Thyroid Disorders Community
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Avatar universal

How to lose weight for an underactive thyroid

I have always weighed 100lbs. even after I had my son. I have an underactive thyroid and when I started getting treated about 6 years ago I weighed 134lbs. I just went for my check up yesterday and I weigh 189lbs. I can't lose any weight. Also, I have Asthma so my ability to exercise is limited however I am so tired that I am not exercising at all. I used to do Aerobics everyday and dance and now I can't even dance to one song I am all out of breath.

Can someone please help me and tell me how to eat and what I can do to lose the weight. I am getting so depressed because of this and very unhappy. I can't stand to look in the mirror.

Please HELP ME!!!
14 Responses
Avatar universal
Losing weight and keeping it off can seem an insurmountable task for a person who has low metabolism due to hypothyroidism.

So, how do you know that you have an underactive thyroid.  If you look at this list of 26 typical hypo symptoms, which ones do you have if any?


Also, if you have thyroid related test results, please post them, along with referfence ranges shown on the lab report.
Avatar universal
I successfully lost 20 lbs. without even realizing it when I started being careful to get enough protein in my diet.  Upon my doctor's advice, I bought some sliced turkey then rolled up each slice and secured it with a toothpick.  These were great for a quick snack instead of the chips and other things I had snacked on before.  I also started having an egg for breakfast, as my doctor advised, instead of cereal.  What this amounted to was substituting protein for carbs when I could.

As far as hypothyroidism is concerned, it turned out that I had Hashimoto's Disease during this time and did not yet know it, so the weight loss occurred while my body's thyroid hormones were not able to function. (Hashimoto's is a form of hypothyroidism where the thyroid hormones are attacked by antibodies.)  When I was diagnosed, my doctor was very adamant about treating me with "natural" thyroid hormones rather than a manufactured thyroid hormone such as Synthroid or levothyroxine.  He prescribed Armour Thyroid and insisted I read a book he recommended called, "Stop the Thyroid Madness."

I did find the book helpful.  I had a lot more energy and a bit of a happier outlook on life after getting stabilized on that medication.  I wish my weight loss hadn't stopped at 20 lbs., so I'm sure I need to work on that.

I don't know how similar our situations are but I didn't think it would hurt to share my similar experience.  Best wishes to you!
I have been in your shoes.i couldn't control my food.so I asked my doctor to put me on diet pills.before I got on diet pills I was 60 pounds over weight.now since I am off the diet pills i'm having trouble too.
Diet pills are usually not the answer because we can't stay on them indefinitely. Almost invariably, once we go off them, we'll gain the weight back.  It's imperative that thyroid hormone levels be brought to optimal levels so out metabolism returns to normal.  I have the same trouble because my doctors won't prescribe adequate medication.
1809109 tn?1331807377
You really need to make sure you thyroid is being supported- are your meds enough? How long has it been since your last lab test? If it's been a while you may need a new one to make sure your body is getting what it needs.

I also suggest talking to a dr about your asthma. It sounds like it's gotten really bad lately. That could be from the extra weight, but maybe your allergies have gotten worse/developed new ones, your asthma medication isn't working anymore, or there are other things that are aggravating it.

For exercise maybe try to take up swimming another low impact kind of exercise. Can't swim? No problem- many local gyms have adult swim lessons. Heck I just learned to swim 2 years ago; you're never too old to learn. Personally though, I love yoga because it never makes me out of breath, yet still gets my heart pumping and makes me sweat and sore.
Avatar universal
Your doctor sounds a bit different than those we run into most often. He seems more like the good thyroid doctor we are always searching for.  Since I have been collecting a list of thyroid doctors recommended by members, I wondered if you would like to share your doctor's name.  If so, please click on my nickname and Send a Message.  Thanks.
Avatar universal
I am new here and this is my first posting.  I was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid in February 1996.  I was 5'6" and my weight was 111lbs, total shock since I always weighed 125/127 most of my life.  My thyroid then went underactive and has been ever since.  I am on 88mg per day of levothyroxine, trying to lose weight is an impossible thing for me.  I have blood work done every 6 months and have been on the same med since about 1999/2000 when it went underactive and after 3 surgeries to correct the damage it did to my upper eye lids.  My eyes came out very little yet the larger upper eyelid I have bothers me.  This disease, I swear destroyed my life.  No Dr I saw will do orbital eye decompression because my eyes came out so little, but I noticed it, so I'm stuck with the larger eyelid which one Dr told me many girls would love it because eye shadow gets caught up in the crease and comes off, I have no crease.  My main problem is losing weight.  I have shrunk 1" and I now weigh 142.  I don't at all look heavy but it bothers me how hard it is to lose 1 lb.  I gave up the cereal I use to have for breakfast or a piece of toast, I have half a sandwich (turkey) for lunch and I usually have a decent supper just a little less.  It's those chips in the evening that I have a problem with, I can't just have a few, I have to have a few handfuls.  I'm not big on vegetables except for canned corn or french style string beans.  I have RA which makes exercise almost impossible.  Do I go on a water diet to try and lose the weight?  I would really like to get down to the high 120's or low 130's.  I can't tolerate 142.  The gut is the biggest problem, if I could afford cool sculpting I'd go for that, but we all know all to well not many people can afford these procedures.  If anyone here can help me with a diet I'd appreciate it.  I can't tolerate any veggies other than the 2 I mentioned, oh I will eat carrots.  I also have to make sure I get enough fiber which is hard as I have problems with digestion and constipation, but I have found Tropicana probiotics juice has helped in that area .  Thanks much for any suggestions.  Sorry this is so long, I could write a book on what this disease did to me and my life.  Thanks much
Avatar universal
The most important consideration when assessing a person for possible hypothyroidism is symptoms.  So please tell us about any symptoms you have besides weight.  Next in importance are the biologically active thyroid hormones Free T4 and Free T3.  So please post your thyroid related tests and reference ranges shown on the lab report.  
Avatar universal

