My Battle with Thyroid, Leptin, and Insulin Resistance

About 4 years ago my body started changing and when I say changing, I mean, no matter how clean I would eat or how much I trained, I just didn’t see the results I had maintained in the past. The less I ate and the more I trained, the more weight my body started holding onto. I thought it had to do with the fact that at 36 years old, my body was starting the process of aging and starting that dreaded slower metabolism syndrome that we all fall into as we age.

I keep a detailed food and workout log and went to a local nutritionist. She determined through muscle testing that I had digestive issues and that I was “allergic” to wheat, dairy, and peanuts. So, I eliminated wheat, dairy, peanuts, coffee, and fake sugar i.e. Splenda. I bought all the supplements to fix my digestive issues, liver tonics, all kinds of stuff. My diet was super clean as usual especially after cutting out the fake sugar I used to put on my oatmeal, in my coffee, and in my protein shakes. I changed my workout routine and started running the stairs at Avenue C and running in the sand using life guard towers as my markers in Redondo Beach at 6 a.m. 3 times a week, added yoga, and continued lifting as usual. A year went by and zero! I was told that when I stopped worrying about it that my body would take care of the rest. Yeah, that worked…not! In total frustration I stopped going to the nutritionist and continued on without the very expensive supplements.

While still seeing this nutritionist and during my training down at the beach, I ended up joining a beach boot camp which I absolutely loved! Great workouts on the beach: pulling tires in the sand, med balls, resistance bands, and last man up runs down the strand. Basically, tons of cardio but I loved it!

In May of last year I went to a really great nutritionist, his name is David Allen at David Allen Nutrition. He’s the guy who takes Janet Jackson from fat to skinny. And, I’d seen first hand how he’d taken a girl I used to see at Gold’s Redondo from regular size to super skinny. I thought the super skinny look bordered on anorexic but figured I’d give him a shot. He did blood work and saliva testing. He told me my metabolism was shot, my adrenals were fried, and I was insulin resistant. I bought a whole new slew of supplements and protein powder from him and he modified my diet slightly. I started with 7 days of no carbs then I would alternate between hi-carb and lo-carb days throughout the week. The supplements were great but expensive. The diet program was easy for me to follow since I’d pretty much been eating that way all along. My body fat percentage decreased here and there but I just didn’t see the results I was hoping for. Yes, I realize that anorexic isn’t pretty but I always wonder when I see a Nicole Richie or some other overly thin actress or celebrity…how do you get like that? Clearly, not how I want to look but still…

In November ’08, I got laid off along with 999 of my other co-workers so, paying for a nutritionist was going to cut it for me any more. I continued on with the nutrional aspects on my own as usual without the supplements. In March ’09, I decided to start taking a fat burner supplement I had sitting in my drawer at home called Stimerex in the hopes that maybe after years of not taking them that they would work like they used to when I was younger. The Stimerex gave me tons of energy and definitely curbed my appetite so I took them for about 6 weeks. Yes, these old pills still had ephedra in them…very old school. I’ll go into fat burners, ephedra, and other supplements in another blog post. Well, still nothing, body stayed the same.

In May ’09, I saw an ad that said, “Been Told Your Thyroid is Normal…But Still Feel Fatigued or Unable to Lose Weight?” The name of the place sounded familiar Holtorf Medical Group, they were local so I figured what the hell, and gave them a call. Turns out that a photgrapher friend of mine had told me about this place about a year ago, she had gone to them for hormone issues and raved about them. After speaking to the receptionist and explaining my situation, she referred me to their nurse practitioner and I scheduled an appointment. I went to my first appointment and brought my old labs from my previous nutritionist. After looking over my labs and a lengthy discussion, she determined that I needed additional blood tests to check my reverse T3 and leptin levels. In the interim, she put me on 10 mcg of T3 for 10 days to start then bumped up to 20 mcg until my next appointment 3 weeks later. The T3 definitely changed my energy level, I didn’t even know I had a low energy level since I’m such an upbeat person all the time. But, even though I felt like I had more energy, I still didn’t lose a pound.

