Many people are told that in order to lose weight they need to simply eat less and exercise more. The truth of the matter is, unfortunately, that it’s rarely this easy. Yes, eating a well balanced diet, low in processed foods and limiting high carbohydrate foods (breads, pastas, cereals, etc) can make a huge impact in your weight loss efforts. The same goes for exercise. Working out for 30 minutes 3-4 x per week can help you keep your metabolism boosted and allow your body to continue to burn calories even when you’re at rest.
Unfortunately, when you’ve already improved your diet and exercise routine and are still not reaching your health goals, the issue might require further investigation. Here are the top 5 reasons that we see in our practice that may be stopping you from reaching your ideal weight:
1. You’re low in metabolism boosting vitamin B12
Yes, it’s true. Vitamin B12 is a powerful energy and metabolism boosting nutrient that we all need. It’s commonly found in animal proteins, so if you’re vegan or vegetarian you may not be getting enough. Some individuals are low in this vitamin because they have poor digestion and Dr. Laura Belus ND
may be taking antacids or prescription medicaiton for acid reflux. These can reduce your body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12, even if you’re eating enough in your diet. In Canada, most labs indicate that levels greater than 220 pmol/L are sufficient, but most naturopaths agree that levels greater than 500 are ideal for weight loss. Simply adding a high quality vitamin B12 supplement (under the tongue) or a few high dose B12 injections to your routine can dramatically boost energy and reduce the number on the scale.
2. Your thyroid isn’t working 100%
The thyroid gland is our master metabolism center of the body. It controls temperature, digestion, hormones and weight, but is very often under-performing in many people. Sadly, it is a very sensitive organ to excess stress, hormonal changes (child birth, menopause) and diet, so optimizing it’s function can make a world of difference in achieving your healthy weight.
The basic thyroid blood test is called TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and should be less than 3 to be considering ‘functioning well’. Unfortunately, most doctors won’t bring this to your attention until the number is greater than 5 and you require medication. Working with a naturopath to fully test your thyroid, or to consider a low dose of natural desiccated thyroid medication (instead of synthetic Synthroid) could be the missing piece of your health puzzle.
3. You’re toxic
I know not everyone will believe this one. But the truth is that we live in a toxic environment. From pesticides in our food, to metals in our drinking water, to our beauty & home cleaning products. Not to mention medications and vaccines that our liver must ‘clean out’ on a regular basis. Remember, fat cells are a storage site for most toxic elements in our bodies. It would be unsafe for your body to let them float around in your bloodstream, so instead, they are packed away where they can’t do damage. We often suggest a 14 or 21 day detox to kickstart your body’s weight loss efforts by clearing up stored toxins– many people can lose up to 7- 10 lbs of inflammatory water weight by this process alone! If you’re not sure how toxic you are, it might be a good idea to get a specialized test that looks at your nutrients and heavy metal levels from your naturopathic doctor.
4. You have poor gut health
Did you know that our bodies contain more bacteria than human cells? That’s right, there are over 30 trillion microbial cells in our body at any given time. However, its the balance of ‘good bacteria’ to ‘bad bacteria’ that matters most. Being on antibiotics, the birth control pill, periods of high stress or food poisoning can all wreck havoc on our bacterial balance in the digestive tract. This can bring on bloating, gas, food sensitivities, brain fog, and yes, stubborn weight gain. It is important to understand that fixing an imbalanced gut takes time and proper diagnosis. Getting an advanced stool test (not the basic one from your MD) can fast-track your healing by figuring out the exact issue and what you need to get back on track.
5. Your hormones are imbalanced
This factor mostly affects women, but can impact men’s health as well. The most common culprit here is estrogen. For most patients it’s an excess of estrogen (a.k.a. Estrogen dominance) that can keep water weight in the midsection, hips & thighs. This often occurs after coming off the birth control pill, or approaching menopause, and this hormone can easily be tested in the blood, urine or saliva. If estrogen levels are too high, diet and exercise alone won’t solve the problem. You will need to work with a qualified naturopathic doctor that understands how to safely reduce this hormone in the body without negatively impacting other hormones.
There you have it! If any of these reasons seems like it may be the root cause of your weight loss struggle, contact us and let’s talk about how to get your body back into balance for good!