Which diet works best for weight loss with hypothyroidism - any thoughts please?

I have just found out my son is getting married in December, so I have 6 months to lose some weight.

I have spent ages looking at various diets etc. online and am wondering which diets people have had the most success with. I don't know whether to join a slimming club or do an online plan or do anything else. I just know I want to look better than I do now (4 stone overweight) in December.

I know it's harder to lose weight with our condition, so I wonder if there are any success stories of weight loss out there?

Best wishes


21 Replies

  • The best success stories come from those that have optimised their thyroid hormones.

    There are no miracles here, no short-cuts. The diets you've been looking at are designed for people with so-called 'normal' bodies, not for hypos (even so, I'm not in favour of 'diets'). For a hypo, the weight was not gained by over-eating (well, not normally, anyway), it was gained because you you have a low metabolism. How is going on a diet going to raise your metabolism? It's more likely to make it even lower. When you are hypo, you can diet yourself fat.

    It is very possibly not even fat you're dealing with, but myxoedema - a build up of sticky substances, such as mucin, under the skin that retains water. No diet is going to shift that.

    Hypos don't need less calories, they need more. So many people have found that they start losing weight when they increas their food intake. Because hypos have a harder time doing everything, including converting their T4 to T3 - the hormone that is most likely to make you loss weight. You don't give us any details about your blood test results or what you're taking, but I would hazard a guess that you are taking too small a dose of levo and that your T3 levels are too low.

    You want a success story. Well, since I started taking enough T3 (and enough for me may be far too much for you, we're all different), I have lost over 30 kilos without changing my eating habits - except for trying to eat more (not always easy). I wouldn't even pretend to have a 'healthy' diet, and I loath exercise. It is purely and simply through optimising my T3.

    Now I know this isn't easy, but in order to lose weight safely, it's the best way. A mountain of words have been spilled on this subject on this site alone, and if you do a search on here, you can read all that has been said.

    Hugs, Grey

  • You've come up trumps yet again Grey!

    You have already been helping me re my T3 dose which the endo is increasing by small amounts ie 5mcg every 6 weeks (post was 'endo ringing me ...") The doctor had increased it to 30mcg and he decreased it to 25mcg with the 100 mcg T4. Below are my results:

    Results after 6 weeks on T3 (did not take any T3 that morning - 21 May at 9.30am) are as follows:

    TSH 0.01 ( 0.35 - 5.50 mU/L)

    T4 13.2 (10.50 - 20.00 pmoml/L)

    T3 4.80 (3.50 - 6.50 pmol/L)

    This is on 20 mcg a day T3 (3 times a day) and 100 mcg T4

    Results last time before starting T3 were:

    TSH 0.13

    T4 20.10

    T3 4.60

    After just three days on the 25mcg dose, I felt absolutely awful again (having dropped from 3 days at 30mcg which the doctor had put me on, so yesterday I upped it to 30mcg and feel better again. Really I should not increase to 30mcg for 6 more weeks because of blood tests, but as you so rightly say, it is best to do what feels right for me.

    Here's hoping that if I can get the T3 right, I will lose the weight naturally as you have. You are an inspiration to me Grey!

    Best wishes


  • Glad to help, Kathy. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that you do get it right!

    Hugs, Grey

  • Hi Grey, What dose of T3 are you taking - and do you take it all in one dose ??? Ging

  • Personally, I have found the 5-2 Fasting Diet works well for me and does not encroach on my life style too much. Also if I can't do it on one of the 2 days I just swap it for another so it's very adaptable. 500 calories a day on your chosen 2 days and eat normally on the other 5 days.

    Dr Michael Mosley's book can be downloaded onto a IPad or kindle and has some examples of diet pans and also a calorie food counter. Of all the different "alternative fasting diets" I think his is the best and has the best research. Good Luck.

  • Thanks for your reply APsnotFab. I have this book but am not sure I could only have 500 cals on two days. I will read through it though. Have you had much success with this diet - would love to know? How long have you been on it?

    Having just heard from Grey, I wonder if getting the medication right is the key to things.

