5 Ways to Cope with a Slowing Metabolism

by Trinh Le, MPH, RD
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5 Ways to Cope with a Slowing Metabolism

Most of us, particularly if we struggle with our weight goals, have blamed the dreaded “metabolism” monster: “It’s too slow,” we say. We often target it as a common weight-loss enemy without truly knowing the factors that play into metabolism—and whether or not we can change them.

3 Major Things that Determine Your Metabolism

Metabolism refers to the process of converting the calories you eat into energy to power all of your bodily processes. Your metabolism determines the amount of calories you can eat all day and still maintain your weight. It’s affected by three major things:

  1. Basal metabolic rate (BMR): Tells you the number of calories needed to maintain your body in a rested, fasting state. It’s affected by your gender, age, size, muscle mass, genetics and health-related factors. Your BMR accounts for 60-70% of the total calories you burn each day.
  2. Activity level: Tells you the number of calories you use up during exercise. Your activity level accounts for about 20% of the total calories you burn each day.
  3. Food thermogenesis: Tells you the number of calories you need to digest and absorb your food. It accounts for about 10% of the total calories you burn each day.

Anything that affects the three major things mentioned above would change the amount of calories you need to maintain your body weight. Your basal metabolic rate is adaptable, and it will increase or decrease to provide for your body’s needs. For example:

  • Your metabolism dials up and burns more calories during a fever or infection to help you heal.
  • Your metabolism dials down and burns less calories during a long fast to conserve calories and prevent you from wasting away.

How Aging Affects Metabolism

If you’re a healthy adult, your metabolism is likely a-okay. Instead of blaming thyroid diseases, relatively rare culprits of a slowed metabolism, you should consider how aging slows metabolism—and implement strategies to fight back. Aging happens to everyone, and it’s usually accompanied by a decrease in BMR. Why?

Our BMR is naturally at its highest during childhood and adolescence, mainly because we need the extra calories to grow and mature into adulthood. Once we reach our 20s, this phase is complete and our BMR levels off. The trend here on out is sneaky, steady weight gain over the course of decades. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed the weight-gain trends of 120,000 participants for up to 20 years. Scientists found that participants gained about 3.4 pounds (1.5 kilograms) each over a four-year period, which translates to a gain of 16.8 pounds (7.6 kilograms) over 20 years.

The biggest issue isn’t so much the weight gain, but the type of weight we tend to gain as we age; most of us tend to lose lean muscle mass and correspondingly replace it with fat. In a typical young adult, lean muscle mass makes up about 50% of total body weight, which declines to about 25% of total body weight when that individual reaches 75-80 years old. Having lower lean muscle mass decreases our BMR since, pound for pound, it takes more energy to maintain muscle compared to fat.

Don’t get me wrong! Having a protective amount of fat is a good thing, especially when we hit an older age, which is why adults aged 65 and older are advised to maintain a BMI between 25 to 27, instead of the 18.5 to 24.9 recommendation for the rest of us. The goal, of course, is to maintain as much lean muscle mass as possible since doing so would…

  • Stop your BMR from declining. It has been shown time and again that BMR naturally decreases as we age. But, if you can maintain or build upon the muscle mass that you have, you’ll have a higher BMR (compared to if you took no action).
  • Preserve your muscles’ ability to propel you through all of life’s activities. Even if you don’t care about your metabolism, aim to maintain and build muscle because this allows you to live your life to the fullest. Muscles are involved in every movement you make, from playing with your child to carrying a load of groceries.

Ways to Combat a Slowing Metabolism

  1. Aim to strength train at least 2-3 times per week (hint, hint: This is the most important tip!). Whether you’re a gal or guy, prioritize weight lifting in your exercise plan. Adding muscle mass increases your BMR, allowing you to burn more calories even when you’re not exercising. If you’re a newbie to strength training, check out So You Want to Start…Strength Training.
  2. Ramp up the intensity of your aerobic exercise (think running, swimming, biking faster). Exercising at higher intensities allows you to reap the benefits of “after burn,” a phenomena where you burn extra calories post-exercise. To benefit from this effect, you should run, jump, dance, swim, bike, etc. at a pace where it’s difficult to talk. If you can push a little harder, then do so.
  3. Eat enough protein from high-quality sources. High-quality protein sources supply amino acids to your muscles post-exercise so that they can repair and grow. To learn more about how to determine your protein needs, check out this Beginner’s Guide to Protein.
  4. Stay well hydrated. Water is important because all of the chemical reactions in your body requires water—including the ones that burn calories. To work on drinking more water each day, check out 20 Lifehacks for Drinking More Water.
  5. Don’t starve yourself in order to lose weight. You need to consume a moderate amount of calories in order to lose weight. If you eat a significantly low amount of calories, you’ll lose weight rapidly but much of it will be from water and muscle loss. Plus, you’ll likely lose hard-earned muscle mass that’s responsible for maintaining a higher BMR.

Do you have a slowing metabolism? How do you cope with it? Share your tips and tricks below.

Related

  • Jill Menyuk

    Not sure what you mean by thyroid disease being a “relatively rare culprit,” for slowed metabolism. Are you saying that hypothyroidism is rare, or that hypothyroidism rarely slows the metabolism?

    • Aroop Kundu

      if u can’t follow that then i guess u are hypothyroid( cz they are slow people in general) … either that or ur the forest gump

    • M. Guy

      I’m another person, but anyway, I have hypothyroidism so I know a bit. It’s rare in the young, and infrequent in men. In middle aged and older women it is actually very common. It requires medication, but even medicated, you aren’t the same metabolically as a person without the disease. It’s very not fun.

      • Jill Menyuk

        I’m right there with you (just shy of 40, hypothyroid), and I agree – so not fun.

        • tgood1804

          I’m only 29 and have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. This is the second article in 24hrs I’ve read telling me to stop blaming my thyroid. Where do these authors get the idea that it’s rare?

          • Penny O

            My thyroid started failing when I was 30!

          • zenzan76

            same!!

      • carey

        Definitely not fun, and comes with its own challenges that people without it may not quite experience. I have had hypothyroidism since I was a kid (diagnosed at 15), and am now 39. I found that no matter what the scale says, to always eat and exercise for health. Consume real food (and limit frankenfood/junk food, including ‘diet’ products), and keep on moving.

  • Aroop Kundu

    great article… very few people actually know this… that’s why they would mindlessly go running 7 days a week when they should have been hitting the gym

  • Regina Barwick

    I like to ride my bike and since I live in a touristy beachy area I have access to the beach and I also enjoy boogie boarding. I have to work at eating healthy protein. I love love love my vegetables and fruits and prefer them but I always add some kind of protein…..lean ground beef (93%), chicken, mild fish (sole, tilapia), stronger fish (salmon, sardines), shellfish (shrimp, clams). The hardest part of maintaining my weight as I experience my metabolism slowing (i’m 49) is the eating part. I used to be able to pretty much eat anything I wanted due to a very high metabolism as a youngster. I have found that eating for my body and for fuel is much much harder than just eating whatever I feel like just because. I do it though because i feel the difference on a daily basis. I do occasionally (about once a week) eat something fun (donut, candy bar, ice cream cone, cake…ha ha…I have a sweet tooth) As far as exercise goes I thoroughly enjoy getting outside whether its biking, walking or playing in the water at the beach. I definitely do not like running but I feel like i get small spurts of aerobic exercise from boogie boarding and biking (trying to catch up to my 15 yr old son). It is a daily thing…not a diet thing

  • Melissa-Great question. It absolutely works for women, too. As a runner, I’m all about the cardio, but as a personal trainer I know that strength training is very important. The 2-3 day a week guideline is accurate, but to start 1 day is fine. You won’t “bulk up,” I promise! In fact, as women age and go through menopause we REALLY need to strength train or we can gain several pounds due to hormonal changes. The two most important things to consider with strength training are 1.) To use the correct weight (one you can use for 8-15 reps MAX with proper form) and 2.) To give yourself 48 hrs rest between sessions. Hope this helps 🙂

    • M. Guy

      48 hours between lifting? not 24? uhoh…. I could be messing up. I’m lifting every other day.

      • Kirsten Weinzierl

        Every other day would be 48 hours if you worked out at the same time. Example Weight Lift at 8:00 am on Monday, Tuesday do cardio, Wednesday weight lift at 8:00 am. That would be 48 hours 😉

  • M. Guy

    Lift heavy weights. That’s the only thing that seems to make a serious difference when your metabolism is tanking due to age and metabolic illnesses. (and, naturally, see your doctor!)

    • dolbydog

      Not for me. I started an intense weight training program nine months ago and have only gained weight, definitely not muscle mass. For the first six months I had apparently been lowering my BMR by only eating 1000 calories a day. I started eating 1200-1300 each day for the past three months and the weight only continues to rise. Weight training was what used to help, now I am out of tricks and confused about how to lose weight effectively since I am right on the cusp of not eating enough. I seriously don’t know where to go from here.

  • Jeneba

    My tip? Get your thyroid tested, especially if you have always been active but have noticed a drastic decrease in your desire to move. Some of this is not due to “normal” aging.

    • L.Carhart

      Agreed. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease at 25 and, two years later, I still have relatively normal thyroid levels, which means I’m one of those lucky people who feels all of the symptoms of hypothyroidism (including weight gain, bloating, fatigue, etc.) but since my levels are normal, I can’t be medicated which makes losing weight (even with strength training 3 days/week) a real pain.

      Thyroid issues are a real issue and aren’t as rare as you claim them to be – I highly encourage everyone to get your thyroid checked regularly, especially if you have a family history of thyroid issues.

      • Georgia

        I completely agree. I was told I had Hashimoto as well and last 3 tests were normal though I have never been bigger. I have all the symptoms but the reading is normal. Dieting and haven’t lost anything apart from patience.

        • Jeneba54

          Isn’t it amazing what Some People think is “normal?” What I have found is that the thyroid condition sometimes comes along with other complications such as low cortisol, sugar processing issues, etc. I have been consulting a functional medicine doctor who “colors outside the lines…”

      • TravelingOne

        Your doctor could … and should …. still treat the disease. Armour could help. Check out a great book by a doctor: what your doctor may not tell you about hypothyroidism. Dr Ken Blanchard.

