If you’ve tried everything to lose weight – from logging miles on the treadmill to cutting carbs and counting calories – and still haven’t made a dent, it might be time to dig for the root cause of your weight plateau. Here are some common reasons why you may be hitting a wall – and how to make the right changes to shed pounds.
If you’re focusing solely on counting calories and not thinking about the nutrition you’re getting from your food, your body may think it is starving. Your body needs vitamins, minerals and healthy fats to function properly and to keep you healthy. When you forgo nutrition for low-calorie, processed foods you are sabotaging your health and your weight loss efforts. Instead focus on nutrient-dense foods that provide your body with what it needs and you’ll naturally begin to feel fuller sooner, which provides effortless calorie control.
Blood sugar imbalances can often make it difficult to lose weight. Your body converts carbohydrates – whether it’s a carrot or a slice of cake – to glucose, which creates a rise in blood sugar. If the body is flooded with too much blood sugar, the excess glucose is turned into fat. Maintaining a healthy blood sugar balance is important for regulating hormones, fostering a healthy metabolism and helping you lose extra weight.
Refined carbohydrates found in white sugar and white flour break down more quickly than complex carbohydrates (vegetables, whole grains and legumes) and can cause a spike in blood sugar, followed by a cravings-inducing crash. The only way to break this vicious cycle is to eliminate simple carbohydrates and make sure to eat plenty of protein. Many people eat carbohydrate-rich meals instead of focusing on protein. Instead, focus on consuming adequate amounts of protein to help stabilize blood sugar and help you get rid of extra fat. Research has also shown that as little as one gram of cinnamon a day can help improve blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, making it a perfect addition to a high protein diet.
Hormone conditions, such as hypothyroidism or polycystic ovarian syndrome, are commonly overlooked and can make it very difficult to lose weight. Chronic stress, whether physical, emotional, also leads the body to produce excess cortisol. Prolonged levels of excess cortisol can lead to a sluggish metabolism and excess fat around the belly.
Estrogen and testosterone imbalances can also lead to an increase in weight and can make it almost impossible to lose weight even if you’re doing everything right. If you suspect hormones might be a culprit in your weight loss battle, bring it up to your doctor and ask for your levels to be checked. In the meantime, eliminating refined carbohydrates and increasing high quality proteins and healthy fats in your diet can help ease, but not fix, some of these conditions.
If you’re skimping on sleep to wake up extra early and squeeze in a workout, you may be doing your body more harm than good. A study published in Sleep Medicine Reviews showed that even partial sleep loss leads to a deregulation of appetite control and can even increase your risk for obesity and diabetes.
The Journal of Sleep Research also found that sleep deprivation affects leptin and ghrelin levels. Leptin tells your body to stop eating and ghrelin, which is produced in the stomach, stimulates hunger; inadequate levels of these hormones not only make it difficult to lose weight, but can also cause weight gain. Since exercise is an important part of the weight loss equation, make an extra effort to go to sleep a few hours earlier if early mornings are the only time you have to work out.