Sometimes your body seems to be working against you during a diet. This is due in part to the effects of your thyroid hormone level. Your thyroid gland produces triiodothyronine -- or T3 -- and is the most active of your organs in regulating the balance of energy in your body. As T3 levels drop during a diet, you body switches from burning energy to storing it. Following some nutritional guidelines will help keep your T3 levels from crashing during a diet.
Eat regular meals -- at least three per day. Reduce your calorie intake by reducing portions, avoiding high-calorie foods and not skipping meals. Eating fewer than three meals a day elevates stress hormones, while eating more than three meals may help reduce hunger and improve levels of cholesterol and insulin, according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition. However, simply eating a higher number of smaller meals alone will not aid in weight loss in inactive people.
Avoid prolonged under-eating, as it causes your body to stop producing thyroid hormones. Plan a recovery day every two weeks for a serious diet, which should last no more than eight to 12 weeks, according to nutrition expert Dr. John Berardi. Sustain a modest diet for a longer period of time by under-eating for two days and eating normally on the third day.
Drink alcohol in moderation, not excess. Modest alcohol consumption reduces the breakdown of T3 by your brain, according to ProQuest. However, T3 is activated by processing in your liver, which can be damaged or stressed by high amounts of alcohol.
Eat a diet with adequate levels of iodine, an essential mineral used to produce T3 and other thyroid hormones. Adults need 150 micrograms of iodine per day, according to Linus Pauling Institute. Your needs may be higher if you are pregnant or nursing. Iodine is added to salt in industrialized countries and deficiency is rare.
Cook broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, peanuts and soy before eating them to optimize your thyroid's hormone production. These foods contain substances called goitrogens that can inhibit thyroid production by preventing the absorption of iodine or the production of thyroid hormones, according to iThyroid. However, goitrogens in these foods are not known to have a detectable effect in healthy individuals eating a balanced diet. Cooking destroys known goitrogens. Continue eating these foods, as they are healthy, but cook them to prevent any inhibition of thyroid levels. Cook peanuts by boiling, roasting or adding them to a stir-fry.
See your doctor if you suspect you may have thyroid disease or have difficulty losing weight even with regular exercise and a healthy diet. Signs of thyroid disease include weight gain; a poor state of your skin, nails and hair; mood disturbances including irritability and nervousness; difficulty sleeping; low body temperature; paleness; and joint or muscle pain.
- Never use synthetic thyroid hormones for weight loss.
Chris Daniels covers advances in nutrition and fitness online. Daniels has numerous certifications and degrees covering human health, nutritional requirements and sports performance. An avid cyclist, weightlifter and swimmer, Daniels has experienced the journey of fitness in the role of both an athlete and coach.