You have recently undertaken to lose weight in a good mood… But the results are not convincing. It’s not for lack of motivation. However, things don’t work out exactly as you hoped: impossible to lose weight! Disappointed to stagnate at the same weight, you ask yourself: “Why am I not losing weight? Why am I not losing weight despite all my efforts?
The fact is, there are many obstacles to the weight loss process that you don’t even know exist. Read on to learn the main factors that make losing weight difficult and holding back any progress.
Reason #1: You’re Losing Weight without Realizing It
A few weeks ago, all enthusiastic, you started to play sports.
You’ve adjusted your diet and you think you’re on the right track.
Full of spirit, you rush to the scales to see the results of your efforts. But an unpleasant surprise awaits you.
Your weight hasn’t changed.
Panic takes hold of you. “I’m not losing weight despite my diet and all this sport! So what’s going on?
You conclude that you have made no progress. The reality is quite different: the composition of your body is changing. Your body weight (especially during the first few weeks of trying to lose weight) tends to fluctuate by a few pounds.
It depends on what you eat as well as possible imbalances in the hormonal system that promote fluid retention. This does not mean, however, that you haven’t lost fat.
When you start doing sports, it is quite possible that the needles of the scale will not show any weight loss. But in reality, maybe you have already lost 1 pound of fat and gained muscle mass.
“Through strength training and exercise, you may have gained muscle, which is heavier than fat. This is especially common in people who have just started exercising. This is of course a very good thing, the important thing is not to lose weight, but body fat”.
This is why, in addition to following the evolution of your body weight and your waist circumference, I advise you to evaluate your progress based on the measurement of skin folds. A skinfold forceps allows you to measure your fat mass with certainty. Do this at least once a month.
Unless you stay at the exact same weight for more than 2 weeks, you don’t have to worry about anything.
Reason #2: Hormonal Imbalance Due to Medication
Hormonal disruption due to medications can be an obstacle to your weight loss. Some medications have the side effect of making it difficult to lose weight or even make you gain weight.
This particularly concerns drugs such as:
- The birth control pill
- Insulin injections
- Other Diabetes Treatments
- Medicines for rheumatism
- Thyroid medications
These drugs all disrupt key hormones that affect your weight and body fat in their own way. Research shows that certain hormones strongly influence appetite and determine how much fat the body stores.
The hormones that play an important role in storing and burning fat are:
Insulin is the main “fat storing hormone” in the body. It pushes fat cells to store fat and prevents the breakdown of fat stores.
Eating fewer simple carbs and doing more physical activity are effective ways to lower Insulin .
This hormone is produced in fat cells. The more body fat you have, the more Leptin you produce. Overweight people typically have very high levels of Leptin.
Research shows that leptin levels in obese people are up to 4 times higher than in normal weight people.
Ghrelin is known as the “hunger hormone”. This hormone is released when you have an empty stomach to signal the hypothalamus to eat.
Studies have shown that in overweight people, ghrelin is only partially reduced when they have eaten. The hypothalamus then does not correctly receive the signal that food intake can cease, which can lead to overeating.
Eating more protein at each meal can help you significantly lower your Ghrelin levels and promote satiety.
Cortisol is called the “stress hormone” because it is released when your body is under stress. Like other hormones, it is vital to our survival. However, chronically high cortisol levels can lead to overeating and weight gain.
Eating a balanced diet, controlling stress and sleeping longer are ways to regulate your Cortisol production.
Estrogen is the main female sex hormone (it is also present in men). Scientists have found that obese women show higher estrogen levels than normal weight women.
Eating more fiber and cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli or cauliflower) has a beneficial effect on Estrogen levels.
When the body no longer has the ability to correct a hormonal imbalance caused by taking certain medications, weight problems can occur.
Certain medications can make it much more difficult to lose weight or even cause weight gain due to a disruption in the hormones mentioned above.
For many people, these side effects are not severe enough to require stopping treatment. If you are considering discontinuing treatment, discuss this first with your treating physician.
Reason #3: You don’t Have a Sporting Challenge
Your weight loss could also stall because you’re not pushing your body enough to burn fat and gain muscle.
If you want to lose weight fast and reduce your body fat percentage, you also need to exercise (although 80% of weight loss is on the plate).
Resistance training, such as fitness, strength training, or interval training, can help preserve valuable lean body mass (muscle) and burn body fat. Maintaining your muscle mass will allow you to avoid slowing down your metabolism.
