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Weight loss is one of the most difficult challenges in a person’s life. It takes a lot of strength, time, and energy. And yet it is one of the biggest goals in a person’s life. It is even among the top three annual resolutions of people in the Western world.
But why is that? Do people suddenly have different desires in our time? Historically, people’s desires and wishes have remained unchanged. People themselves have not changed, but their environment has. Especially the last hundred years at a rapid pace. Unhealthy foods have been around for not so long, making it difficult for people to maintain their natural ideal weight eating them. Losing weight would also be a goal of our ancestors if they lived in our time. But they didn’t have that back then because their biggest goal was not to starve.
In the following, you will learn the main factors that prevent you from losing weight.
1) Too much fat in the diet
Oil is the most calorie-dense food on the planet. It is impossible to find a restaurant that does not use oil in the preparation of its dishes.
Oil is added to a large part of food because it makes it taste better. What do you think makes you feel fuller? The oil or the apples?
Furthermore, fat is stored most efficiently in the body as fat. Much more efficiently than carbohydrates or protein. This process is called de novo lipogenesis and refers to the synthesis of fat from carbohydrates. In ruminants, such as cows, it is different. They easily store excess carbohydrates into fat.
2) You eat too calorie-dense and too many processed foods
Bread, pasta, dried fruits, sweeteners, fruit bars, nut butter, and nuts are biochemically healthy, but the processing makes them more concentrated. As a result, you take in more calories than eating the food unprocessed, in its whole form. For a bag of 100g apple rings, you need 550g of fresh apples. Which do you think fills you up more?
If your weight loss is on the line, skip the foods I just mentioned and instead reach for vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes.
Chef AJ lost over 50 pounds by cutting out her daily 30 grams of walnuts. Nuts are one of the most calorie-dense foods along with oil. In the video FROM FAT VEGAN TO SKINNY BITCH, you’ll get one of the most impressive life stories I’ve heard.
3) Genetic predisposition
There are people, regardless of what they eat, who are always slim or at least not overweight. However, for many people, this is not the case. This phenomenon is experienced by many who switch to a plant-based diet. They think this is a free pass to eat anything plant-based without gaining or even losing weight. They eat nuts and whole-grain bread and just don’t lose weight. As mentioned above, these foods are biochemically healthy but may be too calorie-dense for some.
For a detailed explanation of what role your genetics play in your weight, check out the article “What genes reveal about your weight – The solution to weight loss“.
Some genes can make it more difficult for some to lose weight, but they are not your destiny that you can’t do anything about.
4) Too few vegetables
“If you are not hungry enough to eat vegetables, then you’re not hungry!” Chief AJ (p. 38) “Show me an overweight person and I’ll show you a person who is not willing to eat vegetables.” Dr. Alan Goldhamer.
The trick to weight loss and long-term satiety is to always fill at least 1/3 of your plate with vegetables. Vegetables are the lowest in calorie density and at the same time the most nutritious food on planet earth. You can eat huge portions without gaining weight. On the one hand, it provides satiety and on the other hand, it provides you with important nutrients.
There are various ways to make vegetables tastier. Especially baking vegetables helps to concentrate the flavors and make them taste more intense. You can make a salad more interesting by adding some fruit, such as fresh berries, and serving it with balsamic vinegar.
Regardless of whether you want to lose weight or not, vegetables should play a big role in your diet.
5) Eating out frequently
Restaurants use a lot of oil, salt, and sugar when preparing dishes. These stimulate the appetite. These are also the substances that attract masses of people to restaurants because it makes the food taste even better. Vegan restaurants also use a lot of oil, salt, and sugar.
Eating out should be limited to once a week max. or even avoided completely if you want to lose weight. Unless the chef is able to prepare a compliant dish.
6) Indulging in cravings
Do you know what cravings are? They are classic conditioning. In school, I’m sure you’ve heard of Pavlov’s reflex. In one of Pavlov’s laboratory experiments, he made a bell sound every time he handed food to dogs. After some time, the bell sound alone was enough to make the dogs’ saliva flow. Classic conditioning took place here.
The same thing happens to your nervous system when it regularly gets the certain “extras” after meals as a “reward.” Especially in the evening, most people have cravings even though they ate a big meal five minutes ago and are full. It even goes so far that your nervous system activates the digestive system in anticipation and gets ready to add another load of sweets.
The solution: deconditioning! How exactly does it work? There is no charming way. The way looks like this, by not giving in to those cravings. As with smokers, cravings increase in the first few days, peak at some point, and then level off after a few weeks. In the first months and weeks, cravings will announce themselves spontaneously. Again, remain steadfast.
It’s helpful to leave the kitchen after the last bite, when you’re full and move on to something else.
For some who are only a few pounds from their ideal goal weight determined for their genetics, going after cravings can be a deciding factor in the lack of weight loss.
