The Best Thyroid Medication for Weight Loss (+ Pitfalls you are making)

The Best Thyroid Medication for Weight Loss

Thyroid & Weight Gain

Thyroid patients often struggle with their weight. 

If you are reading this, and you have low thyroid or hypothyroidism, then you probably know what I am talking about. 

Your thyroid is one of the primary regulators of your metabolism

This is why people who have low thyroid or hypothyroidism end up gaining weight. 

Low thyroid leads to a lower than normal metabolism which ultimately results in weight gain. 

But why is it that so many thyroid patients continue to stay overweight DESPITE taking thyroid medication?

And why is it that so many thyroid patients continue to experience low thyroid symptoms DESPITE taking thyroid medication?

The answer to both of these questions is basically the same and it has to do with the type of medication they are taking. 

The truth is that some thyroid medications are better than others when it comes to losing weight and helping you to feel better. 

And that's exactly what we are going to talk about today. 

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The Best Thyroid Medication for Weight Loss? 

Is there a "best" thyroid medication for weight loss? 

One that stands above the others and one that you can reliably count on to help you lose weight when you take it?

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is no. 

But, there is definitely a class of thyroid medications which can give you a much higher chance of success in your weight loss efforts. 

And these medications work because they are much more powerful than standard thyroid medications. 

Which medications am I talking about?

Any thyroid medication which contains the active T3 thyroid hormone. 

T3 thyroid hormone is the most powerful thyroid hormone in your body and it's the one that you want to take if you are having issues with weight with low thyroid. 

How do you get T3? 

Fairly easy, actually. 

It's just a thyroid hormone and it's found in several types of thyroid medications. 

The most potent include:

T3 differs from T4 thyroid hormone medications like levothyroxine and Synthroid because it is active immediately upon absorption. 

Medications like levothyroxine must be activated before they can be used by the body. 

And this seems to make all of the difference in many thyroid patients. 

And I'm not the only one to suggest that T3 thyroid medications are superior when it comes to weight loss. 

We also have several studies which show that thyroid patients who switch to NDT medication (like Armour thyroid) lose weight even when switching from levothyroxine (1). 

It's important to note that this weight loss occurred without changing diet or exercise routines, as well. 

In addition to these studies, we also have data directly reported from thyroid patients which shows that they prefer thyroid medications with T3 in them compared to those with T4 only. 

A survey of over 12,000 thyroid patients illustrated this point perfectly

Thyroid patients taking NDT and T4/T3 combinations had fewer weight issues compared to those taking levothyroxine and Synthroid. 

It's pretty clear that if weight loss is your goal you should be taking a thyroid medication which contains T3. 

Understanding Dose

This is one huge area for confusion for many thyroid patients, so let me take some time to clear it up. 

I frequently hear thyroid patients complain that "X" or "Y" thyroid medication didn't help them lose weight. 

This is true of even the most powerful thyroid medications which contain T3 thyroid hormone!

But there's one big problem with these statements...

You cannot tell whether a thyroid medication is effective or not unless you first know that you were dosed CORRECTLY!

natural thyroid supplements version 2

Let me explain...

Imagine you have two people who are both taking the same thyroid medication but at different doses. 

Person A is taking liothyronine at a dose of 5 mcg per day along with her levothyroxine at 75mcg

This person is still struggling with low thyroid symptoms and weight gain even while taking T3 and T4 thyroid hormones. 

Person B is taking liothyronine at a dose of 15mcg per day along with her levothyroxine at 50mcg per day

This person is feeling better and has lost 10 pounds while this combination of medications. 

When all is said and done, person A claims emphatically that liothyronine is a failure and does not help with weight loss while, on the other hand, person B claims that liothyronine is an amazing weight loss medication and has helped her lose 10 pounds without changing her diet or exercise routine. 

Both people have the exact opposite experience despite taking the exact same thyroid medication. 

But there's a big difference between the two of them, right?

Person A is taking 1/3 of the dose that Person B is taking of the SAME thyroid medication! 

And this is a perfect example of how dose plays a HUGE role in how well you feel

I often will see thyroid patients make sweeping claims and generalizations about thyroid medications without saying ANYTHING about dose!

