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Thread: Trying (and failing) to lose weight with thyroid disease

  1. #1

    Trying (and failing) to lose weight with thyroid disease

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    Hi everyone. I’m having a lot of trouble right now with my diet/body/weight, and I’m wondering if anyone here can offer a little guidance or point me in the right direction of where I should go from here.

    I’ve gained nearly 30 pounds (all fat) in the last two years, which has radically altered my way of life for the worse. I was a high-performing athlete before these ailments struck me: I was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, hypothyroidism, adrenal dysfunction (chronically high cortisol), dysglycemia and possible insulin resistance, possible leaky gut, and I haven’t had a period since I went off birth control last December (was on it for over 10 years). I desperately want to lose these 30 lbs and feel like myself again, particularly as I’m getting married in just 6 short months.

    I’ve tried about a million things over the past two years to stop gaining weight and to lose the weight I've gained, and nothing has worked. I'll spare you all those details (just trust me when I say I've about tried it all - yes, including IF) and just tell you about my most recent diet:
    I've been doing a fairly strict hypoallergenic diet since early this year, eating almost nothing but: whole eggs from a local farm (I eat the yolks raw), organic/nitrate-free pepperoni and chicken sausage, avocados, copious amounts of coconut butter and oil (3-5 Tbsp per day), allergen-free protein powder (Sunwarrior), occasional fish and shrimp, sea salt, and small amounts of cacao or carob powder and pure stevia, plus a couple cups of black coffee per week.
    I was eating sweet potatoes during most of this time too, but cut those out a couple weeks ago due to sugar concerns. I was also eating cauliflower, broccoli, and romaine lettuce for awhile, but I even cut those out, as they seemed to be irritating my gut.
    I also take a lot of supplements: algae-derived DHA, B vitamins, vitamin C, selenium, lots of probiotics, and many more.

    As a former vegetarian, it’s been difficult enough for me to add the sausage and pepperoni to my diet – I’ve had strong aversions to unprocessed meats my whole life – so I’m doing the best I can on the animal-product front. No dairy for me, since I have Hashimoto’s. I can perhaps imagine myself adding ground beef to my diet – I think at this point I could handle the texture – but certainly no steaks or big hunks of meat requiring lots of chewing. I miss fruits and nuts quite a bit, but I’m willing to persevere in this no matter what it takes to lose the weight I’ve gained.

    I’m limiting my diet to 1500 calories a day – occasionally I eat a little more than that; frequently I eat less than that. I eat a high-protein, high-fat breakfast (a la Leptin rx) immediately upon waking. I try to eat 3 meals a day, limited-to-no snacking, and I stop eating 3 hours before bed. I stopped exercising completely for almost a month (I did “chronic cardio” for years as an athlete), and now I’m only doing 20-minute weight-lifting sessions 3 times a week + occasional light walking. I sleep ~9 hours most nights.
    I’m 5’3″ tall, female, and like I said, have close to 30 lbs to lose to get back to my ideal, fit weight (preferably by September!). I am only 27 years old.

    Since beginning this diet I described above, I’ve GAINED 5-7 more pounds.
    What am I doing wrong? What haven't I thought of or considered?
    I don’t know where to go or what to do from here, and feel I am running out of time. I would truly appreciate any and all guidance or counsel.
    Last edited by curiositykilledthecat; 03-11-2012 at 04:08 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    It is very hard to advise you in regards to your diet. The reality is, there is a lot of highly processed food in your diet. The only protein sources you eat are processed. The primal way is unprocessed foods and low toxins. What about homemade bone stocks and soups? They are highly nutritious and good for the gut.

    Maybe a little more info would help.

    What is your current weight?
    Do you have a copy of your last thyroid labs? Many people are not properly treated for thyroid disease even after diagnosis.
    What do you mean when you say things irritate your gut?
    Do you have other symptoms?
    Using low lectin/nightshade free primal to control autoimmune arthritis. (And lost 50 lbs along the way )

  3. #3
    Hi Jammies,

    Thanks for your reply.

