March 11th, 2011
12:21 PM ET

How can I lose weight if I have hypothyroidism?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Friday, it's Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist.

How can I lose weight when I have hypothyroidism and I can't do strenuous exercise? My doctor is still adjusting my thyroid medication, so my TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) is still high at 22. Added to that, I've got heart problems and have been told by my cardiologist not to do strenuous exercise! I do a lot of walking and typically do 10,000 steps a day. I've been doing a low fat 1,400 calorie diet with no result. I was thinking about a low-carb 1,200 calorie diet and upping my steps to 15,000 a day but I'm wondering what else I can do when I can't exert myself.

Asked by Serene of Sacramento, California

Expert answer

Hi Serene,

It sounds like you are in a frustrating situation. First of all, until you are taking the appropriate dose of thyroid medication and your TSH is in the normal range (I like to see it in the mid-normal range for my patients, around 2, for those that are struggling with their weight), it will probably be very difficult for you to lose weight.

The thyroid gland plays an important role in metabolism, and if your thyroid hormone levels are low, as indicated by a high TSH (thyroid hormone normally suppresses TSH when present at normal levels), your metabolism will be low and you will not burn as many calories every day.

When your TSH gets into the normal range, however, don't expect the weight to just fall off without continued effort. I find that most of my patients have to continue working very hard to lose weight even when their TSH is in the normal range. Without knowing your age, height, weight (especially where you tend to carry your excess weight - in the hips and thighs or in the belly), it's hard to make specific recommendations.

I think trying a nutrient-dense 1,200-calorie diet with fewer starchy carbs like bread, crackers, pasta, rice, cereal and baked goods might be useful, especially if your waist is greater than 35 inches (40 inches for men). Try to eat lean protein with most meals and snacks as this can give you a slight metabolic boost and having a cup or two a day of green tea (decaf is OK if you can't tolerate caffeine) could give you a slight metabolic boost as well, especially before exercise (check with your cardiologist regarding the caffeine since I don't know the nature of your heart problem).

As far as exercise, 10,000 steps a day is terrific. If you have the time and energy to increase to 15,000 steps per day, that could help. The latest government guidelines suggest that some people may need 90 minutes per day of exercise to lose weight. If your cardiologist approves, you might consider adding in hills on a regular basis to work your muscles differently and burn more calories.

In addition, I would definitely add strength training at least twice a week to build calorie-burning muscle. If you begin a strength training program, the scale may not move right away, but it should in the long run and it will help you keep the weight off.

Finally, for optimal heart health, a low-fat diet is not the best approach. A better idea would be to follow a moderate fat diet (about 25-30%) and substitute healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocado, fatty fish, olive oil and canola oil for saturated fat like butter, cheese, cream and sugary and refined carbohydrates (Choose whole grains, which are heart healthy.).

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soundoff (1,204 Responses)
  1. Galina L.

    The thing that worked for me was really low-carb diet and Armour thyroid combination. Diet is more important than everything else. Not limited breads, cereals, sugars, fruits,potatoes. Just nothing of that staff, and ignore that lean meats message. With couple eggs with real butter for breakfast, fat piece of meat with salad for lunch and salad with omelet for dinner you will loose weight , have plenty of energy and never be hungry (no need for snacks)

    March 11, 2011 at 13:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kelli

      Respectfully, it is a bit irresponsible to advocate a high fat diet to a person with heart disease. Please, listen to the doctor. If not, please get diet advice from a qualified, degreed professional. Again, with all due respect, I would hesitate to take health advise from someone who has difficulty differentiating between "loose" (as in screws) and "lose" (as in weight). Good luck, and good health!

      March 11, 2011 at 17:16 | Report abuse |
    • NA

      Agree with Kelli, and would like to add that individuals with slower metabolisms BENEFIT from having smaller, more frequent meals. Healthy snack helps regularize/speed up the metabolism.

      March 11, 2011 at 20:40 | Report abuse |
    • Galina L.

      Please, Kelli, excuse my misspelling. I live in the USA for last 11 years, but English is my second language, so sometimes I make mistakes. My doctor knows what I am doing and approves it because I significantly improved my health and very slowly lost 29 lb during last 4 years I am 50 y.o. premenopausal female. Not everybody can do it at my age with underactive thyroid. If you read Good Calories, Bad Calories by G.Taubes, you will find more information about why my diet is healthy. It is an unproven legend that you have to eat often . I have 3 meals a day,. no snacks, never hungry.

      March 11, 2011 at 23:43 | Report abuse |
    • Galina .

      Please, Kelli, excuse my misspelling. I live in the USA for last 11 years, but English is my second language, so sometimes I make mistakes. My doctor knows what I am doing and approves it because I significantly improved my health and very slowly lost 29 lb during last 4 years I am 50 y.o. premenopausal female. Not everybody can do it at my age with underactive thyroid. If you read Good Calories, Bad Calories by G.Taubes, you will find more information about why my diet is healthy. It is an unproven legend that you have to eat often . I have 3 meals a day,. no snacks, never hungry.

