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We know that weight loss can be a struggle, but it can be even more of one for those who have Hashimoto’s disease. Weight gain is common with Hashimoto’s, there is no debate about that. But what do you do once you have already gained weight? These are some fresh insights, tips, and approaches that you can take to help get your metabolism back on track.
I am always looking at the latest science, and the latest research, to find out new strategies that have been shown to be effective for weight loss. For this reason, I wanted to dive into the top 12 that I have seen come up recently, and what they could mean for those struggling with weight loss and Hashimoto’s disease.
Here we go, these are the 12 new weight loss strategies for those who have Hashimoto’s…
1. Stop Cravings
This is a study that I found concerning the role of cravings, and managing them (1). The question being asked was, are you better off avoiding a food completely or just enjoying less of it? Definitively, researchers showed that the quantity of the food did not help.
This actually reminded me of the time that I had this crazy craving for raisins, all of the time. If I tried to avoid them completely, or have less of them, and it seemed like the craving really never went away – even if I was only having tiny amounts of it. The research here has suggested that, truly, avoiding a food altogether is the best way to get over those cravings.
Bottom Line: Cravings are cravings, and the research has shown that they do not go away even if you ration yourself to a small amount per day. When the food still remains, you still crave it. Unfortunately for some of your favorite treats, this means that avoiding them entirely is really the only way to beat those cravings for good.
We have always thought of chewing as a bit of an old idea, but researchers actually came up with a device to spend a lot more time chewing. The device actually causes people to spend more time and effort chewing, because a lot of their surface area was blocked up (2).
Subjects had most of their teeth covered in plastic, and only a little bit was available to actually chew. Because of the time it took, subjects lost 11% of their body weight with this device – and that’s over the course of two years, which makes this a fairly long-term study.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this study was that subjects were not told to change the things that they ate, or their diets, whatsoever. All it did was change the way that they eat, with more chewing and more effort being put into the process.
Bottom Line: A mechanical device might help, but in the meantime, you might want to consider simply disciplining yourself to chew your food more! Counting and chewing for a certain length of time can accurately reproduce this effect, and can help you lose the weight that you cannot seem to shed.
3. Manage Ghrelin
Researchers have always been looking for that one “magic” hormonal signal, whether it is:
Like leptin, researchers had thought that perhaps ghrelin was to blame for weight gain. This led to medications which blocked ghrelin, thinking that we had finally found the cause and solution to weight gain all in one go.
Thanks to recent research, ghrelin is the latest one to be ruled out as a significant indicator of weight gain (3). Chances are we probably will not ever find one, because our weight is so complexly regulated by many different systems throughout our body. Is there one magic single hormone behind weight gain? It does not look likely.
Bottom Line: Do you have to be worried about ghrelin changing your weight? No, you do not. While the research continues, it is pretty safe to say that finding that one magical hormone might never occur.
This is a study which saw that simple weight loss can lead to positive testosterone growth in men (4). This is important because, when someone does have lower testosterone, that can make it harder to have a good metabolic rate and good blood sugar control – which can lead to even more issues down the road.
This points us towards the idea of being able to quickly have some weight loss, followed by a state where it is easier to lose more weight and maintain that weight loss afterward (as opposed to simply gaining it all back).
Bottom Line: Simple weight loss can result in many positive changes, and the new research suggests that the effect it can have on men can really help safeguard their future health – while helping make positive gains in future progress, at the same time.
5. Raise Fertility
This is another key benefit of weight loss, specifically with regards to cases of chronic infertility in women (and possibly for both genders) (5). What we know about the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis (HPO) and PCOS is that quick, sustained weight loss can be a good answer to both of those things (6).
Bottom Line: Are you struggling with chronic infertility? The latest research suggests that you can work to heal your fertility with simple weight loss. Another key benefit of losing weight, and being able to keep it off.
6. Treat Sleep Apnea
We have seen instances where even small amounts of weight gain can be attributed to sleep apnea (7). This is especially likely if your c reactive protein (CRP) is up as well.
Bottom Line: Sleep apnea can be a big issue for some, and you might not even know it. Find out if you are struggling with sleep apnea today, it might just be the culprit behind resistant obesity.
If your CRP is higher, and you are already prone to cravings, we now have upwards of 30 studies saying that the more salt you eat, the heavier you will probably become (8). These studies that I mentioned have shown that higher intakes of salt can be directly tied to both BMI and waist circumference in patients.
