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TOPIC: Hypothyroidism and calculating Basal Metabolic Rate

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June 7, 2011 10:02 PM
Hi folks! I have had Hashimoto's Thyroiditis since I was a teen. I am now 29. I work out twice daily/six days per week, doing strenuous exercises like running 5-7 miles, ashtanga yoga, pilates, and aerial dance. I have followed the calorie counting on this program (and others), eat a nearly perfect diet (I have studied nutrition and what to eat/avoid) and also eat in a balanced way to stay out of starvation mode. But STILL...I can hardly lose weight. My thyroid levels are all perfect as well on the lab report. I take levothroid and cytomel.

So...my question is...does anyone know, on average, how many calories a day a woman with hypothyroidism should consume? How do I calculate my real BMR considering the thyroids effect of slowing my metabolism more than the average human? I can't find any exact calculators online for this one, and hear a variety of amounts of calories to subtract. Clearly the one on myfitnesspal isn't telling me the truth! I am 5'9 and about 160. I am wanting to progress in my performance arts and am incredibly tired of seeing the "if you continue at this rate you'll weigh 144 lbs in 5 weeks!" since I've actually been eating like this for over six months and have barely lost anything. I must need even less than 1200 calories per day.

Any info or advice you have would be appreciated!
June 7, 2011 10:11 PM
Wow, you nearly described my exact situation. I am similar height and weight as you and have the same condition. I am pretty active and eat healthy. I have tried talking to my doctor about it but he also says my lab results are fine. I also have a goal weight of 144, that is so ironic. My friend who is a PA has suggested I try Armour thyroid, but when I asked my doctor, he was not willing to prescribe it. It is a natural form of thyroid that derives from swine. I am considering asking my doctor again or changing doctors. I also read a book from the library about managing thyroid disorders and they suggested Armour thyroid. They also talk about things to avoid consuming that can prevent the absorbtion of thyroid medication. I read wait 4 hours after taking your thyroid medication before you consume any calcium, soy, antacids, and even walnuts. I hope some of this helps.
June 7, 2011 10:15 PM
Great question! I have also had hypothyroidism for about 10 years... I've never given this though though...so im interested in seeing responses. I follow what mfp says and it is coming off, of course not as quickly as id like but its slowing shedding. Good luck!
  7403234
June 7, 2011 10:26 PM
Before I would recalculate your BMR, I would have your thyroid labs taken and reevaluate your medication. If you are taking a synthetic medication(such as synthroid), I would consider changing to a natural form of thyroid(armour thyroid). Check out www.stopthethyroidmadness.com. Some studies, and people's testimonies about changing medication, have shown that armour thyroid, naturesthyroid, and I think there are a few more names, to improve people's thyroid symptoms. Some of the synthetic thyroid medicines actually don't treat all of the aspects of the thyroid. I think there are four different things that a thyroid panel checks for and synthetic meds only treat a couple of them.
June 7, 2011 10:38 PM
I have Hashimoto's and am also 29. You don't need less calories- you need more. Please for the love of God tell me you are eating back the calories you burn through your exercise. If not- that is your problem. Also- are your settings on sedentary, moderately active, very active? You may want to check that. My greatest advice is to consume more calories than you are now... it obviously worked for me.
Edited by NikkisNewStart On June 7, 2011 10:39 PM
June 7, 2011 10:55 PM
QUOTE:

If you are taking a synthetic medication(such as synthroid), I would consider changing to a natural form of thyroid(armour thyroid). Some of the synthetic thyroid medicines actually don't treat all of the aspects of the thyroid. I think there are four different things that a thyroid panel checks for and synthetic meds only treat a couple of them.


Getting a doctor to prescribe Armour is next to impossible! I have been on Levothyroxine for 4 yrs now. I have been at 100 mcg for about 3 of those 4 years. I just got my levels checked and my medicine stayed the same. In my opinion, GP's really don't know that much about thyroid disease. Sometimes I think I walk into the office knowing more than they do. I was never told what foods to avoid, I was never told that my little pill interferes with calcium absorption in my body, I learned all that through researching on my own. And you are so right when you stated that the meds don't treat all aspects of this disease. You have T3, T4, T7, etc.....but what good is a medicine if it treats one thing when it needs to treat more than that? It's confusing and frustrating to say the least.

