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Metabolic Disorders That Prevent Weight Loss

By Lindsay Boyers ; Updated July 18, 2017

Metabolism is the process by which your body converts the food that you eat into the energy you need to perform all bodily functions. Metabolism is controlled by a variety of different hormones, glands and enzymes. A metabolic disorder is a condition characterized by an abnormality in any of the structures that control metabolism. Some metabolic disorders can slow down the process of metabolism and prevent weight loss.


One of the most common metabolic disorders is hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland. The thyroid is a small gland located in the front of your neck that produces and releases different hormones that directly control metabolism. If you have hypothyroidism, your thyroid gland does not function properly. As a result, inadequate amounts of thyroid hormones are produced, slowing down metabolism. When metabolism is slowed down, weight loss becomes difficult. Those with hypothyroidism usually gain weight. Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include depression, fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain, weakness, decreased taste and brittle hair and fingernails, according to Medline Plus.

Cushing's Syndrome

Cortisol is an important hormone produced by your adrenal glands. Cortisol helps metabolize fat, protein and carbohydrates into energy. Cushing’s syndrome is a metabolic disorder characterized by overproduction of cortisol or the abnormal regulation of cortisol. When there is too much cortisol in your body, it can lead to excessive weight gain, especially in the midsection, face, upper back and between the shoulders, according to In addition to weight gain, Cushing’s syndrome may also cause stretch marks, easy bruising, delayed wound healing, fatigue, muscle weakness, headache, bone loss and acne.

Insulin Resistance

When you eat carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into the simple sugar glucose. Glucose travels from your digestive system into your bloodstream where it stimulates the release of insulin from the pancreas. Normally, insulin binds to glucose and helps your cells and tissues use glucose for energy. Once the glucose is removed from your bloodstream, your pancreas stops releasing insulin. If you suffer from insulin resistance you have cells that do not respond well to the action of the hormone. As a result, these cells do not receive glucose properly and glucose levels in the bloodstream remain high. The constant high glucose levels trigger the continual release of insulin from the pancreas. This causes high levels of insulin and glucose in the bloodstream and cells that are starved of energy. This combination leads to increased hunger, which can hinder weight loss. If not properly managed, insulin resistance can develop into Type 2 diabetes.

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