Nutrition Articles

Eating with Hypothyroidism

Manage Symptoms with Diet and Exercise

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Exercise & Other Considerations
Hypothyroidism does cause weight gain—typically 10-20 pounds. Gaining more than 20 pounds can usually be attributed to fatigue that limits your activity, not to the disorder itself. When you feel fatigued, you don’t feel like exercising. This can lead to a vicious cycle since not exercising can result in greater fatigue and so on and so on. Physical activity and exercise are keys to weight control and to decreasing the affects of fatigue.
  • Get regular aerobic exercise. Individuals with hypothyroidism can have low levels of serotonin, the brain chemical involved in appetite control, depression, and sleep regulation. Just thirty minutes of aerobic (cardio) exercise, five times per week can help increase serotonin levels to decrease these symptoms.
  • Likewise, strength training helps increase metabolism, which is also suppressed in those that are hypothyroid. The SparkPeople plan will help you establish a program and motivate you to stick with it. Although you may not have much energy initially, get moving! The more you move the more energy you will have to exercise each day.
  • Reduce the stress in your life. Stress causes many people to make unwise food choices and overeat. Reactions to stress are controlled by the adrenal glands, which are overworked and under-functioning in hypothyroid patients. Stress also increases cortisol levels, increasing hunger and affecting insulin levels. Reducing stress is an often overlooked factor in weight loss.
  • Practice deep breathing. Many times the increased weight and lack of physical fitness causes those with hypothyroidism to pant for air, taking shallow, short breaths. Deep breathing exercises can help you take in more oxygen and release more carbon dioxide with each breath and can help with weight loss, stress reduction, and relaxation. 
Hypothyroidism is a life-long condition. With careful management, people with thyroid disease can live healthy, normal lives. The best way to take control of your thyroid health is to work with your medical provider to develop a treatment plan that includes nutrition, exercise, and stress relief.
To connect with other individuals dealing with thyroid disease, visit the message board thread "Hypothyroid? Join the Club", located in the SparkPeople Café or join the SparkTeam "Hypothyroids Join Together".
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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

    when it comes to thyroid , one should try with ashwagandha .. and you read the reviews
    from http://www.ashwag
    andhathyroidr - 10/4/2014 10:09:51 PM
  • 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
    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
    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
    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
    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

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