If you've ever lost a significant amount of weight thanks to the latest fad diet, you've probably been slapped in the face with a very sad reality a few months after the diet ends: It's really hard to keep that weight off, and you end up gaining it back plus a little more.
Because this isn't a fun game for anyone to play, researchers decided to take a closer look at why this happens by following contestants from "The Biggest Loser" for six years after the contestants had dropped significant amounts of weight on the NBC reality show.
Scientist Kevin Hall, a researcher and expert on metabolism at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, had the idea to track these contestants' progress and weight gain in the years following the show, and what he found was pretty alarming.
Basically, all our bodies fight really hard against weight loss.
For these contestants, their resting metabolisms (the number of calories the body burns when not engaged in physical activity) slowed down quite a bit after they lost weight.
For example, one contestant was burning a normal number of calories for his weight when the show began. But afterward, to maintain his current weight of 295 pounds, he has to eat 800 fewer calories per day than the average 295-pound man.
Pretty unfair, right?
Michael Schwartz, an obesity and diabetes researcher at the University of Washington who was not involved in the study, explained to The New York Times,
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. As long as you are below your initial weight, your body is going to try to get you back.
Well, this is some pretty discouraging news if you ask me, especially because as of right now, researchers don't really know what the answer is to losing weight and keeping it off.
But as a start, I would suggest if you want to lose weight, do it slowly. Instead of trying to lose 5 pounds per week, aim for 1 or 2 pounds.
According to research, this will make your weight easier to maintain because your body basically won't go into starvation mode and hold on tightly to every calorie the body gets.
Here's to hoping we all learn more about lasting weight loss soon.