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Do you struggle to keep weight off when dieting?
With so many people failing diets or re-gaining weight it’s easy to ask, “why do we gain weight back after a diet?”.
Today, I’m going to address this problem. Here at ART, we’re all about making positive change that starts with your mentality so stick with us and you’re going to learn to make your results stick: we don’t do yo-yo diets!
Your Body Changes
When you diet, you’re putting your body into a new situation.
As an adaptation-machine, your body will change to meet these demands and keep you alive. Overlooking these changes is an easy way to sabotage your diet and re-gain weight.
Watch your Metabolism
If you lose weight on a diet you’re going to weigh less, and your metabolism is going to drop a little bit. If you don’t keep an eye on this, you’ll gain weight if you revert to your “maintenance” diet. This isn’t your maintenance anymore, and you’ll gain weight right back.
You should be adjusting your diet to deal with these changes whenever you lose a significant amount of weight.
After every 3-5lbs of weight loss, re-calculate your diet to make sure that you’re eating enough. This is even more important at the ‘end’ of a diet, as it’ll frame your next steps after big weight loss.
Efficiency Can Be a Trap
When you eat less, you’re also going to become more efficient at using food. Your body deals with reduced food intake by making the most of what you are eating.
This can be a strange change: you’re making the most of every single gram of food. If you start eating more after you reach a goal weight, this means more efficient fat-storage.
That’s the opposite of what you want, so it’s important to keep your diet stable after a weight cut.
Dieting Behaviour is Key
The way that you deal with your diet – from mentality to behaviour – is a huge part of whether or not you’re going to regain the weight.
While the changes in your body are important, it’s obvious that the real problem is taking the wrong approach to diet. Changing behaviours when you finish your diet is the fastest, most common way to fail in the long-term – even after you’ve made so much progress!
We’ve all heard this dreaded term before.
Yo-Yoing is a pattern of dieting where you cut lots of weight in a short amount of time, then you gain it back on. This happens because of your approach to dieting goals, as well as changes to your body.
Dieting too heavily is an easy way to bring on the changes we mentioned above, but you’re also going to be hungry and exhausted by the time you finish. If you’ve half-starved yourself, you’re going to revert to bad habits when you come off of a diet because you’re hungry and under-fed!
On the other hand, a sustainable diet is one that you can keep doing forever.
Extreme, unsustainable diets result in weight gain when you’re “off” your diet and allowed to eat whatever you want again. Combined with the metabolic changes we discussed, this is a recipe for disaster.
Do you go to the gym to reach your goal weight? This might be the problem.
Using weight as the main reason for diet and exercise makes it hard to continue after you’ve achieved that goal. Where do you go from there? Often, people fall off their exercise routine when they see that number on the scale and think they’ve ‘finished’ their diet.
Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle beyond your diet weight is key. Aim at something bigger: the values and benefits that made you want to diet in the first place, or simply improving your athletic performance.
The best approach is to love the process, enjoy the positive changes, and give yourself a reason to keep going when you reach those mid-term goals!
The Problem: Mentality for Dieting
In reality, you will re-gain a little bit of weight when you come off of a diet. This is just water and muscle-glycogen (the fuel for strength and endurance!) returning. Remember, weight gain isn’t fat gain!
A good mentality builds good habits and avoids the bad ones that cause re-gain.
Treat dieting as a lifestyle change – something you can/should be dealing with for the rest of your life. This forces you to use a sustainable diet – you don’t need to eat chicken and broccoli every meal!
Consistency and persistence are the biggest factors in long-term weight management. Putting together a diet that isn’t too restrictive avoids this shift between extremes of cutting and feasting that causes long-term weight-loss failures.
Final Thoughts: Making Your Diet Stick
We’ve covered a few key points, and they’ve highlighted some of the key steps in losing weight and keeping it off:
- Adjust as you go: your metabolism is going to change – you need to change with it!
- Think about the long-term: you need to know why and how to diet beyond a single number on the scale – focus on something bigger!
- Develop Good Habits: your diet and exercise should be fun and focus on self-improvement, so you can keep them up even when you reach those fitness goals.
- Be realistic: don’t go on any diet that’s going to make you hate food or feel restricted. You need a diet that you can stay on forever, so it should allow you some enjoyment from time to time!
The key to all of these is that weight management is a life-long concern, you can’t take a short-term approach to a long-term problem. You have to go for consistency and good habits, not fads or extreme, restrictive diets.
At ART, we design individualised diets that focus on a big, long-term win. Get in touch if you keep putting weight back on after your diet, and we’ll teach you how to keep it off and keep progressing!
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