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Why Can't I lose Weight?

26, Male 6'2, 288
No Drugs, No Drinking.

I've always been a big guy my whole life. I Was 400 at 18. Lost a lot of weight at ages 22-23 got down from 400 down to 265. From 23-25 Went back up to 295. Now, for past 3 months I started eating a whole lot healthier and started doing reverse pyramid training.
I lift 3 days a week for 90 minutes. I work 40 hours always moving.

A day of eating includes:

Breakfast= 2 rice cakes w/ peanut butter, or 4 eggs.

Lunch= a tuna packet, cottage cheese, plain salad.

Dinner= chicken breast, greens.

Snack= almonds, apple, or cottage cheese.

water, sparkling water.

Haven't lost any weight and was wondering how. Anyone have any idea why this might be happening?

3 Responses
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134578 tn?1642048000
It doesn't sound like your problem is your diet, unless you're eating something additional not mentioned. Have you had a thyroid check from the doctor, or other workup?
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Well, 4 eggs is a lot of eggs.  Peanut butter isn't exactly diet food, though for someone with the weight they like to be at it wouldn't be that large of a problem.  You don't say if the rice cakes are brown rice or white rice.  You don't say how much peanut butter you're eating -- obviously, a little is a lot different than eating a lot.  I'm also hoping this is just an example and you don't eat the exact same foods all the time.  Varying what you eat is like varying your exercise routine -- you don't get stuck in place.  Almost everyone who tries to lose weight reaches a point where they stop losing -- they plateau.  One way to juice it back into gear is to change things up.  I'm not up on pyramid training, but if you're only working out using resistance training 3 days a week, you might consider adding some cardio on the other days.  So one suggestion, instead of 4 eggs, eat two or three and add in a vegetable or whole grain instead.  Switch it up, add some variety, throw things against the wall and see if anything sticks so you get unstuck.  
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Hi RT93,

Short answer:  Based on your previous weight loss success, your current weight, diet, and exercise, I think you might have a metabolism problem.  Get someone to check out your thyroid hormone levels and specifically your freeT3 which is the active thyroid hormone and is found to be lower in people who have been on extreme calorie restriction diets.  Look up info on "Biggest Loser syndrome", see if you think you might fit that profile.  (Someone who has lost a lot of weight in the past in a short period of time, and may have a long term severely slowed down metabolism).  If you can find info on what people who have experienced this have done to help improve their metabolism, this might give you a place to start from.  You might need to take thyroid hormone and specifically something with T3 already present if there is no easy way to reverse the problem.

Long answer : I'm sorry you are dealing with this!  I gained about 30-35 pounds in 2015-2016, and found out last year (2018) it was due to an undiagnosed thyroid problem.  I gained the weight while eating what I thought was a fairly healthy diet and running about 30-50 miles a week, and assumed I was just eating too much food.  (In reality, I have Hashimoto's and my thyroid was slowly destroying itself).

I lost the weight in 2017 (still with undiagnosed hypothyroidism) by tracking every single calorie I ate and increasing the amount of running I was doing, and trying to eat a 300-500 a day calorie deficit (most days it was probably around 200-300 deficit, and the weight slowly came off).  I know diet is much more important than exercise when it comes to weight loss (much, much more important for most people), but in my case, the amount of running I was doing was forcing my body to actually burn a reasonable amount of calories a day even if my thyroid was fighting against it.  I also started lifting weights to increase my BMR, and that helped once I plateaued after losing 20-25 pounds.

My thoughts on your case is maybe even if it isn't Hashimoto's, your metabolism might be slowed down from when you lost weight earlier when you were 22-23.  I know with the "Biggest Loser syndrome", if you go long periods of extreme calorie restriction, your metabolism can slow down (and go in to "starvation mode" and remain ridiculously slow).  A quick google indicates this slow down in metabolism might have something to do with your thyroid hormones and specifically less T4 being converted to the active T3 hormone and instead being converted to reverse T4, but I'm no expert on this.

