Even when you're healthy, maintaining and managing weight can be challenging. And with hypothyroidism, it can feel impossible to lose weight no matter how much you diet and exercise. But don't despair – taking thyroid medications to manage your underactive thyroid gland can help you fight back.
Here's everything you need to know about thyroid medication and what it can do for your weight.
Your thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped organ in the front of your neck, produces two main hormones. These include thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
These hormones control your body's metabolism, or how your body burns food for energy. They play a significant role in your growth and development. They support the proper functioning of the heart, brain, and other organs. That's a pretty big deal! That's why when your thyroid gland is not working correctly, it can cause a number of problems, including problems with your weight.
Hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid is a condition where your thyroid doesn't produce enough of its hormones. This thyroid disease can cause your metabolism to slow down, so your body won't burn off calories and break down fat as quickly as it should. Thus, you'll eventually gain more weight.
Besides, low thyroid hormone might also make you feel tired and sluggish, as well as cause pain in your joints. These can make you feel less motivated to exercise, which can contribute to weight gain.
It's important to note, however, that massive weight gain is rare. You'll generally gain 5 to10 pounds of weight, depending on the severity of your hypothyroidism.
According to the American Thyroid Association, the more severe your condition is, the more weight you'll put on.
If you've gained more than 10 pounds, your low thyroid and how it impairs your ability to break down fat is probably not the only culprit. Your diet, stress levels, and physical activities may also contribute to your weight gain.
Taking thyroid hormone medication, such as levothyroxine and natural desiccated thyroid (NDT), can help get your thyroid back up to speed and manage your hypothyroidism. This means that it may help stop weight gain and even help you shed a few pounds.
There is no single "best" hypothyroidism medication for weight loss. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to treating hypothyroidism and weight problems. However, some medications might give you a higher chance of success in your weight loss efforts.
The two main hypothyroidism medications are levothyroxine and natural desiccated thyroid (NDT). Both medications are very effective in managing hypothyroidism, which may lead to weight loss. However, a study of 70 underactive thyroid patients found that NDT was associated with more weight loss.
Keep in mind that your body needs to convert T4 to T3. Since medications like Levothyroxine and Synthroid only contain T4, your body can't immediately activate it upon absorption. Moreover, many people have trouble converting T4 to T3, so the medications don't work as well as they should.
NDT, such as Armour Thyroid, NP Thyroid or VitaliThy, and Real Thyroid, contains T3 and T4. Unlike T4, T3 is active right away upon absorption. Plus, it isn't solely dependent on the T4 to T3 conversion. Thus, it may work more efficiently in helping your body regulate metabolism and lose weight.
Yes. As long as your body has enough T3 and/or doesn't have any problems converting T4 to T3, it's possible to lose weight on Synthroid or Levothyroxine.
Many expect to lose weight drastically and instantly after they start taking thyroid medication. But weight loss doesn't happen overnight, and it's different for everybody. Generally, you can expect results within three to six months of starting medication.
In a 2014 study, 52% of people with hypothyroidism who took thyroid medication lost, on average, between 3.8 and 4.4 lbs. However, this study also shows that not all people taking the medication lose their body weight.
Most people on thyroid medication lose roughly five to ten pounds or less than 10% of their body weight. Usually, the body gets rid of excess salt and water buildup (water weight) to induce weight reduction.
There are a few reasons why you're not losing weight while taking thyroid medication.
Your thyroid levels might fluctuate from time to time, so you might need a follow-up blood test to ensure your medication dose is high enough. The dose shouldn't be too high, though. Too much thyroid medication actually has bad side effects and may lead to hyperthyroidism.
If you're taking thyroid hormones but not seeing any weight loss, there's a chance that the medication isn't absorbed properly.
Before you change your medication to another, it's important to understand that there are a few reasons why this might be happening. Maybe your intestines aren't able to absorb the medication properly. It's also possible that you're taking it with meals, snacks, or other drugs that interfere with absorption.
Whether your goal is to slim down or to improve your overall health, thyroid medication must be taken the right way for your body to absorb it properly. If you take oral medication for your thyroid, you need to take it on an empty stomach. The ideal time is 30 minutes to an hour before eating breakfast. Alternatively, you can also take it at night before bed, about 2 to 4 hours after your last meal.
If you need to take other medications or supplements, such as osteoporosis drugs or vitamin C, you should take them 4 hours before or after your thyroid medication.
A lot of people believe that taking a T4-only medication like levothyroxine is enough. However, this isn't always true. Many thyroid patients have trouble getting the most benefit from levothyroxine because their bodies also need T3 thyroid hormone. Low T3 thyroid hormone levels can hamper your efforts to lose some weight.
In this case, you need to supplement your treatment in some way with the T3 thyroid hormone. One of them is by taking NDT in addition to or instead of levothyroxine.
Because of its ability to help patients with thyroid disorders lose some weight, some people turn to thyroid medication as a way to help with weight loss. Hearing thyroid medication weight loss success might seem appealing, but these medications shouldn't be considered as weight loss drugs.
Thyroid medications are designed to balance the hormone levels in your body, which leads to ease of hypothyroidism symptoms that may include weight loss. Taking it solely for weight loss when you don't have hypothyroidism can put your health at risk. It can lead to an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism, which is a condition where there's too much thyroid hormone in your body and you have a faster metabolism.
Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism are increased heart rate, diarrhea, insomnia, shakiness, and anxiety. Plus, you might end up gaining weight if you take thyroid medication when you don't have an underlying thyroid.
If you are considering thyroid medication for weight loss, you should know a few things. Thyroid medication is not a "quick fix." It will not work unless you also make lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet.
When you have hypothyroidism, you have slower metabolism. This means that you can't burn calories as fast as you're supposed to, so you need to eat fewer calories. Watch out for high-calorie food like soda, candy, and salad dressings.
Regular exercise is also vital. Your body will burn fat more efficiently if you have an exercise routine. Additionally, exercise is a fantastic way to strengthen bones, reduce stress, and enhance overall heart health.
An hour of cardio exercise that makes you break a sweat every day is enough to help you lose some weight, improve your thyroid function and even enhance your overall health.
Losing weight when you have hypothyroidism can be a tricky thing. However, thyroid hormone medications might help you shed some pounds. Thyroid hormone medications, such as levothyroxine and NDT, can balance your thyroid hormone levels and treat your hypothyroidism. Thus, they may help you lose some weight.
Natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) may help you lose more weight than levothyroxine. This is because NDT contains both T3 and T4 thyroid hormones, as opposed to levothyroxine, which only contains T4. Various high-quality NDT brands, such as VitaliThy and Real Thyroid, are available online.
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