When I was overweight a few years ago, I had a blood test, as I felt awful most of the time - no energy, difficulty concentrating and I felt I couldn't drop the weight. My GP rang me with my results and told me I had an under-active thyroid and would need to be put on medication (possibly for life). I remember thinking that there has to be another reason why I all of a sudden had a thyroid issue, and it dawned on me that it was most likely because I was overweight. This then absolutely made it a little more difficult to lose body fat, but I had caused the problem in the first place by putting too much in my mouth! I followed the below advice (alongside training smart and eating great food) and I now have a healthy thyroid functioning.
If your thyroid levels aren't optimal, losing fat can be a much bigger challenge than it needs to be - and nobody wants that, especially if you're already working hard in the gym, eating well and doing your best. I won't get into the deep nitty gritty of the thyroid, but just so all this information makes sense to you (and if you're not aware of this already), the thyroid gland is located just below the larynx. It's responsible for the release of both T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine). If your thyroid gland is inactive for one reason or another, your metabolic rate could drop as much as 40% below normal (this is called hypothyroidism). On the other hand, an excess of thyroid hormone can increase your metabolic rate by 60 to 100% above normal (this is also known as hyperthyroidism).
Poor thyroid function not only slows metabolism directly, but changes gene function in the body towards a state where obesity is the equilibrium condition - obviously this can be detrimental if you are trying to lose body fat or work towards a particular physique.
You might think your thyroid levels are a-ok (and maybe they are!) but there are several things we can all do to optimise our thyroid function, and therefore become an even healthier and more balanced self.
Iodised Sea Salt
Quite a large proportion of the population are deficient in iodide, which is required by your thyroid in order to function optimally. The majority us will not be getting enough iodide from our food, and thus supplementation is necessary.
The easiest way to get iodide into your diet is to salt your food with iodised sea salt. It takes about 2 grams or about half a teaspoon of iodised salt (about 936 mg sodium) to meet your rock-bottom minimum for iodide consumption.
Generally, fast foods, processed foods, and restaurants don't use iodised salt. If a label reads "salt" instead of "iodised salt," it's not iodised. And "sea salt" alone contains little iodide.
300 mcg of iodide per day is recommended.
Vitamin/Mineral Deficiency & Your Thyroid
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with hypothyroidism (an under-active thyroid), and appears able to cause it, interestingly. Unless you get a good deal of sun on a very regular basis, there are many benefits to supplementing with Vitamin D at approximately 4000 IU/day.
Similarly, if you are female, a lack of iron can also wreak havoc on your thyroid functioning. Supplementing with a liquid iron supplement can rid your body of this issue quite easily.
Heavy periods and hard training deplete iron levels in females, and some women may be chronically depleted and losing more iron than they can keep up with via diet alone. This means finding an effective iron supplement for you.
I personally eat a lot of red meat (2-3 meals per day) but I still require an iron supplementation. I choose to use a liquid iron because it is gentler on the stomach, and our body absorbs more of it when it's in liquid form.
Orange Juice & Thyroid Functioning
Orange juice is rich in fructose, potassium, magnesium, and sodium, all of which are necessary for regulating blood sugar and increasing your liver’s conversion of thyroid hormone. It won’t spike your blood sugar, it will help that low blood sugar come up to stable levels, thereby reducing cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and helping your liver convert thyroid hormones like it’s supposed to. We recommend drinking 100ml orange juice three times per day. An added benefit of drinking orange juice is that the Vitamin C it will also aid in the absorption of your iron supplement.
So in short: