Your Thyroid and its Affect on Weight

Ball-jointed doll wrapped with tape measure on wooden backgroundWe have several systems in our bodies that work together to keep us healthy and feeling our best. One of these is the endocrine system, which is made up of glands that release hormones that control bodily functions like growth, reproduction and metabolism. Among these glands is the thyroid.

What does the thyroid do?

The thyroid gland is responsible for managing our metabolism, which is the system our bodies use to convert oxygen and food into energy. It does this by releasing hormones that regulate things like heart rate, breathing rate, body temperature, and how quickly we burn calories when we’re at rest.

How does the thyroid affect weight?

For most people, gaining or losing weight is the result of lots of factors, including diet, exercise, genetics, sleep, stress levels and hormone levels. But, when the thyroid isn’t functioning as it should (either making too much or too little hormone), then it can play a greater role in our ability to maintain a healthy weight.


When your thyroid doesn’t make enough hormones, you are said to have hypothyroidism. This slows down your metabolism, making you feel more tired than usual. People with hypothyroidism typically gain weight, even if they haven’t changed the way they eat. Other symptoms can include:

  • Feeling unusually cold
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Sadness or depression
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Constipation
  • Puffy face
  • Scratchy throat or hoarse voice


Hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid makes too much hormone, speeding up metabolism. This can make your heart beat faster, leaving you with nervous energy and irritability. People with hyperthyroidism often feel hungrier than usual, and most will lose weight, even if they don’t eat more than they normally would. Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism can include:

  • Sweating more than usual
  • Feeling unusually hot
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Shaky hands
  • Diarrhea
  • Pounding heart

Could my thyroid be to blame?

If you’re having symptoms of an over- or underactive thyroid, talk to your health care provider. He or she can order simple blood tests to figure out if your thyroid is performing as it should, and suggest treatment options, if needed.