“A slowing of the metabolism is often seen in people who lose a lot of weight over a prolonged period without stimulating their body through intensive workouts”.
Exercising helps achieve optimal body composition. It’s quite another thing to look thin after a significant and rapid weight loss. Such weight loss is often primarily fluid loss. Visceral fat (very harmful) remains present.
“Visceral fat is abdominal fat that primarily surrounds organs. It significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes”.
Do you prefer to practice another form of exercise? No problem!
Doing cardio (eg, running, swimming, or biking) is a great way to improve endurance, but unfortunately it’s not that effective when it comes to losing body fat.
Reason 4: You Think you Drink and Eat Healthy
Being aware of what you eat and drink is very important if you want to lose weight.
Many people have no idea what they are actually eating, or how much.
Several studies show that keeping track of your diet greatly promotes weight loss.
People who keep a diary or take photos of their meals, on average, lose more weight.
Many people fail to lose weight because they mistakenly think they have healthy habits. From my own research, it turned out that “only 5.12% of people think they eat less healthily than average”. Which, of course, is impossible: it would also be credible to say that 80% of French people are smarter than the average.
You may think your meals are healthy when you eat all kinds of hidden sugars or huge amounts of refined carbs like bread and pasta.
These foods cause insulin spikes and thus promote fat storage. In addition, they are only slightly satiating.
“Eating healthy requires that you read labels and don’t buy anything that contains sugar (or very little), but almost no one reads labels”.
Losing weight is of course also not possible if you eat too much. You may follow a healthy and varied diet, but you may be eating too much. Finally, know that your difficulties in losing weight can also be attributed to hidden sugars, especially in drinks.
So pay more attention to the labels when you do your weekly shopping: sugar is almost everywhere, even if the packaging only touts the health benefits of the products.
Take vitamin water or fruit juices. Most commercial fruit juices, especially the cheaper ones, are often sweetened with artificial sweeteners. And if there’s one thing your body can’t do anything about, it’s those nasty artificial sweeteners, like glucose-fructose syrup.
The worst thing is that our brain does not consider the calories present in this kind of drink as real calories. Result, you still need to eat.
Better to turn to a glass of plain water with a little lemon or a cup of green tea.
Reason #5: You have Hypothyroidism
The thyroid gland is one of the most important hormonal glands in our body. It secretes hormones essential to the regulation of body cells.
The thyroid gland also regulates the body’s metabolism.
Thyroid problems are relatively common in humans. About 12% of the population faces thyroid problems at some point in their lives. Women are particularly affected. They are 8 times more likely to suffer from thyroid disorders than men.
Problems arise when the thyroid is too slow or too fast. If you can’t lose weight despite your best efforts, a sluggish thyroid gland could be the cause. This is called hypothyroidism.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Weight gain
- Water retention
- Hair loss
- Joint pain
- Fertility disorders
The problem is that many of these symptoms can stem from other factors. We therefore do not always immediately think of hypothyroidism. If you have any of the above symptoms, it may be wise to have your thyroid checked by a doctor.
Hypothyroidism can be due to selenium or iodine deficiency. It is often hereditary but is treated well. A diet rich in iodine and selenium can improve the effectiveness of drug.
The following foods are good sources:
- Fish and seafood (white fish, mussels, prawns)
- Eggs (egg yolk)
Reason #6: Excessive Stress
Stress before a test, stress before a job interview, stress before a first date and, of course, the famous stress before an exam.
This is healthy stress: it prepares your body and mind to perform at their best.
But if you’re constantly energized, if you’re dealing with constant stress, that’s a whole different story.
“Stress can have a major impact on your weight. This could be the reason you can’t lose weight. In addition to promoting repeated cravings, it causes the production of certain hormones responsible for fat storage”.
One of these hormones is Cortisol. Cortisol, as you now know, is secreted in response to stressful situations. This hormone plays an important role in the storage of abdominal fat. This effect seems even more pronounced in obese women who have excess abdominal fat.
Overproduction of cortisol can make losing weight difficult.
“We often think we have little control over stress, but research shows that learning to manage stress can aid weight loss in a big way”.
So be sure to reserve moments of relaxation, alone or with family. Think for example of yoga, meditation, a simple walk or a romantic evening with your partner. It doesn’t matter what works for you, as long as it relaxes you. Only then will your body have the chance to recover so that it can function optimally. Reducing your stress is essential if you want to be successful in losing weight.
