Losing Weight With An Underactive Thyroid: Treatment, Exercises And More!

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Published on: 19-Mar-2024

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Anushka Tripathi

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Losing Weight With An Underactive Thyroid: Treatment, Exercises And More!

Losing Weight With An Underactive Thyroid: Treatment, Exercises And More!

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Do you tirelessly hit the gym, and meticulously count calories, yet the numbers on the scale refuse to budge? Feeling constantly drained and foggy-headed on top of it all? These could be signs of an underactive thyroid, also known as hypothyroidism. 

Living with an underactive thyroid can pose significant challenges, especially when it comes to weight management. A butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, the thyroid, plays a crucial role in regulating metabolism. When it functions inadequately, it can lead to various symptoms, one of which is weight gain or difficulty in losing weight.  

In this blog, we will explore the complexities of an underactive thyroid and highlight how can you lose weight despite an underactive thyroid with suitable exercises and treatment methods. Read the blog to know everything.  

Table Of Contents 

1. Why Am I Losing Weight With An Underactive Thyroid? 

2. Treatment Of Underactive Thyroid 

3. Hypothyroidism Weight Loss Exercises 

4. Which Type Of Thyroid Causes Weight Loss? 

5. Dietitian’s Recommendation 

6. The Final Say 

7. FAQs 

8. References 

Why Am I Losing Weight With An Underactive Thyroid? 

There is a complex relationship between thyroid disease, body weight and metabolism. Thyroid hormone helps in regulating metabolism in your body as metabolism is determined by measuring the amount of oxygen used by your body over a specific amount of time. If the measurement is made at rest, it is termed as the basal metabolic rate (BMR).  

Patients whose thyroid glands do not work properly are said to have low BMRs, and those with over-active thyroid glands have high BMRs. Studies that linked these observations with measurements of thyroid hormone levels showed that low thyroid hormone levels were associated with low BMRs, and high thyroid hormone levels were associated with high BMRs.  

Your thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones, primarily thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones act like master regulators, influencing numerous bodily functions, including metabolism. In hypothyroidism, T4 and T3 production is compromised. This leads to a decrease in your BMR. With a sluggish BMR, your body enters a more energy-conservative mode. It prioritises essential functions like breathing and organ function, while downregulating less critical processes like digestion and even some aspects of tissue repair. This translates to a reduced ability to burn calories from food, leading to weight loss despite what you might be consuming. 

Can People With Underactive Thyroid Lose Weight? 

Individuals with an underactive thyroid often face significant challenges when attempting to lose weight. Hypothyroidism can lead to other complications, such as imbalances in the hormones leptin and cortisol and insulin resistance, making it even more difficult to shed pounds. 

Leptin, a hormone responsible for regulating hunger and satiety, may also be disrupted, leading to increased appetite and cravings. This resistance leads to increased fat storage, particularly around the abdomen. Insulin resistance can occur when the cells in your body become less responsive to insulin. 

Moreover, cortisol, the stress hormone, tends to be elevated in individuals with hypothyroidism, promoting fat accumulation, especially in the abdominal region. 

Treatment Of Underactive Thyroid 


Fatigue, dry skin, intolerance to colds, and sluggishness are common signs of an underactive thyroid. Along with weight gain, this condition presents a range of symptoms that affect daily life. To deal with this, here are some of the underactive thyroid treatments to lose weight: 

1. Medication And Weight Management 

One of the primary underactive thyroid treatment that helps to lose weight is usually in the form of synthetic thyroid hormones like for an underactive thyroid is this medication.  

It's crucial for individuals with hypothyroidism to set realistic expectations and understand that medication alone is not a magic solution for weight management. 

While these medications are effective in restoring hormone levels, they may not always lead to significant weight loss.  

2. Nutrition And Dietary Considerations 

Optimal nutrition is key for individuals with an underactive thyroid who are looking to manage their weight. Understanding these dietary considerations can help individuals make informed choices supporting their overall health and weight management goals. 

Additionally, some foods may interfere with thyroid function, such as those containing goitrogens. These substances can inhibit the thyroid's ability to produce hormones which include soy and its products (soy milk, tofu, tempeh) cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. 

