If you’re frustrated with the number on the scale, it could be one of these factors. The Doctor’s Book of Natural Health Remedies. Author Peg Moline researched just about every ailment out there and surveyed leading doctors about their favorite natural cures. Here’s a sneak peak at what they have to say about why you’re not losing weight.
1. You’re Sensitive
Begin by eliminating food sensitivities before dieting—several recent studies suggest a connection between childhood obesity and food allergies. “When you eat things to which you’re sensitive or intolerant, you get an increase of the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine, so you literally get a high,” says Pamela Wartian Smith, M.D., codirector of the master’s program in medical sciences at the University of South Florida College of Medicine, who explains that this reaction can result in cravings for the very foods we should avoid. Food sensitivities may also lead to inflammation and water retention.
2. You’re Stressed Out
Chronic stress prompts a surge in the “fight or flight” hormone cortisol, which can tear down muscle fiber, impair blood sugar metabolism and boost the brain chemical neuropeptide Y, which sparks cravings, says Smith. Meanwhile, losing just an hour of sleep each night for three days can prompt a surge in the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, and a slump in the hormone leptin, which tells us when we’re full, says Norfolk, Va.-based clinical psychologist Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., coauthor of The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan. Deep sleep, on the other hand, fuels production of the fat-burning human growth hormone (HGH).
3. You’re Toxic
Put down that water bottle! A growing body of evidence suggests that exposure to toxins like bisphenol A (BPA), organophosphate pesticides and phthalates may be fueling weight problems. “We are starting to see a lot of human studies showing an association between the presence of chemicals and obesity,” says University of California, Irvine, researcher Bruce Blumberg, Ph.D., who coined the term “obesogen” to describe such toxins. A 2011 Harvard study found that adults with the highest concentration of BPA in their urine had significantly larger waists and a 75% greater chance of being obese than those in the lowest quartile.
4. Your Thyroid Is Sluggish
Natasha Tuner, N.D., a naturopathic doctor in Toronto and author of The Hormone Diet, estimates that nearly one third of all men and women have a thyroid that is operating in a suboptimal range, often brought on by stress, a genetic predisposition, working out more than an hour a day or restricting calories too much (less than 1,700 a day for women; 2,000 for men). “The thyroid affects the metabolism of every single cell in the body,” Turner says.
5. You’ve Hit A Hormonal Rut
According to a 2011 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, restricting calories and losing body fat can wreak havoc on insulin, leptin, ghrelin and other hormones, prompting a surge in hunger and a slump in metabolism. This typically occurs about 10 weeks into a weight-loss program and can last for more than a year, even after the diet is abandoned. Dieting also prompts dopamine levels to fall, squelching motivation.