      March 11, 2011 at 23:45 | Report abuse |
    • dlg

      a low carb diet would be a good idea but if you dont wanna cut your carbs down check ou this site and look under the health section. it has alot of really info on different ways to lose some weght!


      March 18, 2011 at 13:14 | Report abuse |
  2. Bob

    One thing that never gets mentioned in these weight loss articles is how dieting negatively affects personal relationships and job performance. We are all under stress due to the Republican assault on the middle class that it seems more people will have difficulty than ever when it comes to losing weight. A lot of times it comes down to eating something so one can get ones work done so that one does not lose ones job. Or eat something so that you don't yell at the kids. No one in the health industry ever talks about the reality of life. That is why medications, like bupropion and naltrexone, may be indicated for many patients. It is not a question of telling a patient that they should toughen up – people need help and these drugs will help people lose weight.

    March 11, 2011 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • boxermom

      Hate to break it to you but the Democrats are in charge now. Republicans have nothing to do with your trouble losing weight.

      March 11, 2011 at 14:48 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Actually, the stress caused by economic problems can lead to weight gain. And it seems as, since all legislation starts in the house, and the republicans control the house, and the republicans control the supreme court and the republicans control the media and all corporations, then the republicans are in control. My points are all valid. How are you going to solve the problem?

      March 11, 2011 at 16:39 | Report abuse |
    • yllus228

      you can't be serious. Now the nation's weight problem is the Republican's fault? do you have any idea how absurd that sounds? The Republican's control the media? Yeah that was exemplified in the last presidental election. BTW, the Republicans have controlled the house for a matter of months, not years like Pelosi's house 'leadership'. If you're blaming your weight issues in the Republicans, you've got WAY bigger issues.
      I'll help by supporting my heavy friends w/ support not blaming.

      March 11, 2011 at 17:01 | Report abuse |
    • john

      You have a short memory Bob. The congress has just recently become a Republican majority. The media Republican controlled?!? The only right slanted news(entertainment) channel is Fox and they get assualted for being as entertaining as the other news(entertainment) channels (CNBC/MSNBC/CNN) . Your only valid point is that stress causes weight gain. Seems a little bit more of the liberal "someone else is to blame" mantra!!

      March 11, 2011 at 17:12 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      The evidence is very clear. Wealth redistribution in the 80's from the poor to the rich (a pushed through by Reagan) coincided with the current obesity crisis. Do the research. There is evidence from a variety of fields, including the fitness field, that indicates that poverty not only is associated with obesity but causes it. Only the Republicans are associated with taking from the poor and giving to the rich. So, Republicans cause obesity.

      March 11, 2011 at 17:48 | Report abuse |
    • jj

      Also, fresh healthy food is more expensive than empty calories. Eating well definitely relates to one's financial status and health/energy status. If one is poor and tired, it is very hard.

      March 11, 2011 at 18:28 | Report abuse |
    • yllus228

      bob, your simplistic cause & effect & "republicans cause obesity" rationale is laughable. I'm sorry. first, take some God damn responsibilty for yourself instead of blaming others. second, pick up a history book before you make such an uneducated slimplistic blanket statement about economics. you making the statement to do some research is a joke. What about the explosion of fast-food restaurants in the 80's? did that have anything to do w/ the nation's weight gain? Did you factor that into your 'research'? what about the stock market crash in the 80's-yes, there was a market crash & a recession in the 80's-remember? or do you have to do some more "research"? did that have anything to do w/ financial hardship's of the era?
      So with your absurd reasoning, when we had "financial bliss" in the 90's, how come the nation's weight problem didn't go away? Any research on that?

      March 11, 2011 at 19:00 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Actually, I have done the research. It is very clear. Oppression (read poverty) causes a reduction in D2 receptors in the brain. The level of D2 receptors in the brain has been discovered to be inversely proportionate to BMI. This research has been replicated many times. Do a Google Scholar search on D2 receptors and obesity and D2 receptors and social status. The experiments are all well done and the results are very clear. Happy reading.

      March 11, 2011 at 19:05 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Also, wealth disparity in the country has gotten worse every year since Reagan got elected. That is why there was no break in the 90's (although I seem to recall some slight improvements in the late 90's – I may be wrong on that).

      March 11, 2011 at 19:10 | Report abuse |
    • Suzi

      All I can say to this ridiculous political back and forth about weight gain is ...PPPLLLLLEEEAAAASSSSEEEE!
      My GOD Bob, grow up and get over yourself. It's time to move on! Hope the last 4 years have cured your weight problem!

