You probably have heard all about those celebrity weight loss struggles. Famous people have lost the weight, and then re-gained it, like Kirstie Alley, who put on the 70-pounds she lost, and others, too, such as Kelly Clarkson, Janet Jackson, Marcia Brady, and the list goes on and on. It happens to all of us. For women, many will lose all of their baby weight, just to re-gain it, and they aren’t even sure what went wrong.
One consolation is that, if these celebrities who have private chefs, personal trainers and unlimited gym time in their schedules can’t win the war against weight gain, it no wonder why the rest of us struggle so hard. Elite gym memberships, and personal trainers and chefs are expensive and therefore not an option for most of us.
Don’t worry. You are not alone. An estimated 80 percent of people who have lost weight have regained it with even a few more pounds, after just two years. And according to researchers at the University of California in Los Angeles, two-thirds of dieters regained more weight than what they lost within four to five years.
It’s not just about the numbers on your bathroom scale that are the problem. Putting on the pounds you worked so hard to lose, plus some extra, can lead to:
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Heart Disease
The main question is why? Here are six reasons why people tend to regain all their weight after the diet process:
1. Overly Restrictive Diets: The Main Cause of Weight Cycling
Weight cycling or cycling is the significant increase or decrease of one’s body weight that happens several times. This increase or decrease in weight is usually 10 to 50 more pounds.
According to many health experts, weight cycling or the yo-yo pattern in weight happens when the diet is too calorie-restrictive. Examples of low-calorie diets, which are diets with 800 calories or less include:
- The Grapefruit Diet
- The Cabbage Soup Diet
- The Chicken Soup Diet
- The Five-Bite Diet
- The Baby Food Diet
- The Zen Diet
While these diets could help you lose weight fast, they could affect your metabolism and overall health in the end. In the journal Obesity, a study reported those who followed low-calorie diets regained more weight than those who followed a healthy diet plan. This means if you eat 1,000 calories per day, adding just 100 more calories could make you gain weight.
Therefore, choose your diet wisely. Don’t fall for the culture of instant gratification, especially when it comes to permanent weight loss.
2. The Yo-Yo Effect: Understanding the Weight Loss – Weight Gain Connection
This is in relation to the first reason. If you go on a strict, restrictive diet, the faster it will be for you to gain the weight back as soon as you’re off the diet. However, this could lead to the loss of muscles and an increase in fat. This slows down your metabolism and it will be much harder for your body to burn fat in the long run.
You will start to lose weight again and gain more pounds the moment you stop your restrictive diet. Losing and gaining weight regularly could bring cause harm to your body. In fact, the yo-yo effect leads to the following:
- Loss of Skin Elasticity
- Stress on the Liver
- Burden on the Arteries and Skeletal System
- Heart Damage
- Lower Immune Function
- Higher Risk of Cancer
3. Metabolism: A Surprising Culprit for Putting on the Pounds
Metabolism is the process of breaking down food and converting it into energy, or burned calories. When you are on a diet, especially if it is a low-calorie diet, you may think your body’s ability to break down food is faster, since there is not much food involved. Apparently, that’s not the case. Instead, it slows down your metabolism, and makes it difficult to lose and maintain your weight.
Consequently, your body undergoes metabolic overcompensation for the weight lost. Contrary to popular belief, decreasing your body mass by 10 percent won’t decrease your metabolic rate by 10 percent, as well. It could slow down your body’s ability to break down fat even more, usually by 11 percent or more.
This is because your body thinks that dieting is a threat to its survival, regardless if you are following a restrictive diet or a sensible, healthy one. In fact, it does not know whether you are following a strict diet plan, or you are simply starving. This follows the increase of ghrelin, the hunger hormones, and decreases leptin, or the satiety hormone, which makes you want to eat more.
4. Conditioned Hypereaters: A Case of Bodies Who Were Born to Rebound
Do you love food? Doesthe sight and smell of food excite you? Does the excitement fade when there is no food? If you answered yes in at least one of the questions, then you might be what experts call “conditioned hypereaters.”
Led by Harvard-educated pediatrician David Kessler, a team of researchers from the University of California and Yale University examined the biology of weightcycling.They discovered the presence of certain individuals who have excessively active reward circuits in the brain when seeing and smelling food. These individuals are prone to eating, and those circuits will stay that way unless there is no more food on the table.
According to the researchers, 30 percent of overweight individuals and 50 percent of those who are on the obesity line are conditioned hypereaters. This means resisting temptation does not rely on willpower alone. It is more of a biological cause and for the first time, nonstop eating is not your fault.
How does it happen?
Keep in mind that ingredients alone are capable of providing a certain desire for food; however, the combination of sugar, salt and fat has the ability to tap your brain’s reward system and stimulate your desire to eat, even if you are already full. Apparently, not all food manufacturers are aware of these active reward circuits and the impact of food combinations on one’s health and eating habits.
Don’t worry. There are ways to re-wire your brain circuits and minimize your excitement for food to prevent overeating using the following techniques:
- Go for planned and structured eating. Instead of reaching out for a slice of cake anytime you want to eat, have a program to follow.
- Understand your personal food triggers. If you get excited with a certain food, do your best to resist the urge every time you see it.
