Today we will actually dig into those five underlying reasons you might have weight loss resistance. In the intro, I wanted to cover what you should focus on first for 30 days if you feel like you have had trouble trying to lose weight.
These next five reasons are not the only reasons you might experience weight loss resistance but they do account for a lot of what might be behind your struggles.
The following situations develop over time as a result of overburden on the body (from stressful foods, lifestyle, environmental toxins, pesticides, lack of sleep, too much sitting, etc.) and undernourishment. The good news is that our bodies are truly amazing and we can take steps to improve all these areas!
Without further ado, here are two underlying reasons you may have weight loss resistance. The next article will have three other reasons.
1) Your gut needs attention.
Now this right here is a biggie and likely has an impact on most of the following reasons for weight loss resistance as well.
When we talk about the gut, we’re talking about the entire digestive tract, from the mouth all the way to the anus. This is essentially a very long tube connecting the outside world to the inside of your body. Your gut has to be able to break down food into its tiniest molecules in order to then absorb nutrients. It also has to serve as a barrier and protection from the many foreign substances, toxins, microbes, and other bad stuff that enters the body along with food and liquids.
The gut is absolutely amazing and the ecosystem living there (trillions of microbes!) exists in a delicate balance. These microbes influence so much of the body and when we have too many unfriendly microbes, the substances and metabolites they produce can wreak havoc on the body’s metabolism in a number of ways.
They impact the cell’s ability to properly utilize glucose, which means your body cannot metabolize sugar effectively and will store it more easily as body fat.
This creates a cycle because increased adipose tissue (fat tissue) releases pro-inflammatory substances, adding to an overall inflammatory state of the body.
This keeps the immune system in a state of high alert, which increases the body’s stress response (more on that next) and increases energy storage. Energy storage equals fat storage.
In addition to those downstream effects from a poorly balanced microbiome, unfriendly bacteria also impact the integrity of the gut lining, which also leads to chronic inflammation, poor nutrient absorption, and problems like gas and bloating.
All of this means a slowing of your body’s energy output, an easier time storing fat, increased systemic inflammation, and disrupted hormones. So if weight loss seems stalled, we gotta clean up that gut!
2) You have hormone imbalances
There are a lot of ways in which our hormones can get out of balance but a big player driving the others is cortisol. This is our main stress hormone and because of our modern lives, we are often existing in a state of fight or flight. Cortisol is then constantly elevated, which disrupts blood sugar regulation, the balance of other hormones, sleep, and energy levels.
Symptoms often associated with high cortisol are belly fat, quickness to anger or irritability, feeling wired but tired, and feeling like you’re always running from task to task.
Cortisol imbalances are usually caused by dysregulation in the HPA (hypothalamic – pituitary – adrenal) axis. This is what controls the production and regulation of all your hormones. When the HPA axis is constantly upregulated, you will experience high cortisol and the symptoms that go with it.
Eventually, the body can’t keep up with this upregulation and the HPA axis can get burned out, resulting in too low cortisol which might look like feeling easily fatigued, having low thyroid, getting sick easily, and feeling generally down.
Another hormone with big implications for weight loss is thyroid hormone(s). Thyroid hormones serve many purposes, one big role being a key player in your metabolic rate, or the rate at which your body burns energy. When thyroid hormones are low (here’s a more in-depth look at thyroid issues), the message being sent to your body is to conserve energy. When weight loss (or really fat loss is what we should be saying) is a goal, we don’t want the body to be in a state of energy conservation. We want to burn, not store fat.
Thyroid production, conversion, and regulation can get out of whack because of imbalances with cortisol, gut health and the microbiome, inflammation, and inadequate nutrition.
There is hope!
The good news is you can absolutely improve both of these areas (as well as the next three in part 2). And when you work to improve one area of your body, like your gut, you end up improving hormone production and regulation as well! And if you tried to more specifically target cortisol and thyroid regulation, you’d end up taking steps that would improve your gut health.
Once again, my first suggestion for both of these areas is going to go back to the intro. Give yourself 30 days and make an honest effort at removing inflammatory foods, including more health-promoting foods, move your body in an appropriate way, and focus on quality sleep.
To actually figure out if these areas are where your body needs support, the best way is to look at a combination of your symptoms, your current diet and lifestyle, and some foundational blood tests. Then we can take steps that are tailored to your body and help you get past what feels like weight loss resistance.
Stay tuned for part 2 where I’ll go into three other reasons for weight loss resistance.