Struggling to Lose Weight? You Might Have Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a disorder of the thyroid gland that can hinder dieters from losing weight. Let's dive deeper into this issue in today's post.
Struggling to Lose Weight? You Might Have Hypothyroidism

Last update: 26 December, 2019

Every day, many people choose to start a new, healthier lifestyle. Leaving a sedentary lifestyle behind is hard as it is, but making radical changes with a restrictive and– more often than not– faulty diet compounds the struggle. These situations lead many people to frustration and waving their white flags. But in some cases, it’s not the tough change that causes people to fall short of their goals but rather, a disorder, called hypothyroidism.

The thyroid gland

The thyroid is a shield- or butterfly-shaped gland – in the endocrine system and is located in the neck, below the Adam’s Apple. It consists of two lateral lobes connected by an isthmus. The isthmus also forms a smaller lobe called the pyramidal lobe.

The thyroid gland forms part of the endocrine system and, like the rest of the system, responds to the control of the pituitary gland and hypothalamus. The neurons of the hypothalamus secrete a thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) that travels to the pituitary gland. In response, the cells of the pituitary gland secrete thyrotropin or the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).

TSH sets out in normal circulations of the pituitary gland and travels to the thyroid gland to stimulate its cell receptors. In the gland, it stimulates the creation and secretion of the thyroid hormones: T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine).

These hormones contain iodine atoms in their structure, which is why they’re linked to the thyroid gland.

The function of the thyroid gland

This gland is in charge of various functions. Most importantly, the thyroid gland oversees metabolism, thermogenesis, and growth.

The thyroid hormones, thyroxine in particular, also help synthesis proteins and lipolysis. Thus, the body requires a certain level of them to reduce fat mass and improve overall levels of composition.

Both T3 and T4– especially T4– play an important role in growth thanks to their anabolic character. They really come into play during puberty. Furthermore, a larger concentration of these hormones can activate receptors in the hypothalamus that are linked to rising body temperature.

hypothyroidism glands


Thyroid disorders and hyperthyroidism depend on the excess or deficit of the aforementioned hormones. In our post today, we want to focus on hypothyroidism and the problems it could present for someone on a weight-loss journey.


Hypothyroidism can result from many causes. In the past, iodine was the most common deficit in hypothyroidism cases. The lack of iodine makes it impossible for the body to synthesize a sufficient amount of thyroid hormones.

But today, almost all food products contain iodized salt to meet consumers’ nutritional needs. Instead of iodine-deficiency, an auto-immune disease that causes antibodies to attack thyroid tissue and prevent it from making hormones is the most common cause. This disease is known as Hashimoto’s Disease.

Clinical manifestations of hypothyroidism

People who suffer from hypothyroidism experience weakness, tiredness, depression and weight gain— especially as fat mass. The lack of thyroid hormones leads to low levels of protein synthesis and lipolysis, which causes people to lose muscle and gain fat mass instead.

In addition, the lack of thyroid hormones also decreases the metabolic rate. Consequently, any food excess converts into a fat mass.

hypothyroidism symptoms

Diagnosis and treatment

If you’re experiencing the symptoms above– especially weight gain and depression– and are worried about having hypothyroidism, make an appointment with an endocrinologist.

After reviewing your clinical history, he or she can run the test to reach a diagnosis. These tests include blood marking tests that test for auto-immune diseases and imaging tests to analyze how the gland itself is working.

If you’re diagnosed with hypothyroidism, the treatment is simple. Doctors generally prescribe an indefinite thyroxine treatment.

Last clarifications on hypothyroidism

To wrap up our post, we want to clarify that hypothyroidism isn’t a common disorder. More often than not, a poorly structured diet that stems from nutritional ignorance is the culprit behind foiled weight loss attempts. In such cases, we recommend meeting with a nutritionist to review diet plans.

While some people do find out that their struggle is a result of the disorder, it’s very rarely the case. In any case, make an appointment with your doctor for a diagnosis.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Sanyal D, Raychaudhuri M. Hypothyroidism and obesity: An intriguing link. Vol. 20, Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Medknow Publications; 2016. p. 554–7.
  • Qari F. Clinical Practice Hypothyroidism in Clinical Practice. 2014;3(2).
  • Screening I of M (US) C on MC of RT, Stone MB, Wallace RB. Pathophysiology and Diagnosis of Thyroid Disease. 2003;
  • Kostoglou-Athanassiou I, Ntalles K. Hypothyroidism – New aspects of an old disease. Vol. 14, Hippokratia. 2010. p. 82–7.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.