Most people don't need to be told that it can be difficult to keep weight off no matter how hard they try, but they may not know exactly why this is. When a certain popular weight-loss reality show had people dropping dozens upon dozens of pounds over the course of just a few weeks, it was hailed by many people as a miracle cure to beat weight loss for good. And yet, most people have a difficult time keeping the pounds off no matter what type of weight loss program they try — including the kinds where you drastically change your lifestyle. See why this is and what you can do about it.
The Power of Your Metabolism
Your metabolism is the cornerstone of your weight loss goals. It's the rate at which your body breaks down calories, and it has a huge impact on how many pounds you put on and take off. Most people know that they need all the calories they can get when they're growing up which is why younger people tend to be skinnier than older people. As bones stretch and muscle masses grow, the body needs plenty of calories to fuel all that progress. But as we age, our metabolisms will start to slow because our body is no longer morphing on a daily basis.
Why Your Metabolism Fights You
Your ancestors weren't able to go to the grocery store to pick up food every time they were hungry, which forced their bodies to evolve to keep them protected during food shortages. When you don't know where your next meal is coming from, your body helps you out a lot. Your brain tells you to eat (and eat) as much food as possible while it's there. Then, your metabolism works to keep those pounds from going anywhere by adjusting the rate of activity based on your daily routine. It automatically finds the most efficient possible ways to go about your day, so you don't lose too many calories. So if you run around the block every day, your body will find a way to conserve as much energy as possible while you run. This is an evolutionary leftover that made it easier for our chronically hungry ancestors to live. Unfortunately, it makes our less-than-hungry society that much more likely to die from obesity.
Extreme Weight Loss Programs
Researchers have done plenty of studies on people who have lost a gone through an extreme weight loss program in a very short period of time. It's not just that their metabolisms dropped when they lost weight— it's that they dropped so drastically that it could make anyone give up on their weight loss goals. So let's say a person went from 500 pounds to 150 pounds in just a year. They may have gone from burning off thousands of calories a day just to keep themselves alive to needing less than 1,500 calories a day even with daily exercise. A person who went from eating 4,000 calories a day to 1,200 is going to feel a huge void in their life, no matter how much willpower they have. Their brain will be telling them to bulk back up again so that they can face a coming winter that may or may not have food. This means that the person will continue to feel the urge to eat even if they're not hungry anymore. Thus, successful weight loss requires support and encouragement from others, especially your weight loss doctor.
How to Combat Your Metabolism
While your metabolism has your best intentions at heart, it's also an outdated system at this point. It's extremely unlikely that the world will go through a massive food shortage anytime soon, so you don't really need your metabolism to conserve the way it used to. The best way to combat your metabolism is to set goals and lose weight over periods of time. Your body needs to think that your body is merely adjusting on its own, not going through a drastic food shortage or calorie-consuming war. Thus, if you wish to lose 100 lbs. break that up into a period of 3-5 months, or the more you work to lose weight, the more your metabolism will snap into survival mode. If you allow your body to gradually return to a healthy weight on a weight loss program, you have a much better chance of resetting your metabolism to work with the new weight and not against it.
Our bodies don't always react to food in the same way. While most people follow certain patterns, there are just some people out there who can eat what they like without dire consequences. These guidelines are merely a way for you to understand your body before you start with a weight loss program. It helps set reasonable expectations and healthy goals so that you don't end up in the yoyo-ing back and forth on a never-ending cycle.