Leslie Looks for a Solution for Weight Gain with Underactive Thyroid

Leslie writes to metabolism.com about the effect hypothyroidism has had on her life, her energy and her weight. Her experience raises the notion that her metabolic problems may not be totally resolved despite what appears to be an adequately low TSH level while on Armour thyroid.

Leslie writes:

I am at a total loss as to how to loose weight! Five years ago, I became chronically fatigued, and had lots of other symptoms that led me to believe that I was hypothyroid. My Dr. tested me, and declared that I was not, and suggested that I should excersise more. My symptoms continued, and I began to gain weight at an alarming rate. I went back several times, presenting with hypothryroid symptoms, and he finally admitted that I was “borderline hypo with a TSH over 5″ but “we don’t treat that.” I lived the next two years with debilitating symptoms and weight gain that I simply could not control with diet and excersise. By the time I found a doctor who was willing to treat me, I had gained over 50 pounds and had developed fibromyalia as well. Even then, it was difficult to get treatment – but finally he relented. Now my TSH is below 1, and my fatigue is not quite so so debilitating, however my weight loss efforts are dismal. I know that my metabolism is very slow – because my temp. in the morning is usually under 96. I’ve been on Adkins for six months now – keeping my carbs under 20 grams a day, and relying on lots of fiber to keep me from being terribly hungry – but I’ve only managed to lose about 13 lbs. I know there has to be help for me, but I just don’t know what to do. Five and a half short years ago I weighed 140 lbs, had energy to burn and felt great, and looked pretty good too!. Now I weigh 180 lbs, live with chronic pain, and fatigue, and I’m unable to work. I’ve done a huge amount of research into hypothyroid and all the problems it causes – and bringing my TSH down has brought my glucose, triglicerides and cholesterol down, but not my weight. I am fearful of developing diabeties and really need help. I take Armour Thyroid, which has been much better for me than Synthroid was, but still – I am startled and upset when I see a picture of myself – looking fat and puffy instead of toned and slim. Please help me!

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  • Tony Kingkade

    You might want to have your resting metabolic rate tested. You sit in a comfortable lounge chair and breath through a tube that is hooked up to a machine for about 5-10 minutes. It calculates your resting metabolic rate which accounts for around 60-70% of your daily caloric expenditure. Armed with this information, you can set your caloric intake to maintain a caloric defecit. It’s a more valid way of determing your caloric needs than weight charts or RMR calculators.

    I had the opposite problem, losing weight when eating based on my “calculated” daily requirements. I got tested and found out my metabolism was running much higher for my weight/age than the “calculated” value by around 300 Calories a day.

    Look for university with an exercise/sports physiology research dept. and some fitness facilites also do this as do some registered dieticians. Cost is around $50.

  • TriskelionAZ

    Hi there. I hope i can give some help information. A few months ago i spoke to a woman(shes about 55 I believe) who has had the same problem. She said that she had to go to a Naturopathic doctor since regular doctors were telling her that her thyroid was slightly low. The regular doctor put her on synthroid but it only worked for a few months and then she was feeling sick after that and it wasnt helping her.

    The naturopathic doctor found that the synthroid was very low and the synhtroid causing toximia(building up toxic levels) because the T3 and T4 were not converted in the medication. Therefore the naturopathic doctor prescribed her Armour thyroid with T3 and T4 converted and she is doing much better and losing weight(slowly though) and shes feeling better.
    I dont know all these terminology what they mean(the T3 and T4) but if it worked for her maybe it might work for you?

    If this helps can you please let me know?

  • Leslie

    Thanks! I do take Armour thyroid – and my TSH was at 1.9 (the doctor said I should feel great!) and I felt so fatigued that some days I could hardly function. I told him that I felt under-medicated, in spite of my great TSH number. He reluctantly increased my dose….my friends and family saw a difference within a few days -I have energy now, and don’t look so worn out. I feel happier, more tolerant. I’m sure my next labs are going to indicate that I’m hyperthyroid – but I have no symptoms of being hyperthyroid – I finally feel more like my “old self” before I got sick. I’ve lost a few more pounds – so I’m hopeful that my metabolism is kicking in…time will tell. I’m going to go back on Atkins now and see if I can drop the weight.

  • beth

    Oh my gosh, I too gained like 30 lbs and can NOT get rid of it.
    I am on armour thyroid, which I love
    however, it does not help with the weight. I walk alot and eat good healthy foods, plenty of water and my weight is stuck like glue……..someone mentioned to me yesterday, that there is a metabolism med? I wonder what it is? I am at a loss and it is so frustrating…I had always been thin all my life, until my thyroid went out and I went through menopause. ( I am 56) and would appreciate any advise I can get…

  • Anne Lantrip

    Try having all your hormones tested. I’ve had the same issues and am still working on getting the hormones balanced. Not quite losing weight well, yet, but at least I’m feeling tons better!! Hopefully the weight start coming off soon.


    hey tony kinkade, do you know the machine name, and the manufacturer?

  • Tony Kingkade

    Korr Medical Technologies – http://www.korr.com – manufactures the MetaChek metabolic rate analysis system, which is the one that was used to measure my resting metabolic rate.



  • leslie

    Beth – perhaps you are under-medicated. The numbers don’t really mean much – you must convince your doctor to pay attention to how you feel, rather than your labs! Remind him/her: prior to 1973 there was not measure for TSH. Doctors would give their Hypo patients Armour, and increase the dose until the patient felt “right” again – and considered that to be successful treatment! I consider that to be successful treatment too! We’ll see what my doc says next week – I’m feeling great after an increase in meds (in spite of a TSH of 1.9), and I’m sure my TSH has gone WAY low – but it i hard to argue with success! I have absolutely NO Hyper symptoms. I think it is time to throw out TSH testing altogether, and treat patients instead!

  • HelenK

    I have had areal issue with my weight since achieving a traumatic brain injury 23years ago. I have no spleen or gall bladder, and I had an overactive thyroid back in 1995. I developed goitters that were quite big. My doctor had me drink acidic iodine which did reduce the size of them. I am now on synthroid – .175 mg. I don’t feel bad, but I still have a very hard time with my weight. After sustaining my head injury I know that my metabolism and hormone levels have been compromised. I didn’t even menustrate for a year and 2 days after the accident.

  • Deborah Bbillups

    How do i lose weight with no thyroid at all? It was killed with iodine,

  • i struggle wityh weight loss too, mostly due to thyroid problems. I did find some some success in switch over to raw-ish foods as well as eliminating dairy and incorporating some vegan friendly, raw ingredient meal replacement shakes (i list one in my signature line) . thats for the post leslie and helping us better come to terms with hypothyrodism

  • Sally Anne

    My basal temperature in the morning is 95.8 or less despite 60 mg or Armour. It is frustrating to live with this disease. I try not to use my sick thyroid as an excuse for not being able to lose weight but I know in my heart it really does affect weight and trying to lose it. In my case, it is compounded by untreated sleep apnea (caused, I believe, by the excess weight and turns into a vicious cycle). Sleep apnea causes metabolic changes (not good ones!) and carbohydrate cravings. It is a constant struggle that lately consumes me. Every day is like trying to run a marathon in wet concrete.