If you’ve been on a diet, I’m going to guess that you might have experienced the elation at the start when you’ve shed a few pounds, and then maybe two or three weeks later, found yourself fed up because you’ve stopped shedding pounds, or worse, you’ve gained a few back. Sound familiar? Then read on.
There’s a very good reason why weight loss (and regain) often follows a pattern, and it’s one that the diet companies don’t tell us about. After all, how would they cash in on lifetime memberships if we all knew the facts about our bodies work?
The truth is, despite how you might feel about it, your body is an incredible creation! It wants to keep you alive and healthy, and part of that is keeping you at a comfortable weight. There is a complex interaction between your brain, hormones and organs that is constantly going on in the background working to keep you safe, well and at a stable weight.
This stable weight is also known as the weight set point.
How the metabolism works to protect your set point
There is enough scientific evidence around now to suggest that your metabolism adjusts according to the energy available from food, so that it can protect your set point.
When you enjoy a larger than normal meal – imagine the Christmas lunch or a big family celebration – have you ever noticed how your body temperature rises and your heart rate speeds up a little? This is your metabolic rate increasing to burn the extra energy you are taking on board.
Likewise, when we go through a period of restricting food or undereating on a diet, the metabolism slows to preserve energy and avoid starvation.
This is why dieters will often experience a fast rate of weight loss at the start of a restrictive diet, followed by a slowing of weight loss as the metabolism adjusts.
The important thing to understand about your metabolism and dieting.
What we are learning, is that when we continually diet cycle, or yo-yo diet, by restricting foods and then returning to normal eating patterns, the body compensates by adjusting your resting metabolic rate.
The important takeout from this is, that the more the pendulum swings between normal food consumption and restrictive diets, your resting metabolic rate and weight set point slowly increase over time. This explains why many repeat dieters end up heavier than they were before they started dieting.
My top tips to maintain a healthy weight:
- Part company with restrictive dieting and instead look to improve the quality of the food you eat by reducing sugar and refined carbohydrates and increasing your consumption of whole foods.
- Gently increase your activity by doing things you ENJOY – shift your focus away from exercise to burn calories, to moving your body for stress relief and enjoyment.
- Keep your cortisol (stress hormone) levels in check by committing to a small practice of self-care every day.
- If you want a healthy way to manage your weight without dieting, take a look at my new programme: The Non-Diet Method, Nutrition and lifestyle practices for body confidence and well-being.
Finally, If you’d like to read more about the science of metabolism and appetite, I recommend reading, ‘Why We Eat (Too Much)’by Doctor Andrew Jenkinson.
Have a view or a question? Jump in the comments and let me know.