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Mary Shomon

Insulin Resistance: A Key to Weight Loss

By January 11, 2004

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Here's a great reader letter! -- "I've written to you numerous times before, but most recently to request that you write something about insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia and diabetes, and the connection between these disorders and hypothyroidism. So I was thrilled to read the "Insulin Resistance" segment of your recent article entitled Losing Weight with Hypothyroidism. It was very well-written and I'm sure easy to understand by those that are unfamiliar with insulin resistance.

I have struggled with Hypothyroidism for 19 years! Without boring you with details, 2 years ago I adopted a low-carb diet and exercised religiously to lose 40 lbs, only to have 15 of them come back recently with no explaination. The addition of a drug called Glucophage XL (extended release metformin) has helped tremendously by sensitizing my cells to my own insulin, reducing the amount of glucose my intestines absorb, and turning down my liver's glucose production. Lower blood sugar means lower insulin, which means my body stores less fat, and is now burning my fat stores for fuel! The 15 lbs are gone! AND....I have cut my dose of Armour Thyroid in half! Yes, I am still hypothyroid, but it was the insulin resistance that was causing most of my symptoms. The weight problem, huge appetite, fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, bleeding gums, numb feet, yeast infections, low basal body temperature, easy bruising and slow wound healing have all been resolved over the past 4 months. AND....my blood pressure has fallen to within ideal normal ranges, as have my cholesterol levels!

I hope you continue to educate Thyroid patients and to encourage them to become active partners in their own medical care. They need to look beyond the thyroid to rule out another common cause of these symptoms. They should demand a 4 or 5-hour oral glucose tolerance test that also measures insulin levels (even if their fasting blood sugar is normal) and settle for nothing less than the 2-hour test. I know if I hadn't made that demand, I'd still be complaining to my doctor about my thyroid and he'd still be telling me I was fine!

Feeling fine in the sunshine.....

Beverly from FL"

February 16, 2008 at 7:18 pm
(1) Catherine says:

Thank you for posting this – it answers so many questions for me since my glucose fasting just came back a little high. I too have struggled with ongoing symptoms – I am so much better – but this explains what remains. I have Hashimotos and am hypothyroid … I have been reading your writings for years.
Thank you thank you thank you!!!
Catherine, the redhead

March 6, 2008 at 3:42 pm
(2) Donna says:

Thank you for your post. I have hypothyroidism and have recently been diagnosed with insulin resistance. Boy- what a shock and what a big change I have had to make with my eating habits. I have been taking Metformin 3 times a day now for almost 3 full weeks. I am really eating healthy- whole grains, fruits, veggies, lots of good protein, fish, chicken ect. but my weight loss has been really slow. My dr. said to give it time and I will loose it pretty quick. Your post was helpful and makes me hopeful. I have started really exercising alot so I am hopeful the weight will fall off!!! Thanks again!!

June 21, 2008 at 11:09 am
(3) Lori says:

Be careful with dosages, though. With Glucophage and Metformin, you have to watch your liver function. Mine came back high and now I have fatty liver syndrome. It requires a special diet and exercise and is not dangerous, but can be.. If taking those drugs, be sure to keep your liver functions in close check.. but they DO help! I was 408 on it initially and now am in the 200′s just 18 monhths later, safely.

June 16, 2010 at 3:13 am
(4) Charlie Bader says:

Watch “Sugar:The Bitter Truth” on YouTube for the inside story on what causes insulin resistance. It affects everything in your body, especially the liver, muscles, brain, fat and thyroid.

July 14, 2011 at 1:41 am
(5) Jill S. says:

This is very true. I have learned the hard way this past year not to put off following up with your doctor.

Last year I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism by my PCP and started on Armour thyroid.

Prior to starting the thyroid I had struggled really hard but had actually managed to lose 30 lbs by following weight watchers (but by not eating the full number of points they were giving me or any of the extra weekly points).

After starting the Armour thyroid (1gr) the weight has just crept back over the past year- and it all seems to be in my abdomen this time too. I had been unable to stick to the WW plan because I seemed to be always hungry after taking my thyroid pill.

Well Long story longer, I have been evaluated by a different provider, the PA (for the OB/Gyn) for PCOS and she is treating me for insulin resistance with Metformin xr It has only been a week but I can tell already it has made a significant impact in my appetite and energy level. I am back to counting my weight watcher points and am able to stick to the ww plan (although so far I am needing on most days the full points allowed). My cravings for sweets have decreased and I just don’t feel constantly hungry all the time. Such a relief to see the scale going the opposite direction.

Also, I am taking currently 1/2 grain of Armour although it is July this need might change it to the 1 gr dose with the change of the seasons depending on labwork and symptoms). I had been taking as much as 1.5 gr(this was way too much for me) because I thought I was still symptomatic with aching legs and fatigue. I had my TSH test and I was way hypo. that was when I cut it to 1/2 gr and started the Metformin- Aching legs and energy level vastly improved. Abdominal pain improved (ovarian cysts resolving).

I know I would have been a lot less frustrated if I hadn’t waited a year to followup with my doctor.

