Hypothyroidism and Weight Gain

Woman in blue touching thyroid

Hypothyroidism and Weight 

Your thyroid is a gland in your neck that produces hormones that regulate your metabolism. That means it’s responsible for helping you process the food you eat and turn it into energy.  

Metabolism involves two simultaneous actions: building up muscle and energy and breaking down tissues to make room for more energy stores. Your thyroid hormones, particularly thyroxine, control your metabolic rate. 

Hyperthyroidism is a condition that results in an overproduction of hormones, speeding up your metabolism and causing weight loss, among other symptoms. Hypothyroidism is the opposite problem. With this condition, you don’t produce enough hormones, so your metabolism slows down and you gain weight. 

If you’re trying to lose weight while dealing with hypothyroidism, you can benefit from these tips compiled by our thyroid specialists at Palmetto Endocrinology. While mild hypothyroidism may go away on its own over time, you may need medical treatment to resolve the problem.  

If you’re struggling with obesity, here’s how you can give your body a fighting chance at losing weight, even with hypothyroidism. 


Control your carbohydrates 

When your metabolic system is compromised, as it is when you have hypothyroidism, your body doesn’t process and store nutrients as it should. In particular, it holds onto sugars and carbohydrates.  

Curbing your intake of pasta, bread, white rice, and sweets can help you lose weight despite hypothyroidism. But not all carbs are the same. Complex carbs found in vegetables and legumes are part of a healthy diet.  

A word of caution: Extreme, low-calorie diets can sabotage your weight-loss efforts by triggering a stress response that further lowers your thyroid hormone production. 


Eat smaller, more frequent meals 

When dealing with a slow metabolism, it helps to eat smaller meals more frequently during the day rather than only three large meals. A diet that includes lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates can keep your blood sugar in a healthy zone and your metabolism moving along at a decent clip. 


Eat with inflammation in mind 

Inflammation throughout your body can cause aches and pains in your joints, wreak havoc on your immune system, and interfere with your metabolism. Fortunately, you can reduce inflammation without medication by focusing on your diet.  

To support your thyroid and metabolism and reduce inflammation, consume more magnesium, zinc, iron, B vitamins, and vitamin C. Think of nuts, fruit, leafy green veggies, olive oil, tomatoes, and fatty fish like salmon. These nutrients help your liver convert thyroxine (T4) to triiodothyronine (T3).  


Exercise more 

“Move more” may sound like the mantra of all weight loss programs, but with hypothyroidism, it still holds true. Hypothyroidism often leads to extreme fatigue that makes exercise undesirable or impossible, but we recommend making exercise a part of your daily routine if and when you have the energy.  


Seek medical help for hypothyroidism 

Don’t ignore hypothyroidism — left unchecked, it can slow your heart rate, increase your risk for heart problems like heart attacks and stroke, raise your cholesterol level, and cause other symptoms, such as: 

Treatment for hypothyroidism is simple: We diagnose hypothyroidism with a blood test, prescribe a synthetic form of thyroid hormone, and monitor your progress with regular blood tests every six months.  

If you’re fighting obesity and your thyroid is underproducing, we can help restore its normal functioning so you can lose weight naturally. Contact us or request an appointment online to find out if hypothyroidism is hijacking your weight loss efforts. 


Joseph W. Mathews, MD, FACP, FACE, ECNU, CCD Joseph Mathews, MD, FACP, FACE, ECNU, CCD Joseph W. Mathews M.D., a board certified Endocrinologist and Medical Director of Palmetto Endocrinology, was born and raised in South Carolina. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Biology from the College of Charleston, Cum Laude. He then achieved his M.D. at the Medical University of South Carolina where he also completed his residency in Internal Medicine and a Fellowship in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism. Dr. Mathews is also a Fellow of both the American College of Endocrinology and the American College of Physicians, holds an Endocrine Certification in Neck Ultrasound (ECNU) and is a Certified Clinical Densitometrist (CCD). He has extensive experience performing ultrasound guided fine needle aspiration biopsies. His practice includes a range of specializations including prescribing and fitting patients with insulin pumps. Dr. Mathews' practice has drawn patients from out of state to benefit from his expertise in thyroid disorders, diabetes, cortisol problems and their Endocrine disorders.

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