What is Intermittent Fasting | What is Hypothyroidism | What is Hashimoto’s | Intermittent Fasting and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis | Tips Before Starting Intermittent Fasting with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis | How to Incorporate Intermittent Fasting for Hashimoto’s? | Intermittent Fasting Safety & Thyroid Disease
Intermittent fasting has been an age-old practice for several reasons. Be it for religious, therapeutic, or political purposes, the health benefits of intermittent fasting are abundant. It helps with weight loss, lowers inflammation, reduces insulin levels and insulin resistance, lowers the risk of diabetes, improves heart health, and many more things. Let’s go over all things related to using Intermittent Fasting for Hashimoto’s and Hypothyroidism.
Intermittent fasting is believed to have benefits for conditions such as Hashimoto’s disease due to its ability to reduce inflammation. However, if you are considering intermittent fasting for such health benefits, do consult your doctor to know if it is the right choice for you.
In this article, we will dive into the details of Hashimoto’s disease and how intermittent fasting can help manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a disease that occurs when your thyroid gland fails to generate the adequate thyroid-stimulating hormone required by your body. This condition leads to an underactive thyroid.
What is Hashimoto’s disease?
Hypothyroidism can also take place if your pituitary gland does not produce sufficient thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), a hormone that stimulates the production of thyroid hormones such as thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Due to thyroid issues, the body’s metabolic, growth, and developmental functions get impaired.
Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disease in which your immune system attacks the thyroid cells and damages the thyroid gland, which prevents it from generating ample amounts of thyroid hormone. This eventually leads to hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
The symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis may include:
- Goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland)
- Fatigue and chills
- Weight gain
- Joint stiffness and muscle soreness
- A slower heart rate
- Impaired memory
- Puffiness in the eyes
- Hair loss and balding
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Contraction of the thyroid gland
- Reduced fertility and abortion
Studies show that Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis affects women 7 to 10 times more than men due to their genetic predisposition. Although it can occur at any age, middle-aged women, i.e. within the age range of 30 to 50, are at an increased risk of developing this autoimmune disorder.
What is Intermittent Fasting (IF)?
Intermittent fasting (IF) is a specific eating and fasting practice in which you ought to fast for a prolonged period of time and eat within a short time window. Intermittent fasting does not focus on what you eat, rather, it focuses on when you eat.
During the fast, you can have water and other calorie-free beverages as many times as you want, but you cannot ingest any calories. However, you can have 2 to 3 healthy meals during the eating window.
Some popular types of intermittent fasting patterns include time-restricted eating (TRE), the 5:2 diet, the eat-stop-eat method, the alternate-day fasting method, and the warrior diet.
Here are some benefits of intermittent Fasting:
- It increases metabolic rate and aids in weight loss
- It improves insulin sensitivity, lowers insulin resistance, and lowers the risk of diabetes
- It increases human growth hormone (HGH)
- It reduces inflammation by lowering oxidative stress
- It improves heart health by lowering the levels of LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure
- It induces cellular repair
- It improves brain function
Intermittent Fasting with Hashimoto’s and Hypothyroidism
If you have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, intermittent fasting can be a beneficial modality for you. Fasting for a prolonged period gives your digestive system a much-desired break and thus can reduce inflammation and insulin levels, helping your body with cellular repair and weight loss.
However, you should follow the process of intermittent fasting in stages, depending on your stance in your therapeutic journey. If you have adrenal fatigue, a sleeping disorder, or extreme exhaustion, you should try intermittent fasting only with the advice of your healthcare provider.
Let’s discuss some beneficial tips before starting intermittent fasting if you have Hashimoto’s disease.
Tips Before Starting Intermittent Fasting with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
1. Focus on the Type of Food
Before starting an intermittent fasting regimen, you must be very clear about what foods you have to eat. Choosing a balanced diet containing whole foods is indispensable because processed foods are packed with added sugar, salt, and extra oil, which will hinder your “staying healthy” journey.
Additionally, processed foods enhance your hunger and do not allow you to feel satiated since your brain does not acknowledge them as proper food. Instead, choosing a whole-food diet will be a good idea since it will provide you with a sense of satiety and also help you avoid synthetic sugar and added salt.
2. Add Some Complex Carbs
If you follow a very low-carb or no-carb diet, then you may not reap the benefits of intermittent fasting to its fullest potential.
Adding some complex carbohydrates to your meal will help you attain the following advantages.
- It provides energy
- Provides fiber to the body, which helps in digestion
- It enhances mood
- Helps manage blood glucose and insulin metabolism
- Useful in cholesterol and triglyceride metabolism
- Helps manage weight
- Improves bowel movement
- Reduces cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood
- Promotes better sleep
Research indicates that adding some complex carbohydrates, such as a handful of blueberries or half a sweet potato, to a meal is considered healthier than adding simple carbohydrates. It helps prevent food cravings as well.
