Nestled in the middle of your lower neck is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that impacts nearly every cell in your body. Among many other important body functions, your thyroid plays a strong role in regulating your heart rate, your body temperature and your metabolism. Unfortunately, this also means that your thyroid helps control your weight. This leads many adults (especially women) wondering whether they can blame their thyroid for that climbing number on the bathroom scale.
While we know that thyroid disease is not the only cause of weight gain, it is a common medical condition that can certainly influence your weight if it is not managed and treated. According to the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, approximately 27 million people in America suffer from thyroid disease and 13 million people are currently undiagnosed. Your risk of developing thyroid disease becomes greater with age, and women are seven times more likely than men to be diagnosed.
How Thyroid Hormones Impact Metabolism
The thyroid gland releases hormones into your bloodstream that help regulate your metabolism. When the thyroid is not producing enough hormones, it is called hypothyroidism. This is the type of thyroid disease that is commonly associated with slow metabolism and weight gain.
Thyroid hormones impact fat metabolism and carbohydrate metabolism. In terms of fat metabolism, the thyroid helps your body burn fat for energy and raises your basal metabolic rate (BMR). If the thyroid isn’t doing its job, your BMR will be lower, which means you won’t be burning off as much fat as you should even when your body is at rest. When it comes to carbohydrate metabolism, your body needs thyroid hormones to stimulate the production of glucose so that it can break down carbs and use them for energy. Your brain also needs glucose for function and energy. Without sufficient thyroid hormones, your overall metabolism can’t work at full speed, which means your body can’t fully use food for energy and weight gain result.
Other Symptoms of Hypothyroid
How do you know if your weight gain is due to low thyroid? There is a blood test that can confirm or deny optimal thyroid function. However, hypothyroid often produces several other notable symptoms besides weight gain, including the following:
- Extreme fatigue
- Slow heart rate
- Dry, itchy skin
- Thinning hair
- Voice deepening
- Intolerance to cold
- Irregular menstrual cycles
Detecting a Low Thyroid After Weight Gain
If you are struggling to maintain a healthy body weight and suspect your thyroid is the cause, please schedule a visit with Dr. Brent Michael. Our office proudly offers thyroid testing and treatment. By treating low thyroid, we can help restore your energy, mood and overall well-being.