Join 220,000+ Fitness Fans

Share your name and email and I'll send you a FREE copy of my eBook - The 10 Forgotten Rules of Weight Loss. Plus, you'll get exclusive articles not found on the blog.

6 Ways to Naturally Increase Low Thyroid Levels

girl doing hyperextensionsExcept for the small percent of people that have legitimate thyroid issues (this article is not for you), there is a lot you can do to make sure your thyroid is optimized and running at 100% of its potential. You can start by following these tips…

Eat Enough Calories

Most people don’t eat enough calories to lose weight. As a result, their thyroid hormone production slows down to conserve energy. Long-term calorie restriction is associated with a sustained reduction in thyroid levels [1].

If you’re eating 1200 calories or close to it, there’s a good chance you aren’t eating enough food for optimal thyroid production. This leads to a negative feedback cycle of cutting calories leading to reduced thyroid output, which leads to a slower metabolism, which leads to cutting calories some more – eventually causing your weight loss to stall.

Don’t be afraid to eat. Food is your friend. Eat as many calories as possible that still enables you to lose weight.

Eat a Nutrient Dense Diet

You should be eating a nutrient dense diet anyways, but doing so will positively impact thyroid production. Vitamins and minerals like vitamins D and E, iodine, zinc, and selenium, as well as essential fatty acids (EFAs) are all integral to the manufacture and conversion of thyroid hormone.

Amino acids (protein) are another nutrient you want to make sure you are getting enough of. Thyroid hormone is produced from the amino acid tyrosine. Eat a nutrient dense diet, and eat enough protein for optimal thyroid health.

Exercise at a High Intensity

There is a direct correlation between your exercise intensity and the amount of thyroid hormone you produce. In other words, low thyroid levels are associated with low-intensity exercise, and as you increase your intensity level, your thyroid levels increase too.

Exercise performed at the anaerobic threshold causes prominent changes in hormone values, and they continued to rise up to 90% of max heart rate [2]. HIIT training is one way to keep the intensity up.

Minimize Stress

Emotional and physical stress on the body is associated with low thyroid levels [3]. When we start a fitness program we tend to go full-bore into exercise and dieting, but we forget about the mental aspects of fitness.

Stress can cause all kinds of health problems besides low thyroid levels. Get your mind right, focus on improving your mental well-being, and your hormone levels will start to fall into place.

Optimize Liver Function

Your pituitary gland regulates your thyroid hormone. More specifically, it produces thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which in return stimulates the thyroid to produce thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).

The thyroid gland secretes about 10 times the amount of T4 than T3 per day. However, in order for T4 to become biologically active, it first needs to be converted into T3. To make this conversion, you need the deiodinase enzyme.

Your liver is responsible for nearly 40% of the conversion of T4 to T3 using the deiodinase enzyme [4]. If you want a high conversion rate, you’re going to want a well-functioning liver. Among other things, don’t smoke, limit alcohol, and stay hydrated to keep your liver running at its best.

Have a Cheat Meal

Who doesn’t love to have a cheat meal? For those on a calorie restricted diet, a cheat meal can have many benefits both psychologically and physiologically. Not only is a cheat meal mentally satisfying, it also helps to “reset” and boost many of the hormones that are affected during prolonged calorie restriction.

Hormones like leptin and thyroid are improved back to optimal levels after a cheat meal. The production rate of thyroid hormone is increased by 82% with overfeeding [5]. Try implementing a high calorie day or two each week where you eat at maintenance levels or slightly above.

Your thyroid is very important to your weight loss goals. It’s responsible for fat, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism. Many people suffer from an under-optimized thyroid that is caused by their own lifestyle choices. You have the power to make a real, tangible difference in your thyroid production and fat loss potential.

  • Eric Thiemann

    The pituitary gland gland does not secrete thyroid hormones. The pituitary gland secretes thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) which stimulates the thyroid gland to secrete thyroid hormones, including thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).

    • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

      Thanks for the catch Eric. I made the appropriate edits.

  • Angel

    My thyroid has been removed 2 years ago because of cancer. Even my doctor says the dose of my pill is fine, blood test is normal, I still can’t lose any weight. What I can do is exercise a lot. No any diet worked. Nothing is like before any more :(

    • Logan

      If you are on a brand of t4 med like synthroid or the equivalent generic, your body my have trouble converting t4. There are many other meds out there that are t3 or natal desiccated thyroid to help those of us that have this problem. The only issue is, most doctors and most endocrinologists won’t prescribe it. After suffering for over 6years, I’m finally getting better. Check out the Facebook page thyroid sexy. I knew I wasn’t crazy when the doctors kept saying my levels were normal but I still felt awful! I owe that page and the author my life! Sounds like it may be time to find a new doctor!

  • Mardi

    Hi Tony. I was wondering if you have any suggestions – I have Hypothyroidism and IBS. I am having so much trouble losing the excess fat I gained before my thyroid condition was diagnosed 3 years ago. This year I have spent a lot of time improving my diet and with the aid of a nutritionist I have increased my protein and reduced my carbs (my “clean” FODMAP diet is now approx 40% protein, 40% carbs and 20% fats at around 1500 calories a day). I do resistance training 3 times a week, lots of walking (qpprox 8000 to 10000 steps a day) and regular yoga and meditation. I wear a Bodymedia FIT band every day. Most days I have a 500 to 800 calorie deficit. I have tried mixing in some cardio and interval circuit training into my routine but to no avail. I have only managed to lose 1.6kgs in 6 months and with still 10kgs to go I am quite frustrated that I am not going to meet my weight loss goal this year. I am a 42yo female and 5ft 2inches tall currently weighing in at 76kgs with 38% fat.

  • Kelsie

    I am the opposite- I have Graves disease which is hyperthyroid. I take bata blocking drugs so that the huge amount of antibodies don’t attack my thyroid and body. My levels are normal and I work out 7 days a week- 5 days weight training and 4 intense cardio days (so some days even have 2 workouts) I eat 90% whole foods, a good balance of protein and veggies and fruit, and carbs in the morning and around my workouts. I am consuming anywhere from 1400-1800 cals differning everday based on avtivity and to keep my body guessing. I am at a stand still… I am fine with my weight (140) and am working on decreasing my fat% 26% (which I think is high) I am fairly fit and have lots of muscle, but can’t get the layer of fat to disappear! Please help- do you have any suggestions?

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    Hi Kelsie, have you tried any of the methods in this article? – http://www.coachcalorie.com/how-to-break-a-weight-loss-plateau/

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    Your nutritionist should be able to prescribe you a diet based on your medical condition. However, have you looked into nutrient timing? You can check that out here – http://www.coachcalorie.com/nutrient-timing/

    • Lmyers

      Obviously you can do everything you are doing and still not make a lot of progress if your medication level is not correct. I have hypothyroidism and have experienced the same thing. Make sure as Tony says that you eat enough. Also Make sure your medication levels have you reaching your optimal body temperature to keep your metabolism burning. You may need to supplement T-3 to do this. Make sure your Doc is testing for Free T-3 and the different antibodies that can attack your gland and even the hormones even after they are made.

  • http://www.coachcalorie.com/ Coach Calorie

    Hard to say Virginia, as I am not a Doctor. I would suggest discussing these issues with one, as they have the tools to diagnose any problems.