Hypothyroidism is a medical condition caused by the thyroid gland not releasing sufficient hormones.
This can manifest in symptoms such as weight gain, depression, fatigue, and a lower heart rate.
People with hypothyroidism often have difficulty losing weight because of the slower metabolism that results.
For those struggling with hypothyroidism, the Optavia diet seems like a meal replacement miracle… but is it really?
Soy-based products are part of the Optavia diet, which has caused concern among individuals with hypothyroidism due to potentially adverse effects.
Dive deep with us into the fascinating relationship between hypothyroidism and Optavia, as we examine soy’s impact on thyroid function and offer tips to those with hypothyroidism who are planning to try Optavia for healthy weight loss.
Let’s talk about the Optavia diet and hypothyroidism
My sister has an underactive thyroid and for the last four years, she’s been on Levothyroxine — a synthetic form of thyroxine that takes the place of her thyroid’s natural production.
To control her hypothyroidism symptoms, her doctor prescribes one 100 microgram dose each day.
My sister is looking into Optavia and this article intends to give an overview of that particular diet and its effects on thyroid function.
My sister is not alone in trying to find a way to better manage her weight while managing her health condition.
In fact, many people with hypothyroidism struggle to maintain their weight due to the effect that an underactive thyroid has on metabolism.
Is Optavia safe for hypothyroidism?
Optavia is a meal replacement program that consists of low-calorie “Fuelings” such as shakes, bars, and pre-made meals, to aid in weight loss.
The idea behind this diet is to replace five of your meals with these products and eat one regular meal per day.
But is it safe for those with hypothyroidism?
The jury is still out when it comes to Optavia long-term effects and hypothyroidism.
There is some evidence that suggests soy-based products, which are included in the Optavia diet, may interfere with thyroid function in those with hypothyroidism.
According to the article review published in the Thyroid Journal Program, “soy foods and isoflavones do not have a negative impact on thyroid function in individuals with normal thyroid function and sufficient iodine intake.”
Research also suggests that for people with hypothyroidism, soy may interfere with the absorption of thyroid hormone, potentially requiring an increased dose.
But here’s what’s interesting.
The study suggests that individuals with hypothyroidism should monitor their iodine intake if they choose to include soy in their diet.
It is important to remember that this is a theoretical concern and further research is necessary to determine its consequences.
So what is my advice?
My advice for those with hypothyroidism considering the Optavia diet is to focus on whole, unprocessed foods and avoid soy-based products.
Many Optavia Fueling substitutes don’t contain soy lecithin and are based on whey protein, not soy protein isolate.
And while Optavia offers soy-free Fuelings, they only have seven options which may not provide enough variety.
I also recommend consulting with your doctor before starting any diet program to make sure you are getting enough iodine in your diet.
It’s also a good idea to look for diets similar to Optavia that emphasize real, whole foods.
How does Optavia affect thyroid hormones?
According to Optavia guidelines, “Fuelings with soy protein can interfere with thyroid medications.”
“It is best to avoid consuming meals with soy for three hours before or after medication,” states Optavia.
If the medication is taken in the morning, they advise not to skip breakfast and opt for a non-soy-based Fueling or Lean and Green meal instead.
Looking for lean and green dinner ideas? Take a look at our homemade Fuelings guide!
Can Optavia cause thyroid issues?
Although it’s not clear whether the Optavia diet can cause thyroid issues, some people have complained about the Optavia diet and have reported experiencing symptoms of thyroid problems.
Angela Loverdi filed a civil action lawsuit against Medifast.
Ms. Loverdi thought Medifast’s food could help her slim down. But the meal left her with an unpleasant surprise – a thyroid issue.
Ms. Loverdi believes that the soy protein in Medifast’s food caused the problem.
To get to the bottom of it, she sought out medical advice.
According to the lawsuit, the company disagrees that enough evidence was provided to link her health woes to their product.
Angela lacks doctor-backed evidence to support her claims that her stomach and thyroid problems were a result of the food she ate.
She further alleges that Medifast was aware of the potential harm of their product, but still marketed it as a weight loss aid.
Ms. Loverdi argues that Medifast should have provided consumers with warnings about potential risks related to their food.
This was not the first Optavia was in trouble, as I’ve described in my article about the Optavia lawsuit.
So, can Optavia cause thyroid issues?
There is little evidence that the Optavia diet can cause thyroid issues.
According to a meta-analysis published in Scientific Reports, “soy does not change the levels of two important hormones (fT3 and fT4), but it does slightly raise the levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).”
They are not sure if this is a big problem or not. So, eating soy is generally okay for our thyroid gland.
The bottom line
The Optavia diet could potentially be beneficial for those looking to slim down, however, it is prudent to discuss the program with a doctor prior to initiating it.
In my opinion, it is advisable to thoroughly research any weight loss regimen and consult with a healthcare provider as they can monitor thyroid levels and make any necessary medication changes.