Your Visit to the Endocrinologist: What to Expect

Your visit to the endocrinologist is one of the most important steps in your health care. You are entitled to receive the best possible medical treatment from a doctor who has experience with your condition. If you have any questions or concerns about your medical condition, then it’s always better if you consult an experienced physician before making any major decisions.

The first step in getting an accurate diagnosis is to get a complete physical examination and blood test done by a qualified physician. The doctor will ask you some basic questions about yourself and check your vital signs.

What to Expect at First Endocrinologist Appointment?

When you go to the first endocrinologist appointment, the doctor may give you a general description of what type of tests they need to perform on you. They may order blood tests such as liver function test, blood pressure test, urine drug screen, urinalysis (urine sample), chest X-ray and other routine testing.

You may be asked to come back later in the day for a follow up appointment. A second visit usually takes place within two weeks after your initial appointment. Sometimes, doctors may want to do additional tests if there are new symptoms or problems. These tests include ultrasound, EKG and others.

A third visit is sometimes scheduled with a specialist who specializes in treating specific types of conditions. You may be referred to an endocrinologist or other specialists for further testing if your primary care physician feels that it is necessary. Some of the tests that are performed during the third visit are MRI and CT scan, pulmonary function test, bone density test (DEXA scan), liver biopsy, kidney biopsy, adrenal gland testing and others.

What You Should Bring to the Endocrinologist Appointment?

You should bring at least two types of identification to your endocrinologist appointment, proof of your Social Security number and your health insurance information. If you do not have health insurance, the doctor’s office should be able to provide you with the cost of services and procedures before they are performed. You may also want to bring someone with you that can help drive you home or pick you up after the appointment since you may need to rest after all the testing is done.

You should wear loose and comfortable clothing to the endocrinologist appointment because you might have to change into a gown before some of your tests are performed. It’s also a good idea to take someone along with you that can drive you home because you may be tired after all the testing is done. You should take someone with you that can help you make important health care decisions in case problems arise during some of the tests.

What Will Happen at The Endocrinologist Appointment?

The endocrinologist will review your medical history and perform a physical examination on you after you’ve met with them. They may also order blood tests such as liver function test, blood pressure test, urine drug screen, urinalysis (urine sample) chest X-ray and others. You may also be referred to an imaging center for an ultrasound, EKG or CT scan.

The endocrinologist will most likely start you out on thyroid hormone replacement (levothyroxine sodium) after reviewing your case. They will monitor your thyroid function tests every three to six months and adjust the dosage of medication as required. You may also get referred to other specialists such as an allergist for desensitization, a dentist for dental work or an ophthalmologist for eye problems.

How Do I Know If I Have a Thyroid Problem?

The symptoms of an overactive or underactive thyroid differ between men and women. The most common symptom of an underactive thyroid is weight gain but some people do not experience this symptom. The most common symptoms of an overactive thyroid are anxiety, restlessness, tremors and fatigability.

Some of the other symptoms of overactive and underactive thyroid are weight problems (inability to lose weight in spite of dieting), heart palpitations, shortness of breath, menstrual problems, muscle weakness, brittle nails, thinning hair, fatigue, constipation, dry skin, intolerance to temperature changes, increased perspiration, sleep disorders and mood swings.

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should see your family doctor first and describe your symptoms to him or her. If he or she suspects a thyroid problem, then you will be referred to an endocrinologist. You should also tell the endocrinologist if you have a personal or family history of thyroid problems, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol or any other serious medical problems.

What Else Should I Know about the Endocrinologist?

The endocrinologist is a medical doctor that specializes in treating patients with endocrine gland problems such as the thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal and pancreas. Some of the conditions that they treat include hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, Addison’s disease, Cushing’s syndrome and many others.

The endocrinologist can offer several treatment options for thyroid problems. He or she can adjust the dosage of levothyroxine sodium according to the results of your blood tests, perform a thyroidectomy (surgical removal of the thyroid), administer radioactive iodine to eradicate the overactive cells in your thyroid or prescribe antithyroid drugs. An endocrinologist can also recommend other treatments for specific conditions.

