Exercising but GAINING weight

Has anyone else had an issue whereby you're exercising (fairly intensely as I'm determined im not giving in to what this disease has done to my body) but actually GAINING weight???

I'm a year and four months into having been diagnosed hypothyroid.

I began a training group in January which has a great mix of cardiovascular and strength training. It had obvious benefits for my mood etc but I lost 5 pounds in a couple of weeks then put three back on, then lost two then put them back on. It continued like this for the month and a half I was there.

Then I broke my ankle. I was practically immobile for two weeks and not moving much (but gradually moving more) over the next 6-8 weeks. In this time I LOST half a stone, from doing nothing practically! Once I was mobile fully it began creeping back on until I reached the heaviest I've ever been (over two stone heavier than before I began feeling unwell and was diagnosed).

I went back to training last week and have just weighed myself and I've put on another four pounds. :*(

It's upsetting me so much. I'm trying to eat well and work really hard at training and it's just getting worse! It's affecting my sex life as I'm feeling like 'how can you possibly look at this and fancy it' whenever it comes time to get naked. My partner says he thinks I'm just as gorgeous as ever but it doesn't help and looking at myself disgusts me so I don't know how he can stand it!

I'd hoped when I went back this time it would be different as I had my Levo increased recently but it's worse. I just want to cry whenever I realise how much weight I've gained and think about the fact that there doesn't seem to be anything I can do about it!

Anyone got any ideas, suggestions, things that worked for them??

Maybe it IS that I'm not converting properly because although one or two things, like my hair and constipation have improved a bit since the increase I am starting to fall asleep at the drop of a hat again and am always cold and just getting bigger!


42 Replies

  • I can certainly relate to this!

    One thing that will help is to make sure you are optimal on your thyroxine. Do you have your most recent results?

    Are you recording what you eat and working out how many calories you are eating? Under eating is not a good thing when you are hypothyroid. Your weight loss will stall.

    It's a good idea to also check serum iron, ferritin, folate, vitamin B12, vitamin D and cortisol. Low or low-normal levels of any of these can contribute to a difficulty in losing weight, especially vitamin D and cortisol. High cortisol can also cause problems with weight gain.

    You may also want to get your sex hormones checked, especially if you are having any issues with your monthly cycle. If you are on the contraceptive pill this can cause weight gain too. The oestrogen also binds with the thyroxine making it unavailable for use in the cells.

    Very intense exercise may actually be doing more harm than good, especially if you are also dieting. It can reduce conversion of t4 to t3 and reduce your TSH level. It can also put stress on the body causing low or high cortisol which can lead to weight gain.

    If you are absolutely sure that you are not just building muscle, it is probably one of the issues above. For me it has been a combination of not being on optimal thyroid replacement and problems with cortisol.

    I hope you find the solution. I'm still working on mine :)

    Carolyn x

  • I too, feel disgusted with my body, the way it has changed with a thick middle and soft er and lumpier..that and i feel bad, it has ruined my Libido and i rarely look in the mirror or wear make up or leave the house!! I have no energy for exercise now and no motivation...the weight is fluid and when you are not properly medicated, exercising uses up your t3 and you become even more hypothyroid. I gained 11 lbs in 1 week, in 2010 and started exercising and continued to gain a total of 30lbs in 3 months..more than i have ever weighed in my life. The rules about weight loss, diet and exercising, do not apply to hypothyroid's.

  • I second that. It's your intensive exercising that is causing the weight gain because it is using up your T3 - you even proved that to yourself when you broke your ankle!

    T3 is the key. Do you know what your T3 level is? Sounds like it's pretty low. Asking your doctor to prescibe Cynomel (T3) added to your Levo might help - you Don't say how much Levo you're on, though. He might refuse, in which case, would you consider buying your own?

    In any case, the best thing to do for the moment is cut back on your exercising before you put on any more weight. It will come off when your T3 is optimised, I promise. I put on over fifty kilos - nearer 60, but I stopped weighing myself when I hit 120 - I've nearly lost them all without diet nor exercise, since I started t3 only about a year ago.

  • This explanation totally makes sense to me. Also explaind why I have symptoms creeping back/getting worse since I went back to training!

  • Oh Faith63

    Right on, I roger that this bloody disease takes your whole like away!!!!!! :(

    My whole body has changed shape etc, i to can't even exercise!!!! I am far to sick, the weight is horrendous. likewise my hair has fallen out, and changed my lovely soft shiny silky hair to this tufted rug like wire texture, I have had to shave so I look like a boy with a bad haircut and no hairline, eyebrows and hair is crazy, even my armpit hair has fallen out, got patches there and my lady garden which looks more a bad patched lawn!!!!! lol :(

    oh the symptoms are endless

    when will it end

  • Hi Faith63, I too lost my armpit and pubic hair. Have you had an adrenal stress profile done, that includes your DHEA? My cortisol and DHEA are very low. Since I've been supplementing hydrocortisone and DHEA I've noticed a bit of hair growth in my armpits, and a little has come back of my pubic hair. Trouble is I now have acne through the DHEA :-(

  • Hi ..i haven't heard from you in ages!! Been listening to any good music or well enough to see any bands?

