“A Weight Loss Journey With Hypothyroidism + Best Diet For Hypothyroidism” – Monica May
Ladies, let’s talk about hypothyroidism.
You might not have it, and you even might never heard about it, but I bet you know at least one girl who has problems with her thyroid.
And the truth is – hypothyroidism is a beast.
So many symptoms, side effects, missed diagnosis…
I’m no expert, and I don’t have hypothyroidism myself, but few of my closest friends deal with it for years now and it makes me angry and mad that so many girls out there have their lives changed because of hypo, not knowing where to start and how to do something about it.
It feels like hypothyroidism became an epidemic nowadays, since suddenly so many girls are dealing with it so I really felt the need to finally step up and clear things out a bit.
It’s a real bummer knowing that you’ll take medication every day, probably for the rest of your life, to help you deal with the hormonal imbalance and a bunch of other symptoms that come packed with it (not to mention brain fog and chronic tiredness).
And I can’t even imagine what you girls are really going through and how hard it is to try and keep your life together, gather your feelings, and on top of that accomplish the daily activities, go to work and just stay sane in the everyday life.
That’s why, I decided to do a research with a full guide on the two things that can certainly help in the whole “learning to live with hypo” process:
Fitness and nutrition.
These two can help a lot, and I’m just about to guide you how you can use them as a tool to get better, stronger and healthier, plus become a better host for your hypothyroidism condition.
I packed it all with the best diet for hypothyroidism and the best workouts and training tips.
We’re starting right away!
What is Hypothyroidism?
First things first, let’s determine what hypothyroidism really is.
Simply put, it’s a condition when the thyroid is underactive, caused when your immune system attacks the thyroid gland, lowering the levels of the two thyroid hormones (triiodothyronine and thyroxine).
This means that with hypothyroidism, your thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone.
And what does this do to your body?
Well it prevents your body from functioning with ease, since the main function of the thyroid gland is to release hormones that travel through your bloodstream and affect nearly every part of your body, from your heart and brain, to your muscles and skin.
And if you don’t have enough thyroid hormone, your body processes slow down which means your body makes less energy, and your metabolism becomes sluggish.
The thyroid controls how your body’s cells use energy from food, a process called metabolism, so among other things your metabolism affects your body’s temperature, your heartbeat, and how well you burn calories.
Some of the symptoms include:
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Weight gain
- Poor immunity
- Poor digestion and constipation
And among a whole host of other pretty important things, this is a process that’s not great when you’re trying to lose weight, maintain healthy energy levels and getting fit.
That’s why, with the help of my bestie Kate, who’s dealing with hypothyroidism, I’ll try to help all of you get back on track and gather yourself to start living healthy again.
Aside from the standard treatment that involves daily use of the synthetic thyroid hormones to restore adequate hormone levels, the thing that makes the biggest impact is proper nutrition.
Together with fitness, they help you in the overall health, feeling good on the inside and even help get rid of some of the symptoms.
However, note that you can use proper nutrition in addition to the medications – never as a substitute. Medication is still the most important thing to help you regulate your hormones (don’t lose hope, determining the right dosage may take some time).
But, that doesn’t mean you should take nutrition for granted – not at all.
Poor nutrition will not only harm your health, but you may interfere with the absorption of the medications.
There are definitely foods that will make you feel better and ones that will make you feel a little bit worse, and that’s why I’ll do my best to explain what’s the best diet for hypothyroidism, step by step.
Let’s get started already!
Foods To Avoid For Underactive Thyroid
First thing’s fist, let’s talk about what you shouldn’t eat.
As I go on and on in my nutrition guide “The Hungry Fit Girl”, the most important thing when it comes to nutrition is the food you shouldn’t eat.
As long as you make sure to avoid the foods that will make you feel worse and unhealthy, you’re all set.
And when we’re talking about hypothyroidism, many common foods and supplements contain compounds that interfere with thyroid function, which means avoiding them completely will be the best choice.
That’s why we’re starting of with the worst enemies.
Sugar is bad for you. In any means in almost any form, especially the processed one we all have in the kitchen.
Whether you’re dealing with hypothyroidism, trying to get healthier and lose weight or just want to feel better, you have to ditch sugar.
It’s bad for your health even if you’re perfectly healthy and perfectly normal, and not to mention when you’re having problems with your thyroid gland.
Sugar messes with your hormones, increases weight gain since it’s just empty calories, it has literally no nutrients to offer… it’s just bad for you, period.
The more sugar you have, the harder it is for your thyroid to get functioning.
That’s why you should make sure to get rid of sugar as much as you can.
Start by getting any processed sugar out of your diet, read product labels to avoid getting it through any other products (since they add it in almost every product these days) and limit your natural sugar sources.
