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Weight loss hard: Why Is It So Hard to Lose Weight? | University of Utah Health

Why Is It So Hard to Lose Weight? | University of Utah Health

Why Is It So Hard to Lose Weight?

For most overweight people, their body tries to prevent permanent weight loss. This means your body is actually working against you to lose weight.

That’s because how much you weigh is controlled by complex interactions between hormones and neurons in your hypothalamus. Your hypothalamus is the part of your brain that controls thirst, hunger, and body temperature. These hormones and neurons influence your appetite and how much food you eat.

Leptin & Weight Loss

Many overweight people have built up resistance to a hormone called leptin. Fat cells in your body make leptin, and leptin tells your body when you have enough stores of fat, decreasing your appetite.

What If I Want to Lose Weight On My Own?

Some people can lose weight easily on their own through simple diet and exercise. But many popular weight loss techniques don’t work. Cleanses, fad diets, and crash diets don’t help most people lose weight in the long-term.

In fact, most people will regain about 30—35 percent of the weight they’ve lost after one year.

If you’ve tried unsuccessfully to lose weight, or if you’ve lost weight but gained it back, you may benefit from a comprehensive weight management program. Our program takes a holistic approach to weight loss by looking at:

  • what you eat,
  • how much you exercise,
  • how you manage stress, and
  • how your medical history affects your weight loss.

Find a Weight Management Specialist

Resources for Our Patients

What to Expect During Your Appointment

During your first appointment, your weight loss doctor will talk with you about your goals and help you find the best treatment so you can keep weight off in the long-term.

Why Is It So Hard to Lose Weight?

How much you weigh is controlled by complex interactions between hormones and neurons in your hypothalamus. For most overweight people, their body tries to prevent permanent weight loss. This means your body is actually working against you to lose weight.

Meet the Team

Our bariatric surgery team is here to help you successfully lose weight and support you in your weight loss journey. We can provide all the care you need, from surgeons and physician assistants to dietitians and even financial advocates.

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Why Weight Loss Is Tied To Biology : NPR

If you choose to try to lose weight, make changes that you can live with for the long haul.

Shannon Wright for NPR

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Shannon Wright for NPR

If you choose to try to lose weight, make changes that you can live with for the long haul.

Shannon Wright for NPR

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight and found the pounds won’t come off easily — or they come right back — you are not alone.

The fact is that when we shed pounds, we trigger mechanisms that make it hard to keep the weight off. Some factors are within our control, but many are not. Understanding how this works might make you look more kindly on your body.

We won’t tell you how to lose weight — or whether you even need to. But we will give you five realities about biology.

1. Metabolism slows when you lose weight.

Your metabolism is the process through which your body converts the food you eat into energy. Metabolism varies from person to person. Scientists don’t know everything about why that is. But they do know that part of that variation has to do with the composition of fat versus muscle in your body. It also varies by gender — men have faster metabolisms because they have more muscle on their bodies — and it slows as we age.

But for everyone, metabolic energy burn occurs in three main ways:

  • Resting metabolism — the energy used to keep your organs working and, basically, stay alive. This accounts for anywhere from 50% to 70% of the total calories you burn.
  • Thermic effect of food — the energy used to digest what you eat and turn it into energy, about 10% of the calories you burn.
  • Physical activity, which makes up about 30% of your calorie burn. Purposeful exercise (like hitting the gym) is usually a very small portion of this energy expenditure. Mostly, we’re talking about the energy used to move around.

When you lose weight, your metabolism slows, in part through simple physics.

“Calorie burn is in some sense proportional to your body weight,” says Kevin Hall, senior scientist at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. “So the heavier you are, the more calories it costs to move around and the more calories it costs to kind of basically maintain that body at rest.

2. If you choose to try to lose weight, make changes that you can live with for the long haul.

In other words, make changes that you actually like, because you’ll need to stick with them to keep the weight off. That’s because losing weight triggers biological mechanisms that make it harder to keep the weight off — including a slower metabolism.

