The Thyroid and Metabolism
Metabolism is a word that the weight loss industry uses freely when pushing its various weight loss programs. What many of these programs do not tell you is how the endocrine system relates to our metabolism and how changes to that system can drastically affect our ability to lose or even gain weight.
At the center of the body’s hormonal system is the thyroid, a small butterfly shaped gland that sits atop the adams apple. The thyroid and the hormones it release’s control most of the body’s metabolism. When the thyroid begins to malfunction or a disease affects its processes the metabolism of the body can become seriously affected. One of the biggest changes that can occur as a result of a thyroid problem is weight gain or weight loss. With a weight gain because of thyroid problems one can find it that much more difficult to loose that weight.
What many people who are trying to loose weight do not take into account is how well their metabolism is functioning with regards to their thyroid. The main problem is most weight loss experts and programs recommend cutting calories. For many people this does work, but for those with a malfunctioning thyroid cutting calories can do more damage then good.
There are two forms of thyroid disorders, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Both conditions can have profound affects on a person’s metabolism.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid does not release adequate amounts of the hormones T3 and T4. When this happens the metabolism slows, causing fatigue, weakness and rapid weight gain. For people trying to loose weight an under-active thyroid can make attaining any sort of weight loss nearly impossible. Cutting calories will not help with weight loss when suffering from this condition. In fact, because of the already slowed metabolism the body will start hoarding what little calories it is getting, further exacerbating the fatigue and weakness associated with hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, occurs when the thyroid releases too much thyroid hormone. When this happens the person’s metabolism raises drastically. While this may seem like a good thing for someone trying to loose weight the truth is that both forms of thyroid dysfunction are extremely dangerous and must be treated with thyroid hormone replacement therapy.
For those with normal thyroid function loosing and gaining weight is a matter of calories in and calories out. But for those who are having difficulty loosing weight despite trying all the normal routes making sure the thyroid is functioning properly may be the first step to restoring the body’s hormonal balance.
Twelve Ways to Revive and Boost Your Metabolism – When You’re Hypothyroid, What You Can Do to Jumpstart Your Metabolism
When you’re hypothyroid, fatigue, difficulty losing weight, or continued weight gain can all be attributable to a drop in the metabolism that frequently accompanies hypothyroidism. Even after your hypothyroidism is properly treated with thyroid hormone replacement, you may find that your metabolism has not bounced back to where it was before. This sluggishness in your metabolism can leave you feeling exhausted, and finding that you can’t lose weight, despite a healthy low-calorie diet.
Here are some ways you can help revive and boost your metabolism.
Make sure you eat breakfast. If you don’t eat breakfast, you slow down your metabolism and send the body into “hoard mode,” thinking it’s starving because you’re going a long period of time frequently 8 to 10 hours or more, without food.
Eat the majority of your food earlier in the day. Dinner should be your lightest meal, and some experts recommend you don’t anything after 8 p.m., or any later than 3 to 4 hours before bedtime. This helps your body process and burn the food when you’re aware and moving around and burning more calories per hour.
Don’t starve. Dropping your calorie intake below 1,000 calories a day will signal to your body that you are in starvation mode, and will slow down your metabolism.
Eat smaller meals more frequently. Smaller, more frequent meals keeps your blood sugar stable and provides a steady source of energy to fuel metabolism.
Get enough aerobic exercise. As much as you can is really a help for your metabolism, and if you do it in the morning, you’ll raise your metabolism all day.
Build muscle with weight training or resistance exercise. At least two to three times a week, you should add weight training or progressive resistance exercise that builds muscle. Muscle burns more calories than fat, and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even at rest!
Water, water, water!! You’ve heard it before, but drink those 8 8-ounce glasses of water every day. The energy burning process of metabolism needs water to work effectively.
Get enough B vitamins. Among supplements, if you are suffering from flagging energy, you need to make sure that you are getting enough B vitamins. Vitamin B-12 in particular is one that is essential for energy. To ensure you’re getting enough B vitamins, consider taking a B complex, plus a separate sublingual B-12.
Try a supplement for fatigue. Another type of supplement useful for fatigue is in the area of substances that the body naturally produces for energy production.
Supplements in this category include:
– Co-enzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10, which supplies energy to muscles
– L- Carnitine
– NADH (Nicotinamide Adenine Finucleotide) which helps cells convert food into energy
– Green Tea extract
– Try Chinese Herbs
In terms of herbal remedies, while you should avoid ephedra and ma huang stimulants, you can ask your practitioner about schizandra–a Chinese herb that is used for fatigue. Ginseng is also popular for energy. Before trying any herbs, supplements, or vitamins, you should of course consult with your practitioner to ensure they are safe for you. Ginseng, for example, is not recommended for someone with high blood pressure and many herbs and supplements are not recommended during pregnancy.
Try mate tea. In the process of writing my book, Living Well With Hypothyroidism: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Tell You…That You Need to Know, I had the opportunity to interview herbal and aromatherapy expert Mindy Green of the Herbal Research Foundation. I asked her what, as a person with hypothyroidism, I should reach for when I’m just completely out of steam, and am ready for a giant double espresso in order to make it through the day. Mindy, said, unquestionably, mate tea. Mate, pronounced, “mah-tay,” is an herbal tea native to South America. Mate is considered far more nutritious than black tea or coffee, and though it also has some caffeine, its effects are energizing, rather than making people jittery.
Consider Energy Work. Energy and bodywork , such as yoga, tai chi, qigong (pronounced chee-gung), and Reiki, can all help in adding and balancing energy. In qigong, tai chi, and yoga, gentle movements are used to move energy along the energy pathways of the body. In Reiki, a practitioner helps open up energy channels.