May 29, 2023

Losing weight on levothyroxine, is it possible? You bet. Here’s why your levothyroxine is not helping with weight loss and how to fix it.

Hey guys dr childs here today we’re going to be talking about losing weight on level thyroxine if you don’t already know level of thyroxine is the most commonly prescribed thyroid medication on the market and we have a ton of thyroid patients who have weight gain secondary to low thyroid right that’s one of the most common symptoms that patients with low thyroid

Function present with and yet we also have a huge number of patients who are being treated right with level thyroxine who are not losing weight so we’re going to dive into that story we’re going to talk about you know what happens how how what you should expect when losing level of thyroxine how it impacts your weight what other options are available to you as

A thyroid patient including thyroid medications that are more effective and lastly we’ll be talking about who really does well on t4 only medications like level thyroxine if you don’t know me i’m dr childs i’m an internist and i specialize in helping people with thyroid problems helping people with hormone imbalances and of course helping people lose weight

But today is really about the thyroid and specifically it’s about thyroid medication known as levothyroxine so let’s talk about that now as i mentioned before um a lot of thyroid patients kind of assume that once they fix their thyroid they’re going to lose weight right because it makes sense if low thyroid causes weight gain then fixing that thyroid should

Cause weight loss right well you would think so but it doesn’t actually work out that way and i’m going to explain to you kind of why that is and we’ll be talking about it sort of as we go through this thing but let’s talk about that first of all so why why aren’t you losing weight if you’re taking level of thyroxine so i have four reasons here and i’m going to

Go each over each one of them and i want you to ask these questions to yourself kind of as we go through them so the first question is is it right for you and what i really mean is or what i really mean here is is level thyroxine the right medication for your body and for your specific situation now when it comes to thyroid management by your doctor it’s really

Not an individual approach it’s really a cookie cutter type of a treatment paradigm and what i mean by that is everyone gets the same treatment regardless of age regardless of medical conditions you name it right it doesn’t really matter no matter what if you have low thyroid you’re getting put on level thyroxine but what might may surprise you is that there are a

Ton of other thyroid medications in fact last i counted i think was like eight to ten something like that so really everyone’s getting one medicine when there are six to you know eight more different or various types of thyroid medications on the market so you should be aware of that is it the right medication for you it may very well be the case that it is not

The right case for you or that is not the right medication for you and there are other options which would be far better for you and we’ll talk about some of these as we go in just a minute here so that’s number one then number two is what if it is the right medication for you but have you waited long enough all right now this is something that i i really want

Thyroid patients to understand and that is whenever you treat thyroid function and this includes with supplements this includes with medications etc it takes a long time for the whatever you do to sort of take effect in the thyroid and in the body in fact that’s probably around four to six weeks okay weeks here let me put that here so you guys can see it so we’re

Talking four to six weeks whenever you make a single change you won’t even see the impact for that amount of time later okay so imagine you start taking thyroid medication and you’re only you know seven days 10 days 14 days into it and you’re sitting there sort of impatiently wondering why you haven’t lost any weight it could just be a matter of time okay now to

Complicate this a little bit further you have to understand as well that this is how long it takes to see a change based off whatever dose you’re taking but most of the time the dose isn’t correct right away okay so you can multiply this by three to four times or however many times you need to adjust your dose so your doctor will make a change like let’s say put

You on 100 micrograms of t4 then you have to wait four to six weeks to see if that’s right for you it may be too much it may not be enough then they’ll make another change right then they’ll increase it let’s say increase it to 125 then you have to wait another three to four weeks so you can see what i mean it actually takes quite a while i would say most patients

Don’t even get dialed in on the right dose for them if they do it all for probably six to twelve months okay so time is really an important factor here when you’re talking about whether or not it’s going to work for you the next question is are you taking enough and this really comes back to what i was just explaining here if it very well could be the case that

Level thyroxine is right for you how and and perhaps uh you have waited uh long enough in this situation but perhaps you’re not taking enough of it right so it could very well be the case that your doctor puts you on 100 micrograms and your tsh went from let’s say 5.2 and it dropped down to something like 3.6 and it’s it’s improved but it’s not all the way there

