03 Sep 2014

Why Can’t I Lose Weight??? Part 3: Could it be My Thyroid?

090414-feature-articleWhen I talk with women who are experiencing unexpected weight gain, often one of the first questions I am asked is “Could it be my thyroid?”

Our thyroid hormones play a huge role in regulating our metabolism and how our bodies use nutrients. And as we age, our thyroids may get more sluggish. Cortisol (which you can read about here and here), can also affect the action of thyroid hormones by blocking the receptors in your body.

Research shows that even small changes in thyroid function can cause weight gain. In fact, many women who have been told their thyroid test results are “normal” may still have a reduced thyroid function (subclinical hypothyroidism) that’s enough to cause weight gain and other bothersome symptoms. Unexpected weight gain and difficulty losing weight may be one of the first noticeable signals that something’s amiss.

Hypothyroidism may be the result of your thyroid slowing down on the job and producing less hormones OR your body may have difficulty using the thyroid hormones. Either way, your metabolism slows down.

And the pounds pile on.

Making good nutrition and supplementation a consistent part of your life is the most effective way to support your thyroid. Consistency is so important! Many of us spend much of our lives dieting in a yo-yo cycle of feasting or fasting. This is NOT consistency and leads to a confused metabolism and more weight.

Here’s how you can help support your thyroid:

  • Clean up your diet. Whole foods are best. Take a high quality multivitamin-mineral supplement that includes iodine and selenium. These 2 are powerful thyroid supporters. Also look for zinc, iron, and copper.
  • Eat your meals and snacks at regular times, and be sure to eat breakfast within an hour of waking. Missing meals or snacks can stress your thyroid.
  • Include protein at every meal, as well as fiber for breakfast and lunch. Remember that good sources of fiber include fruits and vegetables, not just grains.
  • Completely eliminate gluten, sugar/sweeteners, alcohol, and junk food. These ingredients can interfere with healthy thyroid function.
  • Learn which foods contain thyroid-suppressing compounds known as “goitrogens”. These include cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. If you have thyroid problems, steam or cook these vegetables to reduce or eliminate the goitrogens. Bonus: these foods also help lower estrogen levels if that’s an imbalance you’re wrestling with.

If you are struggling with your weight and haven’t had a recent thyroid evaluation, it may be time to get tested. Blood tests are the best way to go for this. A COMPLETE thyroid panel will include a TSH, free T3, free T4, TPO and reverse T3 measurements. Ask your provider about getting all of these. Many lab panels include ONLY a TSH and that’s not enough for a complete evaluation.


Dr. Anna Garrett

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