10 mistakes that block your weight loss success

Adapted from Undoctored 

Correcting these dieting issues alone is a huge weight-loss advantage. It is therefore crucial that you identify these factors and take steps to correct them, which nearly always yields weight-loss success.

More: Why You Should Be Logging Your Food Right Now

Here are some of the factors that can block your weight-loss success.

Prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs
These include beta-blockers, antidepressant drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs, Lyrica for fibromyalgia and pain, valproic acid for seizures, Actos and Avandia for prediabetes and diabetes, and injectable insulin. All these common drugs can prevent weight loss regardless of how serious your efforts to adhere to this lifestyle are, no matter how meticulous your food choices or your exercise efforts are. If you take one or more of these drugs, a serious conversation with the prescriber is in order, as some drugs cannot just be stopped but need to be tapered down. Insist on replacing with agent(s) that do not block weight loss. The need for many, if not most, of these drugs also reverses with the Undoctored lifestyle, making them unnecessary.

Failure to increase fats and oils
Even today, after the science has conclusively demonstrated that there is no health or weight advantage to cutting fat, we are still bombarded with the message to cut fat (and thereby cut calories and heart disease risk—absolute nonsense). So I shall stress this once again: Do not restrict fat, and never eat low-or nonfat foods of any sort. Buy fatty cuts of meat, and don’t trim off the fat. Use more lard, tallow, organic butter, or coconut oil in your cooking, and use more extra-virgin olive oil in your salads.

More: How to Go Grain-Free on a Budget

No, it’s not the calories, or the fat; it’s the properties of the whey protein of dairy, yes, the protein that so many people regard as healthy for exercise, muscle growth, etc. Whey protein has the peculiar capacity to increase insulin levels dramatically in about 20 percent of people, an effect that can completely shut down any hope of weight loss. The only way to test this question is to eliminate dairy completely for a 4-week period; if you lose, say, 8 or 9 pounds, then you are among those with an exceptional sensitivity to this whey protein effect. If nothing happens, then dairy products are not the culprit, and you can add them back (with all the caveats discussed earlier, such as choosing organic, full-fat, etc.).

Iron deficiency and hypothyroidism

I list it because it is shocking how many people are frustrated with low energy, abnormal lab tests, feeling generally awful, low mood, and continual weight gain but still fail to have a thyroid assessment or are wrongly advised by their doctors that their thyroid status is normal. Or they simply believe that iodine is not really necessary. Never accept doctors’ pronouncements such as “Your thyroid is fine” or “You don’t have a thyroid problem, so forget about it.” Iodine deficiency is increasingly common, thyroid dysfunction likewise.

More: 5 Ways Grains Destroy Your Skin

Exceeding the net-carb limit of 15 grams per meal
This is a very common tripping point. The key is to endure the modest hassle of counting your net carbs (you will be shocked at how often foods you thought were safe were actually booby-trapping your weight-loss program). Invest the modest effort and, for a surprisingly large number of people, the answer will be found in the Mexican refried beans you love or the gluten-free or low-carb pasta you thought was safe.

Elevated blood sugar levels
Added confidence in blood sugar/insulin management is obtained by checking blood sugars immediately prior to a meal and then 30 to 60 minutes after starting the meal, aiming for no change. In other words, if your blood sugar premeal is 100 mg/dL, it should be no higher than 100 mg/dL 30 to 60 minutes later when the blood sugar peak occurs. If blood sugar rises to, say, 140 mg/dL, you ate something that not only raised blood sugar to unhealthy levels but also turned off any hope of weight loss for at least the next 24 hours. Should you identify such a blood sugar effect, review the meal and reduce or eliminate the food responsible, which will be some form of carbohydrate.

More: 6 Steps to Successful Carb Counting

Inadequate sleep
I’m guilty once again of reiterating something I’ve discussed elsewhere. But because people too often dismiss sleep as an inconvenience or sacrifice sleep due to time pressures, it is all too often an impediment to weight loss, as well as to overall health. Recognize that inadequate sleep quality or quantity has potent metabolic consequences, such as increased cortisol levels, increased appetite for snacking on junk, and other metabolic distortions that impair health and weight loss. You cannot neglect sleep and hope to succeed by compensating in other ways—period.

Extreme stress/adrenal dysfunction
I lump these two weight loss–blockers together because they are typically one and the same: Anything that causes extreme and longstanding stress—financial struggles, unrewarding work stress, a bad relationship, caring for an impaired child or parent—provokes excess cortisol release from the adrenal gland. Cortisol is a steroid hormone, therefore making stress not too different from taking the anti-inflammatory drug prednisone, typically associated with extravagant weight gain. Unfortunately, being freed of stress and/or reversing adrenal/cortisol dysfunction can be among the toughest of issues to resolve. Typical symptoms include morning energy followed by a dramatic drop-off in the afternoon and evening, or low daytime energy with an inappropriate nighttime surge that prevents sleep. Quantify and characterize your individual pattern of cortisol release with a four-sample salivary cortisol test kit from services such as ZRT Laboratory (zrtlab.com), or, of course, identify a functional medicine or integrative health practitioner with an interest in adrenal health.

More: 10 Rules for a Healthy Low-Carb Diet

I’ve discussed the steps required to start the journey back to healthy bowel flora: a high-potency, multispecies probiotic at the start, fermented foods, and prebiotic fibers to nourish bowel flora. Unfortunately, some people are so far down the path of having unhealthy bowel flora that even these commonsense and mostly effective efforts are inadequate. This situation can be suggested by an adverse response to prebiotic fibers, such as excessive bloating and diarrhea. Deal with mild degrees of dysbiosis by simply delaying the introduction of prebiotic fibers for several weeks while continuing a probiotic. Should this fail to yield relief from a weight plateau and/or from abdominal symptoms, then this is one of those occasional situations in which a doctored solution may be required, involving a formal analysis of bowel flora followed by correction.

Severe insulin resistance
An occasional person does everything right, but it may not be enough due to marked inability to respond to insulin, which blocks weight loss (i.e., persistent high blood levels of insulin prevent the mobilization of fat for disposal). While all the Undoctored strategies help reverse this situation, you can push it further by achieving ketosis, a natural physiologic state in which you eliminate virtually all dietary carbohydrates, forcing your body to draw from fat for energy. The key is to cut net-carb intake to 10 grams or less per meal and load up on fat—not protein, as it will block ketosis. And for a serious effort, monitor blood ketones using Abbott’s Precision Xtra device for testing finger-stick ketone levels (which is preferable to the less reliable urinary ketone checks); you will need both the device and ketone test strips. Finger-stick ketone levels, checked only occasionally, should be maintained in the 1 to 3 mmol/L range. Maintaining a ketotic state over several weeks can break weight plateaus for many. (Those with type 1 diabetes should not use this strategy, as they can develop dangerous levels of ketones, which does not occur in people without this form of diabetes.)

First published on RodaleWellness.com.