Note: Cravings are not to be confused with binge eating. The most common problem with binge eaters is that they are “well-behaved” during the day and eat very little in order to lose weight. In some cases, this mechanism is cycled over several days and weeks. The nervous system reacts to this renunciation by extreme hunger and one has the feeling that the stomach is a black hole. Thereupon one binge then diets again because one was “bad”. Due to the food restriction comes again extreme hunger and thus again the binge. A vicious cycle is created.
The solution: DO NOT diet! If you overeat, eat the next day as if nothing happened.
I made a video on how to break the binge eating cycle:
A detailed explanation on the topic of how cravings and binges develop can be found in the videos:
- Healthy LIVE with Dr. Doug Lisle – Cramming and Bingeing
- Dr. Dougl Lisle: The Cram Circuit -the story of binge eating and overeating
7) Weight loss without exercise
Our ancestors walked or did moving work for hours every day. Our bodies are not designed to be sedentary. Just 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day is enough to make a big difference.
As important as exercise is for health in general, this point may account for just 5-10% of weight loss success. But maybe it’s the last few stubborn pounds.
8) Little sleep
People who sleep little tend to burn less during the day because they unconsciously become sluggish to save energy. Various studies show that people who sleep little increase their risk of becoming overweight.
Sleep is important for hormone regulation in the body, which, among other things, ensures satiety.
The solution: try to get 7–9 hours of sleep every day. The best time to go to bed is between 10 pm and 11 pm. It is clear that there are phases in life (small children, etc.) that force you to limit sleep. However, these are the exceptions and they are only temporary in nature. It is helpful to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day in order to follow the natural rhythm of the body. The latest scientific findings on the subject of sleep can be found in the book: Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams
9) Junk food in the house
“If it’s in your house, it’s in your mouth.” – Chef AJ. If you have foods in your house that are unhealthy and too calorie-dense – even if they are healthy – or foods that trigger you, the question is not if you will eat those foods, but when. Your nervous system is wired to seek the most calorie-dense food. You can be as disciplined as you want.
An alcoholic trying to quit alcohol will not have alcohol in the house, or a smoker trying to quit cigarettes will not have cigarettes in the house. Junk food releases a lot of dopamine in the brain and has addiction-like effects. Although not as strong as alcohol or cigarettes, but strong enough to consume it regularly.
We are made to seek out the most calorie-dense food because it kept our ancestors from starving to death. Our human progress has happened so rapidly in the last hundreds of years that our primordial brain cannot keep up with it. Our primordial brain can, in fact, only deal moderately with natural foods that were created for it, and not with pizza and chocolate.
The solution: don’t have anything in the house that triggers you. Also not for just in case situations. If you have family members/roommates who eat unhealthy things, I recommend, that these foods are stored in a locker with a key or have an own refrigerator stuffed with a bunch of healthy foods.
10) Too much salt
Salt by itself is calorie-free. But even a small amount is enough to catapult a food to another level in terms of taste. ½–1 tsp of salt is fine for healthy people, according to Dr. McDougall. For some people, it’s not a problem at all and they still lose weight. For others, whose nervous systems are particularly sensitive, tiny amounts are enough to make them overeat.
Salt makes food taste better, with the result that people unconsciously eat a little more than they would eat without it. The amounts are vanishingly small, so you don’t notice it right away, but over a longer period, it can make a difference.
For humans, sodium is vital, not salt, which is often confused. Sodium is naturally present in plant foods. In large quantity sodium is found in salt, that’s why overdose happens quickly.
Cook the food without salt. Use the salt shaker only at the table. The trick here is that the salt directly touches our tongue and thus the salt taste is intensified at that moment. During the cooking process, it mixes with the food and thus loses its saltiness.
Of all ready-made foods, who would have thought it, bread has the highest sodium content on average.
If you want to lose weight, a deficit is always necessary, but the goal is to keep the deficit tiny (50-100 calories) so that you don’t notice it. And this works completely without counting calories if the person eats what is intended for him. That is whole, unprocessed foods. When you eat according to this principle, a natural deficit occurs. This is how you reach your genetic ideal weight.
It takes 30–90 days to get used to a natural diet that is free of stimulants like oil, salt, and sugar. In the beginning, giving up oil is the hardest, followed by salt. The taste buds become more sensitized when sugar, salt, and oil are omitted. Natural food gradually tastes more intense.
The myth of setpoint theory in losing weight
In general, most weight loss related issues are due to a not optimal calorie density for your type of genetics.
If you still follow all the points and eat according to the calorie density principle, and do not continue to lose weight, you may have reached an equilibrium. That is, at this weight your body has reached its ideal weight. This may be a few pounds more than you would like.
This is then not a setpoint, but an equilibrium. You can avoid this equilibrium, but at a high price. And that is a lifelong restriction! You go against your genetic ideal weight. Don’t forget that the perfect bodies shown on social media are only a fraction of the population, and they are even edited for the most part.
Sometimes it’s one or two little changes that you are not aware of in that particular moment to make your weight loss move forward.
If you need help with weight loss, binge eating, or healthy eating in general, feel free to schedule a consultation with me.