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Inability to lose weight

Question Details

 I have been on a weight loss and exercise program for approximately 6 weeks. I have followed the program, and have not cheated. I walk every day. Yet, I have not lost any weight. Could there be a medical reason for my inability to lose weight? Thanks


First of all, I understand your frustration.  I have had many frustrated people come to office after being disappointed about the results of weight loss program, even when the followed it to the "T".  The reason is that for most people weight loss is not always as simple as eating and exercising.  There are many different issues to consider.  The type of exercise is one factor that can be very important.  Most people focus 90% of their energy on cardiovascular exercise such as the treadmill or elliptical machine when in reality it is muscle building through strength training that really helps to build metabolism and thus foster more weight loss. Even just trying to balance strength training and cardio 50/50 would be a major improvement than just focusing on cardio alone.  When getting back into a strength training program, make sure to go slow because improper use of weights can lead to injury. 

Another very important issue relates to hormones.  The main players in this arena are the sex hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone and thyroid hormone.  If any of these are significantly out of balance, your weight loss dreams will be very difficult.  For women, the time approaching menopause can create a significant challenge because hormone levels are changing significantly.  It is also around this time that many women can experience abnormalities in thyroid function. 

It is best to find a doctor who can effectively evaluate hormone levels through blood and saliva tests.  Often times both are needed to detect the slight variations that can affect metabolism and weight loss.

When it comes to thyroid, many people suffer from what is called sub-clinical hypothyroidism. Basically this means that standard blood tests show no major abnormalities and most likely your doctor has told you your thyroid levels are normal.  However there are more detailed tests and approaches to evaluation that can reveal the abnormalities that are causing weight loss challenges but are not severe enough to qualify you for a diagnosis of hypothyroidism.  For further information about what tests to ask for and more on sub-clinical hypothyroidism read my other blog entry by following this link

Cortisol is your body's major stress hormone and can contribute to issues related to weight loss and weight gain.  Increased levels due to chronic stress can trigger excess weight to be distributed particularly around the midsection.  If chronic stress is prolonged cortisol output can begin to falter which can lead to a reduction in metabolism.  Again, getting blood and saliva evaluation is necessary to pick up these subtle hormonal imbalances that can so strongly affect weight loss goals. 

Some of these issues might represent a medical reason why you are having trouble shedding those extra pounds.  Make sure to follow up with an appropriate doctor to get the type of evaluation necessary to identify these or other medical issues preventing you from losing weight.

Back to all Questions     View More by Dr. Kevin Passero

Lead Medical Director

As a certified and fully trained Naturopathic Doctor, Passero has trained and preceptored with some of the nation's leading doctors in the field of natural medicine, working under the guidance of MD’s, Chiropractors, Naturopaths and Acupuncturists. Furthermore, he is currently the Vice President of the Maryland Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

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