  • margaret65

    What Jeneba said test your thyroid. I know the lady in the article sai it’s rare but it isn’t as rare as people think. Once you gain weight due To low thyroid it is twice or more as hard too lose it.

    • Jeneba54

      It is absolutely astonishing how prevalent this condition is…. The allopathic medical community is so behind in addressing the issue that their behavior has spawned a patient advocacy movement like no other.

  • Francis

    In 2007 I had to have chemo and radiation, and in 2 years time I gained around 50#. Due to my life saving process my thyroid stopped working and I had to start meds for that and my heart. In the last few years I’ve been struggling to get the weight off. I diet and exercise but with very little success. Any suggestions???

    • cynic728

      A functional medicine dr. recently suggested that I might have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. I have been on Synthroid since 2008. I had my blood tested and do have it; he suggested a Paleo diet which I have just started. Dropped 5 lbs. the first week which was probably water. Now it is creeping down, but I have read that leaky gut frequently accompanies hypothyroidism and that the weight will come off once things get back into balance which could take several months. Added Vitamin D, B-Complex and Probiotics to help with the gut. Drink warm lemon water with 1 tsp. ACV (up to 1 tbs. as you get accustomed to the Apple Cider Vinegar) upon waking. Lemon water will get things moving as your digestive system slows with hypothyroidism. ACV will help with balancing acid in stomach which many of us have too little of as we age. Good luck!

  • Lorna Skyers

    I have found these comment very interesting. I too have had chemo and radiotherapy, finished treatment in November 2014. I have been incredibly tired and know my body has had a battering, I have gained a stone and a half. I have started cycling again and trying to get back some fitness, but the painful joints don not help any ideas?

  • Nanny+

    I really swear that my metabolism is dead. I’ve been tested by my primary care doctor as well as an endocrinologist and they say my thyroid is normal. Well, tell me why I’m always cold, my skin is very dry, I’m tired all the time and I can gain weight just looking at a picture of food? I’m in my mid-60s and started doing Cross Fit exercises about three years ago. I did manage to lose 30 lbs. but I was so hungry all the time, trying not to eat, and it took me more than a year to lose that weight. I still had another 5-10 lbs. to go when my Cross Fit gym closed so I started going to a regular gym. I do the elliptical, all the weights and get in some yoga classes and try to integrate some Cross Fit exercises in my regimen, but 20 lbs. have crept back on. I am depressed and befuddled and I guess I have to face the fact that I’ll never get down to the weight I want to. Any suggestions anyone can offer would be greatly appreciated.

    • TravelingOne

      Different doctor? Seriously. Get your test results to start. Many doctors and labs seem to be using outdated numbers . Get your tsh. Free t3 and free t4. Tsh should be below 3. Mine was up to over 17. Plus the doctor said just under 6 .. When the society of endocrinologist changed that in 2003. Read up on it too. Doctors just want to subscribe synthroid… which in a study helped only half the people. Get a combo of Armour and synthroid to match the natural levels of t3 and t4 in humans. Good luck.

      • Nanny+

        Thanks

      • Nanny+

        The last time I got my thyroid tested for which I have the results was 3 years ago. They did a Free T4 which was 1.11 and the TSH was 1.20, which I was told were all normal. I got this from my family doctor. Last December I went to an endocrinologist and they told me the rates were normal also, though I never got a copy of the results.

      • davedave12

        she does not need any drugs from an amateur

    • Rebecca

      Get your vit. D level checked

      • Nanny+

        I am taking 1,000 i.u. of Vitamin D, and I live in the south where I’m exposed to a lot of sun.

        • NudeDude

          Go get a full panel done again. I’m a nudist and I still needed to boost my Vitamin D for 12 weeks to 50K iu per week then supplement 2000 iu per day. Also get your testosterone checked.

          • Nanny+

            Will speak to my doctor about this when I see him next month!

          • NudeDude

            Hopes and prayers for you 🙂

          • Nanny+

            Thank you. I totally appreciate that!

      • Nanny+

        I was told a few years ago that my Vitamin D level was low, so I’ve been taking 2,000I.u. every day since. I was told my weight gain is due to my weight. SHEESH.

    • Nanny+

      Thanks for the suggestions, but I’ve come to the point where I realize one has to have complete control over their own health and not rely on their doctors. We know our own bodies and when something is wrong. It’s just a pain that the doctors don’t want to listen. Most of the time they just want to pass out some stupid pill and get you out of their office. Argh.

    • Lady E.

      Have your Resting Metabolic Rate tested if you haven’t. I had to pay for it out of pocket – about $50, but it was useful to see real numbers. It turned out I wasn’t eating enough (which may be the best thing a doctor ever told me).

      • Nanny+

        How is your resting metabolic rate tested? Blood tests or what?

        • Colleen Voet

          My HMO (Kaiser Permanente) offers BMR testing, $50 for members and $75 for non-members. It involves being at rest, breathing into a machine for about 10 minutes. The result is a printout that tells you your base metabolic rate in calories, what your weight-loss range is, what your maintenance range is. Mine was about 1600 calories, which was “normal” (low normal) but far below other calculations based on age, weight, and activity level. It put my weight loss goal at about 1400 calories/day.

          • Nanny+

            Thanks, I’ll check into getting this done!

