Are you living with Hypothyroidism? About 42 million people in India are living with a Thyroid disorder. To lose weight- a balanced diet, control portions and a good workout can do wonders for people. But when you have hypothyroidism, the under active thyroid gland plays a major role. When you develop hypothyroidism, your metabolism slows down. Your calories start to stick, and your start gaining weight. People suffer from the inability to lose weight.  

In this article, we help you to understand the science behind it, along with guidelines to manage and prevent it for long run.

Did you know how the thyroid gland works?

  1. Thyroid gland, being a part of the endocrine system, is the only gland that absorbs iodine from food and uses it to make two hormones (T3 and T4).
  2. The crucial function of  T3 (Triiodothyronine) and T4 (Thyroxine) is to break down calories, produce energy and boosts metabolism when released into bloodstream.       
  3. And it is important, two of the above shouldn’t be either too low or either too high.Above all, two glands in our brain -the hypothalamus and pituitary works a major role in maintaining the balance of T3 and T4.

Now to understand better about thyroid and weight in detail and how it leads to hypothyroidism if it not controlled.

Thyroid and Weight!

By now it is clear that the thyroid sends hormones in the blood to regulate our metabolism. But when you don’t make enough of these hormones, it slow downs and puts the brakes on body functions. Due to which you can feel-

  • Cold
  • Fatigued
  • Bloated
  • Depressed

And you might put on few kilos.

It is not necessary that if you are gaining weight, you are hypothyroid. Though it’s true that people who are suffering from hypothyroidism gain lot of weight before they come to know about. But it's not always the only reason! Experience fatigue makes it harder to have energy to eat well and exercise properly.

Following tips will help you understand how to lose or manage weight with hypothyroidism.

How to lose weight with hypothyroidism?  

  1. The reduced levels of thyroid hormone hamper body’s ability to burn calories at a normal rate. This makes shedding excess weight difficult but NOT impossible.

  2. Losing weight can be tricky for someone suffering from hypothyroidism. Here’s why:Hypothyroidism causes fat build-up, which leads to insulin resistance in the body, leading up to weight gain and susceptibility to diabetes.

  3. The most effective way of losing weight would be a combination of diet and exercise to regulate metabolism and burn calories.

Here are some basic thyroid diet and exercise do’s and don’ts.


  1. DOs

  • Emphasis on balanced food- The diet for a hypothyroid patient should be nutritionally balanced to aid in recovery from nutritional deficiencies like selenium and iodine, which hamper thyroid functioning in the body.

  • Eat complex crabs- Complex contains fibres which will keep you full without having much and stop you from overeating.Therefore it is essential to include whole cereals, vegetables, whole pulses in your diet.

  • Add Selenium and iodine. Iodine plays an important role in synthesis of the thyroid hormone and Selenium helps in recycling of iodine by the body. Natural sources of selenium and iodine include seafood, Brazil nuts, eggs, tuna, salmon, sunflower seeds and plants grown in sodium rich soil etc.

  • Other nutrients that boost thyroid functions like Zinc, Riboflavin, Niacin, and vitamin E, are available in abundance in green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole cereals.

   2.    DON'Ts

  • Restrict foods with high glycemic index, such as corn, white bread, refined flour, muffins, cakes, rich desserts etc. because these cause excess glucose in the blood, which gets converted into fat.

  • Goitrogens are substances that suppress the functioning of the thyroid gland by interfering and blocking enzymes that allow thyroid to use iodine. This leads to enlargement of the thyroid (goitre) gland because the gland starts producing more cells to counter the deficit. The goitrogens-rich foods should not be avoided completely as they provide a lot of nutrition too.

Note: Simply watch out for the portion size and whether it’s heated or not because heat deactivates goitrogenic compounds. Some goitrogen-rich foods are soya and its products, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, mustard greens, cauliflower, radishes, turnips, spinach, strawberry, peaches, pears, peanuts etc.

