Weight Regain After Weight Loss

Young healthy girl on home scales

The formula for successful weight loss is deceptively simple. To lose weight you must burn off more energy than you take in from food. You will lose one pound of body fat every time you eat 3500 fewer calories than your body burns off. To achieve this, you don’t need to know the exact amount of calories your body is burning off or taking in. As long as you correctly guess you’re eating fewer calories than your body is burning off, you will lose weight.

You need  to determine how many calories your body are burning off everyday. By doing this you will be able to properly adjust the calories you  are eating to maintain control of your weight. You also need an easy and inexpensive way to determine how much of your weight loss is muscle and how much is body fat. The more muscle, the more calories you burn at rest.

Factors responsible for weight regain

Weight Regain After Weight Loss
  • Biological factor – To a large extent, the weight we are is determined by genes. More than 300 genes (so far) have been linked with obesity. Where our fat is deposited, how insulin is regulated, how much of various hormones our bodies secrete, and many, many more. Similarly, the regulation of appetite is complex. It’s important to understand what is known about it, because what we eat and how we eat it can affect appetite on a short-term basis. One example: a major short term satiety regulator is cholecystokinin, or CCK. When we eat fat or protein, CCK is released, slowing down the digestive processand dampening our appetites. Interestingly, soluble fiber can slow down the breakdown of CCK, keeping us feeling satisfied for longer.

Hormones like Ghrelin, Insulin, leptin, resistin also play a significant role in weight loss and weight regain. Ghrelin is a hormone that is secreted from at least two places – the stomach and the brain – and is a trigger for the feeling of hunger. Ghrelin levels go up before meals, and down after meals. After weight loss, ghrelin levels don’t go down as much after a meal and are quicker to rise. It’s turning out that stomach surgery for obesity decreases ghrelin secretion – in fact, this is likely the most important reason surgery works well when it is successful.

Some medical conditions tend to cause weight gain. Among them are hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and Cushings Disease. Successful treatment of the underlying condition should at least partially alleviate the weight problem.

  • Unrealistic Expectations: Figures quoted by the weight loss industry reinforce the idea that rapid weight loss can be healthy, when in fact it makes it more likely that weight lost will be regained. Scientific reviews of the literature suggest that a 10% reduction in weight taking approximately 6 months should be the maximum rate of initial weight loss. After 6 months, a serious reevaluation should take place. This means that for anyone who has a starting weight under 260, a goal of losing one pound per week is too fast. In general, slow weight loss, including plateaus and stalls, help the body adjust to the change and lessen the chances of triggering counter-reactions. Realistically, maintaining a weight loss requires the same effort (or more), with a similar diet and exercise program as weight loss. In fact, most people need MORE exercise to maintain the weight loss thanthey did to lose it. This is why concentrating on finding a “diet for life” is crucial.
  • Dietary Pattern: Women generally tend to land up with yo-yo dieting in order to lose weight, which does more harm than good. Skipping meals in order to lose weight makes you crave, overeat at the next meal, and it slows down yourmetabolism, which ultimately hinders weight loss. A low carbohydrate diet causes weight loss because of restricted kilojoules or energy. These diets basically starve the body of the nutrients it needs and causes major metabolic disturbances to the body.
  • Physical Activity: Exercise is absolutely essential for long term weight loss. The trouble is, we tend to go about it the wrong way. A new exercise gym opens, and we enthusiastically join up, do too much too fast, get sore, and 6 months later we have nothing to show for the money we spent. Or we just set goals that are too high, and don’t adequately integrate them into our schedules. Or we are doing well for awhile, and then and illness or change of schedule derails us.
  • Support System: All of us need support and encouragement in order to achieve long term and short term weight loss goals. Studies have shown that dietary changes are very difficult to maintain without the support of those around us, and that talking to people who are attempting similar changes can be enormously helpful. Encouragement in form of motivation to keep you on track is essential for long lasting success. People often go on diets for short-term goals – they want to lose weight for a reunion, a wedding, a vacation. It’s not surprising that the results they get are short-term as well. It is far better to wait until you are ready to make a real, permanent change, and then do it in a way that is most likely to bring about long-term success. To be motivated, you don’t need to be “fired up” or “excited”. Those emotions won’t sustain you over the long haul anyway. You just need the calm, certain conviction that you are ready for a real change. At that point, we can help you take those slow, steady steps. A move, a job change, the loss of a loved one – these are only a few of the possible life events that can throw you off track. The more firmly established your new patterns are, the less likely a curve will throw you off, and more than ever we must get support from others to hold the “slow and steady course”.

To avoid regaining weight (or not gaining extra weight in the first place), the energy your body burns off must equal the energy you take in from food. To achieve this it is essential that you feed yourself exactly the same amount of calories as your body burns off. In this way, there will be no surplus calories left over to be stored as extra weight. But, how can you guess this amount of calories? In order to balance your calories, you need to work with specific numbers.

The balance between the number of calories coming into your body and the number of calories your body burns off is known as your energy balance. Controlling your energy balance is like controlling your bank account. If you ignore looking at the specific numbers in your bank account and just try to guess that the money coming into your account equals the money going out…well, do you see the problem? And yet, this is how millions of people attempt to manage their weight every day!


The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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