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5 Reasons You May Be Having Difficulty Losing Weight

Dr. Sheldon Bjorgaard, BSc., ND


1. Not Being Aware of Caloric Consumption


It may seem fairly obvious, but many people are completely unaware of how many

calories they consume on a daily basis. Consuming more calories than we are

burning with daily activity undoubtedly leads to weight gain. Fortunately, many

calorie counting Apps are available that help keep track of daily calorie intake,

making it easier to stay on track. Another option is to record all your food for one

week to see what your average weekly consumption is. While exercise can burn

extra calories, it’s usually not as much as people think, so tracking dietary intake is

much more important, and also much more efficient that trying to burn calories off

with exercise.


If you are having trouble figuring out how many calories are optimal for your body

to function well and still lose weight, come into the clinic for a consultation and get

started on a sustainable, healthy plan tailored to your individual lifestyle and goals!


2. Stress Hormones (Cortisol)


Studies show that high stress levels over a long period of time are associated with

being overweight or obese. One reason for this is a major stress hormone in the

body called cortisol. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands and released during

periods of acute (short term) or chronic (long term) stress. While in the short term,

cortisol can help us deal with physical and psychological stressors, over the long

term it can be detrimental to our physical health. Furthermore, being overweight or

obese is itself highly stressful; creating a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break.

People experiencing chronic stress also tend to “self-medicate” with carbohydrate

rich foods, sweets, and alcohol, which further perpetuates this vicious cycle.


With the help of specific dietary changes and the incorporation of stress relieving

behaviours such as mindful eating, in addition to certain supplements that can lower

cortisol levels, we can help you get a handle on your stress and get on track to losing

weight and feeling comfortable in your own skin again.


3. Thyroid Hormone Issues


Thyroid hormones are associated with sluggish digestion, feeling cold all the time,

and decreased metabolic rate or “slow metabolism”. Even though low thyroid

hormone levels may be correlated with obesity and difficulty losing weight, the

correction of the imbalance is much more nuanced that simply taking thyroid

hormones. Furthermore, weight loss itself does in fact cause a “slowing” of the

metabolism in the body’s effort to maintain homeostasis (i.e. prevent any changes in

weight).


Appropriate testing of thyroid hormones is key, as unnecessary treatment with

thyroid hormones may have harmful side effects. That being said, most people can

benefit in supporting thyroid health with nutrition and nutritional supplements that

provide co-factors and building blocks for optimal thyroid hormone function.


4. Female Hormones/Menopause


Both studies and experience show that weight loss tends to be difficult in the

menopausal transition years. This is due to a number of reasons, from decreased

energy expenditure from exercise in addition to an increase in the loss of muscle

mass, which can result in a slowing down of the metabolic rate. Several strategies

can be employed when dealing with hormone imbalances during menopause and

menopausal transition.


During this time, it is especially important to focus on a healthy, nutrient rich diet,

fibre, and specific exercise to prevent the loss of muscle. In addition, certain cases

may warrant the use of Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy to help alleviate

bothersome symptoms.


5. Alcoholic Beverages


Most people are unaware of the caloric content of alcoholic beverages. One reason

for this is often because these drinks are not satiating and don’t trigger the body’s

“full” signals in the same way that food does. On the contrary, they can even cause

more hunger and snacking! People may not even be over eating, but simply not

realizing that they are consuming an excess of calories from alcoholic (and non-

alcoholic) beverages. For example, 1 glass of wine can cost up to 150 calories per

glass, which can add up very quickly over the course of a weekend. The worst part

about it is that these calories are empty calories (calories with no nutrient content),

and will accumulate body fat rather than muscle mass. It is okay to enjoy alcoholic

beverages in moderation, but when focusing on weight loss it may be worthwhile to

cut out alcohol completely for a period of time.


In conclusion, there are many reasons one may have difficult losing weight or

keeping weight off. Oftentimes, it is a combination of multiple biological,

psychological, and social factors. Working with a Naturopathic doctor on a

personalized and holistic weight loss plan can help you take back control of your

health and wellness.



Dr. Sheldon Bjorgaard is a fully licensed Naturopathic Physician. He is a professional member of the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND) and the British Columbia Naturopathic Association (BCNA). With a broad scope of practice and diverse training, Dr. Sheldon takes an integrative and individualized approach in order to help each of his patients reach their health goals. Click here to book an appointment with him today!