The Politics of Keeping Weight Off

Posted: Oct 15 in Weight loss, Weight Management Strategies by

Just like our political party system in America, there are two contrasting belief systems when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off. On one side, we have the willpower group. This group believes that by eating properly and exercising enough, anything is possible. On the other, we have the biology group. This group believes that body weight is regulated by a complex interplay between our genetics and our environment.

This graphic demonstrates this concept nicely:

On the left side, we have the willpower group – eating less and exercising more to cause weight loss. Meanwhile, on the right side, we have the body’s metabolic response to weight loss – the body lowers the metabolism, increases levels of hunger hormones, and decreases levels of fullness hormones. We call this the “Metabolic adaptation” to weight loss – the body is adjusting to the lower weight, and making changes that would encourage regaining the lost weight and a return to the previous baseline weight.

This graphic is disturbing in that there are more dudes on the right side than on the left side, suggesting that biology will win the tug-of-war contest over willpower.

The reality may actually be some compromise between these two different thought processes. Losing weight takes hard work! It takes a lot of willpower to engage in a good weight management program and get the weight off. And it takes a lot of willpower to prevail against the proven metabolic adaptations that seek to cause you to regain the lost pounds.

But, we don’t have to settle for just having two dudes on the left side. That’s why it is helpful to have more tools at your disposal other than simply trying to lower energy in and increase energy out. To successfully keep weight off, we need to stack the left side of the rope! Here are a few more dudes that can work to help you win the tug-of-war contest:

  1. Pharmacotherapy – medications have been proven to double to triple the odds of successfully keeping weight off.
  2. Meal replacements – replacing some of the meals with fixed calorie meal replacements have been proven to increase weight loss.
  3. Support system – office visits are one of the best evidence-based strategies to help keep weight off. They boost motivation and help people overcome this lopsided equation.
  4. Novel dietary strategies – it is possible that higher protein, lower carb diets require more energy for your body to convert the protein into the fuel the body needs.
  5. Resistance training – improving muscle mass can improve metabolism.
  6. Intermittent Fasting – for some people, timing strategies can help sustain the lower number of calories.
  7. Stress reduction – reducing stress can reduce hunger and improve satisfaction.
  8. Improved sleep – the brain uses a lot of calories during sleep, and sleep improves the function of our satisfaction hormones.
  9. Environmental changes – changing the environment to make healthy choices easier and unhealthy choices harder can help sustain weight loss.
  10. Activity trackers – monitors to remind us to get up and move, and to set structured activity goals can improve our success.

As you can see, it isn’t too hard to “stack the rope” so that the left side wins!

Don’t rely on willpower alone – make sure you have enough dudes on the left side of the rope to help you win the next election!

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