Reasons Why You’re Gaining Weight Back After Losing It
Trying to slim down can be similar to bouncing on a trampoline. The harder we jump down, the higher our weight infuriatingly shoots right back up. It’s not just hard on your wallet , but it can also be hard on your health, from increasing muscle loss to attacking your immune system. Regaining lost weight, also known as weight cycling, is a common occurrence for 75 percent of people who attempt to shrink their waistlinesjust look at the participants of the show, The Biggest Loser.
In a 2016 study about the show, published in the journal Obesity, researchers followed 14 contestants for six years following the 2009 season. They were shocked to see that nearly all of the contestants regained weight after the competition ended. And four contestants were actually heavier after the show than before they started their weight-loss journey. For some, that’s gaining weight of over 100 pounds!
You probably already guessed there’s more behind the added flab on your frame than just calories-in-calories-out and that simply moving more and eating less may not help you slim back down.
Instead, you’ll need to pinpoint the precise reasons behind your weight gain so you can reverse the damage.
Is It Bad To Lose Weight Too Quickly
Its normal to want to lose weight as fast as possible.
But youve probably been told that its better to lose weight at a slow, steady pace.
Thats because most studies show that people who lose weight slowly are more likely to keep it off long-term. Losing weight slowly also comes with far fewer health risks .
However, several recent studies have found that rapid weight loss might be just as good and safe as slow weight loss .
So is it actually bad for you to lose weight fast? This article digs into the research to uncover the truth.
Your Brain Onwhat Happens To Your Brain When You Go On A Diet
With this experience in mind, Taub-Dix explains that when you really cut back on calories, your body thinks youre in trouble, urging it into starvation mode, and it slows down a lot of the functions that are necessary to burn calories including your thyroid, metabolism and blood pressure. Whats more, as a woman, it can make your period irregular, which can affect your hormones and lead to weight gain. And at the end of the day, the battle of the binge is a hard one to win.
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Is Intermittent Fasting Safe
Some people try intermitting fasting for weight management, and others use the method to address chronic conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, high cholesterol or arthritis. But intermittent fasting isnt for everyone.
Williams stresses that before you try intermittent fasting , you should check in with your primary care practitioner first. Some people should steer clear of trying intermittent fasting:
- Children and teens under age 18.
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- People with diabetes or blood sugar problems.
- Those with a history of eating disorders.
But, Williams says, people not in these categories who can do intermittent fasting safely can continue the regimen indefinitely. It can be a lifestyle change, she says, and one with benefits.
Keep in mind that intermittent fasting may have different effects on different people. Talk to your doctor if you start experiencing unusual anxiety, headaches, nausea or other symptoms after you start intermittent fasting.
You’re Working Out Too Much
If you’re working out but gaining weight, the problem may lie in the amount of time you’re spending exercising. There’s no denying that working out is an important weight loss factor, but oddly enough, thinking about your upcoming sweat sessions too often can make it more difficult to lose weight. An Obesity Reviews meta-analysis indicates that people tend to overestimate how many calories they burn when they work outand will end up eating more on days they work out. A separate study supported this finding, showing that people tend to increase their food intake after exercise and end up eating more calories than they burn.
The solution: To prevent sudden weight gain, avoid excessive noshing after exercising. Pick up pre-portioned pre-workout snacks tailored to your fitness routine.
Cut Down On Sugar And Refined Carbs
Whether or not youre specifically aiming to cut carbs, most of us consume unhealthy amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour, white rice, and sweetened breakfast cereals. Replacing refined carbs with their whole-grain counterparts and eliminating candy and desserts is only part of the solution, though. Sugar is hidden in foods as diverse as canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, margarine, and many reduced fat foods. Since your body gets all it needs from sugar naturally occurring in food, all this added sugar amounts to nothing but a lot of empty calories and unhealthy spikes in your blood glucose.
Less sugar can mean a slimmer waistline
Calories obtained from fructose are more likely to add to fat around your belly. Cutting back on sugary foods can mean a slimmer waistline as well as a lower risk of diabetes.
How To Eat Healthily Without Going On A Diet
Eat less refined carbohydrates
Modern dieting solutions often emphasise cutting carbohydrates out of your daily meals, but this isn’t set in stone. Keep an adequate amount of carbohydrates in your nutrition plan is a good idea if you’re active but make sure to prioritise complex options and minimise your intake of refined carbohydrates, which dont contain nearly as much dietary fibre and tend to be lacking in nutrients.
Get more dietary fibre
Having enough dietary fibre in your diet can help with weight management by increasing the feeling of satiety, so that you dont feel the temptation to consume more than your body actually needs. Most fruit and vegetables are rich in fibre, and so are legumes such as beans and peas.
