Maintaining your results.
It's no secret that once you have achieved your long term weight loss result that it's never an easy feat to keep the weight off. Many people successfully lose weight, however you cannot say that all of these people successfully keep that weight off. Even celebrities with personal assistants, personal trainers, and personal chefs struggle to keep the weight off. Why is this? Today we look at the factors that affect maintaining your result.
You probably already know this, but weight loss is caused by an imbalance in energy intake and energy expenditure. When we focus on weight loss, a weight loss program focuses on controlling energy intake, and energy expenditure. To make things more complicated, your body has ways of making this process harder. When we first reduce our energy intake (eat less food), our body begins to send more signals of hunger to the brain. This hunger drives you to eat more, bringing your energy intake back to energy balance. When we increase our energy expenditure, our body has a way of decreasing the amount of energy we burn (think of it like the first time you ran 1km in comparison to you running 1km now - should be easier, requiring less energy to do the same thing).
It is shown that with a wild animal, as food is restricted and hunger increases, so does its spontaneous activity which is believed to be from stimulation of food seeking behaviour. As humans, with food being generally plentiful and available, that behaviour isn't necessary. Thus, when the energy intake is reduced, natural signalling to move more to eat becomes useless. What we are seeing is a decrease in energy intake, but we are not seeing the body move to acquire food, so an adaptive decrease in energy expenditure occurs. This is believed to be from having less body weight to move, requiring less energy to move.
One study focusing on the adaptive changes to weight loss with energy expenditure has shown that after a substantial weight loss, the total output of energy was 422-460 calories less per day (equivalent = approx 50 minutes of cardio less per day) than predicted. Part of this decrease in energy expenditure is attributed to moving less, and being more efficient at what we perform.
The good news is that, since these adaptions in energy expenditure only affect the amount of energy that we burn, one can make conscious choices to increase physical activity to a sufficient extent to prevent weight regain. Research has shown subjects who exercised enough to expend 1000 calories per week (2 hours exercise per week) had regained most of their weight that was originally lost, but subject who expended 2500 calories per week (5 hours of exercise per week) had maintained most of their weight loss. Remember that physical activity doesn't have to only be formal exercise. What we do when we're not exercising makes up the majority of the energy that is expended. In fact, simply just increasing our steps per day can be a useful way of increasing total energy expenditure.
Because activity can decrease on an almost unconscious level, you need to make a deliberate and conscious effort to get as much activity as possible in throughout the day, every day.
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.