Thyroid UK
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Harder to lose weight

Whats the thinking on whether it's harder to lose weight with an autoimmune illness/underactive thyroid please? It has been my only answer to this personal problem, but when I joined Weight Watchers last week, and I suggested that's why weight came off me so slowly when trying to cut down, was told by the leader that it just wasnt true.

14 Replies

Your WW leader is wrong. - Hypothyroid patients do not have normal metabolism - it is very low and that is sometimes why the first symptom people notice is weight gain. Research has shown that people on replacement doses of levothyroxine (within normal range) gain even more weight once on medication.

So I do not agree with your Leader. If you are stable on your medication, it may now work for you if your metabolism has raised. It is worth a go but don't get despondent if your weight comes off slowly - it is better than a quick drop which goes back promptly.


Well the leader just doesn't know what she's talking about, does she! Does she have thyroid problems?

There are lots and lots of discussions on this forum about weight loss and weight gain. If you use the search window top right of this page you will find lots of info. Look especially for a blog called 'pinch an inch' which will tell you about myxoedema which hypos get which looks like fat but isn't, and no amount of dieting will get rid of.

Hypo is definately why many many people put on weight and find it next to impossible to lose. This has been scientifically proved. I will look and see what links I can find for you.

Hugs, Grey

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Here are a couple of links to get you started:

Grey x


I think it all depends on if your feeling great and are on the right level of medication. I put 3 stone on in pregnancy. I eat healthy and always manage to lose baby weight but nearlly 4 years on im still 3st heavier than ' normal'. I hate it especially as i havent worn my weding rings since i had my son!! I was diagnosed nearly 3yrs ago and could not wait to start losing weight i started upping my normal excersise classes to 8 a week plus 10 mile walks on sundays and still nothing came off. I started to feel worse and had tonsilitis every few weeks so i decided to stop the classes, which was may last year. I was on levo and even on 250 it didnt do much for me so i swapped to t3 only last september ish. Although nearly all my symptoms have gone which has completly amazed me, i still havent lost weight. I am following a healthy diet, i walk a lot and i am gluten and dairy free. I havent put on any weight since i stopped going to the excersise classes which is good. Im asuming that i am not on my optimal dose of t3 yet, im on 100 and hope to increase soon. Are you on the right dose of medication? It could be the reason xx


Wow! That WW leader is in the wrong job! She should be supportive! You might want to consider a different group :(

Hypothyroidism of any kind can make it very difficult to lose weight, even more so when under-replaced. Many people do manage to lose weight but some people find it impossible until they are on the correct treatment and even then find it difficult.

You may surprise yourself and find the weight comes off ok, but don't beat yourself up if it doesn't come off as fast as other people.

Last weekend Spareribs posted a blog about weight in hypothyroidism and how some of that weight isn't fat but a collection of mucin, hyaluronic acid and the water they absorb (up to 1000 times their own weight in water!) I definitely have this but I actually lost a couple of pounds since increasing my dose so perhaps it will go eventually. So for some people this is why they can't lose weight and it is because they are not on optimal treatment.

I eat healthily and exercise a lot (3 hour karate session this morning - I haven't been able to get up the stairs since!) but weight has only just started coming off since getting my medication to an almost optimal level.

On the other hand other people manage to lose the weight just fine. I know people who have managed to lose their hypo weight quite quickly and others who have struggled. See what happens. You may surprise yourself!

Good luck with it and please let us know how you get on :)

Carolyn x


2 years on and I haven't managed to lose the weight. I have been started on T3 only and what I have found is that Im not increasing anymore.

I do Slimming world and have managed to lose half a pound a fortnight if I'm lucky.

What I did find though was that when I've been away and not watched what Ive eaten so much, I have lost chunks of weight quite surprisingly.

When I come back and start on SW again or any kind of diet, the weight has stalled again.

2 weeks ago I decided to try the Intermittent Fasting diet (Dr Michael Mosley) but interspersed it with SW. Still no weight loss and yet my parents who did it too lost 41b each. Very frustrating.

After advice at which I was told to eat normally on the other non fasting days ie (2 days fasting and 5 days not). So, two days I decided to try it. Yesterday I actually put butter on my bread and last night I had Indian takeaway and quite a bit of wine ie half a bottle.

This morning I got on the scales and had lost 21bs!!!!

Maybe this is the answer. Give it a try.

Good luck

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Do you have trouble with reverse T3? Conversion to reverse T3 instead of T3 can be increased when you cut calories or exercise excessively. It seems to happen far more readily in some people than others. Perhaps that's what's happening with you, especially if you have problems converting T4 anyway.


When I was on T4, it would appear I was probably laden down with Reverse T3 problems causing inflammation in many areas particularly joints.

However as I am on T3 only, presumably I don't have conversion problems with that now ie the T3 just goes straight into the cells? Please correct me if I'm wrong. Otherwise it all sounds a perfectly valid reason.


