Are you in a rut when it comes to your weight loss goals? Eating like a bird and exercising 24/7 (I’m exaggerating, of course) and still not an iota of change in your body composition? This, inspite of being on a “scientific” weight management program? Maybe it’s about time to look into other possible causes of weight gain. In the next few blog entries, I’ll be discussing a few of the most common causes of being overweight or obese. Let’s begin with your thyroid. Most doctors screen for thyroid function only by checking the pituitary hormone TSH. The normal range for TSH is quite wide. And remember, normal values are based on statistics. The healthier the population, the higher the normal values. Case in point, the normal values in Western Europe are somewhat higher than that of the North American population. This is definitely influenced by diet and lifestyle. Anyway, the optimal range for TSH is between 1-2. If you’re above or below that, further testing may be necessary esp. if you have symtoms of a sluggish thyroid, one of which is poor metabolism leading to weight gain. Ideally, a comprehensive thyroid test should include the following: fT3, fT4, reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies. A functional test for the thyroid includes basal body temperature testing. A temperature less than 97.8 could mean a sluggish thyroid. There’s a condition called Wilson’s syndrome which basically is a person with all the classical symptoms of low thyroid, has normal basic thyroid tests and when it comes to temperature testing, has subnormal temperatures. All enzymatic processes in the body function optimally at ideal temperatures. If temperature is sub normal, then these physiologic processes don’t proceed as normal. One condition that could also affect thyroid function is chronically elevated cortisol levels with stress. This prevents conversion of T4 to T3, the active form of thyroid hormone. Deficiency in minerals like selenium also prevent this conversion process. A group of elements belonging to the halide family such as fluoride (in water/toothpaste), bromide (in baked products, soda), and chlorine (in water), actually affects thyroid hormone production by competing for the same receptors for iodine. In conclusion, there are a lot of possible causes of thyroid hormone imbalance that could ultimately affect one’s metabolism. Make sure that this is addressed comprehensively prior to starting a weight management program. Otherwise, it’ll be a complete waste of time and resources. Another way to put it, you only lose days, not inches (or fat, for that matter).