It might not be what you think.
When we think about weight gain there are a few habits that most people will associate with increased weight.
- Eating more sugar, fat or highly processed foods
- Exercising less and being less active
- Hormonal changes through the ageing process
- Starting or stopping certain medications
One thing that often gets forgotten in this context is someones previous weight loss attempts. How much someone lost, how quickly and what measures they took to achieve it. Larger, quicker losses using more extreme measures are often predictive of regaining weight and having a higher BMI than the starting point.
Put simply, losing weigh in the short term often causes a net gain later down the line.
This seems like a very counter intuitive chain of events however there is a wealth of evidence supporting the theory that weight cycling (or yo-yo dieting) is associated with a net higher BMI and body fat percentage, a larger weight circumference as well as a lower BMR and poorly regulated blood glucose levels.
Yo-yo dieting is also linked to changes in relationships with food. Highly restrictive diets are associated with an increased likelihood of binge eating which often comes alongside feelings of anxiety, stress and lower mood.
There are many reasons why people re-gain weight after losing however one of the biggest is the metabolic changes in the body after a period of intense calorie restriction. During a time period in a calorie deficit the body adapts by reducing energy expenditure, if muscle is lost during a weight loss period too then this also reduces metabolic rate and energy output.
This in the short term is not a huge problem however when the dieter returns to a “normal” diet, one with little restriction then weight is often regained quickly, sometimes to a point higher than the starting weight.
As stated above restrictive diets are associated with increases in anxiety levels, low mood, depression and stress. All of which can impact food choice. There is a cycle that unfolds during most intense diets
Restriction/intense calorie deficit
Breaking the rule of the diet
Feel like you’ve failed
Self-esteem confidence and motivation takes a hit
Binge or over-eat, feeling out of control
Re-start a diet
This over time chips away at self esteem and confidence and can lead to less healthy eating patterns and pre-occupation with food.
The good news is, absolutely not!!
This may have seemed like a pretty negative article so far however this was not meant to scare you or put you off weight loss but lets do it in a slower, healthier more positive way.
Here are my tips for losing weight sustainably and avoiding the boomerang re-gain
- If you’re counting calories opt for a moderate deficit. Between 500 & 700 under maintenance is more than enough
- Exercise alongside nutrition changes
- Don’t cut out whole food groups
- Don’t just use weight on the scale as a measure of success
If any of this resonates with you or you want to break the cycle of demoralising diets then get in touch. Nutrition coaching could be just what you’re looking for. If you’re interested get in touch www.fitism.co.uk/nutrition
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