April 19, 2012 at 4:26 pm
(6) Aianah says:

Wow. I could have written this letter, except that until two weeks ago, I did not know I was insulin resistant. I’ve taken thyroid meds for 20 years. And had the weight problem- especially belly fat, huge appetite, fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, numb feet, yeast infections, low basal body temperature, easy bruising and slow wound healing for that whole time.
Doc did NOT start me on metformin, but told me to get back on low carbs and we’ll recheck in a few months. In 2 weeks I’ve dropped 7 lbs and am slowly (too slowly for my own satisfaction) feeling better. Given the circumstances- they told me 20 years ago that I had fibromyalgia- I now wonder if I’ve teetered along this edge of insulin resistance for that long. I’ve known I feel better without sugar, but didn’t know how imperative it was to set it aside. Thank you for posting this!

May 6, 2012 at 10:10 pm
(7) Elizabeth says:

Thanks for sharing! This helps me out a bunch and makes me feel better about taking it. I am 20 years old and diagnosed with hypothroidism a year ago and have gained 96 pounds. My doctor said my levels were not stable causing my weight to be out of my control. He just prescribed me to metformin 3 times a day. Please help me with any advice of taking this medication or with hypothyroidism!!! Thanks

June 16, 2012 at 1:54 am
(8) Megan says:

Thanks for all the great comments. I am 21 years old and gained 70 pounds in a year and a half. I went from a size 2 to a size 14. My TSH was high and put on synthroid. I still did not feel well or loosing weight. I made appointment with endocrine doctor and I did all necessary blood test and 24 hour urine screen. I am waiting on results now. I hope something comes up and he can put me on metformin. Did anyone’s doctor say anything about increased cortisol levels? It is amazing how thyroid/insulin levels/adrenal glands are all connected.

January 4, 2013 at 2:21 am
(9) katherine says:

thyroid up to 10 should be 4 on armour and getting low symptoms.also on insulin and not losing weight and feeling terrible, my thyroid is out and small portion left.lately no weight off and feeling foggy ache and just a mess dry hair brittle nails and not sure what to do just lowered the armour felt some what better not there yet.any idea help please

July 16, 2013 at 11:35 am
(10) Marianne says:

Thank you for posting this article. I had recently been diagnosed with hypothyroidism after having hyperthyroidism all my life. The change in my body was a shock to me and made me depressed.

After explaining my symptoms to my doctor, and having blood tests done, my doctor confirmed the hypothyroidism. I’ve been taking medication to help moderate and control the symptoms (weight gain, etc.) but it hasn’t helped. My dose was recently increased but after 2 weeks on the increased dosage, I’m still finding no improvement whatsoever.

A friend of mine recently posted an article on insulin resistance. I don’t know what compelled me to read it, but I did. They symptoms are remarkably similar to that of hypothyroidism and even are in conjunction with same.

And now I see this article. I will definitely be speaking to my doctor and requesting the insulin tests as well.

Thank you again for posting this. This could be my salvation.

August 3, 2013 at 6:34 am
(11) diana says:

such a great article! everyone needs to pass this along to anyone with a thyroid disorder. I’ve been telling people the same thing now after what I’ve experienced for many years.

At 16 years old weighing 175 pds the belly fat began and to get bigger and bigger as the years passed by.

At 22 weighing in 250pds, went to Dr and was diagnosed with hypothyroidism

From 16-33 years old I complained to my Dr about not being able to lose weight after doing trying just about everything. i never could lose more than 10pds.

Unfortunately at age 33 I researched thyroid disorders and i found that its better to have a Endocronologist
by your side versus a regular MD.

I told my endocronologist all the symptoms ive had for
18 yrs!

chin hair,fatigue,belly fat ect

instantly dr ordered blood work and found
i have insulin resistant,hyperinsulinemia,and increased my thyroid eventhough it was between range because i complained about always being tired. prescribed Metformin first couple months 500 mg am and pm now on 1000 mg twice a day and i am now 219 pds! Pounds are shedding. i repeat just as this article says get inolved and demand additional test/bloodwork, and tell your regular MD to refer you to an Endocronologist to take over your thyroid disorder. If only my regular dr could have done the proper tests along time ago my life could have been better!

Be very careful also if your Dr tries to Diagnose you with PCOS… only because you have 1 out of the 10 symptoms doesnt necessarily mean you have it.further tests need to be done to make sure that is correct diagnosis before your medical premiums go higher in cost just because some dr’s play the guessing games.

thyroid— too much straining and constipation

can cause you to have some form of prolapse…

August 6, 2013 at 4:52 pm
(12) Gina says:

I really think this could be my problem even though I have symptoms that sound like hypothyroid. Every time it’s checked though, my TSH is below 1.0. My mother is hypo and type 1 diabetic so metabolic/endo stuff runs in our family. I am 52 and my last FBS was 82 but my cholesterol was 285 and BP 130/80: suggestive of “something” going on. My main complaint is my weight has always hovered between 105-107. Now for the past year it has been 112-115 still creeping while still painstakingly measuring calories, portions and exercising 5-6 days a week. My doctor doesn’t believe me and accuses me of “cheating” and then tells me not to worry because I am not obese, YET. But still, this is not normal for me. I have recently put myself on a strict diet of no sugar, no processed or boxed foods of any kind, no eating out, no white flour in anything, no coffee, no salt, no dairy, no eggs, no butter. Just chicken fish and plant based foods. The first week, I lost 2 lbs. While still following it, 3 days later, the scale went back up again to where I was. I am so discouraged. I know I have insulin resistance but my doctor will not test me. I have gas, bloating, difficulty losing weight, tiredness and headaches. I suffer and all I can do is search the internet and try to heal myself. I am staying on the diet as I have noticed that I’m not as achy and do feel a little better. Still, I’m sad the weight loss isn’t happening and there are no answers.

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