Losing weight and keeping it off can be a struggle.
Especially if you have an underactive thyroid. Your metabolism has slowed down and you’re almost always feeling tired.
But if you break down the process into small steps, and tick each box as you go, weight loss comes much easier.
1. Optimise Your Thyroid Medication
I wanted to begin with a nutrition recommendation, but correcting your thyroid medication first priority.
If your medication is not helping to correct TSH and thyroid hormone levels, as well as relieve symptoms, then weight loss goes from difficult to impossible.
Work with your healthcare provider to determine what type of medication is better for you, and also to find the optimal dose required. While Levothyroxine is on average more effective, Armour is reportedly much better tolerated.
There is no difference between taking your thyroid hormone meds in the morning vs evening. Choose whatever is easier for you to have it on a fasting stomach.
2. Cut Back on Added Sugars and Refined Starches
I need to begin with this clarification:
Carbohydrates are not inherently bad for you. That is, they do not make you fat or sick on their own. It always comes back to total calories consumed.
That said, carbs in the form of added sugars and highly refined starches are unhealthy and unnecessary. They offer almost zero nutritional benefits (known as “empty calories”) and make up a large portion of the excess calories we consume.
In fact, the average American adult’s consumption of added sugar increased by more than 30% in the last 30 years, with children consuming approximately 20% more. This was illustrated below by Obesity.org.
Fortunately, those numbers have begun to reverse; a trend that needs to continue. Nevertheless, cutting back on added sugar is still the most simple and direct way to cut out excess “empty” calories.
This is done by limiting intake of junk foods, flavored drinks (including juice), alcohol, white bread, most cereals and muesli bars, and a good portion of packaged food in your supermarket’s “health food” aisle. That includes gluten-free junk food… it’s still junk food.
Now it’s unrealistic (and unfair) to expect yourself to completely avoid added sugar every day of the year. But you need to begin taking actionable steps that help you cut back and form healthier habits.
Start by not having junk foods at home, or at least keep them out of sight in a cupboard you never use.
3. Base Meals Around Vegetables and Protein
If you want to lose weight with an underactive thyroid, these should be the foundation of almost every meal you make and plated first when serving.
There are 2 main reasons for this:
1. Protein is paramount for weight loss
The main benefit of protein is that it’s much more satiating than both fat and carbs. That is, it has a unique ability to reduce appetite and therefore your overall caloric intake too.