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Why keeping weight off is so hard, and 3 thinks you can do to improve your weight loss maintenance success!

Posted: Oct 04 in Weight loss, Weight Management Strategies by

We’ve all been there before – we spend 6 months working so hard to lose weight, but before we know it, we run out of steam. We get hungry at night, start eating carbs, and feel like our willpower goes out the window.

Recent science has shed light on why sustaining weight loss is so hard. While we tend to blame ourselves for running out of steam, the biologic reality suggests quite the opposite. We know of two strong biologic forces that oppose sustaining weight loss:

First, as we lose weight, our body lowers the metabolic rate to combat weight loss. This means that even if we are careful about controlling our caloric intake, weight loss peters out because we become so fuel efficient.

Second, our body stops making the hormones that help us feel satisfied when we eat. This results in always feeling hungry, and not feeling satisfied – even right after eating. The diagram below shows you how an energy gap opposes sustainable weight loss:

graph showing energy gap opposing weight loss

We call this process metabolic adaptation, and it opposes our efforts at maintaining weight loss by trying to restore homeostasis. You see, your body recognizes the original weight as your “Normal” weight and the new weight as a “Weight-reduced state.” Metabolic adaptation seeks to restore your body to what it thinks of as normal.

So what can we do to successfully sustain weight loss? Well, the secret lies in understanding this basic biological principal, so you can take steps to oppose your body’s efforts at restoring the lost weight.

  1. Work on increasing metabolism. The best way to do this is resistance training – weights, exercise bands, yoga, pilates, etc. Aim for a minimum of 20 minutes twice a week, but more is better. Improving muscle will improve metabolism.
  2. Work on decreasing hunger. Stress reduction. Improved sleep. Less screen time. Continue your weight loss medication – consider increase in dose or adding a second medication in the evening. Continue using meal replacements to reduce hunger hormones and not let them get out of control. Consider an injectable weight loss medication, which restores the lost sense of satisfaction.
  3. Don’t take off more weight than your biology will allow. If you are hungry all the time in spite of the above steps, this is a sign that you are taking off more weight than your body will allow at this time. Stabilize at a lower amount of weight loss for now, wait for things to settle down, then reassess.

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