And you simply cannot make assertions about any thyroid medication without first talking about the dose. 

So don't fall into this trap!

If you want your thyroid medication to work you have to be on the RIGHT type of thyroid medication AND the right dose. 

Taking Too Much isn't the Answer

Another trap I see thyroid patients fall into is what I will call the "more, more, more" trap. 

If the answer to my weight problem isn't solved by my current thyroid medication or dose then the answer MUST be simply taking more of the same thing but at a higher dose. 

The theory here is that if you can push yourself into a hyperthyroid state then you will lose weight, right?

You would think so, and maybe hope so, but it isn't really true in practice. 

Not only is taking too much thyroid medication dangerous, it's also not likely to help you lose any weight. 

This is also why you do NOT want to use thyroid medication to aid with weight loss if you don't have a thyroid problem!

Why is this?

Most thyroid medications that people take contain only the T4 thyroid hormone. 

Medications like levothyroxine and Synthroid fall into this category. 

These medications, while they can be effective for some, often fail to help many people (as many as 20%) feel better. 

It has been shown that these medications can readily be converted into the inactive thyroid hormone metabolite known as reverse T3

And if your body takes levothyroxine and turns it into rT3 instead of T3 then your symptoms and weight gain can often get worse. 

This process can occur due to something called thyroid conversion and it's something that you should be familiar with as a thyroid patient. 

Thyroid conversion is the process by which your body takes and either activates or inactivates the thyroid hormone that you are taking by mouth. 

Bottom line:

Don't think you can just increase your dose to help you lose weight. 

In fact, taking a high dose is not only dangerous but it might cause you to gain weight through reverse T3 conversion. 

Reasons you aren't losing weight on your Thyroid Medication

You should also be aware that it is possible to lose weight with whatever thyroid medication you are taking. 

In my experience in treating thyroid patients for 5+ years, here are a few of the most common reasons that thyroid patients aren't losing weight...

#1. You Need T3

There are just some people out there who will need T3 thyroid hormone in some form no matter what. 

Most doctors like to believe that everyone is fine taking a T4 only thyroid medication like levothyroxine but that just isn't the case. 

We know from studies that approximately 20% of the population has a problem utilizing levothyroxine to its fullest

And if you are one of the unlucky few then you will probably need to add T3 thyroid hormone to your regimen in some form. 

You can do this simply by switching up your thyroid medication but it will require a new prescription from your doctor. 

Talk to your doctor about doing this, but be sure to discuss dosing to ensure that you are not only on the right medication but also the right dose. 

#2. You aren't absorbing your medication

You also need to be aware of absorption issues with your current thyroid medication. 

Thyroid medication, in general, is quite the fickle medication. 

Do you remember your doctor or pharmacist telling you to avoid taking your thyroid medication with any food?

Absorption issues are the problem. 

Your thyroid medication will look for basically any reason to not make it into your bloodstream through your intestinal tract. 

Before you jump to another medication, make sure you are actually absorbing whatever thyroid medication you are taking now. 

Avoid taking your thyroid medication with food, coffee, various drinks, and even supplements as all of these things can negatively impact absorption

You can also try switching to cleaner thyroid medications which are easier to absorb, such as Tirosint

#3. Your dose is not quite right. 

Lastly, don't blame your thyroid medication if you can't lose weight until you optimize your dose!

Optimizing your dose includes basing your dose off of more than just your TSH. 

You should also be looking at your free thyroid hormone lab tests such as free T3 and free T4

You might be on a dose of thyroid medication which puts your TSH in the sweet spot but is not high enough to increase your free T3 and free T4. 

If this happens you simply won't feel better or be able to lose weight. 

Final Thoughts

If you are a low thyroid patient struggling to lose weight and you are looking for some help from your thyroid medication make sure you follow these rules!

#1. Make sure that that your thyroid medication is being absorbed properly. 

#2. Make sure that your dose is optimized and high enough for your body. 

#3. Consider taking T3 thyroid hormone medication in some form (any type will do). 