3. Exercise And Physical Activity 

While fatigue and sluggishness can make exercise challenging, incorporating regular physical activity can help boost metabolism. Regular physical exercise is important for any weight management plan, and this holds true for individuals with hypothyroidism. It's important to start with manageable activities and gradually increase intensity as energy levels improve mood and aid weight loss. 

4. Stress Management 

Implementing stress-reducing techniques such as yoga, deep breathing and meditation is beneficial for individuals with hypothyroidism. Chronic stress may lead to the release of cortisol, a hormone that, in excess, can contribute to weight gain. Stress can exacerbate the symptoms of an underactive thyroid and hinder weight loss efforts.  

5. Monitoring Progress And Adjusting Expectations 

Tracking progress, not just in terms of weight but also in energy levels, mood, and overall well-being, is crucial. It's important to work closely with healthcare professionals to monitor thyroid levels and making adjustments to medication or treatment plans as needed. Weight management for individuals with an underactive thyroid requires patience and consistent effort.  

Hypothyroidism Weight Loss Exercises 

Incorporating the right types of exercise can be beneficial. Here are some exercise tips for individuals with hypothyroidism aiming for weight loss: 

1. Cardiovascular Exercise 

Engage in moderate-intensity aerobic exercises by performing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week such as swimming, cycling, and walking. 

2. Strength Training 

Focus on full-body workouts that Include resistance training or strength exercises at least twice a week to build and maintain lean muscle mass. 

3. Interval Training 

Alternate between short bursts of high-intensity exercise and incorporate interval training to boost metabolism and burn calories more efficiently and periods of lower intensity or rest. 

Which Type Of Thyroid Causes Weight Loss? 

The thyroid gland functions by producing the thyroid hormones known as thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). It then releases them into your bloodstream. In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid gland produces too many of these thyroid hormones. 

One of the main symptoms of hyperthyroidism is sudden weight loss without trying. This can sometimes occur even after increased appetite.  

Scientists know that many hyperthyroidism symptoms arise due to an increase in a person’s metabolism. Metabolic activity involves creating tissues, storing energy, and destroying tissues while using up the energy. In hyperthyroidism, the overproduction of T4 and T3 encourages these latter processes. 

The International Journal of General Medicine claims that hyperthyroidism can induce the following: 

  • an increase in calorie burning for basic bodily functions 

  • an increase in bodily heat production 

  • an increase in overall energy use 

Dietitian’s Recommendation 

Optimise portion sizes, stay hydrated and choose nutrient-dense foods. Focus on a balanced diet rich in lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and avoid restricted foods for hypothyroidism.  

Ensure consistent adherence to prescribed thyroid medications and consult a registered dietitian for personalised guidance on managing weight effectively in the presence of hypothyroidism. For individuals with an underactive thyroid aiming to lose weight, Regular exercise, including both cardio and strength training, is essential for boosting metabolism.  

- Dt Akshata Gandevikar 

 

The Final Say 

The struggle with underactive thyroid losing weight can be frustrating, often requiring adjustments in treatment and lifestyle habits. However, by understanding the intricate relationship between thyroid function and metabolism, making informed dietary choices, incorporating regular exercise, and managing stress effectively, individuals with hypothyroidism can take proactive steps toward achieving their weight management goals.  

A holistic approach, supported by healthcare professionals, enables one to navigate the complexities of an underactive thyroid and strive for a healthier life with balance. The challenges associated with living under an inactive thyroid while managing weight may be daunting; however, they are far from posing as insurmountable tasks. 

FAQs 

1. Can thyroid weight gain be reversed? 

Yes, thyroid weight gain can be reversed with proper doctor consultation and dietary and lifestyle changes. 

2. How to low thyroid and lose weight fast? 

You may be able to jumpstart your weight loss by getting sound sleep, staying hydrated, following a special diet, eating more fibre, avoiding goitrogens, and increasing your physical activity. 

3. Why is there difficulty in losing weight with underactive thyroid? 

Underactive thyroid and losing weight are co-related as Hypothyroidism causes weight gain and makes it more difficult to lose weight. However, with successful treatment and some lifestyle changes, a person can lose weight or maintain a moderate weight. People should stick with their treatment plan and discuss any issues with a doctor. 

References 

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