The fact is that even natural sources such as honey and agave make a change – yes they have nutrients attached but at the end of the day they are still just another form of sugar.
If you are not sure where to start on the sugar, grab my nutrition guide. You can find a full guide there on how to quit sugar once and for all and start living heather.
2. Processed Carbs
Processed or simple carbs are bad for your health overall if you try to maintain a healthy life, especially if you deal with hypothyroidism.
They are pretty low in fibers and nutrients which don’t help your gut at all and they have a bunch of calories that just go through your body without helping you maintain healthy energy levels.
Soy itself has been on the bad word for quite some time now, although I’m still not sure why particularly, since soy is one of the rare foods other than meat that is a complete protein – meaning it contains all of the essentials amino acids.
However, apart from the question whether soy is healthy or not, there are studies which show that soy have negative effects on thyroid function and hormonal health.
Why? Well, soy falls into a category of foods known as goitrogens which is actually a category of foods that include certain vegetables and fruits that promote the formation of goiter, an enlarged thyroid.
Some goitrogens appear to be able to slow thyroid function, and in some cases even trigger thyroid disease.
Even though these studies may not be completely legit and still haven’t been tested on humans, doctors themselves suggest that you should avoid soy when dealing with hypo.
And I’ll go with that, since avoiding foods that are bad for you is far more important than eating foods that are good for you, and if there’s a concern about soy being an enemy to the thyroid, then we’ll go with it.
So, no soy and be extra careful since soybeans are processed into many meat and dairy substitutes too, so again make sure to read labels.
No need to explain why, alcohol is bad for your overall health, especially when you’re on medication.
Along with plenty of other negative effects on your health, alcohol messes up with the absorption of your medications too.
Alcohol is metabolized mainly in the liver and gives it a hard time functionig, which may alter how levothyroxine (synthetic thyroid hormone often used to treat underactive thyroid) is metabolized in the whole body.
Empty calories that give your body a hard time to function properly and it’s for the best to avoid it completely.
5. Certain vegetables
They are pretty healthy for most of us but certain vegetables that are rich in fiber may inhibit thyroid medication absorption.
And this can be the tricky part since you want fiber, but you don’t need too much so it isn’t that hard on the body.
So, this includes avoiding cruciferous vegetables such as:
- Brussels sprouts
So, avoid eating them in the morning right after taking your medication, and if you eat them make sure to cook or steam them for at least 30 minutes.
They need to be really well cooked in order for your body to digest them better.
6. Tap Water
I know what you’re thinking, it’s water, it can’t be a big deal, right?
Well, think about it this way: we drink water every day.
And tap water has a bunch of chlorine and fluorine and those two things block the absorption of iodine which your body needs for thyroid function.
So getting a filtered water would be the way to go.
An underactive thyroid sometimes leads to other health issues and one of them is high blood pressure.
This means that you should limit your sodium intake to 1,500 mg a day or less.
Also, you might want to avoid high sodium foods like:
- Canned vegetables
- Processed pork (bacon, ham, sausage, etc.)
- Pre-made pasta sauce or salsa
- Packaged entrees or food mixes
- Frozen foods (burritos, pizza, hash browns, etc.)
Also, try replacing the table salt with healthier options such as Himalayan salt which loads you up with a bunch of important minerals along with sodium.
8. Fried Foods
Guess what else blocks your body’s absorption of thyroid hormone replacement meds?
Grease and fat.
You shouldn’t eliminate all fats (we’ll talk about this in a minute) you should only stay away from bad fats and trans fats which includes deep-fried foods and refined oils.
After all, French fries and chicken wings won’t help you feel better, get healthier and lose weight for sure.
The Best Diet For Hypothyroidism
– Foods To Include In Your Diet –
Now, when we made sure to avoid the foods that are bad for our health and that can do more harm then good, we’ll head on to the best diet for hypothyroidism.
These foods are good for your health and your body plus they will provide you with the right nutrients to help you deal with hypo.
Of course everyone is a little bit different, and every body reacts to certain foods in it’s own unique way, so that’s the main thing about hypothyroidism – you’ll kinda have to test it out yourself at the end.
Listen to your body, see how it feels and over time, you’ll find what works for you best and build your own meal plan.
So I’m going to give you the foods that are good for your body and health in general – test them to create your own diet plan that works for you best.
1. Healthy Fats
Healthy fats balance your hormones, help your brain function, and maintain a healthy and balanced life overall.
That’s why you have to make sure to include healthy fats such as:
- Nuts and nut butters
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
They also have lots of Omega 3 and will help decrease inflammation which is really important.
2. Fresh Fruits and Veggies
Especially veggies such as asparagus, fresh carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant etc.
They’ll provide you with all kinds of vitamins and minerals, including iron which is great for your overall health.
