Barriers to weight loss. Why can’t you lose weight? Hayley Stockbridge – Naturopath


WeightLossSometimes it can seem like you are doing everything right but still not losing weight. There is nothing more frustrating and I do see a lot of patients who are not necessarily eating poorly and are doing adequate exercise but just not seeing good weight loss results. This usually will mean that there are some imbalances within the body that are inhibiting fat loss. These factors are something that need to be addressed before you embark on any weight loss journey to ensure you get maximum results. A thorough investigation and assessment and often blood tests are needed, and these make up a big part of my treatment approach when helping clients lose weight. Some of the most common reasons for slow weight loss that I see in my clinic include:


People suffering from chronic or systemic inflammation may find it hard to lose weight. This is because the inflammatory process diverts energy into fat cells, causing them to thrive and grow. This can make it very difficult to lose weight. The inflammation might come from an existing health complaint, such as an injury, digestion problem, arthritis, allergies etc, or it may be related to a generalized poor and acidic diet. Getting your inflammatory levels under control can enhance your weight loss capacity.


Our stress hormone, cortisol, is responsible for our fight or flight response and is responsible for that racey, wired and anxious feeling we get when busy, under increased pressure or stress. It redirects fat storage, causing it to accumulate primarily around the waist line. This is because in times of acute stress, such as being attacked by a predator, our body aims to conserve energy for later use. These days we rarely find ourselves in this type of acutely stressful situation. What we do suffer from is low grade, chronic and long term stress with consistently elevated levels of cortisol. Over time, fat cell production will increase and it is important to ensure this does not cause a barrier to your weight loss. On top of this, cortisol causes muscle breakdown. Not to mention overeating and binging on sugary foods which also happens when we are stressed! Getting your stress levels under control can go a long way to reducing your weight.


We live in a society saturated with toxins and chemicals- cleaning products, cosmetics, food additives, tap water, pollution and the list goes on! Our body stores toxins in fat cells. This means that it can be difficult to lose weight as our body does not want the toxins stored in fat to be released into the blood stream. Our bodies are smart enough to know that if we start losing fat the toxins will be released. Improving detoxification capacity through improving liver and kidney function as well as a detox program can help if this is slowing down your weight loss.


Have you had your thyroid function checked lately? Or do you have a family history of thyroid disorders? Our thyroid hormones are responsible for setting our basal metabolic rate. If our levels are low, our metabolism will be reduced and it can be very easy to put on weight. If you have a family history, or have had thyroid problems in the past, this may affect you and should be assessed. Often a subclinical hypothyroid problem is identified but not treated in the medical world as you won’t fall into the category of needing medication. This means you will not feel your best, will be fatigued and it will be harder to lose weight. Gently improving thyroid function can go a long way to addressing weight loss.


Most people have not heard of this hormone however it has a huge role to play in fat storage. Our fat cells produce the hormone leptin which regulates our metabolism and determines how much fat will be stored after future meals. However overly high levels of leptin, or ‘leptin resistance’, can cause problems with food cravings, over eating, hunger and difficulty losing weight. The overproduction of leptin can mean that your body becomes complacent to the message, and continue to store fat even though there may be plenty already! There are blood tests available to assess if leptin resistance is an issue for you as the symptoms often go undetected or put down to something else. If leptin resistance is an issue, it is easy to get under control with some changes made to the timing of your meals throughout the day and can make a big different to your ability to lose weight.

Blood sugar issues

It is a well known that blood sugar disorders such as diabetes affect weight gain. However, there are varying degrees of blood sugar irregularities, such as insulin resistance. This causes high insulin and glucose, with disordered fat metabolism. It is often found in people with high cholesterol or blood pressure, or a family history of diabetes. It may be necessary to get checked using a blood test, and can be address using dietary changes and supplementation.

Hormonal imbalance

Hormone imbalance can cause weight gain and be a barrier to weight loss. Particularly in women, an oestrogen imbalance can occur which makes it harder to lose weight and often leads to weight gain around the leg and thigh area. This is often the hardest weight to lose! Dietary techniques, nutritional and herbal medicines are a great way to gentle balance hormone levels and enhance your weight loss capacity.

Poor sleep

Poor sleeping patterns, not getting enough sleep or having broken sleep is a known risk factor for weight gain. It can increase appetite, alter blood sugar metabolism and slow down metabolic rate. Addressing and promoting healthy sleeping patterns goes a long way to improving weight loss results.

Poor compliance

Unfortunately, there is not magic pill that will cause the kilos to drop! Weight loss takes time, patience and dedication. And this means that following a healthy eating plan is essential. I do see a lot of patients who follow a generally healthy diet during the weekend, but throw it all out the window on the weekends with unhealthy choices, lots of alcohol and snacking and a few extra desserts. It is hard work losing weight, so sticking to you plan on the weekends is an essential part of weight loss.


I have many of tried and trusted strategies to address all of these barriers to weight loss and more. If you think that any of these may be an issue for you, it is important to check it out well before you embark on dietary changes and an exercise regime.

Hayley Stockbridge Naturopath SydneyContact Hayley for more information on how we go about testing each of the factors-

or call reception to make an appointment on 02 9518 0722