Can Hypothyroidism Cause Weight Gain
Yes, hypothyroidism can cause weight gain, but the real question is why does hypothyroidism cause weight gain.
Initially, the thought was that the weight gain in hypothyroidism was because of the slowing of the BMR. BMR which is a basic metabolic rate is the rate at which your body is expending energy when you are at rest.
According to this theory, the thyroid hormone controls your BMR. So when there is a deficiency of thyroid hormone it causes to lower your BMR. This lowered BMR leads to less energy expenditure in our body and the excess energy is stored in our body as fat.
But if this theory was correct then as soon as patients were started on thyroid hormone replacement they will lose weight. But in reality that doesnt happen.
Several patients even after starting the thyroid hormone medication find it difficult to lose weight with thyroid dysfunction.
And the only question they have is how to lose this thyroid weight gain.
For this, we need to understand what is the real cause which is causing the weight gain and is there a fix for it.
How To Lose Weight With Thyroid Disease
This article was co-authored by Pouya Shafipour, MD, MS. Dr. Pouya Shafipour is a Family Medicine Specialist, Primary Care Physician, and a Weight Loss Specialist based in Santa Monica, California. Dr. Shafipour specializes in dietary, nutritional, behavioral, and exercise counseling to manage obesity and medical conditions related to excessive weight gain or loss. Dr. Shafipour received a BS in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley, an MS in Physiology and Biophysics from Georgetown University, and an MD from the Loma Linda University School of Medicine. He completed his internship in general surgery at UC Irvine and a residency in family medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and became board certified in family medicine in 2008.There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 12 testimonials and 100% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 575,103 times.
How Long After Starting Thyroid Medication Will I Lose Weight
When you start taking thyroid medication like levothyroxine, dont expect instant weight loss. The first barrier is getting the right dose of thyroid medication. Once you have reached your ideal dose, you may notice some weight loss after around three to six months of continuous use.
Its important to keep in mind that weight loss isnt a universal side effect of thyroid medication. For example, a 2014 study found that only 52% of patients with diagnosed hypothyroidism lost weight after taking thyroid medication. For patients who did lose weight, they lost on average 3.8 to 4.4 lbs after five months of treatment.²
Losing excess water weight is also a common reason why patients notice a difference in their weight after taking thyroid medication, rather than fat loss. One study found that after a year of treatment with thyroid medication, patients experienced a significant reduction in their body weight. However, this weight loss did not affect the amount of fat or bone mass each patient had, leading researchers to conclude that the weight loss was likely due to the excretion of excess water that can build up as a result of hypothyroidism.³
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Can Rapid Weight Loss Cause Hypothyroidism
Extreme dieting can have negative health impacts. According to a 2014 study , weight loss can lead to a minimal decrease in thyroid hormone activity levels. The study suggests that drastic dieting and bariatric surgery can lead to potential thyroid issues.
If a person restricts their diet too much, it can lead to a decrease in a necessary nutrient, iodine. An iodine deficiency may lead to hypothyroidism.
To maintain their iodine intake, a person can use iodized table salt and eat iodine-rich foods, such as dairy products, seafood and meat, and eggs. They can also take a multivitamin with iodine.
Note that iodine deficiency in Western countries is relatively rare.
People should speak with a doctor to discuss suitable diet options, with or without hypothyroidism.
Thyroid Weight Gain Solutions
At least now we understand that weight gain in the thyroid is not just because of thyroid hormone deficiency, its much more than that. So we need to devise a strategy for thyroid weight gain.
Its the underlying inflammation and mitochondrial destruction which is slowing down our whole metabolic system.
So can you speed up your thyroid to lose weight? Certainly yes we can speed up your whole body to recover from all this damage which has happened and this will in turn help to lose weight.
1. Diet: As I mentioned before there are several weight-loss diets out there and they might work for some time. But what they dont remember is that diet is just one piece to this whole puzzle. So from a diet perspective, I will encourage you to eliminate all simple carbs from your diet and also sugars from your diet as much as possible.
Eliminate gluten and dairy again as much as possible. Focus on eating more vegetables, clean protein, and good fat in your diet. Add lots of fiber-containing food like whole grains, chia, flax seeds. Drink green tea on a daily basis at least 2-3 cups.
