We often see people who really struggle to lose weight and/or maintain their ideal weight. It can be very frustrating when you feel you are doing all the “right” things but nothing seems to work or stick. There can be many reasons for this, and because we are all individuals, those reasons will be different for each of us. Listed below are some of the main reasons why you might be struggling with your weight.
1. Try to replace the concept of “being on a diet” with “just making healthier choices”
Being “on a diet” implies that there will be a time when you are “off the diet”. If you then go back to eating in the way you were before, guess what happens? You go back to being the way you were! Shifting the emphasis to “I’m making healthier choices to improve my general nutrition and health”, puts YOU in control, not the “diet”.
2. What’s the right diet or regime for you?
Your friend might lose lots of weight on a high fat diet (e.g. Ketogenic), but you may put on weight with this diet. Similarly, some people may do well on a diet with lots of carbohydrate, but for many others it will be a disaster. The way we process our food is dependent on many factors – genetics, ethnicity, body type, lifestyle, exercise and exercise type, gut bacteria. Invest some time and money in figuring out what is the right diet for you. A genetic test would be a good start (see below).
Most people will find it very difficult to lose weight and keep it off if they are very sedentary. The human body is designed to move and everything works so much better when there is the appropriate amount (see below) of movement and challenge. But finding the right exercise for you is important. Should you be doing cardio or weights and resistance? The answer is probably a mixture of the two, but genetic testing can show us which type of exercise we are genetically programmed for (see below).
4. Too much exercise
Having said that we need exercise, you can have too much exercise! We often see people who, in their desperation to lose weight, are doing a punishing amount of exercise. Too much exercise can put your body into stress mode so that you release cortisol – a weight GAINING hormone!
An excess of that weight gaining hormone cortisol can also be caused by everyday stress such as work, family, lifestyle, finances etc. Consider doing an Adrenal Stress Test via your local BANT registered Nutritional Therapist: bant.org.uk – “find a practitioner”.
6. Underactive Thyroid
An underactive thyroid can make it very difficult to lose weight. Other typical symptoms include fatigue, poor temperature control, low mood, constipation, dry skin, thinning hair, loss of outer third of eyebrows. Hypothyroidism is very under-diagnosed in this country. GP’s tend to only test levels of TSH – Thyroid Stimulating Hormone which only gives you half of the story. There are other thyroid hormones e.g. Free T4 & T3, plus thyroid antibodies that should also be taken into account. Consider doing a Total Thyroid Screen test with your local BANT registered Nutritional Therapist: bant.org.uk – “find a practitioner”.
7. Nutrient Deficiencies
Being low in certain nutrients can affect your ability to loose weight and maintain a healthy weight. The B Vitamins, particularly B12 are important, Vitamin D, Iron, Iodine and Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids are the main concerns. These are all likely to be low in a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet.
8. Eating most of your food at night
Many people think they are “saving” calories but eating very little during the day. The tendency then is to compensate by overeating at night. Calories consumed at night are not burned off with physical activity and the excess energy is stored as fat. We need, therefore, to consume most of our calories during the day, when we have the opportunity to burn them off, and eat more lightly at night.
9. Unconscious Eating
Many of us eat for a myriad of reasons other than hunger. Comfort eating, boredom, self-sabotage, or just mindless snacking can really bump up the calories. For a week, keep a food diary and record honestly every single thing you eat and drink. Then circle the food that you didn’t need to eat – usually snacks, numerous teas/coffees, squashes/cordials, alcohol etc. Just eliminating these from your diet can make a huge difference.
10. Quality of your food
Processed, packaged and convenience foods often have hidden sugar and empty calories. Switch to eating real, fresh, natural food. Make every meal as nutritious as possible.
10. Bonus tip
Want to know how your genetics might be affecting your ability to lose weight? Book our Nutrigenomix DNA test. An easy cheek swab sample analyses over 70 different genes to give you a wealth of dietary and lifestyle information, including how well you process fat and carbohydrate, and what sort of exercise you should be doing. Contact us today or take a look at our residential packages.