This is an extensive topic that cannot be covered fully in one article. The goals for this article are as follows:
- To give you a base understanding of what hypothyroidism is.
- To give you an understanding of what hypothyroidism isn’t.
- To give you a base understanding of the best testing options used currently.
- To provide my opinion of the best course of action for fat loss if you have thyroid problems.
What Does Your Thyroid Do?
Your thyroid is located in your neck and produces hormones that are essential to various processes in the body ranging from oxygen use, to heat production, to the use of nutrients and vitamins. And these just touch on how important the thyroid is to so many vital processes.
What Is Hypothyroidism?
When T4 (thyroxine) drops too low it causes different processes in the body to slow down and become less efficient. The symptoms of this range based on the severity of the illness. The more severe the decrease in T4, the worse the symptoms. The symptoms for hypothroidism are vague and can apply to many illnesses and issues. For example, depression and fatigue can be symptoms of many different diseases. In my opinion, the most important symptoms to indicate a potential problem are:
Dry Skin/Brittle Hair
Low Body Temperature
Noticeable Water Retention
Each of those could have nothing to do with your thyroid either, but they can alert you to the fact that there may be something wrong.
Weight gain and fat loss will be discussed later in the article.
How to Get Blood Tests Done Properly
There are two things you need for treatment of a thyroid problem.
- The right tests
- The right doctors
The problem with diagnosing a thyroid problem is not that tests are unable to show the problem, but that usually the right tests aren’t used and the doctors don’t know how to read them. I have caught heat in the past for saying that tests show if you have a thyroid problem and they do. That doesn’t mean I believe that doctors can’t mess it up.
If you use this guide the next time you go to the doctor, then at the very least, you should get the test information you need. Before you get your tests done, talk with your doctor about the information you have and don’t be afraid to go somewhere else if you don’t get the response you think you should.
Ask your doctor to check the following levels to cover as much ground as possible.
Free triiodothyronine (fT3)
Free levothyroxine (fT4)
There are other tests such as imaging and urinalysis, but in my opinion these should signal if something is off in your system and that further investigation is needed.
How to Read the Results
The problem with results is that different labs have different ranges. There is also disagreement as to what is considered too high/low of levels. Also, it isn’t just the individual levels, but how they correspond with one another.
Currently, your best bet to feel optimal is to have your TSH land at the lower end of the normal range and your T3 and T4 at the upper end. Based on research, it would be cautious but wise to think that any TSH level above 2.5 is starting to lean toward less than optimal function.
There are a lot of ways the results can go. You can have normal TSH levels but low T4 levels which could mean you are entering into a subclinical phase. Subclinical does not mean full blown. I have seen clients go from having subclinical to normal levels simply from taking proper diet breaks. In fact, that is one purpose of
The Metabolic Repair Manual Starve Mode.
This is not about self diagnosis though; you want a doctor involved. This is merely about looking out for yourself and trying to eliminate any frustration you may have. If you come back with levels you or your doctor feels are not optimal, then you need to be ready for the next stage of action.
What to Do If You Are Diagnosed With a Thyroid Problem?
The first thing you need to do is be very clear in your communication with your doctor. If this isn’t your doctor’s field of knowledge, you might be better served getting a referral to an endocrinologist. Medication may or may not be needed depending on your levels. Below is a brief explanation of what you can do for the different stages of diagnosis.
If you are diagnosed with full blown hypothyroidism with very extreme and obvious levels, then chances are you are going to be on medication for life so that you can function well. Don’t let this scare you though. If you are communicating with a doctor who is knowledgeable, this does not have to be a negative event. When treatment for hypothyroidism is done correctly you merely feel better. The problem is when the patient and the doctor aren’t communicating properly and dosage levels are wrong.
Make sure to explain to your doctor how your medication is making you feel and discuss with them the specific issues and signs that your dosage may be too high or too low.
Nonthyroid Illness/Subclinical/Euthyroid Sick Syndrome
All of the above basically mean that you are messed up, but not necessarily broken. Most people who are dealing with less than optimal thyroid function fall in this category. Ever since Oprah proclaimed her thyroid woes, we have books filling the shelves (and internet ebooks) about how it “isn’t your fault.” Men and women everywhere are running out and getting themselves diagnosed with full blown hypothyrodism, when that may not be their problem at all.
There are a lot of things that can contribute to TSH levels being normal, but other levels being low. One in particular is constant dieting down and overtraining which does not mean you have hypothyroidism.
The program in the Metabolic Repair Manual has two main goals.