      • Denise

        I’m interested in where and how you go about having this Resting Metabolic Rate done? Does your PCP do this? Or what?

    • Itari

      Testosterone will fix your problem and it. Sounds to me like you ruined your metabolism starving your self doesn’t promote healthy weight loss meet your macros and stay in a caloric deficit but not by much maybe 3 to 500 calories less than your daily intake if there’s still no results increase your cardiovascular training by 15 to 40 minutes keep your heart rate above 130 to 140 if you can eat thermogenic foods and high protein also good fats all these encourage your body to speed up your metabolism and trick you’re body from burning muscle to burn fat instead it should work no matter how old someone is. The main reason why we lose muscle as we get older is because of testosterone levels decreasing over time so consume foods that provides high testosterone as well

      • Nanny+

        But wouldn’t testosterone cause me to develop male tendencies…i.e., facial hair, deepening voice, etc? I’d be somewhat afraid of this, but it’s something to think about! Thanks.

    • Blessed to be 65!

      Dear Nanny+…consider bio identical hormone replacement..thyroid and female hormones plus proper diet. Consider Hotze Wellness, Katy, Tx. for consultation. This helped me with diet and exercise! Also, research Doug Kaufman’s (Know the Cause) phase 1 and phase 2 diets.
      best wishes! “Blessed to be 65”

      • Nanny+

        I was thinking of seeing someone about bioidentical hormone replacement, but I don’t know if there’s anyone around my area that does this. I’ll have to check into it. Thanks for suggesting it.

        • Jen

          To Nanny+
          Get your Reverse t3 checked, done through regular blood test, any dr. Can order it.

    • FEDUP

      You are still down ten pounds don’t give up. It gets harder to lose weight when you reach your 60’s. Stay focused you can and will get down to the weight you desire. No pain without gain.

      • Nanny

        Thanks for your comments. It’s not only difficult to lose the weight, but keeping it off is horrendous!!! ARGH!

    • davedave12

      Losing 30 pounds in a year is awesome — that is 60 pounds in two years. Keep an honest and accurate food diary for a month. What snacks are you eating. Do you eat in restaurants? Do you drink calories? Fruit – solid good, juice bad. Coffee or tea — cream and sugar bad — Use small plates and dishes with small portions, eat slowly

    • Bleym

      Also have a B12 level checked-I was having problems with fatigue, some hair loss, not restful sleep, multiple other signs of thyroid dysfunction but all my levels were very much normal. My nurse practitioner suggested the B12 check. It’s a very wide range for normal, she and my physician decided to have me supplement with injections once a month for 6 months and then retest. I have been able to get back to exercising 5x per week and getting restful sleep, feeling much better! Good luck to you-

  • Gary

    How do you know what your BMR is? Is there a formula like for BMI?

    • robinbishop34

      Just google “basal metabolic calculator.” Once you’re BMR is figured you then apply the Harris Benedict equation to it to figure your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). In other words, you multiply your BMR by a certain number based on your daily activity level and it spits out and estimate of how many calories you need to maintain your current weight.

      For weight loss, you would deduct 20% of this number as your daily calorie limit. If your TDEE was 2500 then multiply that number by 0.20 to get 500. Deduct the 500 from the 2500 to get a maximum of 2000 calories a day.

      Make lean proteins (fish, chicken, eggs, turkey, beans, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, etc) and healthy fats (avacado, olive oil, seeds, nuts, nut butters) a priority and fill the rest with low glycemic carbs (vegetables, oatmeal, whole wheat, fruit, quinoa).

      All you need is a notebook, calculator, digital kitchen scale, and the ability to read food labels. Follow this and fat will fall off like a stone.

  • riley6683

    I haven’t seen sleep mentioned as a way to combat low metabolism. I’ve found that inadequate sleep (less than 6 hours in my case) adversely impacted my weight loss and even caused me to gain weight. Once I corrected my sleep for at least two weeks my weight loss resumed.

  • TravelingOne

    Thyroid diseases are not “relatively rare”; estimates are they impact about 12 to 15% of adults.

    • Zanna Tangen

      yes. I can’t believe I read that. “relatively rare” ?? Are you kidding me??

  • Judy

    Journal, write down everything you eat or drink. Depression can lead to over eating, sluggishness and weight gain. How much actual muscle mass do you have? How many calories do you consume , how many do you burn? Just fyi dont treat diseases you don’t have, promote health, clean eating, and prevent things you can. Treating for thyroid disease when you don’t have it can lead to serious conditions..thyroid cancer for one. Find another cross fit gym, or then “regular ” gym may have cross fit times. Hydrate, eat clean,journal and really be happy you don’t have issues with your thyroid yet!

    • Sandra Higginbotham

      Judy has given sound advice that everyone should adopt. I would also suggest reading some of the books written by Dr. Furhman: Eat To Live, Super Immunity, and Diabetes Without Drugs.

  • Chris

    I’m appalled at the notion of thyroid problems being rare, I’ve struggled for the last four years with my weight since RAI for Graves’ disease. Prior to that I never had a weight problem. The author of this article needs to do some real research!

    • Pam

      Chris I can relate totally. I also had RAI for Graves’ disease. I have been counting calories and using the elliptical 5 times a week for five months and lost 8 pounds!! So frustrating !!!

