Every year, people try to lose weight. Whether they do it to increase their confidence or become a healthier version of themselves, countless people embark on weight loss journeys by eating healthier and exercising more regularly.
Despite this, not everyone gets their desired results. An obesity epidemic report reveals that many people feel ashamed and guilty when they can’t lose weight—even when it’s not entirely their fault. Due to early humans’ need to survive, the modern human body has evolved to hold onto calories rather than discard them, which makes it harder to lose weight. Thus, some people remain at risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions despite their best efforts.
If you’re struggling to lose weight, here are other possible health factors that may be hindering your progress—and how you can address them.
Apart from biological evolution, genetics determine how easy or difficult it is for you to lose weight. In particular, the melanocortin-4 receptor gene (MC4R) regulates homeostasis, food intake, and body weight. The National Library of Medicine’s 2023 MC4R report informs that defects in this gene are a cause of autosomal dominant obesity. Those with MC4R defects thus have a higher risk of obesity, resulting in more difficulty in losing weight.
One way to address this is by undergoing medical weight loss, a process where you discuss weight loss medication with a health professional. Examples of medicine you may be prescribed include liraglutide (a daily injection) or phentermine (a daily capsule). These medications are best paired with a weight loss program, so you need a medical consultation to determine the best combination. Doing so can help you come up with a weight loss plan that addresses your unique biological needs, helping level the playing field when losing weight. To start, contact a medical professional with credentials for medical weight loss, such as an obesity clinic doctor.
Hormones regulate bodily functions such as fat storage, fat breakdown, and energy expenditure—which means they can ultimately affect your ability to lose weight. For instance, low thyroid hormone levels lead to less energy expenditure, hindering the effectiveness of physical activity for burning calories.
To know your hormone levels, request a blood test at a health facility. The results can determine which hormones are imbalanced. From here, you can tweak your diet to restore hormone balance. If you’re low on estrogen (a sex hormone that affects fat distribution), you can consume estrogen-rich foods like edamame and dried fruits. These contain phytoestrogens that attach to estrogen receptors in cells, potentially regulating your estrogen levels. Overall, balancing your hormones can boost your weight loss efforts.
Existing medical conditions can change your regular bodily processes, hindering the effects of your diet or exercise. Take depression as an example. WebMD’s 2021 article “The Complex Link Between Depression and Weight” reports that people diagnosed with clinical depression can experience long-term eating changes, leading to weight gain. Often, people with depression experience anhedonia—the loss of interest and pleasure in activities—which can also affect food intake. When eating, the brain processes feelings of pleasure from food. If a person has depression, this processing system can go haywire and not detect this “pleasure,” causing them to consume more food in search of that feeling.
Since medical conditions are serious health factors, it’s best to consult your physician on how to navigate weight loss. This way, you can guarantee that you don’t worsen your condition just to shed some pounds—or vice versa.
Specific medicines can stimulate your appetite, causing you to eat more than what your weight loss plan dictates. Other medicines can slow metabolism, induce water retention, or affect how your body stores, processes, and absorbs sugars and nutrients. Case in point, prescription medicines for epilepsy—like valproate or Divalproex—can increase your appetite. Meanwhile, blood pressure-reducing medications, such as propranolol and metoprolol, slow down metabolism because they’re beta blockers.
To resolve this, you can ask your doctor if the medications you’re taking have any side effects. If they mention weight gain, request to be switched to another medicine. Keep in mind that this may not be possible for specific medications, so it’s best to manage your expectations.
Lack of Sleep
Sleep is a major component of your health. A lack of it hinders the body’s recovery from injuries and increases the risk of developing chronic conditions. More importantly, insufficient sleep increases your ghrelin levels—and ghrelin is the hormone that regulates your appetite. Sleep deprivation may thus result in overeating, ensuring your weight loss efforts are futile.
To ensure you sleep 7-8 hours nightly, try drinking healthy herbal teas like chamomile. This tea is commonly used as a sleep aid because it has soothing effects to induce sleep. You can also keep your gadgets away from your bed to avoid distractions when you have to lie down for the night.
Weight loss is a tough journey, and it can be made even more challenging by several health factors that may be out of your control. Addressing them using these tips can help you strive for a healthier and better you.
In conclusion, losing weight can be a challenging and complex process, and there are many health factors that can hinder weight loss progress. However, with the right strategies and support, these health factors can be addressed and overcome. By prioritizing adequate sleep, managing stress, addressing underlying medical conditions, and adopting healthy lifestyle habits such as regular exercise and a balanced diet, individuals can improve their overall health and increase their chances of successful weight loss.
It’s important to remember that weight loss is not just about physical appearance, but also about improving overall health and well-being. By taking a comprehensive approach to weight loss and addressing any underlying health factors, individuals can achieve their weight loss goals and improve their quality of life.