#4. Check your lab tests to make sure your free T3 and free T4 are in the right range!

By following these steps you should be able to finally lose weight and start to feel better. 

Now I want to hear from you:

Are you currently struggling to lose weight?

What thyroid medication are you taking right now? Do you think it's helping or hurting you?

Are you taking a medication which contains T3 right now? If so, have you noticed a difference?

Leave your questions or comments below! 

References (Click to Expand)

the best thyroid medication for weight loss pinterest
Dr. Westin Childs

Dr. Westin Childs is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. He provides well-researched actionable information about hormone-related disorders and formulates supplements to treat these disorders. He is trained in Internal Medicine, Functional Medicine, and Integrative Medicine. His focus is on managing thyroid disorders, weight loss resistance, and other sex hormone imbalances. You can read more about his own personal journey here.

42 thoughts on “The Best Thyroid Medication for Weight Loss”

  1. Hi Dr Childs
    I am a 52yr old female and I am currently taking 112mcg of synthroid and I am struggling with weight gain since having a thyroidectomy in 2014. It seems no amount of diet or exercise is helping.
    I have started taking your supplements for patients without a thyroid for a week now.
    I am hoping this will help me.
    With the weight gain has come high blood pressure,acid reflux and heart palpitations among other medical issues.

    Reply
  2. My doctor will not prescribe T3 as to expensive. I used to be slim but the last few years since having underactive thyroid I am now so overweight. I take woodhark levo thyroxine

    Reply
  3. I’m taking levothyroxine 200mcg I’ve been struggling ever since the old formulation Eltroxine was changed to new formulation

    Reply
  4. Hi I’ve been on levothyroxine and have switched to desiccated hormone and still haven’t lost weight. I’m taking 30mcg a day and feel lousy!!! And still have weight gain issues. My doctor won’t test any other range of thyroid because when the they test my th4 is within range and says it needs no more testing!!! What can I do??? Maybe I need t3?

    Reply
  5. Hi I live in Scotland we have GP’s from our NHS -in our local doctors surgery – I have been taking t4 Levothyroxine for 20 yrs I argue with my doctors each and everyone that I’ve seen and none will give me T3 – I have many debilitating effects of hypothyroidism that I’ve given up on my GP’s there is no point in asking anymore- I take 100mg daily can you suggest a T3 I could add myself ( I did ask doctor to support me if I bought it myself no one will help) it does frighten me as I cannot get test done to monitor my levels – should I just add it anyway – I can not afford private health care and apparently it’s the same doctors that specialise in t4 only anyway – desperately seeking help my mistreatment is going to end me or leave me with a life not worth living as I cannot do the things I should be able to at my age which is 53 I feel 83
    Many thanks
    Laurna

    Reply
    • Hi..my name is Rj and I am Fromm Malaysia and I follow you Dr Westin.
      I am 61 and have been on Levoroxine Sodium 50mg for about 3-4 years.
      Appetite and weight loss is such a pain even though my GP assured me that the Levo will address my hypothyroid issues
      I have been reading your articles about the new formulated supplement that may help with this issue.
      Please advise

      Reply
  6. I have been taking NP Thyroid medication since April 2020. I started your supplements recommended for low Thyroid the first part of May. My doctor ordered labs but this pandemic occurred so I have not gone to have this done. Anxious to find out if the medication and/or supplements are making a difference so will go soon. One thing I do know is the scales are not budging. I take 0.5 GR of NP first thing in the morning and wait at 30 minutes before eating or drinking anything. Perhaps I am under dosed. I only took Thyroid supplements prior after trying Levothyroxine 5 years ago. I just don’t like to take medication.

    Reply
  7. I’m on 60 mg of Armour. Was on 90 mg but my hair has been shedding so bad since the increase that Dr took me back down to 60 thinking I was getting too much thyroid even though my numbers show I could probably use an increase in meds. I feel fine, but I’ve put on 5 pounds since January and it’s not budging. I’m a personal trainer so I know all about exercise. Any thoughts? I’m also on bio identical hormones, maybe that’s why the weight gain?

