6 Reasons You Can't Lose Stubborn Body Fat
"What can I do to lose weight?"
Most people think that the answer is obvious: eat less, exercise more. But if weight-loss were this simple, no one would be asking the question.
Many dieters struggle as they listen to experts who continue to push the calories-in, calories-out mentality. But obesity rates continue to rise, even among those who exercise frequently and eat low-calorie foods.
Why do some people find it so difficult to lose weight?
Could conventional weight-loss advice be wrong?
If you've hit a brick wall in your efforts to lose weight, you should know this roadblock is made up of a variety of factors that most health authorities fail to consider.
Sugar: The Bitter Truth
Dr. Eric Westman
(#1) You Eat a Low-Fat Diet
"A high-sugar diet is a high-fat diet." -Dr. Robert Lustig
You'll have trouble losing weight if your diet encourages your body to produce fat.
I know what you're saying: "Duh! That's why I follow a low-fat diet."
Most doctors and nutritionists tell you that eating a diet low in saturated fats and high in carbohydrates promotes healthy weight loss, even though there is no evidence to support this idea.
"But my cousin's uncles' brother lost 100 pounds on a low-fat diet!"
Changing the quality of foods you eat is a great way to lose weight quickly. If your diet is made up mostly of poor-quality, high-carbohydrate processed foods, making the transition to whole foods is going to provide results.
But weight loss that is the result of a diet low in natural fats and fat-soluble nutrients is difficult to maintain and unlikely to keep you at your goal weight.
Your brain is three-quarters fat. Your cell membranes are mostly fat. The sheaths that protect your nerves are primarily made of fat. Furthermore, natural fats--those found in olive oil, avocados, and products like butter and eggs--don't contribute to weight gain.
If your body doesn't get the nutrients it needs, your appetite will increase. You want more food, not because of a character defect, but because your diet is deficient.
Low-quality foods aren't gonna cut it. Living on reduced-calorie dinners and fat-free desserts aren't going to provide your body with the nourishment it needs.
High-carbohydrate, low-nutrient foods, like breads, crackers, bars, pretzels, and sugary snacks, may be low in dietary fat but contribute to the belly jiggle you want to get rid of. These foods elevate blood sugar levels that stimulate an insulin response. Insulin stores the sugar as fatty acids into your fat cells, especially those in your abdomen.
The low-fat craze caused a disturbing trend that continues today: more processed low-fat, high-sugar foods in the average diet. You don't have to look far to see examples of low-fat recipes that use cups of sugar and other high-carbohydrate ingredients like wheat flour or gluten-free starchy flours. These goodies are chosen for their weight-loss effects when, in reality, they're doing the opposite.
Dr. Eric Westman, Duke University's associate professor of medicine, says the modern belief that fat is bad for you is a misconception that will soon go the way of geocentrism. As research continues to disprove its claims, people will look back on low-fat diet dogma as laughable.
(#2) You Cut Too Many Calories
Still believe in the "calories in, calories out" theory of weight loss? This idea doesn't account for the calories your body stores and doesn't burn. Studies show that a calorie is not a calorie: it matters what types of food you're getting those calories from.
As has already been mentioned, high-carbohydrate foods like breads, starches, and sugar spike blood glucose levels. The fat-storing hormone insulin enters the scene to lower dangerous levels of blood glucose by storing it into your fat cells.
Did you know that your body prefers saturated fat over glucose for fuel? You're not depriving yourself if you cut out refined products and choose whole foods instead.
Calorie-restriction also elevates cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone. When it becomes elevated, blood sugar levels also rise, which leads to more fat storage. Do you see a pattern here?
(#3) You Exercise Too Hard
In case you haven't noticed, the fitness industry is booming! Generating 25 billion dollars a year, gyms and fitness clubs' business continues to grow in spite of a lagging economy.
According to a recent industry report, "Demand for gyms and health and fitness clubs will continue to rise over the next five years, as the general public becomes more health-conscious and the aging population places a greater emphasis on staying fit."
It's interesting to note that in spite of the fact that the more people exercise, obesity rates continue to climb. You constantly hear or read the judgment that those who are overweight are simply "fat and lazy", yet many who struggle with their weight are restricting calories more and working out harder.
It's this misguided way of thinking that keeps money flooding into local gyms and sweatshop-made running shoes.
