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Why Can't I Lose Weight?

Feel like the weight loss odds are against you? Here's why it can be harder for some people to lose weight.

2. You are female. continued...

Further, because men tend to be larger than women, they tend to burn more calories doing the same exercise as women.

"If they both run at the same pace for one hour, the woman will burn 500 calories, for example, while the man will burn closer to 700 calories," says Catenacci.

As if this weren't unfair enough, men also seem to be better at suppressing hunger when presented with food, according to findings of a recent study.

After 23 healthy, non-obese people fasted for 17 hours, researchers used cognitive inhibition techniques to try to suppress thoughts of hunger. They found that the technique significantly lowered the desire for food only in men. Subsequent brain scans of the men showed a decrease in activation in brain regions that are known to play a role in processing our awareness of the drive to eat.

3. You experience hunger, satisfaction, and stress differently than others.

Stevens believes that differences in how people experience hunger and cope with stress are important in determining who becomes overweight and who doesn't.

"Individual genetic differences in the numerous hormones and peptides made by the gut, brain, and fat cells (that regulate appetite, hunger, and satiety) may play a big role in predisposition to obesity and difficulty losing weight,” says Catenacci.

Researchers are only beginning to understand what might be at play here, and how it affects what and how much a person eats.

4. You don't like to exercise (it could be in your genes).

According to Daniel Pomp, PhD, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, animal research suggests that 25%-50% of an individual's propensity for voluntary exercise is under genetic control.

Pomp studies mice that genetically prefer to exercise because they were bred for high levels of wheel running. Expect more research in the next few years on "exercise genes" and how they might also be at play in humans.

5. Your mother ate a high-fat diet while pregnant.

There is some preliminary research in primates that suggests eating a healthy, moderate-fat diet is important for the future weight and health status of the developing fetus, regardless of whether the pregnant mother was obese or lean.

6. What you ate as a toddler could be affecting how easily you gain weight as an adult.

Research from Raylene Reimer, PhD, RD, a researcher from the University of Calgary, has indicated that the food we eat affects how active certain genes are in our body. "In particular, we believe that our diet has a direct influence on the genes that control how our bodies store and use nutrients," explains Reimer.

 In Reimer's research with rats, a group that ate a high-protein diet when young packed on much more weight and body fat as adults compared to another group of rats raised on a high-fiber diet.

More research needs to be done to understand the mechanisms at work here, but this research suggests how complex weight gain really is.

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