Thyroid hormone (TH) is one of the body’s most important hormones when it comes to weight loss. Among other important functions, it converts the food that you eat into heat and energy. Learning how to naturally increase thyroid levels can help you jump-start your weight loss program.
Your Thyroid, Explained
Thyroid hormone is comprised of two major parts – Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3). T4 is the most abundant form of thyroid hormone in the body. It makes up nearly 80% of the thyroid hormone that is released. T4 is converted in the brain, thyroid, bloodstream, and other body tissues to the more active form of thyroid hormone – T3.
T3 is the real thyroid hormone that we are after to increase. People with thyroid disorders usually have one of two problems. They either don’t produce enough T4, or they lack the efficiency of converting T4 into the more effective T3. Whether you are prescribed T4 or T3 depends on which of these two problems you have.
T3 directly boosts metabolism in those little cell powerhouses called mitochondria. It regulates fat, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism. The mitochondria are where fatty acids go to be metabolized.
How Do You Naturally Increase Thyroid Levels?
You can treat (not cure) hypothyroidism through medication. Is there a way to increase T3 levels naturally? Of course there is. The number one way to increase thyroid levels is to make sure you are eating a nutritious diet. Taking that one step further, by making sure you’re getting enough calories.
When we start dieting, many people immediately cut their calories, but the problem is, they usually lower them too much. This large decrease in calories triggers some of your body’s strongest evolutionary functions. When it doesn’t think it’s getting enough food, it lowers its metabolism in order to more efficiently use the energy (food) it is receiving.
One of the easiest ways your body can lower its metabolism is by reducing the amount of thyroid hormone it produces. Since thyroid hormone is responsible for fat, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism, it stands to reason that lowering this hormone would slow down the metabolism of these macronutrients. Once your thyroid production starts going downhill, you’re going to be fighting an uphill battle to lose weight.
In addition to getting enough calories, you need to make sure the calories you’re eating are nutrient dense. Thyroid function is impaired if you aren’t feeding your body what it needs to produce it. Iodine, zinc, selenium, and other minerals are required in the production of thyroid hormone. If you are having trouble getting it from food, a vitamin/mineral supplement would be beneficial. However, try to get you nutrients from solid food. Food contains other elements that help in the assimilation of these nutrients.
Another effective way to increase thyroid levels is through exercise. Studies have shown that the heart rate you exercise at is directly related to the amount of thyroid hormone in your bloodstream. High intensity exercise and resistance training should be staples in your fitness program. The following chart shows the relationship between maximum heart rate and TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) values.
A great way to boost your exercise intensity, increase fat loss, and naturally increase thyroid levels is to use high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT will get your heart rate up, which will release TSH. When TSH is high, it signals for a release of thyroid hormones.
So whether you believe you have a low thyroid output, or you’re just trying to prevent yourself from having one, proper diet and exercise can help you optimize your thyroid. Medication will treat the symptoms, and should be used when necessary, but there are usually many improvements you can make to your fitness program so that you’re optimizing your natural hormones and treating your body like the machine that it is.