Clinical weight loss: How to help your clients who struggle with overeating

Besides weight loss, there are many reasons why your clients may come to you regarding their eating habits. They may come to you with concerns like:

“No matter how physically full I am, I still feel hungry.”

“Once I start eating, I’m like a car without breaks!”

“I eat healthily, but why am I not losing any weight?”

Many of us tend to operate under the belief that our overeating is a character fault or a lack of self-control… But what if it is something else entirely?

How can you help your clients control their eating impulses? And what should they always have at the back of their minds?

To be able to provide personalised recommendations that will help your clients achieve their weight goals more comfortably and without feeling ravenous or dreading the process, it is important to understand the reasons behind their eating behaviours, alongside gaining an insight about the underpinning research on hunger hormones and appetite neurochemistry.

What we should know about overeating

According to the World Health Organisation:

  • Almost 40% of the global adult population is overweight
  • The worldwide prevalence of obesity more than doubled since 1980
  • Obesity and being overweight has been linked to more deaths worldwide than being underweight.

Many of us may have a preconceived notion that overeating is a character flaw, but is it? Far from it. There are so many different influences that might make us overeat both consciously and non-consciously. First, we need to understand what these influences are, and how they may affect our weight loss goals. So, let’s discuss these next!

The brain and food decisions

It has been suggested that every day we make an average of 227 decisions about food. That is a lot of food choices!

What’s more, individuals who are obese may make over 100 more daily food decisions in addition to this average. So those of us who overeat may actually think more about food and make a larger number of food decisions.

Why so many food decisions?

Food decisions include any conscious and non-conscious choices about food, beyond whether to eat or not. Examples are:

What I shall eat? When shall I eat? Where to eat? How much? Am I satisfied, or want some more? Should I eat alone or with someone?

And we also need to count any non-conscious choices: these are automatic decisions we make without even being aware we are making them.

We could even say our brain is making these choices “behind our backs”.

Looking at the diagram above, some of the different brain areas and their functions have been detailed. Neuroscientists have known for decades that the brain is capable of making a decision before making you feel like you made that decision. The decisions that don’t involve the frontal cortex, which is the decision-maker in our brain, are non-conscious, including some of our food decisions. Then how many of our food-related decisions are non-conscious?

It is believed that that 95% of our food choices are non-conscious. Which means they don’t involve our frontal cortex or conscious awareness. In other words, we’re not even aware we are making these decisions.

What factors affect our food decisions and how much we eat?

A multitude of factors can influence our food choices and how much we eat. These factors can be internal or external, and they don’t happen in isolation; the brain has to deal with all these factors at once.

Factors that can affect how much we eat include:

  • Sleep
  • Visual cues
  • A location: market or other places in our environment
  • Stress levels
  • Olfactory cues
  • Exercise
  • Hormones
  • Our values: personal values like food security, ethics, conformity, pricing
  • Evolutionary and so much more

There are even factors that bypass our conscious awareness, and examples include:

  • Hunger levels
  • Emotions
  • Food reward
  • Appetite hormones
  • Gut microbiome and brain interactions
  • Genes

Let’s explore the genetic factor!

Our genes and overeating

Did you know our genetics may predispose us to over-eating? However, this does not mean we are at the mercy of our genes. Let’s talk more about this.

Today, we know of over 1,000 genes which have been linked to obesity, overeating, food reward, metabolic rate, satiety levels, and more. Furthermore, the number of these genetic associations keeps going up as research keeps uncovering more of them and how they influence our eating habits.

The FTO gene was the first discovered gene linked to obesity, and it carries different risk variants (alleles of FTO) that may influence a person’s risk of adiposity.

Studies have shown that if you carry just one FTO risk allele (one A), your obesity risk may go up by up to 30%. And if you carry both risk alleles (double AA), your obesity risk by up to 70%!

What’s more, carrying the AT or AA alleles (high risk genotype) has been associated with experiencing less satiety and more food intake. In a genome-wide association study, participants with the high-risk FTO genotype tend to consume between 500 and 1250 more calories each day compared to those carrying the TT alleles (low risk genotype)!

Does this mean we should blame our genes for overeating?

Not really. Our genes influence our intake but do not determine how much we will eat. Our degree of food intake is based on a multitude of factors besides genetics.

A meta-analysis involving 9,563 participants showed that carrying the high-risk FTO genotypes didn’t stop them from eating less and losing weight – they responded equally well to nutritional and lifestyle strategies.

So, how can you help your clients look beyond their genes and overcome overeating so they can achieve weight loss?