      June 13, 2015 at 09:38 | Report abuse |
  3. katie

    I have brown hair, can I lose weight??? Really, how dumb is the topic here. Anyone can lose weight.... CNN stoops to yet another lowest form of news.

    March 11, 2011 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Loren

      Do you know anything about hypothyroidism?!?

      March 11, 2011 at 13:55 | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      It appears Katie that you don't have a Thyroid condition or know anyone who suffers from a Hypo thyroid. As someone who has been on Thyroid medication since the birth of my oldest son (18 years ago) I have struggled with weight loss since my diagnosis. I activily go to the gym and watch what I eat and drink and still am on the chubby side (5ft 2in 155 lbs). I just find it amazing that someone can make such a negative comment about something they know nothing about.

      March 11, 2011 at 13:58 | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      YOU OBVIOUSLY know nothing about how your thyroid works!!!!!!!!

      March 11, 2011 at 14:18 | Report abuse |
    • Ernie

      If you don't have a thyroid problem, you should really keep your comments to yourself. The question and expert answer are quite good. I hope that you don't get thyroid problems but if you do, maybe you can save this for future reference.

      March 11, 2011 at 15:02 | Report abuse |
    • There is one in every crowd

      Katie – It is better to stay quiet and be thought a moron , than open your mouth and remove all doubt.

      March 11, 2011 at 15:36 | Report abuse |
    • Denizen Kate

      Is your hair dark brown or light brown?

      Really, how dumb are you to assume that everyone is the same where the ability to lose weight is concerned.

      March 11, 2011 at 16:14 | Report abuse |
    • Katrina

      You are ridiculous. If this is such a dumb topic, why did you spend your time reading the article AND then commenting on how dumb it is? If you ask me, THAT is what's dumb. This condition has serious symptoms and side effects that can affect a person's everyday life in ways they never imagined. I was having trouble getting out of bed, had ringing in my ears, blurred vision, constant muscle cramps, and severe sensitivity to cold, among other things. It's no joke, and clearly you can see from the other responses here that many people are affected by this. It's a life-long diagnosis, it never goes away. Maybe next time you waste your time commenting on something "dumb," you should consider the fact that no one needs or wants to hear the opinion of a random idiot who knows nothing about this condition. Thanks for making me so angry I had to waste MY time writing this response to you.

      March 11, 2011 at 17:39 | Report abuse |
    • two cents

      katie – people who have brown hair normally finds it hard to loose weight as their brain size is too small and it does not work the way it should. However, using a diffrent color dye on your hair may improve the metabolism of your brain. Make sure you take acetominophen or ibuprofen for pain killers just befor you leave for the salon.

      Good Luck with the metabolism of your brain!! Let us all know how your weight loss is progressing.

      March 11, 2011 at 20:52 | Report abuse |
    • Emma

      I have low thyroid and for years I blamed myself for my extra 20 lbs. 2 years ago I became a pet groomer which required me to stand and move on my feet for 8 hours or more a day. I usually ate 2 eggs for breakfast every morning and drank water constantly all day. I was so busy grooming that I would that I wouldn't stop to eat until I would get to the point that I couldn't move anymore because I was so hungry. Lunch was usually a healthy salad of some kind. Then I would go home and eat more healthy food dinner. I've lived on a low fat diet for most of my life and my blood work is excellent for my early 40's. My point is that even changing my career to a very physical job and basically starving all day at work didn't cause me to lose any extra weight. Not one pound! But getting getting an increase in my thyroid medication allowed me to finally lose some weight and helped me to get pregnant at the age of 44! I firmly believe that having my thyroid medication increased after 12 years of being on the same dose gave me the energy and boost to my metabalism that I really needed.

      March 12, 2011 at 01:29 | Report abuse |
    • Miss Kitty


      I'm not going to insult you or make fun of your hair color. I, too, am a brunette, and I, too, have hypothyroidism and an autoimmune thyroid disease. I was always an active skinny kid, an active skinny teen, an active skinny young woman. My senior year of college, age 20, I got tired. So tired I couldn't get out of bed. So tired that walking across a parking lot seems like a marathon. I thought I was depressed. I thought I had ADD. I thought I needed more calcium when my nails broke. I cried when my hair would come out in largle clumps. I didn't recognize myself in the mirrow when my face was not fat, but puffy from the symptoms. I tried various birth control pills when my menstrual cycles were impossible. Add dry skin, constipation, weight gain, a few doctors and a few years. I graduated from college by the skin of my teeth, because I was so tired. THAT is what hypothyroidism is, and those symptoms are exacerbated by the autoimmune condition. So, no, you OBVIOUSLY don't know what hypothyroidism does, but if I am mistaken if you happen to have it and have no trouble losing weight, consider yourself one of the lucky few. Because once I was diagnosed, it took 2 years to regulate, it was regulated for 3 years, and now I am 28 and going through the same song and dance as before, except I knew the warning signs, and I have a great doctor, except not that the weight is back, and that my energy is gone until I find the right dosage, I will have a VERY difficult time losing weight.