Component Your Value Standard Range Flag
TSH 3.21 uIU/mL 0.27 - 4.2 uIU/mL
FREE T4 REFLEXIVE NOT APPLICABLE ng/dL 0.9 - 1.7 ng/dL  This test was taken April 4, 2017```````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````-

this test was taken on Sept 27, 2016
Component Your Value Standard Range Flag
TSH 0.11 uIU/mL 0.27 - 4.2 uIU/mL L
FREE T4 REFLEXIVE 1.91 ng/dL 0.9 - 1.7 ng/dL H

that is all the information I have.  I go back in April for blood test's again.  Symptoms, lately I am extremely tired, I do most of the house/yard work in the morning, have lunch, half a sandwich, usually turkey on whole wheat, I watch some tv then I take a short nap which use to be 20 min to 45 min but the past few months has been going past 1 1/2 hrs, then in the evening I keep dozing off from 6:30 till maybe 9/9:30, 20 min may be half an hr sometimes longer then I'm done for the night I won't fall asleep till maybe 4am.  My hair is thinning badly, I lost most of the eyebrows on my left eye, I do believe I have some sort of sinus problem but I refused to go back to the ENT because the Dr couldn't get me out the door fast enough.  I have dry eyes which result in the blockage of the tear ducts in either the right or left eye, this happens every 2 weeks, hot compresses do nothing, this is as painful as having an eyelash stuck in your eye for 3 or more days.  No one can help with that.  Like I said it destroyed my life.  As far as it running in the family my grandfather who I never knew died with a goiter on his neck back in the early 1900's, the only other people to get this disease were my sister and I.  She was treated with iodine in the late 60's I was treated with the standard levothyroxine.  Her eyes never came out but she did have a huge problem with her weight.  As far back as I can remember she was always on a diet and not having much luck, she was never obese she was 1" shorter than me and probably could afford to always try to lose 10 lbs.  That's my story, if anyone can help me lose 1 lb I will be happy if not I go on a water diet till I can get down about 15lbs.  Thanks much and sorry this is so long.
Avatar universal
A water diet is not needed, or recommended.  From your story I expect that your doctor is dosing you with just enough levothyroxine to bring your TSH within his desired range.  By comparison, a good thyroid doctor will treat a hypothyroid patient by testing and adjusting Free T4 and Free T3 levels as needed to relieve symptoms, without being influenced by resultant TSH levels.  Symptom relief should be all important, not just test results.  

You did not show a result for Free T4, but regardless, you need to always be tested for both Free T4 and Free T3.  Before further discussion please post the Free T4 result.

I did post the Free T4 but here they are again.

My daughter just bought a new digital scale and I now gained 3 more lbs.  My eating habits have not changed in years, why the weight gain, I am not stuffing my face all day long.

This test was taken Sept 27 2016.

Component Your Value Standard Range Flag
TSH 0.11 uIU/mL 0.27 - 4.2 uIU/mL L
FREE T4 REFLEXIVE 1.91 ng/dL 0.9 - 1.7 ng/dL H

the first one was listed as L, the 2nd was listed as H.

I tried gluten free bread, they can keep that, since I only do half a sandwich I'll stick to either rye or whole wheat because I need the fiber.