I am just now starting to feel like a "normal" person again. The first years were hellish to be honest. I couldn't function properly. I had anxiety attacks, I was dizzy, I'd forget things, & I had a hard time remembering things. I would tell my husband that my body had turned into some freak show! explode I still have a hard time remembering things, but I am feeling a lot better than I was.

<<. I read wait 4 hours after taking your thyroid medication before you consume any calcium, soy, antacids, and even walnuts.>> Very true. And after you take your pill...don't forget to wait an hour before you eat. tongue
June 8, 2011 1:17 AM
I live in Alaska, and I know of several doctors that perscribe Armour over anything else...strange that you have a hard time finding someone. I think I would be worth it even if you had to travel to another city to get it. It makes that much of a difference for so many people. It is a bummer that most doctors know so little about thyroid disease. It is so much more than JUST going by lab results.
June 8, 2011 3:37 AM
QUOTE:

Before I would recalculate your BMR, I would have your thyroid labs taken and reevaluate your medication. If you are taking a synthetic medication(such as synthroid), I would consider changing to a natural form of thyroid(armour thyroid). Check out www.stopthethyroidmadness.com. Some studies, and people's testimonies about changing medication, have shown that armour thyroid, naturesthyroid, and I think there are a few more names, to improve people's thyroid symptoms. Some of the synthetic thyroid medicines actually don't treat all of the aspects of the thyroid. I think there are four different things that a thyroid panel checks for and synthetic meds only treat a couple of them.



Have added this site to my favourites for later but looks really interesting!!
  5237056
June 8, 2011 3:40 AM
When I went to the doctors, it seemed no consideration was given to the meds I was put on. She just gave me the prescription for levothyroxine and sent me on my way! I had 50mg to start but after a blood test 8 weeks later, they upped it 75mg.
  5237056
June 8, 2011 4:19 AM
QUOTE:

Hi folks! I have had Hashimoto's Thyroiditis since I was a teen. I am now 29. I work out twice daily/six days per week, doing strenuous exercises like running 5-7 miles, ashtanga yoga, pilates, and aerial dance. I have followed the calorie counting on this program (and others), eat a nearly perfect diet (I have studied nutrition and what to eat/avoid) and also eat in a balanced way to stay out of starvation mode. But STILL...I can hardly lose weight. My thyroid levels are all perfect as well on the lab report. I take levothroid and cytomel.

So...my question is...does anyone know, on average, how many calories a day a woman with hypothyroidism should consume? How do I calculate my real BMR considering the thyroids effect of slowing my metabolism more than the average human? I can't find any exact calculators online for this one, and hear a variety of amounts of calories to subtract. Clearly the one on myfitnesspal isn't telling me the truth! I am 5'9 and about 160. I am wanting to progress in my performance arts and am incredibly tired of seeing the "if you continue at this rate you'll weigh 144 lbs in 5 weeks!" since I've actually been eating like this for over six months and have barely lost anything. I must need even less than 1200 calories per day.

Any info or advice you have would be appreciated!


I'm confused...I've never heard of thyroid meds lowering your metabolism. My understanding was that your metabolism slows from untreated hypo. If your levels are right, your metabolism should be similar to someone without hypo.
  7418045
June 8, 2011 11:51 AM
Thanks folks! I appreciate all your comments and suggestions. I actually tried Armour back when I was 18 and it did not sit well with my body. I developed rashes etc. and was quickly moved back to something synthetic. I have had my labs tested multiple times recently and on paper they appear normal. These have been fasting values. I think what I am alluding to - and I know this affects other folks too - is that it is common for hypothyroid folks to present symptoms even when the values appear normal. So, I am not sure if I should calculate a BMR based on "normal" since my values are "normal" or if I should calculate it based on someone who has a slower metabolism.

I do eat enough to recover what is lost from exercise, but not much more - it is a good point, perhaps I need to be eating even more. I am just honestly not hungry for more than I currently am eating, and would be interested in knowing how other folks who have no appetite manage to eat more healthful calories.

