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Thyroid Diseases

Do Endocrine Diseases Hinder Weight Loss?

08/12/2008

Question:

I have gained nearly 50 pounds over the course of a few years. While my lifestyle was not all that healthy, my calorie intake wasn`t abnormally high. For the second time in the past few years, I am making a dedicated effort to lose weight: 1300-1500 calories a day (low fat, high fiber, high protein), 3 to 4 45 minute sessions of cardio and 3 hour sessions of strength/interval training with a trainer per week. I have made a dramatic lifestyle change but have only lost 1-2 lbs over 6-8 weeks. (This is similar to the weight loss I experienced with my previous attempt over 2 1/2 months).

Could testosterone/estrogen levels be at fault? Though I`m 26, I have no hair under my arms and severe menstrual migraines which make me wonder if hormones are a factor.

My thyroid hormone levels are normal - but should I see an endocrinologist? My triglycerides are 200, but my HDL is 89; otherwise, I am healthy. My doctor suggests I wait a few more months as endocrinology tests often report minor abnormalities that can send you on a wild goose chase. Her opinion is that in some people, even creating a huge calorie deficit will not spark the typical weight loss of one lb. per 3,500 calories. What do you think? Am I stuck with a "slow" metabolism?

Answer:

I think your doctor is right. There are only a tiny handful of endocrine diseases that cause weight gain, and they are very rare. In 25 years of having patients referred to me for difficulty in losing weight, not once have I found a disease, as such, that was the cause. I suspect that you are stuck with a body frame and metabolism that will require you to eat less than 1300-1500 calories a day in order to lose weight.

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Response by:

Thomas A Murphy, MD, FACP, FACE Thomas A Murphy, MD, FACP, FACE
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University