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Hashimoto's, Weight Gain, Why You Can't Shift Those Extra Pounds & Five Tips!

Updated: Jun 9

One of the most well-known symptoms of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) is unwanted weight gain. Read on to discover why you might be finding it hard to lose weight, and discover five tips that can help you start shifting those extra pounds!

Person standing on electronic scales

One thing worth mentioning is that some of the Hashimoto's weight gain can actually be water retention, which is why sometimes you can feel a bit "puffy" when your Hashimoto's isn't being managed well. .


If you've noticed that you are gaining weight and you haven't made any changes to your activity levels or food intake, it might be worth a visit to the doctors to get your thyroid checked, and of course if you do find out you have an underactive thyroid, make sure that you find out if it's autoimmune or not! (This is where the body's immune system mistakenly views thyroid tissue as foreign, and therefore the body essentially attacks it).


A big struggle for thyroid sufferers is that even after a diagnosis, and with medication, the weight doesn't always fall off as easily as you had hoped! It's difficult to accept this, but often times those with an underactive thyroid find it harder to lose weight, and it isn't as simple as reducing the amount you eat and moving more, despite what people might tell you!


It's important to be kind to yourself and accept that it will take some hard work and dedication to lose the extra weight.


Here are some tips and things to bear in mind when it comes to losing weight with hypothyroidism, particularly in terms of Hashimoto's!


It's Time To Ditch The Fad Diets!


Picture of "diet? Fork that!"

Extreme or fad diets are not maintainable, regardless of whether you have a thyroid problem or not. Cutting calories too dramatically can stress the body, and it will probably make you feel miserable and more tired than you already do. And if you fall off the wagon, you might find the weight piles back on again and then some.


When it comes to food and hypothyroidism, there are many different approaches to consider and it can be complicated, as each person is unique; however, some basic principles include focussing on a wholefood diet, eating a portion of protein with every meal, incorporating healthy fats, lots of veggies (as many colours as you can) and moderate fruit intake. It's also worth looking at your caffeine and alcohol intake and cutting back if necessary!


Those with Hashimoto's can often have certain food intolerances or sensitivities that might make certain symptoms worse. It's important to address this as part of your diet, and some people find that removing gluten and dairy can really help!


Move Your Body!


Person walking outside

Exercise can be key when it comes to managing weight, however it's important to look at the type of exercise that you are doing.


I get it, often with an underactive thyroid, mustering the energy to do exercise can be a huge challenge, and then sometimes you exercise and feel exhausted and out of action for a couple of days.


If you have autoimmune underactive thyroid (Hashimoto's), intense exercise may actually make your symptoms worse. As Hashimoto's is linked to our immune system, we have to think about what supports our immune health, and intense exercise can actually suppress our immune system. This can then in turn make our Hashimoto's symptoms worse, thereby experiencing something called a "thyroid flare".


I suggest therefore, that if you are feeling exhausted, don't push yourself to do exercise that makes you feel worse - start by incorporating regular movement through your day, take a couple of short walks through the day, and then, when you feel up to it, think about incorporating some form of strength training a couple of times a week, which is something that can really help support our metabolism in the longer-term, and therefore help us to manage excess weight gain.


Watch Your Stress Levels!


Someone looking at a laptop, stressed

Stress, we all have it and sometimes it's overwhelming. We don't always have the option to remove life's stressors, but we do have the option to look at how we manage them.


Long term, chronic stress (which is so common in today's world) impacts negatively on our health, especially our immune system. If our immune system isn't working optimally, then you can see how this can negatively impact on our Hashimoto's symptoms and hinder possible weight loss goals.


If you're not currently incorporating some stress management techniques into your day, now's the time to start. It doesn't have to be a huge amount of time, but 5-10 minutes of meditation, stretching or breathing exercises can really help!


Prioritise Your Sleep!



"get good sleep" spelled out with scrabble tiles

We all know how important sleep is, but not getting enough good quality sleep might be perpetuating not only your weight gain, but also your other thyroid symptoms. Sleep is essential to supporting our metabolism, and not getting enough can impact negatively on our blood sugar levels, our metabolism, our cortisol levels and even our immune system.


If you want to lose excess weight, looking at ways to improve your sleep is absolutely vital! See my blog article on 8 ways to improve your sleep quality!


5) Be Patient!


Picture frame with "some things take time"

This one is key! Implementing changes to support your underactive thyroid can be challenging, and it can feel like nothing is working. If you stick to the above healthy habits, things will improve, with time. Although I'm sorry to say that there are no quick fixes, you will get there if you keep putting in the work, and listening to your body!


Hashimoto's is complicated, and many factors might need to be addressed in order to lose those extra pounds. If you're feeling a bit overwhelmed and don't know where to start, book yourself in for a free health and energy review with me, so we can pave a way forward for you!




Amy Cottrell


Registered Nutritional Therapist


Dip CNM, mANP , mBANT, mCNHC

Amy Cottrell Nutrition does not claim to prevent, treat or cure any physical, mental or emotional conditions. These blog articles are written for educational & informational purposes only and are not a subsitute for medical advice.


Do not stop or start taking medication or supplements without first talking to your primary health care provider.



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