Hall says metabolism seems to act like a spring: The more effort you put into losing weight, the more you can stretch that spring out — that is, lose weight. But if you let up the tension on the spring — by stopping whatever eating and exercise routine helped you lose weight — your metabolism will spring back and you’ll regain the weight you lost.

“Your body does persistently fight back and try to make you regain the weight that you’ve lost,” Hall says.

This means that whatever changes you make to your diet or physical activity have to be kept up permanently to avoid weight regain.

3. Hormones in your brain conspire to make you hungrier when you lose weight.

Here’s another diabolical change that happens when you lose weight: Your hormones change in ways that alter your appetite. While a lot of different hormones are involved in hunger, one of them is leptin, which is released by fat cells and basically tells your brain when to eat and when to stop eating. As you lose weight, your leptin levels drop, and when that happens, “it’s like a starvation signal,” Hall says. A lot of times, he says, people “seem to want to eat even more than they were eating before to kind of rapidly recover that weight loss.”

So give yourself a break: You’re not a glutton, and your hunger is not a moral failing. It’s just hormones.

4. To lose weight, what you eat is more important than how much you exercise.

For most folks, exercise is a minor player in weight loss. The fact is that it’s a lot easier to cut out 600 calories by skipping a Starbucks muffin than it is to burn it by running for an hour or more.

What’s more, people tend to use exercise as an excuse to let themselves eat more. When that happens, they tend to eat more calories as a “reward” than they burned off at the gym. Or they might compensate by crashing out on the sofa and moving less the rest of their day.

But that shouldn’t be a reason not to exercise, Hall says. Just don’t do it so you can “earn” a piece of chocolate cake. There are many documented benefits to exercise that have nothing to do with weight loss, including better mood, better sleep, reduced anxiety and better blood sugar levels.

What’s more, some evidence suggests that if you do a great deal of physical activity, your resting metabolism might slow to compensate — though this is still a theory. As Hall explains in our conversation for the Life Kit podcast (audio link at the top left of this page), the evidence for this theory comes from a hunter-gather tribe in Tanzania called the Hadza.

5. On the other hand, exercise seems to play a big role in maintaining a lower weight.

A lot of what we know about how people maintain weight loss over the long haul comes from the National Weight Control Registry, a database of people across the U.S. who have lost at least 30 pounds and have kept it off for at least a year.

The No. 1 thing these people have in common: They report exercising every day for about an hour on average.

But that doesn’t have to mean grueling workouts. The most popular form of exercise among this group is walking, says Dr. Holly Wyatt, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, who studies people on the registry. She says these long-term weight-loss maintainers also do a lot of resistance training and other activities. “So it’s not specifically one activity that’s associated with success,” Wyatt says. “I think, more than anything, it’s the volume of activity.”

One reason exercise seems to be a key to weight-loss maintenance is that it helps counteract some of those biological mechanisms that kick in when you lose weight — decreased metabolism and increased hunger. The difference between how much you want to eat and how many calories you are burning creates an energy gap, Wyatt explains.

“You’ve got to fill that energy gap either by doing a lot more exercise or by eating a little bit less, forever,” she says.

Many people assume that to keep weight off long term, they have to eat less forever. Even those on the National Weight Control Registry seem to think so — they report eating an average of about 1,400 calories a day. But a recent study shows that this isn’t necessarily true.

That study, published in the journal Obesity, looked at people who had lost an average of 58 pounds and had kept it off for an average of nine years. The researchers took sophisticated measurements of their metabolisms and found they were burning about 2,500 calories a day. But since their weights were stable, that meant they were also eating 2,500 calories a day — about as much as they used to consume when they were heavier.

The reason they could eat this way and not gain back the weight — despite now having slower resting metabolisms? They were now exercising way more than when they were heavier. Now they were doing the equivalent of about 40 minutes a day of moderate-to-vigorous exercise, according to Dr. Victoria Catenacci, the study’s senior author, and lead author Danielle Ostendorf, both with the University of Colorado. That included short bouts of exercise, like 10-minute walks, as well as longer sessions.