    Did you get Acne on your back, chest, neck and even behind ears and on scalp? I have been a mess. Stopped DHEA, 2 weeks ago, in hopes of getting it to stop. My Cortisol is low [HC and Pred. made my bp and glucose too high and caused rapid weight gain, fluid, even at a low dose] and low on all sex hormones and dhea too. I have been on hormone replacement since 2010, with no improvement. I did get acne when i first went hypo tho, may not be the dhea after all, in my case. I really am at a loss. I did not lose my Armpit, or Pubic hair..this seems to be over growing to excess..figures..i hate it so much. Hair on arms and legs is coming in ok. Sometimes, it will not grow in as fast, after shaving, sometimes it does. It seems like some times my t3 gets to my cells and sometimes not.

  • Hi Faith63, I wondered what had happened to you? Didn't you get my last message?

    I just got out yesterday to buy some plants, I've been stuck in for 4 weeks with a leaking angry bladder:-( I weaned off one of my drugs for interstitial cystitis, and it's been a very bumpy ride.

    Got to see a Santana tribute band Viva Santana, last month, but that's about it!

    I went back on the DHEA for a few weeks after a break and the acne got worse again. Yes back of ears, on ear lobes all over my face,especially my chin, and all over my chest, plus this time some on my back. I've stopped it again.

    My weight gain has been just horrible too, now I'm wondering if my blood glucose went up too? Taking 30mg of Hc, 20mg I didn't notice at all.

    I've just added Westhroid and dropped most of the T3. I gave T3 6 months, but very disappointed and temperatures anything from 35-36.3deg. I've been taking temps on Westhroid and I was stable at 36.6 until 8pm yesterday, so a huge difference. T3 didn't help my leg and foot pain, neither has Hc, it's so frustrating! I think i need some T4 to keep more stable, I definitely did better on NDT. At least some weight dropped before. Put on 21lbs in those 6 months on T3, absolutely shocking, exactly the same diet. But not getting out this last month hasn't helped at all.

    I've done everything I know now to help my absorption, I'm really at a loss.

    My leg hair has almost gone now, and my scalp has had like an overgrowing of skin, which just rubs off, for 5 years now, I have tried all the medicated shampoos and even an anti fungal, nothing has helped, it's just my very dry skin.

    Sorry to hear you haven't cracked it either!

    I couldn't understand what happened to you as we were writing and then you disappeared! I still comment on this site, maybe not as much, but still around :-)

  • I have been around and i guess i had forgotten to answer your last email. I was waiting for the picture of your village that you were going to send and i think i forgot to tell you to send it!!

    I am glad you got out even if only 1x, i rarely get out. I am overly talkative to strangers and don't act normally, like i guess i have been so lonely, not seeing anyone new much. I don't like what i have become.

    The HC had me gaining 2 lbs a week and my bp got high, this is how i found out that i didn't need it. It will also give you acne. So will DHEA.

    You gained 21 lbs on t3, before adding HC? That is scary..why..too low a dose? Have you been having your blood sugar tested? Your symptoms with weight gain, hair loss, dry flaking skin are total hypo symptoms..i just wonder if your t3 wasn't high enough. Why didn't you continue to raise? I really don't know what to do either. I am not doing well on t3 only either. I can't raise due to going hyper. Hyper symptoms and effects on my Liver Kidney, muscles, glucose. I too have months where my blood sugar is too high, type 2, then it goes down to normal. I have gained weight in my belly, never in my life had that. I hate the way i look and feel. ..no better either. Do you have a belly too?

  • Have you been unable to get your T3 in range? What's your latest reading?

  • I don't go by labs..you can't on t3 only. I have been at the top and over range..all over the range. It does go up. Last reading was way over and i was very hyper, with hyper symptoms. That was nearly 1 year ago.

  • Have you tried NDT? Or doesn't it suit ?

  • ndt made me worse.

  • For many they feel much better when they receive proper thyroid meds. For me, i don't feel normal or look normal and i am unable to find the right meds, so i am screwed there. I have started taking low dose nalterxone again and will see what happens..my last resort. I have been trying to find the right meds since 2011. I got sick at the end of 2008 and no doctor knew what was wrong, none checked anything but TSH and i was having terrible hyper symptoms. I went undiagnosed until 2011.

  • Ditto it's good to know I'm not alone !