- To help people reload on calories with as few side effects as possible.
- To help normalize low aggression hormone problems like thyroid and menstrual problems.
To give you an abbreviated version of the book, the goal is to train smart and treat your body well. I merely constructed a step-by-step method of doing that; I also discuss how constant dieting down can harm your metabolic burn. And that doesn’t mean you are broken yet or that medication should or should not be used. I would look into other options first and make sure you are getting what you need.
“But Isn’t My Thyroid Making Me Fat!?”
Hypothyroidism is often blamed for weight gain in both adults and children. With the exception of some water retention in more severe cases, weight gain isn’t usually an issue. Energy balance still works in those with thyroid dysfunction, it may just be lowered. If you are treating yourself with proper medication, or if you take the time to take proper breaks and refeeds from dieting, it really shouldn’t be an issue.
Only extremely rare diseases or life threatening illnesses can cause massive osmosis and retention, and these are usually followed by hospital stays or death.
The most you can expect with slow thyroid function is either a higher tendency to retain water on low levels or slower metabolic function causing your rate of burn to be slightly lower than normal.
Dieting and Training for Hypothroidism
It is exactly the same as it would be for anyone else except you have to be smarter, listen a little more closely to your body, and potentially embrace having to take things a little slower. In short, you don’t really get lucky and can’t get by on crap habits.
With any dieting down situation, you want to find a balance of enough of a deficit to achieve results with smart training and diet breaks to keep things moving along smoothly. If you are dealing with thyroid issues, there are a few things to keep in the front of your mind.
- Watch your training volume and keep it lower. Less is more. I would not recommend lots of HIIT mixed with even a moderate deficit (25% below daily caloric need).
- Schedule refeeds a little more frequently. The harder you diet down, the more you need to break.
- Don’t be overly carb restrictive for extended periods of time. If you are sensitive to dieting down, I recommend keeping to a very minimum of protein intake (.08 – 1xbw) so that you can maintain a higher fat and carbohydrate intake on a regular basis. Ideally, a carb cycling program is best; however, due to water retention issues, you are going to be more likely to retain water on your “ups” so keep this in mind. You can diet down just as low as anyone else though.
- If you are on medication it should be much easier, but make sure to consult with your doctor if you are dieting down for an extended period of time.
Overall, you would follow the same core beliefs in The Fat Loss Troubleshoot. If you are someone that has been having long term overtraining and dieting down issues and think that your low levels or issues may be because of that, then I highly recommend Starve Mode.
NicoleJuly 22, 2009 at 10:55 pm
Leigh, this article has me intrigued. I recently had my thyroid checked, and while my doctor said everything looked fine, based on this article, now I’m second guessing what the resuls showed. My results were : T4 – 0.70 (normal range 0.89-1.80, it was noted as Abn L .. My TSH was 1.621 (normal range 0.350 – 5.500
So does that mean even though TSH was within normal levels (is it better to be at the lower end of the range, or the higher end?) and with a T4 below the normal range .. is that an indicator that I could have a possible Thyroid issue on the verge of happening?
Leigh PeeleJuly 22, 2009 at 11:24 pm
What are your stats?
What was your nutrition like prior to the test (calories/carbs etc)?
Are you have any problems/symptoms?
Those numbers don’t scream thyroid problem, but it could mean a break is needed or that you need to do some further testing.
NicoleJuly 22, 2009 at 11:28 pm
stats before were severly underweight because of 8+ years of hardcore restricting and anorexia. Body weight has stabalized, but food is still an issue, seems like slight increases or more frequent “cheat” meals reflect on the scale immediately 🙁 All my other labs seemed fine. MD suggested no thyroid problems based on the numbers I listed .. but your article has me questioning it. Are there any other routes besides normal thyroid testing that I could do to get a more solid idea of my overall metabolic state. Hard for me to increase calories .. when I have no idea what my baseline is, which is rendering me terrified to increase food intake beyond the 1100-1200 mark (I”m 5’6″, 120, and wanting to lean out to a solid 15% body fat at around 115 lbs).
EmilyJuly 23, 2009 at 2:24 am
I know that with thyroid and other hormonal issues Leigh you recommend going super low for 4 or 5 days and then up for 2… If I wanted to incorporate carb cycling into that mix, would you make the low days low carb and the high days higher carb or alternate high and low carb days regardless of calorie intake?
