Medical Factors and Weight Loss

Nov 22, 2022
Weight Loss TārāMD Blog 2022.11.22
If you have weight to lose, it might be time to take an integrative, root-cause approach. Today’s article will walk you through five of the most common medical factors contributing to weight gain and difficulty losing weight.

5 Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight

Do you feel like you are doing everything right with your diet and exercise, but you can’t lose weight? Do the strategies that worked previously to keep your body lean not work anymore?

If you have weight to lose, it might be time to take an integrative, root-cause approach. Today’s article will walk you through five of the most common medical factors contributing to weight gain and difficulty losing weight.

The good news is that when we identify and address the factor (or factors) that signal the body to hold on to weight, the body often naturally moves to a more optimal place – no crash diets, restrictions, or obsessing required.

Keep reading to learn more about the top 5 reasons you can’t lose weight.

Reason #1 - Insulin Resistance

Blood sugar balance is critical for optimal function throughout the body. When blood sugar is high over time, insulin resistance develops.

Insulin is the hormone made by the pancreas that helps move sugar from the bloodstream (from what you eat) into cells to produce energy. With insulin resistance, the cells become resistant to this signal. The result is high blood sugar and insulin levels but low cell metabolism.

Insulin resistance might look like:

  • Weight gain, especially around the midsection
  • Fatigue, especially after meals
  • Sugar cravings
  • Elevated blood sugar, hemoglobin A1C, and fasting insulin
  • Metabolic syndrome, prediabetes, type 2 diabetes

Women are more prone to insulin resistance during perimenopause and menopause and may need to put more tools in place to counter it (such as adjusting carbs and saturated fats in the diet and increasing strength training). I also love prescribing continuous glucose monitors so you can learn more about how specific foods and meals affect your blood sugar.

Reason #2 – Hypothyroidism

Thyroid hormones are responsible for the metabolic rate in every cell in the body. Weight gain and weight loss resistance are common symptoms of hypothyroidism or low thyroid hormone. You might also notice:

  • Fatigue
  • Cold intolerance or cold hands and feet
  • Constipation
  • Brain fog

Rates of hypothyroidism are higher in women than men, possibly because of the connection with sex hormones. Times of hormonal transition, like puberty, pregnancy, and perimenopause, may trigger hypothyroidism.  

At TārāMD, we comprehensively look at our patients’ thyroid health. Sometimes, there isn’t diagnosable thyroid disease (yet), but active thyroid hormone is low, contributing to weight gain. I want to understand why and help my patients optimize thyroid function.

Reason #3 – Stress

You could be eating the most perfect diet, but if your body thinks a tiger is chasing you, you won’t be assimilating and metabolizing that food well at all. When you are under stress, your body may shift into conservation mode. Your body will hold on to weight to protect you from harm.

Stress may be emotional stress brought on by work, relationships, or financial problems. But stress can be caused by undereating or over-exercising too, which I often see in the women I treat. Too much food restriction or exercise may signal your body to hold weight instead of release it.

The advice here is to work with a nutritionist to ensure your diet (and exercise) is meeting your needs. Sometimes we need to eat more to lose weight. How fun!

In addition, practice stress management in the ways that work for you. It might be therapy, social interactions, movement, bodywork, naps, or all of the above.

Reason #4 – Microbiome Imbalance

The microbiome is the trillions of microorganisms that inhabit your body, most of them in the gut. As we learn more about the microbiome, it’s clear that certain bacteria and other organisms influence metabolic health.

While the gut doesn’t tend to be the first place we explore when it comes to weight, perhaps it should be. An imbalance of bacteria (dysbiosis), a pathogenic infection, or compromised digestion may influence your weight, blood sugar, hormone levels, and more.

Functional stool testing takes a comprehensive look at the microbiome and gut health. We can take this information and personalize nutrition and supplement strategies to shift the microbiome toward a faster burning metabolism.

Reason #5 – Obesogens

Environmental toxins impact metabolic health. In fact, toxins are known as obesogens because they are stored in fat, drive fat accumulation, increase hunger, and disrupt hormones.

In a recent article, I detail endocrine disruptors, a category of toxins that negatively affect thyroid and sex hormones, and may make it challenging to lose weight.

Here are some ways to reduce obesogen exposure:

  • Eat organic food as much as possible
  • Reduce plastic use, especially plastics that come in contact with food or beverages
  • Use non-toxic cleaning supplies
  • Use non-toxic personal care products – think makeup, hair color, nail polish, lotions, etc.
  • Avoid non-stick cookware
  • Get rid of air fresheners and candles with “fragrance” (essential oils are okay)

Here at TārāMD we take a comprehensive approach to weight and metabolic health. We take time to understand your story, the underlying factors contributing to your symptoms, and perform thorough testing to uncover the whole picture.

If you come in wanting to lose weight, you won’t be handed an overly restricted diet plan or hear “it’s just part of getting older.” Instead, you’ll receive a personalized treatment protocol that addresses your unique root causes. The best part? This approach really works!