It seems like you are eating a very low calorie diet for your size, and what you listed are all healthy foods in my opinion.  Even four eggs is only 280 (large) or 360 (jumbo) calories.  I guess you could be eating a ton of almonds or a giant piece of chicken, but I suspect you are eating well below what your BMR should be if your metabolism were working ok, and you are consuming a lot of protein which should help with weight loss.

Do you have any hypothyroidism symptoms?  A quick google will list what hypothyroidism symptoms are, but some of the major symptoms are: lower body temperature, sensitivity to cold, fatigue, especially in the afternoons, brain fog, constipation, dry skin, coarse brittle hair, depression.

I would get your thyroid hormones checked out, and if possible get the doctor to run at least TSH, freeT4, freeT3.  You need your freeT3 hormone to be near the top 1/3 of the range usually for best thyroid function.  If you are experiencing a decrease in your metabolism due to a loss of that conversion of T4 to T3, you might need to start taking thyroid hormone medication and specifically one that includes T3.  (I had my thyroid removed and am currently taking a T4 replacement called levothyroxine, but if the conversion from T4 to T3 is what isn't working, that probably would not help you.)  

I am not sure how to reverse a slow metabolism other than thyroid hormone medication if this is in fact what your problem is - I know there are a lot of food recommendations out there for thyroid health, but you could look up "Biggest loser syndrome" and see if there are any recommendations from people who have gone through this.  I know there are certain foods that supposedly improve thyroid function, but if you are making T4 fine and it is the conversion to T3 that's the problem, I'm not sure if that would help.

Your 135 pound weight loss is very impressive and is something to be proud of - and for years doctors, trainers, etc. have been telling people with a lot of weight to lose to do extreme calorie restriction, but now people who have lost the weight have gained a lot of back through no fault of their own, and then can't lose the weight in the same way that worked in the past.  It is very frustrating and I'm sorry you have to deal with this.  

The only other thing I can think to recommend is to change your normal exercise regime every so often.  Your body might be used to lifting weights (and I know weight lifting is good for putting on lean, calorie burning muscle), but if you tried cardio like the elliptical, bike, swimming every once in a while, you can force your body to burn extra calories.  I know this can be hard if you are working a lot and already spending a lot of time at the gym.  And if you do have a thyroid problem, chances are you feel extra tired more often than not.  I am lucky that I've been running lots of miles a week for years, and can run in the mornings even when I am very hypo, and helps me feel a little less hypo on days I do exercise.

Good luck - I hope you find a solution that works for you (and that doesn't involve extreme calorie restriction - that must take some dedication and will power!), and hopefully if it is your metabolism, there is something that you can do and make your weight loss doable!
Helpful - 0
I would disagree strongly to a couple of points.  First, if your thyroid problems isn't due to a problem with the thyroid not being able to function, going on thyroid hormones will kill it and it will most likely never work again.  Hashimoto's, of course, is an auto-immune disorder and will kill off the thyroid anyway, so if you have that, you need medication.  But if you just have a slow thyroid but it's still functioning, taking hormones will kill it off.  Foods high in iodine can help with hypothyroid (but will harm you if you have hyper-thyroid, and the symptoms of the two can be identical).  Seaweeds are the usual foods used for this and have been used for centuries for this in natural medicine.  If it works, you don't need the hormones that might result in causing your thyroid to stop functioning.  Anyone who suspects this problem also needs to get it checked out by a specialist to make sure it's a thyroid problem and not one induced by losing weight too quickly by not eating properly.  Everyone always says, lose weight slowly and steadily, but people like to hurry.  Metabolism problems aren't only caused by thyroid concerns.  Also, if you have messed up your thyroid, you've also messed up your adrenals, and this too can be worked on with natural medicine in a way that doesn't kill off the thyroid for good.  Now, there are natural hormones you can take that might not kill off your thyroid's ability to recover, but even these for some will do this because if you take them for an extended period of time the thyroid might not be able to stage a comeback if you stop.  It's a risk. Synthetic hormones such as Synthroid will pretty much lead to lack of thyroid function without it.  And the egg problem isn't just calories.  Calories have little to do with weight, how you metabolize food is much more important.  The body has a much harder time with animal protein other than fatty fish than it does with vegetable foods.  That's why you don't want to eat 4 eggs at a time, it's a lot to process.  If you're a football player and you work very hard and expend tons of energy, you might get away with it, but even then, it catches up to a lot of people in the form of heart problems or digestive problems.  While eating a lot of protein can lead to weight loss, it usually stops at some point and it can lead to lots of health problems down the road.  All long-term studies show eating moderately of animal food other than fatty fish -- not never, just not all the time -- leads to better long-term weight and long-term health.  Obviously, individuals will vary -- some people really don't do well at all with legumes, for example, and without them it's much harder to get sufficient protein from vegetable food.  So make sure even if your thyroid shows it's slow it's a disease state of the thyroid and not just a temporary thing that can be fixed over time by a healthier way of living before you do something that might make permanent changes.  It might be what you end up having to do, but make sure, don't just assume it.  Peace, all.
Hi Paxiled and RT93,

