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How To Know If Thyroid Is Causing Weight Gain

Will I Have The Same Dose Of Medication For Hypothyroidism My Entire Life

How Thyroid Disfunction Can Cause You Weight Gain

The dose of your medication can actually change over time. At different points in your life, you may need to have the amounts of medication changed so that it manages your symptoms. This could happen because of things like weight gain or weight loss. Your levels will need to be monitored throughout your life to make sure your medication is working correctly.

How Low Thyroid Changes The Way Your Body Manages Weight

Thyroid-related weight gain affects millions of women but it has very specific causes. Low thyroid, also known as subclinical hypothyroidism, can make it much harder to lose weight at the same time it is turning on mechanisms that make it easier to pile on new weight.

The thyroid can affect your weight so easily because one of its main jobs is to regulate metabolism. If thyroid hormones are low, your heart rate slows and so does your digestive system, often leading to constipation, which is linked to weight gain. And in a vicious-circle effect, these small shifts in weight can change thyroid hormone levels.

When thyroid hormones are low even just a little bit it causes physical changes in your body and brain that can stimulate weight gain. Lowered thyroid hormones alter the brain centers that control appetite.

This small shift is enough to confuse your brains chemical messengers, serotonin, beta endorphin, and gamma-aminobutyric acid . These neurotransmitters regulate how and when you eat, and are also tightly connected to moods.

How Does The Pituitary Determine That

Its job is to monitor your thyroid hormone levels. When the pituitary senses levels are dropping, it produces TSH , which signals your thyroid to step up production. If it senses hormone levels are too high, it signals the thyroid to slow down.

Routine blood tests reveal how much of these hormones your body is making. It seems backwards to some patients, but low TSH is a sign of an overactive thyroid and high TSH, an underactive one .

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Hypothyroidism: Control The Condition Control The Weight

The best way to manage weight gain from hypothyroidism is to control the condition. If you get your metabolism back up to speed, the weight shouldn’t keep adding up. You’ll also have more energy, which can help motivate you to exercise.

Hypothyroidism can be treated with a thyroid hormone supplement, which provides the body with the thyroid hormone it needs to keep metabolism at a healthy level. A common medication to treat hypothyroidism is levothyroxine , a synthetic form of thyroid hormone.

Myth 1 Hypothyroidism Causes Significant Weight Gain

How to Lose Weight with an Underactive Thyroid

As stated above, the average weight gain from hypothyroidism is only about 3-5 pounds. While obesity and hypothyroidism commonly occur together, its possible that obesity can actually cause thyroid problems more frequently than the reverse. The reason for this is excess weight can impair the way the body uses thyroid hormone.

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T4 Tests In Low And High Thyroid Conditions

T4 is the principal thyroid hormone. The normal range for total T4 is 4.5 to 12.6 , although again, the range may vary slightly from one laboratory to another. Elevated total T4 suggests hyperthyroidism, and low total T4 points to hypothyroidism. Some conditions such as pregnancy or the use of oral contraceptives alters the levels of T4 and T3. In those cases one needs to use the TSH test only. Steriods and chronic disease may actually lower the T4 again use the TSH.

Does Hypothyroidism Cause Weight Gain

If your weight has increased recently, your thyroid could definitely be part of the problem.

About half of people with hypothyroidism experience some weight gain. Most people usually gain only 5 to 10 pounds however, some women can gain more, especially if the hypothyroidism is severe. While most of the weight gain is mainly increased salt and water retention, some of it can be due to increased fat gain.

Even though weight gain is common with hypothyroidism, if youve gained a lot like 20 or more pounds your thyroid is probably not the only cause. Its a good idea to have your thyroid checked, but you should also take a look at your diet, stress levels, and physical activity.

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Hypothyroidism: Why Weight Loss Is Tough

“When your thyroid is not functioning well, your metabolism goes down and you start to gain weight,” says Anne Wolf, RD, MS, a registered dietitian and researcher at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in Charlottesville. And once that weight has piled on, even 5 to 10 pounds can become very difficult to lose.

