If you are like millions of Americans, you starve and you sweat but you still cannot lose weight. You might even blame yourself, thinking you would lose weight if you cut just a few more calories or spent another hour at the gym each week. What you should know is that unseen forces might be preventing you from losing weight. Here are 5 reasons why you may be struggling to shed those pesky pounds.
#1 Toxic burden
Toxicity prevents you from losing weight. Toxic substances, such as pesticides, exhaust fumes from vehicles and factories, industrial waste, molds, unhealthy foods, and plastics – especially those plastics used for food storage and flatware – constantly surround you. Many of these toxins leach into our air, water and food sources.
Over time, too much exposure to environmental toxins can cause build up in the body, as the liver can no longer keep up with their detoxification. Many of the excess toxins are stored in fat cells to protect our organs from their damaging effects. Your body resists burning these fat cells to avoid releasing the toxins back into the bloodstream and causing organ damage. This means you cannot lose weight because your body stubbornly holds onto fat to keep the toxic substances locked inside.
How do you know if you are experiencing toxicity? Sensitivity to hygiene products used on your skin such as soups, lotions, shampoos, and detergents or increased sensitivity to odors may indicate toxicity.
When your body perceives that it is in danger, it releases hormones into the bloodstream that protect the body from the damaging effects of stress. One such hormone, cortisol, is a natural steroid, which is released from the adrenal gland during stress and has a protective role on the body. One role of cortisol is to create break down of carbohydrates to create the quick energy your body needs to combat stress.
Cortisol is released not only during stress but also in a fluctuating pattern throughout the day to create our sleep/wake patterns. However, if you are like most Americans, you live in a stressful world and cortisol levels could remain high throughout the day. This promotes consistent carbohydrate breakdown and use and increased appetite, leading to overeating and weight gain, otherwise knows as stress eating! Elevated cortisol levels have also been correlated with increased fat deposition specifically in the abdominal area.
To lose weight, you should reduce stress by giving back to yourself and rejuvenating daily and remove toxins from your body. A cleanse is especially helpful in clearing dangerous toxins from your system.
#3 Adrenal fatigue and Hypothyroidism
Eventually maintaining high cortisol levels throughout the day can tax the adrenal glands that produce cortisol and lead to another condition called adrenal fatigue.
In addition to disturbances in the circadian rhythm, which regulates sleep/wake patterns, adrenal fatigue causes salt cravings and a frail immune system. Adrenal fatigue can also affect another organ of the endocrine system, the thyroid. The thyroid gland plays a primary role in controlling your metabolism, or how well your body utilizes the food that you eat. When we begin to experience adrenal fatigue, the thyroid gland can also stop functioning optimally, leading to hypothyroidism or a suboptimal functioning thyroid gland and weight gain.
How do you know if you are experiencing adrenal fatigue or hypothyroidism? Signs of adrenal fatigue and hypothyroidism include weight gain, hair loss, dry skin, fatigue, constipation, salt cravings and more.
Your exercise routine may actually prevent you from losing weight. Many men and women lead a sedentary lifestyle so they simply do not burn enough calories to lose weight. Other men and women use the same diet and workout routine throughout their entire lives and are often surprised when these tried-and-true methods fail. Our bodies are very smart. They “learn” to anticipate scheduled exercise routines and actually store a little excess fat or slow down the metabolism to accommodate that energy expenditure, especially if you are also cutting calories to attempt to lose weight.
How can you prevent your body from anticipating energy expenditure? Change up your diet and exercise routine (either in timing or activity) when you notice that you have stopped losing weight. Changing up your routine creates a surprise effect on your body when you do exercise and allows it to function at an optimal level instead of using its reserves. Eating enough food will also prevent the body from storing fat to maintain energy, so focus on quality rather than quantity.
Quick tip: lift weights. Don’t be afraid to pick up the weights and add some pounds. Muscle strength will help to speed up the weight loss process. And don’t worry ladies, you won’t get too big.
#5 Food sensitivities
We all know about the food allergies that cause immediate symptoms, such as red eyes, an itchy throat and hives. What is not discussed often are food sensitivities, or delayed responses to foods. Food sensitivities are immune mediated responses that can occur up to 48-72 hours after eating a food and cause general inflammation rather than an immediate anaphylactic response. These sensitivities can be hard to pinpoint as they do not occur immediately upon eating the food.
Symptoms of food sensitivities can vary person to person, but the trend is simply inflammation. Inflammation can cause direct gastrointestinal symptoms like gas and bloating but can also create systemic inflammatory symptoms such as joint pain, headaches and, most importantly here, weight gain. Simply removing our sensitivities can decrease inflammation and allow the body to lose excess pounds.
How will you know if you suffer from food sensitivities? Aside from weight gain, food sensitivities may cause constipation, diarrhea, gas/bloating, joint pain, chronic allergies and more. Keep a food diary to help pinpoint foods causing inflammation and weight gain.
If you experience any of these 5 reasons for not shedding those last few pounds, call your naturopathic doctor to discuss a healthy lifestyle, address adrenal and thyroid health, regulate stress, look for food sensitivities and discuss possible toxicity.