Twice-monthly health columns are written by a practicing cardiologist, clinical professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine and founder of the Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity in Bingham Farms. He's an author and has appeared on national TV, including "Dr. Oz" and "The Doctors Show."
By Joel Kahn
At a seminar on healthy diets that I just hosted, the most frequent question was: "How do I get to my goal weight?"
It can be incredibly frustrating to adopt a healthful diet and still not hit your target. Many people are stuck in a rut, with clothes still too tight, and unsure where to turn.
Here are seven tips to combat weight-loss resistance when you’re on a proper diet:
1. Avoid junk food
One advantage of a prudent diet is that it can minimize or eliminate processed foods. However, many dieters eat frozen veggie pizzas, burritos, mac n’ cheese and plant-based ice cream. Many of these foods are calorie-dense, high-carb, and can lead to overeating.
The focus for health and weight management should be a diet with single-ingredient fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes made into appealing and tasty combinations. Eliminating added salt, oil and sugar might be the answer to your weight loss conundrum.
2. Test your thyroid
On occasion, weight loss stagnates due to medical issues. A low thyroid level is a possible cause. Getting tested for thyroid function by blood analysis is wise and may reveal a sluggish thyroid. Thyroid hormone replacement may restore you to your happy weight.
3. Avoid chemicals and plastics
Chemicals called endocrine disruptors (EDC) are pervasive and enter our bodies via plastic bottles, thermal-printed receipts, fast-food wrappers and even coffee cups. EDCs are associated with obesity and can be avoided by substituting glass for plastic, avoiding cash register receipts and driving past the fast food restaurants.
4. Take a close look at your sleep
Although it's most common in obese patients, both thin and overweight people may also have sleep apnea. Clues are snoring, daytime fatigue and waking suddenly during the night. A family member might even report hearing you stop breathing.
Getting tested for sleep apnea in a lab or at home and getting therapy if the studies are abnormal may reduce stress and restore weight loss.
5. Get serious about stress
Stress from relationships, caring for older parents or a job might activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and lead to weight gain. Weight loss can be stifled by elevated cortisol levels. Managing stress through therapy, yoga, meditation and exercise can lower cortisol levels and restore weight loss.
6. Experiment with fasting
Even on a smart diet, you can overeat. Although lentils, for example, are much less calorically dense than fried chicken, eating them and other plant foods to excess may bring weight gain.
Fasting can break through this barrier and offer a plan to restore optimal weight. By eating less and using fasting, you increase the odds of hitting an optimal weight.
7. Move your body regularly
You can’t out-exercise a bad diet, but moving from a sedentary life to an active one -- including sessions in the gym -- can facilitate weight loss. Studies show significant weight loss with regular exercise. The trio of a plant-bsed diet, fasting, and exercise can restore optimal weight in just a few months.
The frustration of adopting a sensible diet, yet not hitting a healthy weight goal is more common than appreciated. I suspect that excess junk food choices and overall excess calories are the major causes of the problem.
The solution for many is to eat smaller portions, incorporate a fasting and fasting-mimicking diets, and sleep seven to eight hours as part of stress reduction.