6 Unexpected Reasons Why You Can’t Lose Weight
I see a lot of men and women who have tried everything under the sun to lose weight but are still unable to lose weight or keep weight off. Some of my clients even have the perfect diet but still can’t lose weight. Weight loss isn’t black and white, and it doesn’t always come down to calories in vs calories out. There are numerous things that could be going on in your body which can affect weight loss, I’m going to touch on a few of these for you today.
1) You’re under eating or have tried too many low calorie/starvation diets
This is a mistake that a lot of dieters make. Just because you’re on a “diet” doesn’t mean you have to eat tiny morsels of food for each meal. Eating very little for a long period of time can make your body store whatever you eat as fat — just the opposite of what you want. It also causes your metabolism to slow down, making it more difficult for you to lose weight.
I’ve seen many female clients who have a really good diet but just aren’t eating enough to support their energy requirements, or they’ve tried so many diets in the past which are low calorie that they have now negatively affected their metabolism. Eating a low-calorie diet or restrictive eating for an extended period of time will cause some type of metabolic damage. This is one of the reasons why people experience plateaus.
What I recommend: Seeking professional help from a nutritionist who can teach you how to heal your relationship with food and help you to nourish your body with real natural wholefoods.
2) Under active thyroid (hypothyroidism)
You might realize the reason you’re feeling tired, sluggish, constipated or have difficulties with concentration or dealing with cold hands and feet might be due to a sluggish/under active thyroid. A sluggish thyroid can slow down metabolism, subsequently resulting in weight gain. Here in New Zealand, many people don’t consume the right foods to support thyroid health (i.e. iodine and selenium), because they are not added into our soils. Without being conscious of this and incorporating these foods into your diet, this could be affecting your thyroid health.
What I recommend: Getting a blood test done to check your TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels, T3, T4 and thyroid antibodies, then going to see a with a holistic health care practitioner with these results. Often doctors say that your levels are fine, when in fact they might be skewed towards one side or the other. Also, incorporate 3 brazil nuts into your diet daily to ensure you’re getting your daily dose of selenium, and sprinkle some kelp salt onto salads or roasted veggies daily to bump up your iodine intake.
3) You’re too stressed
When we are stressed, our body goes into the ‘fight or fight’ response. When this happens regularly or for an extended period of time our body constantly releases cortisol, a fat-storing hormone. So when we eat food our body is going to store more of that food as fat. It’s important to put aside 20-30 minutes each day for yourself, to unwind, meditate, journal, take a bath (whatever works for you) and de-stress! This helps to nourish our adrenal glands as it communicates to our nervous system that our life isn’t in danger.
What I recommend: Try meditation (even if it’s just for 5 minutes). I like to put my legs up against the wall for 15-20 minutes every night before bed, or meditate lying in bed in the morning. Other great options include reading, a walk around the block, having a bath, or simply just sitting and focusing on your breath, allowing your belly to rise and fall (breathing in for 4 counts, hold, then breathe out for 4 counts). Try to do this 2-3 times throughout the day to you relax, unwind and be present.
4) Hormonal Imbalances
Hormonal imbalances can hugely affect weight loss. Conditions such as PCOS, for example, can cause insulin resistance, which can cause weight gain, making it harder for you to lose weight. It’s also becoming more common these days for females to be estrogen dominant (especially when taking the OCP). Absorbing environmental estrogens is another factor to consider which can lead to estrogen dominance. Environmental estrogens are known as xenoestrogens. These are synthetic chemicals found in plastics, fertilizers, detergents and cosmetics. It is believed that these xenoestrogens can mimic our bodies’ natural estrogens. Excess estrogen can result in weight gain in both men and women.
What I recommend: Ditch the plastic drink bottles and lunch containers and opt for glass instead. Buy clean organic beauty products and organic produce whenever possible, and consider other contraceptive methods that aren’t hormonally based.
5) You’re not getting enough sleep
Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep may be hindering your weight loss goals. Sleep deprivation can slow down your metabolism and affect important hunger hormones such as leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is what tells your brain to stop eating, whereas ghrelin stimulates hunger and is produced in the stomach. Some research suggests that poor quality or inadequate sleep is associated with low levels of leptin and high levels of ghrelin, often resulting in weight gain, increased hunger and more cravings for carbohydrates.
What I recommend: Get a solid 8 hours of sleep each night. Create a healthy sleep routine. I’ve written about ways to improve your sleep which you can check out here – 10 Tips For A Great Nights Sleep.
6) You’re over exercising
I see this a lot in clinic. Over exercising can upset hormones and over-stimulate your nervous system, causing more stress to your body. Now don’t get wrong, exercise is still extremely important for weight loss and overall health, but too much of a good thing just isn’t right for some people. If you’re busy person, are stressed, anxious, have a lot on your plate, lacking good quality sleep, under eating, then you push yourself to exercise and do lots of HIIT (high intensity exercise), you’re doing yourself more harm than good. Your body is going to pump out more cortisol (hello fat storage), preventing you from losing weight.
What I recommend: Try limiting HIIT to 1-2 days a week and for no longer than 30 minutes. On other days do more restorative breath-based practices such as yoga, pilates or walking outdoors in nature.
If weight loss or keeping wight off is something you struggle with reach out for help today! Life is too precious to waste another day not feeling your best or feeling bloated or tight in your clothes. Get in touch with me today, you’ll be surprised how a few small diet and lifestyle tweaks can transform your health and weight!
Hi I’m Natalie, a Registered Clinical Nutritionist, health influencer, blog writer & recipe creator. My own health complications prompted me to make positive diet & lifestyle changes, revitalize my health leading to a career change from the corporate world to nutritional medicine. I believe in a wholefoods approach to good health, focusing on simple strategies for modern, busy people.