Weight gain and trying to lose it!

I feel that I'm losing my battle with my weight. I was diagnosed hypo in August 2012 with a TSH of 8 and a FT4 of 14 (range 12 - 24). I was put on 50mcg of levo. Over the previous 12 months of so my weight had crept up by 12 lbs (sorry don't do kilos!)

During my first two months on levo I felt great, then I had periods of feeling very very tired if I'd had a few late nights or particularly busy days, now since Xmas I'm feeling pretty exhausted, stupid (brain fog), digestion has slowed to a crawl, and I've piled on a further 7 lbs during January even though I've been eating what I believe is a healthy low fat diet.

I've requested a blood test this coming Wednesday as I'm sure I need an increase. In the meantime, the weight things is really getting me down. I'm thinking of joining Weight Watchers to see if I can lose some. Anyone had success with Weight Watchers? Quite frankly I'm terrified of putting on more. I wonder if because I have been trying to diet this has knocked my metabolism down more.

I'm also wondering about fluid retention. I do not have puffy ankles, face or fingers etc but I don't have much need to pass water at the moment. Can water be stored on tummies, waists and thighs only?

My doctor told me initially that she has surprised that I had so many symptoms because my FT4 has never gone out of range (made me feel abit of a fraud). My TSH after six weeks on levo was 3.9 and at my October blood test it was 0.5 (but I forgot not to take my levo before I went!). My FT4 had gone up to about 18. My antibodies were 1618 (range 0-100) on diagnosis.

Sorry to ramble, but so fed up with bursting out of my clothes and just don't want to give up and buy bigger ones!

23 Replies

  • Many people who are hypothyroid complain of weight gain. This is a link re weight gain and research has been done that people who have not gained weight are on suppressive doses of levothyrxoine. The problem, I believe, is that our metabolism is so slow that we don't use the calories.

    I was a weight watcher member for 10 years and weighed in every so often and didn't have to pay as I was always within range but then I gradually put on 4 or 5 lbs which no matter what I did it wouldn't come off and I had to pay twice. I didn't know then I was hypo but am now back to my weight level.


  • Thank you for your reply shaws.

  • My sister's Dr tells her to exercise more. She works full-time and her job requires her to be on her feet all day. Asif being hypo isn't exhausting enough she is over 60 and has a home to run aswell as ensuring our mum is cared for and a family still living at home. She would love to have the time and energy to 'exercise more' to be able to rest and relax would be a novelty I should think. When she told me I couldn't beleive the cheek, how dare he? If it was my Dr I would give him a right earbashing.

    Sue x

  • Oh, foreversummer, so many things to say here! You are on a very low dose of levo - 50 is just a starting dose! You still need more and should have had an increase - except, I suppose, you doctor saw how low your TSH was and thought it wasn't necessary.

    Doctors are so ignorant about hypo. They don't know that TSH is useless as a guide to dosage. And they don't know that 'in range' has nothing to do with 'optimal', And optimal is what you need if you want to lose weight.

    And, by the way, 'low fat' is not healthy. We need fat - we need cholesterol - we need it to make hormones. By eating 'low fat' - which oh so often means practically no fat - you are further upsetting the delicate balance of your hormones...

    But back to levels: your FT4 could be much higher - 18 is just mid-range and it should be up the top of the range. But even so, the fact that it is there in the blood does not necessarily mean your body is using it correctly. First step would be to have an FT3 test, but I know how difficult that is with the NHS...

    So, the long and the short of it is, in my humble non-medically trained opinion, you need an increase. Forget diets and exercise, they could just make you put on even more weight if not handled correctly. Just stick out for the increase you need. And the proof that you need it is that you felt great when you first started taking the levo but gradually felt worse. Ibso facto you need an increase! And continued increases until you feel well and start to lose the weight.

    Oh dear, I'm rambling a bit today, feel a bit fuzzy, but I hope you get the gist.

    Lots of luck, Grey x

  • Thank you all.

    Greygoose, thank you. I will push for an increase - I hope I don't have too much of a battle. With regards to the T3, I'm not sure if this was done but I am going to ask for a printout of all the tests that have been done to date. I must admit, my worry is that I have not been eating enough and have therefore somehow slowed my metabolism. I have been quite relaxed about the weight thing up to recently, concentrating on trying to get myself feeling better. But I just feel so uncomfortable now that it is a real problem and I'm frightened where it will end.

