We all know that overeating and over drinking can cause weight gain but sometimes there are other drivers of the ‘betty back fat’, ‘tummy tube’, or ‘love muffins’ that are making our pants too tight.

The following 10 different reasons why you can’t lose weight might be drivers of your extra weight that you have not considered and are worth addressing:

1. Liver

If our liver is working well then we are lucky. It is the main powerhouse in the body. It produces enzymes, balances sugar levels and for weight loss… it converts fat into energy. If it is over burdened with Christmas-itis the liver cannot keep up with all the body’s jobs and metabolism slows down.

Solution: One simple way to keep our livers working effectively is to give it a mini tune up.  Eat foods containing sulfur compounds as they rid the body of chemicals which are consumed unintentionally from sources such as prescription medications and environmental toxins. Onions, garlic and cabbage are ideal but so are broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale for liver health.

2. Insulin

Hidden sugars, chronic stress can both cause insulin to be released, and over a period of time our bodies become insulin resistant. When this happens IR (insulin resistance) and carbohydrates are not used for energy but instead will be stored as fat or love handles as some might say.

Solution: Keep your blood sugar balanced by eating three high protein meals with some complex carbohydrates and a small amount of quality fats. Minimise wheat in your diet as there is some evidence that wheat can mimic insulin in our bodies. Enjoy a small morning tea and afternoon tea and make it protein based like some nuts, yogurt, cheese and brown rice crackers. Big tip here – do not eliminate all carbs as we need some low Glycaemic carbs to keep our brains functioning throughout the day.

3. Processed foods

Food that is manufactured in a factory is often a refined carbohydrate. Refined carbs are empty calories (meaning void of nutrients) and deplete the body of quality vitamins and minerals that we gain from unprocessed foods. It is quite an interesting concept, our bodies are actually hungrier when we eat processed foods because our smart body need and requires nutrient- dense foods. Processed foods can also slow down our metabolism.

Solution: It may sound difficult but I encourage all of you to try this… for one week eat nothing but whole foods. No processed foods. Do not eat anything that comes out of a box or a wrapper. Fresh food, meat, nuts, vegetables, and fruit are the go!

4. Leptin

This funny little hormone is secreted by fat and is suppose to stop our hunger. Normally it tells our brain when we have eaten enough but if Leptin resistance develops, a constant hunger develops.

Solution: There is a lot of research being done on leptin and its counterpart, ghrelin, at the moment. Whilst we don’t have the whole leptin story just yet, we do know that leptin is increased naturally in the body with adequate and good quality sleep, which for most people is approximately eight hours. Get into bed by 10 pm, sleep well, and take this variable out of the mix.

5. Set Point Theory

The set point theory states that your body has an internal thermostat that controls how much weight we keep on our bodies. According to this theory, body fat percentage and body weight are matters of internal controls that are set differently in different people. The internal thermostat likes to keep you where you are in terms of weight.

Solution: George Blackburn, associate director of the division of nutrition at Harvard Medical School. Says, “Lower your body weight by 10%, and then stop losing for a while.  Fight instead to keep off just that amount. Stay at that level for at least six months to give your body a chance to adjust to its new, lower set point.”

6. Stress/Anxiety/Depression

Who hasn’t done a bit of emotional eating? Stress has a direct impact on our cortisol levels and our cortisol levels have a direct impact on the way our body utilises our insulin. ‘Belly fat” can often be a sign of insulin resistance due to high cortisol levels over prolonged periods.

Solution: Being aware of stress or comfort eating is half the battle when it comes knocking this reason off your list of why you cannot lose weight. Acknowledge you are stressed or depressed and do something about it. Seek out supportive friends, take up a new sport, learn yoga or mediation, and I love the idea of ‘handwork’. Take up something that keeps your hands busy like sewing, crossword, Sudoku, or anything that keeps your hands busy and unable to eat mindlessly.

7. Birth control pill/HRT

Estrogen, especially the artificial oestrogens used in modern hormones, can cause weight gain. Progestins in the Pill may also cause weight gain in some women.

