if you have a slow metabolism from untreated or undertreated thyroid disease, but even when thyroid is well-treated I rarely see that weight loss becomes effortless. It takes work and time, like all things that don’t come easy but are worth it! Be sure to keep the focus on fat loss and not just water weight loss.
For that reason, I recommend only weighing yourself once every two weeks and then weigh in for three days in a row and average that number. This will give you a much better idea of your true progress, versus the ups and downs of water weight loss you’ll see when weighing daily or even weekly. It’s hard to stop yourself from weighing more often, but trust me, it will be better for your emotional state to stay off the scale!
The first thing I suggest to patients is to assess their current default diet that they’re doing right now. In order to get a good picture if your baseline, don’t try to change anything, just be really accurate about logging in your foods for one week on a site such as My Fitness Pal or whichever tracking app you like. Take a good look at the current diet and go from there. So my biggest tip is to start tracking and journaling ASAP!
At the same time as assessing someone’s current diet in order to develop a customized plan, we also want to focus heavily on being sure you’re on the right medicine and the right dose for your thyroid. Having an untreated or undertreated thyroid from either Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and/or hypothyroidism can significantly slow the metabolism. For assessing this we look at a full thyroid panel and focus a lot on optimizing your levels versus just normalizing. This can require fine tuning and followup that most practitioners who typically treat hypothyroidism (endocrinologists or family practice docs) do not have the time or inclination to manage. This can be frustrating for patients! I know because I’ve been there as a patient too.
Hang in there and be patient with yourself. Be a detective and try to uncover any hidden issues that are impacting your metabolism. This can be done so much easier with the help of a good practitioner working together with you. Keep a journal and reflect daily and weekly on how you’re doing, writing down your intake and your emotions as you work on it.
There are a lot of things that can impact the metabolism besides thyroid, such as perimenopause, menopause, adrenal issues, nutritional deficiencies — just to name a few. Test, don’t guess! Get your levels measured in these areas and try to find the weakest links to focus on for metabolism improvement.