Can’t Lose the Weight?
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Your thyroid is sluggish
Turner estimates that nearly onethird of all men and women have a thyroid that is operating in a suboptimal range, often brought on by stress, a genetic predisposition, working out more than an hour a day, or restricting calories too much (less than 1,700 a day for women; 2,000 for men). “The thyroid affects the metabolism of every single cell in the body,” Turner says. “You can diet until you are blue in the face, but if your thyroid is out of whack, you will not lose weight.” Telltale signs of a sluggish thyroid include eyebrow thinning, constipation, weight gain, dry skin and irregular periods.
Try: Having your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels tested. While 0.4 to 4 ml/UL is considered “normal,” a value higher than 2 can slow metabolism and hinder weight loss. Consider taking the herb ashwagandha (believed to jump-start production of thyroid hormones T3 and T4). Also, eat a few Brazil nuts every day (they’re rich in the mineral selenium, which is key for proper thyroid gland function).
You’ve hit a hormonal rut
According to a 2011 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, restricting calories and losing body fat can wreak havoc on insulin, leptin, ghrelin and other hormones, prompting a surge in hunger and a slump in metabolism. This typically occurs about 10 weeks into a weight-loss program and can last for more than a year, even after the diet is abandoned. Dieting also prompts dopamine levels to fall, squelching motivation.
Try: Indulging in one higher carbohydrate “cheat meal” per week to bolster your leptin levels, suggests Turner. Taking a daily omega-3 supplement can also raise leptin levels and promote satiety. Also, make sure you’re mixing up the intensity and even the time of day that you’re breaking a sweat. You can also try balancing insulin with 300 milligrams daily of alpha lipoic acid. To boost motivating dopamine, take 1,000 milligrams daily of Ltyrosine (which also bolsters thyroid function). Or, have more sex (also known to elevate dopamine levels!).