WendyJuly 23, 2009 at 5:37 am
Leigh, thanks for this article. It is most helpful! I also had my TSH level and my doctor said it was just fine. No thyroid issues. However, due to menopause issues my extremities [hands and feet] are often cold. The up and down of my body temperature from extreme HOT FLASHES to COLD FLASHES [and I have endured this for about 3 years – non-stop] is wearing me out. I know women who have absolutely no hot flashes at all and seem to think it is in my mind. No, correction, it’s in my BODY! My doctor says this is quite normal and offered to put me on sleeping pills in order to sleep better. No thanks!
She also offered to give me anti-depressant pills that she said seem to help hot flashes. No thanks! I exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet and have been fit more or less since I was 20 years of age. I read everything I can on fitness, exercise and nutrition and I am totally not a pill popper – except for basic vitamin supplements.
What do you mean by this in your blog?
I recommend keeping to a very minimum protein intake (.08 – 1xbw)
I’m not sure what the numbers mean?
Thank you for all your help to all of us who love to read your blog and keep informed about all health, fitness and nutrition issues.
etana finklerJuly 23, 2009 at 6:42 am
Leigh, this article was most timely, as I’m in the first week of a 2 week diet break/refeed, andn I am calling my Dr. today to have my thyroid and cortisol tested.
You wrote: “Watch the volume and keep it lower. Less is more.”
What do you mean? During OBM, my food volume was at least 50% smaller than my usual diet: OBM: 4-5 one-cup portions of ground turkey or beef, steamed broccoli, a bit of cheese and tortilla, for example.
OPT for Fatloss diet:
1. whey protein w/85g banana + 1/2 C almond milk
2. 140g greek yogurt and 100g fruit
3. 3 cups lettuce celery gr pepper cuke, 55g tomato, 1/2 C frozen peas, 4oz chicken
4. 4oz chicken, fish, or steak and a piece of fruit
5. 1-2C steamed broccoli, 4oz protein, maybe 1/2C rice
6. maybe more protein or fat if I still have calories, but on 1100 cal I usually had only 4 meals.
But what I’m saying is that I think the calories were more on OBM, but the volume was more on OPT. Are you talking about this kind of volume? I can’t imagine why, but I did lose pounds on OBM and not really on OPT.
thanks for the informative and timely article. Let’s see if the Dr is open to reading it!
JessicaJuly 23, 2009 at 7:45 am
Leigh am I right in thinking that dieting down for a long time can mimic the effects of a thyroid problem or induce it period?
I have recently started to see less than optimal numbers, can it be reversed if I am not full bown hypo yet, meaning can I stop it because I don’t want to by hypo!
Thanks, amazing article.
GlynisJuly 23, 2009 at 8:20 am
Even subclinical hypothyroidism can cause dramatic changes in other body systems, showing up in blood tests. Blood sugar levels rise, cholesterol levels increase, tests may reveal low progesterone/increased estrogen. Since our bodies function as a fine-tuned machine it’s no wonder that many of us *do* gain weight and not just retain fluid because more than the thyroid becomes out of whack.
According to Dr. Lou Arronne changes also occur in brain chemistry, for instance the hypothalamus does not receive the right signals which say “enough” and to shut off the hunger mechanism. He also says that when one has subclinical hypothyroidism:
Your metabolism is too slow for the appetite level set by your brain. Thyroid disease slows down the metabolism. What your brain perceives as appropriate food intake levels can then exceed your body’s metabolism, creating weight gain.
Your body is under stress, which interferes with the neurotransmitter functions, and is known to reduce the release of serotonin. In fact, part of the success of the recently recalled diet drugs fen-phen was the fact that they increase serotonin and create a “feeling of fullness.”
Subclinical hypothyroidism lowers a person’s basal metabolic rate (BMR). How much depends on the individual. One sign of this is a decreased body temperature. I know that when I was diagnosed with subclinical hypothyroidism (and gained weight while training for a marathon and not filling up on junk food) my temperature was always below 97F and rarely higher than 97.5F. Once I was treated with Armour thyroid (due to an inability to properly convert T4 to T3 as you must do with T4 only treatment), my body temperature rose back up to the 98.2 to 98.7 range and I lost the weight. (My temperature did not rise while on Synthroid only for 1+ year not could I lose the weight).
Our bodies are all so complex – and so very different from each other. I can take 1 Benadryl and be knocked out for the night, my daughter can take 2 and go play a good game of tennis — My doctor knows that if my thyroid levels fluctuate even slightly toward hypothyroidism, I immediately get the monthly cycle from hell, retain water AND feel like crap.