3. Add Healthy Fats to Your Diet
Healthy fats like avocados, low-fat cheese, low-fat milk, yogurt, and olive oil are important energy sources. A deficiency in healthy fats may lead to neurological abnormalities, poor growth, and a scaly rash.
4. Drink Enough Water
Drinking enough water helps relieve lethargy, flushes out toxic materials from the body, improves skin tone, promotes metabolism, and regulates temperature. A healthy adult should consume more than 1.8 liters of water per day.
5. Do Not Restrict Daily Calorie Intake
Skipping meals or limiting foods will harm your intermittent fasting regimen by lowering your metabolism, burning less energy, and causing weight gain. Consuming the daily calorie limit within the specified eating window will be the best way to attain its benefits.
6. Limit Your Alcohol and Caffeine Consumption
Both alcohol and caffeine cause impaired sleep and increase cravings for food. You must avoid alcohol or caffeine if you have adrenal fatigue because your liver has to work extra hard to get rid of adrenaline hormones.
Ingesting even a little bit of alcohol may put your liver under extra stress and impair its function, which may result in brain fog or anxiety.
7. Incorporate Regular Exercise into Your Daily Routine
Exercising regularly will help in weight loss and also manage diseases like hypertension and diabetes, which are common factors in Hashimoto’s disease. A thirty minutes exercise five days a week is good to aim for.
How to Incorporate Intermittent Fasting for Hashimoto’s Disease?
If you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and are new to intermittent fasting, you must try it with less intensity. Start with a less strict fasting routine at first and gradually increase the fasting period. You can follow the below guidelines to start with.
FOR WEEKS 1 AND 2:
Start with a 12 hours Fast
The first thing to incorporate is to refrain from eating anything after the beginning of the fasting window. Initially, you should start with 12 hours of fasting, and your fasting window must start at least 4 hours prior to your bedtime.
For example, if you have plans to go to bed by 11 p.m., your fasting window should start at 7 p.m. Accordingly, your breakfast will be by 7 am in the morning. Try eating your breakfast within one hour after you wake up.
FOR WEEKS 3 AND 4:
Twelve Hours Fasting Stretch With Light Dinner
During weeks 3 and 4 also continue with the 12 hours fasting stretch but put a little extra focus on breakfast and lunch.
The majority of the calories should be consumed during these two meals, and try to make your dinner super light by including a small piece of chicken or fish with some green vegetables. Try incorporating all the micro and macronutrients into your breakfast and lunch.
FOR WEEKS 5 AND 6:
Fasting for 12 Hours, Stretching with Soup or Broth in Dinner
Continue the same practice with some more alterations this time. If you feel that you are somewhat relieved from the symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease, continue to have an even lighter dinner, like a bowl of broth or soup. Focus on more calories during breakfast, lunch, or maybe the afternoon snack.
FOR WEEK 7 ONWARDS:
Stretch on 14/10 or 16/8 Intermittent Fasting
If you have control over Hashimoto’s symptoms by now, switch to a 14/10 or 16/8 plan of fasting. For example, if you have your last meal at 6 p.m., do not eat anything until 10 am the next morning.
You don’t need to cut down on calories at dinner anymore; rather, divide your calories into two to three meals within the eating window. Once again, never forget to add all the micro and macronutrients to your plate. You need to ensure that your adrenal hormones are in good shape.
If you want to follow the advanced intermittent fasting strategies, then you can also try the 5/2, alternate day fasting (ADF), or even the eat-stop-eat method. But whenever you feel agitated or uncomfortable, you can always return to the previous plan and continue with the same until you feel comfortable switching.
Is Intermittent Fasting Safe for Thyroid Disease?
Since every individual is unique and has different receptivity, intermittent fasting may be safe for some people with thyroid conditions, whereas many may encounter adverse effects.
A 2020 study shows that intermittent fasting methods such as alternate day fasting (ADF) and calorie restriction methods resulted in weight loss in hypothyroid patients. The study also indicated that there is a decrease in insulin resistance, with TSH and T4 levels remaining unchanged.
A properly planned intermittent fasting may improve inflammation induced by Hashimoto’s disease and help lessen the intensity of these autoimmune conditions. It may also enhance the absorption of your thyroid medications.
If you have thyroid disease and are worried about how intermittent fasting will react to your thyroid function, then talk to your doctor before starting the regime.
The Takeaway – Intermittent Fasting with Hashimoto’s and Hypothyroidism
It is tough to shed extra weight, especially if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is a great barrier to the weight loss journey. Hypothyroidism induced by Hashimoto’s disease impairs metabolic function, leading to weight gain.
Taking a step towards weight loss requires some lifestyle changes, such as shifting to a balanced diet, controlling munching habits, practicing regular exercise, and, if possible, following an intermittent fasting plan.
The ideal way to start is, to begin with a slow pace and then gradually increase your fasting window while being watchful about your thyroid health. However, before getting started with such a regimen, always discuss it with your healthcare practitioner.