Feb 16, 2017
Posted by: Monique Parker
Did anyone watch the Channel 4 programme 'Super Slimmers: Did They Keep the Weight Off?' last Tuesday?
I did, and I wasn't surprised by the outcome.
It was sad to see that all but one of the Super Slimmers had regained their weight, some even more than they lost in the first place. How incredibly frustrating this must be for these people after all their hard work and dedication.
So why did this weight regain happen?
We're all genetically made up to replace food stores after losing weight. Think back to the days where sometimes there was no food at all available and people were experiencing starvation. The body is clever and responds to famine and loss of fat by conserving energy and laying down more fat.
The same scenario happens when you lose weight through dieting. The body fights to regain weight and responds by increasing appetite and seeking food to replenish the food stores. This is largely through a hormone called Leptin. Leptin is a satiety hormone that regulates appetite and energy balance of the body.
According to Prof. Traci Man of the University of Minnesota weight loss programmes can have good short-term results, but most are failing long-term. As much as 40% of dieters end up heavier than they were when they started their diet.
Only about 5-10% of dieters will keep the weight off, mostly by exercising at least one hour a day and making 'keeping off the weight' the most important goal in their life.
That last statement, "making 'keeping off the weight' the most important goal in their life" scared me a bit. People who are only focusing on weight loss, run the risk of becoming obsessed with dieting and could be potential candidates for eating disorders.
Losing weight is not just about what you eat and when you exercise.
There are many physiological factors involved, such as insulin resistance, inflammation or low serotonin (serotonin decreases appetite). But there are also psychological factors involved. Think of stress or emotional eating for instance.
This is why it can be beneficial to see a nutritional therapist, who will assess and focus on these factors to help the client get to a sustainable, long-term, healthy weight.
What is the best diet for long-term weight loss? There isn't one!
It is about changing your relationship with food, setting reasonable goals and changing your lifestyle, taking into consideration your unique biochemical, psychological, and emotional make up. It is a much slower journey than a commercial weight loss programme and definitely no quick fix, but the goal that could be reached is not just the weight loss but also optimal health.
Prof. Traci Man’s last message on the programme is a powerful one…
“The fact that diets don’t work should not be taken as bad news…...it’s a liberating message, because it can free you from this horrible diet cycle”.
I'm sure not everybody will agree on that statement, especially those who are fighting a life-long battle with their weight. However, think about it and ask yourself how you would feel if you're not having to yo-yo diet all the time, having to measure your portions or count the calories.