Nutrition Articles

Eating with Hypothyroidism

Manage Symptoms with Diet and Exercise

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Dietary Tips to Lose Weight with Hypothyroidism
  • Reduce your use of stimulants. When trying to fight fatigue, stimulants like caffeine may be a way of life. Hypothyroidism makes the adrenal glands susceptible to overwork and burnout. The adrenal glands can only take so much stimulation before they begin to under-function. Weaning off of stimulants, including coffee, soda and tea, can help the adrenal system heal and recharge.
     
  • Decrease the amount of carbohydrates you eat. The SparkPeople plan recommends a range of 45-60% carbohydrates for its members. However, research shows that individuals with hypothyroidism are more successful when eating slightly less—about 45-50% of total calories coming from carbs. Limiting your intake to the low end of your SparkPeople range (about 50% carbs) will help you accomplish this. At 50% carbs, your diet will probably result in about 30% protein and 20% fat.
     
  • Choose more complex carbs. Enjoy plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (whole wheat bread and pasta, brown rice, wheat germ). These foods are nutritionally superior to their refined counterparts. (Read The Truth about Carbohydrates to learn about the differences between complex and simple carbs.)
     
  • Limit sugary (simple carbohydrate) foods such as pies, cakes, cookies, candy, soda, ice cream and chips. These foods stimulate high insulin production.
     
  • Avoid eating carbohydrates by themselves for meals or snacks. Be sure to include a protein source at the same time. Protein is digested more slowly, helping slow down the release of insulin.
     
  • Increase your fiber intake to 30-40 grams per day. People with hypothyroidism often experience sluggish digestion and constipation. A high-fiber diet can help move things along so to speak, while increasing satiety so that you never feel hungry. Be sure to slowly increase your fiber over time. To meet this goal, you may also need a fiber supplement such as Metamucil.
     
  • Drink 8-12 cups of water every day. Metabolism requires water, so not drinking enough will hurt your weight loss potential as well. When increasing your fiber intake 30-40 grams, water is even more important. Drink additional water to compensate for perspiration from exercise and hot weather.
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About The Author

Tanya Jolliffe Tanya Jolliffe
Tanya earned a bachelor's degree in dietetics and nutrition and has more than 20 years of experience in nutrition counseling and education. She is a member of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. See all of Tanya's articles.

Member Comments

  • OMG - this article has facts that I have not heard. 2 1/2 years ago I was treated for hyperthyroid and was allergic to the medicine. I was then told I did not have hyperthyroid (even though I experienced every syptom of a thryroid storm) but had an iodine overdose. While on the medicine, I put on 30 lbs in 5 weeks and had severe pain in lower extremity. I am very slowly taking off the weight, but it is the residual pain and fatigue that often prevent the physical activity I need. This article says that after numbers reaching normal levels - you still can have these issues. I am sure my new doctor thinks I am crazy when I ask her to check by thyroid numbers - which are normal. I have printed this article to share wih her. - 7/14/2014 12:30:59 PM
  • JODIKELLUM
    I had a Near-total thyroidectomy 10 years ago. For a long time the wieght I had lost due to my hyperthyroid condition stayed off, but now it is coming back, not all yet but a lot of it. I am finding it very difficult to lose the weight, but determined to do so! - 6/29/2014 2:20:57 PM
  • Thanks for the reminders!! I have had hypothyroidism for 21 years, and even though I live with it everyday, it's easy to forget all the thyroid does for us. For others posting and reading comments, there are hypothyroid groups on here, and i have learned ALOT from them! Things like SOY and RAW SPINACH can affect how your medicine is absorbed and works.