Say yes to gut-friendly food
Your gut has a huge influence on your weight because it directly affects what nutrients are absorbed and handles the disposal of waste materials. A build-up of the latter can lead to gut toxicity which can lead to inflammation and worse. Once again, various vegetables and fruits should be at the forefront of your diet because of their prebiotic content, which allows for intestinal flora to flourish. Fermented food is also recommended due to their high probiotic content, which protects your gut from bad bacteria. Examples of such food include kimchi, greek yogurt and tempeh.
Pack on the protein
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A Womans Monthly Period
As I mentioned before, this is really just a subsection of #1, because a womans period causes short term weight gain as a result of water retention.
However, I wanted to give it a section of its own because, compared to the other causes of water retention we covered, this one is WAY more complex. Specifically
- The degree of water retention experienced can vary quite a bit from one woman to the next and even one period to the next.
- Compared to other common causes of water retention , water weight gain during a womans menstrual cycle has the potential to be much more significant and longer lasting.
- Unlike the other causes on this list, this is the only one thats going to be recurring every month over and over and over on a fairly consistent basis.
That third point amuses me a bit, because there are women who are still somehow surprised and confused by the water weight gain it causes for them each time it happens.
What I mean is, out of all of the unexplained reasons for gaining weight that we are discussing in this article, this is the one that fits that description the least.
Why? Because its something that consistently happens on nearly the same days every month with similar amounts of water retention each time which then goes away in a fairly similar manner within a fairly similar time frame.
Meaning, its pretty effing explainable.
You Opt For Coffee Over Green Tea
You probably think you need your skinny, double shot latte to wake you up in the morning and give you the extra boost to get through the workdaybut if you always opt for coffee over tea, you could be missing out of some major metabolism-boosting effects. And that’s super important after weight loss, as your metabolism can slow down drastically.6254a4d1642c605c54bf1cab17d50f1e
In a Journal of Nutrition study, participants who added a daily habit of drinking 4 to 5 cups of green tea to their 25-minute workout routine lost an average of two more pounds and more belly fat than the non-tea drinkers.
How does it work? The brew contains catechins, a type of antioxidant that triggers the release of fat from fat cells and helps speed the liver’s capacity for turning fat into energy, which will help rev up your metabolism so you can continue to look bikini-ready.
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You Aren’t Paying Attention To Your Sodium Intake
A high-sodium diet can make you retain water and bloat. And when you retain water in your gut, it can make it seem like you’ve experienced a sudden weight gain in your stomachwhen it’s just water weight. As Palumbo says, “sodium-related weight gain is easy come, easy go.”6254a4d1642c605c54bf1cab17d50f1e
The solution: Up your water intake and cut back on the sodium. Cooking more at home with fresh herbs instead of salt should help your belly deflate in a day or so. Dining out? Scan nutrition info at home before you head out and pick a healthy restaurant dish with about 1,000 milligrams of sodium or less.
Something A Little More Serious
The VAST majority of the people reading this who are experiencing some type of unexplained short term weight gain will find one of the previous items on this list to be their cause.
Having said that, I still need to mention that some people may have a more serious underlying reason for their unexplained weight gain, especially in cases where there are other symptoms accompanying it.
I have nothing more to add here other than to see a doctor if you suspect this might be the case.
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Potential Pitfalls Of Intermittent Fasting
A notable aspect of this trial was a very high dropout rate among the people assigned to the fasting regimen. This may reflect a real-life pitfall of fasting as a weight-loss approach. “It’s human nature for people to want to reward themselves after doing very hard work, such as exercise or fasting for a long period of time, so there is a danger of indulging in unhealthy dietary habits on non-fasting days,” says Dr. Hu. In addition, there’s a strong biological push to overeat following fasting periods. Your appetite hormones and hunger center in your brain go into overdrive when you are deprived of food.
But intermittent fasting may have a beneficial effect on diet psychology for some people, says Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “One of my patients felt strongly that he didn’t want to be bothered with tracking calories and filling out food records. Instead, he opted for a 5:2 fasting approach, which has worked well for him so far.” The main goal is to develop a healthy eating pattern that is sustainable and can support weight loss over time, McManus says. As of now, intermittent dieting has not been proved to meet this key criterion.
Some commercial companies have started marketing packaged meal plans designed specifically for intermittent fasting. While this may make the process easier for some people, these products tend to be expensivearound $300 for a week’s worth of food.