What is the prognosis (outlook) for someone diagnosed with an overactive or underactive thyroid?

Hypothyroidism: Patients with untreated hypothyroidism usually suffer from heart disease, high cholesterol, hardening of the arteries and premature aging. With proper treatment, the outlook is good and most patients see reversal of symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, intolerance to temperature changes, hair loss and more.

Hyperthyroidism: Most patients with hyperthyroidism experience severe thyroid problems during their lifetimes. If the condition is left untreated, most patients suffer from organ failure, heart disease and death. With the proper treatment, most patients see a reversal of symptoms and usually live a normal life span.

What are the risks and side effects of treatment?

The side effects of treatment are usually rare but can be serious. For example, the side effects of taking antithyroid drugs or radioactive iodine to treat hyperthyroidism are usually mild. However, some patients may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and weakness. In severe cases, these effects can be life threatening. Most patients do not experience these side effects. The side effects of taking levothyroxine sodium to treat hypothyroidism are minimal in most patients. However, some patients may experience diarrhea and rash.

Radioactive iodine treatment may cause several side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Usually these side effects disappear after the treatment has worked its way through the body. However, in some cases these side effects can be life threatening. Other rare side effects of the treatment are birth defects, premature aging and heart disease.

Most endocrinologists will not prescribe this treatment for women of child-bearing age and women who are pregnant.

*All medications have side effects. Please see your doctor for medical advice about these risks.

What causes this disease and how common is it?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck. The gland is part of the endocrine system which secretes various hormones. The main hormones that the thyroid secretes are thyroxine (levothyroxine sodium) and triiodothyronine. These two hormones regulate the body’s metabolism.

There are many different types of disorders that affect the thyroid. The most common type of disorder of the thyroid is called thyroiditis. Thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid which interferes with the secretion of hormones by the gland. This inflammation can occur in one of the two halves of the thyroid gland (called subacute thyroiditis) or in both halves of the thyroid (called chronic thyroiditis).

Thyroiditis is usually caused by an infection of a virus or a bacterium. In most cases, the cause is unknown. The symptoms of thyroiditis are similar to other types of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Additionally, the treatment for these types of thyroiditis is usually the same as the treatment for hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.

An overactive thyroid gland (called hyperthyroidism) can be caused by a goiter, thyroiditis or a cancer of the thyroid (called thyroid carcinoma). Most patients with this condition experience symptoms such as fatigue, weight loss despite an increased appetite, nervousness, and irregular heartbeat. In some cases, other symptoms such as skin problems, diarrhea, or constipation may be present.

An underactive thyroid gland (called hypothyroidism) can be caused by an autoimmune disorder such as Hashimoto’s disease, thyroiditis, surgical removal of the thyroid (called thyroidectomy) or a cancer of the thyroid (called thyroid carcinoma). Most patients with this condition experience symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain despite an decreased appetite, feeling cold all the time, constipation and joint pain. In some cases, other symptoms such as feeling depressed, feeling dizzy or dry skin may be present.

This disease can be diagnosed by ordering a blood test called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and a blood test that measures the levels of thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).

An overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can be treated with a beta-adrenergic blocking agent, such as propranolol. A beta-blocker decreases the heart rate and slows down the heart rate. This makes the heart consume less oxygen and reduces the workload of the heart. However, it should be taken only when medically necessary because there are major side effects such as slow or irregular heart rate, fatigue, shortness of breath and episodes of dizziness.

The most effective and safest treatment for hyperthyroidism is radioactive iodine therapy, which destroys all the cells that produce thyroid hormone; this leads to a permanent cure. Antithyroid drugs can also be used to treat hyperthyroidism but they have many side effects such as preventing the absorption of dietary iodine, which can lead to goiter and hypothyroidism, liver and pancreas problems and may also cause death. For patients who don’t want to undergo radioactive iodine treatment, an endocrinologist may perform a partial thyroidectomy or a total thyroidectomy. In a partial thyroidectomy, only the affected part of the thyroid is removed and in a total thyroidectomy, the whole thyroid is removed.