Solution:  There are other methods of contraception if you know this one is keeping weight on your body. Do some research and speak to your GP about your options.

8. Food sensitivities

What do you crave? It is common to see cravings in the food that are often causing the problem. Really food sensitivities and /or allergies can keep you from losing weight! Inflammation puts stress on the liver and slows down metabolism, both adding to weight gain.

Solution: Watch for foods that you crave, make you bloat, give you sinusitis, or poor skin.  Try a specific food elimination diet from your ‘problematic’ food for two weeks to see if one type of food is causing your problems.

9. Thyroid problems

Low thyroid function is common in women; in fact, some naturopaths would say they see one out of four women with a ‘subclinical’ thyroid dysfunction. Why does this develop?  Exposure to toxins, virus, post birth, auto- immune disease, genetic predisposition, and age are the most common.

Solution: Ensure your diet is antioxidant rich and includes foods with selenium and iodine.  Selenium and iodine are essential in a proper functioning thyroid. Selenium rich foods are things like Brazil nuts, prawns, tuna, halibut and button mushroom. Sea vegetables, yogurt, eggs, cheese, and strawberries are iodine rich. If you suspect some thyroid dysfunction, ask your doctor or nutritionist to test your thyroid function.

Trans fats

Margarine and processed vegetables oils contain unhealthy fats that are being touted as more detrimental that fat or sugar. Trans fats can cause insulin resistance, suppress metabolism, contribute to cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Solution: Become a label reader and avoid products with trans fats like fried foods, commercially baked goods, and margarine. In Australia, it is not mandatory to have a product labelled if it contains trans fats, however, look for words like hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated cottonseed, palm, soy, and corn oils.

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  • All good things to know


  • Very interesting and informative, thank you.


  • This is such a timely article as I’m trying to make sense of why I can’t lose weight. I’m up-to-date with all my Drs checks and tests, and thinking I may be peri-menopausal may explain it. However, I need to go off the pill (when I return from a holiday) and be off it long enough to have the necessary tests. It is now the only thing I think can explain my weight issue. Interesting read though and I will work through all the points to check them off.


  • Eggs, dairy and processed corn are things you should consider eliminating for your thyroid to work well. Read a book by Anthony William called Thyroid healing.


  • Informative read, thanx !


  • I need to study this list and find out if any of tgese reasons apply to me. No matter what I do I just can’t lose the last 10kgs I need to lose to have a healthy bmi


  • An Inresting read and all good facts as well! Thanks!


  • I am on the pill and have anxiety but I think my issue is I can’t find time to exercise


  • I have been working on dropping several kilo but to start with try as i might nothing would happen. I didnt gain weight …I didnt drop weight. Then all of a sudden I started to drop very very slowly. Its taken me since the start of the year to drop 3kg. Ive had blood tests and my liver is fine, my thyroid is fine. Ive increased exercise and that hasnt helped either. I think its just the way my body is but at least I am now dropping a little.


  • Thanks for the information! It is so important to be aware of how to keep your body healthy. :-)


  • Awesome variety of tips and research. Sleep is definitely an important factor! U might try changing up our afternoon snack today… Mm yoghurt


  • These are some wonderful points to remember. Thanks


  • eat good work out research and good luck


  • This was an interesting mini article. Thanks for posting!


  • Interesting read. Good scientific information.


  • wonderful ! this is what all of us need to know… so imp… thanks a ton for the useful info.


  • Thanks Michelle. A comprehensive list of reasons packed into an interesting read. I’m intrigued by the set point theory, it certainly makes sense.


  • A very interesting article. I suffer of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and I think I see that in my weight too indeed.

    • Food sensitivities can play a big role too indeed!


  • It is springtime… I became a nutritionist because I understand springtime fear. New clothes and swimsuits approaching. It was not until I started to eat – yes eat proper meals three times a day— did I balance my blood sugar, which improved my insulin, which helped me shed 10 kilos! Check out our website and upcoming Low Sugar Lifestyle program. http://www.ahealthyview.com.au


  • Thanks for sharing this interesting article; a good read.


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