Dr. Kent Holtorf, Contributor
Thyroid Nation

Hypothyroidism: Making Weight Loss Nearly Impossible

The list of symptoms associated with hypothyroidism seems to be unending! There are so many things that can go wrong because the thyroid is closely involved in so many bodily functions! One symptom that hypothyroid sufferers seem to find the most irritating is the inability to lose weight. This irritation intensifies when we hear others around us boasting of their weight loss success as they stick to their resolutions.

But why is it that hypothyroid patients can’t lose weight? What’s the issue?

The simplest answer is that the metabolism has taken a hit because metabolism is the thyroid’s main role! It is the thyroid’s job to produce thyroid hormones that regulate the metabolism and determine the basal metabolic rate (BMR), the amount of energy used while the body is in a resting state. If the thyroid is producing sub-optimal levels of those hormones, it will slow down how fast your body breaks down food and uses it, leaving you with a slowed metabolism in order to conserve energy.

While the case of the thyroid producing low amounts of its hormones is to blame for many individuals’ issues, the problem of a slowed metabolism can also stem from a thyroid conversion problem. The hormone known as thyroxine or T4 is the inactive form of the thyroid hormone. T4 must be converted to the active form triiodothyronine or T3. The problem is that sometimes instead of T4 being converted to T3 it is converted to the mirror image known as reverse T3 which has the opposite effect of T3 resulting in a lowered metabolism rate.

Stop-The-Weight-AdAlong with the slowed metabolism caused by hypothyroidism come other issues that result in weight gain and/or retention, one of those being gastrointestinal disturbances or constipation. Constipation occurs because the lower amounts of thyroid hormones or active thyroid hormones result in a longer travel time of food through the intestines. That food slowly making its way through the digestive tract will lead to a higher number on the scale and potentially cause other problems such as gut infections making weight loss even harder.

In order to rectify these issues, it is the normal thing to begin dieting; however, this too can be detrimental to your metabolism if done incorrectly. Many of us think that the best way to lose weight is to cut calories. Unfortunately, we tend to cut the calories too much and in doing so we also cut our thyroid production. A study (1) was published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism to show the effect of calorie restriction on the thyroid hormone transport. The study found that dieting obese individuals had a 50%reduction of T4 into the cell and 25% reduction of T3 into the cell. This means that by restricting their calorie intake, these individuals lowered their thyroid production and metabolism making it even harder to lose weight!

One symptom that hypothyroid sufferers seem to find the most irritating is the inability to lose weight. Click To Tweet

All of this seems like an unfair situation and makes weight loss seem like an unattainable goal with hypothyroidism. Thankfully this isn’t the case. There are various things you can do to put you on your way to your weight loss goal. The first thing is optimizing your thyroid treatment. If you’re not currently on a thyroid medication, you should discuss this with your doctor and if you are on thyroid medication, but are still experiencing many of the symptoms, you should make your doctor aware of this so they can make the proper adjustments.


Another thing you can do to achieve weight loss is to understand and address the various systems of the body that can cause even more weight retention. This is something Dr. Evans addresses in her new online learning course, Stop the Weight. She covers various topics including digestive health, craving control, ways to increase your energy and improve your sleep, and the best ways to improve your metabolism. Dr. Evans will also discuss the best thyroid lab tests to do so you and your doctor can have a clear picture of your thyroid health and banish the excess weight you’ve been holding on to.

Check out the Stop the Weight program here

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About Holtorf Medical Group®

Hyper-Or-Hypo-Thyroid-What’s-The-DifferenceKent Holtorf, MD is an American physician and entrepreneur. He is a board examiner of the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine (ABAAM). He is the founder and medical director of Holtorf Medical Group, a practice of five centers that reports to specialize in the treatment and management of medical conditions and disorders including fibromyalgia, adrenal fatigue, complex endocrine dysfunction, hypothyroidism, age management, chronic fatigue syndrome, low libido, Lyme disease, migraines, PMS, perimenopause and menopause. His practice focuses on alternative therapies that are not yet standard practice with mainstream doctors,[2] maintaining that mainstream medicine tends to be an average of 17 years behind the emergence of new and advanced treatments. Holtorf Medical Group was founded on the belief that every patient deserves to have the highest quality of care, compassion, and understanding when striving for a better quality of life. We practice this belief every day as we treat thousands of patients who suffer from chronic conditions, have been treated by multiple doctors and some that have even lost hope. There is a solution! Check out their website HoltorfMed.com, for more information and please follow Dr. Holtorf on Facebook and Twitter.

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1. van der Heyden JT, Docter R, van Toor H, et al. Effects of caloric deprivation on thyroid hormone tissue uptake and generation of low-T3 syndrome. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab1986;251(2):156-E163.