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Hypothyroidism and Weight Gain

Here’s what you need to know about one of the primary symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism and Weight Gain
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Unfortunately, hypothyroidism and weight gain often go hand-in-hand. Sometimes weight gain is one of the first noticeable signs of hypothyroidism in people who haven’t yet learned they have the illness. In existing hypothyroidism patients, weight gain may indicate that their hypothyroidism is getting worse or that their medication or lifestyle needs adjustment. 

Does My Weight Gain Mean I Have Hypothyroidism? 

Answer: maybe.

If you’ve recently gained weight and also have other symptoms of hypothyroidism such as fatigue, sensitivity to cold, dry skin, thinning hair, a puffy face, depression, and more, then your weight gain may be an indication of hypothyroidism. 

If you experience weight gain and no other symptoms, it’s less likely that an under-active thyroid is the cause. Still, if you’re gaining weight despite not having made any changes in your diet or exercise routine, you might consider being tested for hypothyroidism. Sometimes people in the early stages of hypothyroidism have subtle or few symptoms.

Either way, do not self-diagnose. Unexplained weight gain cannot diagnose hypothyroidism. If you believe you might have hypothyroidism, we recommend you consult a medical professional. You might also try our at-home thyroid blood test kit to better understand how your thyroid is working and if there may be a need for further evaluation of your thyroid function.

Why Does Hypothyroidism Cause Weight Gain? 

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck. It produces hormones that regulate your body’s energy use, along with many other important functions. 

As part of the endocrine system, the thyroid gland makes and stores hormones that help regulate the body’s metabolism in the form of blood pressure, blood temperature, and heart rate

When your thyroid hormone production drops, your body processes slow down and change. Hypothyroidism can affect many different systems in your body, including your metabolic rate. Too little thyroid hormone slows the body’s metabolism, which can lead to weight gain.

Another common symptom of hypothyroidism is fatigue. This leads to a patient exercising less or being generally less active, which can of course affect your weight.

When Should I Worry?

Generally, hypothyroidism is associated with a modest weight gain that can be very difficult to lose. The American Thyroid Association notes that most of the weight gain associated with hypothyroidism is due to water and salt, not newly accumulated fat. They also state that “5-10 pounds of body weight may be attributable to the thyroid, depending on the severity of hypothyroidism.” 

Some researchers have found evidence linking hypothyroidism to obesity, too. This needs to be studied further, however. At this time, patients should not perceive massive weight gain as a normal part of hypothyroidism.

If you find yourself gaining more than 10 pounds, examine your diet and lifestyle to determine if something other than your thyroid could be the cause. If you’re gaining weight while eating and exercising a healthy amount, consider making an appointment with a thyroid doctor to adjust your thyroid medication or look into other causes for your weight gain.

How Can I Lose Weight With Hypothyroidism? 

There are multiple methods to help you lose weight with hypothyroidism. If you have not yet been diagnosed and treated, that should be step one and your top priority. 

Another important step is to craft a thyroid-friendly diet. We offer one-on-one consultations with a registered thyroid nutritionist to help you develop the ideal healthy diet for you.  

Here are other ways you can potentially lose weight with hypothyroidism: 

  • Test for insulin resistance and leptin resistance
  • Test for food allergies
  • Drink more water
  • Exercise regularly

Staying Fit and Positive With Hypothyroidism

Having hypothyroidism doesn’t mean you are sentenced to obesity or even being overweight. Holding the belief that your hypothyroidism will forever cause you to gain weight might create a self-fulfilling prophecy and lead to unintended self-sabotage if you don’t take the steps needed to maintain a healthy weight because you believe they won’t work anyway.

Having a strong, supportive care team in place, as well as friends and family that encourage healthy habits can go a long way in helping you stay healthy with hypothyroidism. With a good treatment and symptom management plan in place, you will maintain a healthy weight for you, keeping both your metabolic rate and your energy levels at acceptable levels so you can continue living a full life.

How to lose weight successfully with hypothyroidism

Have a look at our Speaker Series Event about losing weight with hypothyroidism


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Katie Wilkinson

Katie Wilkinson, previously serving as the Head of Content and Community at Paloma Health, fervently explores the nexus between healthcare and technology. Living with an autoimmune condition, she's experienced firsthand the limitations of conventional healthcare. This fuels both her personal and professional commitment to enhancing patient accessibility to superior care.

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