    Again, thanks for the article!! - 11/19/2013 10:04:40 AM
  • NELMSC
    I appreciate your focus on diet and emphasizing how important it is. I initially received a focus on medication with very little diet help. So thank you for this information. http://www.dietth
    yroid.com/die
    t-hypothyroid
    ism.html - 10/20/2013 4:56:45 PM
  • i continue to struggle with fatigue and muscle aches. the article included lots of info i didn't know. especially about tea ;-( makes me sad, but explains many things. thanks SparkPeople - 9/24/2012 9:40:44 PM
  • DONTGOAWAYMAD
    Good info. Fortunately, my hypothyroidism is fairly minor, and I feel better taking the Synthroid my Dr. prescribed me--I will get re-tested in November. - 9/12/2012 4:19:56 PM
  • thank you for this great article. please write more articles about this , millions of people will be so grateful (myself included). I have been suffering fro hypo for many years, always the same results from the tests, - 8/3/2012 9:29:22 AM
  • thank you for this great article. please write more articles about this , millions of people will be so grateful (myself included). I have been suffering fro hypo for many years, always the same results from the tests, - 8/3/2012 9:10:05 AM
  • I just came across this article. Like others, I am finding it hard to shed the pounds despite tracking and working our regularly. It is absolutely discouraging when your dr keeps having the same talk about the weight and you are doing your best, but no results. The weight seems to come off in waves. I seem to be able to drop 5-6 lbs, then I will gain 2 lbs back overnight despite the same diet and sctivity level. I tried cutting out the diet drinks and I seemed to lose it faster. I never attributed it to the caffeine though. The carb stuff makes total sense and I suspected that too. Sometimes you just need a little encouragement. I feel like my dr thinks that I am lacking effort. - 7/13/2012 12:52:58 PM
  • No wonder I can't lose any weight. Doc says the synthroid is keeping me in the middle of the range and the weight should be melting off. These last few months since I started taking the meds have been the worst of my life. I have never been so tired - it's like the tiredness when you are 9 months pg or are fighting the flu. Finally going to see an endochronologist to get to the bottom of it. - 4/17/2012 9:31:52 PM
  • Great article. Just to give people hope--I met my goal. 57 pounds. Yes, it takes longer (three years) and strategies like the one in this article. I am 55 years old, post-menopausal, and had almost give up. But there was a spark left that I blew into a flame. - 4/17/2012 5:48:14 PM
  • Finally! After trying to explain to the endocrinologist, family doctor and a nutritionist that my weight loss and exercise efforts seem to result in almost opposite of intended results this article validates my suspicions. The advice to lower the carbohydrate range is helpful; I had suspected that might be something to try, but it's good to get confirmation. Realizing that any change should be a sustainable lifestyle change it is a bit sobering to realize that I'll need to be so careful with my eating and exercise habits for the rest of my life but that is a blessing in the long run. - 1/15/2012 5:49:25 PM
  • I have been Hypo for 20 years, thyroid just stopped working in my early 20's. First Make sure you are on the right dosage of medication. I was on Synroid 75 for years and was fine. Then in my late 30's I started feeling extremely fatigued again plus had started having severe IBS symptoms. When I went to get my levels check I kept being told I was normal (I was at 3.8) . Finally, I went to a different doctor and went up to the next dosage level 88. Every symptom I was having went away. Lots of Doctors are still using the old scale for checking your levels. I am now at 1.3 and feel fine.

    Also you will gain weight easily and lose it S-L-O-W-L-Y. But you can lose. Stay away from sugar and process food. Also work on building muscle. I seem to have more success with doing more activities that increase my muscle mass and flexibilty rather than aerobic activity. - 1/12/2012 12:55:12 PM
  • Thanks for the informative and encouraging article. Looking forward to learning more about this condition. - 12/8/2011 3:20:35 PM
  • At least now I have a clue why I haven't been loosing any weight even though I have tried. Maybe now I can approach the subject with my doctor knowing that there is a root cause as to why I haven't lost any weight. It took years before they figured out that I had a problem with my throid but 3 days after starting the medicine he prescribed Ifelt so much better, now to get the excess weight off! - 12/7/2011 10:42:28 PM

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