Thyroid Dysfunction and Weight Gain – What is the Connection?

When women gain excessive weight, they often wonder whether it is their thyroid which is meddling with their weight. The answer in many cases is ‘yes’; however, the relation is not that simple. Functioning of thyroid is closely connected to your metabolism, because basically thyroid hormones control calorie consumption. Therefore thyroid dysfunction can cause weight gain. However, the health of your thyroid depends on the proper working of other body systems too, like your reproductive hormones, neurotransmitters and adrenal glands.

Why does Thyroid Dysfunction Cause Weight Gain?

Since people with an underactive thyroid often have a very low BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), weight gain is one of the most obvious symptoms of hypothyroidism. It’s also paired with difficulty in losing the excessive weight. Though it’s rare, but sometimes an overactive thyroid can act like an underactive thyroid and causes weight gain. Only a small population of women doesn’t gain weight despite having hypothyroidism because of their individual biochemistry, the type of calories they take and the way they use those calories.

Many times ‘metabolic burn’ starts declining as caloric intake reduces while dieting. This is the reason why in women with an underactive thyroid weight continues to increase even though they strictly limit calorie intake. So, to correct your metabolism, you should know your entire health status and not just your thyroid.

Thyroid in Women

Women suffer from hypothyroidism more than men. And still more women with thyroid problems have weight gain problems too than men. Most problems of thyroid take place within the gland and usually don’t show up till a bigger model of hormonal imbalance is evident. Therefore, menopause, thyroid problems and weight gain usually occur together.

Why is Underactive Thyroid and Weight Gain so Prominent in Women?

Reasons to this are many, but particularly because:

  • Women have a common tendency to do dieting in a yo-yo pattern of feasting and fasting. Your metabolism is weakened due to this and reduces your metabolic rate, a cumulative factor for thyroid, particularly during perimenopause.
  • Women also have a tendency to internalize stress which has an effect on their brain, adrenal and thyroid function, leading to increased cravings for confectionary and simple carbohydrates that provide instant energy as well as release of feel-good hormones.
  • Women undergo monthly hormonal ups and downs that influence their biochemistry.

What can be Done about an Underactive Thyroid and Weight Gain?

First and foremost thing you should do upon experiencing persistent weight gain is to approach your doctor. S/He may prescribe you a thyroid test or measurement of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). In some women, elevation in TSH level may be only slight, but it’s enough to affect their metabolism which results in weight gain.

In such women, nutrient supplements like selenium and a standard meal plan that maintains a correct ratio of protein to carbohydrates boosts metabolic functioning which helps in weight loss. In some other women, there is also a requirement of a low dose of thyroid replacement hormone.

A lot of controversy exists in the endocrinology world about the treatment of hypothyroidism. While some are of opinion that patients whose tests are within the normal range but are having much reduced basal metabolic rates and basal temperatures require thyroid supplementation, others believe that only those patients who have considerable abnormalities must be given thyroid hormones.

At, you will get a lot more information on thyroid, its problems and remedies.