With the right treatment and doctor’s guidance, a person with hyperthyroidism can lead a normal life.

An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) can be treated with thyroid hormone supplements, which is a safe and effective way of treating the condition. Since hypothyroidism causes a reduction in body metabolism, patients are advised to take less than the appropriate dosage since the drug may cause anorexia, diarrhea, high blood pressure, palpitations or dysrhythmias. In some cases, the treatment may not be necessary if the thyroid disorder is due to another underlying disease; in that case, treating the primary disease usually restores the functions of the thyroid. However, hypothyroidism is a lifelong disease and requires life-long medication.

Medicating increases the production of thyroid hormones and helps to normalize metabolism.

In most cases, hypothyroidism is caused by an autoimmune disease that destroys the thyroid. The treatment of hypothyroidism involves taking thyroid hormone supplements. You can get these supplements in the form of pills or, more commonly, by taking a tablet that contains the thyroid hormones that your body would normally produce.

Thyroxine (T4) is the major hormone produced by the thyroid gland. It is converted into triiodothyronine (T3) in other parts of the body. These hormones control the rate of many of the body’s metabolic processes.

Treating hypothyroidism involves taking a pill, tablet or liquid supplement containing either thyroxine (T4) or a combination of both thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).

Hypothyroidism can cause depression-like symptoms, such as mental slowing or apathy, weight gain, dry skin and hair, increased sensitivity to cold, fatigue and sleepiness. It can also cause muscle weakness. Severe hypothyroidism in newborns can lead to cretinism, which causes severe intellectual disability and physical deformities.

Hypothyroidism is rare in people under 40, but becomes more common with age. It’s estimated that as many as 15 percent of people over 60 may have it.

The most common cause is an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s disease. In this condition, the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the cells in the thyroid that produce thyroid hormones.

Treatment involves taking daily doses of thyroid hormones, which are replaced as the body uses them up. Thyroid hormones are available as tablets and solutions for injection.

What is hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid disorder, where the body does not produce enough thyroid hormone. This condition is mainly caused by an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s disease, which gradually destroys the cells that produce thyroid hormones. With hypothyroidism, the body’s metabolism, or the speed at which chemical reactions occur, slows down. The thyroid hormones also have effects on brain development and function, so people with untreated hypothyroidism may also develop learning and mental disabilities.

In South Africa, hypothyroidism is diagnosed in about 1 in 200 people. It is more common in women than men, especially after menopause.

The main symptoms of hypothyroidism are as follows:


Muscle Weakness

Weight Gain

Dry Skin and Hair



Thyroid hormones control the rate of many of the body’s metabolic processes; therefore, slowing down these reactions can cause many physical problems. The thyroid acts on nearly every part of the body, especially the brain.

Many of the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism develop slowly over time. A person may experience only a few or none of them, and the condition may still be diagnosed. They include:



Weight gain

Muscle weakness

Slow heartbeat

Cold intolerance

Puffy face

Some people with untreated hypothyroidism may also have problems with constipation, blocked sweat glands, hoarseness, infertility, and menstrual irregularities. These health problems in women may cause an oversized thyroid (goitre).

Hypothyroidism is rare under the age of 40, but the risk increases as people age. Women are five to eight times more likely than men to develop hypothyroidism. Women also usually develop hypothyroidism 10 years later than men.

If left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, depression, and other complications.

Why does hypothyroidism occur?

Primary hypothyroidism is the most common form of this disorder, and occurs when your thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormone.

In some cases, the cause of the condition is unknown. This is called idiopathic thyroid hypofunction.

In other cases, it is caused by a disorder that damages the cells of the thyroid gland or another endocrine (hormone-producing) gland. This is called secondary hypothyroidism. Several disorders can cause secondary hypothyroidism, including:

Autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimoto’s disease or Graves’ disease

Infections of the thyroid, such as tuberculosis or fungal infections

Radiation treatment to the neck

Surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid

Blood tests are necessary to diagnose primary and secondary hypothyroidism. The most important test is the measurement of the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood. Several other tests may be done to rule out other possible conditions and help determine the cause of the hypothyroidism.


