Losing weight seems to happen quickly for some people but can feel like a losing battle for others. Even if you are doing everything “right” in terms of diet or exercise, other factors like hormones can make weight loss difficult. Here are five reasons why you may not be losing weight.

1. You Have an Underlying Medical Condition

Common medical problems like sleep apnea, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and thyroid disorders can stop your body from losing weight and even cause weight gain. These disorders can also cause serious health complications if left untreated. Many people don’t know that they have sleep apnea or a hormonal imbalance. The only way to know for sure is to see a medical provider and get tested. Symptoms of sleep apnea and hormone disorders can overlap and be non-specific. They may include fatigue, headache, blood pressure changes, weight gain, and higher cholesterol levels. It’s important not to ignore these symptoms and to find a provider who will take them seriously. In many cases, treating the underlying condition will make it easier to lose weight. 

In some cases, medications used to control certain conditions can make weight loss difficult or encourage weight gain. If you are concerned about weight gain while on medications, talk to your provider about what you can do to stay at a healthy weight while taking medicine as prescribed. He may be able to change your medication or recommend lifestyle changes to mitigate weight-related side effects. 

2. You Have Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is common even in people who don’t have diabetes. Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas that helps the body regulate sugar. Every time you eat carbohydrates, insulin is released. Some forms of carbohydrates like those found in whole grains release sugar slowly into your system. Your body then releases less insulin to control the sugar. Other carbohydrates, like sugar, fruit-based sweeteners, alcohol, and refined (white) flour, cause your body to release more insulin to control the sugar overload. Over time, a diet high in these foods and low in fiber and protein can cause your body to become less sensitive to insulin. You can think of this process as similar to the body’s resistance against other drugs. If you are insulin resistant, your body will have to release more insulin to deal with the same amount of sugar. If it can’t stay on top of your sugars, you will develop type 2 diabetes. 

Insulin causes weight gain by forcing your body’s cells to absorb excess glucose, which is then converted to fat. Healing insulin resistance can help the body lose excess weight and prevent type 2 diabetes and other metabolic problems. A high protein, high fiber diet that exchanges simple carbs like white flour for complex carbs like whole-wheat products can treat and prevent insulin resistance. A medically supervised diet customized to your body’s needs can help you heal insulin resistance, pinpoint other underlying hormonal issues, and lose weight. 

3. You Need a Different Exercise Routine

Health trends in the media have often encouraged people to pursue cardio exercises to lose weight. There’s nothing wrong with this, cardio is a necessary type of exercise for both overall health and weight loss, but cardio by itself is often not enough. Resistance exercises, like weight lifting, can increase weight loss over cardio alone.

Cardio or aerobic exercise is any exercise that raises your heart rate significantly. Running, swimming and cycling are good examples. These workouts help your body burn calories and visceral fat (fat around your organs). Aerobic exercise also strengthens your heart and lungs, and when paired with a healthy diet, can lower your risk of cardiovascular problems.

Resistance exercise is any exercise that works your muscles. Weight lifting, rowing, and cross-fit routines are good examples. Building muscle helps your body lose weight even when you aren’t working out. When you lift weights, your muscles tear slightly, your body uses energy to repair the damage, and the muscle heals stronger than it was before. Building lean muscle can help lose body fat and gain strength and core stability. 

If you struggle to lose weight and are only doing aerobic exercise, try adding resistance training to your routine. Keep in mind that you will need to consume enough protein to aid with muscle growth. Your medical provider can help you adjust your diet accordingly. It’s also good to remember that muscle weighs more than fat. As you gain muscle, you may not see much downward movement on the scale, but fat loss will show in waist measurements and how your clothes fit. 

4. You Need a Higher Quality Diet

Many weight loss programs focus on quantity, but quality is even more critical. While cutting calories does result in weight loss for most healthy people, the types of calories you eat affect your long-term success and health. For instance, one hundred calories from a candy bar and one hundred calories of broccoli will be processed very differently. The broccoli is nutrient-dense and contains a lot of fiber. That fiber will fill you up and cause you to feel less hungry than you’ll feel after your 100 calorie candy bar. In addition, the candy bar will cause your body to release much more insulin than the broccoli will, and it contains few nutrients.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of eating “healthy” processed foods. Products like V8 may seem like a handy way to get your nutrients if you don’t’ love vegetables, but juices and other processed foods lose fiber and nutrients. Eating whole vegetables, fruits, and whole grains will keep you full longer, making it easier to cut your calories. They also contain more nutrients, especially when eaten raw or flash steamed. 

Many Americans don’t eat enough protein. A diet low in protein can put you at higher risk for insulin resistance and make it harder to see muscle gain from workouts. A general recommendation for protein intake is .36 grams per pound of body weight for a sedentary person. If you are trying to gain muscle, you will need more. A medical provider can help you plan your meals to include enough protein to meet your fitness goals. 

Weight Loss Help in Houston

At Vanguard Spine & Sport, we know that weight loss is an essential component of overall health. If you struggle to lose weight, our providers can evaluate you for underlying hormone issues or insulin resistance. We use medically supervised diets to help our patients meet their healthy weight loss goals.