Training with Hypothyroid

This is a longshot since only 6-7% of the population have Hypothyroid, but hoping to find how others are dealing with structuring training and nutrition to work around this crappy disease.

For example, meds have to be taken on an empty stomach and you can’t eat for an hour afterwards. I do all my training in the morning and not being able to eat anything before a long SST or HIIT workout plainly sucks! I’d love to follow coach Chad’s advice to fuel for intervals, but seems impossible in this situation. Training in the evening s is a no-go with kids/family, but I may have to try and schedule HIIT in the late evening to see if that works.

I’ve had a hypothyroid condition since 1994, and it’s pretty much a non issue. I eat dinner at 6-7, take my thyroid right as I go to bed, and seldom give it a thought otherwise. I work out whenever I have time for it. What problems are you having. Am I missing something?

I’ve been dealing with it for about 6-7 years now. I wait about 45 minutes after taking my pill in the morning before eating and havent had any effects of the pill not being effective, I even drink coffee right after taking it. My T3 and free thyroxine levels stay right in the middle of the spectrum when my Dr does labs every 6 months. I’ve had some bad side effects with Synthroid…insomnia, anxiety to name a few. I’ve found the Armour Thyroid works best for me. I do often wonder how much it effects training and racing or should I say I often wonder if I would be faster if I didn’t have a thyroid issue.

Had under active thyroid for about 10 years now, initially went from running half marathons to struggling with stairs until it was diagnosed and brought to balance with meds, 125mg a day for me.

I take mine first thing in the morning and eat breakfast about 5 minutes later, never had issues.

In my experience the hardest point of this disease is that any time you feel a bit down or tired your mind starts thinking it’s thyroid related (which it can be) I’ve had a few instances of things going out of whack, there is even a brand (TEVA) that simply does not work for me so levels drop and life is a struggle. The chemist makes sure I do not get this brand now.

My advice, if you do feel low get tested again, demand it! I wish you well.

I’m a 54-year-old male. I’ve had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis since the early-nineties and was probably a contributor to my leaving cycling/racing in 1995 and ballooning up to morbidly obese proportions in the following 18 years. I’ve since been diagnosed, medicated for many years, and finally decided to return to a healthy lifestyle and cycling in 2013.

I don’t find the timing of my meds is interrupting my sleep, meals or training as I take it first AM, often that early morning nature break that is either of a sign of old age or adequate hydration :wink:

About 18 months ago, I started to notice my recovery from hard workouts was taking longer, I was constantly cold and tired, and even with careful eating and 12+ hours training a week my weight was creeping up. I chalked it up to getting older and didn’t even think I could be thyroid related since my numbers had been pretty stable for the last 10 years.

Then at last spring’s annual thyroid follow-up, I found out my thyroid function decreased drastically, my TSH, T3, and T4 where all way out of range. At that point, my endocrinologist switched me from Levothyroxine to Armour desiccated thyroid since many people have found it to be a better choice. Eight weeks later, after switching, my numbers where even worse and then I spent the next 8 months (over my racing season) trying to get the dosage dialed in so that I wasn’t hypothyroid. Last year’s racing season wasn’t horrible but not a great year either.

I’m feeling better than last year but not completely sold on the desiccated thyroid as it is >10x the price of Levothyroxine and I’m not sure I’m feeling any better than when I was dosed properly on Levothyroxine. I have my annual followup in a few weeks and I’m thinking about investigating going back to Levothyroxine and supplementing with T3.

I’m also learning that some research is saying that gluten is not good for people with auto-immune diseases. I’m not sure I could ever go completely gluten-free and have read that just a gluten-reduced diet may not offer any advantage. I also try to reduce the consumption of soy-based foods as there has been some research claiming it may lower the absorption of thyroid meds. I doubt I can ever give up beer or edamame.

The other thing to take into consideration is that as you deal with hypothyroidism the levels of hormone that your thyroid produces is constantly changing…sometime it produces more, sometimes less. So some days you may feel great and others not so great. After about 3 years of taking both Armour and Synthroid to get both my T3 and T4 levels up, my thyroid started to produce more hormones and suddenly I was hyperthyroid (which is not fun)…my doc had me drop the synthroid and cut back on my armour and after about 3 months I am testing smack in the middle of the range.