Additionally, Wolf notes that people with hypothyroidism tend to feel fatigued and just don’t have much energy, making exercise that much harder. With a lowered metabolism and a loss of the energy you need to exercise, the pounds can pile up quickly.

Thyroid Weight Gain Myths And Facts

What Causes Thyroid Weight Gain? (And How to Fix it for Weight Loss)

Have you recently gained weight for seemingly no reason? Or perhaps youve recently found out you have hypothyroidism, and youre wondering if it could be responsible for your weight gain. After all, it is known that an overactive thyroid could cause you to lose weight is the opposite true?

Theres a lot to learn about problems with thyroid and weight gain, so lets get started!

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Is My Thyroid Causing Weight Gain

Youre cold all of the time.

And you are wondering is it my thyroid?

Followed by the next thought: It MUST be my thyroid. I can take a pill, lose the weight, have so much energy, and live my perfect life.

Isnt that what thyroid pills do anyway?

Heres the TRUE answers from an Obesity-Medicine Certified Doctor, Life and Weight Loss coach, and Hashimotos thyroid girl herself

What Causes Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism can have a primary cause or a secondary cause. A primary cause is a condition that directly impacts the thyroid and causes it to create low levels of thyroid hormones. A secondary cause is something that causes the pituitary gland to fail, which means it cant send thyroid stimulating hormone to the thyroid to balance out the thyroid hormones.

Primary causes of hypothyroidism are much more common. The most common of these primary causes is an autoimmune condition called Hashimotos disease. Also called Hashimotos thyroiditis or chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, this condition is hereditary . In Hashimotos disease, the bodys immune system attacks and damages the thyroid. This prevents the thyroid from making and releasing enough thyroid hormone.

The other primary causes of hypothyroidism can include:

In some cases, thyroiditis can happen after a pregnancy or a viral illness.

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When To See Your Gp

Symptoms of an underactive thyroid are often similar to those of other conditions, and they usually develop slowly, so you may not notice them for years.

You should see your GP and ask to be tested for an underactive thyroid if you have symptoms including:

  • tiredness
  • being sensitive to the cold
  • dry skin and hair
  • muscle aches

The only accurate way of finding out whether you have a thyroid problem is to have a thyroid function test, where a sample of blood is tested to measure your hormone levels.

Read more about testing for an underactive thyroid

Other Considerations And Next Steps

Female Weight Gain

Thyroid hormone replacement medication is highly effective in reversing the symptoms of hypothyroidism. According to the American Thyroid Association, weight gain associated with hypothyroidism is typically about 5 to 10 pounds most of which is water weight. This weight is usually lost with thyroid hormone replacement therapy.

See your doctor if you experience any signs or symptoms that might signal hypothyroidism. In addition to weight gain and bloating, these could include:

  • Feeling cold

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Low Thyroid Can Change Your Hunger Hormone And Shut Down Weight Loss

There is an even sneakier hormonal issue connected to imbalanced thyroid function that can effectively shut down the weight loss process. When thyroid hormone becomes dysregulated, it decreases leptin, the hormone that, under normal circumstances, helps trigger weight loss, decrease hunger, and increase the sense of feeling full.

When leptin drops because of low thyroid, the brain senses an emergency. It switches leptins hormonal function to ramp up your appetite and slow down energy use. Now your brain sends the signal to use leptin to gain weight because it senses your body needs to be in survival mode.

These leptin changes often lead to sharp carbohydrate cravings, weight gain, distressing changes in body shape, as well as low energy, and depressed mood. But you can interrupt this cascade of hormonal changes to stop thyroid-related weight gain and restart the weight loss process. And these steps can also lift your mood and give you the energy you need to get things done, and have a little fun again!

