The main reason our clients sign up for our personal coaching program with one of our Registered Dietitians Coaches is because they need a detective. They need someone to investigate their crime scene and figure out who is the instigator of weight gain, infertility, inflammation, digestive distress, migraine headaches…the list goes on. We aren’t just Dietitian Coaches — we’re also detectives. “Super sleuths” if you will. We get so caught up in solving mysteries for our clients that often times the words “consultation” and “investigation” are interchangeable. We each hold up our magnifying glass to the evidence (the symptoms), and we put the pieces together to build a case. We help narrow down the suspects involved in your personal crime scene—the crime keeping you from reaching your goals and living a healthy and vivacious life.
To lose weight, you’ve been told time and time again to count your calories and make sure you’re burning more than you’re taking in, and if you’re not, then you won't lose weight. If you are and you’re still not losing weight, then you must not be totally honest. Or, you don't have any willpower. Or there's something wrong with you. This advice is shameful, flat out false and breaks my heart. There are several factors that play a role in how your metabolism functions—beyond the foods you’re eating, and beyond calories in and calories out. We’re going to take out our magnifying glass and take a close look at these often overlooked suspects today.
As a Registered, Licensed Dietitian, in this post, I don’t want to talk about food at all. I’m here to tell you that as important as nutrition is, it’s not just about nutrition. I’m going to give you 10 non-dietary reasons why you might not be losing weight. I’m excited to bring you behind the scenes with me and share what I’ve learned in my critical and careful investigations as a detective and shed light on some things you might be doing or not doing that could be the root cause of your frustrations and lack of success despite your hard efforts. Let’s take a look at the line up and find out which suspect or suspects are guilty of committing crimes against you!
Suspect #1: Inflammation
Inflammation is the root cause of almost all weight gain and chronic disease, and almost all of us have it for one reason or another thanks to our stress (I’m working on mine), sugar (I used to be a sugar addict), artificial sweeteners (I used to use these too), overexercising (I’m guilty again—I used to run marathons) and lack of sleep (Still working on prioritizing this...), among other things. Chronic inflammation is low grade and systemic, constantly engaged, silently damaging tissues and increasing your risk of disease while contributing to all sorts of health issues. Inflammation manifests itself in different ways from one person to another, and your body sees it as a fire and is always going to prioritize taking care of the inflammation before anything else. This means if you’re struggling with lack of energy, difficulty losing weight, or even digestive issues, it’s going to be nearly impossible for your body to fix these without reducing inflammation first. Whether we want to lose weight, or simply be healthier and at a lower risk for disease, we need to take care of this debilitating chronic inflammation.
Suspect #2: Thyroid
Your thyroid is the master of your metabolism, and low thyroid function (hypothyroidism) is common. We see hundreds of clients struggling with their thyroid—many of whom don’t know they are battling it because when they have it tested, their lab numbers come back in the “normal range.” (These ranges are just based on a statistical average, which is created using people who go to the doctor, not healthy people. This is a major reason why we don’t put a lot of weight into conventional reference ranges anyway.)
The cause of hypothyroidism is likely due to an increase of soy in our foods, decreased sodium recommendations (where many people get their iodine), and low-fat diets. Regardless of the cause, your thyroid regulates metabolism and so getting your thyroid function back in working order will do you a world of good, both for energy and weight loss. I recommend meeting with a dietitian coach so you can get individualized thyroid support.
Suspect #3: Gut Health
Gut Health isn't just about gas, bloating, or emergency bathroom trips—there's much more to it than that! Everything is tied to the gut—even your mood and cravings—so don't skip this part. The old saying holds true; “Health begins in the gut,” and when it comes to evaluating your health and nutrition, a critical and often overlooked starting point is the gut; where digestion, absorption and elimination, and even the production of brain chemicals take place. We can eat all of the right foods, but if we aren’t digesting them properly, we’re not going to see progress! Eating healthy food is only half of the nutrition story. You need to be in the ideal state to digest food, too—that’s the other half.
