Why It’s So Hard to Maintain Weight Loss

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After overhauling your diet, upping your exercise, managing your stress, and working hard to lose weight, you may feel like reaching your goal weight is like crossing the finish line: all the hard work is over and you can coast in your new body. Turns out losing weight is just half the battle — the real work comes in keeping it off.

Eduardo Grunvald, MD, program director at UC San Diego’s Weight Management Program, told POPSUGAR that switching from weight-loss mode to weight-maintenance mode requires more effort just to keep the weight off. “If you were at that higher weight for quite a while, your body is going to try to do things to sort of rebound the weight back,” he said.

Your Metabolism Slows Down

One of those things is slowing down your metabolism. As you lose weight, your metabolism slows down to conserve energy stores, he explained. This process was identified during a Biggest Loser study that was published in the journal Obesity in 2016. Researchers found that all but one of the 14 former contestants on the show regained the weight they lost; they also found season eight winner Danny Cahill’s metabolism had slowed down significantly. Even when they gained the weight back, the contestants’ metabolisms still stayed slowed down.

Although we’re used to having food readily available, Dr. Grunvald explained that our genes are still the same genes as when humans lived in food scarcity and sometimes went days without food. When your body weight goes down, your metabolism slows down, too. “Essentially, our bodies kind of slow down metabolism to prevent starving to death,” he said.

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