    I realize the processed meats (even though they're natural and nitrate-free) aren't ideal, but I am only having 1 sausage and perhaps a few slices of pepperoni per day. I do eat fish or shrimp every other day or so.

    My current weight is "only" 135 - which is yet another reason I've had a very hard time getting any help, or even getting anyone to listen, these past few years, because I'm clearly not "fat." But I am a short, small-boned former athlete, and more importantly, I've had my body fat changes measured and can tell you that I've gone from 20% body fat to a whopping 38% body fat, and still climbing. Bad, very bad.

    I don't have my exact thyroid #s on me, but I had normal TSH and free T4, low free T3, and very high reverse T3 (probably from years of dieting and exercise, plus a genetic predisposition). I'm currently being treated with T3-only therapy, multidosing pure T3 3-4 times per day. I'm still raising/adjusting my dose to find what's right for me.

    By "irritate my gut" I mean they were causing abdominal pains after eating, plus gas and bloating.

    As far as other symptoms - do you mean symptoms of hypothyroidism?
    If so, I have many years' worth of fatigue, needing 12+ hours of sleep per night to function, thin hair that falls out, depression and mood instability, low body temps (low 97's), always feeling cold, constipation (no matter how much fiber I eat), and so on. And the inexplicable weight gain, of course.
    Last edited by curiositykilledthecat; 03-11-2012 at 04:02 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Please post your latest test results so that we can get an accurate picture. Things that jump out at me:
    1. I'm currently being treated with T3-only therapy, multidosing pure T3 3-4 times per day. I'm still raising/adjusting my dose to find what's right for me.

    How is finding "what's right for me" being determined? By how you feel, labs??

    2. By "irritate my gut" I mean they were causing abdominal pains after eating, plus gas and bloating.

    Since you are a former vegetarian you may not have enough stomach acid to help you digest foods properly. This, coupled with hypothyroid, suggests you might want to research digestive enzymes/ HCL.

    3. I have many years' worth of fatigue, needing 12+ hours of sleep per night to function, thin hair that falls out, depression and mood instability, low body temps (low 97's), constipation (no matter how much fiber I eat), and so on.

    Along with these being hypo symptoms they can also be indicative of low vitamin D and ferritin. Both of these play a role in thyroid function.

  5. #5
    Hi Marcadav,

    Thanks - I'd have to dig out those test results to find the references ranges, but I remember my free T3 was 2.6 and my reverse T3 was 28. TSH was 2.0.

    1. Right now, almost exclusively by how I feel. Properly treating with T3-only should severely suppress TSH and raise free T3 above-range, but I haven't been on it long enough to get another test done (that'll happen at the end of this month). In the meantime, I'm working toward the elimination of symptoms, which has not happened yet (I'm currently at 60mcg/day). I still feel rather underdosed.

    2. Very possible; actually, my doctor brought that up recently. Would it help to take a shot of ACV before meals, or do I need to find a good HCL pill? I do take digestive enzymes, though not with every meal.

    3. I did have low D (19) too; I've been taking 5,000IU/day since December. I just gave blood last week to find out my current vit. D status and get a complete iron panel, but I won't know the results for a couple weeks. My total iron was quite high (173) at my last test, but I know I can't really judge my iron status until I find out my ferritin, % saturation, etc.
    Last edited by curiositykilledthecat; 03-11-2012 at 04:12 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Some people while feeling "underdosed" can actually be overmedicated. People can also gain weight when they are hyPER.
    If I was on T3 only I would want regular(every 6-8 wks) bloodwork done to avoid going hyper.

    I've never tried ACV as it just doesn't appeal to me. I have started taking HCL and, while it's too early to say for sure, I think it's helping.. I am hypothyroid and don't have a gallbladder.

    I have had both low vitamin D and low ferritin. Getting those things optimized has helped. Please be aware-- ferritin testing, usually, needs to be specifically asked for. I have never seen it as part of an iron panel.

    And I forgot to mention, getting 200mcg of selenium daily is also important for thyroid function.. My multi-vitamin contains that much.

