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How to Lose Weight with Hypothyroidism and PCOS

11 Vital Tips on How to Lose Weight With Hypothyroidism and PCOS

Losing weight can be a nightmare in itself, and for women with hypothyroidism and PCOS, it becomes even more difficult to lose weight despite their best efforts. Here are some helpful weight loss tips...
Bhakti Satalkar
Last Updated: Mar 6, 2018
Measure tape on jeans
Did You Know?
Weight gain in individuals with hypothyroidism and PCOS is primarily due to insulin resistance, which is also a precursor of type 2 diabetes.

The hormonal imbalance that results due to hypothyroidism and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) wreaks havoc on normal metabolism and body chemistry. This leads to excessive and uncontrollable weight gain, which is very difficult to overturn. This imbalance also increases the risk of infertility, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart diseases. The insulin resistance brought on due to PCOS, along with the decreased insulin production due to hypothyroidism, leads to the under-utilization of blood sugar, in turn causing a deficit of available energy. In order to compensate for this, the body activates metabolic mechanisms that induce hunger in the individual. Also, since there is very less energy production taking place, the individual also experiences extreme fatigue. The induced hunger leads the person to continuously consume large quantities of food in an attempt to gain energy. However, the only thing that is gained is weight, and this chain of events makes it very difficult for one to lose all this gained weight.

Hence, one can conclude that weight gain is due to the trifecta of changed metabolic rate, changed brain chemistry, and insulin resistance. Due to these factors, in spite of eating less or exercising more, the person keeps gaining weight. However, a few modifications to the diet plan and exercise regimen may help in controlling, if not reducing the weight gain.

Tips That Can Aid in Weight Loss
  • Consume food products that have a low glycemic load (GL). This GL refers not only to how rapidly a carbohydrate is digested (glycemic index) but also how much carbohydrate is present in the food to begin with. A GL up to 55 is considered low, 56 - 70 is considered medium, and above 70 is considered to be high. Low GL foods usually include natural, unprocessed foods that contain complex carbohydrates. Some examples are green leafy vegetables, gluten free gains and nuts, beans, legumes, etc.
  • Increase the protein content of your diet in the form of eggs, mushrooms, broccoli, nuts, seeds, etc. Fish, chicken, and turkey are also an excellent source of low GL protein.
  • Incorporate foods that are high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. A variety of fish like tuna, mahi mahi, mackerel, and sardines are good sources. These fatty acids are also present in almonds, pistachios, chestnuts, cashews, pecans, sesame seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • Include foods rich in minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Also take dietary supplements for the same. Consumption of iodine-rich foods will aid the treatment of hypothyroidism.
  • Keep a food journal, and keep a log of your daily calorie consumption.
  • Have multiple small meals during the day, instead of bulky intermittent meals. Also, have each meal at set intervals of time.
  • Increase your physical activity. This does not mean that one has to undertake rigorous exercises, but refers to undertaking activities such as swimming, walking, jogging, yoga, etc. This not only helps in burning calories (increased metabolic rate), but also helps in the reduction of insulin levels in the blood. It will also increase your stamina.
  • Quit smoking, and avoid or reduce alcohol consumption.
  • Deal with stress healthily, by discussing your issues with a family member or a psychologist. Mental stress also contributes towards disrupting the body chemistry and neural functioning.
  • Get plenty of rest and sleep. Numerous scientific studies have shown that people who have an erratic sleep cycle tend to gain more weight.
  • If the above methods do not have any effect at all, you could ask your doctor if it would be safe for you to take Metformin. It is a medication that combats the high insulin levels in the blood, thereby reducing the insulin resistance of the body. 
In the fight against weight gain, there are certain foods that must be avoided, and it is even more important to avoid them in case of people with hypothyroidism and PCOS. These foods include pasta, rice, potatoes, products made from white flour (e.g., bread), desserts, fruits with high sugar content, etc.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a dietitian or nutritionist.