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Thanks for the replies. I’ve been on Levothyroxine for about a year, then and got re-tested after failing to recover adequately, feeling drained on group rides, and so forth. Doc bumped the meds and its all back to “normal”. Bugeye72, this has not been a set-it-and-forget-it experience for me so far! lots of ups and downs throughout the last two years, similar to your experience Craig Manning. I may go in again to get tested… constantly cold, dry skin, etc.

I am done with base phase and starting build. Looks like some of you aren’t having issues with absorption and eat right away. I’ll give that a go and see if I feel worse. Need to make sure I am fueled for tougher sessions.

I’m glad you brought this subject up. Generally speaking, my thyroid issues haven’t been very troublesome. My thyroid got zapped by radiation treatments back in 93 when I had Hodgkin’s disease. In recent years, my dosage has stayed pretty even and I’ve felt good. I just recently had my tsh checked and it had jumped up dramatically from what it has been for quite a while. At the end of October, I had some stomach issues for which I took Prilosec, and apparently, it has hampered the absorption of my levothyroxine(we hope that’s what it is!). I’m no longer on Prilosec so that should no longer be an issue. Hopefully things will be back on track when I test again in 6 weeks. I just finished ssbmv1, and figured that my fatigue was from that. Over the years, I’ve found it very hard to gauge the correctness of my dosing based on how I feel, it’s all so subtle and changes so gradually. Mostly I don’t think about it, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder about how many things it is affecting. Hmmmmm…

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7 years of Hashimotos here. A few years ago I went to complete supplementation, essentially zero natural thyroid production. A few learnings over the years that I found essential.

  • Find a doc that will listen to you and work with you.
  • there’s a huge difference for some people within the normal range. I prefer t/s/h to be nearer 1. I’m dead at 5.
  • being over dosed is as heinous as being under dosed. Euthyroid is a very narrow therapeutic window. For me it averages out to 160mcg, which means variable dosing.
  • For me, evening dosing made a difference. I give it 3 hours post meal, which sometimes means I set an alarm to take it at 2am. Sounds crazy but I notice a District improvement over am dosing.

I’ll second that on the nighttime dosing. For the first 20 years I always took it in the morning. My doctor, in trying to get my numbers right, told me to take it before bed on a pretty empty stomach, but at the same dosage. I was surprised, but finally my tsh was right where it should be.

So when we got it dialed in, finally, my cholesterol numbers, and triglycerides all got right. Prior to this, they had always been high. Anyone else had similar?

I too have to take Levothyroxine for my non existent thyroid. Mine was way hyper after having Hodgkins Lymphoma and had to take radioactive iodine to destroy it. I’ve been on 150 micro grams a day for the last ten years and never been told to take it on an empty stomach or wait before eating. And I’ve never had any problems. Needed to adjust the dose plenty in the first 18 months to get the right level but that’s all

I completely agree with @Fast4fun - to feel “normal”, I need my TSH near 1. At 3, I feel pretty bad and very low energy.

I take my Synthroid first thing in the morning on my way out to walk the dogs at 5:15am, so I naturally get 45 minutes to over an hour (or lots more) before I eat. For workouts during the week, all of mine are after dinner, as that’s the only time I have.

I may try in the evening… problem is I don’t eat dinner till 7:30 and then snack… that’s probably why your cholesterol is down, you stopped eating before bad :slight_smile:.

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I have the opposite, hyperthyroid. Same type of monitoring though. I trained/raced before I had it crop up, and now after. The biggest thing for me, is taking an extra of rest here and there even if I don’t need it. This has served me well over the last 18 months or so after being off the bike for 3 months, and then only being able to ride for an “easy” hour another 3 months after my initial onset. My thyroid is pretty normal now, and never went on the meds, hoping it stays that way. This is a great topic b/c as mentioned above, it effects such a small number of people.

I’m about to have my TSH checked, so I thought I’d drag this thread back up to the top again. I’m really glad that this thread was started, as it has made me much more mindful of my dosing and its effects. I noticed that a couple of you mentioned that you only feel “right” when your TSH is near 1. My doctor, historically, has claimed victory on my dosing anywhere under 5, and I think the lowest we’ve ever had it was right near 4. Some days I feel great, but I do feel like I feel slow and lethargic more often than I’d think is normal for an otherwise healthy, active person like myself. I’m expecting on my next round of blood work, it’s going to come in in the normal range, but on the high side, and I’m going to push my doctor on the idea of higher dosing to get the number down lower toward the 1 side of the normal range. Thanks everybody for your inputs on this. It drives me nuts to think that perhaps I’ve been missing out all these years.