  • I thought it was something wrong with me that's exactly how I feel the doctors are no help do you know of anyone /where that can help I'm on 75 me of levothyroxine daily and have been for 3 years and have gone from 8.5 stone to 13.5 stone I've never un my life been able to put weight on yet this completely changes your life why can't they bring something out that will actually help with everything ?

  • If you are doing strength training, check body fat percentage, not weight. If your gym doesn't have facilities to do that, measure your waist. If you lose fat, your waist measurement should go down, even if you gain muscle and therefore weigh more.

  • Yeah it's an outdoor bootcamp style group but I know just from my clothes that my waist is getting thicker not thinner. Pretty sure the weight gain is not just muscle build.

    Even if it was I still want rid of the nearly two and a half stone I've put on. Don't just want to build mis means leave the fat lying on top. :-(

  • It isn't muscle, its fluid. I don't know how these measurements/tests can determine what is actually Fat or which id Fluid. Fluid will bring up the BMI measurements, no doubt, but the 2 are very different.

  • My doctor insists you can only have fluid if you have organ failure even though I look like I'm 9 months pregnant with a swollen stomach and extra 5 stone in weight is there any clinics etc for this disease ? As my doctor is useless and I swapped doctors and they are also useless

  • You would do better off doing it on your own.

  • There are a few flagship stores for Holland and Barret and Lloyds pharmacy that give you accurate body composition stats. I.e muscle mass fat and water

  • Angel..Not true..my belly is where i gain my myxedema..which is fluid in the skin. Fluid's will show up in the belly itself too which is Ascites...edema in the belly, spelled wrong, i think. Having insulin resistance and cause belly fat accumulation too.

  • Thanks for the replies everyone.

    I can't believe I didn't think of exercise and immobilisation in terms of using up T3. Clearly with my current medication I'm producing/converting only enough T3 to fuel my body for sitting around. As soon as I became more mobile the weight started to go on but leapt when I went back to training.

    It makes perfect sense!

    Now to try to get the doctor to listen and understand! Hopefully I can get him to do a full blood screen anyway cos Id like to be sure it is just this!

    I may have to look into buying my own T3 but I'll see what the doc says.

    Thanks so much everyone! Still feel dreadful but at least I have a theory that makes sense to me to talk to the doc about!

  • I doubt the doctor will listen. If he didn't understand that you were improperly medicated before and i am sure you must of said something. Plus, what tests have you had done? Have you ever had a full thyroid panel? Chances are he treats by TSH levels, which is no good.

  • This is a different doctor. The one who first diagnosed me was on a time limited placement. The next was just awful and didn't listen at all. The next seemed prepared to listen to a degree but the lab refused to do t3 and she didn't seem to understand why I was asking for it so that she could put it on the bloods request.

    The one seeing next week I have seen once before. He really listens and totally accepted that I had increased my own Levo at that point because of being ignored by the really awful doctor. I'm cautiously optimistic that he'll listen at least!

    It makes me mad that it's so hard to communicate with doctors for us thyroidy people!

  • If this hasn't been said before..you need to push for some t3 meds. Many here are not doing well on t4 alone.

  • hi there. I am on natural thyroid and taking lots of vitamins alongside. I do circuit training and sprints three times a week, given up all white carbs and eating healthy, don't drink or smoke. I have not gained or lost any weight on scales but lost three inches on my waist, two on hips and 2 on bust. Its a very slow process with my thyroid and some days I want to cry at how hard I work compared to everyone else. I see girls in the gym doing a few sit ups and a short run, and they are tiny. I am a size 14-16 and I doubt I will ever get slimmer than that. However, when I stopped exercising I gained a lot and people have commented on how well I look, so something is working. I agree about the belly fat, mine is permanently swelled and/or fat!!! Good luck

  • Hi! I'm Brenda & I know exactly what you'll going through! I still gain weight when I should be losing. It's depressing! I can cut out carbs(sugars & breads) but my weight still stays up! My doctor has me off Synthyroid so I'm just taking one hypo medication. I hope we'll get our bodies on the right track...SOON! b

  • Well I went back to the docs - I posted about it here healthunlocked.com/thyroidu...

    If anyone is incredibly bored or wildly curious!

  • That is exactly the same as me except I have put on 5.5 stone and am unable to lose just gaining my stomach is so swollen I look like I'm 9 months pregnant but I'm not doctors aren't any help at all it has drastically changed my life and don't know how much longer I can keep going so if you do find anything that helps pls could you send it to me thanks and take care my email is samjannottiturner@gmail.com.

  • Your muscle mass is increasing. Step off the scale and pay attention more to how you feel and how your clothes fit. Muscle weighs 3 times more than fat. Who wants to be skinny fat anyway. I train intensely as like you I refuse to give in. Keep going and dig deep as Shaun T says. 😀. It takes a load of hard work to change but the fitter you get, the easier it will be.

