How To Lose Weight With Hypothyroidism—10 Ways For Losing Weight With Hypothyroidism 2023

Nyasha Stevens

Reviewed by Dr. Maya Frankfurt, PhD
How To Lose Weight With Hypothyroidism
Simple strategies can make all the difference. Photo: Just Life/Shutterstock

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So, you want to know how to lose weight with Hashimoto’s? Low thyroid hormones affect weight loss but don’t make it impossible. Since Hashimotos is the number one autoimmune disease.[1] rivaling only that of type 1 diabetes, it is no wonder there is so much interest surrounding it.

Hypothyroidism, also called Hashimoto’s disease, is an autoimmune disorder where the thyroid gland becomes inflamed and underperforms. As thyroid hormones promote increased metabolism, the condition is often linked to weight gain, leaving many to wonder if losing weight with this condition is even possible.

The challenge is real, but overcoming it is not a pipe dream.

This guide aims to explore the connection between hypothyroidism and weight gain. We will discuss why this autoimmune disease affects your metabolism and how to lose weight with hypothyroidism.

How To Lose Weight With Hypothyroidism

Ten ways to lose weight with hypothyroidism: 

  • Consult an endocrinologist.
  • Adopt a balanced, Mediterranean-style diet.
  • Embrace regular exercise.
  • Manage stress.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Avoid soy and gluten.
  • Take prescribed medications.
  • Limit sugar and refined carbohydrates.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Stay informed about the latest research.

10 Best Ways To Lose Weight With Hypothyroidism

Here are some strategies you can employ to lose weight with an underactive thyroid. 

Consult An Endocrinologist

To adequately manage your thyroid hormone[2] levels, you need professional help. Endocrinologists are medical specialists focusing on the endocrine system, including the thyroid gland. If you suspect or have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, a specialist can prescribe the appropriate thyroid hormone replacement medication and provide dietary recommendations.

Adopt A Balanced Diet

How To Lose Weight With Hypothyroidism
Nutrient-dense foods support healthy thyroid function. Photo: nadianb/Shutterstock

Diet plays an important role in managing the potential weight gain associated with hypothyroidism. Nutrient-dense foods, such as lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, provide essential nutrients that support healthy thyroid function. Processed foods, on the other hand, are high in sugar, sodium, and unhealthy fats, exacerbating weight gain and further slowing your metabolism.

In addition, goitrogens from soy or cruciferous vegetables (kale, cauliflower, bok choy) may affect those struggling with Hashimoto’s disease. Iodine is needed for thyroid hormone synthesis. Goitrogens can affect the ability of the body to use iodine,[3] as suggested by one case study[4] of a patient developing Hashimoto’s after consuming large amounts of broccoli (a goitrogen) and alcohol.  

Create a balanced meal plan, similar to that of the Mediterranean diet,[5] that prioritizes fresh, whole foods. You can boost your metabolism, provide your body with the necessary nutrients, and counteract the weight gain often seen in patients who have hypothyroidism.

Embrace Regular Exercise

When you have hypothyroidism, your metabolism slows, making weight management particularly challenging. Regular exercise, including cardio and strength training, not only helps burn calories but also builds muscle mass, which in turn can increase your resting metabolic rate. Establish a consistent workout routine tailored to your individual needs and preferences.

Manage Stress

Chronic stress can exacerbate weight gain, especially for those with hypothyroidism. Stress releases cortisol which can interfere with thyroid function. Moreover, cortisol is excreted in higher-than-normal amounts[1] in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or even simple walks in nature can reduce stress. Incorporate stress-relieving practices into your daily routine to promote thyroid health and manage weight more effectively.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep deprivation harms your health. Getting sufficient sleep can help regulate hormones, support metabolic processes, and reduce fatigue for those with hypothyroidism. Aim for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep to ensure your body and mind are rejuvenated.

Avoid Soy And Gluten

For some individuals with hypothyroidism, soy, a goitrogen discussed above, and gluten can interfere with thyroid function. Gluten, found in wheat, barley, and rye, can trigger inflammatory responses such as in celiac disease,[6] another autoimmune disease. The need for gluten elimination in healthy adults with Hashimotos without celiac disease is controversial with more recent studies saying it does not make a difference[7] in symptom management and other older studies saying it improves symptoms.[6]

Take Prescribed Medications

Never skip or alter your thyroid medication. These medicines are designed to replace or augment the body’s natural thyroid hormones. Take them consistently and get regular blood work to ensure stable hormone levels.[8] 

Limit Sugar And Refined Carbs

High-sugar foods and refined carbohydrates can lead to rapid spikes in blood sugar. This exacerbates the accumulation of body fat and can promote other issues. Since hypothyroidism can slow the metabolism, limiting these foods is even more crucial.

