By. Dr Chantell Groenewald (M. Tech Hom UJ)
Difficulty losing weight is an issue that troubles many individuals at some point in their lives, if not most of their lives. In the past, mainstream medicine would have you believe that it is a simple equation of ‘eat less, exercise more’. An energy expenditure equation lifestyle can be very frustrating with little to no weight loss to show for your efforts.
In my practice, I focus on healthy living, whole foods and weight loss that is a side effect of a healthy lifestyle. The 5 most common obstacles to weight loss I have encountered are as follows:
1. Oestrogen dominance: This is a common issue today, aggravated by processed hormone loaded and antibiotic fed livestock. Xenoestrogens (harmful oestrogen derived from external sources) are found in our make-up, body products, plastic containers, meat, chicken, dairy and vegetables (pesticides). Higher than normal oestrogen levels (or rather higher than normal oestrogen vs. progesterone ratio) is responsible for weight gain and difficulty losing weight. Ageing alone contributes to higher than normal oestrogen levels starting from the age of about 35.
2. Thyroid dysfunction: Hypothyroidism refers to lower than normal levels of the hormone T4, which is responsible for our metabolism. Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) increases when circulating levels of T4 is decreasing, so some people might have normal levels of T4 with elevated levels of THS, which is called sub-clinical hypothyroidism. Both hypothyroidism and sub-clinical hypothyroidism will cause difficulty losing weight.
3. Chronic stress: Chronic stress is responsible for chronically elevated cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as our fight and flight hormone, but it’s role in the functioning of our bodily systems is much more broad. Cortisol plays a role in immunity, metabolism, hormone production and insulin sensitivity. Chronically elevated levels of cortisol causes sluggish digestion, insulin resistance, poor immunity and issues with hormone production. All of the above will favour weight gain.
4. Leaky gut: A leaky gut is the root cause of chronic inflammation which affects all the other systems in our body. There is an inflammatory cascade which perpetuates the formation of fat cells in the presence of inflammatory markers, so a very oversimplified explanation is that chronic inflammation makes you fat.
5. Insulin resistance: Increased abdominal fat is linked to increased insulin sensitivity and decreased weight loss. Being overweight thus makes you more resistant to weight loss.
All of these obstacles to weight loss can easily be addressed through a tailored nutritional and diet lifestyle plan. There is no one size fits all and most women with obstacles to eight loss are left disappointed after following the latest diet trend. Each woman is an individual and should treat their weight loss journey as such.