Why It’s So Hard to Maintain Weight Loss

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Your Hormones Change

“When you lose weight, a lot of your hormones shift so that it tells your brain to consume more calories,” Dr. Grunvald explained. One of these hormones that gets out of whack is leptin, the satiating hormone that suppresses appetite. When you lose weight, your leptin levels drop, which means your body isn’t readily signaling that it’s full.

Not only does this make you hungrier, but it also changes the way you process food. “That doughnut tastes a lot better after weight loss than it did before,” he said. “It’s just the brain’s way of getting you to consume more calories to regain that weight.”

You Revert Back to Your Old Ways

In addition to the physical responses that happen when you lose weight, such as your metabolism slowing down and your hormones changing, your environment and behaviors can also trigger weight regain. If you revert back to how you lived before you lost the weight, you will inevitably slip back into old habits and gain the weight back. It’s important to remember that even though you lost weight, your hard work isn’t done; rather, maintaining weight loss requires vigilant effort.

In fact, you may have to work harder to maintain weight loss than you did when you initially lost it. When assessing the National Weight Control Registry, a database of people who have lost 30 or more pounds and kept it off for at least a year, researchers noticed that most of the patients exercised more during the maintenance phase than they did during weight loss. “It doesn’t mean that you have to go to the gym two hours or you have to run a marathon,” Dr. Grunvald said. “It just means that you walk an extra half hour, an extra hour a day just to maintain the weight.”

How to Prevent Weight Regain

Knowing that it still takes a constant effort to maintain weight loss, you can arm yourself with the right tools to keep the weight off for good. Dr. Grunvald said the most important factor is to have a positive environment and ongoing support system, whether that’s a weight-loss program, dietitian, health educator, or obesity medicine doctor or clinic.

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