What if your health and weight loss struggles aren’t your fault?
What if by doing a few things differently, you could jumpstart your weight loss today?
Weight loss resistance is the term I use to describe the common syndrome I see in people with metabolic damage who fail to lose weight despite following a healthy diet and exercise program and continuously suffer from a host of troublesome symptoms including low thyroid, food intolerances, low sex drive, GI symptoms, and fatigue.
Rather than prescribing stricter diets and even more exercise, as a naturopathic doctor I recommend taking a deeper look at any metabolic, hormonal, or physiologic imbalances that may be causing your body to hold onto excess weight. In my experience, I’ve discovered several culprits, many of which are overlooked by other doctors and end up creating weight loss resistance. If you’ve been working hard to lose weight but aren’t seeing the results you deserve, I can help you with these possible reasons.
Hidden Food Allergies
Not Enough Sleep
Too Much Stress
Blood Sugar Imbalances
Hidden food allergies are the #1 cause of weight loss resistance. The most common offending foods I see are gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, and sugar. These foods can cause irritation and inflammation that keeps our immune system constantly fired up and makes us feel puffy and bloated. Once the immune system is thrown off, that sets the stage for metabolic damage, which can make weight loss impossible.
When thyroid hormone levels are low, our metabolism slows down, and weight loss stops. Our thyroid can be negatively impacted by many factors including high cortisol, selenium, iron, or zinc deficiency, toxins, and food allergies. If you suspect a thyroid problem, make sure to get your TSH, free T3 and T4, reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies tested and make sure they are in optimal range- it’s worth it.
The top three hormonal causes of weight loss resistance are estrogen dominance, insulin resistance, and high cortisol. You wouldn’t know it either, but elevated testosterone in women or elevated estrogen in men will make weight loss nearly impossible.
Not only do we have to make sure our estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, and insulin are all in proper balance for weight loss, we also need to consider hormone resistance. We see progesterone resistance in PMS, insulin resistance in metabolic syndrome, and leptin resistance in obesity, but we can also have resistance to thyroid, cortisol, and estrogen. Once hormone resistance has set in, no amount of bio-identical hormones or dieting will fix this. The body adjusts to this by increasingly raising your hormone levels and ultimately slowing down your metabolism. The solution is to reset the efficiency of your hormones by repairing and growing new hormone receptors- something we’re good at and love doing!
Numerous studies have shown that environmental toxins interfere with our hormones and can cause weight gain. Toxins get stored in our fat cells and block our fat burning hormones. Xenoestrogens, which are synthetic chemicals, are rampant in the environment and disrupt the balance of estrogen in both men and women. I start anyone who’s struggling with weight loss resistance on a specially designed 28-day metabolic detox because it’s the best way to help the liver get rid of any accumulated toxins safely and efficiently and speed up weight loss efforts.
Lack of sleep impairs weight loss by increasing hormones that signal hunger, leading to overeating and cravings for starchy, sugary foods. Getting less than 8 hours of sleep a night or interrupted sleep has been shown to lead to creeping weight gain and halts weight loss. Your Z’s are necessary.
When we are under excessive stress, our adrenal glands release cortisol, our stress-handling hormone. Chronic stress leads to high cortisol and eventually cortisol resistance, which blocks the function of your other key hormones and leaves you feeling tired, burnt out, and weight loss resistant- there’s that word again. There are many chronic stressors to consider including mental/emotional stress, food sensitivities, blood sugar imbalances, hidden chronic infections (i.e. Viral, parasitic, bacterial), excessive exercise – basically anything that is a perceived stress on the body.
Specifically, it’s the wrong kind of exercise that can make weight loss impossible. Studies have shown that long duration, high-intensity cardio, like training for a marathon, is one of the worst things you can do for weight loss because it causes chronically elevated cortisol levels that favors fat storing over fat burning- interesting, right?
Blood sugar imbalances occur when you eat too many refined carbs and sugars, not enough protein, and fiber- stress has an effect as well. This mismatch causes your blood sugar and insulin to spike upwards only to come crashing down in the next hour, leaving you tired, mentally foggy, and irritable. Every time your blood sugar spikes and plummets, you send stress signals to your body to hold onto fat, and that sends your cortisol and insulin levels into chaos. Chronic blood sugar imbalances go on to create chronically elevated cortisol and insulin, which shuts down weight loss.
The GI tract is linked very closely with our ability to lose weight. When problems occur in the GI tract, we don’t have enough good bacteria (aka dysbiosis), we can’t absorb our nutrients, and we develop food sensitivities that cause inflammation, which prevents us from being able to burn fat. Poor gut health can further sabotage our fat loss by blocking our thyroid hormones and increasing our estrogen (leading to estrogen dominance).
To get the most out of your weight loss efforts, we need to work smarter and as a team- not just harder. We want to determine which of these culprits are throwing off your weight loss efforts!