Instead, focus on complex carbohydrates like fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which provide sustained energy and support a stable metabolic rate.

Stay Hydrated

How To Lose Weight With Hypothyroidism
Every bodily function requires sufficient water. Photo: Hananeko_Studio/Shutterstock

Proper hydration aids in nearly every bodily function. Drinking sufficient water can also help curb hunger pangs, discourage the intake of excess calories, and improve digestion and metabolism. 

Stay Informed

Stay informed about how thyroid problems impact body weight. Doctors make new discoveries and invent new therapies daily. Stay updated on the latest research, treatments, and management strategies to make informed decisions about your lifestyle and treatment choices. 

What Is Hypothyroidism?

The prevalence of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis worldwide is[9] about 4.8%-25.8% in females and .9%-7.9% in males. Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of thyroid underperformance globally. But in populations with adequate nutrition, the most common cause of thyroid impairment is chronic autoimmune hypothyroidism, or  Hashimoto’s disease.

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located at the front of the neck. Many body systems are dependent on two thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Any disruption of these hormone levels[10] causes a wide range of physical complaints.

Symptoms Of An Underactive Thyroid

The symptoms of hypothyroidism[11] can be diverse and often subtle, making it sometimes difficult to recognize. They can range from physical to emotional manifestations, including:

  • Fatigue.
  • Weight gain.
  • Cold intolerance.
  • Dry skin and hair.
  • Muscle and joint pain.
  • Depression and mood swings.
  • Memory issues.

Autoimmune hypothyroidism is frequently accompanied[11] by other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS, and chronic hepatitis. Failure to manage these and other medical conditions can worsen the symptoms of hypothyroidism and interfere with appropriate diagnosis and treatment.


Diagnosing hypothyroidism[12] typically involves a combination of reviewing symptoms and blood tests. A critical test is the measurement of thyroid stimulating hormone or TSH.

Thyroid hormone release occurs in response to TSH from the pituitary gland. Elevated levels of TSH indicate an underactive thyroid. If thyroid hormones are low, more TSH is released to stimulate the thyroid to produce more hormones. 

Additionally, tests measuring levels of T4 and T3 can offer insights into thyroid function. Medical professionals also consider factors like family history, as the condition can be hereditary.[11]


Treatment for hypothyroidism[8] primarily involves hormone replacement therapy. A synthetic form of T4, Levothyroxine, is the most commonly prescribed medication. This drug helps restore thyroid levels, alleviating symptoms and preventing potential complications. 

How Hypothyroidism Affects Your Weight

Understanding the connection between hypothyroidism and weight is crucial for those affected. With proper knowledge and a proactive approach, it’s possible to combat the weight challenges associated with an underactive thyroid.

Hypothyroidism and weight management are intricately linked in three major ways:

Slows Metabolism

A slower metabolism is a major symptom of hypothyroidism, often resulting in weight gain. Even normal food intake can result in weight gain as the body can’t process calories at the expected rate.

Fatigue And Reduced Activity

Patients with hypothyroidism symptoms report fatigue so debilitating that it leads to reduced physical activity. For many, this creates a vicious cycle: the more weight they gain, the more tired they feel, and the less likely they are to engage in physical activities.

Hormonal Imbalances And Appetite

Beyond metabolism and energy levels, hypothyroidism can also influence appetite-regulating hormones. Some individuals with hypothyroidism report increased appetite, which makes weight management even more difficult.

Risks And Safety Tips

Risks Associated With Weight Loss In Hypothyroidism

When dealing with hypothyroidism, weight loss can be a challenging and nuanced journey. It’s essential to recognize the risks involved and seek professional assistance. Here are some of the concerns to discuss with your doctor.

  • Water weight loss: Rapid weight loss, especially in the initial stages, is often attributed to losing water weight rather than fat. Proper hydration is necessary for all bodily functions, so while this weight loss can be dramatic and encouraging, it can also be misleading and unsustainable.
  • Muscle Lloss: Rapid weight loss often results in the body burning muscle for energy. Muscle burns a lot of calories just by existing, so losing it not only affects your muscle mass and strength but slows your baseline metabolism.
  • Nutritional deficiencies: Extreme dieting or unbalanced meal plans can lead to a lack of essential vitamins and minerals, affecting overall health. When malnutrition comes into the picture, thyroid hormone levels can be further decreased by iodine or selenium deficiency.
  • Reduced immunity: Inadequate nutrition and rapid weight changes can weaken the immune system. This makes individuals more susceptible to viral illness and can worsen comorbid conditions.This is especially true  with higher cortisol levels which suppress immune function.
  • Worsened fatigue: A diet or exercise regimen that is too aggressive can exacerbate the fatigue already associated with hypothyroidism. Healthy dieting and exercise should boost your metabolism and increase your energy levels.
  • Heart strain: Losing weight too quickly can strain the heart, especially in individuals with existing health conditions. Discussing your personal risk factors with your doctor and seeking supervision by the appropriate professional is always a good idea.

