Can Hyperthyroidism Cause Weight Gain

Posted October 12, 2020

The short answer is 'yes'. While a lot of us wish we had a higher metabolism, it can actually cause a lot of symptoms in daily life and be quite debilitating. But wait, if you have a higher metabolism due to hyperthyroidism, doesn't that mean you will lose weight? Not necessarily! Let's start at the beginning.

What Is Hyperthyroidism?

Hyperthyroidism is another word for an overactive thyroid. The thyroid gland sits at the base of your neck on the front of your body and releases hormones into the bloodstream that controls many things inside the body, like heart rate, fertility, and even plays a role in digestion! Hyperthyroidism occurs more often in women than in men, although men can also affected by hyperthyroidism, just not as often. If you know someone in your family who is dealing with a thyroid issue, you may be predisposed to thyroid issues.

What Are Causes Of Hyperthyroidism?

An overactive thyroid has a number of causes. One of the main causes of hyperthyroidism is an autoimmune condition known as Grave's Disease. Women are at a higher risk of a compromised immune system than men, leading to autoimmune disorders. This makes it challenging to block pathogens from entering the body, which can go directly to the thyroid.

Thyroid nodules are small lumps that can grow on the thyroid and are filled with fluid. They’re normally benign and don't cause symptoms. While these nodules normally do nothing, they can sometimes become too active and produce more thyroid hormone than the body needs. Although these nodules are normally harmless, it is important to get them checked out to rule out thyroid cancer.

Certain medications can trigger the thyroid to overproduce hormones, as well as some dietary supplements. Check with your doctor to see if any of the medications that you are taking could lead to hyperthyroidism.

How Does Hyperthyroidism Cause Weight Gain?

The thyroid hormone does affect your metabolism. If your metabolism is slowed, your body ends up storing fat instead of using it as fuel for daily activities. This is especially frustrating for people who are struggling with weight loss. So, how does having an abnormally fast metabolism lead to weight gain? the answer is quite simple: more food. 1

Let me explain.

Below are some symptoms of hyperthyroidism:

Difficulty sleeping
Muscle weakness
Feeling tired all the time
Warm skin/ sweating
Fast heart rate
Increased appetite

This list is just a few of the many symptoms of hyperthyroidism, but you can see how dealing with these symptoms on a daily basis may be hard. Look at the last symptom on our list,“increased appetite“. Because the metabolism is raised, your body has physical reactions and you may feel more hungry than normal. Even though your metabolism may be higher than normal, it's common for people with hyperthyroidism to eat more calories than they are burning, leading to weight gain.

Now, let's take a look at some of the other symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Nervousness, muscle weakness, feeling tired, fast heart rate, and sweating are just some of the physical symptoms that you may be experiencing as a result of hyperthyroidism. Personally, these symptoms would not make me want to exercise! Taking in extra calories and not expending them will ultimately lead to weight gain.

What Can You Do About The Weight Gain Caused By Hyperthyroidism?

One of the first things to do is consult your chosen medical professional. Some cases of hyperthyroidism need to be medically treated. Knowing where your hormone levels are is an important first step in figuring out what you need to do to get them back in balance. Your doctor can also help in making lifestyle suggestions in order for you to get some symptom relief. Tirosana's primary focus is the lifestyle changes you can make in order to become more balanced hormonally. 2

Here are some suggestions to get you started!

Track Your Food

Tracking your food intake might help you recognize if you are eating too many calories, or the wrong foods to keep you sustained. It's a great idea to track your food for a couple weeks before your check-up so you can show your doctor exactly what you are eating so they can make suggestions! There are tons of resources for food tracking, but Myfitnesspal is a great place to start! 3

Relieve Stress

When you are physically or mentally stressed, your body secretes hormones into your bloodstream. This is normal, and it is your body's way of trying to protect itself! However, if you find yourself always stressed, nervous, or anxious, it can be harmful. Take a moment and think about what relaxes you. This answer is clearly different for everyone, but take some time every day to do something that calms your body, mind, and spirit. If you would like to try guided meditation, Headspace is a great resource to use. 4

Avoid Certain Foods

Iodine rich foods may worsen hyperthyroidism. You can start using plain salt, without the iodine additive as a first step. You can also cut out seafoods if you typically include foods like seaweed, fish, lobster, crab and sushi in your diet. Dairy is also high in iodine and should be avoided when caring for thyroid issues.

Try New Hobbies

Weight control is complicated. For some of us, it is not as simple as “eat less and move more“, but more about a holistic approach to your entire lifestyle. It is important to explore new areas of your life that bring you joy. You might be surprised at the hobby that sticks! Find a community around that hobby, and insert yourself in social situations that will distract you from your symptoms. Having a positive mindset and creating tight social circles is a great way to find support. Overall, this tells your body to secrete more “joy“ hormones and less “stress“ hormones.

Hyperthyroidism can be hard! However, managing it is possible - and probably easier than you think!

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