Are you experiencing COVID-15 weight gain or is it something else?

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Are you experiencing COVID-15 weight gain or is it something else?

An interview with Dr. Hugh Melnick, Reproductive Endocrinologist with Anne Akers, Health & Wellness Editor

Wish you could squeeze into that favorite dress again?  Have you become too accustomed to elastic waist bands and “cover all” tops?  Don’t feel bad…you are among the 60% of Americans who have reported weight gain during Covid, with an average of 2 lbs. per month.

Many blame a sedentary and stressful lifestyle…while some recall, “It was fun to make sourdough and banana bread, but what is worth it?”.  As America opens up once again,and the Pandemic moves into our rear view mirrors, what to do?

The usual remedies include cutting calories, amping up exercise, or trying that new sure-fire diet…. however, have you considered that your weight problem may not be Pandemic related but actually is a thyroid problem.

In consultation with Dr. Hugh Melnick, Reproductive Endocrinologist and a top expert in the diagnosis and treatment of thyroid disease, here are 10 signs that your thyroid could hold the solution to tackling your recent weight gain.

Ten Indicators That Your Thyroid May Be the Cause Of Your Weight Problem

1) Hereditary:  especially true in the case of your mother, grandmother or aunt

2) Tendency to migraines, carpel tunnel syndrome, and mitral valve prolapse increases

    the likelihood of a thyroid problem.

3) Being left-handed: Yes.  An often forgotten risk factor.

4) Cold Hands & Feet, puffiness around the eyes, loss of the outer brows, teeth indentations on the tongue

5) Lower body temperature

6) Energy dropout late in the day

7) Irregular periods, PMS, difficult menopause, recurrent miscarriage, endometriosis infertility

8) From colitis to diabetes, even graying hair before 40, could be a factor in increasing your chances of thyroid disease.

9) Associated auto immune disease

10) And, lastly, any of the following typical conditions associated with thyroid disease: fatigue, depression, dry hair and skin, thinning hair, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, low libido

Determining the Right Diagnostic Testing

In terms of weight loss, relief of symptoms, and overall good health, the first step is a through discussion of symptoms with a trusted physician, followed by blood testing and a thyroid ultrasound exam, as indicated.  Dr. Melnick is able to successfully diagnose and treat thyroid disease through Telemedicine, a condition that is perfectly suited to a virtual consult.  Physical signs of thyroid disease can be observed through the video component as effectively as an in person visit… with blood testing and ultrasound scheduled at a convenient geographical location.

In addition to diagnostic testing and treatment for thyroid disease, research shows that hormone resistance problems – including leptin  and insulin resistance – are contributing factors experienced by many thyroid patients in their failed efforts to lose weight.   And since both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are linked to insulin resistance, it is recommended that you consider having your fasting glucose and insulin levels tested, evaluated and treated.

Optimal treatment protocols will ensure that your thyroid is performing within normal range and that your cells are getting the oxygen and energy needed to allow your metabolism to do its job.

Some Practical Diet And Weight Loss Tips For Thyroid Patients

Losing weight within the context of thyroid disease and fluctuating hormones is a challenge……however, here are some tips to help tackle your weight loss frustrations and get on track to win that battle against unwanted pounds.

Change Your Diet: Paleo? Gluten Free? Anti-Inflammatory? Low Carbs?

Which diet will work best for you is the $64,000 question. What is your unique physiology?  Food sensitivities? Lifestyle?  And how effective is your body in absorbing nutrients, metabolizing and burning carbs?   These are all factors in determining the right diet for you. Below are some approaches, acknowledging that there may be a certain level of “experimentation” in finding what works for you.   Once decided, the key is to STICK WITH IT.

Some approaches include:

Paleo Diet:  “Do Not Eat” list includes processed foods, sugar, grains, legumes, dairy, some vegetable oils, trans fat and artificial sweeteners. “Do Eat” includes grass red meats, seafood, eggs, fresh fruits and veggies, potatoes, nuts, healthy fats and spices.  The Paleo diet is known to reduce inflammation with the caveat to make sure you are getting enough iodine.

Anti-Inflammatory/Aip Diet: The AIP diet is an elimination diet designed to help support gut health and inflammation associated with auto immune disease. This is a two phase diet that eliminates any foods that may trigger symptoms for a few weeks; each is then reintroduced individually so that those that don’t trigger symptoms can ultimately be added back into the diet.