So, I went back after 3 weeks and my labs were back. My Free T3 was 2.9 (norm 2.3 – 4.2), CRP was 3.13 (should be under 1.5 but, I worked out that day so that may have caused the inflammation around my heart), Reverse T3 was 340 (norm 90 – 350 but should be under 150), and my Leptin level was 4.0 (norm <32.1) which meant that my leptin level was way too low. When the leptin level is that low, the body stores fat. Still no weight loss and I was really bummed. She told me that once the thyroid gets fixed the weight will drop off. Since I am insulin resistant, she prescribed injections of Byetta, which has been found to assist people like me with weight loss.

To be continued…

So I went back to Holtorf on July 31st and my labs showed great improvement! I dropped 8 pounds and my Free T3 went from 2.9 to 2.2 (a little low but o.k.), Reverse T3 went from 340 to 180, my Glucose was a little high at 96 (norm 65-99), my Vitamin D level was low at 38.5 (norm 32 to 100), my cholesterol was great but, my CRP level was even higher than the last time. It went from 3.13 to 6.94 (should be under 1.5) and this time, I didn’t work out for 48 hours prior to my blood test so I was a bit worried.

The doc took me off of Byetta injections and started me on GlucoSX. She also bumped up the T3 (triiodoliothyronine 40 mcg), and had me continue Adrenal Repair, Cardio H, Fish Oil (2,400 mg), and added Cortisol and Vitamin D (5,000 iu). She also ordered another blood test to check my Homocystine level for additional information on my elevated CRP level. I should have the results of that test back next week. In the meantime, a childhood friend who is an Internist suggested I take 1 Baby Aspirin a day to help with the inflammation.

So, that’s where I’m at as of mid-August. Hopefully, I’ll have more good news soon! Until then, xoxo Fit Chica

49 thoughts on “My Battle with Thyroid, Leptin, and Insulin Resistance

  1. I was studying something else about this on another blog. Interesting. Your perspective on it is diametrically contradicted to what I read in the first place. I am still pondering over the different points of view, but I’m tipped to a great extent toward yours. And irrespective, that’s what is so super about contemporary democracy and the marketplace of ideas online.

    • I’m not sure exactly what you are asking but I’m assuming you mean will these issues happen to both men and women and I would say yes. If you want more specifics, let me know. Thanks! Fit Chica

  2. Your blog is so informative … ..I just bookmarked you….keep up the good work!!!!

    Hey, I found your blog in a new directory of blogs. I dont know how your blog came up, must have been a typo, anyway cool blog, I bookmarked you. 🙂

  3. I want to know what happened with the low thyroid, insulin resistance, etc. I’m in the midst of that battle now. I’m 39 and always been naturally thin and now…I’m gaining weight no matter what I do.

    • I go to Holtorf Medical Group every 6 months. I get my blood work done prior to my appointments to check my thyroid levels (T3,T4 & Reverse T3), leptin and CRP. I am now on a combo of T3, T4 & a daily shot of Victoza. This combination keeps the weight off.

  4. I too am going to Holtorf Med group. I’m on 25 mcg of the reverse T3. I will be bumping up tomorrow to 37.5.
    I love Holtorf med group. I feel so much better already. But have you experienced any heart palpitations or flutters? I’m really concerned about that aspect of the meds.

    • Hi there! I am now on 87.5 mcg of T3. I haven’t had any issues with heart palpitations or flutters. I take my T3 first thing in the morning and make sure not to eat for at least 1 hour after taking it. Also, make sure that you do not take any minerals (i.e. iron) within 2 to 4 hours of taking T3.