There are two reasons why excess exercise doesn't work. Easily digested carbohydrates turn to fat quickly, and this fat is difficult to lose. Also, excess exercise elevates cortisol levels. Do you remember the stress hormone that boosts your blood sugar levels . . . fat-storing insulin . . . yadda, yadda, yadda?
Exercise that supports healthy weight loss is low-impact. Tai chi, yoga, walking--these are all good examples of healthy physical activity that lowers stress hormone levels and keep your body in balance.
(#4) You Aren't Effectively Managing Your Stress
You can't enjoy good health if you're not managing your stress levels. Stress negatively affects every part of your body, leading to adrenal fatigue which causes a laundry list of disorders including weight gain.
Stress is a natural part of life. Problems occur when daily pressures translate into a chronic condition with no relaxation to balance them out. There are many simple things that you can do to manage stress throughout the day and keep your body in balance.
Issues that keep the body in a state of constant stress include over-exercise, too few calories in the diet, stress without relaxation, and a lack of sleep. Which brings us to the next fattening habit . . .
Relax and Get Some Sleep!
(#5) You Need More Sleep
Do you keep flipping through the stations, trying to find something to watch in spite of your heavy eyelids? Or do you stay up until the wee hours trying to get things accomplished that can't be done while the kids are awake (I'm guilty of this one)?
Our culture condemns proper rest as something only lazy people do. The "I'll sleep when I'm dead" mentality actually contradicts reality. Rest is crucial for health, productivity, and weight management.
Without eight to nine hours of sleep each night, your body remains in a state of fight or flight. This further prohibits you from getting to sleep. You know how our grandparents used to say that if we couldn't get to sleep it was because we were "overtired"? Turns out they were right.
Lack of sleep leads to elevated stress hormones (again with the cortisol!). Without sufficient rest, you are in a state of continual fight or flight, which keeps your blood sugar levels elevated.
(#6) You Eat the Same Foods Every Day
Repeating the same foods on your menu each day can block your ability to lose weight. This common habit gives your body excess nutrients and a lack of nutrients at the same time.
The vitamins and minerals in your foods can end up becoming empty calories when they are consumed in excess. If you can't use those calories, they will be stored into your fat cells.
At the same time, you're not getting enough of the nutrients you're missing. This can lead to cravings and an enhanced appetite.
Think of the foods you're craving and do a little research: what is in these foods that you want so badly? Are you dying for some chocolate? Perhaps your magnesium levels are low. Do you salivate over anything dipped in butter? Maybe fat-soluble vitamins are deficient.
The whole "listen to your body" concept isn't fool-proof; a person who has a drug addiction craves harmful substances. Caving in to those cravings isn't going to help. But food cravings can provide some clues as to why the thought of certain foods shifts your appetite into high gear.
Real Food Variety
Evaluate Your Lifestyle Habits
There may be other reasons as to why you have trouble losing those excess pounds. But popular opinion over health and weight loss is flawed--to say the least--and may be adding to your struggles.
Look over these points and see what you could change in order to lose weight: do you need more of a variety of nutrient-dense foods in your diet, like eggs, fish, or fresh vegetables while cutting out the breads and starches? Could you concentrate more on getting the sleep you need while taking moments throughout the day to manage your stress? Forget the wrong ideas about calories and exercise, and work with your body to lose weight and achieve the best health possible.
More Health and Nutrition Links
- How Excess Exercise and Calorie Restriction Get in the Way of Your Weight Loss Goals
Eating less and moving more as a weight loss plan has caused a lot of grief for those who struggle to lose weight naturally. This approach has never proven to be an effective way to achieve sustained weight loss.
- What is Adrenal Fatigue? Symptoms and Solutions
Adrenal fatigue is at the root of many common ailments, including weight gain, chronic fatigue, PMS, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, allergies, and brain fog.
- Depression, Diet, and Digestion: How the Gut-Brain Connection Impacts Your Mood
Did you know that the condition of your digestive system has a tremendous impact on your emotional state? Diminished gut flora, food sensitivities, and diets lacking in vital nutrients can all be root causes of depression and other mood disorders.
More by this Author
An awe-inspiring sunset has much to say about life and the ways in which we should live. Don't let another breathtaking moment pass you by!
Diet plays a strong role in the development of pimples. Making small changes in your diet can make a world of difference in your skin health.
Making homemade sauerkraut is quick and simple. It's healthier than store-bought sauerkraut, containing more beneficial bacteria since it hasn't been processed. It also saves money, which is a bonus!