You might also notice excessive water retention in your body. Here's how you control it-

  • Avoid salted nuts, salted crackers, pickles, sauces, salt preserved foods etc.

  • Have plain salad without salt.

  • Avoid soft drinks because carbonation in soft drinks leads to water retention.

  • Avoid fried food because fried food takes longer to digest and makes you feel heavy and bloated.

  • Eat slowly to help digest your food better.

  • Drink 10-12 glasses of water in a day.

  • Exercise daily for more than 30 min because a normal body starts losing weight after 20 minutes of exercise, whereas a body with hypothyroidism takes longer.

  • Go for brisk walk for at least 15 min after each meal.

  • Include fruits and beverages like coconut water, plain lemon water etc. in your diet.Read more to know about health benefits of coconut water.

  • Avoid having raw vegetables like broccoli, cabbage etc.

More Tips for Weight Management

  1. Avoid stress because it leads to unhealthy food choices and overeating.

  • Reactions to stress are controlled by the adrenal glands, which are already overworked and under-functioning in hypothyroid patients.

  • Stress also increases cortisol levels, which increases hunger, thereby affecting the insulin levels.

  1. Focus on Deep breathing exercises

  • It can help you take in more oxygen and release more carbon dioxide with each breath.

  • Will also  help with weight loss, stress reduction, and relaxation.

  1. Reduce the use of stimulants like coffee, Red Bull to conquer your fatigue.

  • Hypothyroidism makes the adrenal glands susceptible to overwork and burnout.

  • The adrenal glands can only take so much stimulation before they begin to under-function. Weaning off of stimulants, including coffee, soda and tea, can help the adrenal gland function at a normal pace without any pressure.

1 day sample diet plan for hypothyroid patients

Breakfast ➤ Vegetable Poha, 1 glass of buttermilk/Milk, 5 soaked almonds

Mid Morning➤ Bowl of fruit chaat

Lunch ➤ Bowl of salad + Dal+ some seasonal cooked vegetables + whole wheat chapati

Evening Snack ➤ Sprout chaat/ Fruit with curd

Dinner ➤ Bowl of soup/salad + bowl of vegetables +whole wheat chapati

Helpful Exercises

Exercise and diet go hand in hand to manage weight for a hypothyroid patient. Here are a few benefits of working out during hypothyroidism:

1) Fights water retention- Exercise helps you by sweating out the excess water from your body because when you exercise your body’s BMR goes up means body temperature raises.

2)  While doing exercise your body starts burning extra calories, (which under normal circumstances your body is storing) resulting in weight loss.

3) Exercise promotes better sleep patterns- because when you exercise your body secretes happy hormones that keep stress away throughout the day and helps you sleep better at night because of decreased stress level.

Things To Implement

  • Start with a 15 minute workout routine (a combination of cardio) to help increase the blood circulation in the body and prepare it for strengthening exercises like knee pushups, lying superman, Russian twist, burpees, jumping jacks, etc. Finish your regimen with stretching exercises to cool down your body and avoid muscle injury.
  • One key factor when burning excess calories is to concentrate on strengthening exercises because muscles burn more calories than the same amount of fat. Hence, building lean muscles will help in losing more weight even when you are not exercising.
  • Along with the balanced diet, regular exercising not only helps in building strength, but also increases the metabolism and improves insulin sensitivity. All that you need is proper guidance from an expert regarding thyroid diet and exercise to achieve your weight loss target and manage hypothyroidism.

Sample Exercises

Warm up

Strengthen Exercises

Stretching exercise

High Front Kick, Toe touch stretch

Russian twist, Knee pushups, Lying superman, Frog sit ups, Leg lift with chair

Calf stretch, Thigh stretch, Hamstring stretch, Shoulder stretch, Triceps stretch

It’s a fact that thyroid patients face difficulty in losing weight, due to their subnormal metabolism but there are no short cuts to weight loss. One has to be patient and focused towards the goal.