    • Zanna Tangen

      I absolutely agree with you. Appalled as well.

    • Nanny+

      Amen.

  • zebbie

    I am hypo and the only thing that truly works for me is jogging. I don know now that because I am on thyroid medication that if I have all symptoms of my thyroid being low I am low on Vit. D. I also agree with the other gentleman below that said even with medication that you will never be the same.

  • laxmom16

    I also have Hashimotos and was diagnosed in my 20’s. A bunch of my friends have it too so I don’t feel that it is uncommon. My teenage son was also diagnosed with the same thyroid disorder when he was 13. I did not know that young boys could get it but apparently they can! I changed primary dr.’s recently and the new one changed my meds by cutting the dosage dramatically. I told her that I felt it was to dramatic of a decrease but she insisted. I ended up gaining a bunch of weight as well as having some other symptoms that I was not happy about. In the end I went back to my endocrinologist and they upped the dose but I am still fighting trying to get the weight off.

  • jey

    Like I engage with the Cardio-exercise it helps me to burn more calories and with the vitamins that I take every day (Like biotin) it boosts my body metabolism. As I know good metabolism is one of the primary keys for weight loss because a body with proper metabolic rate will easily help to burn more fats and carbohydrates.

    You can also try, Hercules Krill Oil or Fish Oil it that can really help to reduce our weight. In my research I found a CURT PEDERSEN study. Because 2 grams of Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) every day for 6 weeks, can lose more than 2 lbs. of body fat. Fish Oil Supplements also decrease your appetite, it helps you stay full is
    that it is able to regulate the release of a chemical called serotonin.
    Serotonin helps to regulate your appetite and mood. This effect is also what gives
    fish oil its antidepressant benefits. I also believe that this benefit may also
    enable fish oil to stop sugar cravings.

  • Arlene

    I have been on hypothyroid meds for years And in my early 60’s. I make exercise and eating healthy a priority. Going to the gym right after work is a given. I’m at a good weight. This routine has slowly gotten me there. I like a couple of cocktails and chips, but I would pile on the weight if I didn’t work out and eat healthy meals. I stay away from white bread, rice, and pasta. Occasional potatoes mostly sweet potatoes, and whole wheat crackers. I make a lot of my own foods (bran muffins, vegetables). Try to use chicken stock to stew veggies instead of sauté in olive oil. Works for me. I agree with the strength training, yoga, and whatever works for you. Just move. Body aches will disappear, and a better attitude will appear because you are taking care of yourself.

  • LisaJ

    This must be what’s happening to me right now. I’m eating better than I was a couple of months ago, but the weight is coming off VERY slowly, and sometimes I even creep up again. It’s SO FRUSTRATING.

  • Karmen

    As someone who has been on medication since the age of 16 trying to get my thyroid to acceptable levels so I can lose weight (I am now 34), I am sick and tired of articles spurning hypothyroidism as an “excuse” for not losing weight. I maintain a diet netting between 1400 and 1600 calories a day, being very conscious of my protein/veggie/carb/fat percentages, all as per my doctor’s advice. I work out four to five days a week, netting at least 3 hours strength training and 3 hours cardio per week, plus at least an extra hour of strength or cardio, depending on my Saturday activity. I have not shed a pound in two years. I’ve only gone down one dress size in two years. Not a pants size, or a shirt size, just a dress size.
    The author of this article does realize the majority of people clicking on it searching for another solution are the “rare” people affected by hypothyroidism, right?

    • Nanny+

      Yikes, it’s depressing what you’re going through with all the exercising and low calorie diet. When I was 29 I went on a “crash diet” eating only 500 calories a day and doing an hour of exercise every day! Now this was 36 years ago when they didn’t know as much about the “perfect” diets and exercises they claim to know now to do the tric, which doesn’t!. And back then with what I did, it took me SIX MONTHS to lose 20 lbs. Go figure. I know there’s something wrong, so why am I having such a hard time? Argh!!!

    • Mandy

      I’m 53 and recently diagnosed with an under active thyroid, always a UK size 12 but now piling on the pounds around my stomach, my thyroxin levels are at an acceptable level now through medication but the weight gain is a real issue for me despite controlling / taking care of what I eat and do. You never think about these things until they happen to you and then it’s a big wakeup call and people shouldn’t make assumptions as to how or why a person might be gaining weight, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover 🙁

      • Sarah Ann Smith

        I spent 7 years doing what most US doctors suggested: using synthroid and similar synthetic TSH and T3 (liothyronine/generic Cytomel). I kept gaining weight and was exhausted even with 11+ hours of sleep. In May I changed to Armour, a porcine derived thyroid, and my life is back. My TSH-T3-T4 levels are about the same, and the difference is astounding.

  • Kristi47

    I am 47 and have been dealing with hypothyroid issues since I was 25. When I first learned of my condition in the mid-90’s, the medical mind-set was very much “just take this pill every day and you’ll be fine.” If you continue to gain (or not lose weight) why you’re just not trying hard enough – so try harder.” Thankfully, I am detecting that now years later, dr’s have come to change their tune a little bit and are not as dismissive as they used to be about what it’s like to live hypothyroid. For my part, I also try to get in 3 to 4 hours of moderate exercise per week and when it comes to eating, to remind myself I can’t eat like a typical 47 year old, but have to eat more (or less, actually) the way a 77 year old lady would. Even at that, weight loss is very slow – I was only down 6 lbs between annual dr. visits, but my bloodwork was all good and in normal ranges; no new meds needed. So, I must have hit on something.