Exercise Is Extremely Important

Some amount of physical activity is important for every individual. Regular exercise is also extremely important for those suffering from hypothyroidism. It will help in burning calories as well as boost metabolism. Try exercises that can help you boost metabolism like planks, dips, squats or swimming.

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Though these two conditions are vastly different, theyre both usually caused by an autoimmune disease, which causes antibodies to attack the thyroid and make it produce more or less thyroid hormone than the body needs.

A host of issues can come along with both of these diagnoses, but many women worry about how their abnormal thyroid production affects their weight. Hyperthyroidism can cause unintentional weight loss, anxiety, and heart palpitations, but it can also increase the appetite, causing people to gain some weight. Hypothyroidism can cause weight gain more directly. It can also cause fatigue, heavier or irregular periods, a slowed heart rate, and chilliness.

Luckily, for the one in eight women who will develop a thyroid disorder, according to the American Thyroid Association, hormones are here to help. Tan says that when a blood test reveals abnormal levels, and she diagnoses thyroid dysfunction, she turns to T4 supplements. Also known as Levothyroxine or Synthroid, synthetic T4 is biochemically the same as the hormones that your body makes.

Watch a hot doc explain how to treat your thyroid disorder:

Reduce Exposure To Hormone Disruptors


Toxins are one of the most common reasons why hormonal weight gain occurs.

You see, toxins cause inflammation, which basically throws your body into a state of confusion.

The most common source of toxins is the food we eat.

Food toxins that contribute to hormonal weight include:

  • Processed and genetically modified fats
  • Processed sugar
  • Dyes
  • Processed meats

So, if you want to lose weight fast and reverse hormone-related weight gain, reduce your consumption of these foods and ingredients.

This single step will make a tremendous difference in your bodys ability to shed excess pounds.

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How Much Weight Can I Expect To Lose Once The Hypothyroidism Is Treated

Since much of the weight gain in hypothyroidism is accumulation in salt and water, when the hypothyroidism is treated one can expect a small weight loss. As in the treatment with hyperthyroidism, treatment of the abnormal state of hypothyroidism with thyroid hormone results in a return of body weight to what it was before the hypothyroidism developed. Since weight gain may have many causes and develops over a long period of time, it is fairly common to find that there is not a large amount of weight loss after successful treatment of hypothyroidism. Again, if all of the symptoms of hypothyroidism other than weight gain resolve with thyroid hormone treatment, it is unlikely that the weight gain was solely due to the thyroid. Once hypothyroidism has been treated and thyroid hormone levels are in the normal range, the ability to gain or lose weight is the same as in individuals who do not have thyroid problems.

How Is Hypothyroidism Treated

In most cases, hypothyroidism is treated by replacing the amount of hormone that your thyroid is no longer making. This is typically done with a medication. One medication that is commonly used is called levothyroxine. Taken orally, this medication increases the amount of thyroid hormone your body produces, evening out your levels.

Hypothyroidism is a manageable disease. However, you will need to continuously take medication to normalize the amount of hormones in your body for the rest of your life. With careful management, and follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider to make sure your treatment is working properly, you can lead a normal and healthy life.

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It’s Easy To Get The Care You Need

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.

Your thyroid gland weighs less than an ounce, yet has the power to affect weight gain by an average of 20 to 30 pounds if its not working properly.

Your thyroid is a small gland in the front of your neck just below your Adams apple. When its working as it should, your thyroid releases hormones that play a huge role in how your body uses energy, and in how your organs function. Because your thyroid controls your metabolism it can also have an effect on your weight.

The thyroids function is to regulate the metabolism of the body how fast or slow things go, says Kimberly Bethel, MD, of Trotwood Physician Center. It affects everything from the top of the head all the way down to the toes. And we know it affects a persons weight. If you are a fast metabolizer you will burn more calories, or if you are a slow metabolizer, youre going to gain weight.