Karen HarringtonJuly 23, 2009 at 9:02 am
This was an excellent article and introduction to thyroid issues. I have been working with mine for about three years plus now. I really think I had alot longer ago, but was only DX’d a few years ago. I am currently trying to get back on the band wagon. I eat pretty clean throughout day, but night time is a killer. Since last October I have been dealing with all kinds of hormonal issues and have put 18 pounds back on. The worse one being headaches. In this time of not feeling good, I know was not making the best food choices. I was going for the comfort foods. I was still lifting and doing my cardio thru this time, but not with vim & vigor like I should. A part of me is still saying I am not ready yet, but I know I need to get with it. I usually can find that get-with-it attitude, but I am having difficulty finding it.
I think I will check your Metabolism repair plan. maybe its what I need. Sorry for the dump, but I wanted to let you know the article was good.
HillJuly 23, 2009 at 9:50 am
Weight gain can happen from hypothyroidism. I gained 50 pounds not changing a thing about diet. You don’t know what you are talking about. There are thousands of cases of women have weight problems from their thyroid. You are wrong it isn’t our fault. I started taking medication and it still didn’t help me lose weight, it is a very difficult disease.
Leigh PeeleJuly 23, 2009 at 10:06 am
Nicole-Your problem is written in your question. You are at a lower body weight and were in starvation for years. To be honest considering that I would say your test results look good. When you eat more you should weigh more and becoming driven by the scale instead of the mirror is going to contribute to more problems. I highly recommend looking at the archives for both of the Science of Scale Fluctuation articles to better understand physical weight gain.
You have a chance here to take control and take your health and body composition to the level you want it to be. What I would do is focus more on a lifting program (can even be bodyweight) to help add some muscle you likely lost with that eating program and worry more about eating at maintenance.
There is a lot more I would say but this is only a comment box so start there.
That is kind of the point of putting this article out there, for women like you who have a chance to avoid a lot of health problems for no reason. You need to understand fat loss, weight gain, and be realistic about your body.
Hope that helps.
SineadJuly 23, 2009 at 10:07 am
Interesting reading. I still need to get the doc to test all of my levels again. Might wait until November when i go back for my yearly, though. That would give my post-baby hormones plenty of time to get back to where they normally are. Interesting reading here! Thanks!
SineadJuly 23, 2009 at 10:10 am
Hill, reread what she wrote. She didn’t say that weight gain with hypothyroidism can’t happen or doesn’t happen but that it usually isn’t an issue.
NicoleJuly 23, 2009 at 10:11 am
Thanks Leigh. I’m definitely getting better in all the aspects you mentioned, but given my history, your insight and advice was much needed. I just don’t want to leave any stone un-turned in repairing all aspects of my body, including composition, muscular restoration and overall health. I wasn’t sure based on your article if my levels were indicitive of thyroid damage through dieting. So if you think all is ok, I’ll just proceed as I have and give my body the time it needs to bounce back.
Thanks loads for taking the time to respond to my concerns!
Leigh PeeleJuly 23, 2009 at 10:14 am
Emily – In general when I write cycling programs I make the lower days focus on bang for your buck nutrients (as much protein and essitial fatty acids as possible) and then the high days are to make hormonal happiness with lots of carbs, particularity starch based. A 5 day on 2 day off program is fine for most, and depending on how you react to it add in 1-2 week breaks as needed.
Wendy – Studies have shown that even in very low calorie dieting if you have high levels are carbohydrates it keeps thyroid levels more normalized. This is why I think women really do see more success on weight watcher and jenny craig type diets because even if their calories are heavliy restricted they usually seem to have less negative dieting down effects due to a large amount of carbohydrate intake.
The flip side of course is that they lose more muscle mass and have a lot of issues with satiety. That is why a good fair balance of macros is the best option. Becoming overly fixed on just one macro is the wrong move to make in general situations. Sure, there are advanced techniques, but most people are not going to respond well to them or it isn’t even needed at their stage at all.
You see this a lot when someone who is high in body fat adapting a competetive steriod using bodybuilders lifestyle. Just doesn’t make sense.
Leigh PeeleJuly 23, 2009 at 10:19 am
Etana – By volume I was discussing training. I edited that to make that point more clear.
If you wish you can post up your results and I will provide and opinon. I also got your PM and will respond to it when I can.
Jessica – Yes dieting down can provide less than optimal numbers. Some research points to it taking months for them to level back out but it seems the general concensus is 4-6 weeks for moderate problems.