      Please inform yourself before you condemn a whole group of people who aren't overweight because of their actions, but because of a hormonal imbalance. No one CHOOSES to have a DISEASE. Please choose to give sick people the benefit of the doubt.

      Unfortunately, a lot of people share your opinion and lack of awareness. I wish I could walk around with a sign that says "No I don't have bad eating habits. Yes, I do have thyroid disease" for all of the people who think it is OK to comment about the weight of a NOT-SO-overweight 28 year old.

      March 14, 2011 at 16:23 | Report abuse |
    • S.Wheeler

      I totally agree with you.

      September 4, 2016 at 15:40 | Report abuse |
  4. Karen

    Katie has obviously never suffered from hypothyroidism.

    March 11, 2011 at 13:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Vanaema

      And being hypothyroid myself – the diet suggested is so generic – i.e. avoid carbs... that it is NOT specific at all to anything to do with hypothyroid – it's just another generic diet... why both writing a response. I'm definitely disappointed. At least if you have celiac you know to avoid gluten. But get a diagnosis of hypothyroidism and there is NOTHING specific – again generic diets or a suggestion to go to Weight Watchers. So – no response would have been a better response.

      March 11, 2011 at 14:07 | Report abuse |
    • beth1

      Wow – I was diagnosed at six (I'm guessing – I don't remember NOT taking synthroid!) and must be re-tested every six months to have my prescription refilled. I should possibly sue my doctor from what I'm reading here for never telling me how serious my 'illness' is!! Yes – I gain weight in the winter (I live in Illinois) I thought because I turn on the tv and spend my time snacking instead of exercising when I get off work and on weekends and in the summer I lose the excess pounds due to getting away from the tv and eating healthier. I have joined a health club though and next winter HOPE to keep the weight off. Thanks for letting me know I now have something I can blame for my weight other than vegging out during the winter months!

      March 11, 2011 at 16:28 | Report abuse |
    • beth1

      PS I will be 60 this year.

      March 11, 2011 at 16:44 | Report abuse |
    • kyle

      Who are you blaming beth? Your doctor for not telling you hypothyroidism is a serious problem? Technically it's not. You are on hormone replacement therapy, the only real risks you have are related to weight gain (or going off your meds). The patient in this article apparently has other problems not necessarily directly related to her hypothyroidism.

      March 11, 2011 at 20:50 | Report abuse |
  5. Dianne

    Galina is 100% right. I have basically a "dead" thyroid and am an older person so losing weight is a challenge. I have been on low carb for 6-7 weeks now and have lost 11 pounds. It's the only thing that's worked and I feel great. Check out books on the NEW Atkins and the Duke University Lifestyle Medical Center website for advice. Read the two books by Gary Taubes on low carb eating–it explains the science behind the low carb plan.

    March 11, 2011 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Karen

    I have a borderline low thyroid. Get the metabolic testing and get an idea of how fast you burn food. I didn't lose until I starting lifting weights. I did 10,000 then 15,000 steps, and the scale never moved. Weights changed everything, and I also feel so much more powerful. Good luck.

    March 11, 2011 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Carrie

    2.0 is NOT the middle of normal TSH it is on the high side. (there is even a push from some doctors to make 2.0 the new basis for hypo.
    I wish I could directly address the person that asked the question. Dependent upon height and weight, 1500-1200 calories may be too little, cause the body to go into starvation mode and actually retain more fat (lovely thought).
    Also Dr.s (this one sounds like they don't know the disease all that well) tend to act like you SHOULD be able to do x, y, and z, and magically, you'll lose weight. With hypothyroidism, even treated, that doesn't work. You have to work twice as hard for twice as long to lose half as much weight.
    No I'm not a Dr. I'm a patient, and very much involved with patient advocacy. I have lost 42 lbs so far. It has taken a year busting my hump. I watch the people around me that aren't hypo, and how easily they lose, and how they take it for granted. It sucks, but it IS possible.

    March 11, 2011 at 14:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Carrie

      I also find it odd that even though she is a physician nutrition specialist, she didn't talk about any of the foods you should avoid with hypothyroidism. (There are quite a few.)

      March 11, 2011 at 14:26 | Report abuse |
    • Not All Docs Play Golf

      No, you are not a doctor. While there has been suggestion that with TSH levels above 2.5 we consider, in some patients, evaluating further regarding "subclinical hypothyroidism," that workup would include a thyroid peroxidase antibody to look for Hashimoto's thyroiditis and a Free T4. It's not accurate for you to say that some doctors consider that just a TSH alone of 2.0 is diagnostic of "hypothyroidism." Please do not give unqualified medical advice or perpetuate the fallacies of the "alternative medicine" community. Real 'patient advocacy" means guiding patients to sources of valid, reliable information. See a board-certified internist or endocrinologist, and quit trying to go to Google Medical School.

