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How to Lose Weight With an Underactive Thyroid

author image Maggie Lynn
Maggie Lynn has been writing about education, parenting and health topics since 2005, in addition to being an educator. She holds a Master of Science in child and family studies.
How to Lose Weight With an Underactive Thyroid
Underactive thyroid Photo Credit: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

It's hard to lose weight when your metabolism slows down, but there are things you can do. The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in your throat, produces hormones that regulate many bodily functions, including metabolism. When your thyroid gland becomes underactive -- a condition known as hypothyroidism -- your body burns fewer calories. Other symptoms of a sluggish thyroid gland include depression, exhaustion, dry skin and brittle hair, body aches and cramps, hoarse voice and weight gain. An underactive thyroid is generally treated with hormone replacement. However, to keep your weight under control, lifestyle changes can help.

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Step 1

Follow a low-calorie diet. Anyone who wants to lose weight must burn more calories than are consumed. Unfortunately, for someone with an underactive thyroid, it can be difficult because the metabolism slows, meaning the body naturally burns fewer calories.

Step 2

Keep a food journal that tracks which foods and the total amount of calories you eat daily. Bring the journal to your doctor and discuss how many calories you should consume daily and what changes you can make to lose weight.

Step 3

Increase your exercise routine. Exercise is the most effective way to speed the metabolism, making it a powerful tool in overcoming the weight gain side effects of hypothyroidism. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that a healthy adult under the age of 65 get 30 minutes of heart-pumping cardio five times each week. Strength-training sessions should be done twice a week.

Step 4

Gradually work your exercise up to this amount. But as someone with hypothyroidism, this should be the bare minimum. If you are still struggling with weight gain, increase the frequency and duration of your workouts.

Step 5

Talk to your doctor about taking the synthetic hormone replacement levothyroxine to treat your hypothyroidism. This can help you gain some control over the symptoms of an underactive thyroid.

Step 6

Do not use tobacco and alcohol because they can exacerbate symptoms. Caffeine and soy products may interfere with thyroid medications, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, so discuss consuming these items with your doctor.

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