I Wasn’t Crazy After All—I Can Gain Weight on Fewer Calories

By James Wallace Harris, Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Yesterday, The New York Times ran “After ‘The Biggest Loser,’ Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight” that was an extensive article that explained the science behind regaining weight after dieting. Scientists used contestants from the reality show, The Biggest User in their study. They measured their metabolism before and after their massive weight loss successes. Contestants, as they lost weight, became more efficient at maintaining their weight. The startling news, which many dieters have learned from experience, is after you regain your weight, you also maintain that efficiency. So it gets harder and harder to lose weight. In other words, dieting makes our metabolism slow down, but it doesn’t speed back up when we regain the weight.

“The key point is that you can be on TV, you can lose enormous amounts of weight, you can go on for six years, but you can’t get away from a basic biological reality,” said Dr. Schwartz, who was not involved in the study. “As long as you are below your initial weight, your body is going to try to get you back.”

I lost 30 pounds last year, but keeping it off is a struggle. I kept telling myself that I’m eating less and not losing. How could that be? Well, I wasn’t crazy. Scientists also discovered as we lose weight, we reduce our levels for the hormone leptin, which makes us feel hungry. The study on the Biggest Losers contestants discovered their leptin levels went down almost to zero, leaving them ravenously hungry. Leptin levels went back up when they regained weight, but only to about half the level before, leaving them hungrier than they were before they dieted.

This sucks.



7 thoughts on “I Wasn’t Crazy After All—I Can Gain Weight on Fewer Calories”

  1. I read somewhere that the body needs like a year to get fully used to a new weight. So if you maintain a lower weight for about a year, the body starts accepting it as the new normal. I can’t remember where I heard this, but I think there is a TED talk about it.

  2. I saw that article – I understood that article. I too lost about 30 pounds but it was 2 years ago. I had reached a plateau and then had that mini-stroke. I gradually went off all diet and exercise. I gained almost all of the weight back – now I’m trying to lose again but it doesn’t work. I’m ravenously hungry and don’t eat all that much, do some moderate exercise and stay the same weight – days on end. Now my plateau (or whatever) is where I started. (sheesh!)

    1. I’ve always read that only 1 person in 20 (5%) can lose weight and keep it off. I always wanted to believe it was a matter of will-power, and if I sat my mind to the task, I could do it. I went from 242 to 208, and just could not go any lower. I crept back up to 219, told myself I was not going back, and now I’ve clawed my way back down to 215. I feel like I’m mentally fighting the real Battle of the Bulge.

  3. Ah– the thrifty gene strikes again. Back in the days of frequent famines you would have been one of the survivors. You were just born at the wrong time.

  4. Seems there are so many of us out there: we manage to get the weight off (whoopa) keep it off for a while and then all of a sudden without you realising it; its back on you again like a bee on honey. It is very hard to have to try and start the entire process again: there must be a better way for all of us?

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