Key Insight: The other nasty part about salt is that it can also increase your cravings for more food, specifically more calories overall.
We have known for quite some time that more salt actually makes you more numb to salt. The data is strong that more salt does not only make you crave more and more salt, but more food overall!
All you have to do is lower your salt intake. While the first day or so, food will taste particularly bland, things will return to normal after a little bit of time.
8. Lose Weight Fast
This is another important change in how we perceive weight loss. There is more data coming out showing that fast weight loss can last – when it is done right (9). The big difference between doing it right and doing it badly comes down to a concept called “muscle sparing.”
Key Insight: If you are getting healthy amounts of protein during that weight loss phase, and you are doing just a little bit of physical activity, then you have the opportunity to really retain muscle mass.
When people retain their muscle mass, the data has shown that they also tend to keep their weight off better than those who lose weight slowly and gradually. Even though it might seem like the “right” thing to do, when it comes to going slow and steady, that might just not be the right thing to do after all.
Bottom Line: In the case of weight loss, what we can see is that “fast and strategic” might be trumping “slow and steady” when it comes to losing weight, and keeping it off for good.
9. Meal Replacements
More ideas are mounting on the side of meal replacements, and the benefits that meal replacement carries when it comes to causing less decision fatigue. I have talked about, for quite some time now, how a good shake for breakfast and lunch, coupled with a good dinner, can really have long lasting effects for weight loss (10).
When we take away the problems with decision fatigue, the idea of removing the amount of choice and “moving parts” when it comes to our diet, which makes changes smaller and more manageable in our lives. This gives us the opportunity not only to understand what we are doing, but to stick with it and ride it out to success.
Bottom Line: Our brains do not see big and small changes, they just see changes. When we institute less changes, we are better able to manage weight loss routines. Meal replacements have emerged as a great way to do this – with shakes that are easy to make, and easy to work into your diet.
10. Protein Shakes
The amount of published data on protein shakes (11) is now suggesting that they are:
- Better for weight loss
- Cause less cravings
- Better for basal metabolic rate
Cause more satiety (fullness)
Bottom Line: The benefit of protein shakes is that you are able to get more protein per calorie, which you cannot get from any other food. The amount of protein density, without all those extra calories, that you can receive from a shake is really beneficial to your weight loss journey.
11. Reduce Exercise (!?)
This is an emerging idea that is a bit counterintuitive, as well. It is based on the idea that during active phases of weight loss, you might be better off reigning in the amount of training that you are doing (12). Basically, the risk of overtraining far outweighs the risk of under training – this is especially true for women, too.
What works best is having:
- Regular walking
- Brief periods of strength training or bodyweight exercises
Bottom Line: The latest thought on weight loss is that it is not a time for spending a half hour in the gym, or for spin class, or for going on long hikes or runs. What you need to focus on is brief, easy exercise that gets you where you want to be on the scale – and to the point where you can get back to hard training. Less is more!
The research is out, and resistant starch (13) is a great idea if you are trying to lose pesky weight. It helps with:
- Lowering your overall food intake
- Lowering overall weight
- Helping with body composition
- Helping digestion
- Cutting cancer risk
There is so much good that resistant starch can do, I could go on and on. It is a great idea to work more into your diet, and it is relatively easy as well (14).
Bottom Line: The relationship between your body and resistant starch might only be starting, but it is a great option if you are looking to lose that weight – while providing your body with a whole host of other benefits. One thing is for sure: do not resist this starch!
Your Health, The Latest Research
Today, we dove into the latest research surrounding weight loss and some of the most recent thinking and science into what you can do to deal with weight gain when you have Hashimoto’s. But what if you are not sure whether or not you have Hashimoto’s to begin with? Get the bigger picture about your thyroid health, and take the Thyroid Quiz today (15). It can help clear up some questions you might have, while arming you with the information you need to make the right choices for your health moving forward.
Dr. Alan Glen Christianson (Dr. C) is a Naturopathic Endocrinologist and the author of The NY Times bestselling Adrenal Reset Diet.
Dr. C’s gift for figuring out what really works has helped hundreds of thousands of people reverse thyroid disease, lose weight, and regain energy. Learn more about the surprising story that started his quest.