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  10. hi,
    i too struggle with all the systems u have . ki am currently on armouir thyrpoid just getting off phtermine, at 141 pd 5 3″. Im curious to kmow what what youe weight prior to byettta and are ther eany side effects

    • Hi Christina!
      I am currently on 87.5 mcg of T3 (triiodoliothyronine) and 15 mg of phentermine. I was on the Byetta last year for about 2 months at that time, I weighed about 130 lbs and I’m 5’0″. The only side effect I encoutered was nausea but that only happened if I didn’t eat within about 10 minutes of the injection.
      It’s been a year now and my T3 has come back down to a normal range and I’m down to 115 lbs. My only issue now is that my leptin level dropped to from 4 to 0 and if I tried to up my calorie intake or add carbs, I started gaining again. So, I am now on 60 mcg 2x’s a day of Symlin and it’s working great! My weight stays between 112 to 116 lbs and I look and feel great!
      Hope this information helps.
      In Good Health,
      Jennifer aka FitChica

  11. Thanks for sharing your story, I have had a similar situation going on for about three years, and a hell of a time getting someone just to give compounded thyroid, which kind of slowed down my weight gain, but then I was put on a medifast diet for about two months or so, kind of kept it off and then was put on testosterone before xmas and boom 10lbs back on, mostly on my butt and legs. GREAT. I am a track cyclist, work out every day, and I also do about an hour of ashtanga every day. My doc was ADAMANT it wasnt the testosterone that made me pack it on but was too much of a coincidence. when I first went to her, my blood sugar was just under 100, my cortisol was high as well. I had her do an rt3 test ( I marked it on my labs) and low and behold, I did the ratio and I am too low on the ratio, my rt3 wasnt as high as yours but its getting there. anyway I had to call and TELL them to put me on T3 only to see if it will help. I am on 20mcgs hopefully that will be enough, getting them to up the dose will be tough. she is insistent that my recent weight gain is adrenal but I have very few adrenal symptoms now and my pupil reflex is quick and sharp. I am taking a mild adrenal support. I really want my old body back, not just because I looked great, but as an athlete its just not efficient to be carrying all that metabolically inactive weight around. oh btw I had my bf tested recently…..29.5%!. my bmr is ok, but not great, and my av temp post menstruation is in the low 97’s. Hopefully this will start me back on the right track. once my thryroid gets a bit stronger will keep my carbs lower to help the insulin sensitivity.

  12. HHHmmm — I am really glad I ran onto your post. I googled the Triiodoliothryronine – as I too am taking this and am a Holtorf patient.
    I am somewhere in your ballpark – same game! lol
    I am 55 yrs though and have fought low thyroid almost all my born days – because although I knew at age 14 yrs there was a problem – the medical community only did one test on the TSH – and it was within normal range….so they said,

    So just in the past year I have been trying to get balanced out myself.

    I am getting things worked out – back in Sept ’10, my cholesterol was 268. This month it tested out at 202. Yea!!

    But I am still trying to lose weight too, and can’t seem to make it budge. Am due to talk to the nurse practitioner next week. I am thinking that increase in Triiodo…. will help? We’ll see.

  13. I have followed the same regimen with holtorff for years and not lost a pound. I do feel better. but Lord they are an expensive dr visit and the supplements are very expensive. des anyone know of a less expensive alternative?

  14. I’ve been on a wild goose chase and I’m so grateful that people with this information are putting it to good use. I want to check out these doctors, I’m impressed. :o)

    My issue wasn’t’ just a weight battle, I came down with PCOS and endometriosis. I lost an easy 5 pounds by avoiding high fructose corn syrup and running distance, but I was running distance AND putting on weight before that. My bloodwork came back showing my glucose under 90 after avoiding hfcs and getting my cardio.

    What you’re doing right IS working in your favor.

    So there’s no other explanation except for insulin spikes.

    And of course, pituitary glands have insulin receptors (and pancreas beta cells that release insulin have estrogen receptors!).

    This info was my saving grace after fussing with Anthem Blue Shield, exploitative doctors and exploitative big pharma.

    I cleared my endometriosis up by fixing my metabolism. I was taking iodine, and when I stopped I noticed that my cholesterol went up. I also took carnitine and that’s when that endometriosis mess cleared up. No oral contraceptives, no surgery… just carnitine!

