The weight loss equation should be simple : eat less + exercise more = lose weight.
For some people this works perfectly but for others, despite appearing to do all the right things, the extra weight they are trying to lose just refuses to budge! We are beginning to understand that there are a number of factors that contribute to us gaining or losing weight, its not entirely down to what you eat or how much exercise you do.
Here are some of the more common reasons that can cause people to gain weight or struggle to lose it:
1. Not enough sleep
If you are regularly getting less than 6 hours sleep a night then your body is going to be stressed out. Sleep loss has been shown to mess with your hormones and your blood sugar, leading to increased hunger and appetite as well as an increased risk of obesity.
If you are struggling to lose weight and having sleep problems then this is definitely a problem you need to tackle.
2. Your Thyroid is not working as it should be
The Thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland in your neck. It works as our bodies thermostat, regulating temperature, hunger, energy etc. In order to do this it produces hormones. The Thyroid can be over or under active. If you are feeling exhausted, have gained weight, lack motivation, have no sex drive and have put on weight then you may have an underactive Thyroid. The only way to find out for sure is to ask your GP for a test.
3. Your blood sugars are out of balance
If your blood sugars are out of balance it can lead to the body storing fat around the tummy. A diet that is high in carbohydrates and sugars can cause this.
Cut back on the carbs and sugar and increase the amount of protein and good fats in your diet. Try and eat regularly throughout the day, starting with a good breakfast (blood sugars will be low first thing in the morning). Aim for 3 meals a day and 1-2 healthy snack (containing protein and fat).
4. Poor gut microbiome
There has been a lot of research done recently that suggests links between bacteria in our gut and a number of conditions. One of these is obesity! If the bacteria in your gut isn't diverse, resilient enough or there is an infection, parasite, yeast or leaky gut it will affect your bodies ability to lose weight.
You can easily boost your gut bacteria by taking a probiotic supplement or by eating fermented foods/Kefir.
When you are chronically stressed your body produces more Cortisol which can impair your bodies ability to respond to insulin. This messes with your bodies ability to burn fat. On top of that, persistently high Cortisol levels increase your appetite (stress eating) making it harder to eat healthily.
The results of one study found that when stressed and non-stressed women followed the same diet, the stressed women gained more weight and tummy fat.
Our hormones impact so many things from our mood and energy levels to our weight. Our hormones fluctuate throughout our lives and an imbalance can often lead to weight gain. For example, if you have to much Estogen compared to Progesterone you can gain weight and store fat around your middle. Women going through the menopause often have Estrogen dominance and find they start to put on more weight around their stomachs.
There are lots of things you can do to try and balance your diet naturally but that a whole other blog!
So, if you are trying to lose weight then always start with getting your diet right and ensuring you do adequate, effective exercise. If you are still struggling to lose weight though then take a look at the 'bigger picture' .Look a little deeper into your lifestyle, sleep patterns and question how you are feeling in general and make changes or get help where needed.