You’re living a healthy lifestyle, you’re taking some exercise and doing everything you’ve been told is right, but the stubborn pounds just aren’t shifting. What’s going wrong? Many people are in this situation, so you’re absolutely not alone. If the frustration of “doing everything right” leaves you wondering if it is all worth the effort since you’re not getting the results you desire, read on… there is a solution!
1. You have low thyroid function. This may or may not be the case, but this master endocrine gland is not as happy in many people as it could be. If you feel sluggish, find it difficult to get motivated and, despite exercising, you find it hard to maintain your ideal weight, your thyroid might be the cause, and a comprehensive blood test for thyroid levels (not just total thyroxine) would highlight if this is the case for you. In my 2014 book The Whole Body Solution, I discuss thyroid health in more detail, but to summarise here, there are certain nutrients that will help your thyroid gland to function at its best, elevating your metabolism to burn fat more effectively. The most important of these is iodine, a vital mineral that is very much depleted in the standard Western diet. The best source of iodine is seaweed, which can be enjoyed in soups, salads, wraps and other great recipes. It is also available in capsule form. Enjoy some seaweed and get your thyroid working for you.
2. You are eating at the wrong time of day. One interesting study demonstrated that people who were put on an identical 2000 calorie per day diet either gained weight or lost it, depending upon what time of day that food was eaten. The group who ate most of their calories in the evening gained weight, whilst those who consumed most calories earlier in the day lost weight. If you’re having large meals too close to bed-time, you will be much more likely to store fat and gain weight.
3. You’re stressed. Isn’t everyone? Stress is a problem for many people trying to lose body fat, mainly because of the fact that being stressed elevates cortisol levels. This affects the metabolism, weakens the muscles and causes storage and redistribution of body fat. Increased cortisol levels adversely affect the quality of sleep that people experience. Deep, sound sleep is harder to achieve when cortisol levels are high. The result? Less HGH (human growth hormone) is secreted, which in turn increases fat storage and reduces the capacity to build lean muscle tissue as you sleep.
4. You’re doing the wrong type of exercise (or not exercising at all). Aerobic exercise is important for weight loss, but it is not the only thing that you need to focus on. Whilst it has been shown that long-duration moderate intensity exercise increases endorphin (“happy hormone”) production in the brain, in turn reducing cortisol levels, it in only one part of the puzzle. Weight training is also essential to fat loss. The reason? Muscle is metabolically active tissue, and those with higher muscle mass burn calories (and therefore fat) more easily. High intensity exercise in short bursts, such as PACE training, also gives faster fat loss than aerobic training alone. All exercise is beneficial, but ensuring that you don’t just focus on one type will give you better results in the long term.
5. You’re too fixated on calories. We have all heard of the old dogma that weight loss is a simple matter of maths – eat fewer calories than you expend, and you will lose weight. However, it really is not that simple. A small “calorie restricted” chocolate bar may contain fewer calories than an apple. Which is healthier and better for weight loss? The apple, of course. But why? Because it contains proper nutrition. Many “diet” foods or processed “low calorie” junk snacks are very high in processed grains, sugar or fructose. Expecting that by consuming such nonsense will lead to weight loss is one of the greatest myths still perpetuated by diet industry. Such “non food” interferes with the satiety hormones, stresses the body because of the sugar content, and potentiates fat storage despite claiming to be “low calorie”.
To properly lose body fat and build lean muscle tissue, we have to focus on a high nutritional intensity diet that includes the full spectrum of plant colours, and adopt the mindset of health improvement via an excellent lifestyle, rather than just the vague concept of “weight loss” as an end in itself. After all, it is definitely possible to be thin and unhealthy, and where’s the attraction in that?