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Beat the Plateau — How to Combat Weight Loss Resistance

Have you reached a wall in your weight loss plan?

Have you reached a road block in your weight loss goals? Feel like you have reached a plateau and you cannot seem to lose more weight? Although not following through and adhering to caloric restrictions is usually the reason people don’t lose weight, for those who are eating right, exercising regularly, and still not losing weight there may be other contributing factors.

It might be possible that you are resistant to weight loss. There has recently been a lot of research into weight loss resistance because the rise in obesity has so many different variables. Genetics has some impact but is not the reason, obesity needs to be view in the context of changing environmental issues, activity levels, and diet trends.

It seems that some people are more at risk for obesity and it may have to do with genetics and epigenetics determining how we have developed from when starvation and scarcity was an issue for human survival. Historically, humans needed their bodies to be fuel efficient when food was scarce. However, with the current availability of cheap, calorically dense foods and that our bodies are fuel efficient has contributed to weight loss resistance and obesity.

Often just eating less, or reducing your caloric intake is not enough. Most diets tend to have no significant difference in the long term, and can often result in actually gaining weight! Your friends might rave about one diet, but your genetics alone make it so that your results will probably be very different. Diets eliminating one macro nutrient or another does not address the variability of people and their environments. Genetic variants are being looked at to assess changes in how we metabolize macro nutrients like fats and carbohydrates. A chronic history of dieting and large weight swings could suggest metabolic impairment and have long term consequences, like potentially developing diabetes.

One problem with just trying to reduce your calories or exercise more to compensate is that caloric imbalance is complicated. Your metabolic rate changes as you lose weight and exercise, so it is hard to just tell you to reduce your caloric intake by 500 calories a day to lose a 1lb of weight a week. Noticeably many people who have extreme weight loss gain much of their pre-weight back and a lot of this is related to changes in your metabolic rate. People of varying sizes can have very different metabolic rates, so some studies are looking into how people respond to different macronutrient reductions in their diet and how that affect feelings of fullness or how their bodies store fat.

Another consideration in weight loss resistance is your gut microbiome. The bacteria and other microbes that live in your gastrointestinal tract may also be playing a significant role in obesity. The microbes play an important role in how we get nutrients and calories from our food and burn them for energy. Some studies have shown that potentially the gut microbiome affects fat storage and ability to get energy from food. Different ratios of key bacteria and alterations in the genes of bacteria could play a role in how many calories you can get from food. Some bacteria might even be linked to more efficient food metabolism.

So what can you do?

  • Eat fiber-rich foods
  • Eat a more plant-based diet
  • Stop extreme dieting or elimination diets
  • Eat foods that promote a beneficial gut microbiome
  • Include more probiotic foods in your diet, like fermented food rich in healthy bacteria

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