      March 11, 2011 at 14:45 | Report abuse |
    • Denizen Kate

      @Not All Docs Play Golf: I was thinking the same thing when I read Carrie's comment, and though she means well, you are correct. I'm not a doctor, either, but when I have questions about this or anything else, I e-mail my doctor. On this topic, she told me the same thing you did. A great many things factor in where hypothyroidism is concerned. One simple test doesn't tell you everything you need to know.

      March 11, 2011 at 16:26 | Report abuse |
  8. Anita

    quit smoking – put on 50 lbs in less than 6 months. Come to find out my thyroid quit and that was the weight gain. Now have NO thyroid and finally have meds right. Guess what !? - Weight Watchers works! 8lbs in 4 weeks!

    March 11, 2011 at 14:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Carrie

      Congratulations on your first 4 weeks in WW. Don't get discouraged when it slows down!

      March 11, 2011 at 14:27 | Report abuse |
    • kyle

      I agree. People who try and push their favorite fad diet are really doing a disservice to the general public. Low calorie balanced diet with supplements specific for your bodies metabolism and a exercise program will work for 100% of people. Hypothyroidism does making losing weight twice as hard, but it is worth the effort.

      March 11, 2011 at 21:00 | Report abuse |
  9. BevG

    I found out that I was hypothyroid during my weight loss journey, but I was still able to lose weight–slowly. Armour thyroid is fantastic, but some people also do really well on Synthroid too (not that I am an advocate of synthetic anything). The biggest mistake you can make is eating low fat; I did it and my doctors could never get my hormones in balance following Weight Watchers (eating whole foods, not the WW foods). Once I added more good fats in, which your body needs in order to synthesize your fat soluble nutrients, all my thyroid numbers were right where they should've been. I've lost 120 lbs, it can be done. Many doctors don't give a high enough dosage of thyroid meds either (my experience) and when I finally convinced them to raise my dosage, it helped immensely (blood work checked every 3 months). Check out http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com, they have a lot of great tips and links.

    March 11, 2011 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Denizen Kate

      Then why is it that when I look up Armour thyroid on WebMD, the very first thing it tells me is that this drug should not be used for weight loss?

      March 11, 2011 at 16:30 | Report abuse |
    • kyle

      Because it's a prescription medication that is specifically for people with low thyroid hormone levels. Lots of drugs exist that will cause massive weight loss, they are not given to people FOR weight loss for very good reasons.

      March 11, 2011 at 21:03 | Report abuse |
    • Emma

      I too had to argue with my doctor to raise my dose after 12 years of being on the same dose. I know for a fact that I needed an increase so I question whether any of the doctors I saw ever looked at the lab work that they insist I get every 3 months. Before my increase I used to get up around 6:00 am and with my eyes still shut I would take my synthroid with a bottle of water and then go back in bed for about 20 – 30 minutes. After that I would usually be able to get up and start my day. Since getting my much needed increase, not only do I jump out of bed at 6:00 am, I can go 2 – 3 days without taking my synthroid before I even start to feel the effects of missing the doses. I found this out by going on a weekend get away and forgetting to bring my Synthroid with me. I was simply amazed that I was able to get through the weekend just fine without my meds. I could never have attempted missing even one dose prior to the increase. I now know that I was underdosed for years and it really makes me angry because none of the doctors ever bothered to listen when I told them that I felt "fatigued" all of the time or that I got winded walking up the stairs in my home. They just don't listen and now I'm convinced that they probably don't even look at the labs. And I was going to a board certified, highly reccommended endocrinologist who also knew that I was trying to get pregnant. Also, not only do I have a healthy 5 month old baby boy, my fingernails are no longer brittle for the first time in 15 years. All I can say is thank God I finally found a Reproductive Endocrinologist who diagnosed me with low thyroid for the second time in my life after being "treated" for 12 years by doctors who didn't care and didn't listen.

      March 12, 2011 at 01:58 | Report abuse |
    • Miss Kitty

      Bev, and everyone else,

      You're exactly right. The best diet is a balanced one. Fats, carbs, etc., are ALL heatlhy in the right amounts. Depriving your body of something it naturally needs is not good.

      And as far as doctors and thyroid levels (I have Hashimoto's with hypothyroidism, diagnosed at age 24 (6years ago), I, too, had to argue with my doctor to raise my dosage, and then I was referred to an endocrinologist and my whole world changed. It takes 6 – 8 weeks for the thyroid replacement (synthroid, Armour, etc) to be fully absorbed into the body, so you really should have blood tests every 6 – 8 weeks – NOT 3 months.

