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Hidden Causes for Weight Loss Stalls

by Alisha Sanzone, RDN


It can be very frustrating when you feel like you are doing everything “perfectly,” yet you are not seeing change on the scale.  Here are some potential barriers to weight loss: 

    1. Too many artificial sweeteners: According to US labeling laws, anything less than 1gm carbs per serving can be labeled as carb-free.  There are 0.99gm of carbs per packet of non-nutritive sweeteners (Splenda, Nutrasweet, Equal, Stevia).  Think about your use and sources of artificial sweeteners over the course of a day or week.  Evaluate what is in your coffee, yogurt, protein bars, snacks, etc.  The amount can add up quickly and may impact your body’s ability to burn fat.  Try eliminating or significantly reducing sweeteners for 2 weeks to see how your body reacts.
    2. Excessive protein: Too much of anything, even a good thing, can still be too much.  Just because food choices are protein doesn’t mean you can eat an endless amount.  Most people’s bodies can only metabolize up to 30 grams of protein at one time.  If you eat more than that in a sitting, your body converts that protein to sugar which is then stored as fat! If you are experiencing a weight-loss stall, reflect on how much protein you are consuming. 
    3. Sneaky carbs associated with fat: Fat is not the enemy it was made out to be, but it can pack a lot in a little package!  An extra serving or two of fat can be a great way to tackle hunger, but along with that can come extra carbs you may have not considered.  A handful of nuts can be a great part of your plan, but if you find yourself reaching for several handfuls throughout the day- it can exceed your carb threshold.  For example, 1 ounce of cashews (about 16) is 10 grams of carbs.  Those carbs can add up quickly and be the reason for stalled progress.  
    4. Excessive Alcohol: 1st - Be aware of choosing drinks that are loaded with sugar (i.e. sweetened mixers, craft beers, sweet wine, malt beverages, etc.) 2nd - Alcohol must be metabolized by the liver, which is also where fat gets broken down. Too much alcohol can slow down your metabolism of fat. 
    5. Inadequate water: Fat doesn’t “burn off” the way many people think.  It must be broken down in the liver and flushed out of the body.  Sometimes just increasing daily water intake can be just the thing to get your body back on track.  
    6. Mindless eating: Be honest with yourself and the foods you are eating. Too often we see patients not accounting for small indiscretions throughout the week.  While these small and seemingly minuscule bites or drinks may seem negligible, what they can do to a metabolically broken person is significant.  Before you question the efficacy of the “plan,” be sure to hold yourself accountable. 
    7. Excessive stress: Mild or temporary stress, in the form of exercise or temporary circumstance, can be healthy and is part of our body’s natural defense system.  When you are in a “fight or flight” situation, the stress hormone cortisol is released and helps make that immediate decision.  Today, many people are chronically stressed and that system is constantly stimulated leading to excessive cortisol in the blood.  Cortisol stimulates insulin and can be a sneaky reason you are having trouble losing weight.  
    8. Metabolic dysfunction: This phrase refers to the inability to metabolize (or digest) our food well.  The food industry has changed so drastically over the last 100 years and our bodies struggle to keep up! Unidentified dysfunction such as insulin resistance, prediabetes, and elevated cholesterol are all potential indicators of a body that will struggle to lose weight.  Talk to your Pounds provider or doctor to do a metabolic workup.  
    9. Medications: Many medications have an effect on a person’s weight, whether they are weight gaining, weight neutral, or promote weight loss.  If you question your medication’s effect on your progress, reach out to your doctor to talk about other potential options.  



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