    Leptin tells the thyroid to send T3 to tell your body to make carnitine out of methionine, lysine and B vitamins. If your body doesn’t make the carnitine, that homocysteine seems to turn into LDL/triglycerides. Or if your body doesn’t use the cholesterol to make reproductive hormones – the body can have high LDL.

    This is what I’ve learned, this might help.

    -Leptin tells thyroid to secrete T3. (T3 tells body to make carnitine)

    -Leptin is blocked by ghrelin which is triggered by INSULIN (insulin is triggered by a high ATP/ADP ratio).

    Even anorexics are hyperinsulemic because the body drops the ADP ratio to “conserve fuel’ which raises the ATP/ADP ratio that closes the K+ATP channel and the pancreatic beta cells release insulin. This is why people ie. Oprah yoyo diet. They were not careless, this is just how biology works.

    17 beta estradiol INCREASES ATP. Therefore 17 beta estradiol (I don’t know about estrone though) does cause insulin release. And flushes out carnitine. This is why it is easy to gain weight on the pill, why it’s easy for pregnant women to gain weight. Carnitine is also passed through breast milk. So it Is easy for breast feeding women to gain weight. Women are not making this up, there is hard scientific evidence behind this.

    -carnitine burns fat. You cannot lose weight without it.
    The CPT1 pushes the long chained fatty acid into the mitochondria to be burned as fuel. If ADP gets too low from “over-exercise”… insulin triggers the development of Malonyl CoA which blocks the CPT1 which is why you can’t burn fat and create lactic acid.
    The CPT2 sits inside the cell and pulls the long chain fatty acid into the mitochondria to be burned as fuel. Sometimes palmate isn’t converted palmate CoA and CPT2 isn’t developed properly and it releases inflammation, Ca2+ ie. Rhabdo. I’ve had this before- I think it’s from odd chain fatty acids I get from milk.

    it clears up with biotin, Omega 3s and yes I drank coffee to flush out. .

    But without T3, you wouldn’t have much carnitine at all.

    I DO know that arginine increases Nitric Oxide which increases Leptin. My T3 is kind of low too, I’m not taking thyroxin yet.

    I also know that Asians, due to a very healthy Omega 3 fat diet have low leptin levels yet manage to remain rather thin. (Go to Sawtelle if you want to see how skinny Japanese girls are). They get a lot of iodine in their diets. These skinny girls DO eat. All the skinny people I know eat exactly like this and stay active (My uncle is in his 50’s and is rather trim for a lush)

    There’s a lot of omega 3’s which fight inflammation and iodine, a way to keep the metabolism going despite a low leptin level.

    I find this stuff fascinating.

  15. I’m 57, and have been low thyroid my whole life. High leptin levels so hungry all the time it’s horrible! Insulin resistance, low body temps like 96.6 most of time. Not one doctor can help nor understand the frustration this puts on woman! I’ve not been able to lose weight my whole life without keeping myself on low calories anytime I would go up to 1,300 calories I’d just gain weight! So many days of depression and angry hurt mad that not some one knows how to help you?

    • OMW Debbie you sound just like me…it makes me want to rip out my hair. I am so desperate to loose weight. I can do everything and nothing works. I have the same issues as you…..what the hell do I do????
      I am 170 pounds and will eat nothing but veggies for 2 weeks and not drop a gram…messed up. Jess help!!!

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    • My weight has decreased considerably over the last few years. I take a .6 mg shot of Victoza daily and have regular blood tests to determine the correct levels of T3 and or T4 that I should be taking. Additionally, 3 years ago I stopped eating meat so NO beef, chicken, turkey, pork, etc. I still eat eggs and fish but don’t do much dairy. I went from being between 116 to 120 lbs. to now maintaining 100 to 105 lbs. which is much more comfortable for me as I’m only 5 ft. tall.

  20. This is also similar to my story. How did you determine that you are insulin resistant? I have not heard of a test for that…

  21. I know this post is a bit old but did your Leptin level ever raise? If so, how did you get it up? I have Hashimoto’s/Hypothyroidism and struggle to get my Leptin level up. My thyroid is optimal after years of figuring it out for myself.

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