Weight loss after thyroid removal

Updated April 17, 2017

The removal of the thyroid gland, located just above the centre of the collar bone, is a major medical event that has a profound impact on many bodily functions. As the thyroid gland is responsible for maintaining and regulating metabolic function, one of the prime bodily functions affected by the removal of the gland is the ability to lose weight. Individuals who no longer have a thyroid gland may feel frustrated not only by the inability to lose weight as easily as before, but also by the rapid weight gain that is often experience after removal. However, there are steps that can be taken to help regulate weight for those without a thyroid.


The prime function of the thyroid gland, part of the endocrine system, is to regulate how the body utilises energy and its sensitivity to the other hormones produced across the system. When the thyroid is removed, typically due to uncontrollable hyperactivity or cancer, the body loses the control centre for energy use and hormone regulation. The result is effectively a full stop to burning energy in the form of sugars and the production of fat-synthesising proteins, leading to an increase in fat storage and weight gain.


There are certain steps an individual can take to help facilitate weight loss and prevent excessive weight gain after having their thyroid removed. Because the body loses the ability to handle these vital aspects, medication in the form of prescribed synthetic thyroid hormones must be ingested on a daily basis to ensure that metabolic function continues. These hormones, known best by brand names like Cytomel, ArmourThyroid, and Levoxyl, stimulate hormone regulation and energy utilisation, and are therefore instrumental in assisting weight loss and weight maintenance.

Diet Requirements

However, for most patients, taking synthetic hormones alone will not be sufficient for managing weight. Eating a diet that is high in protein and fibre and low in processed carbohydrates and sugars is also essential to weight loss. Since the body no longer has the ability to manufacture certain types of proteins, eating a diet that is rich in animal proteins like eggs and meats can help compensate for the deficiency. Also, being cautious of the amount of sugars ingested is also important due to the decreased capacity to turn the sugar into energy. Even with medication, the bodies of individuals without a thyroid will first attempt to turn ingested sugar into stored fat before it utilises it as energy.

Exercise Requirements

Daily cardio exercise and strength training is also a key element for weight loss after thyroid removal. At least 60 minutes of cardio daily is necessary to help the medications process ingested carbohydrates as well as deal with the easily accumulated stored fat. Strength training is also essential, as muscle burns calories continuously day and night and helps prevent the accumulation of fat.

Additional Nutritional Requirements

Weight loss after thyroid removal is also dependent on the proper amount of nutrients being available in the body. Taking a comprehensive multivitamin as well as adequate levels of chromium and B vitamins assist any synthetic hormones in their efforts to process sugars and prevent fat storage.

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About the Author

Nacie Carson is a professional development speaker and author who focuses on career evolution, entrepreneurship and the Millennial work experience. Carson's writing has been featured in "Entrepreneur," "Fast Company," "Monster" and "Chicken Soup for the Soul." Her book on adapting your career to the changing job market, "The Finch Effect," was published with Jossey-Bass in May 2012.