If you’re looking to lose weight, but don’t know where to start or just think it’s too hard, then this article is for you! We’ll help you identify the causes of weight gain and show you some simple ways to get started on the journey back to a healthier size.
We’ll also give you some helpful hints on how to keep your motivation as we discuss which pitfalls are most likely to derail your progress.
How to Lose Weight
Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s first understand what a healthy weight is and why losing weight is so important.
The danger of being overweight or obese increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes (which can lead to blindness), heart attacks, strokes and cancer.
In fact, one in four people in the UK are classified as obese and that number is rising. The primary reason for this increase is that people are consuming more calories than they are expending.
Food labels are now providing us with information about the calories we’re eating and there’s a calorie counter for just about anything. Getting informed is the first step to reducing your calorie intake, which in turn will help you lose weight.
Your goal should be to eat around 2500-3000 calories per day. If you’re smaller than average then you’ll need to eat fewer calories whereas the bigger you are, the more you can spend.
However, make sure to consult your doctor before trying to lose weight as lost numbers on the scale can disguise underlying health issues that need to be addressed.
Once you’ve got a good idea of how many calories you should be eating per day and some tools to help you track what you’re consuming, the next step is finding out what’s making you overweight in the first place.
Clearly there are people who are at an unhealthy size from eating too much and not exercising enough but there’s another reason that’s a bit more surprising. Let’s look at each one individually…
1. Food Sensitivities and Allergies
It’s actually pretty common to be allergic to some of the food you eat and this is known as food sensitivities. These can cause you to experience symptoms such as bloating, itching, fatigue, migraines and eczema.
Food allergies are often misdiagnosed but it’s a good idea to try some elimination diets which will help you pinpoint what foods are causing your discomfort.
If you’re still not sure what’s causing your symptoms then it’s worth talking to a dietician or nutritionist who can help you analyse your diet and how it impacts your overall health.
2. Bacteria in the Gut
Many people believe that weight gain is mainly down to simply eating more calories than they burn off but malabsorption of food is also a major factor. There’s about 1,000 different kinds of bacteria that live in the gut and all of this bacteria has a role to play in our digestive system.
The balance between good and bad bacteria is important as it keeps us free from harmful bacteria that can cause illness such as salmonella or shigella which are known as stomach bugs.
If you’re experiencing digestive issues then it’s important to look into prescription or over-the-counter supplements that can help restore a healthy balance in your gut.
3. The Stress Hormone, Cortisol
Researchers have found that your body’s production of cortisol – the stress hormone – increases around the time when you start to diet. This is because dieting is associated with physical activity which triggers a rise in cortisol.
The rise in cortisol is a normal response to dieting but this response can take its toll on your health. Excess cortisol can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even premature death.
So, the next time you feel stressed, it’s important to try to relax and focus on something positive because this is when cortisol levels are at their highest and therefore cause the most harm!
4. The Hormones That Control Hunger, Ghrelin
There’s been much research into how our body responds to certain foods and a good example of this is ghrelin which signals our brain when we’re hungry.
The hormone ghrelin tells our body we’re hungry and this is a good thing but the problem is that we can become desensitised to this signal. This means that your appetite won’t get the message that you’ve had enough and will just want more food.
If this is you, then it’s a good idea to reduce your intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates as these can increase ghrelin levels. Instead, eat more fibre which will help keep you feeling fuller for longer.
5. Your Gut Flora
Your gut flora is also referred to as your microbiome. It’s estimated that about 60% of your immune system lives within the gut and it’s important to look after it as it protects your body against harmful infections.
The good news is that if you’re doing things right, you’ll find that your microbiome is developing and working really well as you improve your diet. If it’s not then an undernourished gut flora could be the cause of any health issues that you’re experiencing.
If there are some foods that are a problem for you, then make sure to address them with a healthy diet and supplement regiment.
6. The Stress-Hormone, Cortisol
Stress has a huge impact on our health and it’s been linked to obesity in more ways than one. As we’ve mentioned above, stress affects the production of cortisol which can increase blood sugar levels. If you experience high levels of stress, it can also lead to increased appetite as well as a lack of motivation for exercise.
If you’re stressed, it’s critical that you address the cause and reduce cortisol levels through relaxation methods such as exercise and meditation. Below are some simple tips to lower cortisol…
Try breathing exercises for relaxation – try inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth until you feel calm.
Exercise at least three times per week – this is great for both your mental and physical health.
Try to avoid caffeine and sugar in the afternoon as they increase cortisol levels.
7. Sleep And Anxiety Disorder
It’s estimated that around 50% of Americans don’t get enough sleep each night so it’s no surprise that this has an impact on their health. Sleep deprivation has been linked with weight gain, depression, headaches and a lack of focus so if you’re not sleeping well then you’re not looking after your health. But what causes insomnia? You may have anxiety disorder which can cause difficulty falling asleep as well as waking up in the night. This can also lead to overeating. If you’re experiencing this, then we’d advise seeing a specialist and finding out if there’s a more effective treatment for your anxiety disorder.
