5 Things Making it Difficult for You to Lose Weight

5 Things Making it Difficult for You to Lose Weight

Losing weight is always difficult and tends to get harder the closer we get to our ideal weight. But sometimes the difficulty we have with weight control is increased because we are not managing our body’s systems properly. If you get things out of whack you can really stack the odds against weight loss even if you are careful with your calorie intake.

If you’re struggling to get the needle on the scales to move or to squeeze off those inches from the tape measure, here are 5 things you must consider:

5 Questions to Answer if You’re Finding it Difficult to Lose Weight  

1.    Is your protein intake too low?

How much protein your body needs varies from person to person and is affected by height, lean body mass, and lifestyle. However, a lack of protein will make your body crave more food. Simply, insufficient protein means your brain is always sending out “feed me” signals.

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is just 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, but that is the amount you need to stay healthy, not necessarily the optimum amount for you. There are protein calculators online, like this one at Calculator.net, that will help you decide if you are having enough protein.

Protein is the way we get essential amino acids into our bodies. We need these micronutrients to build muscle, help with chemical reactions, aid our immune systems, and many other essential processes. A deficiency in any of the nine essential amino acids can lead to all sorts of problems but also increases the appetite. Weight control, as well as general well being require you to consume enough protein.  

Remember, eating a lot of protein will not make you bulky – the men and women who step onto bodybuilding stages have trained for years and follow very strict regimens. Many also take steroids, which is never a good idea, so don’t be afraid of protein.  

2.    Are you getting enough fiber?

Fiber is another “must-have” in your diet. It benefits digestion and helps improve insulin function in the body, which helps you from putting on fat once your body has all the essential nutrients it needs. It also keeps you feeling fuller for longer, which is essential if you’re trying to curb cravings and stick to your healthy lifestyle.

Including something like oatmeal as a regular part of your diet can aid weight control. Apart from all the important minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants it provides, oatmeal takes a long time to move through the gut which keeps the hunger pangs at bay. Oatmeal also contains beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that may help the body produce a satiety hormone, peptide YY. This hormone leads to reduced calorie intake.

Other healthy sources of fiber are pears, artichoke, avocados, raspberries, Brussels sprouts, lentils, chickpeas, beans, popcorn, and almonds, though there are plenty more to choose from!   

3.    Are you paying attention to your gut health?

The microbiome is the sum of all the genetic material of the microbes that live in or on your body. The number of genes involved in the microbiome is 200 times greater than that of the human genome. Many of these microbes, bacteria, fungi, viruses, and protozoa live in the gut.

The gut microbiome is vast, with thousands of different types of microbes, mostly helping digestion and helping you stay healthy. But some are not beneficial and an imbalance of good and bad microbes may lead to weight gain.

There are several ways you can help your gut microbiome remain in good health:

  • Eat lots of different foodstuffs. This will lead to a diverse microbiome and the more different microbes you have, the better.

  • Eat yogurt and other fermented foods. These foodstuffs are filled with good bacteria and can help reduce the number of unhealthy microbes found in your gut.

  • Include prebiotics in your diet. Prebiotic fiber, as found in foods like bananas, asparagus, oats, and apples, promotes the growth of healthy bacteria.

  • Eat whole grains. Gut bacteria love the carbohydrates whole grains contain.

  • Take a probiotic supplement. This is an easy way to add millions of bacteria to your gut microbiome daily.

  • Drink red wine! Consume anything rich in polyphenols: green tea, dark chocolate (the darker the better), olive oil, as well as red wine. Polyphenols help healthy bacteria to multiply. However, you have got to be careful when it comes to chocolate, oil, and wine, as too much will quickly outweigh the benefits of the polyphenols.

  • Avoid taking antibiotics unnecessarily. Antibiotics kill bacteria but aren’t good at distinguishing good from bad. Taking this medication will reduce your population of gut bacteria and may make you gain weight. The widespread use of antibiotics is leading to bacteria that are resistant to treatment which is stirring up trouble for the future, so don’t take antibiotics that haven’t been prescribed by a doctor for your specific condition.

4.    Are you suffering from any vitamin or mineral deficiencies?

Everyone needs vitamins to stay healthy, but you should pay even more attention to your vitamin and mineral intake when you are trying to lose weight. For weight loss to be maintained you need your insulin and thyroid functions to be in tip-top shape, to help regulate your metabolism and blood sugar levels.

Vitamins, particularly the B vitamins, take a vital role in keeping thyroid and insulin functions working well. The main purpose of B vitamins is to help the body metabolize the macronutrients (carbs, proteins, and fats) so that the body can use them for energy production. Low levels of vitamins will cause your metabolism to be inefficient and make weight loss harder than it should be.

Good foods to include in your diet include:

  • Beans

  • Lean meat

  • Eggs

  • Whole grains

  • Bananas

  • Potatoes

If you’re vegan or vegetarian, make sure you take a B12 supplement as this is only present in animal products. You can also find foods that are fortified with B12, so keep an eye out when you’re shopping for vegan products.

5.    Are you getting enough, good quality sleep?

Studies have shown that poor quality or inadequate sleep is likely to increase appetite and in particular, leads to nighttime eating and more snacking. Anyone who is trying to lose weight knows that snacking is a big no-no – it’s so easy to ramp up the carbs in seconds.

So you should get into a late evening routine that involves winding down until you eventually go to bed. Let go of electronic devices, don’t eat late at night, and experiment with meditation, relaxing music. There are a lot of apps out there to help.

What you are trying to do is create a ritual for yourself so that your body knows it is time to sleep and doesn’t fight it. Find out what works for you and stick with it. Quality sleep is not just good for weight loss but for general wellbeing, too, so make sure your bedroom and bed are comfortable places that encourage deep rest.

Weight loss is not just about the amount of food we eat, it is about the quality and variety as well. The body is a complex machine and everything needs to be in balance if that machine is to work at its best. For effective long-term weight loss, you need that machine to be at its most efficient.


Dr. Nancy Rahnama, MD, ABOM, ABIM, is a medical doctor board certified by both the American Board of Obesity Medicine and the American Board of Internal Medicine. Her specialty is Clinical Nutrition, that is, the use of nutrition by a medical doctor to diagnose and treat disease. Dr. Rahnama has helped thousands of people achieve their goals of weight loss, gut health, improved mood and sleep, and managing chronic disease.