Why Can’t I Lose Weight? — Weight Loss Solutions for Women That Work!
Without a doubt, some of the most common questions I get from women revolve around weight loss.
Specifically: Why am I not losing weight?
This can be particularly frustrating when you feel like you’re trying really hard to shed pounds by following a healthy plant-based diet, exercising regularly and/or being generally mindful about portion sizes.
If this sounds like you, do not beat yourself up. Not even for a moment! Our bodies are extremely complex, down to shifting hormones, contending with daily stress and adrenal exhaustion.
Not to mention the zillions of other daily functions it has to perform, and there are a number of different habits or behaviors that could be sabotaging your efforts.
If the number on the scale doesn’t seem to be budging, don’t worry! In this thorough guide, I’ve outlined a number of potential culprits for this struggle.
In fact, a study by Stanford University researchers found that over 1 year, more than 600 overweight adults lost an average of 12 pounds. This was without focusing on cutting calories whatsoever .
Instead, participants engaged in health education classes, learning how to make better nutritional decisions in terms of cooking, shopping, and dining.
I always put it this way: A 200-calorie cookie and a 200-calorie serving of fruit have vastly different benefits for your body. While the former mainly consists of sugar and refined carbohydrates, the latter is full of amazing vitamins, minerals, and filling fiber!
In other words, a calorie is not a calorie — it all depends on what it has to offer. This is one of the most valuable weight loss lessons to learn.
2. Avoid processed foods
It’s time to ditch processed foods. Consumption of these foods has been on the rise since the 1980s. It’s hard to imagine that it’s any coincidence America’s waistlines have been expanding since then as well.
First, let’s define processed foods: Essentially, this includes anything that’s been changed in some way before consumption. Ultra-processed foods include frozen pizza, potato chips, packaged pastries, and deli meat.
However, frozen dinners, even if healthier options, are still processed and need to be cut down on. They are altered by the addition of certain enzymes, extraction of certain substances, or the refining process.
Why they’re lacking in nutrition
Processed foods, tend to be sky high in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and sugar. Not to mention they are super calorically dense as well. They lack real nutrition density, because at every step of the way, their nutrition has been sucked out more and more.
What you are left with are foods that can throw your diet efforts out of whack. The additives and preservatives can mess with your satiety and hunger hormones.
In one study published in JAMA, participants who consumed the fewest processed foods while eating the most vegetables lost the most weight .
3. Ditch the dairy
Let’s face it: dairy is not meant to be consumed by humans. Plus, milk, cheese, yogurt — all commercial dairy products are pasteurized. That means that they are exposed to higher temperatures for extended periods of time for sterilization purposes.
This process destroys microorganisms that cause the products to spoil or ferment (thereby increasing its shelf life). It also kills off beneficial bacteria, active enzymes, and valuable vitamins and minerals in the process.
Pasteurization also makes it very difficult to digest these foods. This means your body has to use up a lot of precious enzymes to break them down.
Not to mention, dairy leaves a highly acidic residue when digested that can be detrimental to your digestive system, among other things (including your skin). Which means a whole host of potential digestive issues. Keeping your microbiome in good shape is key for weight loss, and dairy can wreak havoc on your gut health.
Why you may be feeling bloated
Ever notice that you feel super bloated after eating a cheese-laden meal? The majority of adults are lactose intolerant. And dairy can cause significant bloating and gas (not to mention nasty stomach cramp pain) if you have this condition.
Most of us don’t produce enough lactase to break down the sugar in dairy products. So if you’re seeking to bust bloating and maintain a happier, flatter belly, one of the most crucial weight loss solutions lies in ditching the dairy.
Luckily, there are plenty of delicious replacements that will make it a lot easier to eliminate dairy from your diet. Switch to dairy free milk, cheese and yogurt options, such as almond milk or coconut milk and almond milk-based cheese— trust me, you won’t miss the cow’s milk.
