Maintain Your Weight Loss

January 05, 2012

Sweat Equity You've lost that 20 pounds -- more than once! Even though you've done everything right, pounds keep sneaking back onto your waistline! The struggle to keep weight off can be frustrating, but it's important not to give up!  A recent study sheds light on the  unique problems inherent in attempt to maintain weight-loss after you've reached your goals. A popular study of obesity from Australia recently demonstrated that after substantial weight loss, metabolism slows and hormonal changes increase the appetite, it's believe that this explains why weight maintenance after dieting can be so difficult, even when adhering to a diet designed to support and maintain weight levels. The combination of slowed metabolism and hormone levels offer a possible explanation. Leptin, a hormone that tells the brain how much body fat is present, decreased by two-thirds immediately after the subjects lost weight, causing increased appetite and slower metabolism. While levels increased over the year following the weight loss, they were still one-third lower than hormone levels prior to the weight loss. At the same time, ghrelin, an amino acid peptide and hormone that stimulates hunger increased, creating stronger appetites than before weight loss. Sounds daunting, but knowledge is power and! What we can learn from this study isn't that it's really hard to keep that weight off - we already know that!  What we can learn is how to modify our weight maintenance program for success! So, let's look at metabolism first.  Your metabolic rate is the level your body burns energy or calories, which depends on the amount of body fat you have compared to the amount of lean mass you have, which means that decreasing body fat levels increases your metabolic rate. Three great ways to increase your metabolism are:
  • Aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is the most efficient way to burn calories. Keep walking, bicycling and swimming and include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine.  The more active you are, the greater the benefits.
  • Strength training. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does, which means muscle mass is a key factor in weight loss and maintenance. Additional muscle mass even increases in the number of calories used while resting!
  • Lifestyle. Look for ways to walk or move around a few minutes more each day than the day before. Taking the stairs more often and parking farther away at the store are simple ways to burn more calories.  Sit less! If your job requires sitting at a desk for long periods, get up and stretch for regular intervals throughout the day.
There are also some simple approaches to eating that will boost your metabolism, and keep you from falling into the post weight loss hunger trap!
  • Eat small, frequent meals to help keep your metabolism in high gear.
  • Drink water. Your metabolism may slow down when even mildly dehydrated. One study shows that adults who drink eight or more glasses of water a day burn more calories than those who drank four. Drink it cold and you'll use up and additional 10 calories a day.  That adds up to a pound a year!
  • Spice it up! Spicy foods contain chemical compounds that kick the metabolism into high gear.  The effect is temporary, but if the benefits add up if you eat spicy food often.
You've done the work to lose the weight, keep focus and you can exit the dieting cycle for good!

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