Correcting an underactive thyroid can play a role in getting the numbers on your scale moving downward, especially if you've had significant abnormalities in your thyroid function, according to the American Thyroid Association, or ATA. However, if you've seen your doctor and your thyroid levels have returned to normal but your weight isn't budging, you might need to adjust your diet and activity level to get rid of those excess pounds.
Hypothyroidism and Weight Gain
The thyroid is a tiny, butterfly-shaped gland that wraps around your windpipe and lies about midway between your chin and sternal notch at the front of your neck. It produces hormones that help cells convert oxygen and calories to energy. An underactive thyroid produces too little hormone, which causes hypothyroidism. Symptoms include dry skin and hair, constipation, confusion, low energy and weight gain of as much as 5 to 10 lbs. However, the ATA notes that those extra pounds are usually due to salt and water accumulation rather than fat storage.
Correcting Thyroid Imbalance
Thyroid replacement medication will not cure a thyroid disorder, and it may take some trial and error before your doctor gets your medication dosage correct. However, the ATA states that once your levels are normal again, any symptoms of hypothyroidism, including weight gain, should resolve. Because massive weight gain is rarely a result of hypothyroidism and not all individuals with hypothyroidism gain even small amounts of weight, the ATA also notes that if your only symptom is weight gain, it is likely not due to thyroid dysfunction.
Basics of Weight Loss
If you consume more calories in a day than you need, your body stores the excess as fat, which causes weight gain – approximately 1 lb. of fat per 3,500 extra calories. To lose 1 lb. a week, you need to reduce your calorie intake by about 500 calories per day. For many individuals, minor changes such as eliminating soda or high-calorie snacks like cookies or chips from your diet can lead to progressive weight loss.
Adding Exercise to Your Weight-Loss Plan
Routine exercise, along with a nutritious, low-calorie diet, can increase your calorie burn and keep your weight loss on track. The number of calories you burn per hour depends upon your current weight and the intensity of the exercise. A 200-lb. person burns about 700 calories per hour when jogging at 5 mph. An hour of tai chi, on the other hand, burns only 364 calories per hour if you weigh 200 lbs. Your physician can help you determine realistic weight-loss goals and identify a diet and exercise routine that fits your current health status and lifestyle.