I DO really appreciate the suggestion of waiting 4 hours. I realize that recently I've been taking my meds in the morning with a little bit of a smoothie (whey protein/raw food meal replacement), which has a good amount of calcium in it. Maybe they were competing for absorption. I'll give the water/empty stomach thing a whirl and will wait 4 hours before eating the smoothie...and will let you know how it goes. Thanks again!
June 8, 2011 11:57 AM
QUOTE:

Thanks folks! I appreciate all your comments and suggestions. I actually tried Armour back when I was 18 and it did not sit well with my body. I developed rashes etc. and was quickly moved back to something synthetic. I have had my labs tested multiple times recently and on paper they appear normal. These have been fasting values. I think what I am alluding to - and I know this affects other folks too - is that it is common for hypothyroid folks to present symptoms even when the values appear normal. So, I am not sure if I should calculate a BMR based on "normal" since my values are "normal" or if I should calculate it based on someone who has a slower metabolism.

I do eat enough to recover what is lost from exercise, but not much more - it is a good point, perhaps I need to be eating even more. I am just honestly not hungry for more than I currently am eating, and would be interested in knowing how other folks who have no appetite manage to eat more healthful calories.

I DO really appreciate the suggestion of waiting 4 hours. I realize that recently I've been taking my meds in the morning with a little bit of a smoothie (whey protein/raw food meal replacement), which has a good amount of calcium in it. Maybe they were competing for absorption. I'll give the water/empty stomach thing a whirl and will wait 4 hours before eating the smoothie...and will let you know how it goes. Thanks again!


I have hypothyrodism as well, not from Hashimoto's though. You should definitely take your synthroid first thing in the morning, on an empty stomch. My doctor advised that I wait about an hour or so after I take my medication before I eat anything or take a multivitamin and to drink plenty of water. I usually take mine right after I get up, before I even get in the shower or anything so that by the time I get to work, it's been about 1.5 - 2 hours since taking my synthroid. Hope this helps! =)
  3712495
June 9, 2011 10:10 AM
I also take mine 1st thing in the morning ... at least an hour before anything else
  7403234
June 15, 2011 8:18 PM
Hey everyone! Just wanted to let you know that this past week, I've done the following, and actually lost a pound and a half (and generally feel better).

-eliminated all soy from my diet
-cut back on fruit sugars (no bananas) and raw cruciferous vegetables (cooked greens instead).
-took my thyroid meds on an empty stomach 3 hours before anything else, first thing in the morning.
-only had my daily smoothie later in the day, since it has calcium and iron in it.

So far so good! It will be interesting to see if following this strictly will pay off over time. Thanks again for all your suggestions!
April 23, 2013 7:08 PM
Hi all,

I wanted to reply to everyone who was talking about calcium absorption and synthetic hormone for thyroid. Did you know there is a new study that shows that taking it at night on an empty stomach (you really shouldn't eat anyway after 6 pm, right?) can actually HELP your body absorb your medicine better? I started taking it at night on an empty stomach, going to sleep, and waking up ready to eat whatever I decided I wanted and NO WAITING! Google, "Taking Levothyroxine at bedtime) and you should come across two articles: One from Helio Endocrine Today and another from thyroid.about(dot) com.

Very interesting stuff.
April 23, 2013 7:37 PM
QUOTE:
. I have had my labs tested multiple times recently and on paper they appear normal.


Normal as determined by lab range? Do you have any other persistent hypo symptoms besides difficulty losing weight? The values for normal TSH levels have changed since 2002 but many labs still go my old value and docs who don't know any better just look for the bold abnormals. New normal TSH is .3-3.0, old .5-5.0. Many with Hashimoto's don't feel really good until they hit TSH of around 1. Having your TSH of 2-3 can definitely contribute to trouble with metabolism and weight loss.
  34058966
April 30, 2013 6:31 AM
I was diagnosed at age 33 and am now 48. I've been through it all, but most frustrating was the steady weight gain. I exercise at least 4x per week, and topped out in the 140s. I'm on synthroid and cytomel, but after years it became clear that my weight was going nowhere despite huge efforts.

Finally, I realized that my caloric needs, despite my exercise, are not normal. Hashimotos affected my metabolism to the point where the 1200 calories generally recommended just don't matter. When I cut back to 800 calories per day, after a week or two, the weight started to come off. I'm now at 125 with a goal of 120. I feel better - my joints are less achy and I have more energy.

My doctor agrees that I am healthier and now counsels her patients to rethink the "standards" of caloric consumption to fit the Hashimoto lifestyle.

