5 reasons why your lockdown love-handles may be lingering
And what you can do about it
Losing weight can be a simple exercise for a lucky few, but for many people, weight loss is far more complex. Weight loss is influenced by multiple factors and understanding some of these can help you win what sometimes feels like a losing battle.
Dr Kim Prescott discusses a few reasons you may be struggling to get rid of those last few pounds.
1. You’re eating too much
Just because something is healthy, doesn’t mean you can eat it excessively. Avocados, nuts, fruit and olive oil are essential components of a healthy lifestyle, but when eaten out of balance with the rest of your diet, they will contribute to weight gain.
It’s good to include healthy oils and fats in your diet but watch the calories if you’re not on a strict keto programme.
2. You’re not eating enough
On the other hand, eating too little can also make it harder to shift those extra pounds. Your body is finely tuned to protect itself, and when it feels deprived of nutrients, it goes into starvation mode. Your metabolism slows and your body will hoard anything you eat as fat. If this goes on for a while, the body will make every effort to slow down your weight loss in order to conserve energy.
Your body functions most efficiently with all the required nutrients and minerals on board, so make sure you follow a balanced nutrition programme, even when you’re cutting calories.
Low calorie programmes can be highly effective for weight loss, but should be carefully managed in order to avoid metabolic slow-down and weight re-gain.
3. You’re not getting enough sleep
It seems to make sense to wake up early for a workout, but only do this if you are getting to bed early the night before. A lack of sleep not only minimises the benefits of exercise, but endurance is reduced as is your capacity for recovery after a hard workout. Over time, you will start to exhibit the signs of stress with prolonged increases in cortisol, a powerful appetite stimulant, and inflammatory changes in the brain that result in memory loss and decreased mental acuity.
When you have a period of poor sleep, you get increased ghrelin, the hormone that tells the brain you need to eat, and decreased leptin, the hormone that signals you when you are feeling full. This results in a voracious appetite that is made worse by cravings and a slowing of your metabolism.
Place a particular emphasis on ways to manage your stress and make sure you make an effort to get enough sleep!
4. You have insulin resistance
One of the most common reasons for difficulty losing weight is insulin resistance. Your cells essentially become less responsive to insulin, the hormone that enables the body to convert the food you eat into the fuel you need for energy. Excess glucose builds up in the blood and your body quickly stores this as fat.
Some of the implications of insulin resistance are:
- you feel sluggish and low in energy so you find it difficult to exercise
- your body receives the message that you need more food so you feel hungry all the time – even after eating a meal
- Your brain doesn’t function as efficiently with high blood sugar so you experience “brain fog”
You are at higher risk for diabetes and other chronic health conditions if your waist circumference is greater than 37 inches (94 cm) for men, or 31.5 inches (80 cm) for women.
If this is you, speak to your doctor about the best ways to prevent diabetes and future ill-health Eating plans for insulin resistance should be customised as certain programmes are better than others – but need to be appropriate for you as an individual.
5. Your hormones have gone awry
Growing older, belly fat, nutritional deficiencies, genetics and ill-health can all lead to a decline in the effectiveness of your hormones, contributing to an inability to lose weight. When you do succeed in losing weight, however, your body is quick to respond to changes that it perceives as harmful through a series of “metabolic adaptations”.
Your thyroid hormones decline causing your resting metabolic rate to slow down. Testosterone decreases, and your stress hormones – particularly cortisol – are increased leading your body to store fat. Just to add to this, you end up with a constant feeling of hunger due to a number of mechanisms mentioned earlier.
This cascade of events is exactly what you don’t want for successful long term weight loss, and needs to be avoided by including researched dietary principles like intermittent fasting and calorie cycling to help prevent weight loss plateaus and rapid weight re-gain.
How can a Medical Weight Loss programme help you?
Studies have shown that the majority of people who do successfully shed pounds will regain around 60% of that weight within 12 months. A specialist can help design a programme that is tailored to your individual needs, and that incorporates lifestyle changes and scientific principles to help you to lose the weight and to keep it off.
There are a number of drugs that are licensed for weight loss in the UK, and in some cases, your doctor may consider it appropriate to prescribe one of these alongside your diet and lifestyle programme in order to improve your outcome and overall health. Drugs for weight loss should never be used without medical oversight.
Dr Kim Prescott is a highly trained medical doctor with a special interest in Lifestyle and Aesthetic medicine. She has a particular focus on optimising health, weight and hormonal balance alongside her aesthetic medicine practice. For weight loss and lifestyle programmes, she works alongside a team of specialists in exercise, medical weight loss, nutrition and nutrigenomics to optimise long term results of lifestyle programmes.
For more information, please send your questions to Dr Kim: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
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