Thyroid Disorders Community
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649848 tn?1534637300

Question of the Month – Mar 2013

This question is going to have multiple parts.  Did you have a weight issue in relation to your thyroid condition?  Did you lose weight, once you started medication?  What things have you tried to help with weight loss?  What worked and what didn’t?  Do you have other conditions that may exacerbate the problem?  Those could include insulin resistance, PCOS, or others.

34 Responses
649848 tn?1534637300
We all have our difficulties when it comes to dealing with thyroid issues; sometimes these difficulties can be overwhelming and I don’t know about everyone else, I often spend hours and hours, searching the internet trying to find answers to my questions. Sometimes, I’m successful in finding answers, other times, I’m not.

One of the biggest issues I’ve had since developing Hashimoto’s/hypothyroidism is weight gain and the inability to lose weight. While doctors will often tell us that thyroid malfunction typically only causes a 5-15 lb weight increase, many of us know that’s not true, as we’ve seen for ourselves that it’s possible to gain much more.  They also tell us that once we start taking thyroid replacement the weight will come off; again, some of us see, every time we look in the mirror, that, too, is not always true. For some, the weight falls off, others have to make it a life’s work, practically, to get the weight off.

There are no right or wrong answers to the questions; the questions are for discussion, as we’d like to know what has been tried, what has worked and what hasn’t worked.  We’re all individuals, so we know that what works for one, won’t necessarily work for another.

So, come on in, sit down and tell us your story.
649848 tn?1534637300
Here's an update........ had a doctor's appointment this week, and have now been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. In my case, it's a combination of insulin resistance/pre-diabetes, high blood pressure and high triglycerides.

Add my hypothyroidism and you might understand how weight loss will be difficult
Avatar universal
During a time when I had gotten back into hypothyroidism, when Armour Thyroid was not available and I was dependent on T4 meds only, I gained about 28 pounds over a span of about 9 months.  Since I was not converting the T4 adequately to T3, my Free T3 level was in the lower third of the range, as I remember.  As soon as Armour was again available, I switched back and after some tweaking of dosage, with the blood draw for testing done before taking my daily meds, my Free T3 was 3.9 (range of 2.3 - 4.2) and Free T4 was .98 (range of .60 - 1.50).   Over the next  8 months I lost all the 28 pounds, without making any other change.

Each person has an expected resting metabolic rate dependent on their gender, weight, height, and age.  When you are hypothyroid, the actual metabolic rate may be significantly lower than the expected level.  This makes it difficult to impossible to lose weight and keep it off.   So getting thyroid levels right, can return your resting metabolic rate to normal, and allow you to get to the weight that is "normal" for you, taking into consideration your dietary and exercise habits.
649848 tn?1534637300
Yes, we always figure that getting thyroid levels right, should return metabolic rate back to normal, and I thought I was going to be one of the those lucky ones, too; unfortunately, that doesn't always work for everyone, when you add in other factors, such as the insulin resistance.  

Insulin is often referred to as a "fat storage" hormone, so the higher the blood sugar goes, the more insulin is pumped out and the more fat gets shoved into the cells.

From http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Triglycerides_UCM_306029_Article.jsp  

"Calories ingested in a meal and not used immediately by tissues are converted to triglycerides and transported to fat cells to be stored. Hormones regulate the release of triglycerides from fat tissue so they meet the body's needs for energy between meals."  Unfortunately, it doesn't say which hormones.  Another subject for research.

All of these things have to work in conjunction with each other and when one or more parts of the process, don't work, steps have to be taken to get them all back in line, not just one part of the equation.

My thyroid levels are already good, so over the next few months, my "job" will be to keep blood sugar in check, in order to keep insulin levels lower, as well as getting plenty of exercise to get triglyceride levels down.

I'll go for a metabolic study next week; will be interesting to see how it turns out.
988694 tn?1332363079
Thanks Barb, I loved this "question of the month" post. I hope more members shared their experience, it would be very helpful for all of us who are in replacement thyroid medicine.

In my case it has been 5 to 15 pounds and when I started to take medicine it started to come off. But for me any minimal hormonal imbalance affects my weight. If I start taking or go off birth control pill for example, then my weight goes up and down, depending of who knows what.

I have anxiety also and I think that thyroid replacement and other supplements (vitamins and minerals) have helped me to stabilize that anxiety that ultimately makes me want to eat when I am not hungry or when I should not be eating!!

For me, a good diet, well balanced hormones and exercise make the trick in keeping my weight where I want it to be. I am more concerned now that I am older in having a healthy weight which means to me, to have nutritional foods: low sugar, lots of protein, and low carbs.

