Health Article: The 4 Obstacles to Weight Loss

The Four Obstacles to Weight Loss

In this article:

Underlying Medical Conditions that Sabatoge Weight Loss Efforts

This is the second of two articles addressing weight loss. We highly recommend that you read the first of these two article before proceeding with this one: The Key to Weight Loss Is -

For some people, there may be an underlying medical condition that prevents them from losing weight. The symptoms, associated with the following conditions may be so subtle that they are easily missed by your healthcare provider. All of these culprits wreak havoc with your metabolism, which can prevent you from losing weight!

The FOUR (4) most common are:

  1. A sluggish thyroid,
  2. Insulin “The Hunger Hormone” Resistance
  3. Food intolerances, and
  4. STRESS!

Sluggish thyroid (aka: Hypothyroidism)
Hypothyroidism is the medical term used for an underactive thyroid. Your thyroid gland makes hormones that regulate the way your body uses energy (i.e., metabolism). An underactive thyroid slows down your metabolism.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:  cold hands and feet, depression, dry skin, hair loss, fatigue and weight gain.

Conventional Testing
To determine if you have hypothyroidism, ask your doctor to run a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) screening. The accepted range is between .45 and 4.5; however, if your level is above a 2, considered in the normal range, you may still struggle to lose weight. Therefore, it’s important to ASK your doctor what your levels are, as most will state you are “normal” even if your results read 4.4. Note that the higher your TSH level, the slower your thyroid.

At-Home Testing
Testing from home, for an underactive thyroid is easy, and as some research has indicated, provides more accurate results than traditional thyroid blood tests. Test method and comments below obtained at AltMedAngel: Alternative Medicine Angel 

  1. Place an oral thermometer by your bed. Make sure to shake it down to at least 96 degrees.
  2. When you wake up the next morning, immediately place the thermometer in your armpit and leave it there for 10 minutes before getting out of bed. Just relax and remain still during the test.
  3. Record the temperature.
  4. Report the results to your healthcare provider.

“Men and premenstrual and premenopausal women can do the test any time. Women in their menstrual years get the most accurate readings on the second or third day after menstrual flow starts. A reading of anywhere between 97.2 and 98.2 degrees is considered normal (your morning temperature will be lower than your temperature later in the day, which is usually around 98.6 degrees). Temperatures outside that range generally indicate a thyroid imbalance.”

Conventional and Natural Treatment Options
Conventional treatment includes prescription medication; however, if you would like to discuss natural alternatives with your doctor, the following supplement options may be ones to consider.

Following is a listing of ingredients popularly used for hypothyroid support, as well as our top supplement product recommendation. Please note that these supplements are meant to “support” the problem of hypothyroidism, and should be used in conjunction with both a healthy diet and exercise.

Iodine – Though iodine is the number one cause of hypothyroidism worldwide, supplementing with it to support healthier thyroid function, should first be approved by your healthcare provider. Why?

Increased iodine intake can lead to autoimmune thyroid diseases, most specifically in those already dealing with other autoimmune thyroid issues as well as patients with Hashimoto’s disease. Then again, iodine supplementation in these patients may only pose a problem in those taking iodine in the presence of a selenium deficiency.  In fact, the importance of selenium supplementation in conjunction with iodine intake is important enough that in some cases, it has even been suggested that restricting intake of iodine ALONE can reverse hypothyroidism.

Studies have shown that selenium protects against the effects of iodine toxicity and prevents the flaring up of autoimmune disease that excess iodine without selenium can cause.

This is important information for anyone with hypothyroidism in the U.S., because the most common cause of hypothyroidism is not iodine deficiency, but Hashimoto’s disease (the autoimmune form of hypothyroidism).

Therefore, if you are unsure, have your doctor check for both an iodine deficiency, as well as Hashimoto’s disease, and plan an appropriate treatment plan with both iodine AND selenium.

Selenium – Also see Iodine above. Selenium is the second largest factor contributing to hypothyroidism. In the last few years, researchers have found that certain selenium-containing enzymes (lodothyronine 5' deiodinase) are responsible for the conversion of thyroid hormone T4 to T3. The thyroid produces several hormones, and must produce them in a somewhat balanced ratio. Without selenium, this balancing process is hindered. In simple terms, selenium-deficient diets are also a primary cause of hypothyroidism.

L-Tyrosine - Many healthcare professionals support the supplementation of L-tyrosine in a dosage of 500 mg twice or thrice a day, since it can be a great precursor to thyroid hormone by boosting levels in the body. However, if you are currently taking prescribed thyroid hormone medications, it’s important not to take L-tyrosine without medical supervision.

Iodine, selenium and l-tyrosine supplements may be purchased individually from oursite for more controlled dosing, or in a combination thyroid-support product which includes all three active ingredients.

