Thyroid problems and weight gain

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism 23 years ago when I had my son. A few health problems since then including a virus which destroyed my hearing and I am now registered deaf. I am now on 125 mcg of Levothyroxine per day. My weight has been the same for many years 80 kilos for 1m70. I have tried every diet possible but nothing happens. Now my doctor (new) wants me to lose weight. I attended a weight loss clinic but the dietician had no knowledge of thyroid problems, so I left after 3 weeks when not having lost any weight at all I was told to put my trainers on and run round the park 2 or 3 times and sweat until my heart was beating so loudly! Here are my latest blood test results:-

30th January 2015 - Thyroid function test

Serum free T4 level = 16.8 pmol/L (10.50 - 24.50)

Serum TSH level = 0.90 mU/L (0.30 - 4.00)

On the November 2014 - there are no results but a comment " normal FT4 and slightly raised TSH suggests subclinical hypothyroidism. Provided the patient does not become symptomatic suggest TFTs are monitored annually"

On the 4th September 2014 no thryroid tests but a full blood count was done with results normal apart from:

Red Blood Cell Distribution width = 15.4% (11.60 -14.00) Marked with a !

Can anyone please advise on these results? Thank you.

Also advise on a weight loss plan. Appreciate your help.

17 Replies

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  • Weight gain is a common complaint by many members. These are a couple of link:

    web.archive.org/web/2010032...

    web.archive.org/web/2010103...

  • P. S. I am sorry you have also lost your hearing due to a virus. That must awful as well.

  • Thank you!!

  • Sue, Some people need a slightly lower TSH in order to push their FT4 into the top 75% of range. Your FT4 is less than half way through range so your FT3 may be low and this makes it difficult to have the energy and stamina to exercise to loose weight. Discuss a dose increase with your GP to see whether that helps. Dr. Toft, ex-president of the BTA discussed level and dosing in an article in Pulse Online in this link thyroiduk.org.uk/tuk/about_... Email louise.warvill@thyroiduk.org.uk if you want the full article to show your GP.

  • Thank you for your advice.

  • Having told you they had no knowledge of thyroid problems this dietitian should go and learn before giving 'advice' about running round the park and making your heart beat out of your chest. If you are like a lot of the rest of us this is the last thing you could or should do. It would deplete your reserves that are probably already very low. I trust this was not said in front of the rest of the class.

    Rant over.

    Keep smiling Sue

    Barb x

  • Thanks!!! This advice was at the end of the session on my own with the dietician. She has since called to find out why I am not going back.. The doctor is now organising a one on one session with another dietician, I did ask if she could be trained in thyroid problems. Watch this space!!!

  • That's good that you pointed out that it is your medical condition

    which is known to increase weight gain. Maybe give her a copy of this article in which it is not 'fat' that causes increase in weight gain when hypothyroid (or on insufficient medication) but Mucopolysaccharides (which is fluid between the tissues (swelling).

    ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articl...

  • The very best advice I can offer on losing weight is don't even think about going on a diet. It won't work. Your doctor is an idiot. You have a BMI of 27.7, which according to the Holy Fallacy of the BMI Chart is just over the end of the "acceptable" range. You are not overweight. If you'd had a BMI of 40+ then yes, losing some poundage would undoubtably reduce the impact on your joints. But you haven't, so it's unforgivably lazy doctoring to imply that your health problems are due to your weight. Not a bit of it.

    Eat better, not less. Avoid processed junk, reduce sugar. Eat real food - food that you know the ingredients of. If you look at a packet and stop recognising ingredients as actual food don't eat it. And don't whatever you do eat low fat. One day history will declare that the health of a generation was destroyed by Government advice insisting we should reduce our fat intake. If you really need to lose a few pounds cutting out the crap will do it. Our grandmothers and great grandmothers knew that all you needed to do was cut down on bread and potato consumption (they would've cut back on rice and pasta too if they'd eaten those carbs back then).

    I'm a big believer that being on the right dose of thyroid medication is the real key though. That and making sure your vitamin and mineral levels are optimal. And finally, if you want the support of a diet guru, check out The Harcombe Diet. Zoe Harcombe has campaigned tirelessly for years to put the whole idea of low fat diets and calorie counting to bed.

  • I think history has already declared that!

    Disagree about the potatoes.

  • Thank you. Will investigate Zoe Harcombe. I do eat healthily as much as possible. Lived in a France for a long time and learnt to cook properly and use fruit and veg in season. I need to get my medication at the right levels. Will ask doctor to refer me to an Endocrinologist for tests.

  • Sue, didn't we discuss this a short while ago? I said then, you need decent levels of T3 to be able to lose weight. That hasn't changed. You still need decent levels of T3 to be able to lose weight. I think you are Under-medicated, and until your doctor rectifies that, it doesn't matter what she 'wants', she ain't going to get it! Just tell her you want a Ferrari, but we can't have everything we want! Besides, for a hypo, you are very barely over-weight.

    However, having said that, the best thing you can do for weigh-loss is make sure you have enough calories - at least 2000 a day - no low calorie diets!

    No low-fat diets - eat lots of good fat, like animal fat, butter, coconut oïl, olive oïl - but no other vegetable oils because of the way they are processed. Don't worry about cholesterol, it's a necessary nutrient.

