Skip to main content

Originally published Sunday, July 6, 2014 at 6:15 AM

  • Share:
  • Comments
  • Print

4 reasons why you’re not losing weight

Health columnist Dan Labriola explains some of the most-common obstacles to weight loss.

Special to The Seattle Times

Reader Comments
Hide / Show comments
@LostHighway99 : and incorrect. MORE
The fifth and most likely reason is that you're eating too much to lose weight. MORE
Exercise!!! It is physiologically impossible to gain wait if you burn more calories than you take in period. It does... MORE


On Health

If you’ve tried diets, gym memberships and even fat-burning pills, and the only thing that gets thinner is your wallet, you’re not alone. More than two-thirds of American adults and one-third of children ages 6 to 19 are overweight or obese.

Many individuals, no matter how motivated to feel better and avoid the risks that come with excess weight — including fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, menstrual abnormalities and breast cancer — can’t get the weight off despite great effort and the best products the $60 billion weight-loss industry has to offer.

You already know the basics, namely limiting calorie intake and moderate exercise. If they don’t work, it’s time to take it to the next level. Here are four common obstacles that may stand between you and the new you.

Low muscle mass

Exercise, a key part of maintaining ideal weight, requires muscle strength. Low-calorie diets can reduce muscle, leaving you thinner but underpowered. It takes resistance exercise and protein, 60 to 90 grams per day, to gain and maintain muscle.

If that doesn’t work no matter how hard you try, the problem may be protein malabsorption. Signs can include swelling, digestive upset, gas and bloating. Diet changes and targeted enzymes from your doctor frequently solve this.

Low blood sugar

Hypoglycemia, blood sugar below the normal range, can cause fatigue, frustration, depression and weakness. Mood matters! Low blood sugar can cause you to crave a carbohydrate such as a doughnut. The carbs help you feel better by increasing blood sugar for a while, but then it rebounds low again and the symptoms return. It’s like being on a roller coaster. Sweet cravings have sabotaged many a diet.

The solution may be just substituting more healthful foods, such as a piece of fruit in place of the sugar bomb. If that doesn’t work, there are diet and naturopathic approaches that help stabilize blood sugar and reduce craving. (Go to and search the column title “Food, mood and you” for more information.)


Allergies, like blood sugar, can result in game-changing symptoms including lethargy. Allergy tests may not reliably identify the offenders, but other strategies including food elimination diets can be helpful. It can take a week to notice the difference after removing an allergen from your diet or environment. Your doctor or an allergist can help.

Joint aches

When your knees, back or other joints hurt, you will be more interested in comfort food than a workout. Unfortunately, the high-fat foods you turn to for solace can contribute to your aches and pains. An anti-inflammatory diet is a great place to start. Your doctor or a nutritionist can be of great help.

Weight loss is achievable. Take advantage of support from a specialist if you need it.

Once you’ve found the strategy that works, including exercise and diet plans that you enjoy so that you stick with them, you will start feeling and looking better. And you will likely live longer.

Dan Labriola, N.D.: Labriola is director of the Northwest Natural Health Specialty Care Clinic and medical director for naturopathic services, Swedish Medical Center’s Cancer Institute; the clinic website is

Four weeks for 99 cents of unlimited digital access to The Seattle Times. Try it now!



Celebrate that amazing NFC win with a poster or tee shirt featuring The Seattle Times Jan. 19 front page. Order now!


Partner Video


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►