If you’ve tried everything to lose weight by counting calories, joining a gym, or even fasting for days with no success, then you may be the victim of secret weight-loss saboteurs. These stealthy roadblocks are more common than you think and may be hampering your best intentions.
For folks over 50, part of the problem may be a slower metabolism or shifting hormones, but there are other culprits that can be causing your weighty stalemate.
Maybe it’s your meds. Almost half the American population took at least one prescription medicine in the past month and a side effect of many of these medicines is significant weight gain.
“Anti-depressants are well known in the medical literature to cause weight gain,” Dr. Aaron Tabor, a noted weight loss expert and founder of Health Directions tells Newsmax Health. “It may also be a combination of the anti-depressants decreasing metabolism and physical activity, both leading to weight gain.”
Antihistamines are another popular class of drugs that targets a receptor that’s involved with both allergies and appetite. So suppressing that receptor’s activity can make you hungrier. Beta Blockers, diabetes medication, corticosteroids, and antipsychotic drugs can also cause weight gain.
“Don’t quit your medications before you talk to your doctor and ask for possible options,” says Tabor.
Lack of sleep. It isn’t a coincidence that, according to the centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of Americans get less than six hours shut-eye a night and about the same percentage are obese.
In a recent study of older adults, getting only five hours of sleep instead of the recommended seven to eight tripled obesity risks in men and doubled them in women.
“The more sleep deprived you are, the more you increase the hormone cortisol which increases your appetite,” says Tabor. Establish a healthy sleep routine and aim for seven to eight hours nightly. Set a schedule in which you go to bed and get up at the same time every day—including weekends. This helps regulate the sleep-wake cycles and other body rhythms, including your appetite.
It could be your gut. Bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract can be helpful to break down food, absorb nutrients, regulate insulin sensitivity and produce fuel for cells. But new research reveals that gut bacteria may also play a role in regulating your weight.
In one study, germ-free mice got fatter when they received bacteria from obese mice but when the identical mice eating the same diet had their gut populated by bugs from lean mice, they stayed lean themselves.
Avoid taking antibiotics unless absolutely necessary and eat foods that that nurture healthy microbes like yogurt and fiber rich foods like broccoli and whole grains. Try for a variety of foods, says Tabor, to ensure you are getting a wider selection of healthy bacteria.
Feel the heat. Keeping your house too comfy cozy may sabotage your weight loss. When temperatures dip, the white fat in our cells turns to brown fat which burns more calories, say researchers at the University of Kentucky, Lexington.
By lowering your thermostat, you can boost your body’s fat-burning metabolic activity. Experts recommend setting the temp to 68 degrees for maximum effect.
Viruses can be the villain. A certain strain of cold virus called the adenovirus 36 could be making you fat. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison discovered that 30 percent of obese people have been infected by this virus, but only 11 percent of thin people have it.
Dr. Richard Atkinson, emeritus professor at the university speculates that catching the virus can boost weight gain by 12-15 percent. It appears to flood cells with glucose while turning on an enzyme that converts sugar to fat.
Avoid catching the virus the same way you protect yourself against any other virus by washing your hands frequently, avoiding g touching your nose or face when coming into contact with a sick person, boosting your immune system and getting enough rest.
Distracted eating. Just like distracted driving can be a killer, distracted eating can destroy your weight loss goals. Laura Cipullo, a well-known nutrition expert and author of “Everyday Diabetes, Meals for 1 or 2,” tells Newsmax Health that eating meals while working on mobile devices or watching television can sabotage your diet by inhibiting your ability to truly taste and enjoy our meal.
“This can easily lead to overeating and weight gain,” she says. “Eating in a mindful manner will allow you to consume the appropriate amount of calories and obtain the proper nutrients your need.”
Junk food. “We have a lot of research linking junk food to weight gain,” Dr. Cate Shanahan, author of “Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food,” tells Newsmax Health.
“A major factor in the obesity epidemic is that we’ve found certain foods, such as highly processed foods, make us lose our desire to move. The proper term is Non Exercise Physical Activity or NEPA.”
Shanahan says that highly processed oils such as soy, corn and canola which were not part of the human food chain until the industrial era now constitute 25-45 % of the average Americans’ daily calories.
“It’s not clear as to why these processed foods lead to this effect, but one thing we do know is that they interact directly with a part of the brain responsible for motivation, called the mesolimbic pathway. That means the processed ingredients in junk foods may be reducing our desire to do anything from washing floors to finishing our homework to packing our gym bag.”
Eating wholesome foods can trigger the mesolimbic reward circuit and get us moving once again.”
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