There are few things more frustrating than trying to lose weight and not having any success. This post shares 8 health reasons you might be having trouble or simply can’t lose weight.
Does it seem like you’ve tried everything to shed those stubborn pounds that just won’t budge? For some people, weight loss can present quite a challenge. You have to keep in mind that you did not gain those extra pounds you’re trying to lose all in one day. So the chances of them coming off quickly are not likely.
But, if it’s been a while and the scale still isn’t moving, consider these eight health reasons you can’t lose weight.
Eight Health Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight
1. The first reason you might be having trouble losing weight is that you might not be getting enough quality sleep.
Lack of good quality sleep can sabotage your weight loss efforts. Not getting enough sleep is actually quite common in the U.S. In fact, nearly 40% of American adults are not getting the recommended amount of sleep. The average sleep time for American adults is 6.8 hours, down a full hour from 1942. Yikes!
So how exactly does lack of good quality sleep affect your weight loss efforts? If you’re not getting enough minutes of good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly. This has everything to do with our hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin. When you are getting less good quality sleep your body is more likely to produce more ghrelin, the hunger hormone that tells you it’s time to eat. In contrast, when you don’t sleep well, your body produces less leptin, the hormone that tells you you’re full. More ghrelin and less leptin is a recipe for weight gain. If weight loss is your goal, getting enough good quality sleep should be your first priority (be sure to read my Healthy Sleep Hacks article).
2. The second health reason your weight might not be budging despite your best efforts is that you’re stressed.
Chronic stress also has a negative impact on weight loss efforts. When we’re under stress, our bodies produce an adrenal response. Our adrenals pump out more cortisol signaling the liver and muscles to release glycogen stores. This type of stress response can lead to loss of muscle mass, increased fat storage, and impulses to overeat. Higher cortisol levels also attack muscle mass slowing the metabolism down, due to the fact that higher muscle mass equates to a faster metabolism. Work to control stress by identifying your triggers and attempting to get them under control.
3. You will have trouble losing weight if your hormones are out of balance, especially your thyroid.
Hormonal imbalance is a huge reason for weight-loss resistance. Women are particularly vulnerable to this, especially during times of hormonal changes like perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause. Thyroid hormones, estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, insulin, cortisol, leptin and ghrelin are all responsible for weight gain or weight loss resistance when they are not properly balanced.
If you suspect imbalanced hormones might be a problem for you, ask your doctor to test your hormone levels, including a full thyroid panel including TSH, T3, T4, thyroid antibodies, and reverse T3 (learn more about ideal thyroid lab results). Most conventional doctors will not agree right off the bat to testing a full thyroid panel, but it’s your job to insist on your right to the full panel AND to having the results. If your doctor refuses, it’s time to find a new doctor. Undiagnosed and under-treated hypothyroidism is one of the major failings of modern medicine and women are the most affected. If you are woman feeling fatigued and that you can’t lose weight no matter what you do, then there is a very good chance that you need to take thyroid replacement hormone. Do NOT let your doctor tell you otherwise unless you have the full lab testing to show otherwise.
You’ll also want to focus on eating a hormone-balancing diet, not just for your thyroid, but for your other hormones as well. This includes a diet very low in refined sugar, high in fiber, and with moderate levels of good fats and quality protein. Avoid processed foods and refined oils, and eat as clean and organic as possible.
4. You might need to adjust your macronutrient ratios if you are having trouble losing weight.
It is suggested that we eat a macronutrient ratio of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fat. Of course this may vary from person to person based on bioindividuality and your particular health status. I can tell you though, from having looked at quite a few food journals, most people are eating too many refined carbohydrates and not enough protein or fat. One study showed that higher protein intake after weight loss helps prevent weigh regain in humans.
This doesn’t mean you should fear carbs. Eating carbohydrates from unrefined sources like fruits, vegetables and limited starches is good for you, especially women. It’s the refined carbohydrates like sugar that you shouldn’t be consuming that will halt weight loss efforts. Another thing I see often is that women who are trying to lose weight drastically cut back on fat. This can be detrimental to your health. Our bodies need good quality fat sources to operate optimally. Eating the right kinds of fat in proportion to the other macronutrients might actually help you lose weight.
5. If you don’t have enough joy in your life, you will have a harder time losing weight.
Believe it or not, there’s a link between happiness and weight loss. How you handle stress and sadness in your life can make or break your weight loss efforts. Not having enough joy in your life can affect the way your body reacts to temptations, such as those pesky sugar cravings. Lack of joy can affect neurotransmitters that control mood, thinking, appetite and behavior, making you more likely to eat poorly, skip exercise and gain weight.
There are some simple ways to combat this – seek peace of mind in the form of mediation, write in a gratitude journal, flash a smile, get moving, join an active meetup group, or find someone to talk to about your mood. Finding activities that you enjoy and having support from others will add joy to your life.
6. If you’re eating too much sugar, you won’t be able to lose weight.
Fat-free cookies are still cookies, as are vegan cookies, and organic cookies! You may think you’re making healthier choices by buying stuff like this, but these products usually contain sugar. If you’re craving something sweet, reach for a piece of fruit (fresh, not dried) or a few squares of 70% or higher dark chocolate. Several studies have shown that sugar can be as addictive as cocaine. This makes it hard for most people to give it up. However, if weight loss is your goal, you’re going to need to consider nixing it from your diet (be sure to read my article on how to go sugar-free without going crazy).
7. Eating too many processed foods can also make it impossible to lose weight.
Processed foods are everywhere and they can be hard to avoid for some. Processed foods can contain high levels of sodium, sugar, refined oils, and other questionable ingredients. They are best avoided. Especially because a recent study has proven that ultra-processed foods have been linked to cancer and other metabolic disorders. Make a conscious effort to eat wholesome, clean foods such as how they are found in nature. I know a lot of offices have potluck lunches a few times per month. Bring a tray of vegetables or something else that’s unprocessed that you’ll want to eat. That way you’ll be more likely to avoid the unhealthy processed items others bring.
8. The last health reason you might not be able to lose weight is that you’re not moving enough.
Some exercise too much while others don’t exercise enough. There needs to be a good balance of movement if you want those stubborn pounds to budge. Ease into exercise if it’s something new for you. Make it a goal to move for even just a few minutes every day. Take a walk around your neighborhood or try a new fitness class at your local gym. Start with some basic stretches to warm up your body and remember to always stay hydrated with enough water.
Beginning a new fitness routine can be intimidating for some, especially for those who have been sedentary. My best advice is to just go for it. Don’t worry what others think. Make movement a priority so that you can finally see the scale tip in your favor.
Don’t miss a recipe! Join my weekly newsletter list to get all the latest news and recipe links delivered directly to your inbox.
Sign up now and unsubscribe at any time. I will never sell your name or spam you, I promise!