In my opinion extreme dietary restriction can contribute to full blown thyroid problems. Note, my opinion. This is based on experience and looking at the research ,but this isn’t exactly supported by a large number of doctors. Pretty logical though if you ask me. I will say this is going to be more relevant to women who develop thyroid problems with a history of overtraining or deficit eating disorders.
If you find yourself on that path, get off of it. the same can be said for constant overeating and lethargy. Either extremes can create the problem, again in my opinion.
Leigh PeeleJuly 23, 2009 at 10:31 am
Karen-You bring up a good point that should be noted. Those who usually have more sensitive hormonal issues find that they feel the worst in their life while gaining weight. This is something I am going to cover more in the future but as you gain weight, as it is physically happening (and this is fat mostly that I am discussing) you are going to see an increase in a lot of inflammation and hormone productions that can take it over to the other side. Acne increase, headaches, excessive bloating and water retentions, etc.
Those who live in the Yo-yo zone suffer from these problems the most and create a inflammation nation for themselves and are living in a hole. The best thing to do is either embrace maintenace for a while or get to it. Don’t mess around because it isn’t just a vanity issue anymore, it becomes a mental and physical health one.
Leigh PeeleJuly 23, 2009 at 10:36 am
Sinead – Oh how pregnancy become the golden exception to everything. I have had so many women freak out when getting tested right after having a baby and I am like “um, you just had a baby, do you realize what that does to your hormones?”
I also can’t believe how much time has already passed with that little cutie you just popped out. Insane.
Nicole – I think more than anything your question itself and additional statements are more indicative of a problem. Like a said the results aren’t optimal amazing, but they don’t scream run to the doctor either. I bet you will find if you start to pamper yourself with stress relief, proper nutrition, and that better balance your numbers will be better and you will overall feel and look better.
BreeJuly 23, 2009 at 12:29 pm
Thyroid issues have always been interesting to me. My Mom developed hypo while pregnant with my sister. I have been tested because it seems to be hereditary, and “tested low” whatever that means. I never thought muchof it, but have always wondered how common the hereditary link is? Is there any research showing just how hereditary it is from a non-pregnancy to pregnancy standpoint? Its obviously on my radar when it comes time for teh behbies, just curious mostly.
Great article though.
CovermeAJuly 23, 2009 at 1:18 pm
Great article Leigh.
Hill- I always thought that if you did have an actual problem and took your meds along with proper diet and exercise that there shouldn’t be a problem with weight gain. Maybe you need to check you calories to see if you are just eating too much.
EmilyJuly 23, 2009 at 1:55 pm
Thanks for getting back to my question Leigh!
SineadJuly 23, 2009 at 9:12 pm
Leigh–thanks. 🙂 She is a little cutie, isn’t she? 🙂 I was tested (just the most basic test, though, I think) 6 weeks after Katie came and my doc was shocked when the results came back normal. He was convinced that they’d come up hypo. Who knows…
I’ve been slacking on my weight loss plan; I’ve had a wicked bad flare in my arthritis for the last few weeks and it’s all that I can do to just maintain. I’ll get there, though, hopefully once the big two are back in school (on AUG 10! YAY!). 🙂
TerriJuly 24, 2009 at 5:57 am
Is there anything in particular that hypo people can do to minimize the excessive water retention? My body doesn’t seem to work so well on a very low carb diet which would be my first plan of attack. Also, for a hypo person that only has another 5 to 10 lbs to lose, would you recommend the same training and diet protocols that you did in the podcast a while back?
krispy1138July 24, 2009 at 7:30 am
This was a great article since it seems like “thyroid problems” are becoming more and more prevalent. I was one of those people who exhibited all of the symptoms of hypothyroidism from years of eating below maintenance and exercising too hard. I was on and off thyroid meds for about five years, with some doctors saying I was hypothyroid and some saying I wasn’t (all of my levels were normal but T4 and T3 were at the low end of normal). All of my symptoms disappeared after a solid month of eating at maintenance (with the use of the Body Bugg) and although I haven’t lost the 15 pounds I gained 7 years ago, I have felt much better physically.
Leigh PeeleJuly 24, 2009 at 9:32 am
Bree – It seems that there is a strong link. Remember link doesn’t mean absolute, just a pattern. There are a lot of factors that can contribute to a problem such as this. That being said having a lack of extreme in dietary input (low or high), keeping a low level of stress and having an active lifestyle is likely to make your chances better.
In short, don’t worry about something that isn’t even there. All it does is expand the time that you deal with something negative and there is no positive or sense in that.
Leigh PeeleJuly 24, 2009 at 9:40 am
Sinead – If you need anything you got my email, use it.
