Slaving away at the gym and eating healthy but still not seeing any progress? For many people, losing weight (and getting fit) can seem next to impossible, and according to nutritionist and health coach, Nik Toth, it can be – that is, if you fail to address the underlying causes of weight retention.
“The problem is that most weight loss programs don’t address the underlying cause of excess weight, leaving millions of people feeling unhappy with their bodies, as they are unable to shed unwanted kilos,” says Toth. “Some of the culprits include poor digestive function, lack of essential nutrients, toxic overload and hormonal chaos. Not to mention one of the biggest contributors of all is emotional eating or excessive sugar intake.”
4 reasons why you’re holding on to excess weight
1You’re suffering from toxic overload
Due to the enormous amounts of refined carbohydrates and chemically enhanced, processed foods that most people consume on a daily basis, our delicate bodies are simply clogged up.
When I say this, I speak from personal experience. I used to spend countless hours at the gym and spent a fortune on weight loss supplements that didn’t seem to work; I reached for low-fat products wrongly thinking they were good for me and ate weight loss bars and other foods that were heavily processed, all of which contributed to a toxic overload. What I failed to acknowledge was that my food choices were negatively affecting my body and the way I was feeling.
When you consider the amount of processed foods that many people eat on a daily basis, plus the fact that they are eating and drinking from plastic containers, which can negatively affect hormone levels, (not to mention the cleaning products you use and the cosmetics that you put on your hair and skin) you start to understand what I mean by ‘toxic overload’. (Try these chemical free water bottles, cleaning products and cosmetics.)
2You’re dieting too much
Obsessive dieting is where my journey began. Over the years I have tried and tested more fad diets than I can count, jumping from one to the next in a bid to see if any of them would help me achieve my weight loss goal.
Slowly but surely, the constant dieting began to have a damaging effect on my digestion and metabolism (ditch dieting forever with these expert tips). Due to the inconsistent food intake, I would go from nearly starving myself to all-out bingeing. My digestion suffered, I was uncomfortably bloated, felt heavy after meals, and had low energy. I was also craving sugar like never before.
From my experience, fad diets generally don’t work. Firstly, they disrupt your metabolism as many require you to eat a structured amount of food on a strict schedule that may not be suitable for your body’s needs. Also, they are often too restrictive. Think about the ‘Purple Diet’ or the ‘Atkins Diet’; both of these diets are eliminating entire food groups which can lead to nutritional deficiencies. They are also rarely sustainable so when you stop following them, you may find that you put on more weight when you change your diet once again.
3You’re not sleeping
Sleeping chemically rebalances your brain and your hunger hormones, allowing them to carry the message to burn fat as opposed to storing it. Every hour before midnight counts for at least 2 hours after midnight, so being asleep by 10pm would be the ideal.
Turn your electronic devices such as phones or iPads off at least 1-2 hours prior to retiring. The blue light they project is very stimulating and won’t allow the release of melatonin. Melatonin is a naturally occurring sleep hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle.
Try these apps to help you sleep, remain calm and decrease stress.
4You’re eating too much sugar
When it is not used for immediate energy, sugar gets stored in the body as fat. From there it contributes to obesity, abnormal lipid profiles and chronic illnesses such as diabetes. Plus, it is highly addictive so over time it wears out our insulin stores, damages our arteries and raises cholesterol levels.
While there are different types of sugar in food, fructose has the biggest impact on our waistline and health because our bodies can’t metabolise it well. When we eat fructose it goes straight to our liver, which immediately stores it as body fat. It may also increase our triglycerides and bad cholesterol.
But before you go swapping your sugar for the artificial version, think again. The chemical compounds found in artificial sweeteners do no favours for weight loss. In fact, they can stimulate your appetite and actually promote the storage of fat.
Instead, try increasing your consumption of vegetables (especially leafy greens), alkalising nutrients and fermented, probiotic foods that change the pH balance of your gut. This will shift the balance of your gut flora from bad to good and your cravings will disappear in no time.
Nik Toth is a qualified holistic nutritionist, personal trainer and health coach. She is the owner of The Lean Body Formula, a life-changing 10-week weight loss program which helps women change their bodies from the inside out.