Expert Answer: How does having hypothyroidism affect my weight?

Nov 11, 2021 | Tara Schmidt, Mayo Clinic registered dietitian nutritionist | @taraschmidt | Comments (14)

Written by Dr. Aoife Egan. Dr. Egan is a consultant in the Division of Endocrinology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. 

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the lower neck. The gland produces thyroid hormones which travel in our blood to every tissue in our body. Thyroid hormone helps control our metabolism. This means that is can influence how fast we burn calories.  If your thyroid does not produce enough thyroid hormone, this condition is called hypothyroidism.

Hypothyroidism is associated with many symptoms including constipation, frequently feeling cold, fatigue, and muscle aches. The metabolic slowing associated with hypothyroidism can also cause weight gain – mostly due to excess accumulation of salt and water. The weight gain associated with hypothyroidism is generally quite modest and in the region of 5-10lbs. We typically do not see a very large weight gain due to hypothyroidism alone. This is because there are many other hormonal, genetic, dietary, lifestyle and environmental factors that also influence our body weight.

Importantly, the extent of weight gain is related to the severity of the hypothyroidism. Therefore, if your blood tests show that your thyroid hormone levels are severely low, one can expect weight gain at the upper end of the given range, and vice versa. When weight gain is due to hypothyroidism, there are generally other symptoms of hypothyroidism present also.

When hypothyroidism is diagnosed and treated appropriately with thyroid hormone, metabolism returns to normal.  Once treated, the weight gain that is due to hypothyroidism is typically lost and the ability to gain and lose weight is the same as in people who do not have thyroid problems. It is important to note that thyroid hormone should not be used as a weight loss treatment in individuals with normal thyroid function.

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Thank you for this explanation of hypothyroidism. I finally understand it. 👏👏🤗🤗🙏💕💕

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Thank you. That was interesting.

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I am being tested for hypothyroidism but I have to fast for 8hrs. My blood glucose is always low I have to eat every 2-3 hrs. How do I go about getting an accurate lab blood glucose test when I cannot fast.

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@krilloil

I am being tested for hypothyroidism but I have to fast for 8hrs. My blood glucose is always low I have to eat every 2-3 hrs. How do I go about getting an accurate lab blood glucose test when I cannot fast.

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Have you considered scheduling your labs first thing in the morning right after you wake up? I know fasting throughout the day can be so difficult!

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@deborahmary

Thank you. That was interesting.

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Dr. Egan and our team of endocrinologists are a wealth of knowledge!

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@skeleton

Thank you for this explanation of hypothyroidism. I finally understand it. 👏👏🤗🤗🙏💕💕

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I’m so glad you found this to be helpful!

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@taraschmidt

Have you considered scheduling your labs first thing in the morning right after you wake up? I know fasting throughout the day can be so difficult!

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Thank you for your comments. My labs are for Hypoglycemia not hypothyroidism,my bad. My issue is my blood glucose is so low in the mornings I get shaky and weak unless I eat during the night ,I cannot schedule lab visits,we stand in line and wait here until it’s my turn.

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@skeleton @deborahmary @krilloil, welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. To connect with others dealing with hypothyroidism, you're invited to join the discussions in the:
– Diabetes/Endocrine System support group https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/diabetes-and-endocrine-problems/

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@krilloil

Thank you for your comments. My labs are for Hypoglycemia not hypothyroidism,my bad. My issue is my blood glucose is so low in the mornings I get shaky and weak unless I eat during the night ,I cannot schedule lab visits,we stand in line and wait here until it’s my turn.

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Hi @krilloil – That sounds like it must be so difficult. Are you getting your care at Mayo Clinic? I do not know your medical history, but you could mention a "hypoglycemic bundle" to your physician and see if this is a test they recommend. When this is ordered by a doctor, you get a card that allows you literally skip the line at any Mayo lab location.

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My problem has been hyperthroidism, the opposite. I was losing weight without trying to (I was overweight a little); I also was losing hair at an alarming rate. My doctor put me on a thyroid medicine that stopped this. Thyroid problems are an inherited effect in my family (one sister had hers removed years ago and another has had partial removal). Age seems to cause it to return; I am now 85 and otherwise basically healthy.

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@krilloil

I am being tested for hypothyroidism but I have to fast for 8hrs. My blood glucose is always low I have to eat every 2-3 hrs. How do I go about getting an accurate lab blood glucose test when I cannot fast.

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Get your blood work done first thing in the morning this way you're assured of a fasting number. I have same problem with low blood sugar and this works best for me. Then after, GO EAT!!!

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@dorisjeanne

My problem has been hyperthroidism, the opposite. I was losing weight without trying to (I was overweight a little); I also was losing hair at an alarming rate. My doctor put me on a thyroid medicine that stopped this. Thyroid problems are an inherited effect in my family (one sister had hers removed years ago and another has had partial removal). Age seems to cause it to return; I am now 85 and otherwise basically healthy.

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I'm glad your physician found a medication that sounds like it was a good fit for you, Doris! What other practices to you have to keep yourself healthy at 85?

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