Also, eat lots of turmeric and ginger, they reduce inflammation and can be helpful. focus on reducing carbohydrate-rich foods and introduce more protein and good fat-containing food.
2. Intermittent Fasting: This can be a game-changer for a lot of people. Intermittent fasting gives you that metabolic flexibility which is lost for us.
Read Also: What Causes Thyroid Nodules To Grow
Will Levothyroxine Actually Help You Lose Weight
Heres the problem:
Is it well known that patients with hypothyroidism have problems with weight gain.
Weight gain is probably the most common and most frustrating symptom associated with low thyroid function, Hashimotos thyroiditis, hypothyroidism, thyroidectomy, and RAI.
There is no disputing the fact that low thyroid LEADS to weight gain.
So it makes sense that once you TREAT your low thyroid that this weight should come off, right?
Doesnt it make sense that once you CORRECT the low thyroid problem with a prescription medication like levothyroxine, that your weight should normalize and you should be back to normal?
You would think so, but it doesnt actually happen in common practice.
And if you ask your doctor about why this is the case they will handwave you off by saying something about how much you are eating, that you arent exercising enough, or that its related to your age.
So what gives?
It turns out that while levothyroxine is certainly NOT a weight loss medication , it can potentially help you lose weight but only if it is used correctly.
This is what we are going to talk about today
- Why thyroid patients taking levothyroxine dont lose weight
- Other options available to you as a thyroid medication
- Why some thyroid medications are better at helping with weight loss compared to others
- Who actually does well on T4 only thyroid medications like levothyroxine
Lets jump in:
Foods to Avoid if you Have Thyroid Problems:
The Complete List of Thyroid Lab tests:
Take A Probiotic Supplement
There Is evidence that taking a good-quality probiotic supplement to restore your balance of good intestinal bacteria may be helpful for weight loss. Eileen was eating a low-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, but she wasnt shedding pounds. I started taking a probiotic supplement, and within a week, I was less bloated, and I started to finally lose weight. I’m now down 15 pounds in three months!” Learn more about the benefits of probiotics for thyroid patients.
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Perspective & Action Plan For Patients
The concept of excess weight leading to an underactive thyroid may sound backwards, says Arthur Schneider, MD, PhD, professor emeritus at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, who is familiar with the new research. However, he says that physicians should consider the possibility that “some subtle changes in thyroid may be the result of obesity, not the cause of it.”
In Kitahara’s view: If you are obese with an elevated TSH, weight loss may be a better course of action if testing does not turn up any underlying thyroid disorders. She points to other research finding that when obese patients with normal thyroid function lose weight, their TSH and T3 levels declineamong other health benefits.¹
/7switch To A New And Healthier Diet
Start by deducting calories from your daily total to lose weight. Don’t adhere to a very restrictive, low-calorie diet. The body will simply store calories, which will lead to weight growth. Instead, you should strike a balance between the number of calories you consume and the number of calories you expend each day.
Eliminating all the meals you don’t need is one simple strategy to reduce your calorie intake. All of these foods like cookies, cake, sodas, and candy contain empty calories. Without offering you any nourishment, they’ll cause you to acquire weight.
Eat a bowl of fresh fruit topped with calorie-free sweetener in place of dessert. Use sparkling water and lemon in place of soda. Replace white bread and crackers which are prepared with processed white flour with whole-grain alternatives.
Eating more meals that are high in energy is a further strategy to cut calories. Per bite, these foods have fewer calories. They’ll increase your feeling of fullness and help you maintain weight.
Fruits and vegetables, which are low in calories and high in nutrition, should make up the majority of your meal. Include a lean protein source, such as tofu, fish, or fowl. Do not eliminate carbohydrates from your diet. Instead include moderate amounts of complex carbs and keep away simple carbohydrates.
Also Check: Can Thyroid Problems Cause Blurred Vision
Signs Of Hypothyroidism And When To See A Doctor
Beyond changes in your weight, other symptoms of low thyroid include feeling fatigued, cold intolerance, constipation, and dry skin and hair, says Leann Poston, M.D., a consulting physician with Impakt Fitness. Joint and muscle pain, heavy or irregular menstrual periods or fertility problems, and depression may also be some signs.