I am by no means an expert and I’m glad to hear other opinions of what might be going on.  I wasn’t saying “take medication” as the only option.  If the metabolism has been disrupted in this very specific way, it’s not the same as just being “hypothyroid”.  In what I could find, “Biggest Loser” participants with slowed metabolisms specifically had a problem with their T4 being converted to T3 and instead more was converted to reverse T3.  I’m not sure eating an iodine rich diet or “thyroid promoting” foods will easily reverse this problem, as your thyroid makes mostly T4 and it is converted to T3 elsewhere in the body.  I am curious and looked for information on that conversion, but in the search I did, it doesn’t seem that clear what the best way to restore that T4 to T3 conversion.  Cortisol plays a role, liver function and GI health play a role.   My main concern with getting the thyroid checked out to see if that is what is struggling, and if the body is making more TSH to try to stimulate the thyroid, he might end up with a more serious thyroid problem down the line (like goiter or nodules) which if untreated could be a problem (like it was for me).  Also, it sucks to live with untreated hypothyroidism and a slowed metabolism, and trying to fix it was my main concern – not whether fixing it involves food, supplements, medication, or life style change.

As to your other points:

As I stated – for people with problems converting T4 to T3, synthroid or levothyroxine would not work because they are just T4.  I was not recommending synthroid.  I wasn’t even saying he would need medication, I was just suggesting this might be one way to get to a healthy metabolism, not that he needed to, and if there are other methods of fixing the T4 to T3 conversion that avoid medication, that would be great.  I’m just not sure what they are, and making more T4 doesn’t sound like it would fix the problem in this case, in the same way making more T4 in the thyroid may not fix this problem.  

All people’s digestive tracts are different and I’m not going make generalizations about a body’s ability to get nutrition out of four eggs.  To me, this doesn’t sound like much for a 288 pound man.  I am 156 pounds and eat two eggs at a time frequently.  And, if he is lifting weights in 90 min sessions, he is going to need extra protein.  As long as he doesn’t have an egg allergy or sensitivity, there is no reason to criticize him for eating eggs.  I find it is a better way to get protein in than eating most meats myself.  If you are trying to lose weight, protein is often a very good source of food because it supposedly curbs appetite hunger and definitely aids in muscle recovery, which an athlete or weight lifter needs.  (My mother was forced to drink a raw egg every morning before breakfast for years back in the 1950s when she was a child, and guess who is healthy and doesn’t have a thyroid issue?  I’m not saying the egg helped her, but it doesn’t seem to have been a long term problem for her.)  Whether the body digests animal protein vs. fish protein vs. legumes vs. vegetables better - I'm no expert, but I know cellulose (plant cell walls) is very difficult for our bodies to digest.  I also find things like steaks seem to take a long time to digest in the stomach, but eggs not so much.  (I haven't had mammal meat since 1996, so I could be wrong).  Getting to a healthy weight is also important for long term health and heart health.  I also think eggs are a whole lot easier to digest than even fish because there is less for the digestive tract to break down, but that's just my opinion.

