“I follow a healthy diet, I exercise yet I don’t lose weight”-this is an often-heard complaint from clients and they immediately run to their physician or RDN to know whether their hormones are causing the weight gain. With easy access to Internet, people browse for every silly reason and try to play the doctor’s role too, listing out all possibilities for their unsuccessful weight loss goal. Let’s really get to know the underlying reason for poor weight loss results in few individuals.
It is true that hormones can make your body dance to their tune, affecting your metabolism and health. The answer to this complex problem most probably lies in your thyroid gland. This gland secretes hormones that affect every cell in the body, regulate metabolism, body temperature and heart rate all of which are sure to have an effect on your weight.
The Battle Between the Sexes
Women are seven times likelier to fall a victim to thyroid problem, especially as they age. Thyroid can be of two types-hypothyroid (underactive) or hyperthyroid (overactive)-with each type having a different effect on our weight. While hypothyroid can cause weight gain, the other one can lead to unexplained weight loss. Women above the age of 50 are more prone to get hypothyroidism and this thyroid form is tricky, as most of its symptoms can be confused with the ones that pertain to aging as well-forgetfulness, hair/skin changes, fatigue or constipation.
Women sometimes take it to their advantage and blame the thyroid hormones every time a kith or kin comments on their overweight/obesity, hiding the fact that they eat unhealthy food or don’t exercise.
Physicians suggest women to get their thyroid levels checked before pregnancy and every five years starting from their 35th birthday. After 50, it is better that women get their levels checked every one or two years.
Treat it the Right Way
Treatment options for thyroid depend on the symptoms, lab results and the practitioner. While some doctors might simply prescribe a medicine to treat the malfunctioning thyroid glands, many others feel that these medications can only treat the symptoms and is not a tool for weight loss. Such medications can have damaging side effects such as bone loss too in these patients. Also, there are multiple other hormones, proteins and chemicals that are vital for controlling energy expenditure, food intake and body weight. Weight gain/loss is an effect of all these factors and we cannot predict anything depending only on the thyroid hormone levels.
Other physicians feel that understanding the root cause of the disease and modifying food habits for a healthy thyroid can help reverse the thyroid disease.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.