It’s no secret; losing weight can be incredibly difficult. Obesity is now one of the most serious health problems in the United States, with approximately one third of the population being classified as obese. A quick look around can help you confirm this for yourself.
Why are so many more people overweight now than 30 years ago? Is it the lack of physically demanding jobs, fewer people smoking, or the rise of the TV/Internet/videogame based culture, where people sit around and do nothing (online Texas hold’em tournaments and X-box Live don’t count as exercise)? It is possible that all of these things play into the trend of rising obesity. Some people are actually successful at taking the excess weight off after they’ve gained it.
For many people however, losing weight is only half the battle. Keeping the weight off after you’ve lost it can be almost as daunting a task. If this is a problem you’re battling now, you can take solace in the fact that you’re not alone. In fact according to several sources, 85% – 95% of people who lost weight on diet gained it back in the next 2 years. Sadly, many people gained back even more than they initially lost.
Predictor of Future Weight Gain
Even more surprising is that many experts are now starting to say that losing weight on a diet is actually one of the strongest predictors of future weight gain. You read that right. If you’ve lost weight on a diet, you are now far more likely to gain weight than if you’d just kept your fat on and never changed your diet at all.
Traci Mann, UCLA associate professor of psychology and lead author of a 2007 study on the subject indicated that the results from their research indicate that this is so. Her team’s results are corroborated by other work in the field, including work by a team at the University of North Carolina in 2001, which showed that among white and African American men and women studied “dieting was associated with a larger mean annual weight gain than non-dieting over a period of 6 years “
Keep Your Health From Declining, Even If You Gain Your Weight Back
There is however, something which well correlates to keeping weight from hunting you down like revenuers after a moonshiner. What is this magic bullet, you ask? According to yet another study, this one conducted at the University of Missouri by Tom R Thomas, professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology in the College of Human Environmental Sciences, demonstrated that exercise was the one part of the weight loss equation that could help dieters not only keep off weight, but prevent any number of different diseases and syndromes (there are so many these days).
His research showed declining metabolic health for those participants who did not exercise, and improving health in that area for those who did weather or not they regained their weight. Professor Thomas acknowledged the propensity of dieters to regain their weight, and that it poses significant health concerns. He also indicated that the results of his research indicate that even if some of the weight is gained back after the conclusion of a diet, continued exercise can often reduce or eliminate the negative effects of weight regain.
In his research, participants actually lost and then regained weight on purpose, as part of the test. Shocking as though that sounds, people actually went through the difficulty of losing, knowing they were only going to gain it all back again. Many people gain it back again, but at least they think they are going to keep it off when they are in the process of losing it.
After the weight gain, he divided the subjects into two groups, one who exercised 5 days a week, and another who never exercised. He then examined them to check for the health effects of the different behaviors. No surprise that the exercising group came out ahead on this one. Although the exercise didn’t help abdominal fat levels (remember, the participants were supposed to gain their weight back, so they ate until they did), improvements were noted in the areas of LDL and HDL cholesterol, oxygen consumption (VO2max), blood pressure and glucose, even with the increased weight.
What Can I Do?
All this research points in one direction for keeping weight off after you’ve lost it. You can’t go on a diet to lose weight, you have to undergo a lifestyle change to healthy eating. That doesn’t mean you have to eat nothing but rabbit food, but it means you have to start what I call the DES diet. DES stands for Don’t Eat S**t, and it can be one of the most valuable tools in your battle against the fat around your belly. See the many posts in the diet for fat loss archive to discover how you can eat more delicious foods than you could have ever imagined, and still lose weight.
The other component is exercise. You don’t have to work out like an Olympic athlete or pro football player, but you should do some sort of exercise at least 3 days a week. If you haven’t exercised for a while, slowly ramp up the intensity until you are working out with a high level of intensity. High intensity workouts let you workout less often and for a shorter duration, yet achieve better benefits.
Make these few changes in your life and your chances of being in the 10% that do keep the weight off will skyrocket.