Energy Usage

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I'm diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. my basal metabolic rate is higher. Metabolising food and oxygen still works, keeps me alive and does all the things it used to do but at a higher rate now. As the "food" and oxygen are metabolised, where is all the energy that's produced going? So - anybody have any idea where all that energy goes?

Can't find a word about it on the net anywhere. Very curious...


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  • Posted

    The metabolism itself takes energy and your digestive system will ramp up, your heart rate goes way up and you could get jittery or have tremors. That's my symptoms, everyone has a different set of them. You can also be restless and move faster or be more fidgety.

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    • Posted

      Hi Elise,

      Thanks for having a good-go at that one. Do you have any pointers to articles/blogs/videos/podcasts etc about this?

      Metabolism is not one thing, it's really three:

      1. The conversion of food in to energy
      2. The conversion of food/fuel to building blocks for proteins and other "stuff"
      3. The removal of waste products from your system get this weird chicken and egg situation where metabolism requires energy to do the work necessary to produce energy. Luckily it doesn't require much! But it's a demand driven system. Say if you lift a weight with your arm; the muscle fibres need to contract. They need energy to do that. So bullet point 1 above is needed; we need to metabolise food in to energy and pass it to the muscle fibres so they can contract and therefore lift the weight. Actually, the fibres also require water and oxygen. So you can probably see how when you start doing a lot of hard work - say running fast. Your muscles also need that oxygen and so because there is demand, your heart beats faster to keep up with demand.

      A feature of hyperthyroidism is that heart palpitations (very high heart rate) can be heard by their owner. I'm an athlete and believe me - if you do a hard hard training session, you can hear your heart. It feels as though it's about to break free of your rib cage. It's because the work you asked your muscles to do was so extreme that your heart had to beat really hard and really fast to deliver oxygen to those muscles. By the way, a protein in your red blood cells called haemoglobin is responsible for grabbing oxygen from your lungs and delivering it to the places in your body that need it.

      So you can see it's a demand-driven system. As you work harder, the metabolisation requirement goes up.

      My question here is "what is making the energy requirement that's causing us hyperthyroidism patients to have increased metabolism? Where is all that extra energy going? If I, as a hyperthyroidism patient am sat in bed doing nothing with a heart rate of 180 that's an awful lot of oxygen being delivered around my body for no reason( I'm sat in bed doing nothing). That might get me a 17 minute 5k run under normal circumstances, Where is my energy being used?

      Sorry it's a long question - I cannot find the answer on the Internet. So all help most appreciated.

      I'm trying to work out if hard exercise should be encouraged or avoided for speediest recovery.



      I think your heart rate is a response to a need for oxygen

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    • Posted

      I'm a lay person so don't have any empirical evidence for you. But I would definitely talk to your medical team before working out because the feature of hyper palpitations is they never abate. A sign of peak fitness is the speed your heart returns to normal right? So you risk your heart being overworked and growing too large if it continues too high for too long.

      I don't see it as chicken and egg's more like a coal power station for me. You need energy to make energy.

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    • Posted

      Hyperman, when you have hyperthyroidism, you don't need demand to drive the system. Your thyroid is stimulating your heart and digestive system with free T4 and Free T3. Those two hormones are what control heart rate and digestion, even without exercise. With exercise, your pituitary will stimulate the thyroid to produce more hormone, which will further stimulate all the metabolic processes in your body. In other words, it's not entirely demand driven - your heart beats without eating food or even breathing air (hold your breath, your heart still beats). With hyperthyroidism, there is so much thyroid hormone circulating that your brain stops stimulating the thyroid, so you have a lowered TSH. This is why bloodwork diagnosis for hyperthyroidism shows low TSH and high Free T3 and Free T4.

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  • Posted

    Hi Hyperman, (I like your name:)

    Depending on what type of hyperthyroidism (e.g., Graves disease), high metabolic rate is not the cause of the disease; it's the symptom or effect of the disease. The cause of this high metabolic rate comes NOT from energy demand, but the high amount of T4, T3 the patient's thyroid produces. And patient's thyroid produces high amount of the metabolic hormone because it is attacked by the autoimmune antibody TSI in GD case. Hence as long as the patient's own body (immune system) produce high amount of TSI and the patient is not treated properly, high metabolic rate becomes a norm and the patient remains in "unresting" condition. Usually if patient can't or don't use the energy cranked up, it will run out of body as heat more or less... The key point is: if the patient under this hyper condition tries to do excess exercise/work (or something else) to use or release the energy, it won't help recovery, but may worsen the condition because the cause of the disease is not addressed, and the hyper condition maybe escalated. It was advised that hyperthyroidism patients at the beginning should have total rest for 12 hours every day not including the 8 hours of sleep. Just my 2c. GL

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    • Posted

      I'll be sure to major on this area with the consultant at the next appointment.

      My heart rate was low (55) when the doc tested my HR/BP after the blood test. Had I laid on a bed for 10 minutes it would have dropped to 48. I do high volumes of physical training at hard pace. The blood test said:

      TSH - less than 0,01

      Free T4 of 23.6

      Free T3 of 8

      Perhaps these numbers make me only a borderline case. I hope I can carry on training, I've been an endurance sportsman for my whole life, it would be a terrible blow to never be able to train or race again.

      Thanks Mike - I like the way you describe things.


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    • Posted

      Hi Hyperman,

      I am afraid you misinterpreted your blood test numbers. Although without knowing the range from your lab, FT3= 8 means very hyper and same for TSH< 0.01. I think you are not on borderline, but in clear hyperthyroidism. Better check with your doctor...

      Remember, there are quite a few causes that could develop hyper condition. One prominent cause is "stress", not just mental stress but physical stress too! If not under hyper condition, physical training can be good for health. But under hyper condition, it could become a physical stress and have negative adverse effect. I would lay off heavy exercise for at least until lab numbers are in normal range (controlled). And then safely, gradually go back to less than regular routine first. It's a definite reminder that hyperthyroidism is a long-time, if not life-time illness and there is no fast way (quick fix) for recovery. GL

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