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June 20, 2023

Why Keeping Weight Off is Difficult

keeping weight off
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Why Keeping Weight Off is Difficult

Have you wondered why keeping weight off is difficult once you have lost it? This post will look at some of the reasons why keeping weight off is challenging.

There is perhaps nothing more frustrating than working really hard to lose weight, only to regain it later.

Before we talk about the challenges in keeping weight off let’s define what successful weight loss is. Many experts define successful weight loss as a 10 percent reduction in body weight, maintained for at least a year.

Now let’s talk about the challenges in keeping weight off.

Here are some sobering statistics when it comes to regaining weight that was previously lost.

According to a January 2018 research review in Medical Clinics of North America.

  • Within 2 years, people tend to regain more than half the weight they initially lost.
  • Within 5 years, people tend to regain about 80% of the weight they initially lost.

But why does regaining weight happen? According to researchers from Yale School of Medicine one reason is:

Obesity alters brain’s response to fat and sugar which may not be corrected with weight loss. Yale researchers found that compared with lean adults, those with obesity did not have the same brain responses to infusions of dietary fat or sugar into the stomach. Their brain activity was blunted, and they did not have the normal release of dopamine — a chemical involved in feelings of “reward” from food.

Obese individuals appear to have a reduced nutrient-sensing where the brain fails to recognize what is going on in the gut leading to overeating. This nutrient-sensing malfunction may not be fully corrected with weight loss making keeping weigh off challenging.

The study found, that this nutrient-sensing disconnect was not restored when study participants went on a reduced-calorie diet for three months and shed 10% of their starting weight. It is possible that over a longer period of time (than just 3 months) that this nutrient-sensing corrects at least partially.

Thus, there may be more to keeping weight off than pure willpower.

Challenges to Keeping Weight Off

Other challenges to keeping weight off include easy access to food 24/7/365 plus access to junk food – high calorie, low nutrient foods..  Having constant access to food was not an issue for our ancestors.

In fact, our ancestors sometimes went days without eating much. And, they certainly did not have access of nutrient poor junk food. In addition, our fast-pace lifestyles frequently leads to eating easily prepared pre-package foods many of which are not very healthy.

Here are some tips to selecting healthy foods which we have mentioned in some of our other articles;

  • Shop the perimeter of the grocery store.
  • Avoid eating anything that comes in a bag, box, can, or jar.
  • If it swims in the water, flies in the air, falls from a tree, and runs across the ground, it is usually healthy to eat.
  • Don’t eat anything your grandmother or great-grandmother would not recognize as food. Your great-grandmother probably never saw a Twinkie or Oreo.

Another challenge is this concept of going on and off diets. A nutrition program needs to be a daily endeavor for it to be successful. Once you lose weight you need to continue those habits that led to the weight loss. Many individuals who have been successful at losing weight quickly abandon those weight loss strategies once they get to a goal weight.

Don’t do that. If you are successful losing weight maintain those habits.

 

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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