top of page

Weight Loss Resistance and the thyroid in the older adult

Where is Your Thyroid?

  • Your thyroid is located just below your Adam's apple.

  • It is a vital butterfly-shaped organ that plays a pivotal role in your hormones working correctly.

  • The thyroid gland is a small organ located in the front of the neck, wrapped around the windpipe (trachea).

5 Symptoms of Thyroid Disease in Older Adults

Unexplained high cholesterol

High cholesterol is sometimes the only evidence of underactive thyroid in adults over 60.

Heart failure

Reduced blood volume, weaker heart muscle contractions, and a slower heart rate can be caused by low thyroid hormone levels.

Bowel movement changes.

An older person with hypothyroidism may have constipation because stool moves more slowly through the bowels.

Joint or Muscle Pain

Vague joint pain is a classic hypothyroidism symptom.Muscle Pain is usually in the legs.

Psychiatric Disorder.

Depression and psychosis with delusional behavior or hallucinations and dementia. Older people with a very underactive thyroid gland can sometimes be misdiagnosed as having dementia. That's why doctors usually order thyroid testing in people with new cognitive decline.


Underactive Thyroid

Your thyroid gland releases hormones that help regulate your metabolism. An underactive thyroid can cause other disorders.

Gut Disorders

Low stomach acid can cause poor absorption of iron and vitamin 12. A deficiency of these nutrients can slow the metabolic rate of the body Gut bacteria imbalances can make you hungrier.

Leptin Resistance

Leptin is a hormone that reduces appetite and signals your body to burn fat Leptin resistance makes your metabolism slow.

Low Testosterone

Low testosterone, in both men and women, is often caused by stress, leading to high cortisol, weight gain, extreme fatigue, and fat accumulation everywhere—especially the belly.

Insulin Resistance

• Insulin resistance also makes your cells more resistant to the thyroid hormone floating around in the blood.

• This is why many people may have "normal" levels of thyroid hormone in the blood but low levels of thyroid hormone in the cells (this phenomenon is known as thyroid resistance).

Chronic Stress

• When we constantly live under stressful conditions such as working long hours, eating processed food, getting too little sleep, etc., it puts constant pressure on the adrenals to produce cortisol.

• Eventually, the adrenal glands can no longer keep up with the demands, and our cortisol levels will drop.

• This Causes Adrenal Fatigue which causes sugar cravings, mood swings, and fatigue.


• Estrogen dominance leads to fat accumulation, especially in the belly, hips, and thighs.

• Estrogen Dominance also causes worsening symptoms of low testosterone.

The Path to Beating Weight Loss Resistance


When y😊u smile, your brain releases neuropeptides that help fight off stress. Since stress causes weight gain, everything you do to release tension helps you lose weight. Stress-releasing neurotransmitters are activated when you smile, like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins that make you feel good. So smile and activate your feel-good hormones to release stress.

Eat the Right Diet for YOU

• Focus on nutrient-dense, high-quality, natural whole food. Get organic produce and if that's too pricey, aim for the organic produce that doesn't have a peel. Grass-fed lean beef, chicken without added hormones and fish are excellent choices.

• Eliminate processed foods.

• Limit sugar (This is key to losing weight) Unused sugar turns to fat.

• Avoid gluten - bread, rice, and pasta (this really helps the weight come off if you're over 50 with a thyroid disorder). I know it's difficult, but avoiding foods with gluten becomes easier once you get used to it. However, all the diseases that come with being overweight make your life harder.

• Limit sweeteners because they can cause your body to be insulin resistant. Try Stevia instead.

• Eat three mini-meals a day and two nutritious snacks to keep your metabolism revved up

if you want to lose weight.

• Yoga

• Walking

• Water Aerobics

• Bicycle Riding

Get Enough Sleep

Not sleeping enough causes inflammation in the body and weight gain.

Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a day. Insulin disorders are one of the things that can cause insomnia, so it's essential to get your blood sugar checked.


• There is more to weight loss than the calorie in, calorie out model. How many times have you tried to lose weight this way and failed? How often have you gone to the doctor, and they say to just exercise more and eat less? I know I would never have a weight problem if this were true. However, with thyroid disorders, you need proper guidance from specialists.

• Multiple hormones play a direct role in our ability to lose weight and keep it off.

• To have success, you need to be on a good diet and participate in a sensible exercise program. You must also optimize your gut health and manage any adrenal and thyroid issues.

• You must also test for and address any insulin resistance, leptin resistance, and chronic inflammation that you may be having.

• Discuss your symptoms with a physician certified in Functional Medicine and hormone optimization.


Dr. Jeff Welchel, MD. Dr. Jeff Whelchel is a family physician in Texas who specializes in functional medicine with a specialty in hormone optimization.

Harvard Health – Harvard Medical School

• Cleveland Clinic

• Web MD


Image: Thyroid scintigraphy by Petros Perros is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Buy Any 3 Functional Fitness DVDS as seen on PBS TV, including Yoga, Interval Training, Fat Burning and More! Get 3rd DVD FREE!


bottom of page