Many of us struggle with how to lose weight while having Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and/or Hypothyroidism. While a low inflammatory diet is paramount to weight loss, there are other steps we can take to achieve that elusive healthy weight. For years, I struggled with getting back to my pre Hashimoto’s body. Progress was made when I saw a few pounds come off the scale every couple of weeks but I couldn’t easily maintain it regardless of what I did. My weight was never consistent and I experienced large fluctuations on the scale, even day to day many times.
Starting the Auto Immune Protocol is one very helpful strategy but not the only tool alone that helped. I finally realized that my goal would remain unattainable as long as my body was inflamed. And food wasn’t the only culprit resulting in inflammation. The following are suggestions which really benefitted me when losing weight with Hashimoto’s. They help balance hormones and to keep inflammation at bay.
10 Ways to Lose Weight with Hashimoto’s Disease That Have Nothing to Do With Food Restriction or Exercise
1. Sleep. at least 7 hours
Sleep is one of the most underrated weight loss tools around. It’s also when your body burns the highest percentage of fat in the day. And sleep is also a highly restorative process. Lack of sleep leads to cortisol spikes which trigger unhealthy ripple effects. People tend to feel sluggish and make poor food choices when cortisol is elevated. And cortisol triggers your stress response making weight loss incredibly difficult when your body is in stress mode.
The recommended hours of sleep per night is 8-9 hours. Studies have found that sleeping less than six hours per night activates the hunger switch in your brain while simultaneously suppressing leptin (a hormone which helps to regulate energy balance by inhibiting hunger). Lack of proper sleep tends to lead to higher caffeine consumption, sending hormones even further out of balance. Lack of sleep is a common issue for people with Hashimoto’s disease. Anxiety, adrenal fatigue, whacky timing of cortisol production cascade into insomnia like effects. You may want to look into fixing your adrenals if sleep is a concern for you.
2. Your fridge – Make it pretty…. seriously
How many of us have the best of intentions at the supermarket when loading up our shopping cart with veggies and fruits… only to throw a good portion of them out a week after they’ve rotted. Why does this happen? Probably because they are stored incorrectly and hidden away in the bottom drawer of the fridge. Let’s change that.
Something as simple as chopping up veggies and fruits and putting them in stacked glass containers (avoid plastic) can make all the difference. Keep your fridge organized with all the colorful goodies on display. You are much more likely to consume nutrient rich, fat loss promoting veggies (and phase out processed junk foods) when they look appealing. I won’t even get into all the health promoting aspects of eating several servings of vegetables and fruits per day. But one hint, google polyphenols.
3. Probiotics Can Help You Lose Weight with Hashimoto’s
In an experiment on mice, scientists discovered that when they transferred the gut bacteria of obese mice to lean mice, the lean mice became obese without any change in their diet. Furthermore, investigations have showed that obese people have a less diverse microbiome than their thin counterparts. It would appear that variation in intestinal bacteria is a key factor in weight maintenance. So how do you improve the diversity of your gut microbiome? A high quality, multi strain probiotic can help tremendously. People with Hashimoto’s or leaky gut aka intestinal permeability should consider looking at probiotics with at least 50 billion CFU (colony forming units) strains. Here are some probiotics that I think are good options:
4. Do you hang out with Healthy People?
Disclaimer: This will sound insensitive. Studies have shown that who you hang out with greatly impacts your own weight and wellbeing. In fact, it can be a leading indicator of whether you become obese. Do you have overweight friends? Encourage them to take on healthier habits. And if they won’t, maybe it’s best to limit your time with them. Seek out people with positive lifestyle habits. It will certainly influence your own. Encourage overweight family members to eat better by cooking healthy home made meals. It was found that siblings of obese people have a 40% increased risk of obesity. Spouses of obese people have an increased risk of 37%. Startling numbers in my opinion.