Also, fruits such as berries, lemons and limes.
Fruits are healthy and all, but as I explain in my meal plan if you’re trying to cut down weight and maintain a healthy life, you have to be careful since at the end of the day they are just another source of sugar.
3. Beans and peas
Proteins are pretty important when trying to get healthy, maintain a balanced life and lose weight.
However, beans are the way to go instead of fatty meats. This way you’ll feed your body with proteins, but without consuming too many calories.
Beans also help with low energy and constipation, which are common side effects of hypothyroidism as I mentioned before.
Black beans, chickpeas, yellow beans and peas are great choices here.
Not only you should consider including probiotics as a supplement in your daily diet, but you should include a bunch of probiotic rich foods too.
They help you keep a healthy gut, solve constipation problems and then again give your body a nice load on those proteins.
Foods such as Greek yogurt, mozzarella and unsalted goat cheese will help you keep a balanced gut and keep your protein intake on point – I use a lot of them in my nutrition plan too.
Just make sure to never take dairy products too close to your med intake.
Say what? Iodine is not even a food, it’s a nutrient.
Yes, but you need to eat plenty of it if you have thyroid problems because your body uses it to make metabolic thyroid hormones.
And table salt has iodine, but remember since you need to limit sodium intake you have to try adding iodine through other foods instead:
Work That Hypo Out
Physical activity is really important when dealing with hypothyroidism.
The truth is, we’re all different and different things work for each and every one of us, but one thing is certain: getting regular exercise is important for anyone with hypothyroidism.
Not only does regular exercise help with symptoms management, but it can also boost up your metabolism.
And even when done at the most moderate levels, exercise can help a lot.
Now this is such a touchy subject, since working out with hypothyroidism can be SO freaking hard.
How are you supposed to workout with all of those symptoms, chronic tiredness, low energy levels and constant brain fog?
Well, finding the energy to move your body can be so hard, but the truth is fitness can help you a lot.
Once you get moving you’ll feel much better, you’ll increase your body circulation and start getting energized and motivated to exercise the next day and the next day and the next day.
But how to do it when with all of those symptoms the last thing you want to do is get up and work out?
Stay with me, as we figure out how to do it right (or at all).
Remember how I always say “go big or go home”?
Well, this is not that case, because with hypothyroidism you actually want to start with baby steps.
What you don’t want to do is start working out full speed crazy and then feel burned out and quit because it’s freaking hard on your body.
So, start small with every single goal you have, whether it’s time spent working out or intensity.
Start where you’re at with tiny steps, making small changes and doing small impact workouts for starters, such as walking or swimming.
Let’s say 20 minutes of walking a day for a full week, them maybe increase it to 30 minutes and when you’re ready evolve it into a light jog.
You don’t want to tap out before you begin, so start small and then as time goes by you’ll start experimenting and find what works best for you to finally grow into building your own workout routine.
Think About Progress
And forget about weighing yourself and setting a weight goal.
Women dealing with hypo will lose inches and gain energy before the scale really begins to move, so instead of obsessing yourself with the scale numbers and feeling demotivated every time the scale doesn’t move, set goals like: exercising 4 days a week, going ⅓ mile further from the last time, and getting stronger each day.
These are healthy goals, ones that will make you think positive and keep it up.
Start Including Interval Training
As time goes by, start changing the regular cardio, to something more and that is HIIT and Tabata.
These two work so good in tapping into that fat burning zone and toning muscles, while lasting only 30-40 minutes a day.
Not only they’ll make your workout time shorter, but they’ll make sure to increase your strength and stamina too.
Include some weights in your training and your body will thank you.
Create A Workout Space At Home
This will solve so many problems, including the time and “energy” you need to get to the gym.
There are so many beginners and advanced workout program you can follow in the comfort of your home, and you don’t even have to invest in expensive workout equipment.
A yoga mat, few dumbbells and a set of resistance bends will do the trick.
Bend So You Don’t Break
In other words – DO YOGA.
Yoga brings many benefits to your health and well-being overall, especially when dealing with hypo.
It can balance your energy levels, increase flexibility and circulation, relieve stress and just feel soul touching.
Include at least few poses you feel that work for you best in your daily workout routine.
Don’t You Dare Give Up
Everything takes longer and feels much harder with hypothyroidism.
Your mind might even convince you that it’s healthier for you to rest instead of breaking a sweat – DON’T LISTEN TO THAT BASTARD :)
Giving up is not an option, especially since starting of again will be so much harder.
“It will be very hard the first weeks. I didn’t have the energy to hang out with my friends or go anywhere. The day after an intense workout I was laying in bed feeling like a zombie, I had been mountain climbing for 3 days while being drunk the whole time. After like 5 weeks I could do stuff afterwards, grab a coffee or study for 2 hours. I needed a lot of rest though, 11 hours of sleep and I could handle intense workouts.”
