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Have you tried every diet under the sun but still can’t lose weight? Are you growing increasingly frustrated and hopeless.

Low-calorie diets have long been popular, but the rising obesity epidemic shows they clearly don’t work at keeping the weight off.

If you are sticking to your diet but still not able to lose weight, you may have an unidentified health issue slowing down your metabolism and blocking your ability to burn fat.

Low-calorie dieting can slow your metabolism for years

Humans have vacillated between feast or famine for most of history, with more bouts of famine us modern folk will never know. The human body is designed to get us through  times of famine by slowing down metabolism and increasing hormones that promote fat storage.

A low-calorie diet is, as far as the body is concerned, a famine. When you embark on a low-calorie diet it sets in motion the same mechanisms to save you from starving. The result is that each low-calorie diet can actually make you fatter when you resume eating an appropriate amount of calories.

Sadly this metabolic slow-down from dieting can last for years. This was recently evidenced by a follow-up study of participants in the The Biggest Loser reality TV show. Six years after the show, their metabolic set point was lower than when they started. The former contestants now burn 500 to 800 fewer calories per day, which means they have to under eat simply not to gain weight. Most of them returned to their pre-show weight and have to stick to a low-calorie diet to avoid becoming progressively fatter.

Dieting skews key hunger hormones

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you overeat or eat too much sugar, your hormones may be skewed to make you chronically hungry and hinder fat burning. This is caused by leptin resistance.

Leptin is a hormone that controls feeling satisfied after eating and whether you burn or store fat. Eating a lot of starches and sugars and overeating lead to leptin resistance. As a result,  you’re constantly hungry and you store fat too easily.

Eating fewer processed carbohydrates and exercising regularly will help sensitize your cells to leptin so that fat burning abilities return and you’re not hungry all the time.

Other health issues that can prevent weight loss

For most people, especially women, weight loss is not as simple as “calories in, calories out.” Inflammation, thyroid problems (such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism) and other health factors can make it difficult to lose weight.

Many people see their unwanted pounds drop away on an anti-inflammatory diet that removes common inflammatory foods, such as gluten, dairy, and grains. These diets are commonly used to manage pain, digestive problems, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, high blood pressure, depression  anxiety, and other health issues.

They work because excess weight is often a symptom of  health imbalances, such as systemic inflammation, leptin resistance, hormonal imbalances, stress, leaky gut, blood sugar imbalances, food intolerances, and hypothyroidism. By addressing these underlying factors, weight loss sometimes magically happens.

The autoimmune diet and weight loss

The autoimmune diet helps people with chronic illnesses.

Although it’s effective for managing autoimmunity and dropping unwanted pounds, It should not be used as a weight loss diet. Be careful not to under eat on this diet as that will trigger the famine response that prevents fat burning.

When you’re managing a chronic illness like Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, it’s important to meet your nutritional needs, eat healthy fats (so your body knows it’s not starving), and sufficent protein to stabilize blood sugar stable. This will help increase your metabolic rate and drop extra weight without going hungry.

Functional medicine has effective ways in working with underlying health issues that hinder weight loss. Ask my office for more advice.

About Dr. Josh Redd, Chiropractic Physician — Utah, Arizona, New Mexico functional medicine

Dr. Joshua J. Redd, DC, MS, DABFM, DAAIM, author of The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid Disease, is a chiropractic physician and the founder of RedRiver Health and Wellness Center with practices in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. He sees patients from around the world who suffer from challenging thyroid disorders, Hashimoto’s disease, and other autoimmune conditions. In addition to his chiropractic degree, Dr. Redd has a BS in Health and Wellness, a BS in Anatomy, and a MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine.  He speaks across the nation, teaching physicians about functional blood chemistry, low thyroid, Hashimoto’s, and autoimmunity. You can join his Facebook page here.