I was diagnosed hypothyroid about 10 years ago. i took levothyroxine for years, taking it just after i woke up, i think there can be issues with absorption if you take it with iron supplements.

I didn’t really think about it for a few years, i just took a pill each day and had annual blood tests. I then went back to the doctors after struggling with aches and tiredness, and my dosage was upped, which sorted some things about but also caused other problems. I then tried NDT and reduced dose down, and now i am trying being medication free. My TSH is “outside reference range”, but i don’t really have any symptoms. My only concern is that i think i am more prone to viral infections.

So my advice is to try and consider how you feel, and don’t get too lost in the numbers of the blood test alone.

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I have been hypothyroid for almost 10 years now (I’m now early 40s). I had my thyroid removed after having Graves Disease and going hyperthyroid (twice). When first diagnosed hyper my resting heart rate was 122 :crazy_face: (and when it returned to normal on treatment I promptly gained about 3 stone in weight)!
I take Levothyroxine and have blood tests every 2 years - if I think I need to then I can bring the test forward. I’m around 3.5 for TSH I think, but it’s important to work as much on feel as you do on the blood tests. The problem is that it’s a bit like the boiling frog, the temp just creeps upwards slowly and you don’t notice.
It runs in families, so it’s important that if you have kids you are aware of this. My grandmother, mother, and sister have it, and my daughter was diagnosed last year (she’s now 9). As well as the usual adult symptoms, it can significantly impact on kid’s growth, so it’s doubly important that kids get checked if they have a family history and aren’t growing as expected or are always short on energy.


Sorry to resurrect an old thread but didn’t want to start a new one.

I’ve had Hypothyroidism for over a decade. It took me a while to get settled on my dosage. I just did my last adjustment two years ago so now I’m down to 176mcg and doing well.

Apart from all the other various awesome effects of low thyroid hormone production, my Hypo also presents me with a troubling issue. That is severe constipation. My doctor suggested adding more fiber in my diet so I started eating more fiber rich foods. Then we discovered that many high fiber foods have goitrogens, which of course can negatively effect thyroid production.

So my doctor has me waiting to eat until 2-3 hours after I take my pill.

I’ve been doing my trainer rides at night. I don’t train all that hard but feel fatigued enough during base and build that I will sometimes do 2 weeks “on” then 1 full week of rest and 2 weeks on which does help. Ive tried to push harder but that just seems to make me crash and burn.

Do you guys do many threshold and VO2 workouts? I’m wondering if I should dial back to mostly SS, and maybe I could handle more training days with less intensity (than FTP and VO2 workouts) and get to 3 weeks on 1 week off?

Also, interesting side note but did you know that both The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) wanted to ban T3 thyroid drugs as performance enhancing, lol?

Doesn’t feel like my performance is really “enhanced”.

Also it seems carbs are essential for healthy thyroid production as well. Which explains why that time a few years back when I tried a Keto diet (before I was cycling) was such a disaster.

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It’s hard to say how thyroxine affected my training (I’ve been injured and haven’t been able to train for ages) because I was already taking it when I started TR and have been on the same dose for ages. I did pretty much all of the low volume plans without modifying them, so I don’t think it was affecting me.

I’m slightly confused as what your issue is with goitrogens. As I understand it, they can negatively effect the function of your thyroid gland, but if you are taking synthetic thyroxine, your thyroid gland is not functioning anyway, and your TSH is kept stable by the medication?

I knew about UKADA wanting thyroxine banned - I believe it is because there have been rumours of athletes taking them as a way of burning extra calories and losing weight. Clearly this is not healthy, and if it is widespread they ought to ban it. I’m guessing that because we have a clear medical need then we could get a TUE if it was banned.


Thanks for the reply.

You might be correct, it sounds reasonable to me. My numbers have been good for a few years but who knows if anything I’m doing dietary wise has an effect.

At this point I’m superstitious about it. I’d roll chicken bones if I thought it would help, lol.