Weight loss is a problem many people are struggling with, and while the motivating factor to lose weight for many people is to just look and feel good, there are many health benefits to losing weight.
Common Symptoms of Excess Weight Include
Increased inflammation, this is the driving force behind many chronic diseases
Diabetes and insulin resistance, this can make it more challenging to lose weight
Hormonal imbalances, especially the sex hormones
Mood disorders like depression and anxiety
The first step on your weight loss journey is to identify the cause of why you are overweight, for many people this is simply eating too many processed refined foods, or not enough activity. There are many different diets out there but the first place to start is just trying to eat more real food and start moving more, and for some people this is enough.
What happens if this does not work? There are a number of different reasons why people cannot lose weight despite a healthy diet and exercise, and the first step is identifying the cause for you.
Why Can’t I Lose Weight?
Low Thyroid Function
Low thyroid is a common reason for weight gain, or doing all of the right things and not being able to lose weight, especially for women. Low thyroid affects 10-12% of the population but 60% of these people are undiagnosed, the common test for measuring thyroid function by your doctor is TSH but this test is a poor measurement of thyroid function and misses many people with sub-clinical low thyroid.
The main adrenal hormone is cortisol, which is a glucocorticosteroid, which plays an important role in glucose metabolism and your insulin levels. Cortisol is affected by stress, poor sleep, diet and chronic injuries, which is why it is important to take a holistic approach when it comes to weight loss, and not just focus on diet and exercise.
Imbalances in your adrenal function can make it hard to lose weight and easy to gain weight, even if you are eating well and exercising, in fact I often see adrenal fatigue with people who are training particularly hard, without eating enough calories for their activity levels.
Similar to thyroid function, your adrenals can affect many aspects of your health besides weight gain, this maybe fatigue, mood changes, hormone imbalances and skin issues to name a few
An imbalance in your sex hormones, particularly an excess of estrogen can make it hard to lose weight in both men and women. For men it can be excess weight around the chest and stomach, which is the most unhealthy area to accumulate body fat.
For women, an excess of estrogen can also make it hard to lose weight, and increase cravings for food, particularly if accompanied by a deficiency in progesterone.
Adrenal dysfunction can cause an imbalance in the sex hormones to so it is a good idea to test both.
Deficiencies in nutrients such as B vitamins, magnesium, iron, zinc, lipoid acid, co-enzyme Q10 and amino acids such as acetyl-l-carnitine can all affect your ability to convert carbohydrates and fats into energy.
These deficiencies can be caused by a higher demand for nutrients, digestion problems affecting absorption of nutrients, poor diet or even genetic factors.
There are specific blood tests that you can do to measure nutritional deficiencies but my favourite test is the Organic Acid Test (OAT) which specifically measures how well your body is metabolising fats and converting carbohydrates to energy.
Problems with digestion and in particular Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms are often caused by SIBO, which is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. These bacteria not only cause a lot of digestive symptoms like bloating, gas, reflux, constipation or diarrhea but they also influence the types of food we crave … leading to weight gain.
A lot of research has been going into the gut bacteria and how it can cause us to gain weight, it also affects our ability to absorb nutrients, so even if your eating a good diet you can become nutrient deficient. This can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, depression/ anxiety, headaches, skin issues and many other symptoms.