Low Carb Diets:  Examples include the ketogenic diet and the Atkins diet.

According to the Mayo clinic, low carb diets, especially very low carb diets, may lead to more short-term weight loss than do low fat diets.  But most studies have found that at 12 to 24 months, the benefits of a low carb diet are not very large.

Gluten Free Diet:  There is a link between gluten sensitivity, celiac disease, and the development of auto immune conditions, including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Some patients have reported measurable weight loss on a gluten-free diet.  It is suggested to try a gluten free diet for 3 months and if you notice more energy, less bloating, and weight loss, this may be a helpful approach for you.

Tried and True: Cutting calories (using a calorie counting app can keep you motivated) … upping your fiber intake (a basic tactic for thyroid patients that can come from high fiber foods, supplements or both) ….and limiting simple carbs and sugar (a basic low glycemic diet).

 Lastly, getting tested for food allergens including dairy, wheat, soy, and certain fruit and nuts will enhance the understanding of your overall food physiology… and a simple step like changing the timing of your meals may help stimulate fat burning metabolism and regulation of hunger hormones.   This can include limiting your eating to 2 to 3 meals per day with no snacks and no food after 8 PM.

Hydrate

Proper hydration can help beat fatigue, drop weight and heal the body….and there is more to optimal hydration than just gulping 8 glasses of water per day. As once said, “Pure water is the world’s first and foremost medicine”.

Health experts commonly recommend eight 8 oz. glasses per day, which equals about half a gallon a day.  This is called the 8×8 rule and is easy to remember.

These recommendations cover fluids from water, other beverages and food.

About 20% of daily fluid intake usually comes from food and the rest from drink.

Metabolism Boosting Exercise

According to the CDC, healthy people of normal weight need at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 mins. of vigorous activity weekly to maintain weight and avoid excess gain.

Unfortunately, if you are hypothyroid and want to lose weight, you may need to do more than 60 mins. a day of exercise.   Hypothyroidism lowers metabolism and metabolism boosting exercise is necessary to burn calories and fat more efficiently, reduce blood sugar levels, and balance weight loss promoting hormones such as leptin.

Some thyroid patients highly recommend a workout program called T-Tapp that will allow your body to burn fat without weights, equipment or jumping.  This is available in DVD form and on You Tube with positive reviews. Others have found walking, Pilates, weightlifting and other forms of exercise effective. If you have to prioritize an exercise program, consider strength training the builds muscle for the maximum metabolic benefits.

Does Sleep Affect Weight Loss?

Poor sleep habits have repeatedly been linked to a higher body mass index and weight gain.  Individual sleep requirements vary but research has observed changes in weight when people get fewer than 7 hrs. sleep a night.  A major review found that short sleep duration increased the likelihood of obesity by 55% in adults.  Poor sleep can increase appetite, likely due to its effect on hormones that signal hunger and fullness and just a few days of poor sleep can cause insulin resistance that is a precursor to both weight gain and type 2 diabetes. 

Tip to The Wise: Keep counting sheep and get those nightly Zzzz’s!

Understand Your Medications

Some drugs prescribed for thyroid-related symptoms or other conditions 

you might have can actually cause weight gain.  These include beta-blockers, steroid anti-inflammatories, certain anti-depressants, and mood stabilizing and anti-convulsant durgs such as those prescribed for bi-polar disorder.

If you are on any of these medications and you are gaining weight, talk to

your doctor about your concerns and do not stop taking a medication without your doctor’s input.

A Word Of Encouragement:  Don’t Give Up

Remember, losing weight when you are hypothyroid is undeniably harder than losing weight with a perfectly functioning thyroid.  But don’t give up…you have come a long way in taking charge of your own health and so many things that are hard are the most worthwhile.   Consider your thyroid doctor as a major part of your support team…..and you may also want to work with a nutritionist or a fitness trainer.  You hold the promise of a healthy body and glowing good health in the palm of your hands…and you CAN do it!

For a first step , please consider a consult with Dr. Hugh Melnick, Reproductive Endocrinologist and thyroid expert at www.hughmelnickmd.com. Dr. Melnick is recognized as a “Top Doctor” by Castle Connolly Medical and US News & World Report annual physician rankings and is a former Co-Director of the Endocrinology Clinic at Lenox Hill Hospital as well as a recent recipient of the “Compassionate Doctor” award.  Dr. Melnick is now in private practice in Manhattan.

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