If you have these symptoms, Poston suggests contacting your doctor to be tested for thyroid dysfunction. A blood test checking your Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone levels as well as your thyroxine , a hormone produced by your thyroid, can provide insight into whether you have a thyroid disorder, she says.
Hypothyroidism is more common among people who are 60 and older, according to the NIH. Those who have had a thyroid problem in the past, such as a goiter, may be at higher risk for hypothyroidism. Ditto for those who have had radiation treatment to the thyroid, neck, or chest, or have a family history of thyroid disease may also be at a higher risk of hypothyroidism.
Also, Lam says, iodine deficiency is often linked to a lack of thyroid hormone production. Dietary supplements may replace or raise levels of iodine, he says. Still, its good to consult with a doctor to best understand the root cause of any thyroid hormone imbalances.
Michaels Thyroid Factors is a nutritional supplement that contains iodine as well as manganese and tyrosine. As always, talk with a doctor or registered dietitian before adding a new vitamin or supplement to your routine.
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Gain 20 Pounds After Thyroid Removal
I mean it, its a serious question.
Have you gained 20 pounds or more after your thyroid has been removed?
If so, you are not alone.
In fact, women, on average, gain around 20 pounds after they get their thyroid removed according to several studies which looked into the matter.
The question is
Why does this happen and is there anything that you can do about it?
You already know that your endocrinologist or thyroid doctor is probably not even concerned about your weight gain.
They probably already attributed your weight gain to your age or some other issue even though the weight gain started RIGHT after your thyroid was removed.
And this is pretty standard, unfortunately.
The good news is that there is a REASON for this weight gain and that something CAN be done about it.
The bad news is that its often very difficult to lose weight once your thyroid has been removed and thats exactly what we are going to discuss now.
Foods to Avoid if you Have Thyroid Problems:
Ive found that these 10 foods cause the most problems for thyroid patients. Learn which foods you should avoid if you have thyroid disease of any type.
The Complete List of Thyroid Lab tests:
The list includes optimal ranges, normal ranges, and the complete list of tests you need to diagnose and manage thyroid disease correctly!
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Is Weight Loss Impossible After Thyroidectomy
What does all of this information mean for you if you dont have a thyroid?
Will it ever be possible to lose weight and get back to a normal healthy weight?
The answer is yes.
But you should be aware that your weight loss journey will be much slower than people who have a thyroid.
Thats just the unfortunate situation that you are now in once your thyroid is gone.
I usually tell people without a thyroid to expect weight loss at about a rate of 50% compared to people with a thyroid.
They will also have to try about twice as hard as the average person.
Yes, its slow, and yes its hard, but its not impossible.
Another thing that you should know is that your thyroid medication is going to be a very important part of your weight loss journey.
Because your thyroid can no longer produce thyroid hormone on its own, you will need to pay close attention to what type of thyroid medication you are using and how much you are using.
Your goal here should be to try and mimic whatever production of thyroid hormone your thyroid was producing BEFORE it was taken out.
This will almost always include a combination of T4 and T3.
If you arent familiar with T3 thyroid medications then I would recommend you look at both Cytomel and liothyronine.
These are prescription medications that contain the T3 thyroid hormone and can be added to your existing dose of levothyroxine or Synthroid.
Either source will work but make sure you do NOT neglect this step!
How To Lose Weight When You Have Hypothyroidism
You can take several steps to lose weight when you have hypothyroidism.
Montgomery advises, The key part is for patients with hypothyroidism to keep their thyroid disease stable to set themselves up for the best
success for weight loss. This means following up with their doctor regularly, getting blood work done, and taking medications as prescribed. After that, they should evaluate their lifestyle and make sure they are eating a well-rounded healthy diet and getting regular exercise. If hypothyroidism is uncontrolled, it can cause patients to end up almost working against themselves for weight loss, making it more difficult to lose weight despite proper diet and exercise.
Additionally, take your medication as prescribed. If you are taking levothyroxine, take your tablet or capsule as directed by your provider.
Evaluate your diet carefully and make healthy changes that can help you lose excess weight. Reduce your intake of alcohol, sweets, and foods high in sodium, as these can contribute to weight gain.
Regular exercise helps boost your metabolism and energy levels. If youre already exercising, increase the intensity of your workouts or ask a fitness professional about different exercises and activities you can do to lose excess weight.
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