Hyperthyroidism and weight gain: what are the solutions?

Hyperthyroidism and weight gain: what are the solutions?

Hyperthyroidism is a disease that manifests itself more by weight loss. The functioning of the gland is failing and the production of hormones is higher. It is more after the establishment of drug treatment that weight gain may appear in people with hyperthyroidism. What are the solutions to avoid suffering from this weight gain?

What is hyperthyroidism?

Difficulty losing weight can be linked to hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is a dysfunction of the thyroid, a gland located in the neck. In the case of a hyperthyroidism, there is a strong activity and the gland secretes more hormones (unlike hypothyroidism which can also be the cause of weight gain). The symptoms are then numerous and differ according to the patient: increased heart rate, heavy sweating, nervousness, anxiety, amenorrhea, hypertension, frequent bowel movements, increased appetite and weight loss, weight gain is rather rare.

To explain things simply, the gland usesiodine to make two thyroid hormones: thyroxine (or T4), produced up to 80% and tri-iodothyronine (or T3), produced up to 20%. T3 is more active than T4 (300 times more active!). But, in the blood, a large part of the T4 is converted into T3. As T4 is present in greater quantity, but it is the most active T3, the conversion of T4 to T3 is essential to maintain a normal metabolism. Indeed, it is thanks to the thyroid that energy is used by all the cells of the body.

The causes of hyperthyroidism are therefore numerous: autoimmune disease such as Graves’ disease, thyroiditis, toxic nodule… The medical treatment chosen will depend on the cause to be treated (drugs, supplementation or suppression of iodine or even ablation partial or total thyroid).

Why do we gain weight?

It is rather rare to gain weight before the treatment of the disease. On the contrary, it is observed more often that patients with hyperthyroidism lose weight abnormally since appetite and food intake are important. On the other hand, some corticosteroid treatments can cause swelling and appetite. Therefore, it will be essential to watch your diet and practice physical activity. Finally, medical treatments aim to restore the functioning of the thyroid. It is therefore normal to regain the lost weight, but it will be important to approach your doctor in the event of excessive weight gain. It may be necessary to adjust the treatment. In any case, having good eating habits and regular physical activity adapted to the disease will not increase the number of kilos that will appear on the scale.

What are the solutions ?

The thyroid is a gland that works with‘iodine. Foods rich in iodine are egg yolks, cheese and, of course, seafood, seaweed, fish and iodized salt. Beware of nutritional supplements that may also contain it. In the case of hyperthyroidism, it is not necessary to consume it since the gland is too active.

Foods to limit

  • The foods high in iodine
  • the soy which can interfere with the drug treatments put in place.
  • The caffeine and stimulants (black tea, dark chocolate, spices…) which increase the metabolism and the symptoms of the disease.
  • If the treatments are based on corticosteroids, reduce theintake of salt and concentrated sugar (so-called “fast” sugars) in his diet will reduce the effects of these drugs and in particular water retention and swelling as well as a sudden increase in blood sugar.

During periods of crisis, it will also be necessary to reduce sports activity to lower an already very active metabolism. On the other hand, it will be important to practice physical exercises during the stabilization periods.

Foods to favor

  • The foods low in iodine (egg white, fresh fruit, honey, oats…)
  • The cabbage and foods that block the use of iodine by the thyroid (radish, arugula, horseradish, sweet potato, etc.)
  • The red meat, legumes, seeds, oilseeds… which provides some iron (to regulate the action of the thyroid), and selenium which contributes to the balance of thyroid hormones.
  • Of the foods rich in vitamin D such as salmon, dairy products, almonds, prunes, white beans… But in reasonable doses, because some also provide iodine.