Oh, 1 more thing, my Dr who moved away a few months ago has me taking the Levothyroxine only 6 days a week.  Somewhere along the line while being on 7 a week something went high and she told me to go back to the 6 days a week.  Now I have a new Dr a male, he is a very nice man but I'd feel so much better with a female hopefully this place will get one soon.
Avatar universal
Component Your Value Standard Range Flag
TSH 6.99 uIU/mL 0.27 - 4.2 uIU/mL H
FREE T4 REFLEXIVE 0.94 ng/dL 0.9 - 1.7 ng/dL

This test was done in March of 2016
That's all the information I have I don't want to go back too far.  I'll be having these tests again in April at my next appointment.
Avatar universal
For the April test for Free T4, the range is shown but the result is missing.
whatever was on my lab result chart was what i copied and pasted. i don't know how to do the prnt screen thing and get it on this message board, but I'd do that it someone can help me with it.  somewhere along the line everything ends up in paint, then i'm lost as to what my options are.
Avatar universal
If you copied and pasted it and there is nothing listed as a result, only a reference ranges, than it must be missing in the lab report.  If you look at the lab report chart, do you see a value listed for Free T4.  If so, what is it?  If there is no result listed in your chart data, then can you find out what it was?  The doctor has to have the info somewhere.  

A TSH test done on 9/27/2016 was "your value"---0.11uiU/ML standard range 0.27 - 4.2uiU.ML Flag--L
Next test Free T4 Reflexive "your value" 1.91ng/dl standard range 0.9 - 1.7ng/dl Flag-H
The most recent one done on 4/4/2017
TSH "Your value"--3.21uiUml, Standard range 0.27 - 4.2uiUml under "Flag there was nothing.
Free T4 reflexive Your Value NOT APPLICABLE ng/dL Standard Range-0.9 - 1.7 ng/dL.  Those are the 2 most recent tests.  I will have them again on April 5th my next appointment.  Hopefully there is something drastic that is causing this weight gain, I will not stand for 145lbs @ 5'5".  I noticed lately I'm sleeping a lot.  This morning I am in the middle of sanding some ugly dark brown paneling in our kitchen, I didn't want to deal with drywall and spackling that has to be sanded, LOTS of dust, so I'm using a round orbital saw that has a bag to collect the dust, I have a mask on, did that yesterday and today I taped up the new kitchen floor we just had put in and painted maybe 6' wide and 7'high took me an hr and a half and this evening I slept from 7:30 till 12;20am, woke up twice.  The sanding was done yesterday the painting today, that's not a strenuous thing to do---paint yet all I did was sleep.
My apologies for this being so long I just want to lose weight. I think my metabolism has slowed to a crawl.  I will post my new results from 4/5 hopefully there will be some answers there.
Avatar universal
Since the latest test for FT4 said "Not Applicable", perhaps there was no test done.  Anyway, with your symptoms, your dose of only 88 mcg of T4 med, and your TSH at 3.21, I am sure that you are hypothyroid and need a significant dose increase.  Most hypothyroid patients find that when taking thyroid med adequate to relieve hypo symptoms, their TSH became suppressed below range.  That does not mean hyperthyroidism, unless there are hyper symptoms due to excessive levels of Free T4 and Free T3.  Many doctors don't understand this and assume that a suppressed TSH when being treated is the same as when untreated.  That is very wrong.  

So you need to get your doctor to treat clinically, by testing and adjusting your Free T4 and Free T3 levels as needed to relieve symptoms, without being influenced by resultant TSH levels.  Symptom relief should be all important, not just test results, and especially not TSH results.  

So when you see the doctor next, you need to request to be tested for both Free T4 and Free T3.  If the doctor resists, just insist on it and don't take no for an answer.  If not ever tested for cortisol, that needs to be done also.  It would also be a good idea to test for Reverse T3 to establish a baseline for that.  Since hypothyroid patients are so frequently deficient in Vitamin D, B12 and ferritin, those need to be tested and then supplemented as needed to optimize.  D should be at least 50 ng/mL, B12 in the upper end of its range, and ferritin should be at least 100.

The need for all these tests is confirmed in the following link.  I highly recommend that you read at least the first two pages, and more, if you want to get into the discussion and scientific evidence for all that is recommended.  You should also take a copy of the paper along with you for the appointment and give it to the doctor if he has any issues with doing these tests and treating you clinically, as described above.  If you can get in to see the doctor sooner, there is no need to wait until April.  The quicker you get started on this the sooner you will feel better.

Thank you so much for the reply.  There is a girl at the office who calls me every few months to see how I am doing and I asked her if I could make an appt sooner and she told me they are booked solid months in advance and if I cancelled the 4/5 appt I'd be waiting for months.  There was a female Dr there who just left a few months back and they are stretched a bit thin at the moment.  I will make a copy of everything you mentioned and ask the Dr if he wouldn't mind checking these things out.  Again thank you very much I will keep you posted.
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