Top 5 Reasons We Struggle to Lose Weight

By: Marla Tenney Wednesday October 10, 2018 comments Tags: weight management

Top 5 Reasons We Struggle to Lose Weight

Many people get confused and frustrated when trying to lose weight.  The simplistic energy balance model (just burn more calories than you consume) does not take many important factors into consideration.  I have heard many times from clients that even though they are overweight, they really don’t eat that much and they don’t understand why they are not losing weight.

Unless an individual has:

  • A perfectly proportioned meal plan of wholesome, organic foods as close to their natural state as possible
  • Perfect digestive health and nutrient absorption
  • Perfectly balanced hormonal systems
  • Perfect sleep and zero stress
  • Perfect exercise routine

The simplistic energy balance model just doesn’t work! If you want (or need) to lose weight, it is imperative to get down to the root cause of why you gained weight. Then, when you can provide the right support for your body, it will be able to heal itself and return to your healthiest weight!

1) Poor Digestive Health

Many factors can contribute to poor digestion and absorption of nutrients. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) states that 60 to 70 million Americans are affected by one or more of 17 specific digestive diseases and that it contributes to about 48.3 million ambulatory visits, 21.7 million hospitalizations and 245,921 deaths each year.

Gut Microbe Imbalance

Each of us carry about 100 trillion microorganisms within our digestive tract which serve a symbiotic relationship that contribute to a number of important processes including: promoting digestion, keeping harmful bacteria in check, stimulating the immune system, synthesizing some vitamins, promoting gut motility and helping absorb certain nutrients.  This healthy and mutually-beneficial relationship can get out of balance which allows unhealthy bacteria and other pathogens to overrun the good bacteria.  This is called Intestinal Dysbiosis and can be due to a poor diet, antibiotic use, stress, radiation, or poor elimination. 

Gut Permeability (leaky gut)

Intestinal Dysbiosis can lead to damage of the walls of the digestive tract so that they do not retain the tight barrier function which protects our bodies from digestive fluids and partially digested food molecules. The intestinal wall becomes “leaky” which allows these substances to pass through the gut wall triggering an inflammatory immune response.   

Digestive Enzyme / Stomach Acid Deficiency

The above mentioned intestinal issues, along with stress, toxins, food sensitivities, genetics and aging, all can contribute to decreases in enzyme production. Without the proper type and amount of enzymes, the small intestines will not be able to break down food particles well enough to allow them to be absorbed into the blood stream.  Similarly, a deficiency of stomach acid, mostly hydrochloric acid, can be caused by the same issues and impact the ability to breakdown, digest, and absorb nutrients. Unfortunately, the symptoms of low stomach acid (bloating, belching, heartburn, gas, and indigestion) are often treated with Proton Pump Inhibitor medication which may improve these symptoms, but actually contributes to prolonged digestive issues which can lead to malnutrition and weight gain.

Researchers are learning that these digestive issues can lead not only to specific digestive diseases, but other chronic, system-wide health problems including; autoimmune, neurological, respiratory, endocrine, and cardiovascular diseases.


2) Insulin and Leptin Resistance

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps drive the glucose in the blood stream into the cells to be used for energy. An overabundance of insulin due to high blood-sugar spikes is thought to cause the body’s cells to become resistant to this trigger and, in effect, starves the cells of the fuel to perform optimally.  While the pancreas may actually be working overtime to produce more and more insulin, the cycle continues to drive hunger and weight gain while allowing the blood glucose levels to remain at dangerous levels.

While many of us are familiar with insulin resistance and its role in weight management and diabetes, the discovery of leptin in 1994 has vastly changed the way researchers understand adipose tissue and weight management.  Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells to help regulate weight. Specifically, leptin sends a signal to receptors located in an area in the brain called the hypothalamus, this signal indicates that there is adequate. Because leptin is produced by fat cells, the amount of body fat determines the amount of leptin produced.  Abnormally high levels of leptin can cause the receptors to become resistant and thus continue to trigger the starvation response which continues the cycle of chronic fat storage and weight gain.

