Metabolism is a word that the weight loss industry uses freely when pushing its various weight loss programs. What many of these programs do not tell you is how the endocrine system relates to our metabolism and how changes to that system can drastically affect our ability to lose or even gain weight.
At the center of the body’s hormonal system is the thyroid, a small butterfly shaped gland that sits atop the adams apple. The thyroid and the hormones it releases control most of the body’s metabolism. When the thyroid begins to malfunction or a disease affects its processes the metabolism of the body can become seriously affected. One of the biggest changes that can occur as a result of a thyroid problem is weight gain or weight loss. With a weight gain because of thyroid problems one can find it that much more difficult to lose that weight.
What many people who are trying to lose weight do not take into account is how well their metabolism is functioning with regards to their thyroid. The main problem is most weight loss experts and programs recommend cutting calories. For many people this does work, but for those with a malfunctioning thyroid cutting calories can do more damage then good.
There are two forms of thyroid disorders, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Both conditions can have profound affects on a person’s metabolism.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid does not release adequate amounts of the hormones T3 and T4. When this happens the metabolism slows, causing fatigue, weakness and rapid weight gain. For people trying to lose weight an under-active thyroid can make attaining any sort of weight loss nearly impossible. Cutting calories will not help with weight loss when suffering from this condition. In fact, because of the already slowed metabolism the body will start hoarding what little calories it is getting, further exacerbating the fatigue and weakness associated with hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, occurs when the thyroid releases too much thyroid hormone. When this happens the person’s metabolism raises drastically. While this may seem like a good thing for someone trying to lose weight the truth is that both forms of thyroid dysfunction are extremely dangerous and must be treated with thyroid hormone replacement therapy.
For those with normal thyroid function losing and gaining weight is a matter of calories in and calories out. But for those who are having difficulty losing weight despite trying all the normal routes making sure the thyroid is functioning properly may be the first step to restoring the body’s hormonal balance.