5. Chewing Matters… More than you thought.
I remember hearing this one when I was younger. Chew your food, the saliva in your mouth breaks it down and it’s better for your digestion. That was the extent of the explanation. Going a step farther, this is particularly important especially for people with Hashimoto’s disease and/or other autoimmune conditions. Big pieces of food cause microbial overgrowth in your intestines, further deteriorating good intestinal flora.
Furthermore, cells in your intestines have receptors (like a key) that latch on to the amino acids food is broken down to. If the food is not broken down because of too little chewing or if your stomach acid is low (another issue for people with Hashimoto’s or those taking acid blockers), these cells can signal to the immune system that the chunks of food are foreign. Your immune system believes they are invaders and will launch itself into attack mode, further worsening autoimmune responses. Inflammation is the result of your immune system being in a chronically heightened state. And weight loss is virtually impossible when the body is inflamed. In fact, inflammation most likely leads to weight gain.
6. Two Glasses of Water Before Every Meal
Drink two glasses of water ten minutes before (not with) every meal. Your body won’t confuse hunger for thirst which is not uncommon in many people. Aside from eating less, water acts as a detoxifier and skin purifier in the body. It’s no coincidence that people of a healthy weight are always seen drinking or carrying water with them.
7. Eat Good Fat
Did you know studies have found that the start of the obesity epidemic in the United States coincided with the widespread launch of low fat products. Low fat products actually make us fatter. What’s worse is that we were and are raised to believe that fat is bad. Yes, trans fat and hydrogenated oils are bad. But good fat from avocados, eggs, cold pressed organic extra virgin olive oil and yes, even saturated fat from coconut have shown to aid in weight loss, lower sugar consumption and help with insulin regulation.
It has been consistently observed that low-fat, high-carb diets spike insulin, subsequently slowing down your metabolism and promoting storage of visceral (belly) fat. Visceral fat is one of the single biggest predictors of chronic disease like Type II Diabetes. Low fat foods are chemically processed and replace fat with sugar, the real enemy. And if you think artificial sweeteners like the ones in diet soda are okay, they’re not. Not only are aspartame and nutrasweet harmful chemicals which are known endocrine disruptors, they can actually trigger the same response in your body as if you were drinking regular soda ….leading to weight gain. Don’t believe me? Click here. Avoiding diet soda, all soda, can be one of the best things you ever do for your health.
8. Reduce Stress and Practice Self Care
Stress is a huge factor when looking at gut imbalances. Stress impacts your parasympathetic nerve, which is responsible for the production of hydrochloric acid (the stuff that breaks down food in your stomach properly). And if I haven’t already said it numerous times, stress increases cortisol and can lead to stubborn belly fat. Your body just can’t stress and digest properly at the same time. So practicing self care can help reduce stress significantly. Get a massage, color in a book, meet with a caring friend, take a bath. It all helps.
9. Check your micronutrient and hormone levels
Micronutrient levels just may be the missing piece in your puzzle on how to lose weight with Hashimoto’s and/or Hypothyroidism. Deficiencies can lead to malabsorption of nutrients, making your body want more food. It can also be the reason you’re fatigued and with low metabolism. Have your Vitamin D, B12, Ferritin, Iron Folate, DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and selenium levels tested. They should be in optimal ranges so low end of normal may not necessarily be enough. And if you’re taking thyroid hormone and still struggling, your medication levels may need to be optimized further.
Yup, that’s right. Sex. Not something you thought would get a mention. And I’m not just merely talking about the calorie burn associated with exercise here. Sex releases oxytocin, which helps with both obesity and good looking skin. Double win. Oxytocin decreases appetite and helps your body to use fat for energy. So get going!
Lose Weight With Hashimoto’s Disease on the Auto Immune Protocol
Please feel free to leave me any comments, concerns, questions below. As always, consult with your healthcare provider before embarking on any major dietary changes. If you are curious about meal planning and recipes on the Auto Immune Protocol diet, sign up here for our newsletter and put “AIP Weekly Meal Plan” in the subject or body. I’ll send you a free copy!