Is a slow metabolism really just a thyroid problem?  I looked this up because I thought other things control the metabolism as well.  From what I could find, in people who had previously lost a whole lot of weight quickly on the “Biggest Loser”, they specifically had a T4 to T3 conversion problem, so that is what I focused on because he seems to fit a similar profile.  It's possible that's not his problem at all, but seemed the likeliest answer in this situation and a good place to start looking for answers.

I stand by my recommendation – go to your doctor, get your thyroid hormones checked, and do some research on your own to find out how other people have reversed this problem.  Maybe it just takes more time to let the body restore itself?  Actually, that would be great if the body just reverses it, eventually, but I'm not sure if it does.  If it were me, I would look up profiles of the people who have lost weight on the Biggest Loser, gained it back, and seen what they have done once they learned they have a very slow metabolism.  There may be specialists who can offer better nutrition and medical advice about this specific type of hypothyroidism.

Anyway, thank you for your comment Paxiled, and I'm glad more people are thinking about this problem and bringing advice.
My only disagreement wasn't with your situation or others with it, it was just to make sure there actually was a situation before trying to deal with it.  I'm guilty of this as well, we tend to generalize from our own situations to that of others.  If the person has the problem you have, then that's something to deal with, but I'm guessing the person doesn't have that as most people don't.  I just want him to find out before taking the actions you were recommending.  What most often happens isn't a disease state but plateauing, and if that happened, it's not a disease state but just something to work on.  You're right, other things are always an issue when the thyroid is an issue -- cortisol is one of the things I was talking about, as the adrenal gland is intimately involved with the thyroid.  But adrenals can have problems absent any thyroid problem as well, often just because they get tired sometimes and need some rest or a boost.  So I'm not disagreeing with anything about what you're saying provided the person has the problem you're describing -- if not, harm can result by treating as if it did exist.  That was my caveat.  As for eggs, those raw eggs your Mom ate are a world apart from cooked eggs.  Of course, they can kill you and aren't safe to eat really, they can have salmonella and other problems, but the raw egg yolk contains the highest quality lecithin you can get from food.  Most of us get it from soy, but egg lecithin is higher quality.  Lecithin keeps things moving, like cholesterol, and keeping things moving is one of the best ways to stay healthy.  There's a naturopath who analyzed everything by what sticks and what moves -- things that stick jam things up and stick around long enough to cause problems, while things that move do their thing and then are evacuated.  But 4 eggs for someone trying to lose weight is still in my opinion not the place to go.  They're fine in moderation.  As for cellulose, it's worse in foods that need to be juiced or cooked.  It's more of a problem if you don't know how to prepare food.  All those people eating raw kale, for example, are not doing the right thing -- it's not very digestible unless you juice it or cook it, both of which make it digestible.  High protein diets don't work long-term as far as health is concerned -- eventually you're going to overdo the protein and underdo the veggies and fruits and high fiber legumes and whole grains that give us long-term energy, antioxidants, and other nutrients.  Protein is only one nutrient.  Others are much more important to deal with those things that kill us, including overweight people, such as heart disease and liver disease and colon problems.  I'm not for austerity, just for moderation.  Austerity can make us grumpy and unhappy, and that's probably unhealthy too.  At any rate, anyone with the problem you have should do what you've done.  But they need to find out first.  Peace.
Thanks for clarifying - this makes a whole lot of sense to me, and I'm sorry if I came off as combative or argumentative.  

I probably should have worded my response better so it came across that I thought this was one possibility (and a place to start looking to see if there is a bigger health problem if he is already eating an extremely low calorie diet - because in my own experience that was a red flag for a thyroid issue with me).  It's always possible that people are underestimating how many calories they are eating, but if someone is willing to ask questions on here I usually believe the info they give.

Of course if there is no thyroid problem, then medication or thyroid promoting nutrition and supplements aren't a good solution, and I 'm glad you helped clarify this.

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