Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid gland, which means that the gland can’t make enough thyroid hormone to keep the body running normally. People are hypothyroid if they have too little thyroid hormone in the blood. Common causes are autoimmune disease, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, surgical removal of the thyroid, and radiation treatment.

So, if you have hypothyroidism, and you’ve been looking for ways to lose weight. You’ve probably gone through countless different:

  • Diets (Keto, Atkins)

  • Supplements (iodine, selenium, and others)

  • Exercise plans

  • Doctors (“Just eat less!”)

But to no avail. However, what if I told you that it’s actually possible for you to achieve significant weight loss, and keep it off, despite your hypothyroidism?

In this post, you can expect to learn:

  • What hypothyroidism is

  • How to start a healthy weight loss journey with hypothyroidism

  • The best kind of exercise for thyroid patients

  • Different kinds of supplements for healthy thyroid function

But before we get to all that, who am I, and what makes me qualified to help you? I’m Igor Klibanov,  the proud author of seven different books on fitness and nutrition, and I’m also a personal trainer with many different clients who have hypothyroidism that I have helped in the past to lose weight and keep it off for good. It may be hard due to doctors not taking you or your concerns seriously, and giving the same cookie cutter advice as everyone else despite your body being different, but I am here to help you through your journey as you navigate to figure out what your body needs.

However, you might also want to understand what your condition is even about. This will give you a better understanding of yourself, and why your weight loss journey might look a little different than someone else’s

More on hypothyroidism. 

Hypothyroidism is a condition that affects your thyroid (a butterfly shaped gland in your neck) by causing it to underfunction. This happens when the thyroid gland does not secrete enough of an essential hormone responsible for the regulation of your body’s metabolism called triiodothyronine (T3). Some risk factors associated with hypothyroidism range from too little/much iodine, to surgical removal of some/all of the thyroid gland.

This can cause a variety of symptoms that you may be experiencing like:

  • Cold hands and feet (especially when others are comfortable)

  • Low energy levels, even though you’re sure you get enough sleep

  • Mental/brain fog

  • Thinning of the outer-third of the eyebrow

  • And difficulty losing weight/unexplained weight gain (ding ding ding!!! The reason you’re reading this article).

An autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis could also be the one to blame for your underactive thyroid, as this condition can cause periods of time in which your thyroid under functions. Luckily, both of these can be tested for and confirmed with simple blood tests.

Now that we know what’s causing your stubborn weight from coming off, let’s dive a little deeper and investigate the question of:


Hypothyroidism is a metabolic syndrome that plays a key role in controlling energy expenditure through temperature. Your BMR (basal metabolic rate) is how many calories you would burn if you didn’t move for an entire day. Think of it as your ‘coma calories’, the amount of energy your body would expend to keep all its intricate systems up and running if you were in a coma.

It’s been found that as much as two-thirds of those ‘coma calories’ are spent simply just keeping your body temperature around 36.5-36.8 degrees Celsius (97.7-98.2 degrees Fahrenheit). For example, let’s say someone’s BMR is 1800 kcal per day, about 1188 of those are spent on just keeping their temperature in an optimal range. However, for every degree drop in temperature, the body burns 10-13% less of those ‘coma calories’.

What this means for those with hypothyroidism is essentially this: you need fewer calories to simply exist than someone without hypothyroidism. In essence, your metabolism slows. This means that a calorie deficit for your healthy coworker could well easily be maintenance for you, hence the stalling of the number on the scale, and even some weight gain.

Even though hypothyroidism makes weight loss a little more difficult, it is still far from impossible, and this article is about to show you how.


Let’s get a couple things straight before we start:

  • Carbs, fats, sweets, and alcohol do NOT cause extra weight gain. It is the overconsumption of those calorie dense foods that do, and this is talked about extensively in my article on The (Un)Surprising Truth About Why We Get Fat.

  • Extreme calorie restriction is NOT the answer

  • Eliminating ANY foods from your diet for no reason is also NOT the answer (there may be a necessity in eliminating certain foods either temporarily or permanently, but it can’t be random).

  • Weight loss is ONLY achieved through a negative energy balance (calorie deficit), and any diet like keto or intermittent fasting is not magic

Now that we know what isn’t helpful, we can start identifying what is.


