If it has not happened to you, then it has probably happened to someone you know: after working for months to reach your weight loss goal, you find yourself gaining back the weight later on. It can feel like there is no way to break the cycle and maintain your lost weight.
But why does this happen, and why does it seem so common? The explanation contains both physiological and genetic aspects.
What weight does your body think it should be?
If you’ve been the same weight for some time, your metabolism likely will be slow to react in the event that that you lose weight. This is in part due to your genetics, hormones, and environment.
Proper lifestyle changes can help your metabolism react more accurately and better adapt to your new weight.
The role of “willpower”
Your general willpower to control your eating can play a role in your success in keeping your weight from returning. In the majority of situations, after losing weight you will want to eat fewer calories than you were eating at your prior weight.
However, researchers have found willpower to play a relatively small role, about 1 to 4 percent variance in BMI.
Calorie deprivation is the biggest difference-maker
As a result of your changing body during dieting, the number of calories you will need to consume will likely change as well. This can put your body in a state of “calorie deprivation.”
This deprived state (due to consuming fewer calories than normal) can result in an increased feeling of hunger, including a feeling of hunger even after eating. This, in turn, makes it difficult to maintain the correct diet for your new bodyweight.
What if I gain weight while after exercising?
Some individuals gain weight as a result of starting to exercise, but this can be attributed to a few factors:
- Increased muscle weight
- Increased water weight
- Inflammation following the workout
- Excessive eating following exercise
If you are trying to lose weight in the new year (and keep it off) remember that a consistent diet that you can maintain (not just a fad), regular exercise, a healthy amount of sleep, and a strategy to mitigate your stress are all the building blocks of a successful weight loss journey.