So what to do with all this knowledge?

Knowing how this biology works might make you decide the stress of weight loss isn’t worth it, given all the hurdles. And we don’t know everything about why some people manage to keep weight off when so many other people don’t.

Or you might decide to try to lose weight anyway. If you do, consider rethinking your end goal. Instead of trying to look like a magazine cover model, perhaps focus on changes that make you feel healthier.

“Those types of changes that you make then become rewards in their own,” Hall says.

Listen to more from Life Kit on Apple Podcasts.

This episode was produced by Sylvie Douglis.

We’d love to hear from you. Leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823, or email us at [email protected].

For more Life Kit, subscribe to our newsletter.

Sudden weight loss. What you need to know

Losing weight without changing anything or making any effort is the dream of many. But if such a “miracle” really happens, you should ask yourself the question: is everything in order with health? Should I visit a doctor? Here are some unpleasant causes of abnormal weight loss that you should know about

Weight is one of the important indicators of health. The lack of body weight, as well as its excess, scientists associate with an increased risk of death. But sudden drastic fluctuations in weight, even within your normal range, can be a warning sign.

Let’s say your normal weight is 72 kg. You noticed that in six months you lost 4 kg – more than five percent. This is already a significant indicator. If such a change occurred without any effort on your part (you consumed about the same amount of calories and maintained the same level of activity), this may be reason enough to see a doctor just in case.

And if there are other symptoms – weakness (which may indicate a loss of muscle mass), dry skin, brittle hair and nails (a sign of loss of vitamins and minerals), mood changes, bowel problems or strange signals from the heart – then It’s even better to book an appointment with a therapist.

Most often, unhealthy weight loss signals a malfunction in metabolism. But the reasons for this failure can be different.

Approximately 40% of cancer patients notice dramatic weight loss at the time of diagnosis. A 2018 study showed that this symptom is in second place among the early signs of cancer. It is observed in leukemia and lymphoma, cancer of the lung (especially adenocarcinoma), colon, ovary and pancreas.

One of the reasons is the tumor itself, whose cells change metabolism, weakening its ability to absorb protein and get energy. As a result, muscles wither and adipose tissue thins, which leads to a sharp weight loss. Another reason is the immune response. To fight a tumor, the immune system produces substances called cytokines. With their help, the body mobilizes resources to slow down the growth of malignant cells. This can lead to loss of weight and muscle mass and a decrease in appetite.

The fact that weight loss is associated with the development of cancer may be indicated by other symptoms – chronic fatigue, nausea, aversion to food, constantly elevated temperature. In addition, different types of cancer have their own signs: swollen lymph nodes, reddish spots on the skin, bleeding, changes in bowel function, frequent coughing.

The thyroid gland controls metabolism with the help of hormones. If more of them are produced, the cells consume oxygen more actively, breathing and heart rate increase. The processes in the body begin to work as if in a sprint mode. As a result, more nutrients are wasted, which can affect weight. Other signs that indicate thyroid dysfunction are weakness, unreasonable anxiety, excitability or irritability, sleep problems, hot flashes.

Most often, increased activity of the thyroid gland occurs with Graves’ disease (in about 50% of cases) and various tumors that affect the organ. But there may be other reasons as well. So, in about 7% of women in the first year after the birth of a child, postpartum thyroiditis develops, and one of the symptoms of its initial phase is just a sharp weight loss. Too “hard” work of the thyroid gland can also be provoked by a diet with a lot of iodine – for example, seaweed.

In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. It is a hormone that the body uses to metabolize sugar (glucose) from food. In order to eliminate the glucose that could not be utilized, the body increases the excretion of urine – as a result, the body loses fluid and nutrients.

Another reason is related to the starvation of the body. Due to the fact that glucose does not enter the tissues, fat and muscle tissues are used as an energy source. As a result of active fat burning, body weight decreases sharply – up to 10-15 kg per month. In addition to weight loss, a person may experience weakness, dizziness, severe hunger. He begins to go to the toilet more often, the smell of acetone from his mouth appears.

