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
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
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
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
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!