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Hypothyroid Treatment & Weight Loss

author image Vita Ruvolo-Wilkes
Vita Ruvolo-Wilkes was first published in 1977. She worked as a certified aerobics and exercise instructor. Upon graduating from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, she worked for the VA Medical Center. As a physician assistant, Ruvolo-Wilkes designed specialized diets for her patients' conditions and has written a monthly health column in the "Montford Newsletter."
Hypothyroid Treatment & Weight Loss
A healthy thyroid and a healthy diet go hand in hand. Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

If you have hypothyroidism, you may have found it difficult to lose weight. Your sluggish thyroid keeps your body from burning fat at a good enough rate to reach your goal weight. Thyroid disease ranges from mild cases to extremely severe cases. Whatever the extent of your condition, you can benefit in many ways from treatment, including weight loss.


The thyroid, one of many hormone-secreting glands in your body, orchestrates your metabolism by controlling many of the body's functions. The thyroid's chief purpose is to send out messengers or hormones to your various organ systems that turn on or turn off the functions of the organs.


Metabolism refers to the sum of all of your energy expenditure for your body's chemical and physical actions. The more efficient your metabolism, the more lean tissue you will have, provided you eat healthy foods. An underactive thyroid slows your metabolism causing many of your bodily functions to slow down. This explains why you have constipation, sleepiness, dry skin, weakness, cold intolerance, depression and slowed heartbeat. In short, your body operates in slow motion. This slow rate also makes losing weight difficult.

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The drug-of-choice for hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid is Levothyroxine, also given in its generic form, synthroid. Once in the body, Levothyroxine converts to T3, one of the thyroid hormones. Your doctor will want to run some blood tests as a baseline for future comparison. Then, you will start at a low dose and increase it as needed. You will need to monitor your thyroid levels periodically and possibly adjust your dose. You experience a reversal of your symptoms when you find the dose that works for you. Your mood lifts as your energy level rises. Your bowels become more regular. The skin on your face and body feels less dry. The improvements in your symptoms comes from the proper level of T3 in your blood. You don't consciously control these functions; your hormonal system does. This underscores the necessity of a healthy thyroid.

Weight Loss

Fixing a sick thyroid often relieves many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism. It can rev up your metabolism; however, thyroid medicine will not melt off your excess pounds by itself. You have a big role in your weight loss because you control what you eat. A sluggish thyroid was a hindrance to your losing weight in your past dieting attempts. With treatment, your thyroid will work with you instead of against you as you pursue a healthy weight; however, if you increase the amount you eat or eat unhealthy foods, you will retain your excess weight and possibly add on more pounds. Ultimately, the responsibility for losing weight lies with you. Thyroid treatment can only remove the barriers that blocked your success in the past.

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  • "Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment"; Stephen J. McPhee, M.D. and Maxine A. Papadakis, M.D., 2010
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