Thyroid-stimulating hormone is a product of the pituitary gland. The secretion often occurs in response to a lack of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4.
These two hormones regulate the metabolism.
When the thyroid is sluggish and does not produce enough of them it can cause weight gain.
Additionally, the thyroid also helps regulate body temperature, mood, and even muscle strength. It’s an important gland and an elevation in thyroid-stimulating hormone is one of the things that indicate something is wrong.
Of course, the only way to test for high levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone is by a blood test. [SOURCE 1]
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone and Weight Gain
The important thing to remember is, thyroid-stimulating hormone level is not the cause of the problem. It only indicates the problem is there.
When the thyroid fails to produce enough T3 and T4, it does not make weight gain inevitable but it does make it more likely. Furthermore, anyone who has this problem will find it harder than normal to lose weight.
Understanding the relationship between thyroid-stimulating hormone and the thyroid hormones helps provides an idea of the problem.
However, it’s only half the story. You also need to understand the way metabolism works
Metabolism: A 24-Hour Process
Metabolism could be simplified as being the process the body uses to get energy from food and put it to use. It’s actually more than that. On a deeper level, metabolism encompasses all the chemical reactions that are happening within the body 24-hours a day.
The body extracts energy and nutrients from food. The nutrients are the building blocks necessary for cellular repair and the energy powers the repair.
It powers everything else that happens inside the body as well and different processes have different energy demands.
Physical activity entails the greatest energy demand and the more intense the activity the greater the demand.
It increases metabolism, causing a greater energy drain.
That’s why getting more exercise can help you lose weight. [SOURCE 2]
The demand for energy is lowest during periods of rest but, even during sleep, energy is being used to keep the body ticking over.
This is referred to as the resting metabolic rate and it can be influenced by many factors including sex, age, and weight. [SOURCE 3]
Thyroid Hormones In Action
The body is a very energy-efficient machine. When the diet provides too much energy the excess is converted to fat. When it doesn’t provide enough the energy in the fat is reclaimed. The metabolism controls it all and the thyroid hormones govern the metabolic rate.
A faster metabolism burns more calories than a slow metabolism does and it does it 24 hours a day.
When the thyroid is sluggish, either due to nutritional deficiencies or disease, the resulting reduction in T hormones causes the metabolism to slow. [SOURCE 4]
This helps set the stage for a situation where the body is getting more energy than it can use.
That’s a problem if you trying to get slim or hoping to stay that way and elevations of thyroid-stimulating hormone indicates the problem is there.
Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone and Leptin
Some research suggests a possible link between thyroid-stimulating hormone and leptin.
Leptin is a hormone manufactured in the fat cells and it has the ability to suppress hunger.
Due to the fact they have less body fat, thin people have lower leptin levels than chubbier people do. Think flabby arms!
Unfortunately higher leptin levels don’t always regulate body weight in the way you might expect. Many obese people develop a leptin resistance that prevents it from working.
Researchers at Koln University have investigated the link between thyroid-stimulating hormone and leptin and believe high leptin levels increase thyroid-stimulating hormone.
However, interesting as the connection is, it does not help to provide a way forward for the millions of people who are trying to lose weight. [SOURCE 5]
Getting the Thyroid Back on Track
Due to the fact that thyroid problems and weight gain can go hand-in-hand many diet pills contains iodine and other substances that support thyroid health.
However, the average person buying such products is unlikely to know if their weight problems are thyroid related.
If the problem is due to thyroid problems, making the necessary modifications to the diet may be all that’s required.
High levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone can indicate the presence of thyroid problems that may retard the metabolism. This will make it easier to gain weight than to lose it.
Shrimp, tuna, eggs, and prunes are just a few food options that are good sources of iodine. It’s also possible to buy iodized table salt.
However, a doctor is the best person to provide advice on the correct way to proceed. Thyroid problems can be very complex and often require regular blood tests.
However, if the problem has been brought to light due to an elevation of thyroid-stimulating hormone it’s highly likely a doctor will already be involved. I which case, testing thyroid function is likely to be a natural progression.