3 reasons why you could be at a weight plateau
Weight is a tricky topic- perhaps we've changed up our nutritional intake, going to the gym a little bit more, drinking more water, etc. yet nothing seems to quite have changed. Unfortunately the reason why we gain weight can be numerous reasons, and therefore may need numerous approaches to have pounds shed. And weight is just a symptom, so it's important to consider all the possibilities.
When we gain weight we make new fat cells, yet losing weight only shrinks, doesn't eliminate new ones. Further, fat cells are it's own hormone producing organ with at least 10 different hormones that affect our appetite and sex hormone levels, such as increased estrogen, which leads to more sugar/carbohydrate cravings (our gut bacteria when not right can tell us what we want to eat too). Elevated estrogen also makes more fat cells (great paradox, right?), inhibits thyroid hormone (metabolism, aka weight), and in men & women symptoms can be low libido, poor sleep, low energy, and mood swings. Low testosterone in men has also been implicated in weight gain (aka beer belly), and high testosterone in women can lead to increased insulin resistance, weight gain, and potentially polycystic ovarian syndrome. Stress, emotional or physiological, can cause us to crave carbs and sugar, and too much of those get stored as fat, which feeds into these many different cycles.
Check out these three reasons you may be at a plateau:
- Poor sleep- Not being able to fall asleep, getting woken up, can't sleep through the night- any of these combinations could lead to elevated cortisol, our stress hormone, because it varies inversely with melatonin, our sleep hormone. Melatonin (potent antioxidant) is optimally produced from 11pm-3am, so going to sleep later than 11pm can throw off your natural rhythm and hinder hormone production (made at night). If you go to bed after 11pm, consider moving your bedtime back 15 minutes every few days, so it becomes more of a habit, rather than a big jump that's not always sustainable. Also consider eating your last meal about 2-3 hours before bed, so your body knows to start winding down (further in and your body becomes ready for it's next meal even after your head hits the pillow).
- Carbs? Sugar? Alcohol?- Alcohol gets metabolized immediately into sugar and impacts your liver, your largest detoxification organ (fat cells store toxins if your body can't metabolize them), so you really want an organ to help you get rid of them. Lots of bread/carbs (not talking about vegetables, which are also carbs) & sweets continuously spike blood sugar and insulin, which increase cortisol, and hinders optimal thyroid hormone and proper sex hormone (e.g. estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) balance. Your liver may also be working overtime too if you're in an urban area (e.g. pollution, exhaust fumes), versus the countryside. Love your liver with foods like carrots, artichoke, beets, broccoli, swiss chard, spinach, avocado, and ground flaxseed. Give your digestion a rest too to reset by fasting 12 hours between dinner and breakfast the next morning.
- Not drinking enough water- We are made up of 60-70% water, so makes sense we need a lot of it! I recommend at least half your body weight in ounces of water, and water helps you feel satiated, flushes out those toxins, and provides many vitamins and minerals your body requires. The signal for hunger is commonly confused with thirst, so drink some water first to discern if you're really hungry. Have a squeeze of lemon or a little apple cider vinegar in the morning too, a great way to cleanse the system after it's been sitting all night.