Metformin and hypo

Hey all

I am currently on 300 mg of levo per day, currently waiting for an appointment with an NHS endo (9 month wait) i have been trying REALLY hard to lose weight and its going up instead of down, even though i am limiting myself to 1000 cals per day and exercising every other day (weights and cardio). As well as this, my periods have now stopped for 3 months (i have PCOS syndrome with a cyst they say is small enough not to treat) they were regular for around a year and i was really happy, thought they were finally settling down to a regular cycle. I was on metformin for a while and thought it did nothing for me. i've decided to go back onto them again (2 tablets once a day, 1000mg total)

I dont really know what i'm asking here, just does anyone have any feedback on whether there is more i could be doing. I recently had a weight check with my nurse (my bp was excellent as always) but she said i need to lose weight, i tried to explain about my PCOS and underactive thyroid and she said 'your thyroid is normal and you can't let these affect your weightloss'... i felt like she was saying it was my fault i was overweight. I don't know what else to do 😞 Any advice would be greatly appreciated


34 Replies

  • We're all so different. I wish I had the answer for you, but all I can do is share what worked for me. I wasn't incredibly overweight but I had enough to lose, since last March I lost 1/4 of my body weight by doing the following: firstly I didn't exercise because I learned that with low T3 any exercise would eat up what T3 I had causing me to gain weight (from what I researched, maybe someone can correct me if I'm wrong).

    I've only recently started exercising since I now take 10mcg T3 per day ontop of my Levo. Anyway here's what did work: First I went gluten free and soy free, I started losing weight for the first time in years, it was gradual. Eventually I switched over to AIP diet, and it wasn't until I started avoiding sugar that it really started coming off big time. I have to literally not eat a single bit of junk food or sugary snacks because I instantly gain weight. I cheated a few times and went on the scale, lo and behold I put on weight, what takes a day to gain takes a week to lose, at least in my experience.

    So now I'm only eating fresh foods, no preservatives, no chocolate, no alcohol, basically a suuuuper clean diet. If I cheat in one area I gain weight.

    I will also add that during this year I was under-medicated, and wasn't yet taking T3. (High TSH, low ft3 low FT4) I add that because a lot of people will argue it's impossible to lose weight while under-medicated, I say you're setting yourself up for failure any time you consider something impossible, look it was really hard, and I will never enjoy junk food again, but it took huge sacrifice in my experience to get the results.

    I wish you the best of luck getting to a healthy place and feeling well. If you have any more questions I am at your disposal please feel free to ask.

    All the best!


  • Thanks so much Dan and congrats on your weightloss! Thats amazing!

    I think i am going to have to cut out all junk like yourself, not even have a wee treat here and there because nothing seems to be shifting! I really want to be prescribed T3, hence the endo ref, i think the dosage i'm on, i should be at least losing/maintining a healthy weight. I have around 3 stone to lose, i'm not massive but for my height and frame i do need to lose.

    I will have to research AIP!

    Best Wishes


  • Ah yes I should have mentioned AIP is the Auto Immune Protocol (based on Paleo but more restrictive), the diet is meant to help people with Hashimoto's (and other auto immune conditions) avoid triggers, help heal the gut, and lower antibodies etc. It's an elimination diet where you can eventually reintroduce the foods that don't cause you symptoms. The weight loss was just a side-effect. It's worth researching just for the Hashimoto's alone. Thank you for your kind words.


  • Hi Lulubella

    Can you post any recent blood tests (with ranges); these may be helpful for people to comment. What the nurse thinks is 'normal' may be 'in range' but that doesn't make it optimal.

    Most people with underactive thyroid can't lose weight. It's not your fault, and reducing your calories as much as that may be counterproductive, as is overdoing the exercise.

    Hopefully others can help you.