Hypothyroidism can be successfully treated by taking a replacement hormone, which is either levothyroxine (Levothroid, Euthyrox, and others) or liothyronine (Cytomel). Many hypothyroid patients are started on a slightly higher-than-average dose of the hormone, then have their dosage gradually decreased over time to a maintenance level. The goal is to match the replacement dose as closely as possible to the patient’s individual requirements.

The symptoms of hypothyroidism often disappear within weeks of the start of treatment with thyroid hormone replacement. It may take months, however, before the levels of cholesterol, fat, and other substances regulated by the thyroid are back to normal. The long-term outlook for patients with this condition is good if they maintain their hormone treatment.

As with all medications and disease states, hypothyroidism can be associated with other issues as well. The thyroid is a very important part of the endocrine system and controls many vital bodily functions.

Many people have mentioned that they felt much better after treatment for hypothyroidism. You may experience a renewed sense of well-being and less fatigue. This improvement in your quality of life is just one more reason to maintain adequate levels of thyroid hormone in your body.

By taking the prescribed dose of thyroid hormone replacement at the same time each day, you help your medication regimen succeed. You may need to adjust the time of day you take your medication based on your schedule and other needs.

These guidelines will help you maintain a regular routine for monitoring your hypothyroidism and your medication.

Wake up and take your pill(s).

Try to take them at as close to the same time every day as possible.

Wait at least an hour before eating breakfast or exercising.

Call your doctor’s office as scheduled. It is important to maintain your schedule and call if you are experiencing any problems.

Keep track of your symptoms in a notebook or on your computer. Keeping a record of your progress can help you communicate with your physician and serve as an educational tool for other healthcare professionals.

It is also a good idea to keep all of your medical records together in one location. This will make it much easier for family members or caregivers to access this information when necessary.

So now that you know what it means to live with hypothyroidism, and have an understanding of the issues involved in treatment, you can make an educated decision about your course of care. A lot of people have gone before you and shared their experiences with this condition. You can choose to benefit from their knowledge and information or ignore it and do your own thing. The choice is yours but whatever you decide, just make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.

Whatever you decide to do, just remember that your health and well-being are the most important things in life. Everything else is secondary.

I wish you the best of health and success in whatever you decide to do.


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Appendix A: Common Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Appendix B: Excessive Hair Loss ( clinical name: alopecia)

Alopecia is the medical condition that causes excessive hair loss. The main types of alopecia include:

Alopecia areata – This is a type of hair loss that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles. This type of hair loss most commonly occurs in the scalp, but it can also occur in other parts of the body.

Androgenic alopecia – Also known as male or female pattern baldness. This type of hair loss usually begins in your late twenties or early thirties and is inherited from your parents. It is thought to be caused by a sensitivity to male hormones (called androgens). Over time, the hair follicles miniaturize until hair is no longer produced.

Cicatricial alopecia – This type of hair loss is caused by inflammation of the hair follicles. This is a condition that can occur after an injury, allergic reaction, or other type of infection. The inflammation damages the blood supply to the hair follicles, resulting in permanent hair loss around the site of injury.

Traumatic alopecia – This type of hair loss is caused by physical injury to the scalp. Surgery, burns, or other physical trauma can cause extensive hair loss.

Widespread hair loss ( diffuse alopecia) – This type of hair loss is a condition that occurs when your body is unable to produce the hormones needed for normal hair growth.

Appendix C: Medications that Can Cause Hypothyroidism

Some medical conditions can cause your thyroid to become underactive. These include:

Appendix D: Laboratory Tests to Determine the Severity of Your Hypothyroidism

Your doctor will want to run a number of tests to determine the right treatment for you. These tests include:

Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) – This is a hormone produced by the brain’s pituitary gland to signal the thyroid gland to produce hormones. When the levels of TSH are abnormally high, it can indicate that your thyroid is underactive and not producing enough hormones.

Thyroxine (T4) – This is the most abundant hormone produced by the thyroid. When the thyroid is underactive, your body produces less T4.