Hey there. This is my little list:

----- cholesterol - lipid imbalance is a big problem for chronic hypos and we produce something, or at least this is my understanding a little out of the ordinary to help develop this lipid imbalance as it's also connected to the lymph system and we add in to our livers some nasty stuff. All a bit complex for my gooey brain but that's the gist - crappy connections creating some toxicity. The ways around this - hammer down your cholesterol count - I HATE statins so I'm using high niacin and omegas to try and help reduce the count. Also I'm using brushing to help clear the lymph system and coffee enemas to help flush toxins out of my liver (which is where the emptying lymph puts them). Odd as ti sounds this seems to be helping. I've noticed a reduction in tummy fat.

------ reverse T3 definitely a big issue, I noticed a big difference after I was slightly overtreated on T3. This apparently can correct RT3 imbalance. Don't know if this is true but I've noticed a difference so perhaps it is.

------ insulin resistance but if you're exercising this should be fine -- you may find a brisk 30 min walk once a day better than a long one once a week. My understanding is that a daily walk is the only way to tackle insulin resistance

------ carbs and starches. If you have any processed foods in your diet. Cut them out. If you eat ANY refined carbs cut them out. If you eat any pastas cut them out. You should eat only a tiny amount of rice - make it black rice to bump up nutrients. I also use cous cous, gluten free oats or quinoa which seem less problematic. Cut down on any starch foods and this includes any form of gluten free flours which are heavy in rice and potatoes. I found the WW diet heavy in the no-go foods for severe hypos as is Slimming World. You're already free from Gluten which would be another thing as well.

In my experience you have to keep your proteins, soluble fibers and complex carbs high.

My diet has a new lease of life now I've discovered the local market stalls for fruit and veg and my local chinatown chinese supermarket. At the moment I'm experimenting with Teatree mushrooms - a super food of nutrients and cheap as well :)

Does it work? Well I've lost nearly 3 stone and when I don't have either T3 or this diet plan I put it back on. In the last 2 weeks I've put on a stone from eating 4 slices of bread a day for a Celiac test. Which came back negative anyway grrr. It took me a year to lose that stone and two weeks on a small amount of carbs to put it on. Says it all in my book.


Well done you for your determination and its all definitely food for thought! sorry. Anyway the odd thing about me is (well "one" of the odd things!) I have a TSH of over 14 at the moment but cholesterol is only 4.8. I just dont understand.


Oh well thanks :)

As for the 4.8 that may still be high for you. The recommend is under 4.0 and this is what I'm pushing for. What you need is the HDL ratio and not just the cholesterol count :) and you need to know your LDL level. It could be that although you are 4.8 your LDL is low <1. And that WILL make a significant difference.

Oh yes and I forgot doh! Basal Metabolic Rate. Have yours measured. It's entirely possible that it's low. I note you do a lot of cardio. Outside of the 30 mins walk you need for insulin resistance, you should be looking at building maximum muscle mass to increase your BMR. Naturally I'm assuming you're a girl because of the spelling of your name so there will be a limit as to how much you want but really weights resistance is key. The reason is some hypos are 40% lower in BMR. If you play with these numbers that means you wouldn't have 2000 calories a day but only 1200 calories before you start to put on weight. Even at 1200 calories you can start to slow your BMR further so this may push it back to 1100 etc. Which is why you get some hypos eating 800 calories a day and still putting on weight.

Some ways to help are L-Carnitine, keep your selenium and zinc high and I found a good quality Q10 helpful as well.

Oh and do check your acidity. When I was around 6.0 or lower I found it hard to lose weight not because of acidity but because I think it pushed me towards dehydration. When I took adrenal support (dessicated adrenal and some alkalizing drops) not only did I increase to a better alkaline level (7.0) but the specific gravity (the measure of your hydration levels on a urine dip stick) shifted out of dehydration. You CANNOT lose weight when you're dehydrated but I found that just drinking fluid wasn't enough to actually hydrate me.

A very important point often missed with hypos is that not only does our metabolism not work properly, nor our bowels, our hydration processes don't work properly either. I needed the adrenal support and the alkalizing drops to help correct this systemic breakdown. Sneaky blooming thyroid!!

But most of all, keep your options open, think outside the box of standard weight watchers hand me down rhubarb and good luck. :D


sidney, I don't know if you are male or female but I do believe men have an easier time probably because of more muscle than women and fewer fat cells than women. The body is great at compromise. If it thinks you are starving, it will become very efficient at storing fat. I assume that is why low calorie diets may be counterproductive once you eat normally. Also, the body will slow everything down if there is less thyroid to utilize.

Personally I like the Atkins diet of high protein/fat and very low carb. Also a magnesium chloride supplement seems to have a lot of benefit especially for the heart.


Wow, all this totally confuses me. I'm lucky to get a six weekly blood test with my GP, who only gives me my TSH result. I did ask last time for my cholesterol because she forgot and as I was going out I asked for a B12 next time. I know if I ask for all these other tests, she'll get annoyed. And I hate confrontation and worry that I'll get black listed at the surgery. If only I could afford private tests, but I cant. What is HDL and LDL? Because of such a very foggy brain and tiredness, I find stuff like this extremely hard to take in. And I am definitely female!!


Sorry that wasnt an answer, just seen I put my message in a wrong box. See what I mean about getting totally confused. My brain is so foggy at the moment I could cry!


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