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  • Writer's pictureDr. Sheldon Bjorgaard, ND

5 Reasons you are not losing weight

Updated: Nov 27, 2019

1. Not Being Aware of Caloric Consumption

It may seem fairly obvious, but many people are completely unaware of how many calories they consume on a daily basis. Consuming more calories than we are burning with daily activity undoubtedly leads to weight gain. Fortunately, many calorie counting Apps are available that help keep track of daily calorie intake, making it easier to stay on track. Another option is to record all your food for one week to see what your average weekly consumption is. While exercise can burn extra calories, it’s usually not as much as people think, so tracking dietary intake is much more important, and also much more efficient that trying to burn calories off with exercise.

If you are having trouble figuring out how many calories are optimal for your body to function well and still lose weight, come into the clinic for a consultation and get started on a sustainable, healthy plan tailored to your individual lifestyle and goals!

2. Stress Hormones (Cortisol)

Studies show that high stress levels over a long period of time are associated with being overweight or obese. One reason for this is a major stress hormone in the body called cortisol. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands and released during periods of acute (short term) or chronic (long term) stress. While in the short term, cortisol can help us deal with physical and psychological stressors, over the long term it can be detrimental to our physical health. Furthermore, being overweight or obese is itself highly stressful; creating a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break. People experiencing chronic stress also tend to “self-medicate” with carbohydrate rich foods, sweets, and alcohol, which further perpetuates this vicious cycle.

With the help of specific dietary changes and the incorporation of stress relieving behaviors such as mindful eating, in addition to certain supplements that can lower cortisol levels, we can help you get a handle on your stress and get on track to losing weight and feeling comfortable in your own skin again.

3. Thyroid Hormone Issues

Thyroid hormones are associated with sluggish digestion, feeling cold all the time, and decreased metabolic rate or “slow metabolism”. Even though low thyroid hormone levels may be correlated with obesity and difficulty losing weight, the correction of the imbalance is much more nuanced that simply taking thyroid hormones. Furthermore, weight loss itself does in fact cause a “slowing” of the metabolism in the body’s effort to maintain homeostasis (i.e. prevent any changes in weight).

Appropriate testing of thyroid hormones is key, as unnecessary treatment with thyroid hormones may have harmful side effects. That being said, most people can benefit in supporting thyroid health with nutrition and nutritional supplements that provide co-factors and building blocks for optimal thyroid hormone function.

4. Female Hormones/Menopause

Both studies and experience show that weight loss tends to be difficult in the menopausal transition years. This is due to a number of reasons, from decreased energy for exercise in addition to an increase in the loss of muscle mass, which can result in a slowing down of the metabolic rate. Several strategies can be employed when dealing with hormone imbalances during menopause and menopausal transition.

During this time it is especially important to focus on a healthy, nutrient rich diet, fibre, and specific exercise to prevent the loss of muscle. In addition, certain cases may warrant the use of Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy to help alleviate bothersome symptoms.

5. Alcoholic Beverages

Most people are unaware of the caloric content of alcoholic beverages. One reason for this is often because these drinks are not satiating and don’t trigger the body’s “full” signals in the same way that food does. On the contrary, they can even cause more hunger and snacking! People may not even be over eating, but simply not realizing that they are consuming an excess of calories from alcoholic (and non-alcoholic) beverages. For example 1 glass of wine can cost up to 150 calories per glass, which can add up very quickly over the course of a weekend. The worst part about it is that these calories are empty calories (calories with no nutrient content), and will accumulate body fat rather than muscle mass. It is okay to enjoy alcoholic beverages in moderation, but when focusing on weight loss it may be worthwhile to cut out alcohol completely for a period of time.

In conclusion, there are many reasons one may have difficult losing weight or keeping weight off. Oftentimes, it is a combination of multiple biological, psychological, and social factors. Working with a Naturopathic doctor on a personalized and holistic weight loss plan can help you take back control of your health and wellness.

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