  • Kari Rumbaugh

    For the negative responses of this dr’s article, I would like to ask if you ever got a second opinion from a Nature path? Have you ever had your Pituitary gland checked? Read up on it! You will find that most Medical dr’s arn’t in the business of curing people, but pushing their chemical poisons to make money off you.
    Issues relating to the pituitary gland will affect the blood test numbers regarding your thyroid. Don’t criticize this article until you’ve done your homework!
    Everyone is different and get different results, so you need to do a lot of research for yourself and figure out what does work. I know what worked for me! And it wasn’t Thyroid meds the medical Dr’s were pushing me to take! Good luck to you all!

  • Sherry

    It is a b—- to lose wt as you age. My doc compared past thyroid levels and even though I was just a touch low normal, my values had changed by half! She watches the levels pretty carefully – said sometimes in older people a single value may not tell all.
    But there was no promise of wt loss. My energy level was way better though. I work very hard at it too, and I understand the frustration. I am looking more for fit these days – and that helps.

  • carla

    After menopause it’s more effort to lose weight. I have had to adjust my exercise (jog spots as opposed to jogging) and pay more attention to weighing and measuring food. It’s not impossible.

  • Kelly Carter

    I’m no expert but I do read up on nutrition, fitness, etc. I advise everyone to read up on the part that our gut microbes play in not only our weight but our overall health. It’s absolutely astounding what early research is suggesting. I recommend an easy and enjoyable read by an Italian researcher:
    Exploring The Human Microbiome: Diet, Microbes and Western Diseases Kindle Edition by Fabio Piccini

  • DalalStreetKing

    This article helped me understand metabolism better. However, I didn’t understand one item:

    “Don’t get me wrong! Having a protective amount of fat is a good thing,
    especially when we hit an older age, which is why adults aged 65 and
    older are advised to maintain a BMI between 25 to 27, instead of the
    18.5 to 24.9 recommendation for the rest of us.”

    Can someone clarify why adults aged 65 and older need a protective amount of fat?

    Thanks.

    • Colleen Van O…

      I’m no dr but it, most likely, has to do with having a, “cushion”, In case you get sick. When we get sick we tend to undernourish ourselves. The excess poundage is for protection. Again, just my instinctive observation.

    • Angie unduplicated

      Hip fractures are a major morbidity factor for older people. The padding from extra weight prevents fractures of thinning bones.

      Extra muscle protects bones even better than extra fat does.

  • jane

    I don’t agree with this article for one reason. I am 63 years old. I have always been active, but as of late am having ankle problems, knee pain, arthritis in my joints and sciatica which is painful in my back and thigh area. Tell me how a person my age can run, jog, bike faster to lose weight? I’m lucky I can walk. I had joined a gym but have gained weight not muscle mass. It’s a small gym so there isn’t any pool.I also haven’t lost anything and I worked out 2 hours 3 days a week for months.Dr. says I have no trouble with thyroid but even if it’s on the low side they say it’s normal.Now I haven’t been to the gym for 2 weeks. I’m totally disgusted.By the way I do eat chicken for protein and veggie burgers and veggie dogs.I try to watch what I eat as I am mostly a vegetarian.I do not eat beef, lamb, fish or white breads or much dairy only yogurt.I have just started drinking pure dairy which has no additives of any kind but not regularly only once in a while. I take a multi vitamin too. I eat 2 meals a day and only eat fruit when I feel hungry in between but only plums, watermelon, berries, or nectarines but not more than 2 fruits a day.I definitely feel my metabolism is dead too. I did go to a nutritionist that tested me and says I’m on the very low end metabolism wise.
    Does anybody have any suggestions on where I go from here?

    • Liz Strause

      I would google chair yoga, and work on that, as well as get some little hand weights, or even water bottles and start lifting something heavy, which you can do seated. I’d also work on trying to eat more whole foods and leafy greens. Try and eat some vegetables at each meal. Not corn, potatoes, or beets, too high in glycemic index. You also may be eating too much fruit. If you are tracking your calories, you can see how many carbs you are eating. Try and have some tofu, beans, or hummus for your protein instead of veggie burgers and dogs which are high in sodium. Try taking baths in epsom salts and baking soda. 1 cup epsom salts 1/2 cup baking soda for joint pain. If you eat bread try giving in up for 3 days to see if you have an improvement. There may be something in your healthy diet that is causing inflammation in your body that may be increasing your discomfort and joint pain. If you can swing it, get a massage, or some body work. That can help get the energy moving in your system. be well

      ps i’d get another tsh test for your thyroid. most western doc’s will not do a full panel, you may still have thyroid issues EVEN if it doesn’t show up on the diagnostics. don’t give up.

