Are you eating right and exercising, but still can’t lose weight? Learn about 5 commonly overlooked setbacks, and how to overcome them!
Note from Dena: This guest post is a follow up to last week’s post, 5 Steps to Lose Weight without Dieting. Both were written by Taylor Wilson, Dietetic Intern, as part of a research partnership between Back To The Book Nutrition and post-graduate nutrition students from the University of Houston.
Has weight loss been challenging, even though you are exercising and eating right? Do you feel cheated because your friend or spouse is able to shed their weight with seemingly less effort than you? It is infuriating when our weight loss just doesn’t seem to equal the work we are putting in.
However, the answer may not be to eat less or do more.
There could be a deeper issue (or issues) hindering your weight loss or even causing weight gain. Only by addressing these, will you finally lose the weight and keep it off!
5 Reasons You Still Can’t Lose Weight + What to Do About It
1. You’re Gaining Muscle
Do you get frustrated when, after working hard at the gym and making good food choices, the number on the scale won’t budge? Using a scale may work for some, but it doesn’t account for many factors that affect your weight, like water content or lean muscle mass, which is more dense than fat.
Opt for a progression marker that is more tangible, like watching for changes in how your clothes fit, or monitor changes using tests that measure body fat composition.
Don’t let the scale discourage you – continue exercising! Build those muscles! More lean body mass means a higher metabolism, which will increase the amount of calories burned throughout the day, optimizing fat loss. (1)
2. You’re Too Stressed
Whether you realize it or not, we all experience a multitude of emotional and physiological stressors daily. When ill managed, stress related hormones – adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol – constantly flood our system, overburdening the adrenal axis over time, which can increase blood sugar and insulin levels, suppress immune function, promote weight gain, and possibly even lead to Adrenal Fatigue/ HPAAxis Dysregulation (HPA-D).
Stress Reducing Techniques:
- Meditation or prayer
- Breathe Deeply: for 5 minutes
- Get a Massage
- Omit Unnecessary Commitments
- Get Organized
- Relaxation Exercises
- Address physical stressors like gut infections, nutrient deficiencies, and hormone imbalances with the help of a holistic practitioner
3. Your Thyroid is Sluggish
20 million Americans – at least 85% of them women – have thyroid disease. Sadly, most of them don’t even know it. (2) Thyroid dysfunction can significantly interfere with metabolism. If you’re having trouble losing weight, request a full thyroid panel, including thyroid antibodies to check for autoimmune thyroid diseases like Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
Tests Included in a Full Thyroid Panel:
- Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH)– Evaluates the pituitary’s ability to signal the thyroid to produce thyroid hormone
- Total Thyroxine (T4) – Measures the total amount of T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) produced by the thyroid gland
- Free Thyroxine (T4)– Measures the amount of T4 available to the cells and tissues
- Free Tri-iodothyronine (T3)– Measures the amount of T3 (active thyroid hormone) available to the cells and tissues once it has been converted from T4
- Reverse T3– Measures the non-functioning form of the active hormone T3
- Thyroglobulin – Measures levels of the precursor to thyroid hormone that remains within the thyroid gland
- Thyroxine-Binding Globulin (TBG) – Measures levels of the protein that transports thyroid hormone through the blood.
- Antithyroglobulin antibody (ATA)– Often measured along with TPO, these antibodies can attack proteins involved in the production of thyroid hormones rendering them dysfunctional
- Thyroid Peroxidase antibody (TPO)– Often measured along with ATA, these antibodies can attack proteins involved in the production of thyroid hormones rendering them dysfunctional
Request a full thyroid panel from your doctor or through Dena’s Holistic Nutrition Coaching services.
4. Your Hormones aren’t Balanced
Imbalances in estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels can wreak havoc on your weight loss efforts. Hormone imbalance can occur for a number of reasons, including having an excess of fat cells, which some experts consider to be a type of hormone gland since they themselves are able to secrete hormones.
Signs of Hormone Imbalance:
- Heavy or painful periods
- Migraines around the time of your period
- Irregular periods or breakthrough bleeding
- Hair growing in the wrong places
- Vaginal dryness
- Night sweats
If you’re experiencing even just a few of the above symptoms, consider getting your reproductive hormone levels checks as part of Dena’s Holistic Nutrition Coaching or through another holistic practitioner.
5. You’ve got Gut Issues
You have to have a healthy gut in order to reap the full benefits of any weight loss method – there’s just no way around it.
The gut is the heart – so to speak – of our digestive and immune health. GI pathogens, infections, and overgrowths often result in a downward spiral of events that generate inflammation and other factors that interfere with weight loss.
Even if no infections or pathogens are present, bacterial imbalances can hinder weight loss. For example, a disproportion between certain classes of bacteria – Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes – has been found to play a vital role in weight gain.
One study transplanted the microbiota of adult female twins – one obese and the other lean – into mice. It was observed that mice supplemented with the obese twins’ microbiota gained more weight, even though all mice were given the same diet. It was found that the transplanted microbiota of the obese twin contained a greater amount of Firmicutes and lesser amounts of Bacteroidetes, with the opposite being true for the microbiota of the lean twin. ( 3 )
The bottom line? The latest research confirms that you need a healthy gut to achieve a healthy weight!
How to improve your gut health:
- Cut back on sugar, especially refined and processed foods
- Take high quality probiotic supplements and/ or eat probiotic rich foods (yogurt, sauerkraut, fermented carrots or other veggies, etc)
- Eat fermentable fibers – addressed in the post 5 Steps to Lose Weight Without Dieting
- Drink bone broth
- Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
- Manage your stress – check out the Stress Reducing Techniques above!
- Work with a holistic practitioner to identify and overcome gut pathogens, infections, or imbalances and help you lose weight!
For more simple gut health tips and product recommendations, read Dena’s Zero Effort Gut Health eBook!
It’s tough to feel like you’re doing everything right, and still can’t lose weight. But embracing a holistic approach like this one that addresses all aspects of your body and health can help you finally break through the plateau and reach your weight goals!
Want help to manage your weight more holistically with the support of other women like you?
The 6 Week Whole Health Reset Group may be right for you! You’ll get weekly classes, printable lessons, dinner menus, a private Facebook group, and more, to help you address all 5 key areas of your health – eating, exercise, sleep, stress management, and spiritual health – for lasting change!
About the author: Taylor Wilson is currently a Dietetic Intern at the University of Houston. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in Nutritional Sciences. Taylor hopes to utilize her knowledge of nutrition to better aid and improve quality of life for those who who need it.
Disclaimer: Information on this site is intended only for informational purposes and is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult with a trusted healthcare provider before implementing significant dietary change. Read additional disclaimer info here.
- Swift, D., Johannsen, et al. (2013). The Role of Exercise and Physical Activity in Weight Loss and Maintenance. Prog Cardiovascular Dis.,56(4), 441-447. doi:10.1016/j.pcad.2013.09.012 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3925973/
- American Thyroid Association. (n.d.). General Information/Press Room. Retrieved August 02, 2017, from https://www.thyroid.org/hypothyroidism/
- Ridaura, V., Faith, J., Rey, F., Cheng, J., Duncan, A., Griffin, N., . . . Gordon, J. (2013). Cultured gut microbiota from twins discordant for obesity modulate adiposity and metabolic phenotypes in mice. Science,341(6150). doi:10.1126/science.1241214 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3829625/