    Reply
    • Hi Kristel,

      It could be many things and there really isn’t enough info for me to say one way or the other. But, yes, if your BHRT is off or you are taking too much then that can certainly impede your ability to lose weight.

      Reply
  8. Hi Dr Childs
    I’ve struggled for the last 5 years trying to find a dr that understands my situation. I am currently on 100 mcg levoxyl and 10 mcg liothyronine. I’ve gone gluten and dairy free and I’m still gaining. I exercise some but I’m always exhausted. I feel helpless. Do you have any advice for me?

    Reply
  9. I am currently taking Naturetyroid. I’ve gained 15 lbs since I started. I am losing my mind! I workout and watch everything I eat, but I can’t lose a pound. I am so depressed that I don’t want to leave the house.

    Reply
  10. I’m currently taking 125mg of Levothyroxine and struggling with my weight. Every time my doctor increased my dosage my weight went up 10-15lbs. My last lab results showed I may need another increase. I currently work as a Correctional Officer and walk an average of 6-8miles in a 12hr shift, I’ve completely cleaned up my diet and I still struggle with not losing weight.

    Reply
  11. Hi, I’m currently taking 113.75 of Nature Thyroid. I’ve been autoimmune hypothyroidism for 15 years. 4 years ago dr wanted me to try levothyroxine , I gained 20lb. I went back to Nature Thyroid and haven’t gained but can’t lose it. I have tried everything from exercising a ton, gluten free, high protein low card, IF, and can’t drop a pound. I’m 49 and miserable at my current weight. What else should I be asking my dr? I asked about adrenal failure so she put me on 300 mg Bupropen. Covid stress at work has made fatigue worse which I know effects the thyroid. I’ll try anything. Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Tammy,

      You’ll want to start by checking all of your hormone levels including thyroid, insulin, leptin, cortisol, etc. From there you can then figure out what your main issues are 🙂

      Reply
  12. I take 150 mg of Armour daily and wait an hour before eating breakfast. I tried 90 and 135 mg Armour daily and couldn’t function. I even tried splitting dose ( 135 mg upon waking and 15 mg in the afternoon). Last year I tried 120 mg of Armour with 10 mcg of Cytomel. My TSH, Free T3 and 4 are optimal. I have gained 35 lbs and the fat in my midsection is causing medical problems. I diet and exercise constantly. Keep a diary of thyroid medication, food, exercise, sleep, etc hoping to find an answer.

    Reply
  13. Hi
    I take 200mcg levothyroxine daily. My weight has increased constantly, I do SlimmingWorld exercise 4/5 times a week but still am unable to loose any weight. I’m at a loss what more I can do. Reading your article has made me think maybe it’s my thyroid problem, what can I ask my GP for to maybe help me?
    Before I was diagnosed I lost 5 stone in around 4 months, I had iodine treatment to remove my thyroid and since then have really struggled to maintain my weight.
    Thank you

    Reply
  14. I’m almost 70. For at last 5 years my TSH has been a little to high – between 3.5 and up to 6.3. My free T3 and T4 are in the low end, but a lot of symtoms. My doctor finds everything is fine, and didn’t give me any medicine.
    I found some help a couple of years ago from another doctor, who started treating me for Leaky gut. That helped, but not enough.
    Becide lansoprazol, I don’t take any medication. Only minerals as Zink, Selen and vitamins as D, C and B. And of cource probiotic and glutamine.
    I’m folowing your website with great interest here from Denmark.

    Reply
    • Hi Hanne,

      Glad it’s helping! One piece of advice would be to try and get off of lansoprazole as fast as possible as long-term use is known to cause many problems with nutrient absorption and gut bacterial diversity.

      Reply
  15. I am not currently taking anything for thyroid but was previously diagnosed hypothyroid in 2013, my doctor put me on levothyroxine and I started to do better and lose weight. But I moved from CO to Fl in 2016 and I ran out of medicine and have been unable to find the right doctor here in Fl. Not for a lack of trying! No one would test anything other than my TSH and they all said it was in the “normal” range!! No one will help me here or take my symptoms under consideration! Meanwhile I continue to struggle every day with terrible symptoms that I had when originally being diagnosed! I have been reading your articles and really wish you were here in FL!!

