I have seen a lot of diet fads come and go. Whenever something comes into vogue I do the research to review the pros and cons and identify what can be incorporated into my fat loss program to ensure the best results for my clients.  

I specialise in women’s weight loss because it’s something that many people, and potentially you if you’re reading, are struggling with. Losing weight, and more specifically losing fat, can be a real struggle. Particularly if your weight loss plan isn’t tailored to your individual needs. 

If you feel like you’re doing all the right things but aren’t seeing the results you want, don’t give up! I’ve put together my top 7 nutrition and lifestyle mistakes that might be holding you back from fat loss, based on my 14 years as a qualified Nutritionist

1. Medical reasons for not losing weight

I have undertaken extra training to really understand the potential metabolic drivers of weight gain and the thyroid is a key player. The thyroid is largely involved in regulating your metabolism, which is the process of converting food and drink into energy to fuel the body. When the thyroid is under-functioning you can feel sluggish and find it hard to lose weight. 

Standard blood tests only look for TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone). This test doesn’t actually tell you what your thyroid hormones are doing, nor does it show whether you have an autoimmune disease or a form of slow thyroid called Hashimoto’s Disease. I look further than basic thyroid testing; checking your thyroid hormones, looking for what’s causing the TSH to increase or if there is a potential mineral deficiency such as Iodine which can cause a slower functioning thyroid

Other medical factors that may be impacting your weight loss goals include Nutrient Deficiencies such as B vitamins (responsible for energy and carbohydrate breakdown) or a lack of absorption of nutrients which leads to a deficiency. Digestive disorders such as an imbalance of good and bad bacteria (Dysbiosis), or Elevated Cortisol Levels which means the insulin is more likely to be stored rather than utilised. 

2. Struggling to lose weight after 30

There are many factors that might make weight loss “more difficult” after the age of 30. Hormones, the body’s insulin resistance, and its ability to deal with glucose all change as we age. On top of that, lifestyle factors driven by work and family life becoming major priorities means we typically see increased stress, less physical activity, and often more snacking.

This doesn’t mean you’re condemned to ever-increasing pants sizes once you hit 30. It does mean that we need to be more mindful about our food choices and maintain a balance in our lifestyle. If you’re 30 plus and struggling with fat loss, I highly recommend a nutrition-based approach. 

A good nutritionist will look at ‘why’ you are struggling to lose weight, review what you are currently eating, and how many calories you eat against your exercise and lifestyle choices. They shouldn’t be obsessed with calorie counting (sometimes it can be detrimental) but what you put into your body is an important factor. Perhaps your macronutrient breakdown isn’t right for you or maybe there are medical reasons impacting your weight loss. Weight loss after 30 requires an individualised approach. 

3. Not losing weight with intermittent fasting

I use Intermittent Fasting with clients with many seeing great results. If you’re not seeing the results you want from Intermittent Fasting, sometimes it’s just a case of changing the time you eat your breakfast or your dinner. 

Did you know that our cortisol is more elevated in the morning, it’s actually part of the process of our body waking. However, when you have chronically high cortisol it can dysregulate your insulin and instead insulin becomes a fat-storage hormone. If you then try to intermittent fast and have lightheadedness and brain fog, it may further drive up your insulin. 

Selective focus of Alarm clock and Diet plan with Intermittent fasting as the Time to lose weight , eating control-Diet concept

The amount you eat will also play a role in the success of Intermittent Fasting. Eating too much or too little during your eating windows will both have negative effects on your results. Fundamentally if our body doesn’t feel ‘safe’ it won’t lose weight. It’s important to seek advice from an experienced practitioner to get the fundamentals of Intermittent Fasting done right.

4. Not losing weight on a low-carb diet

As a nutritionist, I never want to demonise or restrict one macronutrient. Some people can see significant fat loss on lower amounts of carbs but this is highly dependent on the individual. For some people, a low-carb diet can trigger an unhealthy cycle of binging and restricting preventing weight loss or even leading to further weight gain. 

Rather than restrictions, the best way to manage carbohydrates for fat loss is to eat healthy ones. When you can incorporate the right amount of healthy carbs you will feel satiated and more energetic so you can exercise better at the gym. 

