Five Reasons Why Weight Loss Can Be Difficult

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Five reasons why it can be difficult to lose weight

According to Cleveland Clinic¹, despite 74% of survey participants being worried about their weight and at least 65% being concerned about their risk of heart disease, only 43% of Americans are actively making dietary and lifestyle changes to lose weight.

Many Americans are discouraged about losing weight simply because they are not aware of the common challenges that can hamper their progress towards achieving their weight loss goals. This can lead to disappointment and reduced motivation, which can cause people to return to old unhealthy habits and behaviors.

To achieve better results, here are the top five things that can make it difficult to lose weight:

1.  Mental health

Intense feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, and other forms of mental health decline can play a major role in weight loss success. It has been observed that even people who record success in weight loss may lose all their progress when they experience mental health issues. A common cause is turning to comfort foods like cake and ice cream which people tend to binge on when they are feeling down.

According to a 2018 study² conducted over a six to 12-month period, all participants lost comparable weight in the first six months of the trial, but those that had some challenges with their mental health regained weight in the last six months while those with improved or stable mental health were able to continue in their weight loss journey.

2. Skipping breakfast

Although there have been studies that suggest skipping breakfast can accelerate weight loss, many Americans struggle with the cravings and hunger that arise from not eating until later in the day. When faced with more intense feelings of hunger at lunch, some individuals are more prone to making unhealthy decisions or overeating.

A 2013 review³ of multiple studies reported a link between skipping breakfast and obesity, finding that it may be more beneficial for some individuals to eat a balanced, healthy breakfast. Research supports both claims, so more studies are needed to determine who would benefit more from which method.

3. Slow metabolism

When you have a high metabolism, more calories are burned when resting and while participating in physical activities. When an individual experiences a drop in metabolism, they are more likely to experience no loss of weight or even weight gain. Common factors that influence metabolism are age, sex, and body size.

According to a 2012 study⁴, weight regain is possible among participants with low metabolism if they don't maintain high levels of caloric restrictions and physical activity. Ways you can boost metabolism include adding more protein to your diet, staying hydrated, getting more sleep, drinking green tea, and participating in more intense workouts.

4. Attitude and perception

Many people trying to lose weight may also find themselves being held back by their attitude. When experiencing slower or no immediate results, it can become discouraging to continue. This can stunt weight loss progress and discourage some people from continuing their diet regimens and exercises.

A 2018 review⁵ found a strong association between participants who perceived themselves as overweight and trying to lose weight, but also found a link between this perception and increased weight gain over time. Findings suggested that the stigmatized attitude associated with being overweight/obese can cause a significant reduction in efforts put into weight loss regardless of whether they may have initially yielded results. In fact, this can even lead to weight gain along the way, which may lead to many other health problems.

5. Diet

Although this is one of the major components of weight loss, many people don't know the impact of diet on weight loss. Take, for instance, a case where an individual restricts calories but doesn't get enough nutrition. They may experience some weight loss, but they're more likely to regain the weight over time.

In fact, one review⁶ pointed out that energy intake reduction may provide people with positive results initially but have high long-term costs. For instance, the research reported that these dietary changes could lead to changes in appetite and gut hormones that influence weight gain and increase appetite.

What makes losing weight easier

Keeping in mind the top reasons for your difficulty in losing weight so that you can manage to the best of your ability, there are at least three things you can do to make losing weight easier.

A strong support system

Whether it is your spouse, friends, or family members, having a solid support system around you can make all the difference in your weight loss journey. More often than not, individuals who are trying to lose weight can fall off the wagon or see a halt in results when they are confronted with too many temptations offered by those around them.

This is particularly true for people who are regularly offered sweets and snacks when visiting a friend or family member or those that live with a spouse who loads up on unhealthy foods when grocery shopping. Consider being open about your weight goals and boundaries with those around you to reduce temptations and increase support.

Tracking your weight

Using digital tools like apps and diet-monitoring sites that help you track nutrients, calories, physical activity, and more can be beneficial for healthy weight loss. It not only keeps you updated on progress, but also shows areas where you may need improvement.

According to a Stanford Medicine⁷ review of studies, participants who used digital tools to track their weight loss saw significantly more weight loss results than those who monitored independently. The publication suggests that these results may be due to increased engagement and competitive motivation, more awareness about what is being eaten, and a reduced need for in-person weight loss coaching.

Working out in a group or with a friend

Having a reliable friend to go to the gym with or routinely attending exercise classes in a group can go a long way in increasing your motivation, pushing you to your highest potential, and helping you achieve your weight loss goals. The concept behind working out with someone instead of doing it alone is that you're more likely to push yourself when there's someone there to hold you accountable.

According to one study⁸, participants who worked out in a group, whether in-person or virtually, saw significantly greater weight loss results than individuals who worked out on their own. The greatest results were observed in participants matched with someone who performs at a much higher level.

The lowdown

Weight loss is a journey that requires patience and time to get significant results. This is why it is challenging for many Americans to continue or maintain the process. The top five factors that make  it  hard to lose weight are:

  • Declining mental health

  • Skipping breakfast and binge-eating at lunch

  • A decrease in metabolism

  • A negative perception or attitude towards one's weight loss journey

  • A lack of nutrition and energy from one's diet

For the best results, it is recommended to address these common issues. Your primary care doctor can be especially helpful in pinpointing your specific challenges and helping you manage them. Additional steps that can be taken include building a solid support system around you, tracking your weight loss and progress, as well as exercising with a friend or in a group.

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