      And you should NEVER skip pills, especially because it can completely skew your blood test results.

      Emma, that's so unfortunate that your first endocrinologist was unable to help you. Congratulations. And I know what you mean about having healthy nails. It took years to regulate my thyroid levels, and once it was FINALLy in the normal range, I cried when I could grow out my nails and get a manicure for my wedding – I had never been able to grow my nails before because they always would break, tear, or rip.

      March 14, 2011 at 15:56 | Report abuse |
  10. frenchie

    I, too, am hypothyroid. And in the past was very unable to lose weight no matter how little I ate or how much I worked out. Pretty much completely avoiding starchy foods (no bread, flour or potatoes) is the only thing that gets the scale moving. Also, if you are having trouble losing weight, get your blood Vitamin D level checked. Very common to have it be low and that definitely hampers weight loss. Good luck to all!

    March 11, 2011 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Vanaema

    Again I say the "expert's response" was absolutely generic and useless!! In fact it could be cut and pasted in any generic weight loss question in any forum. However – some of the posters of comments are much wiser and obviously better informed. Thank you!!

    March 11, 2011 at 15:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kyle

      That is because expert advice can only be given to specific people for which they know the specific problems they have.

      March 11, 2011 at 21:18 | Report abuse |
  12. Arlene

    This is a cancer warning to all women who suffer from hypothyroidism as a result of Hashimoto's thyroiditis. After the birth of my son, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's. After 30 years of working with my hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's turned into thyroid lymphoma. I had a fast growing lump that was pressing into my windpipe making it difficult to breath or talk. This is a rare development but one that targets middle-aged white women with a long history of Hashimoto's. I'm a 7-year survivor after chemo and radiation. Catching this disease early is of utmost importance. I knew there was something wrong with my thyroid because my usual medications did not seem effective. My doctor was in denial and said I was only looking to use larger doses as a crutch to lose weight. If it weren't for the breathing problem, I wouldn't be here today. Pay attention to the warning signs of something being off with your medication: tiredness, depression, constipation, dry skin, sleepiness. And don't settle for a brush off from your doctor. You know your body better than anyone else. God bless.

    March 11, 2011 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. brad

    Although metobolic disorders are very tough to overcome the "expert" advise fails to metion one thing. The laws of thermodynamics. Someone with hypothroidism will not have the same energy level as someone with a normally functioning thyroid. They will also generally burn less calories than a person with a "normal" functioning thyroid, but... You still burn the same number of calories doing a certain amount of work. The problem is that someone with hypothyroidism general does not feel, or are able, to perform the activities that people who have normal functioning thyroids. In return they need less calories. They might crave more food, but they simply do not need it.

    The "expert" needs to stop making people who have this disorder feel like there is no hope. They have an underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed, but it doesnt mean they have to be overweight. That is an excuse.

    March 11, 2011 at 16:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CFS Facts

      Mostly correct, Brad. When I'm in relapse, I don't lose weight even on 500 calories a day, because my body doesn't metabolize calories as quickly. But my doctor insists that 1000 calories is the minimum for adequate nutrition. When I go into remission, my metabolism revs up and the extra weight drops off pretty quickly. So, yes, while I'm in relapse, it DOES mean I have to be overweight. (And the prescriptions with weight gain as a side effect do not help that problem, though I was not taking any of those in my first relapse, when I gained 30 pounds in a couple months just from the metabolic dysfunction.)

      March 11, 2011 at 16:24 | Report abuse |
    • Dr. Melina Jampolis

      Brad – this is the 'expert' (I would hope that being board certified in both Internal Medicine and Nutrition as well as seeing patients in my office EVERY day for 10 years for weight loss would qualify me as an expert) – I did not at all say that people with hypothyroidism have no hope for weight loss – I just see far too many people in my office that think that just taking medication will help them lose weight without diet and exercise. You do make a good point that people with untreated thyroid will not only burn fewer calories, their energy will be lower so they will probably workout less and tire more easily but this usually gets better, in my clinical experience, with treatment. I hope that you, and other readers, will try to respect my clinical point of view in this column. I don't have time to write or space to write every single detail pertaining to what I discuss and I can not legally give specific recommendations. I do my best to give advice that is practical on some level for most readers without being overly scientific.

      March 14, 2011 at 16:47 | Report abuse |
  14. KritterKat

    My mom had the exact reverse of this – hyperthyroidism. No matter how much she ate, she kept losing weight. She looked so skinny, and she was so sick all the time. She was finally diagnosed and treated with radiation therapy. Hyperthyroidism rarely gets the same kind of attention as hypothyroidism. In fact, when I tell a lot of people about it they just say "well, she should have been happy that she could fit into such a small dress size. I would give anything to have that condition and lose weight." Idiots.