Safety Tips To Mediate Risks

Weight loss with hypothyroidism can be a slow and nuanced process. You might be wondering how to trick your thyroid to lose weight, but the reality is that the best way to lose weight with Hashimoto’s is to manage your thyroid hormones.

  • Lose weight gradually: Aim for slow and steady weight loss, which is more sustainable and healthier long term.
  • Work your muscles: Incorporate strength training exercises to help maintain and build muscle mass. While cardio is great for burning calories and improving overall health, simple bodyweight exercises can accelerate weight loss by fortifying lean body mass.
  • Balance your diet: Steer clear of fad diets or extreme calorie restrictions. Use the Mediterranean diet plan as a guide, prioritizing a nutrient-rich menu focusing on whole foods that are anti-inflammatory and high in fiber
  • Monitor medication: Take your meds as prescribed and adjust the dosage only with your physician’s guidance. Rapid weight changes might result in needing less medication.
  • Consult a doctor: If your primary concern is how to lose weight while on thyroid medication, consult an endocrinologist. Be honest with your doctor about all prescribed medications, over-the-counter medications, or herbs you include in your health routine. 


Be cautious when you’re striving to lose weight with hypothyroidism. Extreme dieting or unbalanced meal plans can lead to muscle loss and the further slowing of your metabolism. Losing weight with hypothyroidism requires a multi-faceted approach that considers your health profile and how your body reacts to general weight management principles.

Always consult with your healthcare provider before embarking on any weight loss journey, especially if you have an underlying condition. Weight loss is achievable with commitment, consistency, and the right strategies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you lose weight with hypothyroidism?

Yes. While it’s true that hypothyroidism can complicate weight loss, it is still possible to lose weight. By managing your thyroid hormones, you can reverse the negative effects of hypothyroidism on your metabolism and lose weight with conventional strategies.

Why is it so hard to lose weight with hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism slows down the metabolism, resulting in low physical activity levels. A slower metabolism also contributes to fatigue and makes it harder to burn calories.

What foods help you lose weight with hypothyroidism?

Foods rich in selenium, zinc, and iodine, like seafood, nuts, dairy, and whole grains, can support thyroid function and aid in weight loss. Avoiding inflammatory foods like gluten, goitrogens, and soy might also help some individuals.

+ 17 Sources

EHproject has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We work mostly with peer-reviewed studies to ensure accurate information. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  1. Acta Clinica Belgica. (2016). The association of elevated plasma cortisol and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, a neglected part of immune response. [online] Available at:
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  3. (2019). Office of Dietary Supplements – Iodine. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Dec. 2023].
  4. Robin George Manappallil, Muralidharan, R., Sneha Shalu and Haneef, F. (2021). Hashimoto’s thyroiditis aggravated by goitrogenic diet presenting as rhabdomyolysis worsened by alcohol intake. Case Reports, [online] 14(7), pp.e243385–e243385. doi:
  5. Duntas, L.H. (2023). Nutrition and thyroid disease. Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity. [online] doi:
  6. Krysiak, R., Witold Szkróbka and Bogusław Okopień (2018). The Effect of Gluten-Free Diet on Thyroid Autoimmunity in Drug-Naïve Women with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: A Pilot Study. Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes, [online] 127(07), pp.417–422. doi:
  7. Karolina Osowiecka and Myszkowska-Ryciak, J. (2023). The Influence of Nutritional Intervention in the Treatment of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis—A Systematic Review. Nutrients, [online] 15(4), pp.1041–1041. doi:
  8. Australian Journal of General Practice. (2023). Thyroid disease Long term management of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. [online] Available at:
  9. Hu, X., Chen, Y., Shen, Y., Tian, R., Sheng, Y. and Que Hua-fa (2022). Global prevalence and epidemiological trends of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in Public Health, [online] 10. doi:
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Nia is a STEM educator, certified personal trainer, fitness instructor, and certified nurses' aid. She received her Bachelor's in Creative Writing and Music Theory from The College of Idaho in 2010 at the age of 18.… See More

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