How To Lose Weight With Hashimoto’s Disease

Hashimoto's disease is associated with an underactive thyroid, which slows down metabolism, leading to weight gain.

Losing weight with Hashimoto's disease can be hard work. Still, by incorporating various diet and lifestyle strategies into your life, you can achieve a weight you’re happy at, and manage your condition, too.

Have you considered clinical trials for Hashimoto's disease?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Hashimoto's disease, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

What is Hashimoto's disease?

Also known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Hashimoto's disease is an autoimmune disorder. With autoimmune disorders, the body attacks healthy cells after mistaking them for dangerous invaders. In Hashimoto’s, your body attacks the thyroid gland, leading to hypothyroidism over time.

Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland fails to make sufficient hormones to meet the body’s needs. The thyroid gland produces hormones that control the body's metabolism and many other processes.

Causes of Hashimoto's disease

It remains unclear what causes autoimmune diseases, and researchers have conducted many studies to try and piece this puzzle together.

For now, they know that a combination of genetic and environmental factors causes the immune system dysfunction in Hashimoto's disease.  Some genes can increase susceptibility, and the environment provides triggers that facilitate the development of the autoimmune disease.

Symptoms of Hashimoto's disease

Most people do not show any symptoms initially. As your condition progresses, your thyroid gland may become swollen: a condition referred to as a goiter. It is one of the initial symptoms of Hashimoto's disease.

Other common signs of Hashimoto's disease are:

Diagnosis of Hashimoto's disease

Before anything else, your healthcare provider will evaluate your medical history and carry out a physical examination. Your doctor will feel your thyroid gland to see if it is enlarged.

You will then need the following blood tests:

  • Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test: High TSH level reading is an indication that your thyroid gland is not producing sufficient T4 hormones, meaning you could have Hashimoto's disease.

  • The T4 test: If your T4 hormones are low, it could be a sign of hypothyroidism.

  • Antithyroid antibody test: Higher levels of antibodies suggest you are developing Hashimoto's disease.

Your doctor may also require an ultrasound of your thyroid gland. The results will show the size and the shape of your gland. The ultrasound can also detect any growths in the neck region.

Risk factors of Hashimoto's disease

The following factors will increase your chances of developing Hashimoto's disease:

Complications of Hashimoto's disease

If you don’t get treatment for Hashimoto's disease, it may lead to other complications, such as:

  • Goiter: This is an enlargement of the thyroid gland that can affect your appearance and make it hard for you to swallow.

  • Mental health disorders: Depression may occur in the initial stages of the disease and may worsen over time.

  • Heart issues: Hypothyroidism can lead to high blood pressure and cause an irregular heartbeat.

  • Poor pregnancy outcomes: Hypothyroidism can make it hard to conceive and increases the chances of a miscarriage.

Can you lose weight if you have Hashimoto's disease?

As Hashimoto’s causes hypothyroidism, this directly affects your metabolism and slows it down. Anything you eat will be processed slowly by your body, leading to weight gain over time¹. You may not gain an excessive amount of weight, but this may be enough to lower your self-esteem.

The severity of your hypothyroidism will determine how much weight you gain. Nevertheless, the good news is that you can lose this weight by incorporating lifestyle and dietary changes. 

1. Cut down on sugar

An efficient way to lose weight with Hashimoto's disease is to reduce sugar in your diet, as too much can lead to weight gain and inflammation.

Simple carbohydrates quickly break down into glucose, which fuels your body. If you eat too many simple carbs, the excess glucose in your body gets turned into fat.

Your body metabolizes complex carbs much slower, meaning your body can make more use of the energy it creates.  

2. Follow a diet for Hashimoto's disease

As your body may burn fewer calories than you consume, it’s important to have a balanced diet.

Consuming fewer calories may mean avoiding junk food, cutting sugar down, and reducing processed foods. However, do not go too extreme with this. Most importantly, talk to your doctor before dieting.

That said, reducing sugar and adopting a low-carb diet are not the only answers to your problem. Below is a detailed list of foods you should add to and remove from your diet.  You should remove any food that leads to inflammation from your diet.

Foods to eat

Most health professionals recommend incorporating the Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) diet for about six months. The AIP diet is one of the highly recommended weight-loss diets for Hashimoto's disease.

One of the main goals of this diet is to reduce inflammation by combining eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties and avoiding potentially inflammatory foods.

Research² has shown that the AIP diet may decrease systemic inflammation. The following will be your new favorite foods if you want to lose weight with the AIP diet:

  • Consume lean proteins: Eggs, beef, seafood, pork, and poultry

  • Eat non-dairy fermented foods: Apple cider vinegar

  • Eat a lot of cruciferous vegetables: Kale, broccoli, cabbage

  • Green tea

  • Sulfur-rich vegetables: Garlic, leeks, onions

  • Limited amounts of honey, fruits, and maple syrup

Foods to avoid

As previously mentioned, stay away from foods that cause inflammation. Your diet should be gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free.  You should eliminate these foods from your diet:

  • Dairy

  • Dried fruits

  • Alcohol

  • Chocolate

  • Coffee

  • Refined sugars

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Nightshade vegetables: Tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes

  • Alternative sweeteners: Aspartame and sucralose

Make sure that you discuss your weight-loss plans with your doctor to determine the best diet plan for you.

3. Incorporate intermittent fasting

The first step to intermittent fasting (IF) is to decide when you will eat. This window should end at least 2 hours before you sleep. There should be a 12-hour gap between the last meal of your day and your first meal the morning after.

If you want this strategy to be more effective, you can extend your fasting period to 16 hours.

IF isn’t a cure-all, though: If you consume too many calories in your eating window, you’re still going to gain weight.

If you have diabetes, you cannot fast for more than 12 hours. Consult with your doctor about intermittent fasting to see if it’s right for you.

4. Adopt stress-relief techniques

Stress is one of the leading causes of underactive thyroid in people with Hashimoto's disease. Relieving stress can balance your hormone levels. The following are effective techniques to lower your stress levels:

  • Get enough sleep: Make sure you have at least 8 hours of quality sleep every day.

  • Practice meditation: Meditation alleviates stress by lowering the excessive production of the hormone cortisol.

  • Avoid using technology before bedtime: Blocking blue light when you sleep can significantly improve your sleep quality.

5. Exercise regularly

Exercise is very important for your weight-loss journey. Regular exercise will help your body burn excess calories, helping you lose weight.

You don’t have to adopt a strict exercise routine. Light activities such as bike riding, walking, swimming, and light jogging at least three times a week will work. You can increase the duration and intensity when it works for you.

Exercise benefits include:

  • Fighting depression

  • Increasing your energy levels

  • Reducing joint pain

  • Losing excessive weight

  • Boosting your self-esteem

Thirty minutes of exercise five times a week is a great target to aim for. Talk to your doctor before trying any high-intensity activity, especially if you have other underlying conditions, like heart problems. Let your doctor advise you on how much weight you should lose.

The lowdown

Losing weight is hard, especially when your body is working against you. If you have Hashimoto's disease, you have to overcome a tougher obstacle.

Hashimoto’s leads to hypothyroidism, which slows down your metabolism, leading to weight gain.

However, you can take steps to lose weight by changing your diet, tweaking your eating habits, and exercising. However, make sure you discuss your weight-loss strategies with your doctor before starting.

Have you considered clinical trials for Hashimoto's disease?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Hashimoto's disease, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

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