Terri – More than not I find people with thyroid problems have s**t for electrolytes. Mostly they ignore intake of potassium, mag, and zinc. The get a lot of water and think it is enough, but it isn’t.
With hypos you have to be more focused on nutrition, more focused on nutrients, and you can’t get away as much with cutting corners. My girls especially that have these issues I suggest x2-3 daily electrolyte drink to help balance out as well as focus on potassium rich foods.
I discuss one such drink over at JP fitness.
“16-20 ounces of water
Half packet ElectroMix – http://www.vitacost.com/Alacer-Electromix
Couple shakes of Sea Salt with Iodine – http://www.thebetterhealthstore.com/…crn=2325466701 (if low on potassium you can sub this for mortons lite salt)
1 Packet of flavor stick of choice (I like green tea pink lemonade)
1/2 packet stick of tropical punch koolaid because koolaid makes everything better.
1 capsule of my cal/mag/zing supplement 200/50/7mg (not in the drink though or eww. Keep it in the capsule)”
Most people will get their undies in a twist because there is “articfial” sugar in there but I assure you that the proven benefits far out weight the unproven paranoias.
Leigh PeeleJuly 24, 2009 at 9:42 am
Krispy- Glad to hear it and for the record if your dieting down was really aggressive it may take a little longer of breaking and refeeding. If you can get into a habit of higher high days and lower low days when you finally jump back into the fat loss I think you will see more headway than before. Good luck.
SineadJuly 24, 2009 at 9:57 am
Thanks, Leigh. I’ll be ok. Just have to find my drive (I think it might be lost with the lack of sleep/”fun” with 3 little kids at home all day/knife-like pain in the joints…I’ll find it again) and I’ll get back on track. 🙂
StephanieJuly 24, 2009 at 10:14 am
Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for being one of the few voices of reason in this area. I learned the hard way that eating too little and exercising too much were the fast road to burn-out and more complications from my subclincial hypothyroidism. It’s really frustrating to be surrounded by folks who are suffering from hypo, but are working themselves in to the ground with exercise, eating at a super low deficit and complaining they’re not losing any weight.
::bangs head on desk::
I finally found the balance of just enough exericse, rest, and food to promote fat loss (thanks to you & Tom Venuto) and have been sharing that wisdom whenever I can.
BreeJuly 24, 2009 at 10:41 am
Thanks Leigh! I always find this stuff interesting. I think I have a good balance and have things mostly under control so I am definitely not sweating it 🙂
JediJuly 24, 2009 at 1:00 pm
thanks for your advice to Krispy, Leigh. I think that having had my thyroid removed two months ago, that this approach woild help me too 😉
AndreaJuly 24, 2009 at 1:38 pm
So let’s forget about the “you need a doc involved” recommendation.
Do you have opinions on getting the tests done via a private testing lab? There are lots of them out there, and you pick and choose which tests you want and just pay for them. No muss, no whining to the doc about which tests you would like even when they recommend something else, etc…
(I have had docs flat out refuse to put in the order for certain tests when they felt it wasn’t needed.)
krispy1138July 24, 2009 at 1:59 pm
Andrea: I think it’s great to go the private testing route if you can’t get your doc to order the proper tests, but what do you plan to do if the results show you need meds?
jillebeanJuly 24, 2009 at 2:29 pm
Great article Leigh!
MikeJuly 24, 2009 at 2:47 pm
Andrea: go to an endocrinologist. Hormones are what they’re all about, they likely won’t fight you and they’ll actually know how to interpret the results!
LaraJuly 25, 2009 at 7:37 am
Great article. I have been HypoT for 20+ years and on Synthroid (T4 med) the whole time. I had periods of not feeling great but my doc (general doc) always said my levels were fine. It wasn’t until I actually saw the lab results and found that while they were in the normal range they were not in the optimal range. Went to an Endocrinologist who did much more thorough testing and found out I was low in T3 and added a T3 only drug (cytomel) to my meds. The combo really helped me feel better. It didn’t do “magic” things for my weight but made me feel better.
I have been following Leigh’s recommendations from the Thyroid podcast during this phase of dieting and it really is a great plan to follow. Lowering the intensity of the workouts have been KEY for me. Also the planned higher cal/carbs days each week. Has made a big difference in my abiilty to adhere to my plan and I have felt so much better physically and mentally doing it this way compared to past dieting attempts. 20 lbs down and just a few more to go…
AlexJuly 25, 2009 at 9:15 am
Andrea, some states/ labs require an rx for labs, mine is one of them.
I can’t go to a private lab to get tests done.