Of course, every calorie counts, but I eat very well on 800 per day. I also avoid most carbs, because I see the results the next day on the scale. I once ate a cupcake and was three pounds heavier the next day - and although the knee jerk reaction is "Water Weight!" it wasn't. It took me over a week to lose that cupcake.

Just a thought, but it works for me.
April 30, 2013 6:40 AM
I am glad that you have eliminated soy from your diet, you should also consider tofu as well. I had my thyroid removed (Thyroid cancer in my 20s), I am now in my 50, have lost 14 pounds since February, it is very hard to lose weight. I use to eat soy and tofu, have eliminated them after a bad experience and researching. I never eat anything that contains soy, and read all food labels before buying anything, and very particular about what type of fish I eat - do not eat any freshwater fish -Tilapia and the likes.
Edited by socajam On April 30, 2013 6:46 AM
  37376170
April 30, 2013 6:40 AM
I have Hashimoto's as well. Well controlled. I had my BMR tested at the hospital last year. It was 10% higher than the online estimations. If you are well controlled, Hashimoto's won't affect your metabolism.
  7246266
April 30, 2013 6:47 AM
bump
May 24, 2013 10:58 AM
Hello! I just came across this thread and found it interesting. I have been wondering the very same things. I was diagnoised as Hypo 17 years ago, when I was 15. I am now 32 and seeing a new doctor. I am just now finding out that it is Hashimoto's. I am taking 150mcg of Synthroid after not being on any medication for a few months. My TSH reached 23.4!

Over the past 2 years, I have tried just about everything to lose weight. Followed MFP recommendations and did lose 85 pounds before stalling out and gaining 30 pounds back. I have been eating clean measuring all my foods, exercising 6 days a week using a heart rate monitor to estimate calories burned. I gain and lose the same 5 pounds. It is a very irritating cycle.
  5931624
May 24, 2013 11:27 AM
I would also reccomend evaluating "normal" levels. The "normal" range might not be an indicator of nromal for you. I went years without undiagnosed Hypo becuase I was in the "normal" range. Little did I know that I had thyroid nodules that turned into thyroid cancer. Had I been on treatment the medication would of supressed the growth of these tumors. Look at all the levels together and not just the T3. I was around a 3 but should of been closer to a 1 or right under. I am now at a supressed dosage due to the cancer.

I no longer have my thyroid and rely soly of medicaion for these hormones. This is another challege in itself in loosing weight. What works for many on paper does not work for me when it comes to weight loss.

It's also a good idea to have your calcium and vitamin D levels checked as well.
  679427
May 24, 2013 11:31 AM
This is interesting! I'm also hypo, with Hashimoto's.....diagnosed 8 years ago after the birth of my first child. I had my second kiddo about a year ago and my thyroid levels have fluctuated wildly. I was hyper for a while, which was actually nice....I lost a lot of weight, felt good, etc, Recently, they dropped pretty low so my ob/gyn upped my levothyroxin, and I'm feeling better.

After reading this, I wonder if this is part of the reason my weight loss has stalled. I wonder if taking my meds at night might help, and I wonder if I need an even higher dosage than I am on now.
  6710572
May 24, 2013 11:38 AM
I'm on cytomel and levo, my TSH is 2.8, and I have not had any trouble losing weight. Well, I mean, not if I actually stay under calorie goal. So I have to say, you might just be overestimating activity or underestimating the calories of all that healthful food you eat.
  10021161
May 24, 2013 11:42 AM
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18655403
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16969140

I have had hashimotos for years and never had trouble losing weight as long as my thyroid numbers were normal... Then all of a sudden I did. 40% of hypothyroid people show some sign of B12 deficiency. Get your bloods checked.

I am on my third week of B12 shots after finding out I had B12 deficiency anemia. After 6 MONTHS of working out and eating right and never losing a pound, I have lost 2-4 lbs this week and I feel. so. much. better. (Average weight 154. Weight this week averages 150. Weight last week 155-157.)

*ed to add: I'm not saying that every hypothyroid person is going to have low b12, but it's something to watch for. Don't make the mistake I did and blame your thyroid for EVERYTHING. Sometimes just your thyroid problem is a symptom of a bigger issue (autoimmune disease) that can cause other systems to go out of whack. My iron and potassium were also extremely low. I am supplementing all of that now.
Edited by ElizabethKalmbach On May 24, 2013 11:58 AM
  39165174

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