“The effect of this for fat loss is very straight forward; the more weight you lose, the more the body tries to pull you back up to that old weight”
(From Renaissance Periodization Female Dieting)
Okay so you’ve done the diet thing, you lost the weight and you're feeling great…annnnnnnnnnd the weight came back faster than it was lost.
WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED?!
First, please note that you can NOT significantly reduce calories for long periods of time then reintroduce them all at once… you will gain the weight back!
We need to take into account what our body is doing and how it has changed.
What we know is that we’ve lost weight and we have extreme hunger and cravings that seem impossible to control. This is not your fault, our bodies have physiological mechanism (we can not control) making us gain the weight back, especially after a significant loss.
Post diet our metabolism is temporarily slowed, making our bodies burn nutrients at slower rates. Your hunger and cravings are uncontrollable because your body is not use to this new weight and is kind of freaking out. Our body loves stability, and will do whatever it takes to stay the same.
When we lose/gain weight our body proceeds to make adjustments to re-establish what it previous knew (former body weight). This is why we see so many people regain their weight after hard dieting.
This is called Set-Point Theory.
Basically your body wants you to stay the same because it is comfortable at a certain weight. Your body will make physiological changes in order to bring you back to this previous weight.
This is seen not only through slowed metabolism, but elevation in hunger, decreased motivation, and increased fatigue… remember losing fat is tiring!
So what can I do about it?
Have a maintenance phase post diet. This is where you slowly reintroduce calories over a period of time in order for the metabolism to increase, allowing you to later have more food without gaining weight. You must reestablish your bodies set point.
Stay the same weight for several months/ years. This will allow your body to adjust to the weight loss and you will be less likely to return to your previous weight. Do NOT try to do back to back cuts!
Do not diet in durations longer than 12-16 weeks, this is not only physically detrimental but psychologically as well.
Stay conscious of what your body needs from you.
Our bodies don’t love change and losing weight is not what we were made for.
Bodies are made to sustain life, to be strong, and to survive. We live in a modern society where food is easily accessible, allowing excess weight to be packed on (thank you survival instincts). We are far from hunters and gatherers these days, so now we have things like barbells to keep us strong and moving. Be patient and make sure to maintenance longer than you cut.
Written by: Alexis Manning, MA.
AFPA Certified Master Nutritionist & Holistic Practitioner