Anna KJuly 25, 2009 at 11:22 am
This was a great article–thanks Leigh.
I have a subclinical thyroid levels and very low estrogen and protegesterone; my doctor thinks I might have hypopituatary. My gain of 15 lbs was not budging EXCEPT for in the last month I’ve been following the recommendations from the podcast to lower training intensity (I now do lots of walking, no more long elliptical sessions and high-intesity aerobics classes) and follow the OPT resistance workouts, which I get in about 3 days a week. I’ve been doing TONNES of stretching and foam rolling, which is pretty revolutionary for me, because I’ve had chronically tight, bulky muscles forever.
I’ve also been cycling 5 days low and 2 day high (1150-1250 cals; 1850-1950 cals, respectively) and keep my macros in line. Like Lara, I find that this has helped HUGELY with compliance. Big time.
The result of this new approach? In the last 4 weeks I’ve dropped 8.8 lbs. The first flush of that was some severe water retention, but my clothes are finally fitting properly again and I know that if I stay this course I will reach my goal weight by the end of the summer or early fall–just 8 more pounds to go.
I feel an awesome combination of: “wow, I can really do this”, combined with the relaxation of not burning myself out at the gym and doing killer weight routines that leave me with chronically sore hamstrings/ hip flexors / neck and shoulder.
Long-winded, but I am so thrilled that I’ve followed your advice Leigh. I’ll definitnely keep you posted and let you know how the next 8 lbs goes. 🙂
micheleJuly 27, 2009 at 11:59 am
i was diagnosed hypo by my general care dr about a year ago. im taking 100mcg levothyroxin daily, and my levels are normal now. i want to temporarily go off my meds though, and i am wondering if this is possible. i want to join the navy, have wanted to since high school. i was diagnosed after college – when i was planning on joining as an officer. now im told i cant join because i cant take pills at boot camp. 8 weeks, thats all i am asking for. im told that if i get a dr to write a letter saying 8 weeks wont kill me as long as i get back on it after boot camp, i *might* be able to get in with a medical waiver. this is killing me. a stupid pill may keep me from fulfilling a dream i put off in favor of an education. i’ve made an appointment with my dr, but in the meantime i am wondering… will this happen for me? will any dr write that letter? if it takes a few months for pills to make a change, wont it take a few months for their absence to be noticed? if that is the case, 8 weeks should be fine, right? *sigh*
SineadJuly 28, 2009 at 9:36 am
Michele, just to make doubly sure Leigh sees this, you might want to shoot a copy of this question to her in an email or through the contact form. I hope you get an answer that works with your dream!
TiggyJuly 28, 2009 at 4:12 pm
Michelle, who told you you couldn’t take your thyroid meds during boot camp? Please make sure of this information from your Navy intake person because it doesn’t sound right to me. If your doc gives you an all clear for health with a few pills a day, there might not be an issue.
If you are truly hypothyroid (and not going through a transitive period), your meds are going to be required FOR LIFE (and to live). Having dealt with being hypo for 10+ years, I tried several times to go off or wean myself down off my doseage, and this is what happened:
First 24 hours was okay. No loss of energy.
Day two showed a general lethargy and the beginnings of brain fog.
Day three I almost couldn’t get out of bed.
When I told my endo what I happened, she was the one who told me about the meds being for life and if I stopped, eventually I could slip into a coma and die. I say this not to scare you, but PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE speak to a Navy doc or someone before you think of stopping your meds. It could put you in grave danger health-wise.
miss_jupiterAugust 3, 2009 at 4:50 pm
Hi Leigh, I was recently tested by an allergist who to my surprise says I may have HypERthyroidism even though I have always struggled with weight gain although most of my symtpoms are of hypOthryoid and that was what they were hoping to find. I got a lot of tests and while I don’t have them in front of me the level indicating hyperthyroid was 75? maybe it was .75 if that is the case how bad is that? He thinks I may need a retest b/c the weight issue is opposite what it should be. I hope it is not a thyroid problem although I am tested at least once a year b/c of my eyes (bulging) but I was born that way so who knows.
miss_jupiterAugust 3, 2009 at 4:52 pm
sorry meant maybe it was 7.5…oh hope i’m making sense, it was definately 75 in some order
StephanieAugust 3, 2009 at 5:14 pm
Miss_Jupiter: If your TSH was 7.5 you are severely HYPOthyroid… if it’s 0.75 then you’re HYPERthyroid (seems counter intuitive but the higher the number, the lower your thyroid is functioning.)