      • jane

        thanks for your tips Liz 🙂 However I don’t like tofu. hummus., and dislike some of the bean groups. I never mentioned i am a good vegetarian cause I’m not I admit it. i don’t think 2 fruits a day is a lot. My nutritionist said I could have 3 a day but i don’t cause I know they are high in natural sugar. But I will try to take that bath w/ baking soda and epsom salt. I will look up the chair yoga too.I do lift weights at the gym already I usually work out 40 to 60 minutes on cardio and then lift weights on machines.I might as well resolve myself to the fact I’m getting old and thus the metabolism does really slow down.It’s yet another fun thing to getting old.. NOT!!!! but thanks again for your input.:)

  • Colleen Van Oudenaren

    I am a 56 year old female, have a hypo thyroid condition and just lost 28 lbs in 3.5 months
    I was taken off my blood pressure medicine and lowered my LDL cholesterol by 10 pts. in the first 6 weeks of that weight loss.
    I did this with nutritional cleansing (cellular fat cleanse, NOT a colon cleanse) and using products with super nutrtion and high protein to build up a lot of lean muscle. Willing to help anyone get started who is interested in doing the same.
    contact me at ecvo1224@gmail.com

  • swbabe

    I have had my thyroid tested since my thirties and I was always told that it is normal. Surprise, the “normal” being discussed is for a particular lab doing the testing. About six years ago I got the test again and my doctor said there is a problem. I couldn’t believe it because the numbers were the same. She said a woman my age should not have numbers like I had. I started taking a synthetic thyroid medication and I felt the best I’ve felt in years. I’m down 30 lbs and if I could stick to an exercise regime, it would be more. My thyroid numbers were 4.59 before medication, 1.5 after, which is where a woman my age should be. Losing weight, for me, requires me to exercise and I struggle with that, otherwise I would have lost more weight.

  • Diana

    If you are someone with a specific medical problem, obviously you need treatment from your MD, Naturpath, or other medical professional. For the rest of us, this is a sensible article. If you’re over 40, sarcopenia (age related muscle loss) increases ever year. This makes resistance training (weight lifting) very important. I am a 47 year-old woman and owner of a gym specializing in customized, private, personal training. I find that most women do not lift heavy enough weights to increase muscle mass. As a lifelong devotee to yoga, I can confidently say it has tremendous benefits for the body and mind, but it is not useful for burning calories for weight loss. And the elliptical? A waste of time (have you ever noticed how few fit people you see on them?). Weight train with short intense cardio bursts is the most effective. Look up High Intensity Interval Training. Most importantly: you can’t out train your diet; you can’t outrun your fork. Good luck!

  • Melanie

    These articles by “professionals” greatly disturb me. They throw everyone into a mix and assume we are all the same and our bodies can and must all work the same way. That assumptive thinking is just plain wrong. I am sick-to-death of these articles making everyone feel guilty or ashamed of their bodies for physical conditions that most of us just cannot do a blessed thing about. For some of us, our bodies, our genetics, our metabolisms just do not work the same as everyone else’s and we just have to accept ourselves for who and what we are and do the very best with what we have. You CAN be healthy and not be at the perfect BMI, as some study, dietitian, or doctor tells you must be. At 24 years old, I was 115 lbs. when my body decided to suddenly change — and I do mean quite literally from one night to the next. I didn’t know it at the time, but I have Polycystic Ovary Disease. From one month to the next, my previously very regular menstrual cycles disappeared for 2 years, I began having petit mal seizures, and in less than 3 months, I gained over 50 lbs. and I was eating less and less in an effort to lose the weight. I was eating 900 calories a day, working out 6 days a week and losing NOTHING. Doctor after doctor told me that I simply needed to eat less and exercise more. I have been on multiple physician-supervised diets and they all gave up when I lost negligible weight on their regimens. It was not until recently (I’m 51 now), following breast cancer treatment, that I found an endocrinologist and gynocologist who acknowledged what I had thought to be true for years. If you have PCOS, you are going to more than likely have a much, much more difficult time with weight management, be insulin resistant, infertile, and more than likely diabetic at some point in life. The endocrinologist I have now is also the first in 16 years of treatment for hypothyroidism to tell me I have Hashimotos. One would think that would be a very important thing for a patient to understand, but alot of doctors don’t make it their business to educate their patients. I have realized that I have to give up the fantasy of getting back to my bikini body and just be happy to be healthy. I know I have to continually stay on guard to stave off diabetes as long as I can and hopefully never have cancer recur again either. So, I eat a low-carbohydrate, mostly vegetarian diet, with lean, organic proteins; stay away from processed foods as much as possible; I haven’t had anything with real sugar in it (except maybe a slice of birthday cake once a year) in too many years to count; and I drink water almost exclusively. I have a regular 1100 calories per day — anything more and I begin to put on weight. I also work out 4-6 days a week depending on my schedule, doing everything from power walking to weight lifting and kickboxing. And guess what. I’m still 202 lbs. I’m about a size 12 and people can’t believe I weigh what I weigh when I tell them. But numbers don’t lie (usually). Statistically, though, I am pretty darn healthy. My bp stays about 110/60, total cholesterol of about 150, thyroid hormones are as close to perfectly balanced as they’ve been in 2 decades, and I’m physically as strong or stronger than I was at the birth of my first child (which doctors didn’t think I’d ever have). Sure, I’d LOVE to be a size 6 or 8 again, but I’m just happy to be healthy now. What I would really like to see the authors of these articles do, is to give people–women most especially–the permission to love themselves for who they are, to accept that we are NOT meant to all fit into a cookie-cutter world, and simply live to be the healthiest, happiest you that you can be. You CAN be healthy and beautiful and NOT be a size 2!

