Updated: Jan 12, 2020
Many people are told that losing weight is as simple as 'moving more and eating less'.
This is not only a gross oversimplification, but is extremely offensive to the many people who have tried calorie restriction and exercise with no results.
For some people, cleaning up their diet and walking every day will result in weight loss, but if it were that simple for everyone then the weight loss industry wouldn't be the billion dollar industry it is today.
I have seen patients who put themselves on 800 calories or less per day while exercising. While their strict diet gave them headaches, increased joint pain and disrupted their sleep - it did not help them lose weight.
It is not simply a matter of counting calories and even if it were - not all calories are equal. Living on 1,800 calories of jelly beans per day will affect you very differently than 1,800 calories of plant based, high fiber food.
There are many different experts trying to sell you on the 'one way' to lose weight. The truth is that there are many ways to lose weight, but the approach must be tailored to the individual.
Diets can work for some and not others, and sometimes hormone levels or latent infection can prevent weight loss.
If you are not losing weight, but you think you should be, then there is a biochemical reason why. Here are a few diet-related reasons why you may not be losing weight.
1. You are Eating Your Food Allergen or Sensitivity
I know what you are thinking - if I had a food sensitivity or allergy, I would know it. Right? Not necessarily. The anaphylactic reaction of a severe peanut allergy is one kind of reaction - but there are others.
Food sensitivities can result from a too-strict diet (more on that below) and can cause symptoms that you would not associate with a food sensitivity like:
Increase in pain
Feelings of panic, dread or impending doom
Feelings of being 'poisoned'
Rapid Heart Rate (especially after eating)
Remember that avoiding your food allergen or sensitivity is not a permanent solution. It is important that you work with a functional medicine practitioner to find out why your food sensitivity has manifested in the first place.
Often there is SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), a latent viral infection, or an underlying autoimmune condition that has caused your food sensitivity.
If you are unknowingly ingesting a food sensitivity on a weekly or even daily basis, you are creating low levels of inflammation throughout the body, especially in your digestive tract.
This low level of sustained inflammation will hinder your metabolism, disrupt your blood sugar and insulin levels, and make it difficult for you to reach your weight loss goals.
2. You Diet is Not Diverse
A clean diet that is devoid of processed foods and refined sugar is great for you - but sometimes when you are following a strict diet you are eating the same meal over and over again.
Maybe you find yourself narrowing down your list of 'safe foods' because you just seem to be reacting to everything.
Now your eggs and potatoes in the morning gives you a headache, or your joints hurt after your salad with avocado.
This is called an IgG reaction and happens when you eat the same food too often.
A functional medicine practitioner can help isolate the reason why your body is becoming sensitized - often, optimizing stomach acid production and taking a gentle anti-microbial can help.
Your body needs many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to function to keep you healthy. If you eat the same 3-5 foods day in and day out you will eventually cause an underlying nutrient deficiency.
When nutrient deficiencies persist for months or even years the body will automatically think that food is scarce. To keep you alive, your body will devote its resources to the essential processes of your body, rather than weight loss.
3. You are Eating Too Little
There are patients who have come to me after going diets of extreme calorie restriction with no weight loss results. 500-800 calories per day is not healthy and is not enough food to sustain a healthy adult.
I cringe when I see instagram-worthy pictures of a pre-workout 'lunch' that is barely 130 calories and has barely any protein and n