I’ve known a couple of folks with weight struggles who are HYPERthyroid – things are so wound up they were exhausted all the time so weren’t able to be active.
miss_jupiterAugust 3, 2009 at 9:36 pm
Stephanie thank you! Must be .75. b/c doc definately said hypER. Yeah, I have had difficult to treat anxiety and am exhausted all the time (used to think it was my mind wearing my body out). Waiting for insurance auth to see rheumatoglist bc doc thinks its either this or lupus…hopefully this is the easier to treat. Thanks again. Guess I should find out about what kind of weight gain to expect with treatment…
StephanieAugust 4, 2009 at 10:00 am
Glad I could help! A co-worker ended up having treatment done on her thyroid (it was becoming enlarged) which then pusher her in the opposite direction and became hyPO thyroid…
It’s all a lot of fun. 🙂
Best of luck with everything!
DebbieAugust 15, 2009 at 3:06 pm
miss_jupitor I had autoimmune hypERthyroidism (Grave’s Disease). I gained weight because I had burned out and my appetite was still high. I used to go to the gym and workout 2-3 hours a day. This was before I knew I had Graves. Eventually I got to the point where I couldn’t even walk slowly for 30 secs on the treadmill without my heart practically beating out of my chest and me thinking I was going to die. Finally, went to the doc and was dx’d, went on anti-thyroid meds for 9 mos and the following year had my thyroid ablated now I depend on Synthroid to live. So, yes, you can gain weight when hypERthyroid. More often than not people lose but you can also gain.
TerryAugust 17, 2009 at 9:01 pm
What a great article. You make things more simple to understand. Thanks for all of your research and sharing.
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i manage to lose weight by doing lots of cardio workout, bench press and weight lifting. i also changed my diet into low fat and low carb diet.
Jennifer W,November 17, 2009 at 1:28 pm
I am 36 and have 4 children. My youngest is 10 months and I am breastfeeding. I will continue until January when he is 12 months.
At my heaviest I was 267. My weight now is hovering b/t 247 and 251. My thyroid TSH is 2.5. It was closer to 3, but my dr. raised syntroid to 100 and that seemed to do the trick.
My doc says 2.5 is normal. Is that true? I thought I should be closer to 1.0. No? I have low vitamin D too. I am on a big dosage per week but the dr. has only gotten me up to a 27 (from 13) so far. 40 and up is what she said is normal.
I am stuck at this weight and misrable being so big. I walk 2-4 miles a day and want to start running. Any advice? Should i be on more synthroid? How do I restrict calories while breastfeeding? I am so lost.
noraDecember 5, 2009 at 8:58 pm
I had a subthyroidectomy about 15 years.Only 1/3 of my thyroid is left.I was told by my doctor that I should be taking Eltroxyn for life.When I moved to Canada doctor are saying that my thyroid levels are fine and I don’t need it.
But I have all the symptoms of hypo what’s your advice?.
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JanineMarch 4, 2011 at 9:36 pm
Current weight: 151
I have done 3 competitions since April of 2009. My second ccompetition was in October 2009 and my third was in June of 2010.
1st comp wieght – 126lbs
Keto, 1 1/2 hours H.I.T.T 7 days a week. 1 hour weights. My calories were around 700-800
2nd comp weight – 113lbs
Low fat, carbs and high protein, between 1300-1700 calories. Cardio never went over 55minutes and was only walking on a slight incline on the treadmill. Weights, 24-30 sets high intensity giant sets. Was on natural fat burners
Before my third comp my trainer bulked me for 5 weeks and put 30lbs on me. I could not Lise weight!!! Started me at 1 hr of cardio and weights 5 days of weights.
I was then put on clenbuterol for 8 weeks straight, and anavar for 8 weeks. My cardio was upped to 45 minutes H.I.t.t and 50 minutes walking. My calories were between 800-1100
Ever since my 3rd comp I have gained 30lbs regardless of eating clean and hit the gym 6-7 days a week . I have tried high carb, low carb, high fat, low fat, high protein, low protein, no cardio, 2 hrs cardio, more weighs, circuit training, no training…
I got my thyroid checked…
My TSH came back normal but my T3 and T4 were low
Normal T3 – 3.8-6.0 mine was 3.8
Normal T4 – 10.0-28.0 mine was 10.1
I have all the symptoms of hypo… Dry skin…. Low temp (95.3F), low blood pressure. Constipation, fatigue…. And have been on armour for 3 days (30mg) and still feelthe same…
I trie home pathic treatment for 6 weeks and nothing…
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