In my field, the number one question I get asked, aside from ‘What do you eat?’ is ‘Why can’t I [UGH] lose weight?’

As a nation and a culture, we should ‘get this’ by now. After all, we are surrounded with information from physician and nutrition experts to the government, media and a plethora of online sources. That well known mantra ~ ‘Eat a balanced diet, Exercise, Get rest, Reduce stress.’ That’s it. That’s the answer, right? If we do all those things, we should have an ideal body weight.

Well, no. Not necessarily. So how do we begin to tame the bucking bronco of weight loss resistance? We start by delving into possible reasons…

In this first of a 5-part series, I’ll take you on a journey to the Holy Grail of Resistant Weight Loss, and unearth the very annoying & humbling 5 Top Reasons that you or a loved one may be experiencing this frustration, this post being the first…

I would be hard-pressed to have this conversation without starting with the obvious,… food and the meaning of balanced diet.

While everyone’s needs are individualized and bioindividuality has become a universal primary food rule, the below initial entry will shed light on why you’re struggling with weight loss resistance. 

Numero Uno –> It all starts with food.

The quality, quantity and composition of food that one eats are the foremost important considerations when I evaluate a client’s eating routine & their weight loss stumbling blocks. 

Oftentimes, a client lists all the healthy foods they eat on their Intake form, e.g. wild caught salmon, organic veggies & berries, whole grains, etc. But leave out critical pieces of information. I dig deeper and learn that they didn’t include All of the food they actually eat in a given day. One client, as an example, periodically eats off her children’s plates.  When further pressed, I learned that she also drinks a glass (or more) of wine (almost) every night.  These happenings were not on her Intake form yet these forgotten ‘extras’ provide insight as to why, perhaps, calories are not cooperating with that anticipated exit strategy. She’d been doing everything else I recommended after all. 

My client is experiencing Portion Distortion. This phenomenon speaks to the quantity of the food you eat.  You think you are eating just enough to lose weight but in actuality you’re consuming more than your body needs.  Becoming aware of not only how much you consume in a day but also those seemingly inconsequential add-ons is crucial if you’re intent on getting leaner. Eating too many, even healthy, snacks may account for extra calories. Oftentimes, a handful of nuts becomes several, and before you know it, you’ve well exceeded what your body needs.

Actual portion size on your plate matters as well. I see many paleo people mistake this dietary theory with the idea that animal protein should take prominence on their plate, whereas the protein portion should range between 1/4 to 1/5 of the meal and optimally, not more than 1/3. This misguided perspective has taxing effects on the liver. In particular, the liver turns those excessive protein molecules to sugar, then to fat. Voila, extra weight when you thought you were eating so healthily.  Whether you’re eating paleo or otherwise, a genuine evaluation of portion size is a must.

Interestingly, this same client came to me after spending many months doing that well known weight loss program (which name rhymes with Plate Blotchers).  And while I’m not discounting the value of an energetic calorie, I encourage my clients to stop counting calories and instead evaluate the food in front of them for quality.

The quality and nutrient value of the food you are ingesting is far more meaningful than the calorie count.

A 100 calorie bag of low fat chips versus a 100 calorie apple — while that salty bag of chips is commanding your attention, your body will be Much More Responsive if you give it the nutrient satisfaction your cells need.  You can, of course, still satisfy that salty craving – add a dollop of quality fat such as almond or cashew butter. A sprinkle of sea salt and you’ve got fat, fiber, protein & crunch! 

Of course, a diet that is multi-colored, varied and derived from whole foods is best ~ healthy fats like coconut and olive oils, pasture-raised meats, wild caught fish and an array of fruits, vegetables and greens.  Combine these with reducing your intake of highly processed foods that come in a box, a bag or squeeze out of a bottle and then you have the makings of a balanced meal plan.

Which brings me to my final point here, and what should become your new mantra ~ fat, fiber, protein. This balanced composition will keep your blood sugar stable and prevent those extreme highs and lows that throw your metabolism into a tailspin, again frustrating your weight loss objectives.   Keeping your blood sugar level is KEY – too high, and the liver cells store excess glucose as fat; too low, and the body goes into starvation mode burning lean muscle instead of fat. Neither are desirable outcomes. Hence, annoying & humbling.

Stay tuned for Part 2 in this 5-Part Series ‘Why Can’t I Lose Weight?!’.

Do any of these ‘diet traps’ apply to you and if so, how do you combat them? Portion distortion? Quality issues? Unbalanced composition? Share with me in the comments below.