Weight loss resistance; why your best efforts may be failing

sad face on bathroom scales

Weight loss resistance is something you're going to know about if you're struggling to shift the pounds.

You're doing everything right, but just looking at a biscuit feels like you're gaining weight!

There are multiple reasons the body can hang on to fat stores and make it almost impossible to move the scales. Especially after 40!

You can watch the video below or listen to the podcast. 

Causes of Weight Loss Resistance


Ok let's get the basics right! If you're eating all the right things (you know what they are!), then just make sure you can rule out these common culprits;

  • Hidden sugar and carbs – I know you'll probably be avoiding sugar, but did you know that carbohydrates are just long sugars? And fruit is still sugar? And alcohol is mainly sugar? Have you checked the labels of your favourite sauces, dressings, ready meals, ‘protein bars' for added sugar? Did you know that a baguette has a higher GL than white table sugar??
  • Food intolerances – when your gut reacts to foods that you are sensitive to (such as gluten or dairy), it can trigger a cascade of inflammation in the body. Inflammation can lead to bloating, water retention and increased fat stores.
  • Snacking – if you are snacking between meals the body is constantly using up the sugar stores as energy, and doesn't always get around to burning fat stores. Leaving 4-6 hours between meals or adopting Time Restricted Eating (eg in a window of 8-12 hours) can help the body burn those fat stores for energy.
  • Eating too much of the right things – sometimes we are eating really healthy foods, and not realising we're just eating too much of them. Nut butter may be nutritious but a whole jar of it will not help you lose weight!
  • Emotional eating – this is a biggie for us women particularly. Who doesn't reach for food if we're sad, stressed, lonely or bored? Increasing awareness of WHY we're eating can help work out what to do instead.
  • Calorie restriction – most DIETS are based on calorie restriction. All that happens is that the body goes into stress mode (there must be a famine!), slows down your metabolism and speeds up your cravings. NOT a sustainable way to keep the pounds off.


Your hormones are chemical messengers that regulate your metabolism, appetite, blood sugar and your weight. Any imbalance can upset the balance and cause weight loss resistance.

Let's have a look at your Feisty Four;

  • Cortisol your stress hormone is your response to anything the brain perceives as a threat. That includes your workload, your kids playing up, that argument with a partner, homeschooling and the myriad of other stresses life throws at us! The trouble is that cortisol likes to store store fat around your belly when you're in survival mode (for emergencies).
  • Insulin is your blood sugar hormone. It's also your FAT STORING hormone! It's actual job is to store excess sugar away in your fat cells. So if there's too much insulin running around, guess what? You'll be in fat storing mode.
  • Thyroid is your metabolism regulator. If your thyroid hormones are ‘optimal' you'll be burning plenty of fat. If they are low or medically ‘normal' in some cases, your metabolism will be slow and it will be almost impossible for you to lose weight without starving yourself.
  • Oestrogen /progesterone – as your ovarian function starts to decline through peri-menopause, other sources of oestrogen production come into play. One of these alternative sources is fat cells. So sometimes your body will hang on to your fat stores so that it can get enough oestrogen produced, especially when you are under stress or on a poor diet. 

Make sure your hormones are nicely balanced. Follow my 4 step Happy Hormone Code or get in touch to find out more about our testing.


  • Stress – if you're constantly in survival mode, your body is hanging on to fat for dear life (especially around your belly!). Cortisol is one of the biggest (and most common) factors behind weight loss resistance.
  • Sleep lack of sleep increases hunger hormones! As well as feeling groggy and irritable the next day (and craving carbs like mad), studies have shown that 6 hours of sleep or less increases ghrelin, your hunger hormone.
  • Exercise – getting the right exercise balance is key. Sitting all day causes your body to  slow your metabolism, and there are no signals to your fat cells to burn fat. Over exercising can also be a cause of weight loss resistance ironically. Doing too much can raise cortisol – and signals the body hangs on to fat. Which is why it's so common for women to exercise every day and not shift a pound.


Did you know that many common chemicals in our environment have been labelled ‘obesogens'? There are a few reasons that exposure to chemicals around us can cause weight loss resistance.

  • Metabolism – toxins can affect your mitochondria – these are your little batteries in your cells that make energy and keep your metabolism strong.
  • Insulin sensitivity – toxins can impair the way insulin works – making you more prone to store fat and increase your risk of obesity and Diabetes.
  • Thyroid – toxins can mess with your thyroid – slowing metabolism and making it super hard to lose weight.


The more we know about gut health the more we see links to all kinds of health issues, in this case weight gain!

As well as the influence inflammation has on your weight, different microbes that live in our gut have a huge role to play in determining how many calories we end up taking from food. 


Your genes are involved in the regulation of energy expenditure, appetite, and fat metabolism, all play an important role in weight regulation.

Which means you could be pre-disposed to putting on weight easily. That's a bummer – BUT you can override your genes by making sure you are eating right, exercising smarter, minimising toxins, feeding your microbiome, sleeping well, balancing your hormones and managing your stress. EASY!

Testing for Underlying Causes

If you're doing ‘all of the above' and not getting results, you may have to dig deeper to find your particular weight loss resistance.

Here are some of the health tests that can help to rule out some of the main factors.

Adrenals; the best way to measure your stress hormones (in our experience) is a 24 hour urine test. It measures your free cortisol and cortisol metabolites over a 24 period, which tells us whether your adrenals could be responsible for that stubborn belly fat!

Sex hormones; blood tests for hormones aren't very helpful whereas the 24 hour urine test is a comprehensive look at levels and behaviour of all 3 of your oestrogens, progesterone and testosterone. This can tell us which hormones are out of balance so we can set about redressing that.

Thyroid; thyroid hormones are best tested in the blood, but standard medical testing doesn't include T3, your active hormone, or your antibodies which can show up hidden autoimmune conditions. The blood tests we use look at a full thyroid panel and are looking for ‘optimal' levels not just ‘normal'. If your thyroid hormones aren't optimal, your metabolism could be too slow for you to lose weight.

Gut health; if you have any digestive symptoms, or suspected autoimmune issues, then doing a comprehensive stool test can uncover the root cause. Balancing your microbiome can often make a huge difference to your energy, mood, brain function and weight.

Nutrients; Vitamin D, B vitamins, iron & magnesium are some of the nutrients your body needs to maintain your metabolism. Important to get them checked.

DNA; Identifying your own unique gene mutations can help to work out what type of diet and lifestyle modification you need to best control your weight.

Contact us for more information on all our testing and 1-1 support.

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