Weight management is a key component of a healthy life. While some people successfully maintain healthy weights through a balance of exercise and nutrition, weight loss can be vital for those who are overweight or suffering with obesity, which is becoming a global health concern. However, weight loss, particularly long-term weight loss is much more complicated than you may have originally thought. You may not realise this but as many as 90% of people who have lost weight will gain it back. Weight management can become a reality, but we need to understand the long-term science behind it and how our bodies respond to weight loss efforts.
Your Metabolism Will Slow Down to Store Fat
The more you work out or manage your calorie intake, the more your metabolism wants to compensate by slowing down to maintain your current weight. Metabolic compensation kicks in to preserve and store fat for future energy. Some theorize that this occurs because the human body has evolved to value storing fat and energy and to interpret a shortage of calories as a sign of distress.
Your Hormone Will Increase Drive to Eat
Unfortunately, metabolic compensation isn’t your body’s only strategy to prevent weight loss or encourage weight gain. Hunger hormones – leptin and ghrelin are also at play here. Fat cells produce leptin, which tells your brain when you are full. Fat cells also shrink when you lose weight, producing less leptin, which means you don’t feel as full. ghrelin, produced by the stomach, tells the brain it’s time to refuel. When you lose weight, ghrelin levels rise, prompting you to want to eat more often. (What gives right?)
Your Brain Won’t Register How Much You’re Eating
On top of your metabolism and hormones, the neural circuitry in your brain is fighting weight loss also. Food has a greater reward value after you’ve lost weight and the part of the brain that regulates food restraint becomes less active. This means that while you’re eating more to feel full, you’re also less aware of how much you are eating.
Your Weight Has a Favourite Number
This theory goes that people can have naturally high or lower set weights than others and this is due to a variety of factors. These set points can rise but very rarely do they lower. Similarly, they are much easier to maintain -because your body wants t -then reduce, which is why maintaining a healthy weight is easier than losing weight.
So, when looking at your long-term weight loss, you need to remember the above points regarding how your body handles it. Long story short… maintaining a healthy physique is all about living a healthy lifestyle and having everything in moderation. Sometimes we need to accept that our bodies can’t always reach the number we are desperately striving for and that is ok. It isn’t always about the number on the scales. If you have hit your bodies favourite number, work on reshaping your body through exercise and try not to focus on those scales too much as a lot of factors come into play.