Why You’re Not Losing Weight – and how to correct for success


by Cassie Irwin, ND

If healthy eating and physical activity haven’t resulted in the weight loss you’d expect, you may be dealing with weight loss resistance. Resistance to weight loss can happen when we’re inflamed, up against high insulin, and overburdened with toxins.

Inflammation, insulin resistance and toxin load are three of the top reasons for weight loss resistance that, once addressed, can help you move past your weight loss plateau.


1. quell inflammation

Inflammation is a normal immune response in the body that gets triggered when we’re wounded or exposed to a pathogen. But oftentimes inflammation is triggered by eating processed foods, skimping on sleep, and using toxic body care products.

If inflammation is left unchecked, it can overstay its welcome and impact healthy body functions. Gaining weight increases inflammation, and yet inflammation gets in the way of weight loss. You can see the problem here!

When inflammation is present in the body, this impairs the function of the hormone leptin. Essentially, leptin is the “I’m full” hormone that tells us to stop eating. But if this hormone isn’t working right, that full signal isn’t strong and can lead to overeating.


  • Joint pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Water retention
  • Puffiness and swelling
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Painful periods
  • Endometriosis
  • Gastritis
  • High values in bloodwork for hs-CRP, ESR, fibrinogen


  • Anti-inflammatory diet: rich in vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats
  • Avoid processed and sugary foods
  • Get at least 7-9 hours sleep per night
  • Reduce household and workplace toxin exposure
  • Work on stress management


  • Curcumin
  • Vitamin D
  • Boswellia
  • Devil’s Claw
  • Magnesium


2. optimize insulin

If you’ve gained weight and have become inflamed, your inflammatory state can also lead to insulin resistance.

Insulin’s job is to transport sugar from the blood into the cells so that the cells can use sugar to make energy. But high blood sugar makes insulin less keen on having to do more work, and a bit lazy when it comes to transporting sugar from the blood into the cells. So the pancreas makes more insulin to get the job done.

But the catch is that insulin also promotes fat storage. So the more insulin the pancreas makes, the more difficult it is for us to lose weight.


  • History of gestational diabetes
  • High carbohydrate diet
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Inflammation
  • Family history of diabetes
  • High insulin on bloodwork


  • Increase intake of protein, healthy fat and fibre
  • Reduce sugar intake
  • Exercise
  • Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night
  • Work on stress management
  • Reduce workplace and household toxin exposure
  • Reduce inflammation (see above)
  • Speak with your healthcare provider about whether intermittent fasting would be safe for you


  • Magnesium
  • Chromium
  • Berberine

For a primer on  blood sugar, check out our blog all about blood sugar.

3. detoxify

Living in our industrialized world today exposes us to persistent organic pollutants that are harmful to many of our body functions. The chemical structure of many of these toxins are lipophilic, meaning they store themselves in the fat cells in the body called adipocytes. The more fat cells we have, the higher our toxic burden may be.

Excess toxins increase inflammation, either causing or perpetuating weight loss resistance. A heavy toxic load is also demanding on the liver, which could impair the liver’s ability to regulate hormones like insulin!

Since toxins are stored in fat cells, fat loss could theoretically release toxins into the bloodstream and cause some damage. Along these lines, weight loss resistance may be a built-in protection mechanism if the toxic load in fat tissue is too much for the body’s current detoxification pathways to manage.

Supporting liver function, healthy digestion and elimination, and lymphatic flow are key for healthy detoxification.


  • Constipation
  • Acne
  • Skin rashes
  • Odorous perspiration
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Water retention
  • Sensitivities and allergies
  • PMS and hormone imbalances
  • Fatty liver
  • Abnormal liver enzymes on bloodwork
  • Workplace exposure to paints, fumes, chemicals, solvents, hairspray
  • Household mold infestations, poor air circulation


  • Reduce exposure to toxic personal care products, solvents and water-damaged buildings
  • Eat bitter greens to support the liver
  • Eat organic as much as possible
  • Avoid processed foods
  • Castor oil pack on the liver
  • Dry skin brushing
  • Reduce smoking
  • Drink more clean, purified water
  • Eat more fibre to encourage healthy bowel movements
  • Exercise and rebounding to stimulate lymphatic drainage


  • Milk thistle
  • B vitamins
  • Bitter herbs
  • Magnesium


still struggling with overeating?

PGX is a fibre-based supplement that can be helpful if you’re trying to lose weight but are overeating. A 2014 study showed that 7.5 g of PGX per day corresponded with a 34% increase in sense of fullness, known as satiety. So PGX may help send the “I’m full” message, especially if leptin isn’t working right.

Fibre is also helpful for blood sugar control, detoxification, and healthy blood lipids.


Dr. Cassie Irwin, ND

Dr. Cassie Irwin, ND

Naturopathic Contributor, The Peanut Mill Natural Foods Market

Dr. Cassie Irwin, ND helps high-performing women quell anxiety, exhaustion, and overwhelm so they can wield their superpowers while feeling calm, productive, and aligned. Dr. Cassie consults virtually and in her Niagara Falls practice. www.drcassieirwin.com; @drcassieirwin

Jackson E, Shoemaker R, Larian N, Cassis L. Adipose Tissue as a Site of Toxin Accumulation [published correction appears in Compr Physiol. 2018 Jun 18;8(3):1251]. Compr Physiol. 2017;7(4):1085-1135. Published 2017 Sep 12. doi:10.1002/cphy.c160038; Solah VA, Brand-Miller JC, Atkinson FS, Gahler RJ, Kacinik V, Lyon MR, Wood S. Dose-response effect of a novel functional fibre, PolyGlycopleX(®), PGX(®), on satiety. Appetite. 2014 Jun;77:72-6. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.02.021. Epub 2014 Mar 13. PMID: 24631638.; Solah VA, Kerr DA, Hunt WJ, Johnson SK, Boushey CJ, Delp EJ, Meng X, Gahler RJ, James AP, Mukhtar AS, Fenton HK, Wood S. Effect of Fibre Supplementation on Body Weight and  Composition, Frequency of Eating and Dietary  Choice in Overweight Individuals. Nutrients. 2017 Feb 16;9(2):149. doi: 10.3390/nu9020149. Erratum in: Nutrients. 2017 Apr 20;9(4): PMID: 28212353; PMCID: PMC5331580.; Sutton EF, Beyl R, Early KS, Cefalu WT, Ravussin E, Peterson CM. Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves Insulin Sensitivity, Blood Pressure, and Oxidative Stress Even without Weight Loss in Men with Prediabetes. Cell Metab. 2018 Jun 5;27(6):1212-1221.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2018.04.010. Epub 2018 May 10. PMID: 29754952; PMCID: PMC5990470.