8. Your Thyroid Health
The thyroid regulates your body temperature as well as your metabolism so it’s responsible for how quickly or slowly your body works. There are two types of thyroid disease – hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism – both of which can affect weight loss. If you have hypothyroidism, you’ll find it difficult to lose weight because the thyroid is underactive and not producing enough energy (T3 and T4) to create the calorie-burning effects of our bodies.
If you have hyperthyroidism, your body will produce too much energy which can lead to weight loss. But not all weight loss is a good thing. In most cases it’s just water and muscle tissue that’s being lost so you may not be looking or feeling healthier in the long term. It’s important to get your thyroid checked with your doctor if you’re experiencing any changes in weight and start taking any prescribed medication they give you.
9. Your Medication
It’s estimated around 50% of adults are taking at least one prescription drug that affects their mood, sleep schedule, energy levels, appetite or metabolism which can affect a person’s ability to lose weight. For example, a small percentage of people on antidepressants can experience weight gain. People taking prescription medications to help with digestive problems like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can experience dry mouth so are more likely to eat more and feel hungry earlier in the day.
Some other commonly prescribed medications such as an antibiotic or blood pressure medication can affect your metabolism and help you to retain more water weight so you’ll be less likely to lose weight but will be at higher risk of developing hypothyroidism if you’re already suffering from low thyroid levels.
10. Your Diet
Many people believe a high-fat diet is the key for achieving weight loss but this isn’t necessarily true. For example, replacing carbohydrates with fats (like in the ketogenic diet) can lead to weight loss but it can also lead to decreased thyroid levels.
A better way to lose weight and still have a healthy thyroid is by consuming a well-balanced diet that includes foods from all macronutrient groups. In general, a healthy bodyweight for your height is best achieved by eating whole foods that contain minimal processed ingredients. And avoid overly restrictive diets since this can lead to malnourishment and hormonal imbalance or other health issues.
11. Your Medication
Some medications may mess up your metabolism and thyroid levels causing weight gain instead of weight loss. These are known as thyroid-disrupting drugs and include drugs used to treat depression, anxiety and drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
If the medication you’re taking has an effect on your thyroid, it’s worth trying alternative medications or even seeing a physician who you can trust as they will have a better idea about what will work for you.
12. Your Work Out Routine And Variations
You may be able to squeeze in more workouts (you may need to reduce the intensity) but this is likely to result in decreased results due to overtraining which will increase cortisol levels causing weight regain. Also, try to keep the amount of calories consumed in check.
Your cortisol levels will naturally rise as you train so it’s a good idea to rest and recover after exercise to keep a healthy hormonal balance. Recovery is also important for your thyroid so make sure to eat a nutrient-dense meal such as high-protein and high-fibre breakfast which will help reduce cortisol levels.
13. Your Work Place And The Environment
You may be at risk if you work in an environment where dieting is common among your colleagues or co-workers as this will cause leptin resistance which can lead to weight gain. So to avoid this, always keep an eye on your food intake and keep track of what you’re consuming.
Learn ways to reduce stress and eat a balanced diet at work so you can maintain a healthy weight. If there are no healthy food options available at work then it’s worth bringing in healthy snacks like fruit and nuts that will help increase leptin levels.
14. Your Stress Levels And Body Image
A negative body image can lead to increased levels of cortisol which can lead to weight gain as well as low self-esteem due to eating disorders such as binge eating disorder or bulimia nervosa.
If you’re experiencing weight gain, it’s important to treat the underlying cause of your low self-esteem and seek help for eating disorders. It’s also a good idea to get a routine exercise such as walking or a light jog which will help boost your mood and reduce stress levels.
15. Your Sleep
Your body stays in the fasted state while you sleep and there are many hormones that are triggered during sleep time, from leptin to ghrelin. When you’re sleeping, your body doesn’t metabolise fat so it’s important to get the right amount of sleep each night so that your metabolism has the opportunity to adapt during times when you’re awake. If you aren’t getting enough sleep then try these tips…
– Get to sleep earlier – don’t expect yourself to go to sleep right away. Take some time to brush your teeth, read a book and just relax my turning off lights and electronics.
– Take a warm bath at night – this will help you to relax so you can get more rest. Just make sure not to have a high-protein or high-fat snack before going to bed as it can increase insulin levels which may cause your body to store fat while sleeping instead of burning it for energy.
16. Your Weight History
If your weight has been fluctuating over a long period of time, it’s likely that you’re not eating enough calories to support a healthy weight. This is usually the first step towards gaining weight if dieting has been your only option. If you’ve never been overweight before, then don’t worry as you should still be able to lose weight and maintain healthy levels of energy on a healthy diet. Make some simple changes at first such as swapping unhealthy foods for healthier choices or by exercising more – but keep following this plan because if you know what to do then this is much easier than doing things the wrong way and unknowingly cause hormonal imbalance through poor lifestyle choices.
Well, How to lose weight quickly?
To summarise, the best way to lose weight is to make your lifestyle changes and follow them long-term. If you have any medical issues or you’re not feeling well then it’s important to pay attention to your body and consult a doctor before making any changes to your diet. It takes time to lose weight and keep it off so try to be patient. The best way to make progress is to work with a nutritionist or trainer who can help you achieve your goals as well as support you in making the right changes for long-term success.