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The Cycle of Weight Loss & Weight Gain

7:28 AM, May 31, 2011   |    comments
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 The following information is courtesy of Emily Hoffman, Clinical Dietician at Memorial Hospital. 

    Did you know that most people who are overweight are generally good at dieting? Maybe not for the long term, but at least for the 12 weeks of the diet plan they are following.  Keeping the weight off is the tough part.  Chronic dieting can lead to a vicious cycle of weight loss and gain that may leave a person carrying more weight than when they set out to lose weight.  You may even be able to relate to this.  Weight loss doesn't usually stick until it becomes a lifestyle change, just like the moms in the Kick It Up First Coast Moms challenge have discovered.

The cycle of weight loss and gain is sometimes called the "yo-yo" effect.  Why is it so common? Well for starters, check out the "diets" that people are following. Are they realistic? Many times people go to extremes, they will severely restrict their calories to start a diet; but sticking to that calorie level is simply not something they can maintain. It could be a super intense workout regimen that would be impossible in "real life" or it simply could be a diet that is too restrictive; like diets that only allow a certain fruit or require the same thing for breakfast and lunch daily- how realistic is that long term?

In the cycle of weight loss and gain, what is actually going on in your body?  When you severely restrict your calories, you start seeing results especially the first couple weeks you follow it, so you get excited!  However, if your body is not adequately fueled, it will start to fight back. Your body will think you are starving it, so what does it do? It conserves energy by slowing down its metabolism, which is completely opposite of what you were trying to do.  Ultimately you want your body to work for you.  You may start to notice your weight loss slows down and that it is getting tough to follow the diet plan.  With a lower metabolism, if you stop following the diet, you often will end up gaining the weight you lost plus a little extra.

Losing muscle mass can also happen when you restrict your calories too much. Many of your vital organs like you liver, brain, heart and kidneys, need calories and carbohydrates for energy. Without the necessary calories and carbohydrates our body needs, our bodies will start to pull from its muscles for fuel.  If your calorie intake is low enough, your body will actually pull from the muscles that make up your organs to fuel your brain!  Like the Kick it Up First Coast Moms have discovered; as you build muscle, you burn more calories, even when you are not exercising.  Therefore, restricting your calories too low causes you to lose your muscle mass, making it even harder to lose weight.

So what is the answer?   Make it a lifestyle; change your eating habits and start exercising. Avoid diets that make you eat only a certain food, are very restrictive, or promise unrealistic results.  Weight loss the healthy way is usually slow and steady and those who lose weight this way are often more successful at maintaining weight loss.  Our bodies need fuel even while we are losing weight.  You can get started, if you haven't already done so, by following the Kick it Up First Coast Meal Plan that is posted on the website.  Your goal is successful maintained weight loss, don't be a chronic dieter.  According to the National Weight Control Registry, here are the 6 things recommended to keep the weight off:

  1. Engaging in high levels of physical activity
  2. Eating a diet that is low in calories and fat
  3. Eating breakfast
  4. Self-monitoring weight on a regular basis
  5. Maintaining a consistent eating pattern
  6. Catching "slips" quickly before they turn into larger weight re-gains.

The preceding information has been provided by Emily Hoffman, Clinical Dietician at Memorial Hospital.


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