I dance, I do yoga, I run, I walk, and I lift weights as part of my routine. But if my hormones (thyroid, and reproductive) are a mess, then it is harder to lose the weight.

I think that we forget sometimes that for us women it is more challenging since we have to deal with progesterone, estrogen and testosterone, among others (to balance them) besides our thyroid condition.

Thanks for the post,

649848 tn?1534637300
Good to see you posting.

You seem to be a "textbook" case as far as the weight issue is concerned.

I guess I don't spend enough time with the diet/exercise issue; always seem to be on the go as it is and often wonder how to make time to add in more. I'm looking forward to my metabolic workup on Tues...... I'm sure that will be a real eye-opener.

I do appreciate your post; it's nice to know that what "should" happen, really does, in some cases.

I, too, hope others will post their experience.  We've had a lot of inquiry into this issue, so we know it isn't new.
231441 tn?1333896366
Hi Everyone.

Way back in 1999 - 2000 i was gaining weight rapidly, depsite trying to exercise and watching what I ate.  After 1 year of trying to find out what was wrong (I figured either I was eating in my sleep - not likely 'cause I was so fatigued I literally slept like the dead, or there was something wrong), I was finally diagnosed with being hypothyroid and PCOS.  I was on synthetic thyroid hromone first, whcih helped but wasn't the whole answer.  With exercise and still watching diet and took up triathlon I slowly lost 35 lbs over about a year.  Later I started on dessicated thyroid (ERFA) and it really helped.  Since then weight loss is still a major challenge, but compared to premedication days is easier.

I know that I have to work harder than 'most' people to lose weight.  Most successful for me is very low carb, calorie restriction, plus exercise.

I have also gone on to develop diabetes in 2008 (early when pregnant with my first), and this never went away.  I use insulin rather than oral meds to try to have 'excellent' control, even though I do still have some of my own insulin production happening.

I am still heavieer than I want to be.  About 15 kg above my target of 65 kg.  I am now nearly 12  months post baby no. 2 and am increasing exercise to try to get things moving. My thyroid levels were a bit low, so I've also slightly increased my meds and hopefully this will help too.
Avatar universal
I can only comment about my wife who is hypo. She has found it virtually and totally impossible to lose weight despite diet and considerable exercise.

The routine is that when she starts out on this diet and excise program in the first week or maybe two weeks she loses about 10 lbs.  Then no matter what or for how long she continues the diet and exercise it get NOTHING. And I mean NOTHING additional lost.  At one point she continued on this for I think 12 or more weeks and never lost or varied more than a single pound which could be just water.

Now saying this also we do not believe she has ever been fully optimized for medication and we're now working with a new Endo who started her on a T3 med which made her feel a bit better but refuses to change the dosage to increase even after 3 months and her initial labs show her FT3 and FT4 dropping a little over that time and her symptoms coming back.  So this is a frustrating process.

As a result my wife does not have a very good attitude, poor body image and thus self esteem and is generally "bummed out" because while she wants to lose weight she knows and has proven to herself that it is impossible about 10 different times over they years.  So now she is in the wait and see what the heck this new Endo will do.  If she ever gets optimized in Thyroid maybe then she'll try again to lose weight. But up until then it is just a waste of time and does nothing but increase depressed attitude at working so hard and getting ZERO results.
Avatar universal
I am not sure how much of my weight gain is due to hypothyroidism, but I do think the difficulty in taking it off is related.  I gained about 10 pounds per year for four years and stayed steady at that weight for about 18 months.  Then I lost about five pounds not really doing anything differently.  When I was gaining, my routine blood work was always normal.  At the time I started gaining, I was fairly lightweight (100# 5'5") so 15 pounds was ok, the other 25, not so much.  As I said, I did lose five pounds and would like to lose 15-20 more. I am hoping as my levels get in a more appropriate range that I can see some positive weight loss results.  For me, age is certainly a factor.  I'm not *that* old, but am nearing menopause.  As hormones shifts, where I carry the weight is shifting a bit.  Everything in moderation, right?  I do enjoy good food and good wine.  I don't mind being a little softer than in the past, but would like to lose just a little.  If my thyroid is responsible to some degree, I am hopeful that some weight might come off.  We shall see.
649848 tn?1534637300
Haven't had a chance to get back here and look at this thread; happy to see additional posts.

I guess it's fairly normal for us women to start gaining weight sometime in our 40's, though I did very well until my thyroid "wigged" at about age 58 and from there, things went downhill in a hand basket.

