Ways Thyroid Patients Can Lose Weight

by Mary Shomon Patient Advocate

One of the most common questions people with thyroid disease ask is: “How can I lose weight?!” With hypothyroidism, your metabolism can slow down and cause weight gain, or make weight loss difficult...even after treatment with thyroid hormone replacement. And treatments for other thyroid conditions usually result in lifelong hypothyroidism for most patients. We asked thyroid patients what is working for them as far as weight loss, and they had some great advice to share.

Keto diet foods.

Try a ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting

Many people with thyroid problems praised the effectiveness of the ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting. Jill gained 80 pounds and, now in her 60s, found she could not lose a pound. “After I started the keto diet with intermittent fasting, I’m down 22 pounds so far!” Fifty-something Alexandra is down 30 pounds in just two months combining intermittent fasting and a keto diet: “This works for me. As an added benefit, my blood sugar and sleep have improved significantly.”

Salad with chicken.

Try the Paleo diet

Eating “like a caveman” is the premise behind the Paleo diet. Focusing on proteins and vegetables, and avoiding dairy, sugar, and processed foods, the Paleo diet is popular with thyroid and autoimmune patients. Linda had success with this way of eating. “After years of struggling with my weight, I followed the Paleo diet; it worked great for me!”

100% vegan sign.

Try a vegan diet

A vegan diet is a major change for many people, but some thyroid patients report that it’s the key to their weight loss. Says Cassie: “My life has been drastically improved by eating a whole-foods, low-fat, vegan diet. It’s a game changer. I've lost over 40 pounds in eight-or-so months and have always eaten until I was nice and full — lifechanging for me!” Interested? Check out the Vegan Society’s guide, “How to Go Vegan.”

Gluten free breads.

Try a gluten-free, vegetarian diet

Linda stopped all gluten, dairy, sugar, soy, and meat. “I eat nothing but veggies and a few fruits a day. It has taken me a year to lose 27 pounds, and I have kept it off!” One important tip: If you go vegetarian, be careful not to overdo raw-vegetable smoothies and raw goitrogenic vegetables, which can slow down your thyroid...and your weight loss.

Weight Watchers.

Join Weight Watchers

While it’s not for everyone, the support, accountability, and tracking built into the Weight Watchers program make it a good fit for some people with thyroid conditions. Says Janet: “Weight Watchers worked for me. Also, my job is very physical, and I get my 10,000 steps every day!” Deb said: “I’m going to Weight Watchers. It’s slow, but I am finally losing weight!”


Take a probiotic supplement

There Is evidence that taking a good-quality probiotic supplement to restore your balance of good intestinal bacteria may be helpful for weight loss. Eileen was eating a low-fat, low-carbohydrate diet, but she wasn’t shedding pounds. “I started taking a probiotic supplement, and within a week, I was less bloated, and I started to finally lose weight. I'm now down 15 pounds in three months!" Learn more about the benefits of probiotics for thyroid patients.

Green smoothie and woman tying running shoes.

Take a do-it-yourself combination approach

Some people struggling with thyroid-related weight find that a combination approach they design themselves works best. This was the case with Ruth. “I have been watching what carbs I eat, and I cut out sugar and bread. I also started water aerobics, and bike and hike — and I lost 15 pounds in four months!” Think about what’s worked in the past for you. It’s a starting point toward understanding your own physiology and metabolism and can help you customize an effective diet and exercise plan.

Prescription medicine bottles.

Change your hypothyroidism treatment

Some people with hypothyroidism find that they can’t lose weight until they optimize their thyroid treatment. Mary wasn’t able to lose weight until she started on a WP Thyroid natural desiccated thyroid drug. “I lost 40 pounds in a year.” Katya, who had irritable bowel syndrome in addition to hypothyroidism, wasn’t able to lose weight: “Then, my doctor put me on Tirosint, which is designed for people who don’t absorb well. That’s when I finally started losing weight.”

Mature couple walking and holding hands.

Get 10,000 steps daily

Many experts recommend that everyone get 10,000 steps a day. Jennifer reported that she was able to finally lose weight once she started to “get my 10,000 steps in!” Does it have to be steps? Some experts say that “10,000 steps” really means an increased activity level. Keep in mind that “10,000 steps” equals about five miles of walking, or 45-60 minutes of activity every day.

Man using fitness tracker and smartphone app.

Track your food, calories, and activity

Many experts agree: Keeping track of your calories, nutrition, and activity can help you achieve greater success with your weight-loss effort. Today’s technology makes it easier. Linda was able to lose 20 pounds recently. “I downloaded the app MyFitnessPal, and it helped keep me on track.” Another popular tracking app is LoseIt. Also, if you wear a Fitbit device, some models have built-in calorie counters.

Woman using laptop.

Your next steps: find thyroid-specific weight-loss resources

Learn more about the challenges of losing weight with a thyroid condition — and some approaches that can help — in these articles from HealthCentral:

You can also connect with other weight-savvy thyroid patients at the Thyroid Diet support group on Facebook.

Mary Shomon
Meet Our Writer
Mary Shomon

Mary Shomon is a patient advocate and New York Times bestselling author who empowers readers with information on thyroid and autoimmune disease, diabetes, weight loss and hormonal health from an integrative perspective. Mary has been a leading force advocating for more effective, patient-centered hormonal healthcare. Mary also co-stars in PBS’ Healthy Hormones TV series. Mary also serves on HealthCentral’s Health Advocates Advisory Board.