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3 Medical Reasons Why You Can't Lose Weight

3 Medical Reasons Why You Can't Lose Weight

Weight loss is hard. Many people claim, “It’s calories in versus calories out that counts” …as if our bodies are math equations rather than complex systems. If weight loss were that easy, everyone would ace it.

Dr. Rohn Rigby leads Ogden Clinic’s Medical Weight Loss team: a group of specialists who have helped thousands of patients lose weight since it began in 2015. Dr. Rigby says:

We don’t simply prescribe a meal plan or a workout sheet; there are many baseline items we assess before ever starting a weight loss plan. We broadly call them the ‘Seven Pillars’ and they are: Diet, Activity, Stress, Sleep, Gut Health, Environment, and Medication(s).

Image of seven pillars of weight loss - stress, sleep, medication, gut, environment, diet, and activity

Better health data leads to more personalized help and long-lasting outcomes. With Dr. Rigby’s pillars in mind, here are three common medical reasons why patients can’t lose weight.

Banner reads - Your Medication is Interfering with weight loss

Reason 1: Your Medication is Interfering

Some medications cause weight gain or get in the way of your efforts to lose weight. Among them are insulin to treat diabetes, certain antidepressants, some birth control pills, some epilepsy therapies, steroids, and blood-pressure-lowering meds like beta blockers. These may cause weight gain because they mess with your metabolism in some way, alter your appetite, cause water retention, or contribute to early fatigue.

The Medication Fix

If you or your doctor notices unintended weight gain, discuss it. Don't stop taking your medication just because you’ve gained weight. In some cases, our team may be able to switch you to a different medication or adjust your dose. If that’s not possible, our network of registered dietitians can guide you toward healthy choices in your diet to combat unintended weight gain.

Banner Reads - Your Hormones are Imbalanced so you cannot lose weight

Reason 2: Hormones Like Cortisol, Leptin, or Ghrelin Are Imbalanced

Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone”. While it’s important for your to body release cortisol in dangerous situations, chronic high levels can lead to heart disease, diabetes, low energy, high blood pressure, sleep disturbances, or weight gain.

This is where the Pillars of Sleep and Stress Management come in. Chronic stress causes cortisol levels to spike, which encourages weight gain. And sleep issues like insomnia, sleep apnea, and irregular sleep habits (like those of shift workers), can also contribute to high cortisol.


Leptin and ghrelin are known as the "appetite hormones". One signals to our brain when we are full and the other signals that we are hungry. In obese individuals, leptin resistance can occur, meaning their brain is not receiving the signal that they are full. People with low ghrelin levels are sensitive to its effects of overeating.

Leptin and ghrelin are heavily impacted by sleep: Have you ever noticed that when you are tired, you become hungrier and crave high-calorie, high-sugar, high-carb, and other comfort foods? Those are leptin and ghrelin responses.

The Hormone Fix

We use bloodwork, sleep studies when indicated, and other health tests to thoroughly understand each patients’ hormone health. Beyond medical management, we have a whole team working together to prevent hormone spikes, such as dietitians who help with food choices and behavioral therapists who help patients manage chronic stress.

Banner reads - You're eating mindlessly and cannot lose weight

Reason 3: You Eat Mindlessly

Mindless snacking while you’re watching TV can lead to “Did I just eat that whole box in one sitting?” A meta-analysis published in 2022 in the journal Appetite found that distracted eating is associated with a higher BMI. When you’re aware of what you’re eating, you can make the brain-body connection that you’re full.

The Mindless Eating Fix

The Pillar of Environment is prominent here. Our Medical Weight Loss team knows that sometimes the biggest factor affecting weight is habits. That’s why we have a whole toolkit to help. We now have health coaches in your corner who can help you identify and reverse the mindless eating. We have an online community of past and present patients who share lifestyle hacks and food swaps that have helped them. And we have therapy available: A behavioral health specialist who takes time to understand how food is used for comfort, celebration, pain, and other purposes.


Banner shows network of medical weight loss specialists, doctors, dietitians, therapy, health coaches

How many diets does a person try in their lifetime? Five? Ten? Twenty? Would you believe the average American starts a diet 55 times in their life? It’s true. Fad diets are not sustainable, they’re a multibillion-dollar industry.

To reach and maintain weight loss, you need an approach that tackles all aspects of weight. We’re not a quick fix: We are a network of experts all working together for your long-term success. Giving each patient a customized plan, we’ve helped thousands achieve lasting weight loss with improvements mentally and physically.

Don’t throw your money at another fad diet this year, get the tools and support you need to lose the weight once and for all. Choose Ogden Clinic Medical Weight Loss: Now accepting new patients all across Utah. Telemedicine is available!