Most doctors are aware that there is a complex relationship between thyroid disease, metabolism and gaining weight. Yet few physicians really understand how to test for, and successfully treat, the thyroid dysfunctions that can lead to unwanted weight gain.
Dr. Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX utilizes integrative health techniques, including in-depth testing of all thyroid hormone levels, and other diagnostic and nutritional tests, to provide a comprehensive approach to thyroid management that can increase metabolism and help with weight loss.
In this article she discusses how thyroid illnesses and imbalances can cause weight loss or gain.
How the Thyroid Influences Weight Loss & Gain
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped endocrine gland in the front of the neck that makes thyroid hormones, and secrets them into the bloodstream. The blood then carries them to every tissue and organ within the body.
In addition to keeping the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs in working order, thyroid hormones help the body use energy and stay warm. These functions – known as “metabolism” – affect how we store energy in the form of weight gain or loss. So, when thyroid hormone levels are out of balance, the body can have trouble “burning” energy … and unwanted weight gain accumulates.
Hyperthyroidism and Weight Loss
Hyperthyroidism refers to a condition in which the thyroid gland is overactive – and produces too much thyroid hormone. If the thyroid is extremely overactive, the person will be burning too much energy – and they will require an increase in calories consumed, in order to maintain their body weight.
If a person with hyperthyroidism does not increase their intake of calories to offset the excess calories burned, they will lose weight. And, while there are many factors in addition to thyroid hormone that control appetite, on average the more serious the hyperthyroidism, the more weight will be lost.
However, ironically, since hyperthyroidism also increases a person’s appetite, some people with too much thyroid hormone may actually gain weight – if their increase in appetite causes them to consume more calories than they burn.
When hyperthyroidism is treated, and hormone levels are returned to normal, it is also important that the patient reduce their calorie intake to normal levels. If a person has “gotten used to” eating more calories because of their extra energy expenditure during hyperthyroidism, they will gain weight when the hyperthyroidism is treated if they do not cut back.
Hypothyroidism and Weight Gain
Patients with hypothyroidism are not producing enough thyroid hormone, and therefore are not burning enough energy. As a result, they often feel cold and will typically undergo some unwanted weight gain.
And, as one would suspect, the more severe the hypothyroidism, the greater the weight gain. However, while some of this weight gain occurs in the form of excess fat accumulation, extra weight gain due to hypothyroidism can also be attributable to excess retention of salt and water.
According to the American Thyroid Association, in general, up to 10 pounds of body weight may be attributable to hypothyroidism. However, at our Austin, TX medical practice we have seen patients lose much more than this, once their thyroid levels were balanced and their metabolism levels were restored to normal.
Keep in mind, however, that massive weight gain is rarely attributable to hypothyroidism only. And, if weight gain is your only symptom of hypothyroidism, it is likely that the weight gain may be due to other factors.
The only surefire way to determine if hypothyroidism is responsible for your unwanted weight gain is to undergo thorough thyroid testing and diagnosis.
Dr. Ruthe Harper, MD in Austin, TX has been named one of the top 10 best thyroid doctors in the state of Texas. Her integrative approach to thyroid disorders and weight loss is successful because she holistically addresses all of the interconnected systems within the body.
Can Thyroid Treatment Help Me Lose Weight?
The American Thyroid Association reports that in clinical studies thyroid hormone treatment produces more weight loss than can be achieved by dieting alone.
Once hypothyroidism is treated and thyroid hormone levels are restored to balance, most patients can expect to lose about 10% of their body weight. With both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, rebalancing of the thyroid hormones typically results in a return to the body weight that the patient had before the thyroid condition developed.
And, once the patient’s hypothyroidism has been treated and thyroid hormone levels are in the normal range, their ability to gain or lose weight will be the same as “normal” individuals who do not have thyroid problems.
But it is important to remember that weight gain is a complex problem that may have multiple causes. That is why it is important to take a holistic and integrative approach to both thyroid disorders and weight loss. In other words, thyroid hormones should not be thought of as an isolated “weight loss tool”. Instead thyroid hormone therapy should be part of a comprehensive program to get the entire body back in balance, so that you can lose weight and maintain your weight loss over time.
Thyroid Treatment for Weight Loss – Austin, TX
There are many other factors besides thyroid imbalance, including heredity, other hormones, proteins, and more, that control energy expenditure, appetite, body weight, and weight loss or gain.
In addition to balancing your thyroid hormones, Dr. Ruthie Harper can help you achieve and sustain weight loss with our “skinnyDNA” program. This system identifies your unique genetic makeup and enables us to develop a customized weight loss program based on your individual DNA.
If you suspect your weight gain is related to a thyroid imbalance, or if you simply have been struggling to lose weight without success, Dr. Ruthie Harper in Austin, TX can help.
Schedule a consultation today and take the first step toward getting your body back in balance and your weight under control!