Dear Body Buds, let’s talk about Hypothyroidism as it has a very profound impact on weight gain/weight loss for middle-aged women.
Hypothyroidism (also known as Hashimoto’s) is a condition that nearly 20% of people who come to me for coaching are experiencing. Due to this high prevalence, I feel it important to put out some basic information to help the general public who is not yet ready for the power of one-on-one coaching.
In this blog post, I will address four parts of Hypothyroidism:
- What Hypothyroidism is and Where it Comes From
- Foods to Avoid
- Power Foods Lifestyle Strategies that Work
Please share this information with anyone who is experiencing the fatigue and body fat gain that often results from Hypothyroidism as this information may change their life.
What Hypothyroidism is and Where it Comes From
Hashimoto’s disease occurs when the immune system attacks the thyroid, which is a small gland below the Adam’s apple. The thyroid controls many of the body’s activities each day as it produces different hormones. The first indicator of Hashimoto’s includes swelling at the base of the neck, fatigue and sluggishness, increased sensitivity to col, constipation, a hoarse voice, and pain/stiffness in the joints and muscles.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Doctors don’t know what causes your immune system to attack your thyroid gland. Some scientists think a virus or bacterium might trigger the response, while others believe a genetic flaw may be involved. A combination of factors — including heredity, sex and age — may determine your likelihood of developing the disorder.
This condition affects mostly middle-aged women but can also occur in men and women of any age and in children.”
Foods to Avoid
Clara Schneider, MS, RD, RN, CDE, LDN, of Outer Banks Nutrition and author of numerous books, including The Everything Thyroid Diet Book, says, “The No. 1 priority is to get the thyroid disease under control. Clients need to have labs and medications addressed first. Weight changes are just not going to happen before all of that is under control.” She notes that Hashimoto’s typically occurs around menopause, which compounds the weight gain issue that many women experience during that time.
“The biggest factors that help with weight loss are calorie- and carbohydrate-controlled meal plans,” says Sheila Dean, DSc, RD, LD, CCN, CDE, of the Palm Harbor Center for Health & Healing in Florida. “Naturally I try to ensure [clients are] eating a whole foods-based, minimally processed diet with at least 2 L of water daily.” Schneider agrees that a heart-healthy eating plan is fundamental. “The diet should emphasize more vegetables, leaner meats, more beans, fiber, and fluids. We need to look at intake of sugars, added fats, fast food, and meals out.”
What foods should be avoided? First off, anything that isn’t on the Power Foods List. But even some foods on the Power Foods List need to be eliminated as going gluten-free is a very important part of a nutritional change for those with Hypothyroidsm:
- Bran Flakes
- Wheat/Corn/Rye breads and tortillas
- Ezekiel Bread/Cereal
- Barley/Wheat/Oat Flour
- Whole Wheat Pasta
Power Foods Lifestyle Strategies that Work
The Power Foods Lifestyle is a system of eating that has a backbone of PV to all meals. Protein + Veggies help to stabilize blood sugar, improve mood function, and increase metabolic rate as this backbone of a meal is eaten every 2.5-3 hours. The question of where and when to attach energy nutrients of a C (carbohydrate) or F (fat) or in some cases, both for a PVCF meal is where “strategy” comes into play.
Each individual I work with can have a unique strategy for their body, but also their psychology. You see, if we put “optimal strategy” on a person that they cannot adhere to, I have failed as a nutrition coach. It is my job to work with them until they are adapted into an easy-going, true lifestyle change. That is why my one-on-one coaching experience (8-16 weeks usually does the trick) is such a unique experience. It allows me to set a person free with complete confidence in what they’re doing.
With that said, the ultimate 3 strategies for Hypothyroidsim within PFL lingo include:
Strategy 1: Flexible Low Carb
This is where I design meals that are balanced calorically for their energy needs (calories) focused around PVF (protein-veggie-fat) meals. We strive for a 2:1 ratio of unsaturated fats to saturated fats. With 6 meals/snacks a day, eaten every 2.5-3 hours, the individual will begin to feel their metabolic rate pick up after only 5-7 days and their pants will start feeling looser.
The flexibility comes in to play when we realize the need for a sweet treat is real, so we have a 20-30 gram of total carbohydrate (C) flexibility window they can attach to any one of their PVF anchors. This may come in the form of non-strategic carbs, though I prefer it be fruit and either yams or lentils sweetened with honey.
Strategy 2: Carb Cyling — listen to my podcast here
Carb Cycling is a very effective strategy that helps a person’s metabolism begin to repair from stabilizing blood sugar on most days, and only bringing in enough carbs on the carb-up day to help the metabolism not adapt to such a low level of carbs each day.
Carb cycling in the Power Foods Lifestyle is to be done on a frequency of either 2:1, 3:1, or 4:1 time frames. The first number represents the number of days the person follows a PVF plan (dropped carb–goal is to have carbs between 40-60 g total), and the second number represents the days where carbs are introduced back into the diet. I usually use 2.5x the dropped carb amount on the carb-up day, we stick to low-glycemic power carbs like lentils, quinoa, yams, fruit, or red potatoes (preferably no gluten) unless one non-strategic carb is needed. That is when we follow the same flexibility rule as Strategy 1 goes with 20-30 grams carbs (C) may be used. Optimal? Probably not. But if it helps the person be consistent and avoid emotional or binge eating, then HECK YES I will use this strategy with them.
Strategy 3: Ketosis — listen to Episode 1 of 6 in my my Keto Series Podcast here
Ketosis is a system of eating where we manipulate the body into using fats for fuel instead of glucose (a sugar broken down from all carbohydrates, and yes, even fruit). This is where we strip the body of nearly all glucose until it uses ketone bodies for fuel rather than glucose. This is the fastest and most efficient way to get glucose out of the system, but it not a method of eating that can have toes dipped into–it’s a full on immersion and no looking back. I don’t like my clients to commit to any less than 3 months when doing a Ketogenic lifestyle.
I love Keto, but it’s certainly not for everyone, particularly the inexperienced dieter. Keto makes the body extremely insulin resistant so any binge eating of carbs will almost be guaranteed as body fat storage as the system is not used to pulling in the glucose for fuel. Due to this reason, I usually use Keto with clients only when they have passed through the gates of compliance in more moderate strategies like discussed above.
Body Buds, there is hope and healing no matter what condition we each experience. I believe in the real power of food, but not just that.
I believe in the formula of proper Strategy With Food + Accountability + Mindset Coaching. This is what works and this is what congregates to make a true lifestyle change.
I would love to be a part of your journey into freedom from food and body image battles. Learn more about my coaching here.
#PowerYourBody one meal, one workout, one day at a time!
Love your bud,