    March 11, 2011 at 16:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Katrina

      Ever heard of Oprah? She did a series of shows on related topics, with many discussions about hyperthyroidism (which she was also diagnosed with). I hardly think that qualifies as rarely getting any attention. In fact, I have hypothyroidism, and this is the first article I've spotted on CNN about the topic. Do a little more reading, and a little less complaining. I hope your mom's treatment was effective and that she is healthy.

      March 11, 2011 at 17:34 | Report abuse |
    • KritterKat

      No I don't want Oprah. I have a job. Personally, I've seen a huge misunderstanding about hyperthyroidism, and much less coverage than hypothyroidism. I guess I need to sit at home and watch TV all day.

      March 11, 2011 at 17:44 | Report abuse |
  15. yllus228


    March 11, 2011 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. leigh

    thyroid is tricky, and the best thing I did was to get away from MD's. and seek medical attention from a D.O. who looks at the WHOLE body, and with his expertise and insight I use Westhroid. Read about it! RLC labs. And to conquer the weight I also got help from an acupuncturist and that is the best advice around. Movement, that is the key, live an active lifestyle, stay away from the American Diet-it is the fast track to obesity, don't ingest fast foods or processed foods, eat an Asian diet or Mediterranian diet and you have a much better chance at a quality life.

    March 11, 2011 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. jj

    Good luck and God bless all who suffer from hypothyroidism.

    March 11, 2011 at 18:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Health Teach

    The article/question that I'd like to see answered would be "Why are so many people affected by thyroid problems and what can we do to prevent it?" Hypothyroid/Hyperthyroid it really doesn't matter, over the last few decades we seen an explosion of the problem. Now, I'll be the first to admit that we're probably checking for it more ergo finding it more, but our ancestor's didn't seem to suffer from it in the way that we are now, so what is the cause? My best guess is the changes in our collective diets and chemical food additives, but there could always be a factor x.

    March 11, 2011 at 18:35 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Question RDA

      Nutrition is definitely key to everything. A major flaw in Western medicine is the failure to prescribe IODINE for hypothyroid conditions. Tons of research has been done on Iodine. Take a look at:


      Also, for those with Heart Disease, higher levels of VITAMIN C have proven to have wonderful benefits for the cardiovascular system.

      Do not trust the Recommended Daily Allowance set by FDA. Do your own research before you take prescription medications that cause more problems than they solve.

      April 6, 2011 at 12:21 | Report abuse |
  19. Health Teach

    CFS Facts–You shouldn't lose weight at 500 calories as day because your body will go into starvation mode and actually retain weight. The easiest way for me to explain it is that your body is like a machine that has an internal response system. When the sensors detect that not enough fuel is entering the machine for it to run properly, the machine initially begins to shut-down all systems not vital to its function. (During this time your body would NOT weight and you would get very sick, very cranky, and very hungry–most people will then eat at this point if food is available.) If you were then to continue to try to use the machine without the proper fuel, it would work for awhile but be grinding gears and malfunctioning the whole time. (Meaning you'll lose weight but create a lot of damage to your body in many ways–especially your metabolism that is already messed-up due to the thyroid problems.) When the machine then gets the right amount of fuel, all of the gears and gizmos are out of whack so the machine will work differently than before. (Meaning your body will save fuel in the form of fat so that you don't starve it again.) Sad, I know...

    March 11, 2011 at 18:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Health Teach

      (Sorry, I don't know why this posted like that as I'd hit "reply" on this one.)

      March 11, 2011 at 18:46 | Report abuse |
    • Desiree

      Health Teach – I agree with your analysis... but... why is it people who have bariatric surgery have their stomachs reduced to a level where they eat about 500 calories a day and they lose weight like crazy? Ever wonder what's going to happen to all those people in 20 yrs when they have brittle bones and weak hearts? They'll look great and probably die at the same age they would have if they'd just stayed large. It's frustrating all right. It is good to see insurance companies finally covering the safer, moderate option of sleeve gastrectomy, where the stomach is about 4 or 5 oz and not 1 oz. Weight is lost (from what I've read) at a slower, but safer rate. I have hypothyroid ( Hashimoto's). After 4 1/2 yrs I'm finally tsh stable and have stopped gaining weight, but losing is just not happening. So, like the rest of the desperate, I am putting my stomach in the hands of the surgeons and pray they know what they are doing because in order to pay for my sins of drinking koolaid and eating pop tarts as a child I will be walking around with staples in my gut the rest of my life.

      March 11, 2011 at 19:55 | Report abuse |
  20. Candace

    I have had Hashimoto's since right before I got pregnant with my first child 17 years ago. I have been steadily on the right dosage of sythroid all these years – I spent a full year working out twice a day for a half hour each workout session, ate a well rounded healthy diet (did not overeat) and did not lose a single pound after a year of that. I would like a miracle drug!!! LOL

    March 11, 2011 at 19:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Carrie

    Pardon me, I forgot Drs are gods and never to be questioned. Most patients that resort to advocacy groups do so because their doctor treats them as if they couldn't possibly know what is going on with their body.