    Reply
    • I understand, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in 1999! I was on Synthroid for years and then they changed it to levothyroxine, finally an integrative doctor added T3 But that was about five years ago, I live in Florida also, my new primary care doctor is treating my thyroid he says it is optimal now but I still have all those terrible symptoms which I am thinking could be due to adrenal glands…I have an appointment with my primary care in a few days he is a great Dr. but … I am going to ask him to do the cortisol serum and maybe a few other test help determine what is going on… Have gained so much weight, extremely tired, depression.. u know the list.. if he doesn’t care to help I will look for another Dr. that will..

      Reply
  16. Hi I’m Chantelle
    I take 100mg of tertroxin in the morning without food .
    I have put on 10kgs since February and I’m feeling very puffy and crap .

    Reply
  17. Hello. I’m taking 105 mg (90+15)of NP thyroid. I take it early in the morning or even the middle of the night sometimes so absorption should be good. Been taking the thyroidectomy + RAI supplements too but I’m very bloated. Can’t lose weight to save my life despite exercising 5-6 times a week and cutting fried foods and other fatty foods. It’s a losing battle. Been dealing with this for 14 years and I’m exhausted. The brain fog, the lack of good medical care, the excessive weight. I’m so over it. I don’t know what’s helping or hurting anymore.

    Reply
  18. I have been on Synthroid, then Levothyroxin for 20 years. I am 54 yrs old and just lost 33lbs and dropped 4 pant sizes. I am not alone. I know many others with hypoactive thyroid, like me, who have lost their weight and are keeping it off. I wish I could share because it has been life changing. I have energy, sleep soundly, and no more back pain I dealt with for 26 years. My doctor is thrilled!

    Reply
  19. I’m 55 a was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism at age 34. I have always taken Levothyroxine at various doses. I started on 50mcg daily and was on that for years, then bumped up to 75mcg for several years and currently on 100mcg. I am a nurse so I know to wait 30 min after taking it for any foods, drinks or other meds. I have been trying to lose weight and the struggle is real. I have lost 18 lbs in the last year but, again, a struggle! I still need to lose another 60 lbs. I have had my thyroid labs checked in the last year and my dose was increased from 88mcg to 100mcg. I still have daily fatigue, hair loss, brittle nails and dry skin on top of very slow weight loss. I seem to be stuck with my current weight for 5 or 6 months now. I want to work out but when I get home from work, I’m just too exhausted. I have an appointment with my PCP in the morning so I’m going to talk to her about adding a T3 med. My Endocrinologist moved away but he took offense when I had my PCP do a full thyroid panel, saying,”I guess you know better than me what labs you need ordered.” I am currently looking for another Endocrinologist. Thanks for any help you can provide!

    Reply
  20. Hi!
    I have been having thyroid symptoms for a couple years post three kids (I’m 37). My numbers have just been tinkering back and forth. My most recent bloodwork a week ago showed my tsh at 3.6, free t4 at 1.36 and t3 at 4.3. Currently have been on 32.5 mg of Naturthyroid for almost a year and dr. just suggested taking another dose per day. What supplements would you suggest for that or any advice? I feel pretty good, but would like to loose 5-10 lbs, and it just seems hard to do that even while being very active and working out 3 times a weeks for an hour. Any help or advice for your supplements would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
  21. Hi..I’m a 47 yr old female that had jo health issues until about 1.5 years ago when all of a sudden I just bottomed out after 3 years of tremendous stress. My hairdresser urged me to go to the dr Nd demand a thyroid test due to my hair texture had changed drastically. I also had lost about 45 lbs of weight and suddenly it started coming back with mo change in my diet or exercise regime. Dr visit confirmed hypothyroidism…currently taking Natur thyroid 65 mgs daily.. still on same diet and exercise but no change in my weight but thyroid symptoms are much better… not sure what to do about the weight problem at this point

    Reply
    • Hi Lisa,

      Once diagnosed with a thyroid problem weight management becomes a lot more difficult. This means you will have to be aggressive with healthy eating, exercising, hormone management, etc. If you aren’t already doing these things then I would start there 🙂

