Ask JJ: Weight Loss Resistance

06/19/2015 11:02 am ET | Updated Jun 19, 2016
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Dear JJ: I am having a problem losing weight. I don't drink alcohol. I eat grass-fed meats and veggies. I lost 40 pounds when I took the seven items out of my diet. But I have 50 to go and I have lost nothing! What do you think is going on?

I define weight loss resistance as doing everything correctly, yet being unable to consistently lose one to three pounds of fat every week.

"Weight loss resistance happens when a metabolic imbalance in the body causes us to hold on to extra weight no matter how much we exercise or limit our calories," says Marcelle Pick. "And in order for our genes and physiology to turn around to accept a new weight, we have to solve the imbalance first and get the body out of crisis mode."

Some weight-loss resistance culprits are more obvious than others. If you're not getting seven to nine hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep every night or controlling stress levels, you'll stymie your best efforts for fast, lasting fat loss.

You also want to journal, since what you track, you can improve. One study found people who wrote down everything lost twice the weight of those who didn't, and many clients discover their culprit once their journal reveals they are overeating or sneaky sugars are making their way into their diets.

By removing food intolerances -- the seven highly-reactive foods I discuss in The Virgin Diet -- that create inflammation and contribute to weight loss resistance, you've already removed a major obstacle. You also want to become aware of sneaky sugars, sometimes hiding in so-called healthy foods, which could sabotage your efforts.

If you're doing all these things correctly yet still struggle with weight loss resistance, you'll want to dive deeper to determine your potential obstacle.

Pick notes among those obstacles include systemic inflammation, digestive issues, and hormonal imbalances. Similarly, I wrote about seven often-overlooked weight loss resistance culprits in this blog.

Oftentimes several culprits are at fault. Studies show sleep deprivation -- in this case, just a partial night of terrible sleep -- can make you more insulin resistant, contributing to Type 2 diabetes and obesity. In other words, too little sleep can knock numerous fat-regulating hormones out of balance, creating a vicious cycle.

Sometimes, then, overcoming weight loss resistance requires a little sleuthing, putting together a metabolic puzzle, and perhaps working with an integrative physician.

Don't despair: Over my three decades as a nutrition and fitness expert, I've worked with the most stubborn weight loss resistance situations, and I can assure you that your case is never hopeless.

"Because there are many potential sources of the problem, there isn't a one-size-fits-all treatment that works for all weight loss resistant individuals," writes Dr. Phil. "The key is to uncover your own, specific chemical imbalance or physiological 'glitch' so that your doctor can target it with a treatment plan tailored to you."

While overcoming weight loss resistance can sometimes require patience, one simple strategy I find often works almost immediately involves starting your day with a protein shake. (Just make sure you go with the perfect protein powder.)

Studies show a meal replacement "can safely and effectively produce significant sustainable weight loss and improve weight-related risk factors of disease," and many clients find a protein shake becomes their needle mover for fast, lasting fat loss.

If you've ever struggled with weight loss resistance, what was the biggest strategy that helped you overcome that obstacle? Share yours below, and keep those great questions coming at