Dieting is one of the hardest things to do. Even those who follow the conventional wisdom of eating right and exercising can have trouble losing weight. A recent study of 14,000 adults by the Pennsylvania State College of Medicine showed that just one in six dieters succeeds at losing 10% or more of his or her body weight and keeping it off for at least a year.
That’s because dieting is about more than just counting calories. If dieting and exercising doesn’t helping you shed the pounds, the problem could lie in one of the following issues.
Food sensitivities can lead to cravings, inflammation, and water retention. Antihistamines also increase your appetite and decrease your energy levels. If you suspect you are sensitive to food, try eliminating all of the suspected culprits (dairy, gluten, peanuts or soy are common allergens) for three weeks to identify which one is a problem for you. You could also try natural antihistamines like flavonoid quercetin, vitamin C, or the herb butterbur.
Chronic stress increases the “fight or flight” hormone cortisol, which can hurt muscle fiber, impair blood sugar metabolism, and spark food cravings. Additionally, lack of sleep can increase ghrelin hormone levels, which stimulates your appetite, and decrease leptin hormone levels, which tells us when we’re full. To help you de-stress, try meditating or doing yoga.
Nearly one-third of all men and women have a thyroid that operates in a suboptimal range. This can happen when you are stressed, have a genetic predisposition, work out more than an hour a day, or restrict calories too much. Thyroid problems affect your metabolism and cause weight gain. To help combat thyroid problems, you can eat Brazil nuts, which are rich in the mineral selenium, which is key for proper thyroid function.
Restricting calories and losing body fat can decrease insulin, leptin, ghrelin, and other hormone levels, prompting an increase in hunger and a decrease in metabolism. This hormonal rut typically occurs 10 weeks into a weight-loss program and can last even after you have stopped dieting. Try taking a daily omega-3 supplement to raise hormone levels and decrease your hunger levels.