    • Quepasaelcato

      Such a long response. Can you give me the cliff notes? It started out good, lol.

  • biggvsdiccvs

    ‘Phenomena’ is plural, ‘phenomenon’ is singular.

  • Barbara Chisholm

    I exercise every day, ride my bike to work, walk the dog, etc. Do yard work, everything I can think of. I can still manage to gain weight! When I was young I did 3 hours a day of hard core exercise, and stayed the same weight, but now I am 49. Not good at all. I also take thyroid. But I heard that taking iodine might help. So, changed vitamins, so now I am taking in iodine (and vit D). If anyone has any suggestions, let me know!

  • Ann

    I am in the same boat. Thyroid meds for years- levels are normal, so I am told. I exercise hard 5 days a week, watch my diet and can’t lose weight, but now my mid section is expanding. I would like to lose 5-10 pounds but it’s impossible. I am 59 and take 5000 units of Vit d daily and calcium. I have osteoarthritis, had a hip replaced two years ago and have worked my dang tail off to look like I have some muscle. It’s just so discouraging at times. Help!

  • Will Calhoun

    I’m 31. Is my bmr significantly different than it was at 23? I feel like my environment (stress and responsibilities of adult life) might be the real reason why it feels harder to get in shape now. Thoughts?

  • Will Calhoun

    I’m 31. Is my bmr significantly different than it was at 23? I feel like my environment (stress and responsibilities of adult life) might be the real reason why it feels harder to get in shape now. Thoughts?

  • Will Calhoun

    I’m 31. Is my bmr significantly different than it was at 23? I feel like my environment (stress and responsibilities of adult life) might be the real reason why it feels harder to get in shape now. Thoughts?

  • Chris Bedowitz

    While I agree with you that weight training is important, it’s not really because it increases your BMR. A pound of muscle only burns about 4 more calories than a pound of fat per day (6 v 2), but the act of achieving that muscle burns lots of calories, possibly has some excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (raised metabolic rate even after your done), and definitely makes us more healthy.

  • Linda Allen

    I agree with everything here. In fact using these principles helped me lose 80+ pounds in my late 30’s and I kept it off a long time. Now, in my 50’s I’ve spent the last two years fighting some pretty debilitating “skeletal” problems. The truth is, my body will not do the things it used to. I’d love some good advice for how to work out when you’re challenged with physical problems in your back and legs.

  • Sarah Ann Smith

    What about if you DO have thyroid disease? After seven years and various combinations of synthetic thyroid, I am on Armour as of ten weeks ago, a naturally-derived porcine thyroid, and I feel like I have my life back. Even before that, though, I quit the low, lower, even lower calorie intake and have been trying very hard to lose weight gained as the thyroid disease progressed. I have lost 15 of 25 pounds, and progress is very slow, about 3/4 to one pound a week with an average daily calorie intake of 1400-1550 calories. I am 58 and moderately active (now that I am feeling better I can function instead of being constantly exhaused). What can you suggest for those of use who DO have thyroid disease (which isn’t really all that rare).

  • Valerie Meder

    Trinh Le is part of the problem, not the solution. Suggesting that women are “blaming thyroid diseases” for weight gain is ignorant of the medical data and insulting. She clearly has not experienced first-hand steady weight gain after childbirth or the age of forty due to inadequate T3 and T4 thyroid hormones and female hormone imbalance NOT because you don’t exercise enough or eat right. (You know who you are…killing yourself at the gym and subsisting on salads). Ladies: it is not in your head, as Ms. Le is insinuating. Find an MD or DO who will treat your failing thyroid with Armour Thyroid NOT synthroid or levothyroxine. Do your research and do not give up until you get results. You can reference. “Hypothyroidism, Health and Happiness,” by Steve Hotze. I suggest Ms. Le, the non-doctor with a Masters in PUBLIC HEALTH, do the same. Shame on you MyFitnessPal for perpetuating such ignorance.

  • Teresa Stark Riordan

    10 years ago I went on a fasting diet, I ate only 1 or 2 days a week, and then only one meal on those days. I lost 100 lbs in a couple months. When I went off the fast 1,000 cal a day put on almost 2 lbs a week.. that 100 lbs+ came back in short order. Went on WW and lost 120 lbs, and have kept it off but can not lose any more ..I work out 5 days a week and eat under 1500 a day

  • Nanny+

    Thanks to all for your suggestions. My doctor now has me scheduled for a sleep study believing that could be the root of my problems. ARGH

  • ibari

    Iam not sure if my metabolism is fast or slow i just know that I have been eating so healthy for weeks and training everyday i do Pilates .. but the intense one not the soft one.. and i have not lost a gram.. something which is very disappointing..

  • Berghorn Stonitsch Jackie

    Mayo clinic tested my metabolism n found I had the lowest on record (JAX) I was advised my daily regime was spot on but in order to drop the weight I would have to eat 500 Calories…….what??