  • Hey Anthea

    No i haven't got any recent so i'm going to go tomorrow morning and get a blood test. Once i get the results i'll post back 🙂

    I just feel like my boyfriend/friends/parents are looking at me like i'm a blob and lazy, when i'm trying SO SO hard. Just super demotivating

  • Having no periods is dangerous for your future bone health. It doesn't matter on your weight. Are you on the combined pill? If not, you need to go back to your GP and tell them clearly you want your periods sorted out. This could be linked to your hypothyroidism.

    I suspect your T3 is too low as well. Unfortunately unless you get that tested privately then no-one can tell you for sure. If your T3 isn't high enough then you will find it difficult to lose weight.

    In addition you may actually not be eating enough. Even if you weren't hypothyroid if you eat too little your body goes into starvation mode and tries not to lose weight, and doing exercise makes it worse. Adding on two conditions which effect hormones that influence weight then you are going to really struggle. You are better off eating more and trying something like Auto Immune Protocol or low carb, high fat so you are eating until you are full but aren't eating junk.

    BTW men's and women's bodies act differently with weight loss due to hormones. So lots of women get upset when their male partners or friends lose lots of weight without trying on the same diet.

  • Thanks Bluebug, it never occured to me about my bone health. I will definitely look into getting the blue horizon test done as a matter of urgency. Its so disheartening when my boyfriend is losing weight and isnt trying as hard as i am, makes me just want to give up! 😞 The AIP is definitely something to look into.

    I'm not on the pill, it never agrees with me, ive tried the implant, about 5 different pills and the mini pill but they make me NUTS! So i just try and take nothing.

    I'm really hoping the endo prescribes T3 because i really don't think levo is working by itself anymore. It did at the start and i lost 3 stone about 4 years ago but it has finally creeped back up, even though my levo is 3 times as it originally was!

  • Whatever you do, don't start taking Metformin again, it interferes with absorption of Vit B12 and metabolism. I was on it for 5 years, 4 of those on 1000 mcg and a year on 2000mcg and my weight ballooned to 16 stone. I found out by chance a couple of months ago about the contraindications of Metformin when you are Hypo and stopped taking it straight away. It was actually Vitamin deficiencies and absorption problems that caused my weight gain. Once I addressed my Vitamin deficiencies I lost a stone in weight in 3/4 weeks and I am still steadily losing it. My suspected Type 2 Diabetes is now history and my PCOS is no more. Metformin is standard treatment for these issues if you are "normal" healthwise, but when you are Hypo it is the culprit in most of your Vit deficiencies and is a vicious circle. Break free. Get your Vitamins tested, B12, Ferritin, Folate, D3 they all need to be optimal for proper metabolism and conversion. My current weight loss as of today is 1st 6lb (thats after 5 weeks of no Metformin and Vit supplements)

  • Dahlia, i had absolutely no idea about that! I am defs going to come off it and look into my absorption and deficiencies instead! Just as well i only started taking it yesterday again! Did u do blue horizon? Thats great weightloss, i dream to see that. I'm being a bridesmaid come may and i dont want to be the biggest one out of three!

  • Yes I did Blue Horizon. Obviously you need your Levo dosage to be correct as well (theres a possibilty you may be under medicated on that score). Do the test and then post your results on here with ranges and then there will be a clearer picture. Good luck!

  • Thanks Dahlia! Which BH test did u do?

  • I did the Thyroid +10 and my Dr did my D3 for me. Everything was deficient. It was £79 well spent. I have been Hypo for 15 years and miserable (fat) and ill in all that time. I also found out that I had high antibodies which suggest I have Hashis. My GP's blood tests would never have told me that. As far as he was concerned I was okay and should just try a bit harder to lose weight and have counselling for my "Depression". I have since "Educated" him with the advice from this forum and he is now fully supportive of my new regime of medicating (which is a bonus). Never give up and don't sit back and let them fob you off

  • It's such a difficult one and think a lot of people here struggle with weight issues. I do. I was on metformin for diabetes which did nothing and I am very insulin resistant at the moment. I have gestational diabetes but suspect something was going on with insulin levels before the pregnancy. Have you ever had your insulin levels tested? I know that PCOS and diabetes are different but they can all need insulin levels regulated and hypothyroidism can also be closely related to both conditions.

