12 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism When You're Hypothyroid

Man boxing with trainer in gym
Exercise can be an important part of thyroid management. Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

When you're hypothyroid, symptoms like fatigue, difficulty losing weight, or continued weight gain may all be related to the drop in the metabolism that frequently accompanies hypothyroidism. Even after your hypothyroidism is properly treated with thyroid hormone replacement, you may find that your metabolism has not bounced back to where it was before. This sluggishness in your metabolism can leave you feeling exhausted, and finding that you can't lose weight despite a healthy low-calorie diet.

Here are some ways you can help revive and boost your metabolism.

Make Sure You Eat Breakfast

If you don't eat breakfast, you slow down your metabolism and send the body into "hoard mode," thinking it's starving because you're going a long period of time—often eight to 10 hours or more— without food.

Eat the Majority of Your Food Earlier in the Day

Dinner should be your lightest meal, and some experts recommend you don't eat anything after 8 p.m., or any later than three to four hours before bedtime. This helps your body process and burn the food when you're aware and moving around and burning more calories per hour.

Dropping your calorie intake below 1,000 calories a day will signal to your body that you are in starvation mode and will slow down your metabolism.

Minimize Snacking

Contrary to popular opinion, for thyroid patients, it may be better to eat three scheduled meals and avoid snacks. This allows the body to go into fat-burning mode.

Get Enough Aerobic Exercise

As much as you can is really a help for your metabolism, and if you do it in the morning, you'll raise your metabolism all day.

Build Muscle With Weight Training or Resistance Exercise

At least two to three times a week, you should add weight training or progressive resistance exercise that builds muscle.

Muscle burns more calories than fat, and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even at rest! One particularly effective exercise program to build muscle and raise metabolism without adrenal exhaustion is T-Tapp

Water, Water, Water!

You've heard it before, but drink those eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day. The energy burning process of metabolism needs water to work effectively.

Get Enough B Vitamins and Iron

Among supplements, if you are suffering from flagging energy, you need to make sure that you are getting enough B vitamins and iron. Vitamin B-12, in particular, is one that is essential for energy. To ensure you're getting enough B vitamins, consider taking a B complex, plus a separate sublingual B-12. Another important vitamin for fatigue is Vitamin B-1, also known as thiamine. You should also be sure that your iron levels—in particular, ferritin—are checked to ensure that your energy and metabolism are not being slowed by anemia.

Try a Supplement for Fatigue

Another type of supplement useful for fatigue is in the area of substances that the body naturally produces for energy production. Supplements in this category include:

  • Co-enzyme Q10, also known as CoQ10, which supplies energy to muscles
  • NADH (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) which may help cells convert food into energy
  • D-ribose, which may help energy at the mitochondrial level
  • Green Tea extract

Try Chinese Herbs

In terms of herbal remedies, while you should avoid ephedra and ma huang stimulants, you can ask your practitioner about schizandra—a Chinese herb that is used for fatigue. Ginseng is also popular for energy. Before trying any herbs, supplements, or vitamins, you should of course consult with your practitioner to ensure they are safe for you. Ginseng, for example, is not recommended for someone with high blood pressure, and many herbs and supplements are not recommended during pregnancy.

Try Mate Tea

In the process of writing my book, Living Well With Hypothyroidism: What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You...That You Need to Know, I had the opportunity to interview herbal and aromatherapy expert Mindy Green of the Herbal Research Foundation. I asked her what, as a person with hypothyroidism, I should reach for when I'm just completely out of steam, and am ready for a giant double espresso in order to make it through the day. Mindy, said, unquestionably, mate tea. Mate, pronounced, "mah-tay," is an herbal tea native to South America. Mate is considered far more nutritious than black tea or coffee, and though it also has some caffeine, its effects are energizing, rather than making people jittery.

Consider Energy Work

Energy and bodywork, such as yoga, tai chi, qigong (pronounced chee-gung), and Reiki, can all help in adding and balancing energy. In qigong, tai chi, and yoga, gentle movements are used to move energy along the energy pathways of the body. In Reiki, a practitioner helps open up energy channels.

(Remember to always check with your practitioner before starting any herbs or supplements.)

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