Most of us have impaired gut health unless we’ve done something to improve it— this is thanks to our stressful lifestyles, antibiotic use, lack of sleep, poor quality supplements and following a standard American (high sugar, high carbohydrate) diet at some point in our life. Many of our clients report improvements in digestion and significantly reduced cravings for sugar and carbohydrates within hours or days of starting a gut health regimen, not to mention…WEIGHT LOSS!
Gut health is also an ongoing consideration. If you focused on it a lot when you got started but have completely forgotten about it now, you may need to make sure you’re keeping those inflammatory foods out and sticking with your supplement regimen. A general starting point is a high quality probiotic, L-glutamine and fish oil supplement.
Suspect #4: Food Sensitivities
Food sensitivities are at the root of many of our clients’ weight loss difficulties (and other various health issues). Many find through the process of elimination that they have a food sensitivity that was standing in the way of their weight loss goal. The most common culprits are gluten, dairy, soy, nuts and eggs.
Remember, you can have a food sensitivity without having a full blown food allergy. If you are eating foods you are sensitive to, an inflammatory reaction takes place in your body and you are NOT going to lose weight—think back to what we talked about earlier. Your body is going to focus on healing areas that are affected (damaged and inflamed) by the food you are eating. The best way to determine if you have a food sensitivity is to completely eliminate the food for 4-6 weeks, and pay attention to how your body reacts both when you remove this food from your daily eating regimen, and if/when you add it back in.
Suspect #5: Hormones
Insulin, Glucagon, Ghrelin, Leptin, Estrogen, Testosterone, Progestone, oh my! Underneath it all, if your hormones are imbalanced, it’s tough for any of the pieces of your puzzle to come together. When your hormones are in harmony you feel amazing, energized, in control of your moods and cravings and ready to conquer the world! When they’re out of balance you feel exhausted, out of control, and that’s when you gain weight. Glucagon and insulin are your fat burning and fat storing hormones. Cortisol regulates your “fight or flight” response and directly affects fat storage by deciding if your body should use or store fat. Leptin and Ghrelin are big players in regulating appetite. Then there's Estrogen and Testosterone—what we think of as our female and male hormones. Estrogen dominance can happen in both men and women. Testosterone is often thought of as the “burly” hormone and it’s actually important for both men and women but the ratios of what we consider “balanced” are different for each gender. We need to have the right balance for our systems to be working properly. We generally recommend SynerVive™ and SynerVive Protein™ hormonal support for all females and TestraVive™ for all men as a starting point, to promote hormonal balance. Of course we strongly suggest working with one of our dietitian coachess who specializes in hormonal balance to help you get yours under control right away, too.
Suspect #6: Stress
Today’s demanding lifestyles put more stress on our bodies than they were designed to handle. Most of us brush it off like it’s no big deal. Unfortunately, a lot of us don’t realize just how negatively it can impact our health and our weight. It can sabotage all of the hard-work and effort we put in to being healthy and the results of both acute and chronic stress are detrimental. Stress negatively affects digestion, depletes our body of nutrients, reduces immune function, affects our mood, alters our ability to think clearly because it interferes with the production of our feel-good brain chemicals which are made in our gut. Stress sets the stage for inflammation, which is at the root of nearly all chronic diseases and weight gain and cortisol is released in response to stress, and as outlined earlier, it raises blood sugar levels, which drive the insulin response and fat storage. Stress matters.
Too often, we rush from one thing to the next without giving ourselves time to process, focus, and prepare for the next task and can become worn down from this stressful, daily grind. Give yourself 10-15 minutes of transition time between your workday and your busy evening to read a book or do some journaling, or just sit quietly. Go for a walk outside. It doesn't matter what you do—simply relaxing for a few minutes each day is a good first step to stress management. To learn move from stressed to thriving, I recommend adding in L-Theanine and Adreset stress support supplements to your daily regimen.
Suspect #7: Sleep
Sometimes sleep seems like a luxury. Inadequate sleep is all too common thanks to our busy, busy schedules. So often we see clients who seem to be eating all the right foods at the right times, but they’re sleeping like crap, if at all. Or, they’re sleeping well but only clocking in 6 hours a night. Or, a huge no-no that I participated in for too many years, they are still sacrificing sleep for exercise—staying in the calories in, calories out mindset. This messes up your hormonal balance which is critical for weight loss, and since we now know that weight loss isn’t all about burning calories, it’s counterproductive to lose sleep just to clock in your time on the treadmill.