Clear Your Mind Of Can’ts
You can do anything you want, if you set your mind on it.
Convince your mind you’re not dying, and even if it really feels like you’re going to, you really won’t, and use exercise to become better, stronger, healthier and fitter.
Exercise is the best thing you can do for your body, right after eating healthy and taking your meds, so make sure to always find time for things that will make you feel better.
30 minutes of workout a day is 2% of your day, so shut up and just do it!
Remember, you got this girl!
Sharing is caring!
I really hope I helped you learn how to get on your weight loss journey and set the best diet for hypothyroidism.
If you know someone who’s dealing with underactive thyroid, don’t forget to share this.
Remember, sharing is caring!
Till next time babes!
Thanks monica! I don’t follow your posts, but coming from a hypothyroidism patient let me tell you IT HELPED! I can relate with a lot of what you have said and there are some tips I will definitely apply! I appreciate what you’re doing for us.
Awww, thank you so much for this amazing comment!
I’m so glad my article helped.
I have so many friends and members of my family deal with hypothyroidism, and I had to do something about it.
I love love this especially sense you don’t have a thyroid problem yourself but you understand how your friends feel to a T! I was diagnosed at 17 I’m 36 I llove yoga I don’t know how to deal with explaining why I didn’t gain weight it seems to be topic a lot. I do have the fatigue of 100 ppl! Its just so frustrating loosing friends canceling plans because they don’t believe you you look fine or you were out yesterday! Even my mom rolls her eyes when I do head stand yoga stuff I’m just doing this now because tomorrow the pain could be insane today I can push through if I didn’t move because of pain I’d never move! Its if you stop complaining you were never sick if I complained then im hypochondriac who doesn’t know what they heave hypo or hyper! I think I know I should have been in a coma the Dr was shocked by my levels and when hev saw me I was small and some energy. Yes im blessed this I 1 symptom I don’t have ( for now) t3 t4 converted right. I just don’t know how to explain or if I should even bother seems its in 1 ear out the other. Bless you for being so understanding and empathetic to go and research! I wish I had a friend like that lucky group of women.
First of all, thanks so much for taking the time to go through my article <3
I can only imagine what you are going through...
I am so ashamed to admit that I was like that at the beginning when I didn't know anything about my friend's hypothyroidism and the weird behavior.
It took me some time, and once I realized what it really was and what they were really going through, I decided to try and do the best I can to make it up for them.
Dealing with hypothyroidism can be so stressful and discouraging, and if you don't have the right people besides you, that give you the right support, it's even harder.
I'd suggest you make your friends talk to a medical expert or just google a bit about your condition.
There are tons of girls on YouTube that talk about living with hypothyroidism, so suggest them to watch at least a few of them.
Just be patient and they'll come to understand.
If it's of any help, I'm here for you if you need anything - I'll be more than happy to help.
Great read and very helpful. I have congenital hypothyroidism (from birth) and was actually born without a thyroid gland at all. I’m 24 years old and they still can’t regulate my medication!
Being constantly active in my job (working nearly 45 hours every week) and physical exercise have always been the best thing to keep me going. It is so easy to slip back into a debilitating state of exhaustion, after only one to two “quiet” days.
I am so sorry to hear your still have problems with your medications.
It’s true, staying active must be a nightmare with congenital hypothyroidism, however, it helps a lot.
Keep it up!! <3
I found this on PInterest and read it. THANK YOU!!!!! I have a goiter and have been diagnosed with borderline Hashimoto’s. Not enough for meds but borderline. I’ve read a lot of research but I like yours best! It is simple and inspiring. Some research is so complicated, but yours is not. It is fairly thorough yet straightforward. Again, thanks!!!
I am so happy to hear you found my article helpful!
Sending love <3
Thank you for so much for the helpful information.
I was just diagnosed with hypothyroidism I’m now on medication and I’ve lost 26 lbs in 2 months.
Joint pain is so painful at times you just can’t move.
I’ve given up sugar, alcohol, and on a plant based diet.
It’s hard for people to understand that don’t have it why you are in pain or why you won’t have a drink or eat bad foods,
They think oh it’s ok just this once but it just messes you up.
It was just refreshing to hear you talk about it and it’s all true things you must do to feel better.
I am so sorry to hear about your diagnosis.
However, you’re on a right track and I’m so proud of you!
It’s in people’s nature to not be able to understand something they have never experienced.
And I know how frustrating all of it can be.
Maybe try to educate people on why exactly you cannot eat those foods, or what exactly you experience and how you feel.
Send them articles so they can learn more themselves.