Thyroid function is often the first thing a physician checks when a patient is experiencing unexplained weight gain or loss, because improper hormone production affects so much more than a persons size. Thankfully, the disease is treatable, although not curable.

Surgery For Thyroid Disorders

What Causes Weight Gain

Removing the thyroid gland can cure hyperthyroidism, but the procedure is only recommended if antithyroid drugs don’t work, or if there is a large goiter. Surgery may also be recommended for patients with thyroid nodules. Once the thyroid is removed, most patients require daily supplements of thyroid hormones to avoid developing hypothyroidism.

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Treating An Underactive Thyroid

Treatment for an underactive thyroid involves taking daily hormone replacement tablets, called levothyroxine, to raise your thyroxine levels.

You’ll initially have regular blood tests until the correct dose of levothyroxine is reached. This can take a little while to get right.

Once you’re taking the correct dose, you’ll usually have a blood test once a year to monitor your hormone levels.

You’ll usually need treatment for the rest of your life. However, with proper treatment, you should be able to lead a normal, healthy life.

If an underactive thyroid is not treated, it can lead to complications, including heart disease, goitre, pregnancy problems and a life-threatening condition called myxoedema coma .

Does Underactive Thyroid Lead To Weight Gainor Vice

with Arthur Schneider, MD, PhD

Low thyroid functioning is often blamed for weight gain. Your thyroid gland, a butterfly-shape organ in the front of your neck, makes hormones that control metabolism, weight, breathing, heart rate and many other functions.

But new research has raised questions about whether the link could go the other way, according to Cari Kitahara, PhD, MHS, an epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute.

Some study findings suggest that excess weight may be behind the slowing down of thyroid function instead of a sluggish thyroid leading to an increase in unanticipated weight gain. Dr. Kitahara presented findings of her investigation regarding the interrelationship between obesity, thyroid function and weight at the 86th annual meeting of the American Thyroid Association in Denver, Colorado.1

Understanding the link between weight and thyroid is crucial, she and others say, because obesity raises your risk of getting thyroid cancer. And if her research and that of others bears out, treating an overweight person with thyroid medication may be the wrong course of action, she says, if in fact the weight gain is what made the thyroid sluggish. The better approach, in some cases, may be weight loss.1

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Thyroid Problems And Weight Gain: The Link

Thyroid function is closely connected with metabolism. Thyroid hormones essentially regulate calorie consumption. The thyroid also influences other healthy bodily functions, so many different symptoms can arise when thyroid hormone production is off. Researchers have found that thyroid problems are linked to weight gain, specifically, an underactive thyroid . While it is always important to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, it is also important to be aware of this medical condition and try to manage it.

Other Causes Of Hyperthyroidism

Soy Harms the Thyroid and Can Cause Weight Gain

Hyperthyroidism can also result from thyroid nodules. These are lumps that develop inside the thyroid and sometimes begin producing thyroid hormones. Large lumps may create a noticeable goiter. Smaller lumps can be detected with ultrasound. A thyroid uptake and scan can tell if the lump is producing too much thyroid hormone.

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Thyroid And Weight Gain

The thyroid gland’s role in the body is very similar to cruise control in the car. Cruise control keeps a car running at a constant steady speed. The thyroid gland’s role in the body is very similar to cruise control in the car. The thyroid hormone can be called the cruise control for the body. Cruise control keeps a car running at a constant steady speed. When we do not want to worry about having to keep a steady foot on the accelerator we turn on cruise control and the car maintains a normal speed without any effort. Thyroid hormone keeps the rest of the body working at the right speed. If thyroid hormone levels decrease, cells throughout the rest of the body decrease in activity. As a result the cells need less energy and thus more energy is available to be stored and the weight increases even though the appetite decreases. Less heat is produced, the person becomes cold, and the sweat glands do not keep the skin moist anymore. The brain just wants to sleep all the time. The heart beats slower. The bowels become sluggish. Everything slows up.


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