Everyone’s heard of thyroid problems because of their association with weight gain, but most people are baffled over the connection. Whether from childhood or after pregnancy, people who struggle with obesity despite their healthy lifestyle are often told that it could be because of a thyroid disorder.
While there are various factors that contribute to weight gain, the influence of this little gland is perplexing to most lay people. To get a better understanding of the influence of thyroid disorders on weight gain, let’s take a closer look at the gland and how it causes weight gain.
The Thyroid Gland
“This is a small gland in the neck that produces hormones that regulate energy utilization & various bodily functions”
The thyroid gland is a small gland located in the neck and it produces hormones that regulate the functioning of organs and utilization of energy. This basically means that thyroid hormones regulate your metabolic rate, which influences the rate or speed at which every organ and bodily function progresses.
Why Do Thyroid Problems Cause Weight Gain?
“Weight gain is therefore specifically associated with an underactive thyroid gland, as a drop in thyroid hormone levels results in a slowing down of your metabolic rate, which equals lower calorie usage”
If there is a drop in thyroid hormone levels it results in a slowing down of your metabolic rate. Of course, if there is an abnormal rise in thyroid hormone levels it will have the opposite effect. Weight gain is therefore specifically associated with an underactive thyroid gland or a condition called hypothyroidism.
Patients who suffer from hypothyroidism are therefore vulnerable to weight gain and often struggle to lose weight. Because of their lower basal metabolic rate, weight gain is in fact the most prominent symptom of the thyroid disorder. This problem can be so severe that many patients continue to experience weight gain even after switching to diets that severely restrict calorie intake. This is because their metabolism continues to slow down as caloric intake is being reduced!
In very rare cases, a condition of overactive thyroid gland, called hyperthyroidism, may also cause weight gain; it generally causes weight loss. Similarly, some patients with hypothyroidism don’t suffer from obesity perhaps because of the quality of calories in their diets, their lifestyle, and individual biochemistry.
Other Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism
“If you have a hypothyroidism problem, in addition to weight gain, you can experience symptoms like fatigue, coldness, dry skin, lower heart rate, stunted growth, & constipation”
Weight gain is obviously not the only symptom of hypothyroidism, although it’s the one that attracts the most attention for obvious reasons. If you have experienced inexplicable weight loss and suspect a thyroid problem it may help to look for these other signs of hypothyroidism.
– Fatigue and weakness
– Cold shivers even when room temperature is comfortable for others
– Lower resting heart rate than normal
– Dryness of the skin
– Frequent constipation
– Slower or stunted growth in children and teens
As we mentioned, diet and exercise alone are often inadequate for combating weight gain associated with a thyroid disorder. While lifestyle and diet changes are essential in the management of the condition, medical treatment is absolutely necessary. Delaying or neglecting treatment can hasten weight gain and lead to other complications.