Weight loss can be frustrating and discouraging, when you are doing all the “right” things and the scale isn’t budging. If this is your story, you may have considered trying things like finding the best thyroid supplements and using other unconventional weight loss tips and tricks.
In this article, I look at thyroid supplements and the evidence for when you should and shouldn’t be considering using them. And then we’ll look at some other unconventional weight loss wisdom and sort through some of the good, the bad, and the ugly truths.
The thyroid gland is known as the master gland of your metabolism, producing hormones that regulate metabolism. An underactive thyroid gland can cause metabolism to slow down, leading to depression, dry skin, fatigue, and a weight gain of 3 to 10 pounds.
Since low thyroid also causes loss of appetite, the overall weight gain is likely to be relatively small. An overactive thyroid can cause weight loss, in addition to anxiety, diarrhea, exhaustion, heat intolerance and shaky hands.
Since increasing thyroid hormone production can cause weight loss, a variety of weight loss supplements include substances intended to stimulate the thyroid gland. Famously, Muhammad Ali took thyroid supplements in 1980 after being misdiagnosed with a thyroid condition. He lost significant weight while training, but also felt weak and disoriented, and wound up losing the next-to-last fight in his career to Larry Holmes.
If you suspect that an underactive thyroid might be part of the reason for weight gain, or for difficulty losing weight, it is important to see a physician or other healthcare professional for a diagnosis.
A thyroid panel is a blood test that measures several markers to determine whether your thyroid is functioning well, and prescription supplementation is carefully adjusted based on the blood test results.
Probably the biggest reason for caution about nonprescription thyroid supplements is the sheer unpredictability of what you might be getting. Because even a small amount of thyroid hormone can have a large impact, only prescription thyroid supplements are considered safe.
A Consumer Reports™ investigation report states that some thyroid supplements may contain animal hormones that aren’t listed on the label, and some have dosages of hormone and/or iodine that is much higher than safe prescription levels.
This may lead to uncontrolled weight loss, irregular heart beats and bone thinning, or may cause weight gain, lethargy, and fatigue—the opposite of what you hope to get from the supplement.
Be wary of claims of fast weight loss that is based on revving up your thyroid. The price you’ll pay is far bigger than the sticker on the bottle and may include weight gain and other long-term health issues.
But if your doctor diagnoses an underactive thyroid, you may find that a weight loss is a side benefit of treatment, along with more energy and better mood.
Hypnosis for Weight Loss
It would be nice, but there isn’t much evidence to show that it works that way in real life. Hypnosis is a trance-like state that is usually achieved with the help of a hypnotherapist using repetitive words and mental pictures.
The intent is to bypass the conscious mind and implant suggestions into the subconscious that will then influence your behavior after emerging from the trance.
Limited evidence shows that hypnosis may have a small effect (around 8 pounds weight loss over a year and a half), but only if combined with diet, exercise, and counselling.
That doesn’t sound like a very effective therapeutic approach. Skip hypnosis and spend your money on a counsellor, therapist, or support group. These are equally effective, and don’t deliberately tamper with your subconscious mind.
Unconventional Wisdom that Works
Now that we’ve debunked two unconventional weight loss strategies, let’s look at a few that actually work, don’t have dangerous side effects, and won’t break the bank.
Drink water. This can’t be stressed enough, which is why I mention water in almost every blog post I write. Every cell in your body needs water to function well. When you drink a tall glass of water before meals, you will eat less, feel better, and be healthier.
If eggs aren’t your thing, any good protein source will have much the same effect.
Drink black coffee. The antioxidants in quality coffee have multiple health benefits, and caffeine stimulates metabolism, improves energy, and promotes weight loss. Just don’t dump in a bunch of sugar and other high calorie additives—this will cancel out the benefits.
Use Green tea. Either as a drink or as green tea extract, has many of the same weight loss benefits as coffee, and has higher levels of antioxidants.
Teach at vacation Bible school or a kids’ summer camp. No, seriously. You’ll get plenty of exercise, which is great for weight loss. You’ll also have fun and you’re guaranteed to laugh a lot, which boosts mood and increases production of several key neurotransmitters that affect emotional eating and appetite. Just be sure to drink plenty of water and take rest breaks as needed, especially if you are outside in the sun.
Use smaller plates. This will automatically help you eat fewer calories and feel more satisfied.
Take pictures of your food. This is a twist on mindful eating, and helps you pay attention to what you are eating. Sharing these food pictures, either on social media or in an accountability group, can also help you be aware of what and how much you are eating.
Eat spicy foods. Chili peppers get their heat from capsaicin, a compound that can decrease your appetite and boost your metabolism slightly.
Chew more slowly. When you eat quickly and without paying attention to what you are eating, your brain may not get the signals that say your stomach is full. This causes you to eat more, which causes bloating and discomfort, and may lead to less exercise and other activity.
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When you chew slowly, the signals have time to get from your stomach to your brain, so that you eat less, and you have the added benefit of feeling more energetic so that exercise is more likely to happen too. That’s a win in anybody’s book!
Don’t diet. Eat healthy instead. Dieting rarely leads to sustainable long-term weight loss. In fact, most people who lose significant weight through dieting will gain it all back (and more) within a year or two. Instead, choose healthy lifestyle changes that you can keep up long term.
Eat real food. If the majority of your diet is whole food, single ingredient food, it will be very hard to gain excess weight. Fresh fruits and vegetables should make up a significant portion of your meals.
When that isn’t an option, look for foods with five or fewer ingredients on the label and no preservatives or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
Go Lose Weight Unconventionally
Go for it. Choose a few—or many—and go lose weight unconventionally. If diet culture isn’t working for you, know that you are not alone, and go ahead and pitch diet culture.
Focus on being healthy, take charge of your own journey, and don’t be afraid to go on an unconventional route.
And a final, final, bonus tip. Live joyfully. Enjoy your food. Laugh often and much. Hug and kiss your family members and let them know you appreciate them. Pray prayers of thanksgiving. Keep a gratitude journal.
Write thank you notes. Look for ways to bring fun into ordinary moments. Because at its hidden root, most overeating and weight gain is a search for joy, looking in the wrong places.
Find joy in healthy places, and some day you’ll look back and discover that food has lost a lot of its addictive potential and life is fun again, because you are looking for joy in all the right places.
What are some of your ideas of the best thyroid substances and unconventional weight loss tips. Share them below. Be well.