If you have been struggling with weight loss, or if you have been gaining weight despite exercising and cutting calories, you may have some thyroid trouble. The thyroid is an endocrine gland that is located in your throat, and it is responsible for your metabolism and how quickly your body uses energy. It also controls how your body senses other hormones that are produced throughout your system. Any instability in your thyroid hormones, known as T3 and T4, could spell trouble for you. If your thyroid makes too much T3 and T4, the disease is called hyperthyroidism. If the thyroid does not make enough, it is hypothyroidism. Either disease can cause weight gain. Here are some ways that your thyroid may affect your weight.
The hormones released by the thyroid play a big part in regulating your metabolism. If you have hypothyroidism, your T3 and T4 levels are not high enough to keep your metabolism running at its full potential. This leaves you unable to burn the calories that you could previously consume. It also means that the exercises you did before may not be enough to counteract your slower metabolic rate. The best way to combat your sluggish metabolism is to exercise. Cutting calories alone will not stimulate your body to burn more energy. You will need to exercise for more than the recommended 30 minutes for 3 times a week. Aim for 60 minutes 5 times a week to begin with, and increase it if you do not see results. In order to boost your metabolism, it is extremely important to build muscle, since muscle burns more calories than fat. Add strength training to your exercise routine, and your body will begin to burn fat throughout the day.
2. Brain Chemistry
The thyroid hormones can affect the way your body interprets signals of hunger, appetite, and fullness. It makes you feel hungry when you aren’t, and it makes you feel the need to eat when the need isn’t really there. The hormones also affect the release of serotonin, also known as the "feel good" hormone. Hypothyroidism may reduce the levels of serotonin, which then prevents you from feeling satisfied after having eaten. Exercise will help you to regulate your chemicals to a more normal level.
3. Insulin Resistance
Thyroid disease may promote insulin resistance, which may lead to weight gain. The higher insulin levels will stimulate your appetite, causing you to want to eat more carbohydrates. Your body will not burn stored fat for energy, which will promote weight gain. The best remedy for insulin resistance is a low carb, low fat diet that is rich in fresh produce and lean protein.
If you suspect that you may have trouble with your thyroid, talk to your doctor. He or she will perform a simple blood test to determine your thyroid hormone levels. If you have hypothyroidism, you may be given thyroid hormone replacements. If you have hyperthyroidism, you may go through a process to remove your thyroid. Your doctor could also have some alternative methods for you to try.