6 Unexpected Reasons Why You Can’t Lose Weight

6 Unexpected Reasons Why You Can’t Lose Weight

6 Unexpected Reasons Why You Can’t Lose Weight: By Registered Clinical Nutritionist, Natalie Brady

I’ve seen hundreds of clients for weight loss, who before seeing me tried everything under the sun to lose weight. Some of my clients even have the perfect diet but still were struggling to shift weight. Weight loss doesn’t always come down to calories in vs calories out. There are numerous things that could be going on in your body which can affect weight loss, this is what I educate my clients about to help them reach their weight loss goals. And today I’m going to touch on a few of these for you. 

1)  You’re under eating or have tried too many low calorie/starvation diets

This is mistake that a lot of dieters make. Just because you’re on a “diet” doesn’t mean you have to eat tiny morsels for each meal. Eating very little makes your body store whatever you eat as fat — just the opposite of what you want. It also causes your metabolism to slow down, making it more difficult for you to lose weight.

I’ve seen many female clients who have a really good diet but just aren’t eating enough to support their energy requirements, or they’ve tried so many diets in the past which are low calorie that they have now negatively affected their metabolism. Eating a low-calorie diet or restrictive eating for a long period of time will cause some type of metabolic damage. This is one of the reasons why people experience plateaus.

What I recommend: Seeking professional help from a qualified nutritionist who can teach you how to heal your relationship with food, to help you nourish your body with real natural whole foods.

2) Under active thyroid (hypothyroidism)

You might not realize the reason you’re feeling tired, sluggish, constipated or have difficulties with concentration or deal with cold hands and feet might be due to a sluggish/under active thyroid. A sluggish thyroid can slow down metabolism subsequently resulting in weight gain. Here in New Zealand, many people don’t consume the right foods to support thyroid health (i.e. iodine and selenium), we also lack these nutrients in our soils. Without being conscious of this and without incorporating these foods into your diet this could be affecting your thyroid health.

What I recommend: Getting a blood test done to check your TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels, T3 levels and T4 levels, then going to see a holistic practitioner with these results. Often doctors say that your levels are fine, when in fact they might be skewed towards one side or the other. 

3) You’re too stressed

When you are stressed your body going into the ‘fight or fight’ response. When this happens regularly your body releases cortisol, a fat storing hormone. It’s important to put aside 10-15 minutes each day for yourself to unwind and de-stress! This is important for helping to nourish your adrenal glands and signalling the nervous system to kick into the parasympathetic ‘rest and digest’ response.

What I recommend: You could try to meditate (even if it’s just for 5 minute), I like to put my legs up against the wall for 15 minutes every night. Other options include reading, a walk around the block, having a bath, or simply just sitting and focusing on your breath, allowing your belly to rise and fall (breathing in for 4 counts, hold, then breathe out for 4 counts, do this 10 times). Try to do this 2-3 times throughout the day to you relax, unwind and be present. 

4) Hormonal Imbalance

Hormonal imbalances can hugely affect weight loss. Conditions such as PCOS for example can cause insulin resistance which can cause weight gain, making it harder for you to lose weight. It’s also common for females to be estrogen dominate (especially when taking the OCP). Absorbing environmental estrogens is another factor to consider which can lead to estrogen dominance. Environmental estrogens are known as xenoestrogens, these are synthetic chemicals found in plastics, fertilizers, detergents and cosmetics. It is believed that these xenoestrogens can mimic our bodies natural estrogens. Excess estrogen can result in weight gain in both men and women.

What I recommend: Ditch the plastic drink bottles and lunch containers and opt for glass or stainless steel instead.

5) You’re not getting enough sleep

A lack of sleep, or poor quality sleep may be hindering your weight loss goals. Sleep deprivation can slow down your metabolism and affects the hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is what tells your brain to stop eating, whereas ghrelin stimulates hunger and is produced in the stomach. Some research suggests that poor quality or inadequate sleep is associated with low levels of leptin and high levels of ghrelin, often resulting in weight gain.

What I recommend: Get a solid 8 hours of sleep each night. Create a healthy sleep routine.

6) You’re over-exercising

I can vouch for this one personally! I’m a sucker for HIIT and that release of endorphins, but for some people (like myself) too much of a good thing just isn’t right. For me personally it upsets my hormones and increases my stress response. Exercising is still important for weight loss but if you are a busy, stressed or an anxious person, and you’re not getting adequate sleep your body’s stress response will be increased, then if you stress exercise (i.e. do a HIIT session) regularly your body is going to pump out even more cortisol (hello fat storage) preventing you from losing weight.

What I recommend: Try limiting HIIT to 1-2 days a week and for no longer than 15-20 minutes. On other days do restorative practices such as yoga, pilates, walking, or weight lifting (that doesn’t leave you feeling breathless).


If this is something you struggle with I’d love to see you for a consultation to help you get back to a healthy weight so you can feel comfortable in your own skin. Get in touch with me today to book in a consultation. If you’re unsure if I’m the best fit for you still get in touch with me, then I can give you a call and we can discuss things further. I’m more than happy to answer any questions you have or recommend someone else if I think they may be more suited to you and your health goals. 

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