    It is very interesting what you say about low fat diets. I have read here that some folk favour low carb diets with lots of protein. It's like walking through a minefield really that's why I thought that following a plan (like Weight Watchers) for example might at least make sure I eating enough and a having a good balance.

    First things first though. Blood test Wednesday, doctor Friday to discuss. I will let you know how I get on.


  • It's quite possible that you haven't been eating enough. And if you don't have enough calories to support conversion of T4 to T3 etc, then yes, you will get more hypo and therefore the metabolism will slow further, and therefore you will put on more weight.

    As for 'diets' (hate that word!), we are all different and what works for one won't work for others. But all these diets are conceived for people with - dare I say it - normal constitutions. Hypos are in a different category. They have different needs and their bodies don't work in the same way (but even so, we are all different). I have read that we need more protein than the average, and some people - even hypos - swear by low carbs. But in the end, I firmly believe that the key to losing weight is optimal hormones.

    Lots of luck with your doc (who doesn't sound as if she knows much about anything!), Grey

    Oh, just thought! Do NOT take your levo before your blood test. That will give you false readings. Even if your doc says to take it before, don't. And rest assured, you are not, in any way, shape or form, a fraud - and don't let her tell you you are! x

  • I agree that you will find it a lot easier to control your weight when your medication is sorted properly. I struggled to lose more than a few pounds for a long time. I tried weight watchers, slimming world, following a diet recommended by my Dr and going it alone. Nothing worked. I would lose a few pounds and then it would just stop, no matter what I did.

    Over the past 5 months my GP has been increasing my thyroxine from 50 - 150mcg. I have also been following the primal blueprint (info on marksdailyapple.com), which is eating all natural food excluding all grains and sugar. I basically eat fish, meat, eggs, fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds and a little bit of dairy (not as hard as it sounds when you get used to it). I have lost almost 3 stone and have noticed a big improvement in my health. I don't know how much of that is down to diet and how much is the increased thyroxine, but I know that if I don't follow the diet for a week or two (I fell off the wagon over christmas) then I put on weight and feel more lethargic, so it definitely isn't all the medication.

    If you are concerned about water retention on your tummy then try cutting out wheat for a while. Wheat causes massive water retention for me. I once had a mad moment on my diet and had a couple of slices of toast. I put on 3lbs of water almost overnight as a result! A couple of days later it had gone. I also noticed that the weight on my tummy disappeared very quickly when I gave up wheat and I believe I was storing a lot of water there.

    I think that what works is different for everyone, you have to find what is right for your body. I think this means trying different things to see how your body reacts to it. If you have tried a low fat diet and have been putting on weight, then there probably isn't much point in trying weight watchers because it is basically just another low fat diet. If I were you I would go for something a bit different.

    Good luck and I hope you find what works for you soon.x

  • Thank you woochan, I feel encouraged by your story. I will check out the marksdailyapple.com shortly.

    If you don't mind me asking, how did it come about that your doctor upped your thyroxine from 50 mcgs to 150 mcgs? Was there a big change in your blood results or did he/she prescribe based purely on symptoms.


  • Hi foreversummer, just a little note as you are a new member.

    If you want to reply to a particular comment you have to press the blue Reply to this and a new box will open for your statement. Otherwise the person is not notified and you may wonder why they haven't replied back.

  • This is a link to Dr Lowe's archived website and you will see what he says in his answer re a low dose (0.05mg = 50mcg)of thyroxine dated November 28, 2003


  • Your definitely undermedicated, it sounds a lot like me when i was diagnosed i gained weight for quite a while afterward, it wasnt until this year (im now on 150 -200mcg as needed) that i started to lose weight and have lost 2.5stone since March using a low carb simple calorie counting and exercise i gained weight doing weight watchers it is finding out what works for you though as everyone is different. I want to lose another 2-3stone and recently started seriously again after the xmas binge :)

  • I totally agree with Woodchan. In October I eliminated dairy, wheat, oats and gluten (a lot hides in many foods) I lost 7 lbs without trying and no longer have to sleep once or twice during the day. In fact I feel very well indeed!

