For many people, Thanksgiving and Christmas mean gaining some extra weight then starting dieting once the holidays are over. I don’t think that it is the smartest idea to eat extra with a wish to then lose it after the holidays. Here’s why:
I am pretty sure almost everyone, at some point in their life, has tried some type of dieting approach to lose or gain weight. Actually, a huge part of the population does try to maintain their healthy weight, although we don’t hear much about that as I think weight maintenance is probably just not exciting or something we look forward to.
As I have mentioned in many of my articles, there are many types of diet you can apply and eventually, as long as you keep your calories lower than the energy that your body spends, and consume quality nutrient dense food, you will lose weight. The question is, then what?
Dieting works for most people only for a short time. It is very rare to see someone keep up long-term weight loss unless they really change how they identify with food and create new habits and beliefs. It is especially hard to keep it up in the longer term if you are following a diet that is very much restricting most or even all of the foods you enjoy to eat.
Of course, we all know if we want to lose weight we need to decrease our calorie consumption. However, I wish it were that simple. Researchers have found in order to be successful, you need to change your behavior and be good to your body. A body has a set point, whenever losing weight and nearing that point it will start to fight back. And it is very hard to win.
We know obesity and related health problems are getting more widespread, in fact 60 percent of U.S. adults carry excess body fat. When energy is restricted, a body will try to keep everything in balance and maintain homeostasis. So, the lower the calories the more your body will fight back to keep the weight on.
The body starts to lower its metabolic rate by decreasing energy expenditure, increasing ghrelin and decreasing leptin. That leads to more hunger. And of course the more hungry one becomes, the harder it is to stick to a diet.
Finally, though a new model has been proposed to explain the persistence of “energy depletion” signals, which occur during the state of weight regain. It is at this point that the body’s signals no longer reflect stored energy. Evidence would suggest our biological response to weight loss involves changes in energy homeostasis, so to be successful in the long term we need to do more than just focus on losing weight.
Our strategies for preventing weight regain may need to be just as comprehensive as the body’s biological adaptations that are making it so hard to not regain lost weight. Our individual biology may play a subtle role during the onset of obesity, but it becomes a driving force for weight regain after weight loss.
Now, I don’t want to discourage anyone from doing a diet. However, you should be aware of how to set up your diet, develop a strategy that does not rush to lose weight, and remember it is equally important to consider the strategies to follow after losing weight. Even if you do want to rush to lose weight, and you follow a very aggressive weight loss plan, you are still going to need to take a diet break to observe new habits before restarting the dieting phase.
In part two of this article series, I will go into more detail about hormones and what role they play in weight loss and weight regain.
• “Losing Weight: A Battle Against Fat And Biology”; https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2011/10/31/141794801/losing-weight-a-battle-against-fat-and-biology
• “Biological factors and weight loss methods”; https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/biological-factors-weight-loss-methods
• “Biology’s response to dieting: the impetus for weight regain”; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3174765/
• “Ghrelin enhances in vivo skeletal muscle but not liver AKT signaling in rats”; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18070752/
• “Identification of Body Fat Mass as a Major Determinant of Metabolic Rate in Mice”; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2889765/
• “Effects of weight change on plasma leptin concentrations and energy expenditure”; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9360521/
• “Why Diets Fail”; https://www.science.org/content/article/why-diets-fail
Ayda Ersoy is a nutritionist (Dip.C.N., Dip.S.N.); master trainer (CPT ACE, NCSF, CanfitPro); registered yoga teacher; founder, Health Angel Nutrition, Fitness and Wellness; and founder, SMS (Stability, Mobility Strength) Intuitive Training System.
Source: The Garden Island