    Best wishes


  • My dad stuck to 1000 calories per day until his weight was under control, his weight gain was as a result of a pituitary tumour. I can see me trying the same thing for a few weeks once the thyroid levels have stabilised. There is no way on Earth could I manage 500 calories in one day. I had a "less than 500 calorie" pizza at the weekend, I don't think I could make it last a whole day. The cheese cake pudding was probably another 500 calories... and then there was the wine...

  • Hi Granitecitygirl. Perhaps that's the key. Wait until thyroid levels have stabilised - which mine have not.

    Glad to see you are trying to eat more calories which a hypo needs!

    Best wishes


  • Alas I am hyPER (with a weight issue). The one attractive symptom of the disease that I didn't get was weight loss! I put on 3 stone instead. Cheated or what!?! Ce la Vie!

  • I have just reached my three stone loss award with Slimming World online, I have found it to be the only plan that works for me. Even when I had myxoedema and was very poorly managed with my hashi's I had previously managed a four stone loss with Slimming World. This time I have been on the plan since New year and reached three stones loss on Saturday just passed.

    Good luck!

  • Congratulations spindrift! My daughter is also doing Slimming World and has lost nearly 2 stone so far. I really don't like standing in a queue for ages to get weighed, so maybe online is the way to go.

    Best wishes


  • I ONLY lost weight with the Dukan diet. Once you get past the first week it's really pretty easy and because you're not restricting calories, you can keep energy levels up.

    Dr Peatfield even said it wasn't a bad diet and had gotten unwarranted bad press. It's the only thing that worked for me in years and I am considering it again in the near future, even though I'm now a pescetarian!

    Good luck!

  • Hi Denise. Funnily enough my endo mentioned the Dukan diet to me but I don't know anything about it so I will have a read up.

    Best wishes


  • I have been doing the 5:2 diet since the beginning of February and have lost 20lbs. It is not 'easy' but then it is not difficult either. What I like about it is that one doesn't have to count calories all week, only on 2 days. At the end of my 500 calorie day I am a bit irritable and headachey but I can go to bed thinking of my breakfast. It is only two days. I have 3 lots of food per day as I would normally. What you eat depends on you. There are lots of recipes online. I would usually have a bowl of cereal, although this could be scrambled egg on toast; some crispbreads with low-fat cheese triangle, marmite, half a banana and a very small satsuma for lunch; 4oz steak dry-fried (well, with low calorie oil) with mushrooms and onion, steamed spinach and maybe a couple of cherry tomatoes, the remaining half of the banana; later in the evening I have a weak coffee with milk and a tiny square of very dark chocolate. On this the weight has come of at a rate of approx. 2lbs per week. (I drink tea, ordinary, redbush and herbal all day.)

    I am taking T3 only (120mcg) and it is interesting that I have recently been feeling hypo. again and I discovered that I have been using one of the 'dodgy' batches. During the 2 weeks I had been taking the lesser-strength T3 I lost no weight the first week and put on 2lbs in the second week. This just goes to prove that it is almost impossible to lose weight if not correctly medicated. I have now changed the batch of my T3 and am on course to lose another 2lbs this week.

    The 5:2 diet claims to have a lot of health benefits as well as losing weight. I am almost at my target weight and hope to then just do the odd day per month to maintain. The fat has come off my middle quite a lot.

  • Hi Penny. Congratulations on your 20lbs weight loss in 4 months. That's really inspirational! I have sent for the 5:2 recipe book so shall have a good read when it comes. To lose 2lbs a week is really good, especially as I only have 6 months to do it in.

    I also take T3 alongside T4 and was taking a dodgy batch but am now on another batch so hoping this will help.

    I have read the 5:2 book itself, and it's helpful to read how you manage your fast days, as having only 2 meals a day was worrying me - so good to know I can have three. It's helpful to know that you can get three meals out of 500 calories.

    I think I might give this diet a go and see how I get on. If you have any more tips on managing the 2 fast days ie what did you go and buy food wise so that you were ready for your first couple of fast days, and what days of the week did you fast?