Our three most popular combination products, include:

Designs for Health: Iodine Synergy 120c
Pure Encapsulations: Thyroid Support Complex - 60 Vegetable Capsules
Pure Encapsulations: Thyroid Support Complex - 120 Vegetable Capsules

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Insulin “The Fat-Storage Switch” Resistance

IN ORDER TO LOSE WEIGHT, you will need to first get your blood sugar and insulin levels under control. Here’s why –

Also known as the “master hormone” of our metabolism, insulin ensures that glucose (i.e., blood sugar, our body’s primary source of energy), finds its way into our cells.

A healthy body maintains a constant, normal level of glucose circulating throughout the body, ready to be absorbed by cells as needed. When blood glucose levels rise (for instance when a meal is being digested), our pancreas secretes insulin. Insulin stimulates our cells to increase their uptake of glucose. The more glucose our cells take in, the quicker our blood glucose levels return to normal. After this process, insulin levels decline and return to normal as well.

The more we overeat, the more glucose enters our blood, and more glucose circulating in your blood the more insulin is released. If you continually overeat, your body’s cells will begin to become desensitized to the excessive amounts of insulin. This means that your body’s cells will refuse to “open up” and receive glucose for energy. The result over time is Insulin Resistance.

So, how does insulin resistance contribute to weight gain?
It is impossible to have high levels of insulin in your system while burning fat at the same time. If you eat a meal that is high in glucose, (anything made with white flour and simple sugars) it will cause a large release of insulin. During this period of time, your body cannot use fat for fuel.

Insulin therefore, turns OFF the fat burning switch and turns ON the fat storage switch!

What's even more devastating, is that insulin resistance can cause you to lose lean muscle. Here is how it works - when insulin brings down the blood sugar levels often times it "over-corrects" by causing low blood sugar. The body normally combats low blood sugar by releasing energy from stored fat, but the high levels of insulin will not allow this to happen. The only source of energy in this circumstance is protein. Your body will break down muscle protein when faced with this dilemma. It is a no-win situation, (i.e., gaining fat while at the same time losing lean muscle).

Since muscle is of primary importance in the ability to burn fat – it is not a stretch to state that continuous overeating, will result in a significant inability to lose weight.

Symptoms of insulin resistance are:  obesity, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, kidney damage.

If you suspect you have insuling resistance, we ENCOURAGE you to consult with your healthcare provider to properly address it through diet and exercise. Both of these measures are discussed below.

Following is a listing of the most often-used supplemental ingredients for insulin resistance support, as well as our top supplement product recommendation. Please note, that these supplements are meant to support the problem of insulin resistance, and should be used in conjunction with both a healthy diet and exercise.

Cinnamon- The search for a natural way to keep blood sugar levels normal began more than a decade ago when ARS chemist Richard A. Anderson and co-workers at the Beltsville (Maryland) Human Nutrition Research Center assayed plants and spices used in folk medicine. They found that a few spices—especially cinnamon—made fat cells much more responsive to insulin.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid – Studies show that people treated with this water & fat soluble antioxidant developed an increase in insulin-stimulated glucose disposal. Results suggest that oral administration of alpha-lipoic acid can improve insulin sensitivity in patients.

Chromium - Chromium's function in our bodies is critical: without it, the hormone insulin would not work. Chromium picolinate, specifically, has been shown to reduce insulin resistance and to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Supplements containing 200-1,000 mcg chromium as chromium picolinate a day have been found to improve blood glucose control.

Vanadium - Studies have concluded that the main ingredient (i.e., vanadyl sulfate) in Thorne Research’s Vanoxyl, resulted in improvement in insulin sensitivity in people with insulin resistance.

Our #1 Selling product for Insulin Resistance is Metagenics’ MetaGlycemX. It incorporates all of the necessary support ingredients listed above. Additionally, we also offer :

Metagenics: UltraGlycemX® Medical Food (Natural Chocolate) - 22.7 Ounces
Metagenics: UltraGlycemX® Medical Food (Original) - 22.5 Ounces

Other, popular and less, expensive options include:

Metabolic Maintenance: Metabolic X 60c
Physiologics: Cinnamon 1000mg with Chromium Picolinate 60c
Thorne Research Vanoxyl 5mg 90s
Thorne Research Vanoxyl 25mg 90s

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Food Intolerances

The difference between a food allergy and food intolerances is in the symptoms. A food allergy creates an adverse reaction to certain foods (e.g. nuts, shellfish, etc.), whereas with a food intolerance (eg. wheat, dairy, etc.) you develop symptoms that the digestive system cannot adequately process.

The most common food intolerances are: corn, dairy, eggs, gluten, nuts and soy, as well as food colorings and preservatives. Symptoms include: bloating, constipation, diarrhea, gas and weight gain, and even seemingly unrelated ones such as: asthma, eczema, headaches, muscle & joint pain.

