Thyroid function is closely connected with metabolism. Thyroid hormones essentially regulate calorie consumption. The thyroid also influences other healthy bodily functions, so many different symptoms can arise when thyroid hormone production is off. Researchers have found that thyroid problems are linked to weight gain, specifically, an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). While it is always important to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, it is also important to be aware of this medical condition and try to manage it.
Thyroid problems develop over time and tend to become apparent during menopause or when sex hormone levels are in flux. Women are more likely to experience thyroid problems than men, thus, experiencing weight gain easier than men. Most thyroid problems occur within the gland and often are not apparent until a broad pattern of hormone imbalance develops. This is why thyroid problems often happen during menopause.
Weight gain is typically linked to an underactive thyroid because it causes low basal metabolic rate. This results in weight gain and difficulty losing extra weight.
Women's weight tends to fluctuate during the course of their lives - especially when hormone levels are shifting during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. Many women try to diet to counter this, but it can actually make matters worse if you are not consistent with your diet. Eating a lot fast decreases metabolic rate, which slows down metabolism and causes weight gain.
Certain changes in lifestyle can help shed extra pounds, while medications can address thyroid issues.
Getting regular exercise is crucial to feeling your best and preventing weight gain. The general recommendation is at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day - whether it is walking, biking, or swimming. Yoga is also a wonderful form of low-impact exercise that can help tone the muscles and keep you fit.
A balanced diet can help maintain a healthy weight and prevent further weight gain. Try to include plenty of protein, fruits and vegetables, and essential fatty acids into your diet. Eating healthy snacks every three to four hours in between small meals has shown to be more beneficial than three big meals a day. Walnuts, salmon, Greek yogurt, brown rice, beans, and broccoli are all nutrient-rich foods that can help prevent weight gain.
Avoid fad diets
Fad dieting can cause “yo-yo” weight fluctuations and throw off your metabolic rate. Although something like a “juice cleanse” may make you drop weight quickly, you will most likely gain all of that (and maybe more) back when you start eating regularly again.
Hypothyroidism can be easily treated with simple medications that replace the missing thyroid hormones.
Thyroid problems and weight gain are directly linked. Thyroid problems develop over time, and tend become apparent during menopause because of the hormone fluctuations experienced during that time. It is important to seek medical treatment if you have thyroid problems, because symptoms can worsen if left untreated, and weight gain from hypothyroidism may not budge with diet and exercise changes alone.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2012). Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). Retrieved November 7, 2014, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/basics/symptoms/con-20021179
- National Institutes of Health. (2014). Hypothyroidism. Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000353.htm