It is common for many to self-diagnose a “broken metabolism” or under functioning thyroid. Although a popular scapegoat, the thyroid is not the problem in many cases. Our thyroid simple monitors the rest of our internal environment and adjusts accordingly. I have heard it referenced as a thermostat for our metabolism.
Hypothyroidism has unquestionably become a common problem in today’s population. Along with Type-2 Diabetes. An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, and more than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime.
While not the rule, thyroid dysfunction can absolutely be caused by lifestyle. Now before we easily jump to the argument of genetics, or the fact that “it runs in the family”, we need to consider that while genetics loads the gun, lifestyle habits pull the trigger.
For example, chronic low carb / hypocaloric dieting with high training volume over time creates a significant reduction in T4 and T3. Thus the eat less move more mantra some employ can wreak havoc on hormones, and those specific to the functioning of the thyroid and regulation of energy expenditure.
So how do we address this common scenario?
We need to be aware of how our metabolism adapts and we need to be in a fed or maintenance state of calories for longer than we diet over the course of a year. In short, we need to let our body rest and restore homeostasis and hormonal balance in between bouts of calorie restriction. Extended periods of low calorie dieting, frequent diet hopping, and extreme training methodologies (challenges) serve only as a means to exacerbate the problem. This is especially true when combining two or more.
The harsh reality is we may simply not be READY to diet or for fat loss. I have encountered this time and time again with clients. And many have seen noticeable improvements in health and physique by undergoing a reverse diet to allow their bodies the opportunity to fully recover, then when ready we reintroduce a caloric deficit gradually. Other times it is more advisable to be in a caloric surplus for a while and to focus on progressive overload to improve body composition (more muscle, less fat). This is where an experienced coach or professional can be of great benefit to employ the “seasons of nutrition” or a balanced plan in conjunction with your MD.
I am fully aware that I am not a doctor, and that medical intervention is at times required. Sometimes, regardless of the reason, hormones get out of balance. This can lead to problems such as diabetes, weight gain or loss, infertility, weak bones, and a host of other problems. If you have a hormone-related condition, or believe that you may, the best thing to do is to talk to your doctor or an endocrinologist, or a specialist in hormones whom will help you get your body back in balance. Have blood work done, rather than relying on a “me too” mentality or what the internet says.
If this post rang true for you, and if you need a recommendation, I know an excellent MD to help identify and address the root problem of underlying hormonal deficiencies.