Ever have a hard time keeping weight off?
Shouldn't it be much harder to put weight on?
Why is it all so wrong?
It’s no easy feat to keep the weight off after a diet. The majority of people, who undergo weight loss, will gain weight back, and in many cases more weight. It isn’t about effort or willpower, it's about biology.
When you’re trying to maintain weight loss, you’re fighting against a body system that's wired to pack on those lost pounds.
The process of weight loss and maintenance is complex, but let’s look at the process more simplified.
The Simple Reason For Weight Regain
When you start to lose weight your fat deposits, or energy stores, decrease. This triggers your hormones to send signals to your brain that fat stores are at a critical level. This is because one of the hormones is leptin. Fat cells create this hormone to suppress your appetite.
This causes the brain to start a number of events across the body, that are designed to put your weight back on.
One such response is the signal to tissue to act more efficiently. This means burning less calories. Due to this, you need less calories to power through your day than expected based on weight.
For example, if you weigh 200 pounds and lose 20, you would need around 350 fewer calories than someone who weighs 180 pounds. That isn’t dieting though, that’s just maintaining the weight loss that you've achieved. You'd need to make further cuts to continue your weight loss.
Another response is that some parts of the brain that control the reward center are more active. We all know that eating brings us enjoyment. Well once you’ve lost weight your body kicks that feeling up a notch.
Rather than suppressing your appetite, your body fuels your hunger. This causes an increase in appetite, causing you to consume too much food.
These responses are natural responses from your body. Unfortunately, they are the responses that contribute to people gaining weight back. To put it simply, your body feels as though it’s under attack and begins to defend its fat stores, making it increasingly difficult for you to lose weight.
This is especially dangerous when you live in an environment with easy access to food.
Don’t Lose Hope
This sounds like bad news for people looking to lose weight, but it shouldn’t leave you feeling defeated. The real message here isn't that your body is sabotaging you, it's making you aware of what you’re up against.
Regaining your lost weight doesn’t have to be inevitable. You can counter this effect through behavioral or environmental interventions.
Studies have suggested that there's a variety of foods that are perfect for reducing your hunger, but that don’t contain a large number of calories. Additionally, around an hour of exercise every day will be incredibly helpful.
This level of exercise will burn calories, and prevent the metabolism from decreasing. This means that you'll burn additional calories, when in a resting state.
There are also a number of nutritional supplements that stimulate the brain in order to suppress appetite. I'll make a note of them in the show notes on the site.
If you've worked hard to lose weight and you’re starting to gain some back, know that this is your body’s natural response to the process. It doesn’t mean your body will win though. You're essentially battling against your body’s natural response. As your weight drops, so will your calorie need too.
Remember, if you've already lost 20 pounds you need to reduce your calorie intake more than someone who started their diet when they were 180 pounds.
Resources Mentioned in This Episode