    The same amount of activity engaged in by a hypothyroid person (as by a "normal" person) does NOT drop the same amount of weight.

    March 11, 2011 at 19:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Big D

    I have had hashimoto's thyroiditis for eight years and only recently been treated with radioactive iodine, which nearly killed me because my endo didn't think it was important to check my levels for nearly eight weeks after he gave me the "red pill", as I call it. I started going what I would call "nuts", I flipped out on my wife for a couple of days in a row and didn't realize what was wrong with me, I could barely function. It took me calling and pleading with the doc to get him to order labs for me. I got them done and the doc's office called me when they received my labs. I don't know about you, but it is rarely good when the doc's office calls YOU! ;0) Needless to say, it wasn't good, I had no TSH and it nearly made me "very very sick" as my doc put it. ( I still don't have a clear picture of what he meant by that although the thought of it scares the bejesus out of me)

    Long story short, because I have only given you about half of the horror, when people tell you this isn't a disease that causes weight gain then can sincerely go phuck themselves. I gained 48 pds without realizing what was going on before I was diagnosed. Some of it was due to me being lazy but let me tell you, I had absolutely no energy to do a damn thing and it took every ounce of energy to drag my a$$ out of bed to go to work.

    I am working my way back to healthy and I am by no means a "fat a$$" (I previously lost about 20 pds of the weight until this last bout of radiation brought every ounce of it back) but once properly medicated I feel as if I can do the things required to lose weight and anyone who thinks this is a disease of excuses should educate themselves or go through what we do because they have no idea what it's like. I don't spout off about being an expert on cancer because I DON"T HAVE IT! So shut the phuck up about my disease if you have no idea what I an others go through. Don't get it twisted, not looking for pity or poor me, just asking you to shut your damn mouth about something you are ignorant about.

    March 11, 2011 at 20:10 | Report abuse | Reply
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  24. Bob

    For those promoting very low carb diets and claiming that you can lose 11 pounds in 2 weeks, I say yes it is possible to lose 11 pounds in two weeks. It works out to 6 pounds of water, 3.5 pounds of fat, one pound of muscle and .5 pounds of carbs. Not sustainable. Not going to feel very good for very long. Not to say people shouldn't reduce sugars, but that is not what the "low carb" people are promoting. There is nothing wrong with whole grain breads, oatmeal, rice or potatoes – as long as you're not eating too much of them.

    March 12, 2011 at 06:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Bob

    For those promoting very low carb diets and claiming that you can lose 11 pounds in 2 weeks, I say yes it is possible to lose 11 pounds in two weeks. It works out to 6 pounds of water, 3.5 pounds of fat, one pound of muscle and .5 pounds of carbs. Not sustainable. Not going to feel very good for very long. Not to say people shouldn't reduce sugars, but that is not what the "low carb" people are promoting. There is nothing wrong with whole grain breads, oatmeal, rice or potatoes – as long as you're not eating too much of them. Cheers.

    March 12, 2011 at 06:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Angela

    Canola oil is poison, why would anyone suggest canola oil, bad call DR.

    March 12, 2011 at 14:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Nancilynn

    How did you determine canola oil was poison Angela?

    March 12, 2011 at 15:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Karen

    Bob, by your reasoning of the republicans causing obesity, you must be a republican yourself because you are fat.

    March 12, 2011 at 20:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Gina

    Join a weight support group that specializes in people with compromised metabolic systems. Here's a good one and it's free:
    lowcarbshuffle.com/wordpress. All you have to do is register on the forum. There's a woman on the site who has analyzed numerous diets and put together a diet that works for people with low metabolic rates (which would be people with hypothyroidism). I've been unable to lose weight but have lost 14 lbs in about 3 weeks.

    March 14, 2011 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. bigrichard

    quit eating so much

    March 14, 2011 at 17:22 | Report abuse | Reply
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  32. John

    You could always try the low carb diet:

    May 4, 2011 at 22:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. john g

    healthcare and weightloss is so hard to understand i wish you could just eat less and bang you were slim

    September 24, 2011 at 05:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Debbie

    My TSH is 15.56. I am 2 years post thyroidectomy. What can I do? I know this is high. My heart is palpatating all the time.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
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    November 8, 2011 at 07:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Mary

    Hence the reason I do not argue with them. There is no cure for stupidity Bob, so quit trying to "turn" their views, they will only blindside you with stupid remarks such as the above from Yllus and some others. Seriously, you are wasting your time.

    November 8, 2011 at 07:34 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.