It is often thought that type 1 diabetes develops in childhood and that its causes are hereditary. But it is not always the case. In about 20% of cases, this variant of diabetes develops in adulthood. And most of these cases are not genetic.

In the intestines, nutrients are absorbed into the blood, which then enter the cells. Microscopic villi that are dotted with the mucous membrane are responsible for this process. If for some reason the mucous membrane becomes thinner or dies, the body receives less nutrition. The conveyor of food, which passes through the intestinal tract, is no one to “unload”.

A common cause of mucosal damage is various forms of food intolerance, such as celiac disease (intolerance to the gluten protein found in cereals). When gluten is ingested by a person with celiac disease, their immune system mistakenly attacks the small intestine. Similar problems can arise with chronic gastritis, enteritis, colitis.

If weight loss is due to malabsorption of nutrients, then symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, feeling of heaviness, diarrhea or constipation are observed. It is worth paying attention to the signs of a lack of vitamins and minerals – this is anemia, dry skin, brittle nails, bleeding gums.

Significant weight loss is typical of severe heart failure. According to a 2014 study, people with this disease are 3 times more likely to have a heart attack if doctors report sudden weight loss.

Why does this condition cause people to lose weight? There is no single answer. According to one version, since it is difficult for the heart to pump blood and supply oxygen to the tissues, the body spends more energy breathing to get it. Low blood flow in the gastrointestinal tract can make it difficult to absorb nutrients. Another explanation is high levels of inflammatory cytokines, which increase the metabolic rate in tissues.

It should be added that weight loss may not always be noticeable due to the swelling that accompanies this condition.

In conditions such as depression, anxiety disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder, a person may not realize for a long time that something has changed in their life. Especially if he is immersed in work or not inclined to listen to himself. And then you should pay attention to weight fluctuations.

Clinical depression alters the biochemistry of the brain – in particular, it affects those parts of it that control appetite and the pleasure of eating. In people with depression, the perception of taste and smell is disturbed. Any food seems fresh. In addition, neurosis and depression are often accompanied by an exacerbation of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, such as gastritis.

Medicines used to treat certain conditions can speed up the metabolism, resulting in more calories burned or less hunger. These include: stimulants, chemotherapy drugs, antidepressants, drugs for type II diabetes. Talk to your doctor if you lose your appetite or start to lose weight after you start taking the medicine.

Falkov instructed to analyze the work of dissertation councils

The Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation noted that in 2021, not a single defense of Ph. ready to clap your hands with joy. Especially if she made no effort to lose weight. But just the last factor should alert. Sharp weight loss in women for no reason can be a consequence of the development of the disease. Let’s list the ailments that sometimes lead to an unexpected parting with weight.



weight loss


Women Health

Diseases of the internal organs

Getty Images

Minor weight gains are considered normal. We may overeat on the weekend or drink too much liquid in the heat. Or earn money and forget about food altogether. The change will be noticeable on the scales. But when, for no apparent reason, there is a sudden sharp weight loss, you should make sure that everything is in order with your health. Losses of 5% of weight in six months or less indicate some kind of malfunction in the body.

Do not self-medicate! In our articles, we collect the latest scientific data and the opinions of authoritative health experts. But remember: only a doctor can diagnose and prescribe treatment.

⚡️⚡️⚡️ TO STAY CONNECTED NO matter what, LOOK FOR US IN Yandex.Zen, VK, Telegram, Odnoklassniki.

We are talking about a situation where you consumed approximately the same amount of calories as before losing weight and were in the same degree of physical activity. Pay attention to whether weakness, dry skin, brittle nails and hair, mood swings, disturbances in the digestive system have been added to the reduced volumes. If yes, then this is definitely an occasion to talk with the doctor about the reasons for the sharp weight loss, weakness and other body signals.