Yet so it could very well be the case that you just simply need more of that medication now again it’s kind of hard to determine are you somebody who needs to just wait longer and to adjust your dose or is it simply not right for you as we mentioned in the beginning so you kind of have to play that one by ear and that’s why you need to take an individualized

Approach to each person and then the last thing i want you to ask is it do you think that the thyroid medication you’re taking in this case level with heroxin is actually getting into your system is it being absorbed by the body now you probably know this because your pharmacist has probably told you this but when you pick up your thyroid medication it has a

Whole list of instructions on how to take it correctly and i find a ton of thyroid patients are just simply not taking it correctly they take it with food they take it with coffee they take it first thing in the morning they take it with supplements all of these things can interfere how well or how much is actually getting into your body if you take it correctly

And you’re taking the right dose it can make a huge difference in terms of how you’re feeling in fact simply changing what time of day you take your level of thyroxine can make a big difference by itself so you have to think about it is it actually getting into your system i’ll create a video just specifically on this topic because there’s probably eight to ten

Things that you should be aware of as a thyroid patient um but i want you to at least ask yourself that it very well very well could be the case that it’s right for you you’re on the right dose you’ve waited long enough but because you’re taking it let’s say with coffee or something like that it’s just not getting into your system and if you just made that one

Little tweak boom there you go your your thyroid function will increase uh your metabolism will go up and all of a sudden now you’re losing weight so think about that okay so let’s talk for a second about level thyroxine versus other thyroid medications so if you remember in the beginning i sort of talked about it and i said there’s a lot of different types of

Thyroid medications so i want to come back to that and explain what i meant so there are two general broadly speaking there are two different types of thyroid hormone that you can be prescribed there are other thyroid hormones available in fact some available over the counter like t2 but when it comes to prescription medications there are two types and there are

The types that are t4 and the types that are t3 and what that means is these medications contain those hormones now t4 medications that contain t4 including by the way level thyroxine levothyroxine is a medication which contains only t4 this these medications are not as powerful as medications which contain t3 and that is because t4 is not available to be used

Right away by the body it requires an extra step to turn into t3 so a lot of people have trouble turning it into t3 a lot of people simply aren’t taking enough dose et cetera but what i want you to understand here is that if you take a medication which contains t3 you don’t have to worry about that activation process okay you’re taking the medication that’s the

Most powerful and you’re getting it right into the body you’re getting it right into your cells and it’s doing the job that you want okay so when it comes to weight loss for most people medications which contain t3 or at least a component of t3 or t3 only are far more effective at weight loss than those that contain t4 like levothyroxine so let me give you some

Examples so this sort of makes a little more sense so medications like ndt that includes armor thyroid or nature throat etc they have some t3 in them therefore they are often going to be better than level thyroxin at helping patients lose weight another example would be cytomel okay cytomel is a t3 only medication and it is again far more effective at um helping

Patients lose weight because it contains prt3 it doesn’t even have any t4 armor thyroid and ndt they have they have mostly t4 actually and some t3 in there as well so i want you to understand that concept but just because t3 generally speaking tends to be more effective at for weight loss doesn’t mean you can’t lose weight on t4 only like levothyroxine synthroid

Tyrosine etc so i’ve had plenty of patients who have taken these medications done very well lost weight on them you know they don’t have to add t3 or ndt2 uh to the mix there but i want you to understand the distinction between these two types of prescription medications that are available to you as a thyroid patient okay so lastly what i want to touch on um

Would be people who tend to do best on t4 so how do you know if you’re somebody who should just give level thyroxine more time or if you should change you know how how you’re taking it to see if it gets into your system a little bit better uh or what time of day you’re taking it etc so this is sort of a rough list of all the people in my experience that i’ve

Seen who tend to do pretty well on level thyroxine just right off the bat so i have this list of those people who are and i’m gonna put we’ll talk about these one by one the first would be those who are treatment naive and really what i mean by that is just people who haven’t used thyroid medication period in the past ever right so these patients are people who

Haven’t tried anything else if you are somebody who has tried already synthroid level thyrox and et cetera and isn’t working for you well guess what it’s probably not going to work for you if you try again the third or the fourth or the fifth time okay even though doctors will do that to you believe it or not so if you haven’t tried anything for the first time