  • It's not as simple as that. I'm

    Pretty certain I'm not converting T4 to T3 properly and only have enough T3 for basic daily activities.

    Sitting around for six weeks with a broken ankle I LOST weight. Biggest proof for me that all training excessively does is use up the little T3 I have and make me more hypothyroid and one of the effects of that is weight gain.

    As for stepping away from the scales, I don't feel fitter I feel ill, my clothes don't fit better because no fat is going anywhere. My clothes are tighter because I'm bigger.

    It's great that training hard works for you but the difference in weight Nd how I feel is shocking between the time I wasn't doing anything and the times I've trained again.

    I'm giving training a miss til my vitamin and diabetes checks are back and if needs be I can buy some T3 to give it a shot!

  • T3 was my issue too. I assumed that when it was corrected (I'm on NDT as levo didn't raise it) I'd drop weight easily. Err nope, not a jot. I still have to train hard and eat clean. I guess it's in my genes but hey ho it's a good job I enjoy it!

  • Oh I have no problem with going back to training if I can get the issue sorted out. I love it. However my doc won't text for t3 and they refuse to prescribe it in my health authority. So I'm stuck at the point where I'm not going to put all that effort in (even though I enjoy it) just to pile on an average of four pounds per week which won't shift! :-(

  • Is there any chance you could afford to pay for it privately? Alternatively you can purchase NDT which contains T3 privately. If you post on here a request on how to access it they can help. I was put initially on levo which made some improvement on my anxiety levels but not my temperature which is a sure sign of a poor metabolism. You may want to start with taking your temp first thing whilst still in bed then mid afternoon

  • I know the feeling, I've posted below... give it a try. :-)

  • alot of exercise equals alot of muscle. muscle weighs more than fat and shows up as weight gain. I would consult an administrator how to proceed and what variables could be causing this

  • Administrators, as is frequently pointed out, have no medical training and are not here to be consulted.

    We try to ensure the smooth running of the forum.

  • Your t3 is too low.

  • Man I feel exactly the same as you. Except I had back surgery and am blowing another disc and have degenerative disc disease so strenuous work outs can't happen. The mood swings, insomnia and depression from the levothyroxine is unbareable I feel like all I do is cry an get irritated......to put that wedge in my relationship is almost as bad as the body issue. I've had image issues since child Hood and had along few year battle with bulimia /anorexia...... now to be over 200 ponds on a 5"6 frame is making me just want to die. I have trust issues to begin with an feel it's only a matter of time before my fiance calls it quits. I'm loosing so much hair. I feel like I'm on a downwards spiral an no one around me can understand or really doesn't care to. I take biotin and iron (cause I'm anemic )for my hair an it just keeps coming out in globs.... I'm native American, Italian and Spanish so you could imagine what thick black hair I had an now it's light brown and broken off and patchy....how is your supposed to keep attraction an how to you feel beautiful when it feels an shows your falling apart......

  • Yes, muscle of course weighs more but we do know in any event if our efforts are going well, body wise, because it is not simply the scales.

    Having not been overweight, let alone obese for much of my adult life, it came as a big shock to me... worse still, all of the exercise in the world made NO difference: (it had to have been my thyroid/metabolic issues - it was). I also knew that too much cardio stresses the body [adrenals] and so this can even make us fatter, let alone lose weight [no docs don't accept that... what would they know about this stuff!?].

    So for a few years I did fast walking/sprinting but nothing changed, then I did HIIT [High Intensity Interval Training, 20 secs as fast as you can on whichever activity you choose, then 10 secs off x 8 times, Dr Tabata has a good app for the timings] and resistance [weights], both of which are meant to be the very best for weight loss... yet over six years barely a few pounds here and there [except for once when I used a specific eating method - see my earlier posted link below on weight loss].

    I got ill for the back end of 2014 and first six months of 2015... meaning no exercise at all - I was devastated, yet no change in weight [what's new] because it really is HOW [and what] we eat. For the first time in many years I got down to a weight that I never again believed to be possible. Exercise [whilst great for our overall health] is not the key to weight loss... yup, I had to concede this regardless of what any doc tells you: [Calories In - Calories Out had no bearing at all on my life and the lives of many others who have had a weight issue - that might work for those who have never experienced a metabolic problem?].

    This is what I did, and I have since put in some brief exercise sessions. This method worked and still is to date... so its not tons of exercise, its not strict dieting [that never works, according to what everyone says; I heard decades ago... 'dieting' is a waste of time, it has to be a change of eating habits for life for those with weight gain issues].

    For me, it has to be the right kind of food and the TIMING of when you eat it. Give it a try... my case was really hopeless, not any more.


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