If your food intake looks a little like McDonalds burgers, processed foods, and soda, it’s no wonder that the number on your scale hasn’t budged, and it’s time to make some changes. So, what can you do? You can create a:


A calorie deficit is the only way in which weight loss can be achieved. By adjusting your energy intake to create a negative balance (calories burned > calories eaten), you can finally start to shed weight. Learning about the calories in your food can lead to a much better understanding as to why you’re not losing weight, even if what you eat every day looks like it’s not a lot of food.

Now, you may be asking, what is my calorie deficit? And to that, the answer would be, ‘it depends’. How long you will need to be in one is also a factor, but that also depends on things like how much weight you want to lose.

Choosing to work with a personal trainer can help you on your journey to discover what a deficit looks like for you, and how you can get there. Besides that, you can easily create one yourself by experimenting with foods that have a lower calorie density, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains (not to be confused with whole wheat or multigrain), and fat-free dairy. Other great examples of low calorie density foods would be soups (just not cream-based soups), and as far as desserts go, jello is a lot of volume, without a lot of calories.

On a related note, some of my clients found success in simply counting their calories as a weight loss tool. This approach allows you to be a little less mindful about your food, because as long as it fits in your calorie ‘budget’, it’s allowed, as long as it’s logged honestly.

You can choose which approach works best for you, but always remember that heavy restriction and obsessive calorie counting is also not the way. Entertaining these unhealthy urges can easily lead to much larger problems down the line. If you’ve jumped from diet to diet in the past, then my article on why You Don’t Need a Diet, You Need a Therapist would be for you.

Emotional, logistical and behavioral problems (like emotional eating, stress eating, lack of planning, and just buying the wrong things) aren’t solved with nutritional solutions. They’re solved with emotional, logistical and behavioral solutions.


We all love a good donut from time to time, but consuming refined carbohydrates and added sugars can really be hurting your progress. Now, there are no magical ‘instant fat gaining’ properties in either of these, but the simple fact of the matter is that they make you hungrier by spiking your blood sugar levels, and then subsequently crashing them.

This is what causes your cravings, low energy levels, and your inability to stop feeling like you constantly need food all the time. Limiting these can in turn cause you to easily feel more satisfied after meals, and less hungry in between them, resulting in less food consumed overall.

Now, this is not an automatic CUT ALL CARBS alarm. Simply limit low-fibre carbohydrates. Think things like white bread, tortillas, white rice, and breakfast cereals. By contrast, high-fibre carbs are A-OK. That’s things like whole grain bread and pasta (not to be confused with whole wheat or multigrain), beans, peas, lentils, fruits, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, and others.

However, that’s not to say you can’t have those foods while you’re losing weight, or even ever again at all. Of course you can have a pizza once in a while, but the key phrase here is once in a while. Think of it this way, the one day you have a pizza won’t outweigh the twenty days you’ve eaten in a deficit.


A staggering number of us neglect and struggle with our total protein intakes. This goes hand in hand with reducing your refined carbohydrate/sugar intake, as many people substitute what should be their protein sources with these foods.

Protein is a wonderful macronutrient, as it is the one that leaves you with that ‘satisfied’ feeling after a meal. In addition to that, it also leaves you fuller for way longer than a simple carb does. This leads to less snacking in between meals, and less cravings over time.

Another great thing about  protein is that it has a significantly higher thermic effect, which means that it can boost your metabolism, and help you burn up to 100 more calories a day. With a condition like hypothyroidism, you’re going to want all the help you can get, and this is exactly where you should get it from.

These are the three main pillars of any weight loss advice, but it just applies to people with hypothyroidism even more so.

That being said, let’s now go over some advice sometimes given to many thyroid patients specifically, and talk about how they apply to you.


If you want to read the rest of this article, visit HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT WITH HYPOTHYROIDISM

About the Author

Igor Klibanov is the author of 7 books on exercise and nutrition, and the CEO and founder of Fitness Solutions Plus. He is a sought-after wellness speaker, having delivered over 400 presentations to some of Canada's largest corporations. Get a free PDF version of his book, STOP EXERCISING! The Way You Are Doing it Now - http://www.fitnesssolutionsplus.ca/stopexercising