5. Not losing weight on a keto diet

I love Keto-style diets and have had immense success with this style of eating for my clients. But again, it always comes back to personalised nutrition and using the right approach for the right person. Just because your friend did well on Keto doesn’t mean you will! 

I generally find women who have been through menopause do well on lower amounts of carbohydrates (let’s be clear, it’s not ZERO carbohydrates). However, keto doesn’t always suit stressed and busy Mums, and in fact, if they do undertake keto under those conditions they can instead GAIN weight. 

If you’re struggling with weight loss or you’ve hit a plateau on a keto diet it’s important to seek guidance from a nutritionist who specialises in keto diets (P.S. that’s me!).  You may need to reevaluate your macronutrient ratio and look at your intake more carefully. You may also need to look at lifestyle changes like stress reduction and exercise frequency and intensity to achieve your goals.

6. No weight loss after weeks of exercise

Exercise and increasing our physical activity levels should play a major role in any weight loss regime. In my opinion, all women should be doing some form of weight-bearing exercise for muscle gain and fat loss.

However, overtraining and stressing our bodies is the worst thing we can do for resistant fat loss. If you exercise too hard and don’t give your body sufficient recovery between workouts, you can end up with an excess of inflammation in your body. All the added-up inflammation makes you gain more weight than lose.  

The right diet can also play a role here. Natural foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains are full of antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory properties and may help limit inflammation.

I recommend that my clients have me work alongside their trainer to get the best results and keep weight loss goals on track.

Scared young brunette woman in white t-shirt holding scales on blue background.

7. Unknown food intolerances

Do you need caffeine and sugar to give you energy? Does your belly swell up as soon as you eat something ‘you shouldn’t have? Then perhaps you have a food intolerance!

When we eat foods our bodies can’t tolerate, it triggers an inflammatory process that starts in your digestive system and affects your body. Our microvilli (the fingerlike projections on your gut wall) can become damaged and as a result, we absorb less of our nutrients and sometimes end up with deficiencies in minerals, such as iron and zinc.

Malabsorption leads to enzyme deficiencies. Iron and zinc are both crucial for the creation of enzymes that have important functions such as:

  1. Helping to break down our food.
  2. Assimilation of nutrients found in your diet.

If we don’t absorb enough iron and zinc, it’s harder to make digestive enzymes! One study found participants who removed IgG reactive foods lost on average 5.5kg in 3 months.

So, if you are reaching for more sugar or coffee for energy, your body may be lacking the nutrients to keep the battery that you are running on (your mitochondria) going.

If you think food intolerance could be an issue for you, we can do an IgG food intolerance test. This involves an easy finger-prick blood test and assesses 96 different foods. Knowledge is power and finding out more about how your body is operating is a brilliant way to reinvigorate your weight loss.

A Holistic Approach to Weight Loss for Busy Women

There are many reasons why you might be struggling to lose weight. It all boils down to finding the right approach to suit you as an individual. The best way to do that is to work with an experienced clinician.

I am constantly reviewing the research and incorporating it into my ever-evolving clinical practice. I then create personalised nutrition and lifestyle plans which work on the potential causes of your resistant fat loss, because in my experience it’s never just a black and white solution where it’s calories in vs calories out!

As a busy mum, I understand how the needs of family and work mean there’s little left over to focus on our own well-being. When you work with me, we figure out what is driving your weight gain and we work out a plan which allows for your whole life not to be overwhelmed with worrying about food or a diet. My personalised, down-to-earth approach, supports you to be less stressed and less overwhelmed whilst meeting your fat loss and well-being goals. 

If you are wanting support for fat loss, book an intro chat with me to see if we are a good fit! 

Sonya Reynolds, nutritionist and wellness coach portrait

About Sonya 

Sonya Reynolds is a Sydney-based degree certified Nutritionist and Life Coach with over 16 years of experience. Sonya uses a holistic approach to help her clients achieve their health and wellbeing goals by combining natural nutrition and wellness coaching.

Sonya provides holistic online nutrition and coaching consultation to clients in Sydney and throughout Australia.