  7. #7
    The problem with bloodwork while on T3-only is that it can vary wildly day-to-day and even hour-to-hour, regardless of what my tissue concentration of hormone is. Also, since I have Hashimoto's and my antibodies (and everything else) ebb and flow constantly, that makes blood testing even more unreliable. My doctor feels (and I agree) that it's important that we dose according to symptoms for now.

    I don't mind the taste of ACV, so I might try that first. As far as HCL, is there a particular brand you'd recommend?

    Thanks for the heads-up on ferritin - I will call my doctor in the morning and make sure it's being included in my iron panel (just gave blood on Friday, so we still have a couple days to ask for specific tests, luckily).

    Good call on selenium, too - I'm currently taking 200mcg a day, plus I eat a few Brazilnuts a week.

  8. #8
    Hi there,

    I also have Hashimoto's (on Synthroid) and when I started Primal, had about 20 pounds to lose. I've lost 10 pounds and it has taken several months, including a long plateau where the scale didn't move for weeks. However, I am slowly losing again at the rate of about 1/2 pound per week.

    During this time I've tracked my food intake very closely to understand what calorie/macronutrient level would enable me to lose weight while feeling satisfied with plenty of energy. I found that very low carb didn't work for me, so I recently upped my carbs to 80-100 grams per day through the introduction of potatoes and white rice in addition to veggies and (limited) fruit I was already eating. I am also sure to get at least 100g of protein per day, more on days I lift. The rest of course comes from pastured butter, coconut oil, etc.

    Although the "calories in calories out" viewpoint isn't very popular here, I have found that I have to stick to 1400 per day or less in order to lose. Anything more and I maintain.

    Lifting Heavy Things 3X per week has also helped me get unstuck. I work with a trainer 1X per week and the other 2X are using routines he develops for me. We mostly do compound lifts (like squats and bench press) in addition to body weight work like pushups and planks. I've cut my cardio to 1-2X per week including sprinting here and there.

    I realize how frustrating it can be to deal with Hashi's and feel like you are constantly banging your head against a wall. My advice would be to start tinkering with calories in, and the makeup of those calories, and see how it goes. And definitely continue to lift heavy and change up your routines to keep challenging your body.

  9. #9
    Thanks so much for the advice, gempdx. I hear you on the calories in/calories out - no matter what I do, I can't completely get away from calories mattering, either. Even when I was thin, I would gain if I ate more than ~1600/day for any length of time.

    During these past two years, I too have tried numerous different amounts of calories, anywhere from 1000-1500, with any number of different macronutrient ratios, so I can really appreciate the tinkering you've done. Interesting that you fare better with up to 100g of carbs - I've always felt like I do pretty well with carbs, but when I was told recently I have dysglycemia and may even have insulin resistance, I sort of threw up my hands and threw all carbs away for the time being. Maybe I should reintroduce a at 80-100g carbs and 100+g protein, and only 1400 calories, it sounds like you're eating relatively lower-fat (compared to many Paleo/Primal people, at least)?

    "Banging [my] head against a wall" is exactly how I feel. I hate that I feel almost desperate, at this point. It's hard to feel like my own health is, in many ways, out of my control...and it's gotten really REALLY hard these last 6 months, when I've gained 10 MORE lbs to land myself here at 30 lbs heavier than I ought to be (and want to be).

    Today was a pretty typical day for me - ~1300 calories, 100g fat (49 sat), 70g protein, <50 g carbs. It's amazing to me that I'm not losing, and that I may even still be gaining.

    Anyway - thanks so much for relating to me on the Hashi's BS and letting me know what you've done that's helped, however slowly!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    That is kinda weird that you are only on t3. However t3 range is symptom based.

    It takes quite a while to feel right. First you have to get your numbers right and stay there so your body can start getting over the symptoms.

    It took me about a year to "feel" right. The vit d will help as well but honestly spend a lot of time in the sun that will make you feel so much better. Have you tested your b vitamins?

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