It’s usually best to start with level of thyroxine simply because it’s it’s easily tolerated by the body there’s far fewer side effects it just allows you to sort of get into thyroid hormone management you know a lot easier so if you haven’t had any treatment those people tend to do bet do better on um level thyroxine and in helping with weight loss and so on

Another group of people who tend to do better on level their oxygen would be those who are sensitive to medications which contain t3 so you’ll know who i’m talking about if you’re listening to this i’m talking about people who have tried even low low low doses of ndt like armor thyroid or lyothyrone or cytomel and they just don’t respond well to it they feel jittery

They feel anxious their heart rate you know goes through the roof they have heart palpitations etc there are lots of people who simply just cannot tolerate any thyroid medication with t3 due to how sensitive their body is to it okay so if that’s you then you’re going to have to use t4 only medications uh by virtue of the fact that you can’t tolerate the other ones

Right the next group of people would be anyone who is sensitive in general to medications and supplements i’m talking all types of medications all types of supplements now i’ve had the opportunity to treat a lot of patients in this category and again you know who you are if you’re listening to this i’m talking about people who you know take the recommended dose

Of tylenol or ibuprofen and it’s just way too much of them or somebody who takes one capsule of benadryl and it gives them energy instead of you know calming them down and helping them sleep at night or you know fixing runny nose or whatever it is so these are people that just tend to be really sensitive to all types of medication remember what i said before

T4 like level thyroxine uh that tends to be better tolerated by the body it it uh it requires that extra activation in the step by the body so this just seems to be a more mild version of thyroid hormone so if you’re sensitive to t3 or you’re sensitive in general to medications and supplements this will probably be the best place for you to start doesn’t mean

You can’t add those later but starting there tends to be best okay um the people another group of people who do best on level therapson would be those people who also don’t have other chronic illnesses okay so i’m talking about things like other autoimmune diseases so let’s say you have hashimoto’s thyroiditis you also have vitiligo you have high cholesterol you

Have high blood pressure you’re you know 30 pounds overweight or whatever it is those all stack on top of each other and each chronic illness that you have makes it more likely that t4 is not going to work for you okay so put in another term let me rephrase that the more sicknesses or illnesses you have the less likely level thyroxine is to help you with weight

Loss okay the more likely you are to need that t3 and that cytomel to get to those to your weight loss goals because all of those illnesses impact that conversion process right all those things stack on top of each other make it much less likely that your body will take that t4 and activate it into t3 so that’s another group of people and then another group of

People who tend to do well on t4 are those people who have who are seeing pretty immediate results with it okay so remember i said in the beginning it takes about four to six weeks to see improvement that is true generally but some people a a fair i would say maybe 10 15 20 of people who start thyroid medication see at least some improvement much quicker than

This so if you were somebody who let’s say started levothyroxine and you’re starting to see improvements in how you feel in just two to three weeks or two to four weeks that’s a really good sign right that means that your body is able to use it it’s activating it and so on but if you’ve been on it for let’s say three four five months and haven’t noticed a single

Thing that’s a bad sign right that means that regardless of probably how you tweak your dose what time of day you take it and so on it’s probably not going to have the desired effect that you’re looking for so how sensitive you are to feeling improvement on it and how quickly that those improvements come is another good valuable tool that you can use to determine

If it is right for you and that’s um that’s the com that’s the list of people that i would say if you fit on this category or any into any of these categories you should consider using level thyroxine over these other medications it’s easier to get it’s a little safer to use in terms of side effects and so on it’s a little more mild as well so start with these um

And i want to hear from you guys as well now are you seeing any weight loss on level thyroxine in fact have you seen weight gain i have an entire video that talks about how level thyroxine can actually contribute to weight gain and it has to do with this conversion process as well so have you lost weight on level thyroxine are you gaining weight on level thyroid

Or have you noticed no difference let me know and kind of tell me a little bit about your story below and if you haven’t already make sure that you download my free thyroid pdf resources i have tons of information tons of resources all like this designed to help thyroid patients like you feel better that’s sort of my goal here so leave your questions below and

Otherwise i will see you guys in the next one

Transcribed from video
Losing Weight on Levothyroxine: Why it's Not Working and How to Fix it By Dr. Westin Childs