What to do if you can’t lose weight
Sometimes losing weight isn’t just about burning more calories than you eat. There are many factors that influence our metabolism and it’s not only about how much we eat but what we eat and when it eat it too.
There are many fad diets and weight loss plans out there but they’re not something I would recommend. They may allow you to lose some weight in a short period of time, but in the long-term, they can be damaging to your health. Eating nourishing real foods is a far better option, even if it means the weight loss comes at a slower rate.
If you struggle to lose those few extra pounds even though you’ve followed all the weight loss advice given to you, then there might be something else preventing you shedding weight.
Below are some common misconceptions about weight loss and what may be the true cause of your weight issues.
Food and weight loss misconceptions
- “Calorie restriction will help me lose weight” – not necessarily
- Fasting and calorie restriction can be beneficial in certain situations but long-term calorie restricted diets often have the opposite effect on weight loss and can often leave you feeling burnt out and exhausted. By not providing enough calories, your body sees it as starvation (a highly stressful situation for the body) and goes into preservation mode. This means your body will lower its metabolic rate in order to conserve calories, and so will store the food you eat as fat.
- “Eating fat makes me fat” – not all the time
- Based on research, low-carbohydrate (low sugar)increase metabolism better than low-fat diets (1). Fat has been demonised for decades but actually we need fat, and to be precise, we need good fats (think Omega 3 and 6, olive oil, avocados) in our diet to flourish, and yes, even to lose weight (2). Fats are part of every cell in our body, therefore, they are necessary for proper brain function, hormone production, to absorb certain nutrients and to combat inflammation.
- ”Reducing carbs will help me lose weight” – it depends
- If you have a sedentary lifestyle or can only do a small amount of exercise due to pain or health conditions, lowering your carbohydrate intake may help you lose weight faster. But if you are fairly active, or have tried a lower carbohydrate diet without success, having a moderate carbohydrate diet can stimulate fat loss.
Exercise and weight loss misconceptions
Any exercise, including walking and yoga, improves insulin resistance so doing any form of exercise you enjoy is important. However, for weight loss, it’s worth considering weight resistance together with your cardio exercises (3). It allows you to increase your muscle mass, which in turn means you can burn more calories. It also means your muscles utilise glucose better, without relying on insulin. Insulin is a fat storage hormone so by having sugar you increase your insulin levels. And if you have more sugar than your body can process, this extra sugar is stored as fat, especially around your organs (so-called visceral fat).
It’s been shown that a sedentary lifestyle is harmful – it can stall weight loss (4) and reduce the benefits of your exercise programme (5). It’s important to do so-called “non-exercise” physical activity throughout the day to avoid sitting too much. This can include walking/cycling to work, standing up in meetings, taking stairs instead of the lift, working at a standing desk and taking standing/walking breaks every hour.
When diet and exercise isn’t enough
Losing weight isn’t just about diet and exercise. If you have sorted out your diet and are exercising but with no obvious result, there are other things that may be preventing you from losing weight.
- Chronic stress leads to high levels of the stress hormone (cortisol) which makes us eat more and store fat (6).
- Sleep deprivation makes us hungrier and makes us choose sugary foods over more nutritious ones (7).
- An underactive thyroid doesn’t produce enough of the thyroid hormones (T4 and T3) and this, in turn, slows down your metabolism and will hinder your weight loss plans (8).
- Oestrogen dominance and insulin resistance can prevent you losing weight.
- Too much oestrogen causes difficulty losing weight (9).
- Insulin resistance – Insulin resistance happens when the cells in your body don’t respond to insulin very well. Insulin allows glucose to enter your cells. If you consume more sugar than the insulin in your body can process, the excess will move around your body rather than being absorbed by the cells. This damages your blood vessels, and eventually, it’ll be stored as fat (10).
- Compromised gut health – gut dysbiosis (a harmful composition of gut bacteria aka microbiome) and increased permeability (aka ‘leaky gut’) are strongly associated with obesity (11).
- Leptin resistance – cell resistance to leptin (leptin decreases hunger and appetite) can contribute to obesity as your brain doesn’t listen to leptin and may even think you’re starving and makes you hungrier so you eat more (12).
- Anaemia – obesity is significantly associated with iron deficiency (13). Low iron means there is a decreased ability of red blood cells to deliver oxygen to cells. Broadly speaking, oxygen and glucose are needed so that our cells can produce energy (or burn the calories if you wish). If oxygen transport to cells is compromised, you’ll not produce enough energy to fuel your body’s processes, which then directly impacts your ability to lose weight.
Healthy and sustainable weight loss takes time and dedication, especially if there are underlying health problems. If you’re interested in long-lasting results, without ‘lose weight fast’ gimmicks which can leave you fatter and sicker, please get in touch. If you work with me, I’ll help you discover the diet plan that’s right for you and your weight loss goals, and guide you towards a more healthy life.
Interested? Let’s talk about your weight loss, health, and wellness goals.