A client may come to you with the following concerns:

“I can’t stop thinking about food”

“I am happy when I eat”

“When I am depressed, I eat”

“I never get full”

It is imperative that we listen to our clients so we can understand where they are coming from and where their urge to overeat stems. This is where personalisation comes in so you can help clients achieve weight loss goals and other desired health outcomes.

Here at The Health Sciences Academy, we have also received similar questions from even medical doctors and university-trained dietitians and nutritionists. They include:

“Why doesn’t portion control work with my clients?”

“Can I help clients lose weight without feeling hungry?”

“Is there a cure for food addicts?”

“Can a client eat all they want and still lose weight?”

“How often should my client eat?”

“Could this client have a food intolerance?”

“How can I help speed up my client’s fat loss?”

Questions like these have inspired us to bring practical science closer to those who want to help others lose weight in the right way with our Advanced Clinical Weight Loss Practitioner™ certification. This certification takes into account many aspects of a person’s life, not just from a nutrition perspective. It goes beyond nutritional recommendations, considering behavioural factors like weight loss psychology, eating psychology, food practices, eating behaviours, appetite neurochemistry, emotional eating, stress levels, physical activity, and other factors that may influence successful weight loss.

So remember that your client may be coming to you because they have tried so many other options and solutions, and nothing seems to be working. So, for a clinical weight loss practitioner, hyper-personalisation is vital.

How to maximise your professional opportunities in this space

Who would be your clients, and what are some professional opportunities you can explore once you complete the Advanced Clinical Weight Loss Practitioner™ certification? Let’s explore some of them.


Good nutrition is intrinsically linked to cognitive and physical productivity as well as mental health. You could deliver corporate wellness nutrition programs – with the option for further personalisation for each employee once you have acquired the expertise to do so after completing the Advanced Clinical Weight Loss Practitioner™ certification.


If you have a passion for public speaking, then you could run educational workshops using client templates you will be provided when you undertake the Advanced Clinical Weight Loss Practitioner™ certification. You would be able to teach clients meal preparation and safe cooking practices.


Is gastronomy or product formulation your thing? You could help with the creation of supporting food products, drinks, and supplements for the weight loss market once you are equipped with this evidence-based knowledge we would teach you.


Have a love for cooking? As you discover the process of meal planning for clients looking to lose weight, you could design personalised weight loss meals for the workforce and professionals and also prepare these meals for home or office delivery.


When you acquire the evidence-based knowledge needed to run effective weight loss programs, you would be able to help your fertility clients lose weight.

Being overweight or obese worsen fertility risk and reproductive health issues such as PCOS and endometriosis, but also obese individuals have reduced chances to conceive. How so? Carrying excess body fat can lead to inflammation, hormonal imbalance, and significantly reduced antioxidant capacity (needed for the strength and longevity of reproductive cells), all lowering fertility odds.


Do you operate in the fitness space? As you learn how to support clients with exercise and personalised clinical weight loss programs, you could also help create healthier eateries with healthier menus that support physical activity recovery and weight control.


Do you have clients complaining about their stress levels or poor sleep? Chances are that they may be also overeating calories, even without realising it. Stress load and sleep deprivation result in higher levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, leading to overeating; and they both also impair glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, increasing weight gain risk. By equipping yourself with the right strategies for helping your clients with overeating problems, you can help them overcome this challenge.


After completing our certification, you could collaborate with medical professionals involved in their clients’ physical, emotional and mental well-being. In it, you’ll also be getting a client health check questionnaire and a medical referral form.

From the list above, it is clear that there are a lot of opportunities for you to maximise your opportunities in the clinical weight loss space!

In 2020, the global weight loss market was valued at USD 192 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach a whooping USD 427 billion by 2027. With the right knowledge and expertise, you too could make a dent in the industry and effectively support those clients who need your help.

Your Next Steps….

If you want to help your clients successfully lose weight and keep it off effortlessly,

Advanced Clinical Weight Loss Practitioner™ certification will walk you through every step.

We have also made it easy for you to complete this certification by giving you access to a 7-day free trial. This means you can start learning immediately without paying!

Start your 7-day free trial here.

Also, do you want to learn more about weight loss and how this knowledge can expand your nutrition practice?

Join our live webinar on Friday 11 June with UCL researcher and chief science educator at The Health Sciences Academy, Alex Ruani, at 4:00 PM (UK time).

Go here to save your seat now.

See Also

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© Copyright The Health Sciences Academy. The content, graphs and charts on this page have been exclusively prepared for The Health Sciences Academy and its prospect students, existing students and graduates. None of the content on this page and website may be reproduced, copied or altered without our explicit permission. Criminal and legal penalties for copyright and other infringement apply. All Terms and Conditions apply.





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