4. Combine foods carefully
So you’ve been eating lots of fruits and veggies, eliminated dairy and processed foods, limited your sugar intake, and you still can’t seem to drop any pounds. What gives? Well, did you know that certain foods and combination of foods digest more easily than others?
A key weight loss tool requires being more mindful about which foods you pair together. Freeing up energy from digestion is the single most important way to redirect large amounts of energy to make weight loss more efficient.
For example, avoid mixing protein with starch, mixing two different types of protein together, and mixing protein with fat. Instead, protein should be combined with vegetables, like leafy greens.
While starches may not mix well with protein, they do combine best with fats, veggies, or other kinds of starches. Now you might be thinking, what about fruit?
I love fruit and definitely encourage incorporating it into your diet. Just know fruit is best consumed in the morning and on an empty stomach (so not integrated into a dish or as a “dessert” directly following a cooked meal).
Going deeper into food-combing
If you are shaking your head at that last paragraph, wondering what on earth I was talking about, please check out my first book, The Beauty Detox Solution, which goes into much more depth about how food combining/beauty food pairing works!
The gist is that it makes it easier for your body to digest, freeing up energy from digestion which can go to work on repairing your skin and cells and many other amazing things.
It may seem like a lot to think about, but I promise it’s well worth it. Soon, it’ll become automatic, so you won’t even have to think about which foods go together.
When foods combine well, the digestion process goes a lot smoother, and your body is better equipped to absorb key nutrients while eliminating toxic waste. As such, you can avoid a backup that makes it super challenging to lose weight.
5. Keep an eye on your hormones
Did you know that hormones are involved in how much fat your body stores, where it stores it, how fast calories are burned? Thus, any kind of imbalance can cause weight gain — or make it difficult to shed pounds.
Let’s talk about the hormones that are linked specifically to fat storage. When estrogen levels become low (such as during menopause) or too high, women often experience weight gain, specifically around the midsection (belly and hips) and thighs .
Keep in mind that meat is one of the primary culprits for surging estrogen levels, as farm animals are typically raised with a ton of antibiotics, steroids and other toxins that behave like estrogen in your body when consumed.
6. Consuming plenty of fiber
It’s also important to note that consuming plenty of fiber is critical because our bodies get rid of excess estrogen through our waste (and fiber keeps us regular). When estrogen levels are normal, however, estrogen actually helps you to maintain a slender figure by impacting insulin resistance .
Speaking of insulin, an imbalance of this hormone can trigger inflammation, which then makes leptin — the hormone that plays a key role in weight control — less effective. On top of that, an imbalance of insulin leads to a spike in the production of cortisol, a stress hormone that’s also been linked to weight gain.
When there’s more cortisol released in your body, blood sugar is more likely to be converted into fat for long-term storage — especially in the abdominal area, according to some studies .
7. Reducing stress
Sure, reducing stress in your life (and getting enough sleep) are two crucial strategies for avoiding these imbalances. But don’t forget that caffeine can cause cortisol to go through the roof — in other words, you may want to rethink your morning coffee habit, which can cause your body to hoard fat.
While we’re on the subject of hormones, low testosterone levels play a key role in weight gain. Consider this: Toxins lurk in pesticides, GMOs, herbicides, beauty products, processed foods, prescription drugs, and more.
When absorbed by the body, many of these toxins behave just like estrogen, throwing your hormones out of balance. Since testosterone plays a critical function in building lean muscle (thus supporting your metabolism), that’s obviously problematic because it promotes fat storage.
In fact, a Swedish study published in the journal Chemosphere revealed that exposure to the pesticide organochlorine correlated to weight gain .
Take my advice
It’s well worth the effort to reduce your exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals as much as possible by opting for organic produce, and using eco-friendly beauty and cleaning products — after all, these chemicals could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
The reason why so many women struggle with weight loss is that there’s an overload of information out there — and much of it is misinformation. How are you supposed to weed through all the noise to find strategies that work?