9 Reasons That You Can’t Lose Weight
Do you struggle to lose weight even with diet and exercise? Have you been gaining weight but feel confused because nothing else has changed? You are not alone. This is a growing problem and one that carries with it a lot of stress and frustration. I am here to tell you that there is an underlying cause and it is not as simple as calories in versus calories out. Read on to learn more!
First of all, I want you to know that you are valuable and beautiful no matter what the number on the scale or society says. The goal is to be healthy, capable, and strong; not rail thin. Please be realistic about your goal weight. As athletes, we need muscle and power. When my weight dips below a certain point, I become weaker and frail which is counterproductive to my training and racing. Yes, I can run more efficiently at an optimal weight, but there is a fine line between that and losing strength, power, and vitality. Now that I have put that out there, we can move on!
The body is a complex system that needs to be fine-tuned to work optimally. Unfortunately, there are many things in our modern world that can skew the balance. Stubborn excess weight is just a symptom that things have gone awry. I am going to discuss a few of the issues that might be at the bottom of your weight troubles:
1. Chronic stress: This is a rampant problem in modern society. The body was designed to compensate well for acute stressors, but when the call for stress relief is prolonged, there are serious consequences. Your adrenal glands take the hit by pumping out a ton of cortisol, chronically high levels of which have been linked to all kinds of health issues including obesity. In fact, belly fat contains high numbers of cortisol receptors and is reinforced by high levels of circulating cortisol.
2. Hormonal Imbalances: This is the one that everyone thinks of, but it is far more complex than most realize. The axis of control between the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands is easily disrupted. This can occur due to chronic stress, high sugar diets, gut flora imbalances, and the list goes on. If these problems persist over time, the intricate hormonal interplay between these organs is impacted. Thyroid hormone levels alone play a large role and should always be investigated and supported. Again, there is an intricate system that influences thyroid hormone secretion, production, and conversion. The trickle-down effect involves suboptimal function of the multiple organs including those responsible for producing sex hormones. If estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are not in the correct range or ratio, you will gain weight. In women excess estrogen is linked to stubborn weight gain, while men with low testosterone are at risk.
3. High sugar diet: When you eat a chronically high sugar diet, your pancreas is forced to produce large amounts of insulin which pulls the excess glucose into the cells for use and stabilizes the blood glucose level. Over time, the cell receptors become desensitized to the constant barrage of insulin and the individual develops insulin resistance. The result is elevated blood glucose levels and consequently increased fat synthesis. In severe cases, the pancreas gets tired and stops producing insulin: Enter type 2 diabetes.
4. Toxicity: We live in a toxic world. There is no way around that! Sometimes an individual is either excessively exposed or lacks properly functioning detoxification mechanisms. In these cases, the body needs to protect itself from toxicity and may do so by sequestering toxins away in fat cells. As you can imagine, these fat cells are extremely stubborn, by design.
5. Nutritional deficiencies: Most Americans eat a nutritionally deficient diet. We are meant to eat organically grown fruits and vegetables from nutrient-rich soils which are present when plants are grown on a rotational small scale. Unfortunately, this is a rare scenario in today’s world. Deficiencies of vitamins D and B, iron, and magnesium are just a few that have been linked with weight gain. Synthetic vitamins and minerals are not recognized or absorbed in the same way as food. If additional supplementation is needed, choosing whole food-based supplements is by far the best option!
6. Chronic sleep deprivation: We all know that restful sleep is important to health. This is the time during which our body rebuilds and resets itself. If you are not getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night on average over the long term, you are at risk for hormonal and metabolic imbalances that lead to weight gain. The most important hours for restorative sleep are between 10:00 pm and 2:00 am so try not to miss that window!
7. Neurotransmitter imbalances: The brain is absolutely amazing in complexity! There is an interplay between neurotransmitters that is mind-boggling. Issues such as hormonal and blood glucose imbalances, chronic stress, and lack of sleep can all affect the delicate balance. This commonly leads to weight gain through appetite and mood changes.
8. Inflammation: If you are struggling with extra weight, you might be experiencing symptoms such as joint pain, brain fog, depression, anxiety, and fatigue. All of these are caused by inflammation which is markedly increased in obesity. As you can imagine, feeling this way makes it harder to make lifestyle changes. It is a very difficult cycle to break.
9. Gut flora imbalance: The type and number of bacteria living in your intestines have a profound effect on your health. Research shows that alteration here can lead to hormone and neurotransmitter changes, inflammatory processes, appetite alterations, and more. A basic tip for gut health is to eat more fiber because that is what the good bacteria like to eat. I would also advise against a one-size-fits all probiotic (we are all different!). Finally, remember that everything is connected! Your gut microbiome is the result of your environment, diet, stress levels, and lifestyle.
Wow! That is a lot of information, and it is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to digging deep into the underlying causes of difficult weight loss. Through some good detective work and targeted interventions, functional medicine can make a huge difference. These issues are all reversible! If you are interested in learning more, please feel free to reach out to me via email, phone, or schedule a free 15-minute telephone consultation here.