Why can’t I lose weight? Other factors preventing weight loss
Many clients want to lose weight yet they eat healthily and exercise. In fact, often people are eating too few calories and exercising too much. Yet they cannot lose weight. This is because weight loss is not just about calories in and out. Weight management is affected by the general health of the body. This includes thyroid health, blood sugar balance, gut health and hormonal imbalance. Below are a few reasons why you may not be losing weight.
Although in simplistic cases increasing calories causes weight gain and decreasing calories causes weight loss, there are often other complications in the body and low calorie diets do not work long-term for weight loss. The body needs energy to function: for breathing, digesting, for brain function and for all the metabolic reactions that go on all the time. The minimum amount of energy in calories (k/cal) needed to maintain normal body function at rest is called basal metabolic rate (BMR). If too few calories are taken in, the body will conserve energy and slow down metabolism and heart rate, decrease body temperature and conserve body fat to protect itself from starvation. Avoid calorie counting and focus on eating real, whole foods.
Emotional, mental and physical stress affects the body in numerous ways. Stress can increase inflammation leading to other diseases and metabolic dysfunction. Stress raises adrenaline, which diverts blood flow away from the digestive organs. This affects digestion and the body burns glucose instead of fat, which is stored. Long-term stress leads to raised levels of cortisol and this can affect gut and immune health and break down muscle. High levels of this hormone can cause weight gain around the middle, a risk for metabolic disease. Consider finding ways to manage stress such as including breathing techniques or meditation into daily life.
When certain foods are eaten, our blood glucose levels rise. Insulin is released by the pancreas to move this glucose into cells so the body can use it for energy. Some of the energy is used, some is stored in the liver and muscles and any left over is stored as fat. Refined carbohydrates such as foods made from flour and sugar cause sharp spikes in insulin production and this could cause long-term damage such as insulin resistance, where insulin levels remain high. Raised insulin levels can lead to weight gain and type 2 diabetes. Stress can also raise insulin levels through raised cortisol hormones. It is important to avoid refined carbohydrates and eat a diet that supports balanced blood sugar levels. This includes plenty of vegetables, some fruit, a small amount of good quality whole grains such as rye, beans, pulses, quality meat, fish and eggs and foods such as avocado, nuts, seeds and olive oil. Ask your GP for an insulin test if you are finding it difficult to lose weight yet you exercise and eat a healthy diet.