How to lose weight on levothyroxine

Hi all I'm new to this site and I'm sure this has been asked plenty of times but I was diagnosed about 2 years ago now with underactive thyroid and coeliac and whilst I am managing the coeliac no problem my weight has gone up 2 stone since diagnosis. I take 150/175mcg levothyroxine alternate days and my last blood tests showed that all levels were good but no matter how much I exercise and how little I eat I cannot lose weight. I'm only 5ft and it's depressing as I'm just getting bigger and bigger. Any advise on what foods I should be avoiding or eating more of would be appreciated. Someone told me I should steer clear of baked beans but I love these, is this true, if so I'll have to try and find an alternative. Thanks all.

32 Replies

Hi. When you say your levels were good, do you mean your t3 and t4 were in the upper quarter of the range and tsh under 1? Or do you mean that the gp said they were good?

I wonder if maybe a little t3 would help. I had terrible fluid retention on levo alone so I looked like a barrel. I cringe to see my wedding photos.

Do you have any other hypo symptoms or just the weight gain?

Can't think why you'd steer clear of baked beans. I guess they have sugar in them and some people would say they're too processed - ? But I can't imagine that's what's making you gain weight and you can certainly include them in a varied diet (as long as they are gf).

I wasn't given my results but when I rang to check they just said the gp didn't need to see me as everything was fine! No other symptoms feel absolutely fine, not lethargic it is literally just the weight gain that is getting me down. The baked beans apparently shouldn't be eaten if you have a thyroid problem not sure why, think they cause bloating. It was a friend of a friend mentioned it to me one night (she's had thyroid cancer and was told to avoid them). I just feel like the Gps have no idea. I have been under an endocrinologist too and after several tests all coming back ok they discharged me. Also seen a nutritionalist but felt they were no help either. Thanks for your reply

You can ask for the results still, to have them printed. It is valuable information for yourself, now and also later, so you can compare. Also would be interesting to see if they are as good as the gp says. Within range, or normal, can be different than optimal.


I feel like we are the same person. I take 125mg of levo a day, all bloods come back ok but yet i feel anything but. I have gained 3 stone in 3 years and live a healthy lifestyle and diet. Also have seen i dietician and they said that if i was telling the thruth they could help no further and i have seen 3 endos all say everything is ok so have been discharged.

lh301869 Do you have your latest TSH, FT4 and FT3 results? As puncturedbicycle says if it's what your GP considers to be good then it may not be optimal which is what you need.

You also need vitamins and minerals to be At optimal levels for thyroid hormone to work properly. Have you had them tested?

To get a full picture you could do the Thyroid Plus Eleven test from Blue Horizon (home fingerprick test) which covers everything and post the results and members will comment on whether everything is optimal.

Dieting is pretty pointless and weight loss very difficult unless you are optimally medicated.

Thanks I'll look into that.

Baked beans would be 'out' because they are soya - also tinned baked beans will contain salt and sugar. Soya is best avoided if you have thyroid troubles. You might need to check all the food you eat for 'hidden sugars'. I was quite shocked by how much was in the yoghurt I ate, and tinned fruit, even though the latter was canned in its own juice, it is still high in sugar. Are you eating plenty of veg?

Ordinary baked beans are NOT soya. They are sometimes called Navy beans. (It is possible that other ingredients might include soya products such as lecithin - you'd need to check for each make.)

Certainly they contain sugar (far, far too much in my view) and salt.

Oh? My mistake, I could have sworn they were soya beans! Well there you go, one learns something new every day! Thanks for that info! :)

It is possible to buy soya beans ready cooked in tins. :-)

Yes, I have done so in the past (they're the devil to cook from scratch with the soaking etc) - but now of course I avoid them.

I thought baked beans were just cooked haricot beans in tomato sauce? I have never been told to avoid soya, you learn something new every day. Another thing to cross off my list.

These are commonly used for making baked beans - though I cannot be sure all use them:

Effects of baked beans on cholesterol:

Oh, good lord! I'll never eat baked beans again!

Baked beans are haricot beans Jadzhia :)

You can get sugar free ones but they probably contain something else we shouldn't have :(

Yes, I was only tempted for a second, they probably contain gluten in some shape or form. Or maize! Used to not having them now anyway. :)

If you like, go ahead and post your lab results here - easier to go from there - I am also interested to see replies to this post :) Good luck!

Have you considered fasting? Some people have great results by fasting.

Simply confining your eating times to be within an eight hour period of the day only e.g by cutting out breakfast. So maybe eat lunch at mid-day, then main meal a few hours later and then no eating anything from 8pm onwards. Next meal would then be mid-day the following day, so you're fasting for 16 hours in every 24 hours. You can eat what you like in the 8 hour feeding period.

