Losing weight is hard work, but it can be even harder to keep the pounds off once you’ve hit your goal. If you feel like you’re caught in an endless cycle of yo-yo dieting, new research offers new information that can help you maintain your new shape.
One of the reasons it’s such a struggle to maintain a lower weight, at least in part, is that your body works against you as you cut calories.
When you eat less, your body releases hormones to stimulate your appetite to ensure that you don’t starve to death. This ancient survival mechanism works against us in a world where we are constantly trying to avoid a near-endless supply of cheap, high-fat, unhealthy foods.
For women over 50, a low-fat diet may slightly increase survival if they develop breast cancer. A study of 49,000 women at the University of California at Los Angeles suggests that keeping dietary fat at 20 percent or lower will do the trick.
But there is hope! A new study, conducted at the Univeristy of Copehagen, shows that the body accepts the new, lower weight and stops releasing higher levels of the appetite stimulating hormone ghrelin, relative to the appetite inhibiting hormones GLP-1 and PYY, when compared to the pre-weight loss levels, if you can keep the weight off for at least one year.
The study also offers encouraging news for people who are obese (nearly 80 percent of black women) and hope to shed extra pounds. “We know that obese people have low levels of the appetite inhibiting hormone GLP-1. The good thing is that now we are able to show that you can actually increase the levels of this hormone as well as the appetite inhibiting hormone PYY by weight loss and that the levels are kept high when you maintain your weight loss for a year,” says study first author Eva Winning Iepsen, in a University of Cophenhagen interview.
For the study, 20 healthy, but obese adults, lost an average of 13 percent of their body weight and followed a one-year weight maintenance program, that included regular counseling with a dietician (available for free through many diabetes and hospital-sponsored weight loss programs in the United States). The group maintained a low-calorie diet and kept food journals to help them keep the weight off as well.