“In an 8-week study of 4 overweight women, a stress management program including, among other things, breathing and muscle relaxation exercises was found to be effective in losing weight. These women lost 4.4 kg of body weight on average”.
Reason #7: You’re on a Calorie-restricted Diet
These days, low calorie diets are very popular with people who want to lose weight fast.
Such drastic diets limit food intake to a maximum number of calories per day. Your body goes into a calorie deficit and you end up losing weight.
But chronically eating too little is not a good idea. Fasting or eating for less than 3 days causes your metabolism to speed up, but after that you start burning fewer calories. A drastic diet is therefore doomed to failure: you cannot eat so little over such a long period of time.
Surely you will lose a lot of pounds, especially in the beginning. But a low-calorie diet cannot be maintained over time and the pounds come back in force like a boomerang.
Low-calorie foods don’t just starve your body of calories. Often it is also very sweet products. Reduced in fat, they generally have a very high sugar content.
“A small jar of Calvé brand light peanut butter contains no less than 32 grams of carbohydrates (including 7.3 grams of sugar) per 100 grams”.
Sugar contains fewer calories than fat, but the latter is much more satisfying.
Products rich in sugar do not provide the slightest feeling of satiety.
After consuming carbs, your body immediately goes into sugar-burning mode and no longer burns body fat.
Do you ask yourself “why am I not losing weight”? Ditch the low-calorie diet and turn to protein-rich and satiating products. A high protein intake is incredibly effective at promoting feelings of fullness and reducing food cravings.
This is why protein diets allow rapid weight loss.
The number of calories is important, but for losing weight, it’s not everything. Thus, people who eat a small handful of nuts every day (almonds, for example) lose weight faster than others. Of course, don’t eat the whole package, just eat a small handful.
Reason #8: You Lack Sleep
Quality sleep is extremely important for your health. In fact, it’s just as important as eating a healthy diet and being active every day.
Unfortunately, our brain often suffers from lack of sleep these days.
On average, we sleep much less than before and our hectic lifestyle affects the quality of our sleep.
There is a strong link between lack of sleep and weight gain. People who have short periods of sleep show a higher average weight than people who get enough sleep. In fact, short sleep is one of the biggest risk factors for obesity.
Several studies have revealed that not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain: lack of sleep causes the metabolism to drop and the production of different hormones that stimulate the storage of body fat.
“One study found a 2.6% decrease in resting metabolism in healthy adults who slept 4 hours per night 5 days in a row. Their metabolism thankfully returned to normal after catching up on their late sleep for at least 12 hours”.
To prevent sleep problems and take care of your health, it is important to aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Reason #9: You Think Diet Sodas are Healthy
You might think that eating fewer calories will make you lose weight.
Just add up what you put in your mouth, right? Things don’t work that way, however.
Manufacturers promote diet sodas as a way to quench thirst without ingesting unnecessary empty calories.
But what they forget to tell you is that these sodas contain high amounts of artificial sweeteners that your body doesn’t know what to do with.
Here are some disconcerting facts about diet (and zero) sodas:
- A 14-year study has shown that daily consumption of diet sodas at the rate of one drink per day increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 33%.
- Another study linked daily diet soda consumption to a 67% increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Although artificial sweeteners in diet products provide a sweet taste, researchers believe that these calorie-free products do not stimulate the brain’s reward system.
This may be why artificial sweeteners are associated with increased appetite and cravings for sugary foods.
Don’t try to trick your body and turn to water and green tea if you really want to lose weight the healthy way. If you wish, you can flavor the water by adding a little fresh lemon juice.
Reason #10: You Have Unrealistic Expectations
When you decide to lose weight, your expectations are high.
After a few days, you step on the scale, but you still don’t see any significant results.
A week later, you see a slight change, but you are disappointed: you expected much more.
Losing weight and body fat takes a lot longer than most people realize. Although it is of course possible to lose weight at first, few people lose 1 kilogram of body fat per week. In the early stages, it is often mainly a loss of fluids due to a reduction in the consumption of carbohydrates.
Many people have unrealistic expectations of healthy eating and physical activity. Do not expect visible results in just a few days, at least if you want to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way.
This does not mean that your weight is stagnating, but that you will have to wait longer to start seeing results. Weighing yourself every day makes no sense.
You can only lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way through a healthy, varied and moderate diet, combined, of course, with physical activity. Setting realistic weight loss goals will help you stay motivated to keep going. If necessary, you can hire someone to advise you. For example, a trainer at your gym or a dietitian.