If you don’t get enough sleep, you face bigger concerns than just moodiness or fatigue. Sleep controls those hormones we talked about which control your appetite and your metabolism, not to mention the key role it plays in immunity, which you need working in your favor not only for staying healthy, but to lose weight, too. All systems need to be working properly for your body to lose weight, and sleep plays a big role.
Suspect #8: Vitamin D.
We used to think that vitamin D was just calcium’s co-pilot or wingman, but that’s not the case! It also supports metabolism, not to mention positive moods, strong immune function, solid bone density and so much more! When your vitamin D status is below the normal range (which I consider to be 50-80 ng/ml) you’re more likely to have a slow metabolism. Too often we see clients come in with lab data revealing a vitamin D level in the teens or even the (super scary!) single digits. Most people can benefit from supplementing with at least 5,000 IU of Vitamin D3 every day. Yes, you can get Vitamin D by exposing your uncovered skin to UVB rays from the sun, and there are a few foods that contain vitamin D (mostly fortified ones, but it’s also in wild caught salmon and dairy products), but from what we see in our clients, these don’t usually do the trick. It’s pretty safe to assume your status is low, and supplementing is a good idea until you get your numbers checked by a lab. Because of the convenience and effectiveness of a supplement, I think vitamin D is too important for too many aspects of our health (including weight loss!), and therefore, it’s a no-brainer to take.
Suspect #9: Artificial Sweeteners
This suspect has another undercover name: sugar substitutes. We used to think we were off the hook consuming the contents of these colorful packets in place of sugar, and we now know the opposite is true. As the research repeatedly shows, artificial sweeteners are far from guilt free, simply because they are calorie free.
They can cause weight gain for a few reasons. First, they actually confuse your metabolism, slowing it down. Secondly, they can actually raise your blood sugar, which would cause the release of that hormone insulin we talked about, which stores fat. Third, artificial sweeteners negatively impact our gut health by killing the good bacteria, too. As we discussed, virtually all of us should be working on healing our guts, so the last thing we want to do is consume something that’s further impairing our gut health!
Artificial sweeteners don’t deliver on any of their promises. They contribute to weight gain, even if they’re calorie free. They raise our blood sugars instead of lowering them. They worsen our gut health. They can contribute to making us eat more sugar. If this suspect has been harassing you, it’s time to press charges and put ‘em behind bars.
Suspect #10: Alcohol
Not to be a downer—you know I love a glass of wine or a kombucha cocktail every now and then, but you’re here to learn about what could be standing in the way of your desired weight loss, so consider me the messenger. Alcohol has an effect on your body, and you’ll need to determine whether or not it’s worth it as you work towards your goal. Alcohol affects your blood sugar levels, which need to be stable for weight loss to occur. In some people, blood sugar drops immediately after consuming alcohol while in others, it spikes quickly, which is then followed by a precipitous drop. Alcohol can also interfere with your ability to sleep soundly, and we talked about how important sleep is for metabolism. If you wake up and don’t feel rested, the drinks you consumed before bed likely caused your blood sugar to crash in the middle of the night, resulting in restless sleep. Plus, one of your liver’s many jobs is metabolizing fat stores and moving them out of the body. If your liver is too busy metabolizing alcohol, you can bet that fat burning is going to take a back burner. Ultimately the choice is yours; you just need to be aware that it may take longer to reach your weight loss goals if you do decide to include alcohol.
So there you have the top 10 leading offenders! No matter where you are in your health journey, you now have some leads to further investigate so you can get on track to living life to the fullest.
I understand that it can take a world class detective to help solve your mystery when there are so many pieces of evidence to put together. My team of Dietitian Coaches can help you arrest that offender once and for all so that you can get back on track with the life you deserve to live. We do virtual appointments so we can meet with you wherever you are!
Apply to our program to set up a call so that we can determine what it will take to arrest your offender once and for all!