Why Your Body Wants to Gain the Weight Back
Most of us have enough trouble losing weight, but the constant battle of maintaining your weight loss is even more difficult when you face the possibility of gaining all of the weight back.
A new report recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine examines the claim that over 80% of dieters regain lost pounds within a year or two of losing them. Is this just a battle of wills, or is there a biological reason as to why we seem to gain those stubborn pounds back so easily?
One of our lead dietitians explains the science behind this study, and why our bodies seem to want to gain the weight back.
Why is it so Easy to Regain the Weight?
“The urge for our bodies to gain the weight back has a lot to do with hormones," says Christy Shatlock, MS/RD and one of the lead dietitians for BistroMD. “These hormones actually encourage your body to eat more after you lose weight. Gaining this weight back can be very easy, especially if you embrace a very low calorie diet.”
Biologically, once your body loses weight on this type of diet, these hormones actually tell your body to eat more, to conserve energy, and to store away more fuel as fat.
“This is why so many crash diets, and extreme low calorie diets fail to help you sustain lifetime weight maintenance,” says Christy. “Eating the right diet, balanced with proper nutrition is essential, especially if you don’t want to regain all of the weight right back.”
Can Consuming More Calories Help?
Participants in this study were required to eat a strict diet of just 550 calories per day. Bottom line: the numbers on the scale will drop, but this isn’t enough daily calorie consumption to promote long-term weight loss.
“You need a certain number of calories per day in order to be healthy and to maintain an active metabolism,” says Christy. “Any diet like this, with just 550 calories per day, is putting your body at serious risk for nutritional deficiencies.”
In order for your body to maintain an effective metabolism, it needs the right balance of nutrients. This includes complete meals with protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
“If you want to maintain long-term weight loss and be healthy, you need to consume more than 550 calories per day,” says Christy. “Our bodies are required to have a certain amount of calories daily. Again, this is why so many extreme low calorie diets fail—our bodies are trying to make up for the nutrition it’s been lacking for such a long time. It’s simply not a sustainable method. For weight loss, the ideal range is between 1200-1500 calories per day.”
If you want to lose weight, and keep it off for good, just remember: you need the right amount of calories, balanced with the proper amount of nutrition.
For more tips from our experts, please visit our health library section for more information.