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5 Key Reasons Why People Can’t Lose Weight

The fact that over-eating and over-drinking can cause weight gain is well known, but sometimes there are other drivers of the ‘betty back fat’, ‘tummy tube’ or ‘love muffins’ that make our pants too tight.

The following list outlines things you may not have considered to be contributing to extra weight gain, and they are worth addressing:

  • Liver

    The liver is a main powerhouse in the body. It produces enzymes, balances sugar levels and, for weight loss, it converts fat into energy. If it’s overburdened, the liver can’t keep up with all the body’s jobs and the metabolism slows down.

    Solution: One simple way to keep our liver working effectively is to give it a mini tune-up. Eat foods containing sulfur compounds as these rid the body of chemicals that are consumed unintentionally from sources such as prescription medications and environmental toxins. Onions, garlic and cabbage are ideal for liver health but so are broccoli, brussels sprouts and kale.

  • Leptin

    This funny little hormone is secreted by fat and is supposed to stop hunger. Normally it tells your brain when you’ve eaten enough but if leptin resistance develops, a constant hunger develops too.

    Solution: There’s a lot of research being done on leptin and its counterpart, ghrelin. Although there's more to be discovered about leptin, researchers already know that leptin is increased naturally in the body with adequate and good quality sleep, which for most people is approximately eight hours. So aim to get into bed by 10 p.m., sleep well and take this variable out of the mix.

  • Set point theory

    The set point theory states that your body has an internal thermostat that controls how much weight you keep on your body. According to this theory, body fat percentage and body weight are matters of internal controls that are set differently in different people. The internal thermostat keeps your weight where it’s at.

    Solution: George Blackburn, Associate Director of the division of nutrition at Harvard Medical School, says, ‘Lower your body weight by 10 per cent, and then stop losing for a while. Fight instead to keep off just that amount. Stay at that level for at least six months to give your body a chance to adjust to its new, lower set point.’

  • Stress, anxiety, depression

    Who hasn’t done a bit of emotional eating? Stress has a direct impact on our cortisol levels and our cortisol levels have a direct influence on the way our body utilises our insulin. ‘Belly fat’ can often be a sign of insulin resistance due to high cortisol levels over prolonged periods.

    Solution: Being aware of stress or comfort eating is half the battle when it comes to knocking this reason off your list of why you can’t lose weight. Acknowledge you’re stressed or depressed and do something about it. Seek supportive friends, take up a new sport, learn yoga or mediation, and get involved in some ‘handwork’. Handwork is taking up something that keeps your hands busy like sewing, crosswords, Sudokus or anything that occupies your hands and renders them unable to reach for food mindlessly.

  • Food sensitivities

    What do you crave? It’s common to crave foods that often cause the problems, and food sensitivities and/or allergies can actually keep you from losing weight! Craving food such as biscuits, bread and other high-carbohydrate treats can cause inflammation, which in turn can put stress on the liver. A stressed liver can slow down the metabolism, which can add to weight gain.

    Solution: Watch for foods that you crave, make you bloated, and give you sinusitis or poor skin. Try a specific elimination diet from your ‘problematic’ food for two weeks to see if one type of food is causing you problems.

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