Or there's the 5:2 fasting diet where you eat normally for five days but fast totally for two days. Take a look here

I've tried the 5:2 and lost a few pounds the first week but then found it difficult to maintain after the third week. Will try and give it another go, just need to find some willpower now. Anyone got any they can send my way lol.

Yes I think the 5:2 is hard work! Much prefer the 8hr feed / 16hr fast aproach.

Gingerbread, you do know that fasting reduces T4 to T3 conversion, don't you? Ok if you're on T3 only, but if you only take T4, fasting is going to make you more hypo, and the defeats the whole object of the exercise.

You asked what foods to avoid, what to eat. As hypothyroid it is good idea to avoid raw cabbage-type of vegetables. Also soy, heavily processed foods, artificial sweeteners and sugar. Aim for organic foods, whole foods, nutritious foods. Aim to eat some protein at every meal. Aim to keep your blood sugar as stable as possible (this is also why I am not pro fasting personally). Keep it simple, eat often enough. Don't starve yourself, it only slows down the metabolism, which might not be so fast anyway when hypo. Sleep is important for weight loss, same as keeping stress levels down. If you eat fast, try to eat more slowly. Good luck! :)

I second the point about blood sugar. Combined with hypothyroidism, celiac, and drugs that raised my blood sugar, my appetite was out of control and I was finally addicted to sugar, and steadily gaining weight.

I have to seriously restrict carbohydrates to small amounts at each meal. All carbs, not just sugary foods. Processed simple carbs are a no-go.

I also take metformin. I tell you 25 pounds just evaporated. Just gone. Now I'm holding at a lower weight. I'm not always perfect, but definitely better.

I bet hypothyroidism puts as at more risk for diabetes so we have to be extra careful.

I had to google what is metformin "medication for the treatment of type 2 diabetes" (I assume you have diabetes 2 Allyson1?)

Prediabetes, technically, but I get the neuropathy and excessive thirst/urination anyway, so to me it's the same thing.

alrighty :)

Thank you some great advice. Much appreciated x

The body does not fight to hold onto weight. Sorry, that is wrong. If that was the case there would not be any underweight anorexics. Also look up the Minnesota starving experiment and biosphere 2. Both experiments found that there was no clear evidence of the metabolism slowing down. It might have happened to a very small degree, it might have been statistical noise.

I did read a paper a while ago (sorry, not in English) that being hypothyroid slows down the energy your body needs by not more than 4% of the base metabolic rate. Say you weight 75kg, you're a 170cm large female, around 45 years old. Your BMR then is around 1469kcal. 4% of this is 59kcal. That means, you'd need to eat 59kcal less per day to prevent you from gaining weight. Or if you continue to eat as before you will gain about 6kg before your energy intake and energy expenditure is in balance again.

The reason why you gain weight is mainly from:

waterweight: if your hypo your body hold onto more water. With the right dose of levo you'll lose this water weight again.

being less active: The BMR is the energy your body uses when you were in a coma. On top of that is all the activity energy. If you're hypo you tend to have less energy to do things, but keep on eating the same you gain weight

being more hungry: being hypo can make you more hungry, and portion size creep will lead to weight gain.

being frustrated from being less active, feeling miserable and gaining weight: some people compensate by eating more.

Thus using hormones can help with weight loss, but mainly by shedding water weight and making you feel better and more active again. It does not speed up metabolism again.

Note: I lost 40lbs while having untreated hashimoto. It's just about eating less food than your body needs. Yes, it requires commitment and precise logging, which you might not have if you feel not well. But that's what you need to do. Now I actually need to take care that I don't lose more weight as I'm much more active and the levo makes sure I'm less hungry. I certainly cannot afford to lose more weight.

You sound like you've got it all sorted and have given me some great advice and have given me food for thought. I know that my appetite has certainly increased and am finding it hard to change my eating habits but all this weight gain is starting to have a real impact on my health so it's a wake up call and I need to pull my finger out. Don't get me wrong I don't eat rubbish I cook everything from scratch however I do not eat as much fruit and veg as I used to and I certainly need to drink more water. All these replies have certainly given me a kick up the bum 😀

That's great to hear :) I want to comment your increased appetite, that to my ears it sounds like a good thing; having a healthy appetite indicates the body is working. :) - When very hypo and not feeling appetite at all, it is not fun, also the weight is not still moving. So I would encourage you to embrace your appetite :) Find new foods and explore. Make it your mission to feed yourself with the best possible fuel. When you just keep eating healthy, balanced way, it will even out. It's a process with a learning curve of new habits, not a matter of will power. Good luck! :)

As I think I mentioned.. I found out omeprazole was stopping my levothyroxine working.. However I stopped taking this and continued with my levothyroxine.. I also tried having apple cider vinegar with salads and baked potatoes.. Oddly I've lost half a stone

. It works for me..Maybe it may work for another..

Good luck

Astro xx

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