Like you, courtney, I didn't worry too much about the first few pounds, because I was well within a healthy weight range. As my weight continued to go up, though, and nothing I was doing seemed to matter, I became concerned.  I started out gaining a pound or two at a time, but then, it started going in 5-10 pound increments and it seemed there was nothing I could do to stop it.

Of course when we gain/lose weight very quickly, we can usually figure that a good share of it is water weight and one of the first hypo symptoms that went away was the bags under  my eyes and I did drop a few pounds, only to regain them, down the road.... it's been that way every since.  I think I lost and gained the same 10 pounds every week for a couple of years until my weight finally started creeping up and I haven't been able to get it back down.

Of course, we know that we have to either take in less calories or use up more, in order to lose weight. Just this week, I've started on a new program to try to get/keep insulin levels more steady, control calories and because I have low protein levels, which causes excess water weight, loss of muscle mass, etc, my program includes a lot of extra protein in the form of shakes, etc.  

Additionally, even though my neighbor and I walk every morning for at least an hour (our route is right at 3 miles), my weight doesn't budge.  My "coach" says (and I knew this, just hadn't thought about it for a while)...... I do the 3 miles every day; my body is used to it and just assumes that's the exercise I'm going to get........ the trick is change it around.... add more distance/time, intensity, new exercises, etc......I'll continue my morning walks, but plan to try to increase them, plus I've just started a line dance class and now have a brand new zumba dvd....... I'm also trying to come up with enough time to add back in some yoga....  good thing I'm retired or I'd never have time for all this...... lol

Wishing the best for everyone.
Avatar universal
I was diagnosed hypERthyroid, Grave's Disease, 4 1/2 years ago. But don't hate me, I'm one of the small percentage of hyper patients that gains weight. I was 32 years old, 5'2", and had gained about 10lbs, to put me at 135lbs. I had, since my teens, been around 125lbs, give or take a few pounds. Once I started treatment, methimazole, I gained 60lbs in 4 months! Yes, that's alot, at 5'2" that put me as obese. Dr said I would have to wait for my weight to level out, it could take a couple years. Devastating!

Fast forward, a year and a half ago. My thyroid levels were under control, I had stopped medication, and was in remission. Time to try to lose the weight. I was able to lose 40lbs in 5 1/2 months, but it was HARD!! 500-1300 calories a day, had to change it up every few days or I would plateau.  Also, at LEAST 3 hours exercise a day, EVERY day. Treadmill, weight lifting, zumba, step aerobics, running, pilates. I was obsessive about trying to get the weight off and had little time for anything else. I was still a little over weight, but could finally breathe while tying my shoes- so I was pretty happy!! I decided to take the summer 'off.' Which means digging and building a fence, group runs, hikes, etc-definately still exercise. I also tried to eat healthier, fresh summer foods, but did not count calories, weigh food, or deny myself the occasional treat.

By October....ALL the weight was back!! Not more, just back to my 60 extra lbs.  All that time and effort for nothing. I felt utterly defeated. Sure I could start all over and take all that time and effort, and act like a crazy compulsive person, to lose it again, but then what? Gain every ounce back? I never had a weight problem before, I am now 37 years old and still in remission. My thyroid tests are normal. But once again I cannot breathe and tie my shoes at the same time, more than a little humiliating!

I'm not sure if anyone has any advice, although I hope someone does. If nothing else, maybe someone will stumble across this and realize they are not alone. Weight gain issues can and DO happen to hyperthyroid people too....
1039061 tn?1257881894
I am glad I saw this question of the month. I have mainly been lurking on these boards for almost 4 years now. I have posted a few questions during that time and been given some wonderful information by the most amazing people on here. When I first started having thyroid issues I lost weight, about 32 lbs. but that was because I was really sick with my thyroid. I was ver hyper and I chaulk the weightloss up to that. Since the RAI treatment of my thyroid, I have gained back all but about 10 lbs of that 32 lb weight loss. I am considered obese, and would be completely happy to lose just 30 lbs which would get me just below the 200 mark. Unfortunately for me, weight loss is like pulling teeth. Actually, it's harder than that. I feel like flying fools wife that can limit my carb, sugar, fat intake and lose 10 lbs and that's it. I get discouraged with it because I want to see results from the efforts and the hard work, and it just doesn't happen. Right now, I recently started the "17 day diet" after hearing about it from a friend. Basically, it's a healthier version of Atkins, so we'll see how things turn out after the first 17 days. I know that I am not alone in this battle, this board is proof enough of that. I guess if we just keep on keepin' on maybe eventually something will change with the weight loss. I keep hoping that anyway.
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