1. Hyperthyroidism

An overactive thyroid gland starts producing more hormones than it needs. This causes a sharp weight loss of men and women, and children have bulging eyes and an increase in the size of the tongue. Weight loss is caused by the accelerated breakdown of nutrients and proteins that do not have time to fully absorb. In addition to this fact, there are problems with sleep and violation of thermoregulation – you are almost always hot. Patients have a rapid heartbeat, hair often falls out. The person becomes nervous, excitable, restless, trembling appears in the hands. It is better in this situation not to delay going to the endocrinologist.


2. Celiac disease

This is an autoimmune disease with a hereditary predisposition associated with the fact that the body cannot digest gluten. As a rule, we are talking about food containing wheat, rye, barley, oats. Gluten simply irritates the walls of the small intestine and leads to unpleasant symptoms. For this reason, a sharp weight loss can be observed both in women after 60 and in young children. Celiac disease opens at any age and is accompanied by various ailments.

In particular chronic nausea, weakness and diarrhoea. At first, the disease is difficult to distinguish from ordinary poisoning. But if the symptoms persist, visit a gastroenterologist and share your suspicions.

3. Depression

If a woman’s mood changes for no apparent reason and she loses weight drastically, she may be clinically depressed. One of its side effects is loss of appetite. It is also often accompanied by inability to make decisions and sleep problems. Being in a depressed state, a person is completely immersed in his own world, disconnecting from the outside. He no longer cares about food and other familiar pleasures.

A trigger could have been triggered for such a situation, uncontrolled use of psychotropic drugs, and so on. But no matter what the causes of depression and subsequent dramatic weight loss are, a psychotherapist should understand them. As a rule, many cases are effectively treated with the help of drug therapy, coupled with consultations with a specialist.

4. Pancreatitis

When the functions of the digestive system are disturbed in a person, this can cause dramatic weight loss. In the future, there may even be difficulties with weight gain. The fact is that the pancreas has two important properties. It provides the intestinal environment with beneficial enzymes and produces insulin and glucagon in the blood. If enzymes do not enter the intestine in time, they begin to accumulate in the gland, and this leads to inflammation. Enzymes simply begin to digest themselves.

The causes of dramatic weight loss in women after 40 and after 50 years of age – of any age – are loss of appetite, constant nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or, conversely, prolonged constipation. Also, symptoms of the disease are stomach pain and problems with the processing of fatty foods. It is very important to visit a gastroenterologist who will prescribe the correct course of treatment.

5. Diabetes

We are accustomed to thinking that the disease most often occurs due to obesity. But with the progression of the pathology, diabetes can cause dramatic weight loss – up to 10 kg in 2 weeks. Meanwhile, the norm for getting rid of excess fat without harm to the body is up to 5 kg per month. Such rapid weight loss can cause various complications, from kidney dysfunction to gastritis.

The body cannot digest glucose and obtain energy from it. He passes it out with urine, which makes you constantly thirsty and running to the toilet. The internal system can begin to use fat and muscle for full functioning. As a result, this will lead to a sharp weight loss in children, adolescents and adults, and developing diabetes mellitus will become the cause of this condition. So these two symptoms – unquenchable thirst and polyuria – need to be paid attention first of all.

See an endocrinologist and a nutritionist, get your blood glucose tested. The development of type 2 diabetes is easier to prevent than to try to defeat its consequences. And type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that stays with a person forever. There is an opinion that the causes of the development of type 1 diabetes and dramatic weight loss in girls and boys are hereditary. But it is not always the case. In 20% of cases, it appears already in adulthood and does not have a genetic nature.

6. Rheumatoid arthritis

Forums often discuss the causes of sudden weight loss due to swelling in the joints, including the fingers. It is also accompanied by pain in the limbs. In this case, we are talking about rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It is a systemic connective tissue disease that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues. There is also a symmetrical lesion of the small joints of the feet. Pain intensifies with movement, and then at rest, morning stiffness appears, the joints do not cope with their role.

Inflammatory disease of the connective tissue disrupts the functioning of many organs, including the gastrointestinal tract.