Your thyroid gland controls a great many functions in your body, including metabolism. You probably already know that one of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, when your thyroid doesn’t produce as much hormone as it should, is weight gain. Even if you’re being treated, hypothyroidism may still have an impact on your weight.
At Optimal Performance Medicine, Dr. Michael Skardasis treats hypothyroidism, and rather than simply writing a prescription, he helps you understand how the condition can impact other parts of your life. This post outlines some of what you need to know about managing your weight with hypothyroidism, but for more information, book an appointment with Dr. Skardasis.
The relationship between your thyroid and your weight
The American Thyroid Association notes, “It has been appreciated for a very long time that there is a complex relationship between thyroid disease, body weight, and metabolism.” One of the earliest tests for thyroid disease involved measuring a patient’s basal metabolic rate (BMR). That test isn’t used anymore because many other things impact your BMR, so it wasn’t reliable -- but researchers have long recognized there’s a relationship between the two.
Even after many years of study, scientists don’t know exactly how much of an impact hypothyroidism has on your BMR, but they do know that there’s a relationship.
A disappointing fact
If you gained weight before being diagnosed with hypothyroidism, you might think that getting treatment will cause you to lose that weight, right? After all, you didn’t do anything to cause the weight gain, so perhaps having the proper amount of thyroid hormone in your body will lead to weight loss.
Sadly, that’s not the case. You’ll have to work to lose the weight, just as if you’d gained by eating too many chips and slices of cake. It’s unfair, we know, but that’s how it works.
You’ll need to work with Dr. Skardasis to develop a nutritious, well-rounded diet in appropriate portions to help you lose the extra pounds. You’ll also need to work out, maybe more than a person with normal thyroid function.
Women, especially, seem to need to do extra strength training exercises in order to build muscle. Researchers aren’t clear on why, but thyroid function affects muscle function. It’s more difficult to build and maintain muscle mass when you have thyroid disease.
You may need to do more cardiovascular exercise than someone with a healthy thyroid function, as well. Thirty minutes to one hour per day, five times per week is the suggested amount of cardio work for a person with thyroid disease, versus the usual recommendation of only 30 minutes five days per week.
Getting a diagnosis
If you haven’t been diagnosed with hypothyroidism but you suspect it may be responsible for your otherwise unexplained weight gain, you may want to look for other symptoms, which include:
- Sensitivity to cold
- Difficulty concentrating
- Dry skin, or other changes in your skin texture
- Thinning hair
- Problems with your memory
A simple blood test is used to measure the amount of thyroid stimulating hormone, or TSH, in your body. Your pituitary gland produces TSH, which tells your thyroid gland how much thyroxine, called T4, to produce. Your body converts T4 to triiodothyronine (T3), as necessary, and Dr. Skardasis may order tests to measure those, as well.
If you’re diagnosed with hypothyroidism, the treatment is straightforward. A synthetic form of T4 is the first line of treatment. It’s inexpensive, safe, and efficient -- but it won’t make the weight melt off.
If you have hypothyroidism, and you’re struggling to lose weight, book an appointment at Optimal Performance Medicine. You may need an adjustment in dosage, or you may need advice from a qualified professional about nutrition and how much exercise you should be doing.
Dr. Skardasis can help you lose weight, even if you have hypothyroidism. Book your appointment today. You can use our simple online scheduling tool, or give our office in Woodstock, Georgia, a call at 678-224-5406, and we’ll be happy to help you.