Struggling to lose weight?

4 issues that might be preventing your weight loss

By Gia McCloskey-Jurevich, Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner, Omnia Health

A number of patients come to our office, discouraged that they’re unable to lose weight. “I’m doing everything right,” they tell us. “I’m following my diet faithfully. I’m exercising every day. But the weight is not coming off. Some weeks, I actually GAIN weight. Help!” Of course, we start by talking with these patients to ensure they are actively addressing basic weight-loss strategies: 

  • Eating a whole-foods diet with organic foods, lots of fruit and vegetables, healthy proteins, and heathy fats
  • Minimizing or completely avoiding sugar, processed foods, fast foods, and alcohol
  • Exercising regularly, for example, a daily walk, swimming, or high-intensity interval training 

We often find that patients truly are eating well and exercising regularly. They truly are doing everything in their power to lose weight. But, clearly, something else is going on. Now it’s time to figure out what’s keeping them from achieving their weight goals.  What can prevent weight loss or contribute to weight gain? In our experience, these 4 health issues often contribute to the inability to lose weight – or the problem on ongoing weight gain. 

  1. Food sensitivities – In our functional medicine practice, the 2 biggest culprits we see are sensitivity to gluten and dairy. This is surprisingly common! Other food sensitivities include corn, eggs, peanuts, and soy. But it’s very individualized – you may be sensitive to other foods – and this could be hampering your struggle to lose weight. 
  2. Gut dysbiosis – Gut bacteria play a large role in our overall health.  They can trigger inflammation, aid in digestion, and influence hormones that regulate hunger. Gut dysbiosis can be due to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, yeast, or parasites in your gut. Another condition known as SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) is when bacteria end up in the small intestine where they are not supposed to be.  Low healthy bacteria (called insufficiency dysbiosis) can also be problematic. An overgrowth of bad bacteria, for example, can cause gut inflammation. Subsequently, this can cause overall inflammation throughout your body, which can make it difficult to lose weight. 
  3. Hormone imbalance – As noted above, those tiny bacteria can make a big impact on hormone production. Did you know…
    1. Cortisol, the stress hormone, can be impacted by physical or emotional stress. Stress creates more cortisol in your body, which can signal the body to store fat. This means your stress levels can directly impact weight! Keep in mind, lack of sleep affects cortisol levels too. If you’re experiencing an ongoing lack of sleep, your body is under stress, and it can be hard to lose weight.
    2. Gut dysbiosis can impact the thyroid hormone, which plays a big role in regulating metabolism. If it turns out you have a low-functioning thyroid, this can certainly contribute to weight gain.
    3. Most people have no idea their gut bacteria impacts sex hormones. It’s true! Gut bacteria contribute to your body’s balance of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. How does this impact your ability to lose weight? Here’s one example: Excess estrogen is directly related to excess fat and water retention. Another example: Men and women who take supplemental testosterone should be aware that this can contribute to weight gain through a complex metabolic process.
  4. Exposure to toxins – Our modern world can expose us to quite a few environmental and chemical toxins, at home and at work. Examples include pesticides, herbicides, fuel emissions, toxic molds, radon, and heavy metals. Without doubt, toxicity can contribute to weight gain. 

My recommendations for you…

If you are struggling to lose weight – or are continually gaining weight – start by exercising regularly and eating a whole-foods diet. Be sure to avoid sugar, processed foods, fast food, and alcohol. In addition, follow these recommendations: 

  • Follow an elimination diet for 6-8 weeks to eliminate dairy, gluten, corn, eggs, peanuts, and soy. It’s helpful to know this is always our first step – our “gold standard” – when investigating the root cause of a patient’s health issue. 
  • Add fermented foods and foods rich in probiotics to your diet such as kimchee, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, yogurt, and dairy-free kefir (this is similar to a drinking-style yogurt and contains beneficial yeast). 
  • Be sure to increase the amount of fiber you get from fruits and vegetables. Fiber helps our good bacteria grow. 
  • Do your best to minimize exposure to toxins. You may need to be tested for toxins and undergo Omnia’s detoxification program.
  • When you come to our practice, you can set appointments with Omnia’s health coach and brain coach. These pros will help you fine-tune your nutrition and exercise plans, so you can focus your efforts and improve your results. 
  • Try intermittent fasting. Remember, fasting is safe for most people if you eat within an 8- to 10-hour window. 
  • When you come to Omnia, we can conduct specialized lab testing to check bacteria in your gut, toxicity, food sensitivity, and all hormone levels. 

We’ll investigate to uncover the culprit and answer this question: What is really going on? 

We have a lot of patients doing so many things right with diet and exercise, yet they still struggle to lose weight. Often, one of the 4 culprits – food sensitivities, gut dysbiosis, hormone imbalance, or toxin exposure – is a significant contributing factor. This is a good example of how functional medicine can dig in, investigate, and figure out what is really going on. We can clarify the issues, uncover root causes, and successfully treat those health concerns that traditional doctors often cannot detect or simply overlook.