  • Never had my insulin levels tested but i will now! Aw congrats on the pregnancy? Hope all goes well for you!

  • Thank you it's going good. I would say firstly check your t3 levels as suggested though. If these are good then look into insulin levels. Metformin is often prescribed to people with PCOS to regulate insulin levels but sometimes it doesn't work that well the same with diabetes. You may be producing insulin but your body isn't absorbing it well into the cells. If that makes sense. That's insulin resistance. That can also contribute to problems losing weight x

  • No thats great thanks Katie!! I think it defs stems from a T3 issue also. Ive been taking biokult and apple cider vinegar also. I think i'll leave off the metf atm and wait until i have a better view of my results x


    This is a bit of info on the link between PCOS, hypothyroidism and diabetes/ insulin resistance that may be helpful but there is lots of info out there.

  • Thanks Katie!!! I'll add this to my list to read 😊 Oh to have a normal system!

  • I know tell me about it haha x

  • Thanks so much! Just wondering what profile u did for the blue horizon? I was thinking plus 10?

  • I did that one and found it good and it covered everything I wanted but think many people do the Plus 11 one. It's totally your choice x

  • Without knowing exactly what your thyroid results are we cannot tell if they are ok "normal is a much oveused and useless word "

  • If you do the thyroid plus 10 or the plus eleven also includes vitamin D levels which are very important too.

    This test will include checking your thyroid antibodies- if these are high then it means you have autoimmune thyroid called Hashimoto's, the most common cause in UK of being hypo. Quite likely as you also have PCOS

    If you have Hashimoto's then you may find adopting 100% gluten free diet can really help reduce symptoms, and lower antibodies slowly over time too.

  • Thanks for the links slowdragon! Some nice bedtime reading for me to night 👍🏻

  • It would be worth you reading - Stop the thyroid madness. There are so many things you can Do to help conversion of the T4 to t3 xx good luck

  • Thanks Tilly!!! I have seen that book, didnt know if it was any good though! Thanks for the recommendation x

  • Yes I like you were on 300 Levo until I changed to armour NDT. I don't think I was converting T4 to usable t3. But armour has t3 in it so it kick starts you again join the forum on Facebook and see how others have done and what they have done it has helped me. The book is very informed there are two I bought the second one with the man with the white coat on it.

  • I was looking into NDT but i'm not sure if its available in northern ireland (where i live) i'll get the book, its good to speak to someone who was on 300mg too!

  • Yes lulubella on the Facebook forum there are admins who can point you in the right direction on that score. When we are taking so much T4 (levothyroxin) it is fairly obvious our bodies are not converting it into the active T3. So we continue with symptoms even though our bloods say we are okay! The book goes into more details I got mine from Amazon xx good luck in your journey we are all fighting the same battles daily but nice to know there are others in the same boat.

  • As others have said, I can only tell you about my own experiences.

    During the five or so years I was hypothyroid (before being diagnosed with Hashimoto's in 2000, after having been diagnosed with mononucleosis in late 1995 which is believed to be what triggered the onset of autoimmune hypothyroidism), I gained about 20 kilograms of weight (3.2 st, 45 lbs). T4 drugs did nothing to help me lose weight. Before switching to NDT, in late 2011, I was on 200 mcg of T4 for several years and my weight did not budge. If I followed a strict WW diet, I would typically lose less than 0.5 kg a week, while metabolically healthy people seemed to lose twice or even four times that much weight.

    I feel much better on NDT than on T4 only, but NDT in itself did not do much to make me lose weight. I was very surprised as I had read so many success stories about how people would go on NDT and all that excess weight would just melt off them...that did NOT happen to me. Many other symptoms resolved with NDT, such as fluid retention and puffiness, but it did not do much for my weight.