A simple-at-home way to determine food intolerances is by first eliminating both dairy and gluten from your diet for 2-3 weeks. Dairy and gluten are the biggest food tolerance culprits. If you don’t notice a difference, eliminate the other potential allergens (listed above) for an additional few weeks.  You may then reintroduce them, carefully watching for any symptoms.

If your reaction to any reintroduced food is severe, you will need to eliminate that food from your diet. For mild reactions you might consider introducing a probiotic into your diet, which helps to restore the good bacteria in your gut, which in turn is necessary for digestion.

More importantly, we recommend that you read our article about the importance of digestive enzymes. A deficiency in digestive enzymes can not only help to alleviate problems associated with food intolerances, they can take weight loss to the next level by helping to burn unwanted fat. Our comprehensive article on the importance of digestive enzymes can be found HERE.

Our top-selling, most potent digestive enzyme supplement is:

ITI: Similase® - (Tyler) 180s
ITI: Similase® - (Tyler) 90s

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Stress activates cortisol secretion.

Cortisol is the “stress” hormone, and while it's an important and helpful part of the body’s response to stress, it’s important that the body’s relaxation response (i.e., the counterpart to the fight or flight response) is activated immediately aftewards so that the body’s functions can return to normal.

Unfortunately, in our current high-stress culture, the body’s stress response is activated so often that the body doesn’t always have a chance to return to normal, resulting in a state of chronic stress.

Cortisol has the effect of increasing the amount of glucose in the blood and creating more energy. As previously mentioned, in the Insulin Resistance section above, increased glucose requires higher levels of the hormone insulin. Remember however, that insulin turns off the “fat burning” switch. It is impossible to have high levels of insulin in your system while burning fat at the same time.

Too much stress EQUALS frequently high levels of cortisol. Too much cortisol slows down your metabolism, causing more weight gain than you would normally experience.

Stress and weight gain also encourage: emotional eating. Additionally, stress, which is often caused by constant demands on our time, encourages the purchase of highly processed “quick foods” such as those that can easily be purchased at fast-food drive ups. Furthermore, people with demanding schedules are less likely to find the time to exercise on a regular basis.

The following link to the Mayo Clinic website lists many ways that you can manage daily and long term stress. Go to Mayo Clinic Article.

Following we offer a listing of the most often-purchased supplemental ingredients for stress support, as well as our top supplement product recommendation. Please note, that these supplements are meant to support the problem of stress, and should be used in conjunction with both a healthy diet and exercise.

DHEA - DHEA is the most abundant hormone in your bloodstream. DHEA seems to balance the effects of cortisol "the stress hormone" by improving the body's ability to cope with stress. It also provides the source material for the production of many other hormones including sex hormones. Clinical studies suggest that DHEA can boost energy levels, strengthen immune function, improve memory, and reduce body fat.

GABA - Promotes relaxation and helps to balance the sleep/wake cycle, by reducing the symptoms of stress and calming the central nervous system.

L-Tyrosine - The amino acid tyrosine is a precursor of important neurotransmitters, including l-dopa, dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters are responsible for supporting emotional well-being and mental function. l-Tyrosine plays a role in promoting healthy neurotransmitter function in response to environmental and emotional stress.

Magnesium - Often referred to as the anti-stress hormone, magnesium is perhaps the most important of all the minerals - yet the one we are most deficient in. When magnesium deficiency exists, stress paradoxically increases the risk of cardiovascular damage including hypertension, coronary constriction, arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. Magnesium also works with enzymes to carry out metabolic functions, including protein synthesis, energy production, and neuromuscular function.

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Anderson, R USDA-ARS Nutrient Requirements and Functions Laboratory News & Events Cinnamon Extracts Boost Insulin Sensitivity website:

Jacob S, Ruus P, Hermann R, Tritschler HJ, Maerker E, Renn W, Augustin HJ, Dietze GJ, Rett K. Oral administration of RAC-alpha-lipoic acid modulates insulin sensitivity in patients with type-2 diabetes mellitus: a placebo-controlled pilot trial. NCBI website:

[No authors listed] A scientific review: the role of chromium in insulin resistance. NCBI Website:

Kresser, C L.Ac Medicine for the 21st Century Iodine for Hypothyroidism: like gasoline on a fire? Website:

Mayo Clinic Staff Metabolism and weight loss: How you burn calories Find out how metabolism affects weight, the truth behind slow metabolism and how to burn more calories. Website:

Advanced Health & Life Extension Hypoadrenia & Stress Website:

Scott, E, M.S. Stress Management Cortisol and Stress: How to Stay Healthy Cortisol and Your Body Website:

Mildred S. Seelig, MD, MPH, Master ACN Department of Nutrition, Schools of Public Health and Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill In Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 13, No. 5, 429-446 (1994) Consequences of Magnesium Deficiency on the Enhancement of Stress Reactions; Preventive and Therapeutic Implications (A Review)

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