An inability to achieve early weight loss (or hitting a weight loss plateau) can be very frustrating!
“Stubborn weight loss” is often due to one or more of the following issues for which the solutions are directly related:
Carb intake still too high
You may still be exceeding your individual carbohydrate tolerance and therefore need to cut back further on the amount of carbs you are eating especially the refined sugary/starchy carbs.
Fibrous veggies are healthy carbs.
Inadequate fat intake
Often, women remain reluctant to increase their fat intake because of “old habits and mistaken beliefs” and men for fear of cholesterol and heart disease, but once you cut down total carb intake you have to increase your intake of healthy natural fats such as in fatty meat cuts, olive oil, full cream dairy and eggs in order to restore “metabolic energy balance” to the body.
If you do not increase healthy fat intake, you will not see healthy weight loss as your body holds onto its stored fuel in “starvation” mode.
Excessive food portions
Habitual large food portions need to be cut down; appetite suppression happens naturally in most people with higher healthy fat and moderate protein intake after about the first two weeks or so. Cutting meals to two per day helps and if not then progress to intermittent fasting (water only) for 24 hours every couple of days at a time to reduce bodily insulin levels and thereby mobilise fat stores.
Avoid snacking, especially on things like lots of nuts, as this can lead to excessive energy intake.
The “golden rule” is to eat when hungry and not in between.
For some people, especially if you are very overweight or suffer from type 2 diabetes then consideration of a restriction of fresh dairy milk and cream cheese intake to less than half a cup daily can be trialed to reduce the potential weak sugar effects of lactose (milk sugar).
Excessive protein intake
Ingestion of large amounts of protein may cause insulin spikes in the body and the subsequent liver conversion of amino acids to glucose (sugar) with potential fat storage and weight gain effects. For healthy weight loss, protein portions in eg meat should be limited to “palm-sized” portions (which amounts to a moderate intake of protein).
High fruit intake
Fruits contain a variety of sugars including glucose and fructose, certain fruits like bananas and pineapples are more sugary than others such as apples and berries; if weight loss is not achieved then restriction of fruit intake especially the sugary fruits should be considered.
Obviously fruit juices are concentrated sources of sugar and should be avoided.
Alcohol intake too high
Avoid excessive alcohol such as beer, sweet or fortified wine, liqueurs, and cocktails, which are high in sugary carbs.
Slow fat adaptation
Everybody is different when it comes to their capacity and timeframe to readjust their individual metabolism to a more healthy “fat-burning” metabolic state that we call “fat-adaptation.” For some severely carbohydrate-intolerant people the best way to initiate or promote metabolic change is to start by FASTING (no food, only water) for 24 hours.
You may be overweight but not carb-intolerant
If you have no insulin resistance issues and have “pear shaped” subcutaneous weight distribution in buttocks and thighs rather than central “visceral” belly fat, then you may have the type of body that does not always respond to dietary manipulation. Fortunately this distribution of fat is not associated with the adverse health effects of central “belly” fat.
An underactive thyroid gland
Often a concern of women and more than often blamed incorrectly for weight gain or stubborn weight-loss. Your doctor can test for this.
Certain medical drugs encourage weight gain and discourage weight loss; the most common ones are heart medications like beta-blockers, diuretics and statins; anti-inflammatory meds like corticosteroids (e.g. prednisolone); antidepressants (e.g. SSRIs such as Prozac), hormone therapy (oestrogen, HRT, oral contraceptives) and insulin treatment.
These should be discussed with your medical adviser.
About the Author:
Dr Jeans is a specialist sport, exercise and lifestyle medicine physician in Harare, Zimbabwe, where he has practised medicine for 30 years. He graduated in medicine from the Godfrey Huggins School of Medicine in Harare. After initially pursuing a medical career in the military and emergency medicine, he completed a postgraduate degree in Sports Medicine at the University of Cape Town. He is currently the Medical Director of the Rolf Valley Sports Medicine Centre, the Innovate High Performance Centre and the Low-Carb Companion Lifestyle Program. He has written many public information media articles and has given numerous lectures on topics relating low-carb, higher healthy fat nutrition to weight-loss, improved health outcomes and sports performance.
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