Slow Burn

leave your slow metabolism behind


Feeling tired, depressed, and fat? It could be your thyroid.

A sluggish thyroid can be fixed, says endocrinologist Ridha Arem, MD, a clinical professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and director of the Texas Thyroid Institute.

“Thyroid hormone is very important in weight loss, because it is one of the key regulators of metabolism,” he says. “It is the hormone that works on mitochondria to burn fat.”

Dr. Arem’s new book—The Thyroid Solution Diet: Boost Your Sluggish Metabolism for Optimal Weight Loss and Lifelong Health—offers a diet and exercise plan to get the thyroid back in shape.

Losing the Weight

Even after thyroid imbalances have been addressed, potentially with medication, Dr. Arem says weight loss can still be a problem.

“It’s important to know that once a slowdown in your metabolism has been triggered by thyroid problems, treatment . . .  won’t necessarily make you lose all the weight you’ve already gained,” he says.

Dr. Arem combines the healthy Mediterranean diet with a high-protein diet for his Thyroid Solution Diet to help lose the rest. The diet focuses on high-fiber foods and combinations of diverse proteins eaten at certain times of day. His outline for eating is precise, and he stresses the importance of eating on a schedule.

The diet begins with a six-week plan where you consume lots of protein and veggies and no grains. A sample do-it-yourself dinner, for example, might include fish, tofu, or chicken; a quarter-cup of low-fat cheese, a cup each of three or four vegetables, and a teaspoon of oil or other fat (which could be some olives or an eighth of an avocado).

The second phase adds back in grains like brown rice.

In addition to diet, Dr. Arem’s 20/10 exercise plan integrates 20 minutes of intense cardio work, including sprints, with 10 minutes of strength training. Days of 20/10 alternate with days of light exercise, such as walking.



Personal communication: Ridha Arem, MD, 11/12
The Thyroid Solution Diet by Ridha Arem, MD ($26, Free Press, 2013)





What’s Slowing Your Metabolism?

Ridha Arem, MD, an endocrinologist and clinical professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, says all of these factors can contribute to a slow metabolism and gained weight.

  1.  Meals rich in carbs and animal fat, skipping meals, nighttime eating
  2.  Physical inactivity
  3. Stress and anxiety
  4. Depression
  5. Insulin resistance
  6. Sleep problems including sleep apnea
  7. Polycystic ovary syndrome
  8. Menopause
  9. Low testosterone
  10. Thyroid hormone imbalance
  11. Growth hormone deficiency
  12. Toxic buildup in the body
  13. Food sensitivities
  14. Some medications
  15. Bacterial imbalance in the GI tract
  16. Antioxidant deficiency

It's Not Just Your Thyroid

Even if there’s nothing wrong with the thyroid, stress and illness can contribute to weight gain, says Dr. Ridha Arem. The body is trying to protect itself; it sees these threats as reasons to store energy, in the form of fat, for future need.

Poor sleep, hormonal changes, dietary problems, and lack of exercise can all contribute to weight gain. “Adjusting your diet and eating schedule are important for increasing your metabolism, yes, but so are sleep, reducing stress, finding out your food sensitivities, and any toxic environmental factors that are triggering your weight gain,” Dr. Arem says.