Weight loss is an ongoing challenge for many of us, and if you are like many people, you’ve tried a variety of diets with little long term results. There are a variety of reasons why a diet may not be working for you. Struggling with your weight can be extremely frustrating. You may even feel like you are fighting a losing battle. It is important to understand that there may be other factors causing weight loss issues. Here are 6 of the most common reasons your diet isn’t working.
You are too restrictive
When we think of diets, we tend to think of something we will do for a while and then stop. This mentality often lends itself to stringent diets that usually remove full food groups and require us to give up some of our favourite items. Many ‘fad’ diets such as Atkins, Paleo, or Keto fit into this category. When you cut out large portions of your food options, it leads to frustration and often burnout, which can result in binge eating. Instead of focusing on a ‘diet’ that is intended to lose weight quickly and then have you revert right back to your regular habits, it is more important to make smaller sustainable changes. The goal is to create a healthy lifestyle that you follow every day that allows you to lose weight over time and maintain the habits to keep it off.
You are not eating enough protein
If your diet isn’t working, try adding more protein into your diet. Protein helps us lose weight in a variety of ways. Consumption of high-quality proteins can increase the production of appetite-reducing hormones such as cholecystokinin or peptide YY while at the same time, reduce the hormone that causes hunger, ghrelin. A study comparing high-protein, high-fat, and high-carbohydrate diets and found that the high protein diet increased the feeling of being full and reduced food intake, which resulted in improved weight loss and maintenance.
How our body processes food varies considerably between different types of nutrients. The thermic effect of food refers to the amount of calories that are used to digest and utilize the food we consume. Protein, at 20-30%, has a much higher thermic effect than fat or carbohydrates, which typically range from 0-10%. This means that 20-30% of the protein calories you consume are burned processing your food. As a result, consuming the same amount of
You are eating meals too often
Although it has been popularized that eating small and often can help boost your metabolism, it is better to focus on specific food windows with intermittent fasting. A study showed that in early starvation, the resting energy expenditure increased significantly, helping to boost your metabolism and burn more calories. Another reason to avoid the little and often diet is that it makes it very easy to consume too many calories. When eating throughout the day, it is more challenging to stay within a calorie limit. Also, if you don’t plan and prep each of these meals in advance, you tend to resort to quick, easy snacks that likely have a higher calorie count and don’t include the correct nutrients.
You aren’t listening to your body
You are unique and so are your body’s needs. If you find that a catch-all diet isn’t working for you, it’s likely because it wasn’t designed for you. If you want to experience progress in your weight battle, tailor your plan to your specific needs. There are a lot of factors that affect how we process foods and our individual nutritional needs. A study compared 800 participants consuming the same meals over a week and found a large variety of how each of them metabolized their food. Your schedule, preferences, medical conditions, allergies, body composition, and dietary needs all factor into how your body will react to each diet. It is best to work with a specialist to determine your body’s unique needs and build a program catered to you.
You aren’t getting enough sleep
Too little sleep causes a spike in your body’s cortisol levels, causing your body to go into fight or flight mode. Your body begins to store more carbohydrates to burn for future energy use.
Studies have shown that when cutting back on sleep over a14 day period, weight loss from fat dropped by 55% when consuming an equal number of calories. The subjects also experienced more hunger and were less satisfied after eating meals. Lack of sleep also drops your body’s ability to produce insulin by more than 30%, which will cause spikes in blood sugar and could lead to diabetes.
You have damaged your metabolism
Crash diets, improper nutrition, too much sugar are just a few possible ways you can damage your metabolism and possibly develop metabolic syndrome. Once your metabolism is damaged, no amount of dieting will be enough to reverse the effects, and only a proper recovery system will help. This includes a look at all aspects of your lifestyle and can take months to recover fully. Visiting a naturopathic doctor in your area will allow you to test your body for metabolic syndrome. They will then work with you to create a personalized plan to reset your metabolism so you can burn fat like when you were younger.
So why isn’t your diet working?
Diets can vary greatly, and there is always a new miracle fad diet to try. The options are overwhelming, and there are several factors to consider. Focusing on essential nutrients, when you are eating, your individual needs, and creating a sustainable lifestyle will start you in the right direction. Make sure to track your progress and notice what is working for you and consider working with a specialist to create an individualized plan. The goal is to develop new habits that maintain the lifestyle you want. If you are still struggling with weight loss or unexplained weight gain, contact our office to set up an initial consultation and see if testing might be right for you.
As a registered functional medicine and naturopathic doctor in Kitchener Waterloo, my focus is on hormone imbalance and metabolic repair. Contact me today for personalized testing to identify your individual needs and create a sustainable approach to your health.
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