Why Do Most People Fail At Losing Weight Permanently
Weight loss is easy. Seriously it is.
Have you ever heard of anyone going on a diet who hasn't lost at least five, then or more pounds?
Weight loss is not the difficult part, weight maintenance is. In other words, losing weight is not that difficult but keeping it off is.
Depending on what study you look at, long-term weight loss success rates are quoted between 5% and 20%. That means 80% to 95% of all dieters regain their weight in the long-term!
It also explains why statistics by http://connectedcongress.org show that the typical American dieter now makes four weight loss attempts per year. After all, if one of those attempts was successful, that would make the other three redundant, right?
So let's say you've lost twenty pounds, why is it so difficult to keep the weight off?
There are a number of issues that play into this that include adaptations in the body after losing weight, habits, knowledge about nutrition & weight loss and the practices of the fitness industry.
Hormonal Adaptations To Weight Loss
Several studies have shown that hormonal adaptations take place in the body after weight loss. Levels of hormones such as leptin and ghrelin change which encourages weight re-gain. Leptin plays a key role in regulating energy intake and energy expenditure including hunger and metabolism. Ghrelin is known as the appetite regulating hormone.
Leptin levels decrease and ghrelin levels increase after losing weight which increases appetite and encourages weight regain. The studies have also found that the levels of the hormones don't seem to revert back to their initial levels after losing weight.
Furthermore, studies have also shown that the metabolic rate changes as a result of losing weight. These changes seem to be larger than explained by the reduction in body weight.
All of these changes make it easier to regain weight after weight loss.
Weight Loss Myths And Practices Of The Fitness Industry
Thanks to science and a lot of weight loss studies we now know more about weight loss than ever before. But there is still a lot of confusion as to what needs to be done to lose weight effectively.
A large part of this confusion is created by the fitness industry. Every few months there is a new kind of diet trend that promises to be the cure to weight loss when in fact the fundamentals of weight loss have never changed.
For a while it used to be low-fat diets, then there were low-carb diets, use weight loss supplement like Phen375, and who knows what's next.
But there are also many other misconceptions that confuse people and make them spend a lot of time and effort on things that they shouldn't worry about. Examples are the (un-)importance of meal timing and meal frequency for weight loss. Many people still believe that you need to eat five meals a day to "stoke the metabolic fire".
This is one of the easier parts to fix and it comes down to understanding weight loss by getting information from credible sources which are not aimed at making a quick buck.
Approach To Weight Loss, Diet Adherence & Habits
Obviously, the approach that is chosen to lose weight is also a key success factor. Many dieters try to lose weight as fast as possible by forcing themselves into diet regimens that are only sustainable in the short-term. This can work temporarily until they revert to their previous lifestyle.
In the end none of their habits really changed. Energy intake was only decreased temporarily and none of the permanent lifestyle changes that are necessary to keep the weight off were made.
Rather than going for this "fad diet approach", it's much better to focus on one habit at a time. With every lifestyle change, ask yourself whether you can make this change for the long-term without severely impacting your quality of life. Because only the habits that stick will also allow you to maintain a lower weight.
Here are a few great habits for weight maintenance:
- Using intermittent fasting regularly
- Weighing yourself weekly
- Drinking water with every meal instead of sugary drinks
- Eating more protein to stay full longer
- Keeping a food diary
Taking into account the hormonal adaptations of your body after weight loss, it becomes even more important that you make permanent habit changes to counteract this. It's really the only way to keep the weight off.
Learning From People Who Have Successfully Maintained Their Reduced Weight
The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) monitors people who have maintained significant amounts of weight loss for long periods. The average member has lost 65 lbs and has kept it off for 5.5 years.
Here are a few interesting habits that these people maintain:
- 78% eat breakfast every day
- 75% weigh themselves at least once a week
- 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week
- 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day
I don't think this is the only way to keep the weight off but it's definitely interesting to learn from these people.