    If I accidentally slip and eat food that contaminates me 1 to 2 lbs go on overnight. It is fluid to protect the body from the irritant. With the adjustments to my diet I now have a defined waist instead of bulging out at the waist. My own experience has been fluid retention on the abdomen and thighs, now that it has gone i can see that there was very slight fluid retention all over my body (my rings are no longer tight :) )

    With antibodies at the level you state, you have auto immune thyroid illness. More and more holistic and functional medicine Doctors are advocating that people with auto immune illness would greatly benefit by eliminating gluten from their diet.

    Also, it may be worth asking your GP to do a gluten sensitivity test, having auto immune thyroid illness increases the risk of coeliac disease, which is another auto immune condition.

    Hope this helps and good luck with your up coming appointment......

  • Thank you SaamiSue. I do wonder about the gluten thing. I do have experience periods of very bad bloating and for days after I feel that my tummy is sore inside. That's the only way I can describe it really.

  • yes i get that too, makes me feel quite ill, so if low carb is the way to go, ill give it a try

  • Hi Naamisue

    Do you think the atkins diet may work I'm so fat I'm depressed and have no motivation. Atkins is the only low carb i really know about

  • Hi I cannot see any mention of a Free T3 test, essential but difficult! Often weight gain, high TSH etc are totally down to low Free t3 , additional treatment with T3, on a script makes a huge difference. Also, thyroid treatment should be lots of tests and increases in doses until stable, quite a long time! My endo always says that a low GI diet is best. it is the diabetic diet. I hope that helps.


  • I did ask the practice nurse if they tested for T3. She said that they only do this if the FT4 is out of range.

  • Oh dear, it is cost. Are you able to pay for a test through TUK,bloods Blue Horizon, I pay £61 with the discount TUK 10. intermediate test. results on line to you + ranges. I hope you can do this ,I need my FT3 near the top of range Docs all know this well known Lab so, if think you need treatment YOU can show the GP etc.A few are GP`s will let you pay for one through them, cheapest.


  • Hi foreversummer

    I was diagnosed 15months ago and prescribed with 125mcgs of Levothyroxine. I have gained two stone in weight. I decided in desperation, to do my old Weightwatchers at home, which is basically point counting like the 2013 version. I was/am allowed 20 points, so I thought OK I will go to just 16, thinking my weight would go easily. I have followed it without any cheating as I have a wedding to go to in April, I have been on it for eight weeks, and according to weightwatchers I should have lost 2 pounds per week (8 x 2 = 16 pounds) I have lost a definate one pound!! How sole destroying is that? But I am still trying I won't/can't give up. I can' bear the way I look at the moment.x

  • Oh dylansmum. I know how you feel. I really don't like looking in the mirror at the moment and although I was considering WW I'm just not sure. I know it is a great diet and very effective but when it is so hard to lose its not much fun. I admire your determination. Well done.x

  • Well, just a follow up. I had a blood test on Wednesday and been to the doctors this morning. My TSH has risen to 7.4 (range 0.5 - 5.5) and my FT4 is 13 (range 12 - 22)! This is one heck of a deterioration since my last test two months ago. Also my bloods were TSH 8 and FT4 14 when I was diagnosed in August 2012. So I'm pretty much back to where I started!

    I guess this explains the sudden weight gain and I have been increased from 50 - 75 mcgs with a blood test in three months. Although the doctor did say to come back before if I am still feeling symptomatic.

    I mentioned the weight gain and he suggested not to diet too hard at the moment but to just concentrate on eating healthily and try to do some gentle exercise each day.

    It seems a bit of struggle for all of us doesn't it.

  • I think the doctor's advice re healthy eating and gentle exercise is good......did you ask about gluten sensitivity? It is worth pushing this before you start eliminating gluten as you have to eat gluten for 6 weeks prior to the test.

    It seems to me that you may need more than the 25 mcg increase and definitely go back before 3 months if you are not feeling significantly better. Another blood test could be done 6-8 weeks from your increase and be meaningful. 3 months is good if the increase is taking you to the optimal dose for you as it will give more time to stabilise, if the increase isn't enough 3 months wait, in my opinion, is TOO LONG!

    Good Luck


  • Hi I was like that at first, my doc put me on 100mgc though I started working out even harder changed my diet I've been A vegetarian since I was A child so it wasn't that hard,now I'm vegan&I feel great I lost 30lbs in 3months but when I tell you I workout I workout try running or doing the treadmill 30min A day (cardio) cut all sodas &sugar, eat greens, it'll help good luck my friend YOU CAN DO IT!

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