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Why is it Hard to Maintain Weight Loss?

Many of you are familiar with the concept of yo-yo dieting. You diligently follow a new eating plan with some regular exercise and lose those nagging 15 pounds, only to regain them over the next 6 months or less. Why can't we just stay at the weight we want to be at?

First, make sure your weight ideal is actually a good one. You are healthy in the US If your BMI is 22-25. If you are shooting for 22 but 25 is easy, maybe 22 isn't in the cards. That will depend a lot on your body type. Someone who tends to be muscular will weigh more than someone who tends to be non muscular, for example. So step one is make sure your body weight number is a good goal. Very rarely, what you weighed in High School is a good goal for you as an adult.

Secondly, our bodies evolved to be VERY GOOD at starvation and holding on to calories. It has been estimated that the human race at one point was down to under 100,000 humans and we are all descendants from those few (about the number that fit into a big stadium). Our ancestors faced a great deal of food insecurity, something we rarely face today for the most part. Sadly, if you are poor in America, the cheapest food you can buy is calorie dense, but nutritionally poor (Ramen noodles, mac and cheese-- no veggies in those....) so it is easy to keep eating. Your body senses it isn't getting what it needs so keeps you hungry in an attempt to get more nutrition.

Thirdly, the homeostatic mechanisms in our body determine a set goal weight for you and try to keep you there. This involves the brain and likely other organs like the liver, and probably also the amount of body fat you have. The only way to reset this system is to intermittently fast regularly (more in another post), use the newer weight loss shots, or get gastric bypass surgery. You can still overeat your way back to a new "set point" even you lose weight using these methods. This is mostly due to ---

Fourthly, you require far fewer calories to maintain you new lower weight than you do when you are losing the weight to begin with. Often, as we get tired of being strict with our diet, we start to sneak in a few extra calories. Your body will totally pack any little bit of extra into storage, because you might start really taking your dieting seriously again at any time, so better be prepared.

So, if you don't want gastric bypass or do the weight loss shots forever, what can you do to maintain weight loss? You really do have to get regular at weighing yourself once a week at least to keep an eye on your weight. Try to eat portioned out foods that you know how many calories you are getting. Keep up with exercise as that helps you burn calories, but also keeps your homeostatic mechanisms running smoothly. Join a support group to help keep you on track. If you need more tips or help, join my DPC practice at or call 419-872-3250.


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