- Educate yourself about healthy foods. This will help you understand the good from the bad foods.
- Change your perception about your own desired foods.Imagine feeling and looking better to start making healthier eating choices.
5. Emotional Triggers and How They Impact Your Weight
For every celebration, such as a graduation, job well done, promotion, birthday or holiday, food will always play a major role. If you are having emotional issues such as stress, depression or anxiety, food will probably be a problem for you.
According to a study at Brown University, dieters who ate in response to emotions were more likely to regain their weight. This is not an isolated case. Dieters may do well for a while but struggle with emotional issues due to various factors such as divorce, stress, kids, financial problems and jobs, emotional eating becomes the general rule, not an exception.
The solution: think about long-term behavior changes. Teach your brain how to respond to various emotions without resorting to food. To keep you motivated, a study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research showed those who received both weight loss techniques and an hour of behavior-change approach were able to maintain their weight loss, even after finishing the weight loss program.
To manage your emotions positively and lose that weight forever, try these simple techniques:
- Engage in physical activities to channel intensified feelings.
- Run your favorite music in the background.
- Write about your emotions.
- Consider meditation techniques, such as yoga or Pilates.
- Get social support from family and friends.
- Seek therapy if necessary.
6. Leptin: Your Weapon of Choice in the Battle Against Weight Regain
As mentioned previously, there are two main hormones that regulate your attitude towards food: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is the satiety or fullness hormone while ghrelin is the “I am hungry” hormone that encourages you to eat more.
When you lose and then gain weight, the production of leptin is at risk. This could be problematic because leptin reflects fat mass and the size of every fat cell in the body. When your leptin levels are in danger due to lack of sleep and fluctuating weight, you have higher chances of experiencing weight regain.
This is how a reduction in leptin affects the body:
- Increases Appetite – A lack of leptin sends a signal to your brain that says you are hungry and you need more food. This encourages you to eat more, even if your body doesn’t need it, which leads to regaining what was once lost.
- Drops Energy Expenditure – Energy expenditure is the total of basal metabolic rate, thermic effect of food, and energy expended when doing physical activities. Leptin regulates how much energy you burn to keep you moving; however, a lack of leptin decreases your energy expenditure and makes you more prone to regain the weight.
- Storage of Peripheral Tissues –Did you know fat cells have memory storage? This means that even if you burned a good amount of fat, your body is able to retrieve how much you lost when there is not enough leptin and excess energy. This is another reason why weight regain is common once you stop working out.
It’s Not Coming Back: Tips to Lose That Regained Weight Forever
Here are some things that you can do to stop, or at least minimize the regaining of weight:
- Choose your diet plan wisely. Diets with low calories provide you with instant weight loss in the shortest time; however, this means limiting nourishment and damaging your metabolism. Go for diet plans that won’t cut out any major food groups. Allow yourself to eat full and balanced meals to avoid compromising your health.
- Set fitness goals and reward yourself when you hit the target. Weight loss is not just about seeing a smaller figure on your scale. It is also about developing and establishing healthy eating habits and making exercise an important part of your everyday life. To keep you motivated and prevent you from regaining all the weight plus more, you need to set weekly or monthly goals, and then reward yourself every time you hit the target. Instead of using food as a reward, buy yourself a new outfit, get a haircut, have an at home spa day or watch your favorite movie.
- Get enough sleep. Maintaining an eating schedule and regular activity requires a healthy amount of sleep. A lack of sleep may lead to hormonal imbalances that affect the hunger hormones, which will strike hard, while your fullness hormone decreases. This makes you more prone to eating unhealthy as a way to keep you energized throughout the day. Therefore, get enough sleep.
- Don’t stop. Even if you lose all the weight, this doesn’t mean you should stop working out and eating healthy. Keep yourself active and continuously adopt the lifestyle habits you developed.
- Treat food as a friend. One of the reasons why some dieters follow a restrictive diet is because of a fear or disgust for certain foods and their effect on the body. Change that mindset. Food can be your friend. It goes beyond providing nourishment or keeping you energized. Look at food as your partner in losing and maintaining a healthy body.
- Go for physical activities to prevent weight regain. This is one of the most effective methods to prevent weight regain. Various studies show that increasing physical activity levels are effective in preventing weight regain. Therefore, get up and start moving. Look for activities you love to do, such as basketball, running, swimming, dancing- anything that will keep you moving.
- Don’t rely too much on meal programs and protein shakes. Yes, these tricks helped you lose 20 pounds, but if it is starting to take a toll on your bank account, then re-think your choices. Instead, cook your own meals, control the portion sizes for every meal, and focus more on healthy foods like whole grains, lean meat, fruits and vegetables. Food scales are affordable these days, and there are a number of apps to help you reach your goals by offering the support you need to keep going.
Losing weight and maintaining it can be hard work. It can even be depressing when you see the numbers creeping up on your bathroom scale. When this happens, keep in mind that you are not alone. Take it easy on yourself, and don’t pressure yourself too much to lose weight fast. At the end of the day, self-worth is what really matters.
In case your weight is making a comeback, remember the six reasons why this happens. It is not because you are weak or worthless. There is a real, biological reason for it. Evaluate your food choices, reflect on those weight loss goals, and follow the tips mentioned to stop weight from coming back.