Have you ever dieted and lost weight, only to regain it again? Did you feel like you failed? Did you feel like there must be something wrong with you?
As many as 95% of women and men who escape obesity eventually find themselves heavy again. It is easy to feel like you failed but new science shows that it is not entirely your fault. Scott Isaacs, an Atlanta endocrinologist says that weight regain in not simply just a matter of failed willpower but your also battling biology. Ongoing research has determined three powerful physiological changes that work in tandem to drive your body to pack on the pounds you’ve fought so hard to dislodge.
Challenge #1 – Your body wants to hold on to its reserve
Along with the color of your eyes and your hair, your parents passed on other characteristics to you in their genes. Increasingly experts believe that one of them is a so-called set point. A general weight at which your body feels comfortable. Scientists also believe that this so called set point can also change throughout your life. Each time we gain weight, our bodies get comfortable with our newfound heft. Clueless to the fact that modern society is blessed with an abundance of food, your “just in case” genes want to keep the extra body fat stockpiled for the famine that may be lurking around the next corner. Also as you lose weight resting metabolic rates fall drastically. Even just moderate weight loss can cause your metabolism to slow to a crawl.
How to outsmart this set point? Maintaining lean muscle mass as you lose weight gives you the best chance at burning as many calories as possible throughout the day, since muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does. Experts advise starting a total body strength training program.
Challenge #2 – Your hunger Hormones go Haywire
The New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that a flux in hormones can cause dieters to suffer from ravenous appetite as pounds fall away. Biology messes with the hormone Leptin, that regulate how hungry or full you feel. Experts found this true in people who lost significant amounts of weight as well as those who lost smaller amounts of weight.
It was also discovered that if you have gone through yo-yo weight changes more than once – especially if your regain was fueled by junky carbs and fatty treats – your body may not be as quick to respond to hunger-satiating hormones.
So, how to outsmart your hunger hormones? Researchers are still searching for medical solutions to manipulating hunger hormone levels, but in the meantime there are a few things you can take to tweak the system. One is make sure you get enough sleep every night, since sleep deprivation make the problem worse by further lowering levels of hunger-satisfying leptin and upping levels of hunger-stoking Ghrelin. Dietary changes can also outsmart hunger hormones. Replacing simple carbs such as pasta and white bread with low-calorie foods that are rich in water and nutrients, such as vegetables, can also help outsmart a growling stomach.
Challenge #3 – Your brain craves food
Weight loss also produces changes in the brain itself that may make it harder to resist cake and cookies. Research shows that reward pathways similar to those that drive us to do drugs, have sex and gamble, light up extra bright when people who’ve shed pounds face a tempting treat.
How to Outsmart your brain? To counter-act these brain-directed urges, experts suggest you try providing yourself with alternative rewards. Weight loss feeds the brain with a steady supply of positive reinforcement but all those evaporate once you reach your weight loss goal. Replace these highs with nonfood sources of positive reinforcement, such as small monetary or shopping rewards for sticking to your goals. This can send brain signals down similar reward pathways to those that drive you to seek food, making you less tempted to reach for dessert.
So, now we know we can stop blaming ourselves for past diets and regains. It really wasn’t all our fault. Understanding our biology better prepares us for outsmarting it and getting to where we are maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Source: Prevention Magazine
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