Sunday, 19 August 2018

The five reasons why you may struggle to lose body fat

One of the greatest frustrations we experience as coaches is watching our clients try to lose weight, or rather body fat, unsuccessfully. They might be training regularly and consistently following our advice about good quality strength programing and healthy eating, but the weight still won’t budge. It can be hard to watch.

Are you one of the kazillions of Aussies who try to lose weight relentlessly but have no luck? Or have you lost it, put it back on again, lost it once more, and now see it slowly going back on again?

Is it any wonder Australia has an unhealthy relationship with food, one of the highest obesity rates and major issues with consistency? There are often some fairly simple, but not so obvious reasons as to why weight loss can become very challenging for some. Perhaps one, or all of these, apply to you.

I wrote this one with some help from my own naturopath, Trudy Cadoo. Trudy helped me stabilize my own weight after many years of fluctuation and struggle, and I often send clients her way who are having their own troubles either losing weight or maintaining weight loss.

Here are my top five reasons.

Incorrect training style
A lot of people attempt to ‘burn off fat’ just with cardio, and don’t engage in any weights training for fear of bulking up. This works initially, as any movement will help the body start to burn calories, but the inevitable plateau will hit and suddenly the weight loss will stop. Additionally, your body is not only burning body fat but also lean muscle, which then gives you the skinny and saggy look. This is not ideal as we age, trust me. That person will give up and the weight will pile back on.

Weights training helps the body to grow lean muscle. Lean muscle supports the metabolism and helps to keep it firing. With the correct programming, the body can experience EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) for up to 30+ hours. This means your body continues to burn calories long after the exercise ends, unlike cardio alone where EPOC is far less effective. Training inefficiently is another one we see a lot of in the gym. Coming in way too many times each week and just training for the sake of ticking it off. Get yourself a well structured program, written by a Coach who is an expert at this and get your life back! Everyone has time for exercise, if it well structured and results driven.

Grab a coach and learn how to try effectively and efficiently.
This is a game changer. 

Sleep plays a MAJOR role in our body’s ability to lose body fat. This is mostly due to the effect poor quality sleep has on the various hormones in the body. When our quality of sleep is impaired, our body releases greater levels of cortisol during the day. Cortisol breaks down muscle tissue, so increased levels of cortisol from poor sleep or stress will ultimately break down lean muscle, which will ultimately affect your body’s metabolism.

Poor sleep will also affect your body’s appetite and hunger, and you may find yourself craving carbohydrates (the simple carbs in particular) more than normal, which will in turn affect your body’s insulin levels. Sleep deprivation can also decrease the body’s glucose and insulin sensitivity, putting the body at greater risk of developing diabetes.

Trudy Cadoo talks about stress and cortisol:

“I'm not sure there is any way of avoiding stress these days, it's all about the management. Lifestyle, physical and psychological stresses put constant demands on the adrenal glands. Symptoms include fatigue, hypotension, lowered resistance to stress, salt cravings, hypoglycaemia and lowered immunity. People with a high level of stress can show an altered level of cortisol and DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone – an endogenous steroid hormone). I find cortisol to be a major contributor to overall hormonal imbalance and weight gain in many women in clinic. Stress management techniques, healthy eating tips to support the nervous system and overall wellbeing, combined with core nutrients and herbals can make a world of difference to someone under stress.”

This is a biggie and I blame the fitness industry for this one. There has been so much confusion over the years about what to eat and what not to eat. Eat carbs, don’t eat carbs. Eat fruit, don’t eat fruit. Diet food, low fat, high fat, no sugar, all of the sugar. I could go on and on. I believe this confusion has led to many humans eating well periodically, then getting frustrated, and then having a blow out before starting the process all over again.

What if we just simplified this and went back to basics. Meat products, loads of vegetables and fruit, good quality fats and lots of water. Forget the processed food, just eat simple, eat colorful and learn to love food again. Understand the three macros (proteins, fats and carbohydrates) and how it’s important they work together. Don’t restrict calories. Stop dieting and don’t chase fads. If someone suggests low calorie, run for the hills because the minute you go back to eating properly, all of the weight you lost will pile straight back on again. We also fund that under eating will eventually lead to storage of body fat, rather than loss. And your body will start to rip into the lean muscle for fuel. Not the outcome you were looking for.

An important point to keep in mind is that genetic factors can play a major role in the body’s ability lose body fat, and until we fully understand our genes we may be pushing shit up hill. This is why I really believe there isn’t one diet that suits everyone. Here’s Trudy’s explanation on how your genes may be affecting you while you don’t even realise it:

Go for colour!
The tailoring of treatment to patients has always been a fundamental feature of functional and complementary medicine. Now, advances in genetic testing mean we can determine how a person's genes may influence their health as well as identify more suitable treatment protocols to help optimise overall health and wellbeing. Some people are genetically more prone to having a weight problem. Your genes influence how much total fat, saturated fat and carbohydrates you can tolerate. Your genes influence how much fat you absorb from food, how much body fat you can create, how effectively you can burn body fat, the best type of exercise for you to burn body fat, and how prone you are to rebound weight gain.
Understanding these genetic influences enables you to make the best choices around diet and exercise for successful weight loss and long-term weight loss.”

Hormones are one of the biggest factors I see affecting women. I can generally tell if a woman’s weight loss is being affected by hormones simply by looking at where they are carrying their excess body fat. This can be managed and controlled with the right help and support and can often be managed without seeking medical intervention.
Trudy says about hormones:

Oftentimes, thyroid is considered when weight is creeping on and this could certainly be the driver as the thyroid has a key role in regulating the metabolism. Other hormones may need to be considered, including insulin, leptin, cortisol as discussed under stress, and sex hormones – oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone.   

“Aside from the hormonal changes of peri menopause and menopause, women diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) may also experience weight gain. Hormonal changes in your middle years can also cause your metabolism to slow down, leading to weight gain. As well as dietary recommendations, natural herbs and nutritionals can help you keep your hormonal system in balance.”

Alcohol Consumption
Yes, I am going to talk about alcohol one more time. If you are not prepared to give up alcohol for a period of time when trying to lose weight, be prepared to also give up on your weight loss goal. The two do not complement each other. When consuming alcohol, your body is going to try and use the calories in the alcohol first. You’re then going to eat some kind of crappy food, which your body will not have the ability to metabolise. You are also pouring poison into your body, which is going to increase the appearance of fatty deposits under your skin (cellulite), specifically around your thighs, lower back and tummy.

Don’t believe me? There is enough research and evidence to support this, but here’s my suggestion. Give it up for twelve weeks and watch what happens to your fat loss. Do a solid detox during this time and give your body and organs a chance to heal. Around the six-week mark, expect people to start commenting on how fresh your skin and hair look.

Weight loss or body recomposition can be extremely frustrating for many of us, especially women. But here’s the part you probably don’t want to hear. If you need to lose weight, there is no quick fix. It takes hard work, commitment and a genuine acceptance that,
a)    it needs to happen, and
b)    you will need help and support.

Often, the hardest part of this journey is accepting that it needs to happen. Accept the truth about where you are now and acknowledge that it is time to make some changes. The road may not be easy for you, but it is absolutely worth it and you deserve to experience life in a healthy weight range, full of energy and beautiful health.

Our Twelve Week Challenge starts this weekend at Ritual HQ. If you would like to start the process of changing your body composition, with the right help and support, then reach out as we have limited spaces available. 


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