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Thyroid and the Inability to Lose Weight Despite Diet & Exercise

author image Evelyn Broderick
Evelyn Broderick has been a writer since 2004. Her work has been published by the Jewish Alliance for Women in Science. She holds a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and biology from Macaulay Honors College and is pursuing an M.D./Ph.D. in immunology at Sloan Kettering. She is also a member of the New York Academy of Sciences.
Thyroid and the Inability to Lose Weight Despite Diet & Exercise
Patients with thyroid problems often gain weight.

Weight loss can be difficult for anyone to achieve. However, patients suffering from thyroid hormone deficiency often experience even more hurdles on their way to weight loss. Often, diet and exercise are not enough to combat the effects of thyroid insufficiency on weight. Thyroid hormones have profound effects on your metabolism and ability to lose weight. Understanding how this condition affects the outcome of your weight-loss efforts can help you to develop a winning game plan for weight loss.

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Basal Metabolic Rate

The thyroid releases hormones that Medline Plus says control your metabolism. Metabolism is defined as the amount of oxygen used by the body over a given amount of time. When this measurement is taken when you are at rest, it is called your basal metabolic rate. Basal metabolic rate was actually one of the first tests used to determine a patient's thyroid status. Patients with insufficient thyroid hormone levels have low basal metabolic rates.

BMR and Weight

According to, basal metabolic rate is closely related to energy balance. Energy balance is a relation between the amount of calories the body takes in and the amount of calories the body uses. A high basal metabolic rate often leads to a negative energy balance and weight loss. A low basal metabolic rate often means your body is not burning off the calories you ingest. However, thyroid hormone and basal metabolic rate are not the only players in energy balance and weight gain. This is why a change in thyroid hormone levels may not have the same effects in every individual.

Hypothyroidism and Weight

Patients with hypothyroidism sometimes experience weight gain. According to this weight is mostly fluid and can reach up to 20 pounds. The lower metabolism of hypothyroid patients can make it difficult for them to lose weight with diet and exercise alone. However, once thyroid hormone is replaced with synthetic thyroid hormone therapy, normal diet and exercise should produce regular weight loss effects.

Causes of Hyporthyroid

There are many possible causes of hypothyroidism. Understanding what is causing your condition can help you and your physician to fix the situation and remedy your weight loss dilemma. Medline Plus lists the most common cause of hypothyroidism as inflammation of the thyroid gland, including autoimmune inflammation. Other causes include a congenital defect, neck cancers, radiation, surgical removal of the thyroid gland and viral thyroiditis, which can result in a temporary bout of hypothyroidism.

Celebrities with Hypothyroid and Weight Issues

Hypothyroidism affects many people, including celebrities. One of the most famous celebrities who have been outspoken about their condition is Oprah Winfrey. Oprah has publicly struggled with weight loss despite many diets and exercise routines. According to Oprah finally got her thyroid problems under control but agrees that management is a lifelong task.

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