    And talking about nutrients, get yours checked. Get your B12, folate, ferritin, iron and vit D tested. They should all be at least mid-range for you to be able to use the T4 your taking. Vit B12 should be at least 600, preferably higher. Start taking magnesium. Most people - espcially hypos - are low on magnesium, and low magnesium can make you put on weight. It will also help if you're constipated. If you supplement with vit D3, add in a little zinc. If you supplement with B12 also take a B complex. All sorts of nutritional deficiencies can make you put on weight. Pity nutritionists Don't know that.

    No low-salt diets - your adrenals need salt and without fully-working adrenals you cannot use the T4 you are taking.

    Avoid all processed food stuff and eat as little sugar as possible.

    Only eat things you like - Don't force yourself to eat things you don't like on the pretext that it's 'good for you' - if you Don't like it it's for a reason. Stop eating anything you have a bad reaction to. But Don't stop eating things you like, and that agree with you, just because they are supposed to be 'bad for you' (I'm thinking of things like eggs and red meat). Eating should be a pleasure, not a torture nor a guilt-trip.

    But apart from that, plenty of fresh veg, some fruit, some nuts, protein and fat. Eat as many carbs as you feel comfortable with, but avoid too much fiber because that can interfer with the absorbtion of your T4. You could try gluten-free if you have Hashi's (can't remember) but it doesn't work for everybody.

    As to exercise, a little gentle walking and/or swimming, are what's best for you until your T3 is optimised. And remember that everything you do is 'exercise' in that it uses up calories. Breathing, digesting, washing up, dusting... Even more so vacuuming and doing the garden. You Don't need to go to the gym to get 'exercise'. And over-exercising isn't actually good for anyone, but especially not hypos.

    Never take advice from your doctor on the subject of nutrition and weight-loss. They are not trained in these subjects and know absolutely nothing about them. Also be wary of nutritionists, they have their own agenda.

    And, last of all, stop worrying about your weight! It is of secondary importance to your hormonal health. :)

  • Thank you!! I think I wasn't worrying about my weight until the doctor started insisting about it. She is now organising a one on one with a dietician for me, trained in thyroid? Watch this space!! As you kindly say I need to get my medication levels correct. I am asking to see an Endocrinologist. Someone who understands this more. I suppose I could always do more housework as exercise..... Oh no!!!!!

  • lol No, not more housework!

    Dieticians, in general, are worse that nutritionists! The likelyhood of her knowing anything about thyroid is pretty low. Your doctor really is a Nelly! The amount you are over-weight really isn't Worth bothering about until you get your thyroid optimal.

    As to endos... There's no guarantee that they know anything about thyroid, either. They are mostly diabètes specialists. In theory, they should know all about all hormones, but in practice, they Don't. You might strike Lucky, but if you Don't, Don't be too disappointed, and Don't take it personally.

  • No, definitely not extra housework! More potatoes maybe, not housework. ;-)

    You know, I didn't mean to malign the humble spud. It's not really in the same league as anything derived from modern wheat.

  • Certainly not! But people always think of it as 'fattening'. Whereas it's a very good source of nutrition. Ask the Irish! lol

    Same goes for rice, really. Two of my granddaughters have a Vietnamese mother, and were brought up on rice. They just eat rice with nothing else, for the pleasure. But they're not over-weight.

    Sugar, now, is something else. It has little or no nutritional value and lots of calories (if you're into calories...). If one wants to lose weight, that is really the first thing that should go. (Although I Don't preach about that because I like a little sugar from time to time, myself, and this afternoon my daughter made the most wonderful chocolate and coconut cake, and I had two pièces! But then my T3 is high in range, so the odd slice of cake is not going to make me put on weight. (Fingers crossed!) lol)

  • Sue, I have been grossly overweight for a long time now due to myxoedema/hypo. I decided to lose weight after my husband died in 2008. Between then and 2013 I managed to lose nine and a half stone, I was almost 30 stone to begin with. I did this by joining an exercise class at the local pool which I was recommended by my, then, gp. It is a very gentle class where you do only what you are capable of, and lasts for 45 mins per week. When I first joined I could manageonly ten minutes, but I soon built up. After a few months, probably about six, I began going for a short stroll every morning with my dog, then built that up to twice a day. After about a year I could walk almost a mile. The only changes to my diet were to cut right back on chocolate and sugary things, especially pure fruit juice. I used to drink about 2 litres of this a day and nothing else! And I reintroduced butter instead of flora. I eat red meat, eggs, etc and have found that I can tolerate set Greek yogurt, despite being lactose intolerant all my life. I am told the lactose levels are quite low in this yogurt.

    Anyway this worked well for me until 2013 when I stopped losing weight. I have since put back one stone and for the past two years have fluctuated by only two or three pounds. I believe this is because the weight I am now carrying is the mucousy fluid that sticks in our cells with myxoedema.

    I also worked out that if I drop below 2100 calories daily I tend to put weight on. Who'd have thought, hehe.

    Anyway, best of luck and just do what you can, not what someone else thinks you ought.

    Gosh, I wish my BMI was only 27 or so.

    Barb x

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