Triiodothyronine (T3) – This hormone is produced from the inactive form of thyroxine (T4). When the thyroid is functioning normally, about ninety percent of the T4 that is made gets converted to T3, which has a more immediate effect on metabolism. When your body doesn’t produce enough T3, it can indicate that your thyroid is underactive.

Appendix E: Dietary and Herbal Supplements to Treat Hypothyroidism

There are a number of natural supplements that may combat some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism. These treatments include:

L-Tyrosine – This amino acid can help relieve depression, improve energy levels, and enhance your thinking ability.

R-Lipoic Acid – This supplement can help reduce insulin resistance, blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides. It also has antioxidant effects.

Guggulsterones – This supplement can help enhance the effects of thyroid hormone in the body and help increase the metabolism.

Ashwagandha – This herb can help reduce stress and fatigue.

Zinc – This mineral can help improve fertility, taste, smell, skin integrity, and the sense of taste. It also has antiviral properties.

Magnesium – This mineral is an important building block of bones and teeth. It is also important for maintaining a normal heartbeat.

Potassium – This mineral helps control the heart rate and blood pressure, as well as building muscles. A lack of potassium can cause fatigue and muscle weakness.

Selenium – This mineral can help prevent infection and disease. It also works as an antioxidant to protect the cells from damage.

Vitamin B12 – This vitamin can help improve energy levels and cognitive functioning.

Vitamin A – This vitamin is important for healthy skin, bone growth, and maintaining good vision.

Vitamin D – This vitamin helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus which are both essential to building strong bones.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – These fatty acids are known as “good fats” and they help reduce the risk of heart disease. They also help reduce inflammation and allergies.

Vitamin C – provides antioxidant protection, helps heal wounds, and protects against free radicals.

Bioflavonoids – These are similar to vitamins, and include substances such as rutin and quercetin. They can improve the strength of blood vessel walls and reduce damage caused by free radicals.

Glutathione – This is a naturally occurring substance in the body that helps protect cells from free radical damage. It also promotes healthy skin, eyes, and the lungs.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid – This substance can help regenerate Vitamin B, C, and E, which enhances their antioxidant effects. ALA is also helpful in the treatment of diabetes and diabetic neuropathy.

Gymnema Sylvestre – This herb can reduce blood sugar levels, and improve the way your body responds to insulin. It can also reduce carbohydrate cravings.

Appendix F: Diets to Treat Hypothyroidism

The following is a general diet plan that can help people with hypothyroidism. This is not a substitute for proper medical treatment and can only provide some help in relieving the symptoms of an underactive thyroid, but it is a good way to make sure you’re eating as healthily as possible.

The National Institutes of Health offers the following suggestions for hypothyroidism:

1) Eat more selenium.

This is particularly important if you’re also on constant antibiotics, since these medicines can destroy the beneficial bacteria in your gut, allowing selenium-robbing parasites like “rickets” to flourish.

2) Eat more fiber.

Fiber helps your body eliminate excess hormones, including thyroid hormone. This is particularly important if you have hyperthyroidism.

3) Eat more soy.

Soy and foods with soy protein, such as tofu, may help reduce the effects of hyperthyroidism.

4) Drink carrot juice!

Carrot juice — straight, or in a smoothie — is high in beta-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A may help control the symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

5) Take 2000 IUs of vitamin E every day.

Some research suggests that vitamin E may reduce the risk of developing hyperthyroidism and help control its symptoms.

6) Eat more cruciferous vegetables.

These include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi. These vegetabls contain compounds that may help protect against thyroid problems.

7) Don’t skip meals.

Go ahead and eat breakfast within an hour of waking up. Skipping meals can disrupt your hormones, including thyroid hormones.

Appendix G: Dietary Recommendations for Hypothyroidism

The following is a general list of foods that can help people with hypothyroidism maintain a balanced diet. This is not a substitute for proper medical treatment and the diet plan should only be followed with your physician’s approval.