      Reply
  22. Hi I am 51 been on a very low dose of 15mg of Amour and supplements to support my thyroid since my hysterectomy 10 yrs ago (Also using BHRT) and have felt pretty much level until the last 6months something shifted in my body and I am gaining weight, fatigue excessive loss of hair, dry skin NO sex drive, sleep issue etc. I’ve tried increasing my Amour and I get heart palpitations, anxiety and IBS. So after researching I think I need to address possible cortisol/adrenal issue before increasing would you agree? I’m thinking I should try your full thyroid support? I do have MTHFR and histamine issues.

    Reply
  23. For the past 3 years I’ve been taking a combination of 100mcg Levothyroxine and 10 mcg T3. No weight loss. Prior to that, 125mcg of Levothyroxine. Yesterday I started have taking 4.5 mcg of LDN. I am hoping this will work. I need to lose 30kg, I have put on 40kg in 20 years, 10 of it in the first year, and 10 in the last year, so 20kg over the remaining 18 years. I have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s for 10 years. I used Contrave last year, lost 6kg but when stopped using it, I put on 12kg. I got down to 80kg in 2015 using Duromine, but again once stopped, put it all back on, plus more. Would be grateful for any feedback.

    Reply
  24. Dr. Childs,

    I been in Levothyroxine for many many years. Last October my dose was increased to 112mg but I started to gain weight and feel more tired and without energy. What worries me the most is the weight gain. Should I have my doctor increase my dose, even though my T3 and T4 are normal? Only my TSH is high.

    Reply
  25. I am Person A….! on 5mcg liothyronine and 75mcg levothyroxine….. and still struggling with weight issues!
    I am afraid that my GP won’t change my dose if bloods come back ‘in range’
    I only got the T3 by going private, 3 yrs ago….. and it has been over 2 yrs since I had my bloods checked…. ‍♀️

    The only way I have managed to lose a few pound is by doing 800 ish cals…. which is difficult to sustain.

    (Scotland)

    Reply
  26. Hi, I ( I was born with a non functioning Thyroid gland. in 1957. so I was put on the Dessicated thyroid meds. Did great no major health or weight issues until 1970’s I was switched to Synthroid or Levothyroxine and my dosages changed a lot depending on the doctors and by blood tests over the past 40 years. Granted as I got older it was harder to control my weight. But I can not believe that just because I am 63- old that I should give up on trying to keep slim . now with the Covid19 I definantly do not want to fall victim because I’m obese. I want to get this extra weight off as quickly as I can.
    I am very active, but it’s seems like diet and exercise is not cutting it. Been struggling with my extra weight for the past 3 years. I do not want to be Fat/obese. but when you take just Synthroid it’s not cutting it either, and I get it. 90% of doctors do not want to switch people dessicated that easily. and ya can’t just switch doctors if they are not in your Health insurance .

    So Currently I take 112mcg of Synthroid… my recent blood test
    my doctor did a
    Peg Stark

    Thu, Sep 17, 9:14 PM (3 days ago)
    FTSH W/RFLX FT4 1.60 reference range is 60-4.80 (uIU/mL)
    Back in June 13, 2020 he did a T3 total lab result 106. Reference range is from 76-181.

    do you think I can benefit with going on Liothyronine and how much can I take with out it going over 181 in the reference range? I really need to loose the weight I have tried weight loss meds, Phentermine it made my heart race too much I could not sleep felt like I was running a Marathon at full speed.
    I am not diabetic my fasting blood glucose tests always at 100 but not enough to take diabetic drugs yet. and even those cause too many side effects. that now days if it causes diarrhea, nausea , stomach issues , headaches, can be hard to distinguish from the medication or if you have Covid19.. ? NOPE can’t take those.

    I did take Liothyronine last year for a short time by an endocrinologist but she had me on such a low dose of the T3, 5mcg or 10mcg. but I did not seen much weight loss. and my Doctor said at one time that I may be one of those who may need more T3 or more Synthroid. but now that my Synthroid is in the Normal range, I think I need the T3 med????

    Reply

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