    My hormone doctor suggested we look at my fasting blood sugar and insulin levels and, sure enough, they were close to the upper normal limit and much higher than they should have been after 12 hours after fasting. Insulin is a fat-storing hormone. My doctor diagnosed me with insulin resistance and prescribed Metformin (500mg x 3) which I took for a short period of time but without noticeable results.

    I then stumbled upon a few articles about alternative treatment methods for obesity in people with impaired glucose and insulin metabolism. One product is called Diabecon and the other one Berberine. Diabecon is taken half an hour before main meals, Berberine with meals. In studies, Berberine is said to have been found as effective as Metformin.

    I had nothing to lose so I decided to try these products. That was almost two years the following six months, I lost the 20 kilograms I put on while hypothyroid pretty effortlessly, and I have kept my new, lower weight since. This means that I am back to my pre-hypo weight.

    Unlike others, I have not gone gluten and soy free. I try to eat a health diet rich in vegetables and fruit and limit dairy products and baked goods, and of course exercise regularly, but I occasionally indulge in junk food and drink wine. As long as I limit these excesses to maybe once a week, they don't seem to make me gain weight. I still use Berberine and Diabecon three times a day. My fasting insulin and blood glucose levels are now about 50% lower than they were when I was diagnosed with insulin resistance.

    I have noticed one thing: before I became hypothyroid, exercise was the single most important thing to make me lose weight and keep it off. Now, exercise no longer seems to have that effect on me. I have no idea if it's thyroid-related or rather age-related (I'm 48) but, nowadays, I exercise because it makes me feel good and not to burn calories.

  • Thanks for that Anna. Did your dr prescribe you the alternative drugs that worked? I was doing slimming world 2 yers ago with a friend and even though i was stricter and exercised more than her, she lost 5 lbs the first week and i lost nothing. I gave up after that week, it just disheartened me and i just tried to lose it myself, without going to a weighin and feeling like i was paying to just maintain whilst working my ass off!! I like my wine too, i try to limit it to 1 bottle over a week, a glass every 3 days. Maybe 2 bottles if i'm having a girls night at the weekend. Its good to know you lost the weight, i have 3 stone to lose. The exercise is definitely keeping me going, if you could bottle the feelibg you get after being in the gym after your workout and sell it, you would be a millionaire lol x

  • Both Diabecon and Berberine are sold as supplements and ordered online (Amazon etc).

  • Hi. I've been having problems with weight too but have successfully lost some of it. I read an E-book called the Hashimoto's Diet Guide by Dr Westin Childs, which contains a 'Thyroid Reset Diet'. I wasn't able to follow that diet because there were a lot of eggs in it and I have an egg allergy. The information is good though. The book also referred to another book called 'Ultrametabolism' by Dr Mark Hyman. I really recommend this book. It explains so clearly how we can work with our body to become healthy and the diet is so easy to follow.

    The main thing I learned was that, particularly with hypothyroidism we should never go on a very low calorie diet because our metabolic rate will reduce. I know that's true because I joined a slimming group at the gym following GP referral. They measured metabolic rate as part of the program and in 6 months on a 1200 calorie diet with lots of exercise my resting metabolic rate reduced from 1450 calories to 1300 calories. They kept telling me to exercise more to get it back up, but I physically couldn't do any more.

    Dr Hyman advises never to reduce calorie intake to less than our resting metabolic rate because our body goes into starvation mode, lowers our metabolic rate and we become very tired. Our resting metabolic rate is what our body needs just to function without getting out of bed. If we move at all we need more than that. Dr Hyman discourages calorie counting at all with hypothyroidism as we need to ensure that we get optimal nutritional value from our food.

    I now make a point of not going lower than 1400 calories and follow a gluten free, organic whole food diet. (I've watched what I eat for so long that it's become second nature to undereat so I'm counting to make sure I eat enough). I'm still overweight because I need to get my medication sorted out but my weight has stabilised and I feel a lot better.

    The book is available on Amazon and there is also free access to a website with a lot of helpful info too.

  • So guys, its been a few weeks now! Im going to get my bloods done this morning, i have fasted so i will repost when i get the results 😊

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