Does calories in -calories out = weight loss?

If there is truth in the calories in versus calories out = weight loss then that salad must’ve been packed full with hidden calories. You’ve eaten it daily for the last 3 weeks. You’ve spent hours in the gym, tried Zumba and running. Slimming world is your weekly night out and bloody Katie Hopkins who gained and lost three stone with ease says it’s because you eat too much and are lazy. Yet, you are going to bed hungry and exhausted from yet another spinning class.

Katie Hopkins lacks understanding of the intricate physiology that dictates our body’s ability to use food as fuel. Yes, it’s true, for some people weight loss is easy. For others gaining is easy, losing is hard or near impossible. The truth is if weight loss were as simple as calories in – calorie used = weight gain/loss then we wouldn’t be faced with an obesity crisis and a multi-billion pound dieting industry making money out of people’s misery.

So, why can’t I lose weight?

There can be a number of reasons why you’re not losing weight. There are physiological reasons that make your body store fat, struggle to use it for energy and lead you to crave the wrong foods.
Chronic stress, blood sugar problems and food intolerances will all lead to food being stored in fat cells. The fat-storage hormones, cortisol and insulin released in large amounts in these circumstances instruct your body to do just that.

If you have issues with chronic stress. By this I mean emotional or physical stress. You tend to put on weight around the mid-section of your body. Until you balance your blood sugar levels and figure out what’s putting your body in stress mode – you will struggle to lose weight.

Food intolerances can cause you to hold on to excess water. This excess water is eliminated within days of removing the offending foods or food. You can be kilos lighter just from figuring this out. Your body will also be less inclined to release cortisol, the stress hormone, which encourages your body to store fuel as fat. If you struggle with bloating, flatulence, IBS or unexplained fatigue then you should look into possible food intolerances.

Another reason you may not lose weight is low thyroid function. Yes, it sounds like a cliché, ‘it’s my thyroid’ but it could be an issue, even if your GP has told you it isn’t. Even if you have a diagnosed thyroid problem and are taking medication for it – it could still be your thyroid that’s preventing you from losing weight. NHS tests for thyroid are not sensitive enough to detect sub-clinical issues. We need a variety of tests to check the uptake and conversion of thyroid hormones. Nutritional deficiencies impact on thyroid function, which in turn can affect your ability to burn fat as fuel. Correcting these deficiencies can help restore a good metabolic rate. The main symptoms of a thyroid issue are inability to lose weight, fatigue and a low body temperature – cold hands and feet. When this happens your metabolism has slowed and energy conversion is sluggish and eating less and exercising more won’t work.

There are other nutrient deficiencies that can lead to problems losing weight too. Essential fatty acids are what make your body’s cells permeable – allowing nutrients in and out as needed. If you’ve ever followed a low fat diet you could be deficient and this can lead to problems with metabolism and cellular function. Essential fatty acid deficiency can also impact on brain cell signalling leading to problems with reward deficiency in the brain. Making us want more sweet or carbohydrate rich foods to help us to feel better.

This leads us to the role of neurotransmitters in weight loss. If we just take a look at two of the key players – serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin deficiency manifests in anxiety, emotional eating and craving carbohydrate rich foods. Dopamine deficiency results in apathy, lack of motivation and minimal satisfaction from eating – leading to regularly eating more of the wrong foods. So, it’s not just a case of eating less. Maybe it was that simple for Katie Hopkins, but for many it is more complex.

Using nutritional therapy for weight loss is not a quick fix, much depends on the problem but you should allow for around 4-5 sessions with your Nutritionist. By addressing your underlying imbalances you are assured of a reaching and staying at your goal weight over the longer-term.

Author: Sarah Hanratty

Sarah is a specialist practitioner at the Brain Food Clinic. She has a degree in Nutritional Medicine and is a certified Gut and Psychology Syndrome Practitioner. Sarah helps people to overcome physical and mental health issues using bespoke nutritional protocols.

One Reply to “Why can’t I lose weight?”

  1. Most interesting, all foods eaten have a frequency cooked foods loose that vibrational energy. Bacteria has a frequency.

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