Vitamin A Foods

Vitamin A is essential to maintain healthy mucus membranes, skin, and eye tissue. It is also necessary for the production of the hormones secretin and glucagon, which are needed to help the body use insulin effectively.

Thiamin (B-1)

Thiamin (B-1) is important in carbohydrate metabolism, and helps the body’s cells absorb glucose from the blood. It is also needed to help the body make energy from its food. Since people with hypothyroidism may be deficient in energy, it is important to include thiamin (B-

1) in your diet.

It can be found in pork, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and whole-wheat bread.

Riboflavin (B-2)

Riboflavin (B-

2) helps the body turn food into energy and is also needed to help the body properly break down carbohydrates.

It is most commonly found in dairy products, meat, fish, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains.

Niacin (B-3)

Niacin (B-

3) helps in the release of energy from foods.

It is important for the proper functioning of the nervous system and also benefits the digestive system. Good sources are lean meats, fish, poultry, peanuts, lentils, and whole grains.

Pantothenic Acid (B-5)

Pantothenic Acid (B-5) helps the body break down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. It is needed for the body to make hormones and other important substances that are needed for good health. Dairy products, poultry, kidneys, whole grains, and yeast are good sources of this vitamin.

Folic Acid (B-9)

Folic acid (B-9) helps the body produce healthy red blood cells and prevent anemia. It also helps prevent certain birth defects such as spina bifida in unborn babies when taken by their mothers during early pregnancy. Good sources of folic acid include green leafy vegetables, yeast, asparagus, and citrus fruits.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C maintains the health of the body’s connective tissues, helps the body absorb iron, and strengthens the immune system. Vitamin C is also beneficial in the treatment of colds and other infections. It is found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, and broccoli.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is needed to help build and maintain strong bones. It is also needed for the absorption and use of calcium and phosphorous. Since hypothyroid patients are already at a higher risk for osteoporosis and fractures, it is very important that they maintain adequate amounts of this vitamin in their diet. Good sources are cod liver oil, shrimp, salmon, tuna, and soybeans.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is known as the “antioxidant vitamin” because it helps prevent cell damage caused by unstable oxygen molecules. It is most well-known for its ability to help prevent cardiovascular disease and relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin E can be found in vegetable oils, wheat germ oil, nuts, peanuts, and leafy green vegetables.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is important in the process that causes blood clots to form. It is also needed for proper bone growth in children and helps prevent osteoporosis. Leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale are high in this vitamin.


Calcium is important for healthy bones and teeth. Sufficient amounts of this mineral can help prevent osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become brittle and fragile. It helps the body maintain normal muscle function and heartbeat, and it is also essential for nerve transmission. Calcium is found in milk, yogurt, cheese, and tofu.


Magnesium helps with the absorption of calcium and is needed for energy production. It also helps prevent migraine headaches, cramps, and diabetes. It is important for heart health and plays a role in maintaining a healthy immune system. Magnesium deficiency can lead to anxiety, fatigue, inability to sleep, muscle cramps, and loss of appetite.

It is found in almonds, wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, and dark green vegetables such as broccoli.


This mineral strengthens tooth enamel, helping prevent cavities. It is found in many drinking water sources as well as kombucha, black tea, and fish such as halibut, cod, and sardines.


This trace mineral is an antioxidant that plays a role in thyroid hormone metabolism. It also helps prevent cancer and heart disease. It can be found in meat, fish, and grains.

Foods That Are High in Salt

Sodium is an essential electrolyte and mineral that helps the body maintain fluid balance, transmit nerve signals, and contract muscles. However, the condition of being sodium-deficient is far more common than being sodium-overload, so it’s important to limit your consumption of foods that are high in this mineral.

Sodium is found in most every food, but the biggest sources are breads and baked goods such as bread, bagels, and pizza. Most cold cuts and cured meats like ham and bacon contain large amounts of sodium due to the curing process. Most cheeses contain sodium as well, especially processed varieties like American cheese and cheddar.