    I am hoping (cross that out - no, I am going to start) this week and need to go to the supermarket in preparation, so any tips to get me going would be greatly appreciated.

    Best wishes


  • Hi Penny. Sorry, me again. What milk do you use for cereals and tea and how much do you allow yourself on a fast day please?


  • I am also doing well on the 5:2 diet - losing weight and feeling better. I snack all day as this is how I usually eat (as well as meals) but I just ensure everything is low calorie and I don't have drinks with milk in on those days - I would rather have the calories in food. Now I have started to look at calories in things I am finding there is a lot out there to fill me (I love mushrooms so I have a lot of them). I haven't even spent money on the book - just got the basic idea of 500 calories per day twice and went with it. I think the fact that there are no restrictions on other days makes it easier.

  • Hi Katkin1

    I'm not sure that I'm the person to advise as I'm pretty laissez-faire about the diet. There are lots of recipes and ideas on the internet if you search "5:2 diet". I can't be bothered to cook much on a diet-day so just have something simple. It does not matter when or what you eat as long as they add up to 500 calories.


    I am used to 3 meals a day. I have puffed wheat in the morning with a couple of tablespoons of semi-skimmed milk. If skimmed milk was used then you could have more but I cannot abide milk that watery. I used to have a scrambled egg on brown toast with a scrape of marmite and a sliced mushroom but prefer the cereal now. Lunch, as I said, is two crispbreads with another scrape of marmite and one of those very low fat triangle cheeses (pretty awful but the marmite and some veg help), also half a banana and a very small satsuma. (If you cut a banana in half through the skin the half you do not use will keep.) Dinner is a chicken breast or steak (4oz) fried with that spray-on low calorie oil, some mushrooms (2 cals each) and some onion, or whatever I fancy. Asparagus and spinach are good low-fat veg. I finish with the other half of the banana and, if I have them, a couple of strawberries. Later in the evening as my blood sugars are dropping and I'm getting irritable I have a very small square of very dark chocolate and a weak decaff coffee. I drink ordinary tea (1 cup) and then redbush tea, both with a small amount of semi-skimmed milk. Sometimes I have green tea. I find coffee difficult without a lot of full-cream milk or cream so only have the one weak one at the end of the day.

    These foods work for me and they are easy to prepare. At the beginning I calculated all the calories and measured things but now don't bother. I'm sure that what I eat is not exactly 500 calories but it works for me. You may wish to be more accurate. Herbs and spices don't have calories (well, not effectively) so you can use these as much as you wish. There are some zero calorie noodles available but I couldn't stomach them. Obviously drinking plenty of water helps.

    Other than the crispbreads, semi-skimmed milk, spray low calorie oil and low-fat cheese I didn't buy anything different. (My husband did one day of the fast and had scallops and asparagus!) I like marmite and strawberries and asparagus are in season. Sometimes I don't have the meat and have lots of salad stuff. (I do check up on calories when I do this but don't worry too much.)

    I wish you luck. I'm sure that you will do well. It is so rewarding to lose weight so steadily. I gave up weighing myself after each day so do so the morning after the second fast day. It is recommended in the book, I think, that you also measure your waist as this is more of an indicator than weight.

    You can choose your fast days; I do Mondays and Wednesdays, although at the moment I have a dinner engagement this Wednesday so am doing Monday and Tuesday. It is supposed to be optimal to do two days together but this can be challenging so it is accepted to do the two days apart. This is the first time I have done consecutive days.


  • Thanks Penny. You have given me some really good ideas. I will try them. I started yesterday as a fast day and this morning I have lost a lb! Now I am determined to keep going and will do another fast day tomorrow.

    Just one thing - do you count calories in veg and salad please and what do you use to count calories ie do you use an online website or a book.

    With grateful thanks for all the info.

    Best wishes


  • Hi Kathy

    it's so heartening isn't it to lose even one pound? Well done.

    I count the calories in salad the first few times and then guess. I use an online search - "how many calories in ...?"

    Keep up the good work. It does get easier and losing the weight is such a boost. I have only 3lbs more to lose, which will bring my total to 24lbs.

  • Fantastic! Well done!

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