Sometimes you pack on the pounds before you even know your body has started to change. And once you notice, it can be a real challenge to lose weight.
Of course, sugar and fat are commonly blamed culprits – and rightly so. Processed sugar and the wrong kind of fat can really cause you to become addicted to food … and then you’ve got a whole new set of challenges when it comes to trying to get healthy again.
But, what if you’re actually diligent about counting calories and you’re still not making any progress?
Are there secret forces sabotaging your weight loss?
Well, the fact is … you could be dealing with a classic weight loss saboteur – or any combination of “The Big 5.” Are any of these weight loss enemies standing in your way?
5 biggest enemies of weight loss
1. Your thyroid
Your thyroid is the endocrine gland in the front of your neck. And it’s job is simple … it makes hormones, then pumps them into your blood and transports them to every tissue in your body.
Are thyroid hormones important? You bet! They help your body stay warm, regulate calorie consumption, and monitor the use of energy needed to keep your major organs and muscles working properly.
And thyroid hormones even help regulate your metabolism.
Your metabolism is tracked by taking stock of the oxygen used by your body over a certain amount of time. Let’s say your body’s at rest and you measure your metabolic rate – that’s your BMR (or basal metabolic rate). Measuring your BMR can help determine your general thyroid health.
If you’ve got a low BMR, it could be a sign that your thyroid isn’t doing its job correctly.1 In fact, there are times when even an overactive thyroid can mimic an underactive thyroid and cause you to gain weight or have trouble losing weight. Strange, isn’t it?
So, if you’re experiencing any difficulty in this area, you might want to talk to your physician about testing your BMR and double-checking the health of your thyroid.
2. Gut imbalance
According to the CDC, 36.5 percent of American adults struggle with obesity. That’s a pretty significant number. And you’ve got to ask yourself, “If so many people battle obesity, what’s the cause?” Could it be diet? Is it a lack of exercise or sedentary lifestyle alone? Or could a weight loss saboteur actually be lurking in our bodies?
The truth is, there are trillions of microbes living in your gut. And while a majority of them are good, destructive bacteria inhabit your gut as well.
The bad bacteria in your gut alter the way you process and hold onto fat. They also mess with the communicative signals that trigger your feelings of hunger or satiation. That means, if you’ve got more bad bugs in your gut than good bugs, you could end up holding onto more fat and having a harder time losing weight.
Now, what you eat is hugely important when it comes to balancing out your gut microbes. For instance, when you feast on processed foods, you’re really only encouraging the growth of the bad bacteria. When you eat these foods regularly, not only do you encourage obesity, but you could encourage the growth of bad bacteria in your gut.2
For a little help in this area, you might want to look into adding probiotic foods (or supplements) with beneficial bacteria to your dietary regimen. This will help you populate your gut with good bacteria – and the nutrients needed to keep them healthy.
And though probiotics alone won’t take care of obesity entirely, with the right diet of whole foods and exercise, they can help you make a significant mark when it comes to achieving your weight loss goals.
3. Following the wrong diet for you
Now, many people subscribe to the philosophy that there is one kind of ideal diet for their personality type or body type. And while we are all different, and our body types and personalities vary, it turns out the right diet is right for more people than not. Let me explain …
There are a great many fad diets out there. You’ve got low fat, low glycemic, Paleo, vegan, low carb … Despite the fact that news about these diets has taken over the internet – and that associated specialty products have taken over our grocery shelves – not a single one of these particular diets is clearly best.
But, there is a common thread woven throughout each of these plans proven to benefit your health. That is a natural diet free of processed foods – mostly lectin-free plant foods, and predominantly plants, is generally best when it comes to fighting weight gain and maintaining general health.
Turns out, nutritionally-dense plant food diets are supported by a wide array of beneficial health outcomes, including fewer serious illnesses and heart health issues.3
So, do your best to eat lectin-free whole foods, resistant starches and pro- and prebiotic-rich foods. Do your best to cut American dairy products, sugar, processed foods, whole grains and other gut-wrecking foods. This is the best way to get on the right track.
4. Fast-paced lifestyles
Now, this has got to be one of the biggest saboteurs when it comes to fighting obesity. As a society, we’ve gotten so busy, we don’t take the time to prepare the proper foods or to eat them slowly. We go for the quickest, easiest fix – every time. It’s not good.
I get it. If you’re running from work to your kid’s soccer game, the easiest thing to do is find a meal for everyone without even getting out of the car. But, eating on-the-go can have some real consequences. And a diet of primarily fast-foods, or meals from chain restaurants, could be contributing to the country’s weight problem.
In fact, recent research reveals that guzzling down large helpings of food, rapidly, can repress the release of certain gut hormones that tell your brain you’re actually full.5
So, your body never gets the message that it’s time to stop eating. This can, of course, lead to overeating.
In the end, you’ve got to learn to slow down if you’re trying to lose weight. Set aside the time to eat a healthy meal as if it’s an event – like the recital you can’t miss, or a friend’s party. Your health is as important as your to-dos. So, put aside the right amount of time to prepare healthy meals and eat them without rushing.
Finally, stress can do a real number on your body. Whether your stress is work related, or stems from your personal relationships, is caused by life constraints, or has to do with your finances – a recent study says it’s possible these psychosocial stresses are responsible for weight gain.6
Stress is a key factor when it comes to addiction, and it could actually contribute to an increased risk for obesity and other metabolic diseases. Part of that has to do with the fact that uncontrollable stresses change your eating habits over time.
In the end, knowing about these hidden weight loss saboteurs can help you recognize them. And the first step to changing a habit is to recognize it. So, pay close attention to why you eat and what you eat.
Also, your body will also be the first to tell you when something’s not right. So, listen carefully. You really do have the power to change your weight – and it’s okay to ask for help. Once you know what’s standing in your way, you can get on the road to better health.
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