Friday, March 9, 2012

Research about weight loss

With my weight loss journey about 70% complete, I'm starting to look ahead to what comes next. I know it's a bit early, but I'm a planner and a thinker....

I just finished reading an article from the NY Times about  long term maintenance of weight loss .The news is not encouraging, except from the stand point that all knowledge is power.

Here's a quick excerpt...

In the study, Joseph Proietto and his colleagues at the University of Melbourne  (go Aussies!)recruited people who weighed an average of 209 pounds. At the start of the study, his team measured the participants’ hormone levels and assessed their hunger and appetites after they ate a boiled egg, toast, margarine, orange juice and crackers for breakfast. The dieters then spent 10 weeks on a very low calorie regimen of 500 to 550 calories day intended to makes them lose 10 percent of their body weight. In fact, their weight loss averaged 14 percent, or 29 pounds. As expected, their hormone levels changed in a way that increased their appetites, and indeed they were hungrier than when they started the study.

They were then given diets intended to maintain their weight loss. A year after the subjects had lost the weight, the researchers repeated their measurements. The subjects were gaining the weight back despite the maintenance diet — on average, gaining back half of what they had lost — and the hormone levels offered a possible explanation. "

So, even after a year of being on a controlled maintenance diet. they still regained weight.

Oh dear...

When the hormone leptin is low, the brain turns into the stereotypical Jewish mother, "Eat, eat, you are nothing but skin and bones..." Leptin works hand in hand with ghrelin which then increases hunger, making the dieter much more susceptible to that little voice pushing food. These  hormones all go into a negative way when we diet, and even after a year of returning to a normal diet, they are still not where there were before the weight loss.

The author of the study offers these so not encouraging words, "...losing weight is not a neutral event, and that it is no accident that more than 90 percent of people who lose a lot of weight gain it back. You are putting your body into a circumstance it will resist. You are, in a sense, more metabolically normal when you are at a higher body weight.”

If I'm reading this right, and I think I am, that means when I hit my target weight of 141, I will have to eat less than someone who has always been at 141. All those charts about how much I should eat when I weigh 141 are for 'normal' people. For me, they are inaccurate and will lead me to gain back weight.

And the hits just keep on coming....

All this goes back to support the idea that a diet is NOT a diet, it's a life change. And as my fellow blogger Jaki said in a post this morning, I too, "am addicted to food." I have to treat food the rest of my life as an other addict would, except, it's even a bit worse. An alcoholic can live without alcohol, a smoker can live cigs, but a food addict cannot live without food. We have to eat, we have to face our addiction every day, and at times, every hour. The amount of control needed is herculean and we cannot underestimate the struggle, ever.

I wish the news was better.
I wish the fight was easier.
I wish the weight would just stay off.

But truth is better than wishes. I have the knowledge and that empowers me to a grand level. It is not the size of the dog in the fight that counts, it's the size of the fight in the dog. I am strong and when I am weak, I will freely borrow from those willing to give, and then give back as I am able.

To all my blogger friends on the same path, I pass on good thoughts of continued strength and 'slim-mindedness.' (Thanks Myra)

Thoughts to take with me today: And it's still just a perfect day! Truly...


  1. I have read that fat cells never disappear, they just shrink - ready to absorb extra calories at the slightest bit of eating at a somewhat higher level. I believe all of this. It is probably why so many people who lose weight have so much trouble with maintenance. Forewarned is forearmed I guess. Take care.

  2. This is why I have such a problem with shows like, "The Biggest Loser" - which really just show such a tiny part of the whole picture. I've always heard that maintenance is much harder than losing, because when you're losing, you have the 'reward' of the weight loss to look forward to. Interesting (if a bit sobering) information...

    1. I never thought about it in that way Caroline...maintaining doesn't even have the reward of the scale moving down -- just the fear of it moving up.....

      woah...that is sobering.

  3. It's nice to see another WL blogger looking up research. There are those who lose weight, and manage to keep it off. I believe mental attitude is 95% of what they have/need, and if you copy what they do/think, I think you'll have real success. I guess if you want something hard enough, you'll make it a high priority in your life.

    Does being overweight/obese in the past imply that you'll have to eat less than other non-gainers of the same weight? That excerpt doesn't say it does, and it doesn't say it doesn't. I vaguely recall a research pdf from a year or two I read that showed that once you've been at goal after a loss, your metabolism was at the same level as a non-gainer of the same weight.

    You might want to read this pdf: what you think you're eating affects your ghrelin response.

    1. I think what made me think that someone who had lost couldnt eat as much is that the test subjects were on what the researchers thought was the proper calorie amount to maintain the loss - and the weight went up.

      If you find any research about that, please share! I'd love to find a silver lining!

  4. This is terrible and interesting news. Thanks for sharing your research.