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Why Dieting Can Cause You to Gain More Weight

The average person who’s gone on and off diets has probably lost a total of 50 – 100 lbs throughout their lifetime, if you add up the weight they lost each time they dieted. However, many gain all the weight back and then some, and start the dieting cycle over and over again. Why does this happen?

Australian researchers at the University of Melbourne conducted a ground breaking study that was published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2011: Fifty overweight men and women were recruited for the study. The men averaged 233 pounds and the women 200 pounds. For 10 weeks, they were given a low-calorie diet consisting of veggies and a diet shake (for a total of around 500 calories per day). Only 34 participants completed the study, losing an average of 30 pounds. After the 10-week weight loss period, the remaining participants were given nutritional counseling to help them KEEP the weight off. 12 months later, the participants had regained an average of 11 pounds – despite the nutritional counseling and support. The participants also reported feeling hungrier more often and that they thought about food more often than when they started the study.
SO here is where it gets very interesting…
Researchers measured the participants’ hormones related to hunger and metabolism before and after the study. It turns out, their bodies were in an altered metabolic state that would in fact make it harder to keep the weight off. For example, ghrelin “the hunger hormone” was about 20% higher on average than when the study started. Peptide YY – another hormone that’s involved in suppressing hunger was down… leptin – another hormone that suppresses hunger and can boost metabolism – was also down. The scary part, these hormonal changes remained, even a year later! That explains (at least physiologically) why it’s SO hard to keep the weight off… after restrictive dieting your body is sending hormonal signals for you to EAT and put some weight back on!
Skipping a meal or two should cause you to loose weight right? WRONG. When your calories per day dip to low or you skip meals your body starts assuming that food is scarce and slows your metabolism to hold onto previous calories. It’s doesn’t care about the swimsuit you are trying to fit into or the new dress you just bought, it thinks you are starving and wants to protect you! In the long run sticking with a diet, or a string of different diets can leave you with a slower metabolism than what you started with, BAD NEWS! In order to rev up your metabolism and get start burning calories you actually need to do the opposite and eat right every 2-3 hours to consistently fuel your body.
When you diet without exercising you may loose weight but you are also loosing muscle mass and muscle definition. In other words, you are becoming a “skinny fat person”. This muscle mass is extremely important as it burns calories 24/7. The more lean muscle mass you have the more calories you can eat without gaining any weight…RIGHT ON! A lot of people diet and lose weight but suddenly put additional body fat back on. This is because they’ve lost muscle mass and are not automatically burning calories, so overeating just a little bit leads to weight gain.
Strength training is a MUST when trying to loose fat. This will leave you with a better body composition, leaner/more defined muscles, and less fat, while retaining all of the metabolic benefits muscles bring. And YES ladies this applies to ALL of you! So if you want to achieve a healthy toned and lean look, reread this paragraph.


Lots of diets are based on cutting back, such as no-carb and fat free programs; protein only diets; or rely on pills, powders, boxed meals you must purchase; the list goes on. However, the NUMBER #1 thing you have to do in order to improve and maintain your health and body composition for years to come is to STOP QUITTING!! What do I mean… it’s simple, you must incorporate excersise into your routine EVERY week and learn healthy eating practises that become part of your lifestyle. In this equation there are no starting and stopping diets or allowing your body to lapse into familiar territory. You may have lost weight from your diet but keeping it off is going to be really hard when you have chosen a plan that cannot be replicated in everyday life with real whole foods. Also, cutting back on one food group, let’s say eating fat-free, can deprive your body of healthy fats that are actually necessary for your body to loose the fat that it is currently storing.
SO WHAT DO YOU DO TO SUCCEED? What’s the correct formula?
#1 Incorporate weight training into your workouts so that you are building lean muscle to boost your metabolism and combine this with cardio to continue burning fat.
#2 If fat loss is your goal you need to make a commitment to working out and being active at a high intensity level for 30-60 minutes 5 days a week. Yes we said 5… you can sugar coat it all you want but this is the cold hard truth. The more times a week you can workout the faster it will happen for you. Think of it this way… 30-60 minutes is the length of one TV show… not too bad.
#3 Educate yourself on nutrition that supports weight management, not just in the next few weeks, but for life, building healthy habits that will help you stay lean and healthy for years to come.
We can help you with all three of these steps at Movimento. We put our exercise programs and nutritional guidance together in a way that supports lifelong weight management. We have created programs that you can attend every day, and get dedicated direction and attention, two components necessary for your success. Browse our services above to find out more and contact us to take the first step in creating positive changes in your life!