Keeping The Weight Off
Although fad diets may take off a lot of weight right away, the National Institutes of Health cautions against using them because they are not sustainable. To prevent regaining the weight you lose, its important to follow an eating plan that is sustainable over the long term. When you are ready to lose weight, talk with your doctor to develop a healthy plan. Losing about 2 pounds a week is a healthy rate of weight loss, but dropping weight faster than that can put you at risk for severe health issues that include gallbladder damage, kidney failure, osteoporosis and heart irregularities.
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What About Severe Calorie Restriction
What if you eat only 500 or 600 calories a day? Although drastically cutting calories can cause rapid weight loss, consuming far less than your body needs can be counterproductive.
Severe calorie restriction can make you feel extremely hungry, deprived, and fatigued. Whats more, it often leads to loss of muscle, or lean mass.2
Generally speaking, the more lean mass you have, the more calories your body burns at rest.3 Loss of muscle during very-low-calorie dieting can slow down metabolism, making future regain much more likely.4
So fast weight loss via severe calorie restriction may not be a good idea for many people.
Why Does The Weight Come Back So Quickly Once I Stop Dieting
The best way to maintain your weight after a diet is to exercise. Read Consumer Guide’s elliptical machine reviews to find the right model for a low-impact, fat-burning workout.
In How Dieting Works, you found out about the effect calories have on your body. For each pound of weight that your body carries, it takes about 12 calories per pound per day to keep it alive. If you weigh 150 pounds, you therefore need about 1,800 calories per day to keep yourself alive and maintain that same weight.
If you were to eat more than 1,800 calories per day, the surplus turns into fat. It takes about 3,600 excess calories to make a pound of fat.
Let’s say that you were to eat, on average, 2,000 calories per day. That extra 200 calories per day is going to turn into fat. However, you will eventually hit a point of equilibrium because as you gain weight, you need more calories to maintain that weight. So, a person eating an average of 2,000 calories per day will hit equilibrium at 166.67 pounds.
So let’s say that you eat, on average, 2,000 calories per day and reach equilibrium at 166 pounds. Then you go on a crash diet where you eat only 1,000 calories per day for 60 days. You lose 16 pounds and reach your target weight of 150 pounds. But then you go right back to eating 2,000 calories per day again. The graph below shows your eating pattern before, during and after the diet:
This graph shows what happens to your weight before, during and after the diet:
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Build Muscle While You Lose Weight
Healthy weight loss isnt just about what you eat. You need physical activity if you want maximum results.
Cardiovascular exercise like walking burns calories, but strength training is just as important. When you lift weights or do resistance training, you increase muscle mass. And when you have more muscle mass, you:
- Burn more calories, even at rest.
- Improve your balance and reduce your risk of falls.
- Reduce joint pain and symptoms of arthritis so you can keep moving and losing weight.
- Strengthen your bones and reduce your risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
You’re Not Correctly Using Your Calorie Tracking App
“There are two ways that online calorie-tracking applications can be erroneous,” says Theresa Gentile, MS, RDN, owner of Full Plate Nutrition, and the New York City Media Rep for New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Firstly, they use a generic algorithm to calculate the number of calories you need each day to lose a certain amount of weight. This number, although it is a good guesstimate, can’t take into account your personal, underlying metabolic factors . The only reliable feedback you’ll have as to whether or not the caloric recommendation is right for you is your weight on the scale.”
“Secondly, calorie-tracking applications often reimburse you each day with the calories that you’ve burned off with exercise. Let’s say your calorie needs are 2,000 calories per day and you’ve burned off 300 with exercise . The application then gives you an allowance of 2,300 calories for the day. If you’re trying to lose weight , you’ll want to create a deficit in daily calories and not eat what you’ve burned off in exercise.”
The solution: Find the proper calorie amount you need to lose weight using our calculator.
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Longer Term Water Retention
As I mention earlier, water retention is the most common cause of short term weight gain. It happens all the time to virtually every single person on the planet.
However, sometimes certainly less frequently in comparison there are instances where water retention can exceed the short term and last for a longer period of time.
So, instead of a day, or a few days, or a weekit can occasionally last for a few weeks.
This sort of thing can happen to anyone, although its probably more common among women than men, partially because of a womans menstrual cycle, and partially because well certain things are just weirder when it comes to women .
And because of this occasional longer term water retention, a person can see their weight loss progress stall completely on the scale for a few weeks or potentially even see themselves gaining weight WHILE they are actually continuing to lose body fat.
The gain in water weight they are simultaneously experiencing is just counterbalancing that fat loss and preventing it from actually showing up on the scale .
That is, until a magical whoosh finally occurs and the scale finally shows a sudden meaningful amount of weight loss in a short period of time and the person tends to notice they almost instantly look a little leaner.
This is one of the many reasons why I recommend properly tracking your body weight over the span of 2-4 weeks before freaking out and adjusting your diet and/or workout.