Top 5 Reasons You Are Not Losing Weight


Was weight loss one of your top New Year’s Resolutions? Do you cringe at this question because you feel you have already fallen off track?  Read on. 

Weight loss is a poignant resolution as excess weight is associated with increased health risks, but also because it carries feelings of frustration, low self-esteem and lack of self-worth. 

If calories consumed are less than calories expended, weight loss will occur, right?  Not so fast.  You may feel frustrated when this simple equation does not seem to apply to you.  So what gives? 

Reason #1: Hormone Imbalance

This calories in vs. calories out calculation is missing the complex dance between hormones and metabolism. Estrogen influences metabolism in both men and women by directing adipose (or fat) tissue to accumulate in the body in various locations.  Men tend to gain more fat around the middle of the body (termed “visceral fat”), leading to the classic android or “apple” shape.  While an apple a day may keep the doctor away, the apple- shaped body has been correlated to many health concerns, including increased cardiovascular risk, chronic inflammation, elevated blood sugar levels, and elevated cholesterol levels.

In contrast, females tend to accrue more subcutatneous fat (just below the skin’s surface) in their teens, 20s and 30s, which appears to protect against the negative health consequences associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome.  Estrogens influence the fat cell’s ability to expand, enhancing fat storage just below the skin while blocking its storage in the visceral, or central area.  For women in their 40s and 50s (when estrogen becomes less robust), fat storage patters morph into a more central pattern.  Sound familiar?  This shift is accompanied by a parallel increase in metabolic risk eerily reminiscent to that seen in men.

Estrogen imbalance is not the only culprit to hormonally linked weight gain. Testosterone is also a key hormone in the issue of metabolic diseases and obesity. Low testosterone levels are associated with increased fat mass (particularly the central adiposity) and reduced lean mass in males. 

The good news is that estrogen replacement in deficient post-menopausal women, and testosterone replacement in deficient men have been shown to favorably impact body fat distribution and health risk to various degrees.

Just as this hormonal imbalance pattern seems clear, it is important to also note that while estrogen deficiency is correlated to central fat accumulation, excess estrogen is also problematic.  Inappropriate estrogen function, due to excess estrogen or stimulation with estrogen-mimics in the environment such as BPA (found in plastics), can actually provoke insulin resistance (leading to elevated blood sugar levels) by over-working and exhausting the cells in the body which produce insulin.  Insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar levels are often linked to excess central weight gain.  As with so many medical problems, it is the overall balance of hormones, neither excess nor deficiency, that is necessary for stable metabolism and a healthy weight.

While hormonal imbalance can be one of the top reasons people cannot loose weight, also consider…
Reason #2: Dehydration

Water is a crucial component to each an every cell and the environment in which the cell lives.  Unless you are dealing with a medical condition such as chronic kidney disease or congestive heart failure, a general guideline is the aim for ½ your body weight in ounces each day.  For example, a person weighing 150 pounds should drink approximately 75 ounces throughout the day.  Add another 8 oz of water for each cup of caffeinated or alcoholic beverage.    

Reason #3: Chronic Inflammation

This is a common issue for many people today.  While inflammation is the body’s natural response to promote healing, this inflammatory reaction can become uncontrolled and lead to issues such as weight gain, pain and autoimmune diseases.  Speak to your physician to find out if chronic inflammation is part of your picture and what can be done to treat it.     

Reason #4: Eating the wrong types of foods

In today’s fast-paced world, it is easy to live almost solely on prepared foods. Processed foods, over time, can lead our bodies’ to be over-fed and undernourished.  This can also lead to chronic inflammation, as mentioned above.  Strive for more whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and high quality eggs, meats and seafood.  Stick to the perimeter of the grocery store when shopping, as this is where the whole foods reside.  Avoid the center aisles where most of the food is highly processed and shipped out in boxes and plastic wrap. 

Reason #5: Lack of movement

Sitting is the new smoking.  You do not have to be a tri-athlete to maintain a health body weight.  Sometimes, it’s a matter of simple exercises and stretches done every 1-2 hours while at work.  Take the stairs, park farther away at the grocery store, clean the house, walk the dog.  Find creative ways to make movement (not necessarily gym sessions) a natural part of your day. 

Weight loss can be one of the most elusive health goals for many people.  While research overwhelmingly agrees that excess weight has deleterious effects on health, it can be an uphill battle to find the motivation and determination to make the necessary diet and lifestyle changes necessary.  Many times, a healthy diet and increased exercise do not seem to drop the pounds as it should. 

Understanding the connection to hormone imbalance and excess weight may be the missing link for ensured success, removing much of the self-blame so often accompanied by excess weight. With this knowledge, you can feel empowered and energetic as your self-confidence and self-esteem improve and excess pounds are released.  If you are frustrated by the inability to loose weight, even after improvements in diet and exercise have been implemented, speak to your physician about the five reasons your may not be losing weight. Shed some light on potential imbalances so you can shed the pounds. 

Dr. Laura Neville

Adapted from


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Laura Neville