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Do our bodies fight to regain weight?

The New York Times recently came out with an article discussing the weight loss regain cycle of participants in the “Biggest Loser”; we may also go as far as saying anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight in their life and failed to keep the weight off.

It is mentioned in the article many times about the body FIGHTING to regain weight. In other words, it discusses the adaptations that the body goes through when its losing weight and how this can make it more difficult to keep the weight off.

I don’t like the word “fight” in this case. It sounds hopeless. It sounds like when you lose weight the ultimate winner will be the body, and you will be the ultimate loser, in fact the biggest loser (not in the terms we like to hear).

I look it at it as similar as kids “fighting” my ability to save money in my bank account. I know that if I spend less and make more I will have a larger bank account. But those darn kids of mine are fighting that battle and in most cases I’m losing the fight. I think we can relate to this “crunch” time in life. But adding people to my population at home will cause me to have to spend more money. That’s normal. That’s expected. Not many people on this planet would say “Thank goodness I have kids now I can start saving money”

So weight loss is no different, changes in the body with weight loss are expected. It not a win-lose battle. You just have to understand that it will happen, just as much as I understand that kids cost money. I have to re-invent my life. I just can’t spend money on clothes as frequently etc….just as some of my clients have noticed these past few years; no judgement!

So it’s not a fight, it’s an expectation that we have to understand and listen to. Here are two things that you can expect to happen in your body with weight loss.

  1. Your metabolism will decrease. This isn’t your body fighting against weight loss. This is just a matter of efficiency. In fact research calls this metabolic efficiency. This happens due to the lower body mass from both fat and fat free mass. So your metabolism doesn’t slow down, rather, it matches the weight that you become. A smaller body is more efficient and requires less energy to maintain itself.
  2. Your total energy expenditure will decrease due to less total mass that must be moved under day to day physical activity. You will burn less because you have less to move around.

So how do you ensure that you will keep the weight off? Behaviour and environment changes are the key. Most people approach their weight loss journey as a transient change in their lifestyle and have a difficulty sustaining the changes they have made to lose weight. In order to counteract this cycle, the weight loss strategy must be able to be made indefinitely. That’s why our approach is different, we know that weight loss is a by-product of biological, environmental, and behavioural pressures. We know that efficiency is going to take place. This is why we have been so attentive with how we approach things. How you lose the weight can protect you against this cycle. Weight loss isn’t defined by losing weight at FM, its defined as losing weight and keeping it off!

Jason Hagen