3) Other Hormonal Imbalances

Several other metabolic hormones also contribute to weight gain and interfere with the ability to lose weight.  These include:

  • Cortisol – Excess cortisol stimulates the appetite and increases fat storage in the body. Leptin deficiency or resistance and chronic physical or mental stress will stimulate the adrenal gland to make too much cortisol.
  • Thyroid hormone – Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism and determine whether the food consumed will be used for energy or be converted to fat for storage. When the thyroid is not performing optimally, metabolism will slow down and fat storage will increase and increase leptin production.
  • Testosterone – Low testosterone levels decrease metabolism and muscle mass leading to weight gain and leptin resistance. Leptin stimulates the production of hormones necessary to produce testosterone.  Leptin resistance will further decrease testosterone levels.
  • Estrogen – Proper estrogen levels will encourage healthy fat production in women. When estrogen levels are low, more visceral fat will be produced around the belly, within muscles, and around the organs. This will produce more of the toxic fat cell hormone, leptin, which will further decrease estrogen levels.
  • Growth hormone – Proper growth hormone levels will lead to a healthy metabolism. Low growth hormone will decrease metabolism and increase body fat. This will lead to weight gain, further decrease growth hormone levels, and lead to leptin resistance.

Proper amounts of Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), Progesterone, and Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) also play a part in determining a healthy metabolism and weight management.  As you can see, imbalances in any of these hormones can kick off a vicious cycle of weight gain, insulin and leptin resistance, and further interference with proper hormone levels.

4) Epigenetics

A simplified definition of epigenetics is the study of biological mechanisms that determine the expression of a cell. When considering weight, someone may believe their genetic make-up is what determines whether they are heavy or not, but while one might be genetically predisposed to a slow metabolism or high BMI, something must happen to cause those genetic expressions. Typically, that cause will be one of the issues listed above or environmental factors such as eating patterns, habits, and interests which are learned behaviors in childhood and beyond.

5) Environmental Factors

Understanding the environmental factors that contribute to weight gain is empowering because it means you can be in control of your own destiny. While you may need some help getting on the right path, you do not need to resign yourself to remaining heavier than you prefer to be! Some of the most significant environmental factors include:

  • Macronutrient proportions – typically people are not aware of the best proportions of protein, fat, and carbohydrates for their individual needs.
  • Micronutrient deficiency – many of our critical vitamins, minerals, phyto-elements and essential amino acids in our foods are being lost through conventional, mass-farming and processing methods.
  • Timing of meals / eating on the run – busy people often eat hurriedly and/or inconsistently which directly impacts digestion, absorption, metabolism, and weigh management.
  • Eating out – most restaurants, whether they are fast-food or dine-in, use the most inexpensive ingredients in their preparation, so you are not only being exposed to high-caloric meals, but also partially hydrogenated oils, refined grains and sugar, pesticide-laden produce, and poor-quality meats.
  • Toxicity – Pesticides, hormones, pharmaceuticals, and industrial chemicals are prevalent within our food, water, and air.
  • Energy expenditure – Also known as exercise, many people have sedentary jobs and lifestyles and just do not move their bodies enough to maintain a healthy metabolism and weight.
  • Sleep – Inadequate sleep inhibits proper digestion and many typical lifestyle choices contribute to poor sleep patterns.
  • Stress management – Chronic stress impacts the sympathetic nervous system which in turn impacts sleep, digestion, hormones, eating patterns, etc.

What to do about unwanted extra weight?

If you suspect one of these above-mentioned issues may be plaguing you, we should talk about measures that can be taken to identify the root cause and support your body in healing naturally.  You can book a FREE 15-minute consultation with me to learn more about how I help get to the root of the problem or just simply book an Initial Scan and Plan appointment and mention this blog to receive $50 off your initial appointment, what have you got to lose? (Just a few pesky pounds!)

Book Now!

Marla Tenney

About the Author: Marla Tenney

Marla is a Certified Nutrition Therapy Practitioner and the owner of Shakti Whole Health.