It’s not unusual to have clients coming to me frustrated because they are not able to to lose weight no matter what they try. Most of them have tried out a few diet plans by themselves (usually as a New Year Resolution) – and after several months of struggle and deprivation, spectacularly failed.
Well, this blog is dedicated to all of them. I’m going to explore ten reasons that might explain why your weight loss diet might not be helping you to lose weight.
1. You think you’re eating healthy when you’re not.
You follow a typical weight loss diet of five meals a day – dried bread and low fat fresh cheese. You take great care not even to lay a finger on a single gram of fat even if you’re craving for some yummy food. And you’re still not losing any weight.
Yes, calories are important, but so is the way your body reacts to those calories: in other words, where they come from. If you’re snacking all the time – especially on foods that disrupt your metabolism (sweeteners, anti–nutrients…) – you probably need to try something else.
Your body’s mechanism for feeling full or hungry is disrupted. And if you are restricting calories but still not managing to lose weight it means your body has decided it’s time to hang on to them, not get rid of them.
2. You’re stressed out: so you can’t lose weight.
Stress is the evolutionary response of your body to survive all the dangers it faces. And one of the greatest dangers we humans have faced throughout history is lack of food. So a response to stress is always accompanied by energy saving. This is beautifully put in an excellent study in ‘Nature reviews of endocrinology’ by George P. Chrousos
3. You’re gaining muscle
When you take a bet on improving your health, you’ll probably decide to download the Mammoth Hunters app and start exercising.
You’ll soon see results, because you’ll start to get rid of the fat and gain muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat but is more compact. So you may find yourself reducing in size – but your weight stays the same. Try taking photos before you start out on your plan, so you’ll be encouraged by seeing changes in your body shape.
4. If you don’t get moving, how can you expect to lose weight?
As I’ve said so many times before, there’s no such thing as a healthy sedentary person. Moving in a way adapted to your body not only improves your health and well-being, but it prepares your metabolism to reach your ideal weight and figure.
It’s not about exercising to lose weight: it’s about regularly exercising in a way that lets your body regain its health and natural shape.
5. Your body has forgotten to draw on its fat
If you’re eating all day, even in small quantities, your metabolism is in a constant state of absorption. It forgets how to draw on its fat reserves for energy. It’s good to practice Intermittent fasting once in a while. It tells the body to no longer rely on what you take in for its energy and kick-starts your body into drawing on fat reserves. Lots of articles have been written about this. We’ve published one here for you to read.
6. You’re eating too much and not being honest with yourself
In point 1, I recommend you eat nutrients that are suitable for your metabolism, but you don’t have to overdo this. Some people think it’s OK as long they’re eating according to their genetic metabolism and it’s all right to overdo it.
This is their excuse for eating nuts soaked in coconut fat with some black pudding for dessert. But that may not do the trick either. In Paleolithic times, it wasn’t always plenty. There were times of plenty and times of shortage.
This group includes those people who say they are eating well but really they just aren’t. There are numerous reports about patients who don’t lose weight when basically they just aren’t being honest with their therapists.
7. You’ve reached a plateau
A plateau (homeostatic threshold) is a weight your body feels comfortable with. It lets you carry out all the vital functions and is usually set by your genes.
The problem is that it may not be the weight that you want to reach. If you’ve reached it with effortless ease, there’s no point in dwelling on what hasn’t worked. Instead, vary your exercise routine and make whatever nutrient intervention your body needs to shake it out of its comfort zone.
Cutting back on carbohydrates for a while may be a good start. I’m leaving you with an article on ketosis that may help you towards a better understanding of this point. It’s written by our friend and colleague, Marcos, from fitnessrevolucionario.
8. You’re not getting enough sleep.
Too little sleep raises the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. It increases hunger and blocks the production of the regenerative hormones that give your muscles the strength for physical activity. Here you’ll find an excellent review about this.
9. Your happiness depends on your weight.
Many of the patients I see have spent their whole lives carrying the burden of trying to control their weight. They’ve become real experts on weight loss diet and nutrition. But they still can’t keep their own weight stable.
These patients really suffer a lot: they’re happy when they lose a bit, then they grow more frustrated than ever each time they put it back on again. They tend to fall into the trap of obsessive weight control till it drives them crazy. The big challenge for these people is to realise that they are much more than a mark on their scales.
Their happiness shouldn’t just depend on their weight. Until they realise this, their genuine anxiety (or stress) will give them the type of metabolism that tends to store weight. For the most part, this will stop them from getting out of the vicious cycle they find themselves in: I want to lose weight: I can’t: I’m worried about this: I don’t lose weight: I get more worried about this …
Remember what Milton Erickson said: If you want me to help you lose weight, you’ve got to put on ten kilos first.
10. You’ve actually reached your correct weight already.
You want to look like a Photoshop model without going through Photoshop. You want Arnold Schwarzenegger’s muscles without taking testosterone. Or you just dream of a slim figure when all your family are sturdily built. Wise up: It could be that everything about you is just fine, except for your self-esteem.