Thyroid UK
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Is calorie control whilst waiting for meds to take effect futile?

I'm pretty good at watching what I eat and when I started gaining weight for no good reason (that I could see), I dropped my calorie intake down to around 1200kcal; I do not find this leaves me hungry or underfed. I still gained weight, albeit not as fast.

As it turns out my thyroid levels were out of whack and this is almost certainly behind the increase in weight, half a stone in under six months. Once I discovered this I kept to my restricted intake and am exercising as much as my energy levels (and common sense) will allow. The question is this: when my dosage increase takes effect should I raise my calorie intake temporarily to maintain my current, higher weight, and then drop the calories to shift the pounds gained, or should I keep to my current intake and see what happens? If I ate the appropriate amount of calories for the weight I was at before all this kicked off, would all hell break loose whilst waiting for the higher level of meds to take effect?


7 Replies


I don't think there's a definitive answer to your question. Weight was gained because your metabolism slowed. If you hadn't reduced calorie intake the weight gain would presumably have been more. Some people are of the opinion that Levothyroxine caused their weight gain while others and myself think Levothyroxine has caused unwelcome weight loss.

I think you have to accept that your metabolism has changed and wait and see how it reacts when you are optimally medicated. Crash dieting is definitely not advised for hypothyroid sufferers.


For me getting a high amount of meds didn't matter. Once the weight goes on I have found it near impossible to go down.

I am having some success now with eating a very "clean" diet.

BREAKFAST: Protein and one fruit portion (fruits are only apples and any type of berry- less sugar than other fruits and high in vitamins) Protein could be one egg, or 3 egg whites, or greek yoghurt. (there is a longer list but you get the idea.) I like to have an egg white omelette with either mushrooms, courgette or spinach thrown in. Add an apple to that and it is a full but healthy breakfast.

LUNCH: Lean protein such as chicken, fish, beef, pork, shellfish etc with salad. (If you use certain veggies and salad from the anytime list then you can eat as much as you need) Also an option to use 1/2 C cooked lentils as your source of protein rather then actual meat.

DINNER: Same as lunch. Lean protein such as chicken, fish, beef, pork, shellfish etc with salad etc

Snack: small portion of nuts, or veggies like carrots, courgette, tomatoes, with a tablespoon homemade hummus or greek yoghurt. My fav is 1 cup greek yogurt with blueberries or other types of berries.

You can also add in either one slice of wholegrain bread a day, or a small bowl of oats or a high density veg like corn. I avoid oats as they cause problems for me.

I am following a book called the Doctor's Diet. You don't count calories. There are some nice easy recipes and I don't feel hungry. You can eat something called the Anytime Soup or the Anytime Salad just in case you need more.

I did protein shakes for a few years and unfortunately they were soy and I had them with soy milk. Do not have any soy products if you are trying to lose weight and have a thyroid problem. It stops the thyroid from working properly only adding to your problems. It is the biggest and unfortunately the longest mistake I have made.

I was also doing 5 classes at the gym every week and was not going down. I now have read that too much exercise is bad for hypo people due to the stress it causes the body. If anything, moderate cardio and focus on strength training is better.

Good luck!


Don't worry, Clutter, I don't do crash dieting! 1200kcal is the minimum recommended daily intake and my maintenance for my everyday weight is 1500. So not a huge difference.


It shouldn't take that long for new meds to kick in. However, I'd suggest you up you calories to 2000 a day for a couple of weeks maybe slightly longer. Make them good calories though. Give your body time to recognise the change. Then start to cut back slowly until you are back to 1200. Anything too drastic and your body easily goes into starvation mode and hold onto fat. Then repeat. Our bodies adjust very quickly so you regime becomes less effective. You need to change it up ever do slightly sometimes. Hope this helps.


There is very logical evidence that calorie counting is nonsense anyway. Read Zoe Harcombe's book which sets out where the 2000 calories a day theory came from (it wad made up and has zero scientific backing) and how it had become an unquestioning part of our lives. She presents her theory simply: if calorie counting works for everyone all you wpild need to do to lose weight is reduce calorie intake and Voila! why doesnt that work? A fascinating read....


Trudes, if I ate 2000 kcal per day I'd end up obese again - it's not an appropriate amount for someone of my height and age! Calorie counting has done me well so far; I lost three stone over a couple of years (with a year or so off to have a baby) and it works well with my personality type :) I think I'll give the meds a week or so to start taking effect and then gradually raise my daily intake by 50 kcal a week or so until I get to the point where I'm at or near maintenance levels, hold there for a while and then try dropping again to see if I can shift the weight. Fingers crossed!


My experience was that I could not lose weight until I was optimally medicated - 120mcg T3. I did the 5:2 diet and lost 24lbs, at an average of 2lbs per week. This works for me but might not for someone else.

When I had a 'bad' batch of T3, I did not lose any weight on the 5:2; as soon as I switched batches I continued with the steady weight loss. I now scoff whatever I wish and do one 5:2 day per month for my general health and to keep the weight steady. If I wish to lose an extra couple of pounds I do two days per month.


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