Most canned and frozen foods can also be very high in sodium due to the way they are prepared before they are sold. Canned vegetables and fruit often contain extremely high amounts of sodium, sometimes even more than found in canned or frozen meals prepared by restaurants. Most condiments are also very high in sodium, especially soy sauce and other Asian-style sauces such as duck sauce and hoisin sauce. Most chips and popcorn are also very high in sodium, especially if they’re buttered or flavored.

Most fast food and dine-in restaurants use sodium in abundance, especially in foods that are prepared with large quantities of salt to enhance flavor. This includes most breaded meats such as fried chicken, fish, and shrimp, most pasta dishes, and almost all types of pizza no matter what the flavor.

Most snack foods are also very high in sodium. This includes most chips such as tortilla chips and corn chips, most nuts, most crackers including those that are used on sandwiches such as saltine crackers and water biscuits, most baked goods such as scones and muffins, and most candies.

Most alcoholic beverages also contain large amounts of sodium. This includes tonic water and other mixers, most beers, most vinegars in dressings and sauces, most processed liquors such as whiskey, gin, and vodka, and most wines.

Note* Most of the foods listed in this category will also be high in saturated fat and/or cholesterol.

Alcoholic Drinks That Are High in Carbs

While not necessarily unhealthy in moderation, many alcoholic beverages can quickly raise your daily carb intake. Since alcohol does not have a huge amount of nutritive value, it is wise to limit your intake of alcoholic drinks to one drink for women and two drinks for men.


Most beers are moderate in carbohydrates, but many flavored beers such as pale ale, IPA, and stout, as well as light beers, can be very high in carbs. This is because brewers add extra sugars when they create their flavored beers and light beers.


Most red wines have a moderate carb content. However, many white wines such as those from the Riesling, Semillon, and Viognier grapes can have a slightly higher carb count.

Hard Liquor

Gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, and other hard liquors have no carbs. This is because these liquors derive their sugars from the process of making the alcohol, not through added sugars.

Dessert Wines

Dessert wines such as Port, Madeira, and Sauternes have a very high sugar content and should be avoided while on a low carbohydrate diet.

Light/Diet Alcoholic Drinks

Most light and diet drinks including light beer contain negligible amounts of carbohydrates and sugars and can be consumed in moderation.

Carbohydrates and Sugars in Various Beverages

These lists show approximately how many grams of carbs and sugars are in 12 oz. (355 mL) servings of various beverages. The actual amount can vary slightly by brand, but these numbers should give you a good idea of what to expect.

How to Reduce the Number of Calories You Get From Drinks

There are two good ways to reduce the number of calories you get from drinks.

The first way is to drink low-calorie drinks. Most major beverage companies make these types of drinks, which include Diet Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Diet 7-Up, and so on. These beverages have a fraction of the calories that normal soft drinks provide and can save you hundreds or thousands of calories per day.

The second way is to drink alcohol. If you’re an adult who is having more than one drink per day, you should definitely switch to drinks that have less sugar.

Most beers contain 13 to 15 grams of carbs per bottle, while most wines and spirits have only 5 to 10 grams. Sadly, many people believe that beer is a no-no due to its high carb content, but this is not the case if you stick to light beers. Also, certain hard liquors such as vodka have no carbohydrates at all.

If you’re an adult who regularly consumes three or more drinks per day, you should definitely consider drinking these low-carbohydrate/low-sugar alcohol choices instead. It can save you a great deal of calories.

One more thing to remember is that mixers can add carbs and calories to your drinks. If you’re having a mixed drink, choose a diet soda or a light mixer such as diet tonic water.

The Best and Worst Drinks for Weight Loss

When you’re watching your weight, what you choose to drink can make a big difference. In fact, some beverages have few calories, while others have lots.

This section gives a brief overview of the best and worst drinks for weight loss, along with suggested beverages to choose or avoid.

Green Tea

Green tea is the healthiest beverage on the planet. It has powerful disease-fighting antioxidants, and drinking it before meals can boost your metabolism and help you burn more fat.

Green tea is also the best beverage to drink before a meal, as it can increase the rate at which your body burns calories by about 4%. Drinking three cups of green tea per day can increase your metabolism by 6% and help you burn 61 extra calories per day.

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