Does an underactive thyroid really make you gain weight?
Posted Feb 10 2009 10:01am
For many years, someone complaining about being overweight because of ‘a thyroid problem’ was usually greeted with the roll of eyes by others who presumed they were making excuses for their over indulgences when eating and laziness when it comes to exercise.
Thankfully, doctors and the public have become a little more sympathetic and aware of the impact on weight that having an under active thyroid can have. An under active thyroid, otherwise known as Hypothyroidism, is something that you could have without knowing about it, especially during the early stages. Its symptoms include chronic exhaustion, weight gain, dry, flaky skin, hair breakage and hair loss, brittle nails, foggy brain, poor concentration, infertility and depression. Not a pleasant state of affairs.
Many people don’t know much about the thyroid but its role in helping our bodies to function properly is major.
The thyroid is a gland which sits in front of your larynx in your throat and is responsible for regulating your body’s metabolism and controlling how quickly reactions in your body take place. So, small as it is, the thyroid is responsible for how efficiently your body burns fat and for how much you weigh.
When your thyroid stops functioning efficiently, your metabolism slows down, the weight gain begins and the other symptoms of hypothyroidism start to reveal themselves. It’s estimated that 20 million Americans and 4 million Britons suffer from a thyroid disorder and there are many more who don’t know yet that they have the disorder.
A visit to your doctor for the blood tests to read the levels of your thyroid hormones is how this is done. Unlike the US, in the UK, patients receiving medication for hypothyroidism receive free prescriptions.
Medication will usually recover the thyroid function to ‘normal’ after a few months but for many women this doesn’t automatically signal the return to their slimmer shape as they would hope. In many cases, the weight gain will continue. This is because the damage to the way your metabolism functions can be far reaching and so a low calorie diet will not necessarily get the same results as it would have done in the past.
So what can you do if you have an under active thyroid to get your weight back to normal?
The fastest way to boost your metabolism is to exercise. Dieting alone is unlikely to shed pounds but in combination with a regular exercise regime, the weight will start to come off. The effects of exercise and a low calorie diet may take longer to have an impact than they would on someone with a normal thyroid function and metabolism, but over time, the effects will definitely be noticeable.
The key is to develop a routine and stick to it. By incorporating a lot more vigorous activity into your life, your body will begin to respond to your new diet and fitness regime.
Reducing stress is also key to encouraging more efficient thyroid function so, despite the frustrations of weight gain you can’t seem to control, it’s important to stay calm and focused on your fitness routine knowing that the results will come, even though they may not arrive as fast as you would like.