You might have heard a statistic that 95% of people who lose weight regain it. It’s a widespread (and discouraging) stat, and it’s not true. It began with a study of only 100 people, back in 1959. Because it was such a catchy news title, the myth that 95% of people regain weight after losing it was born.
No, 95% Of People Who Lose Weight Do Not Regain Weight
More recent research has proven that successful and sustained weight loss is possible, and I certainly see that here in my weight loss practice. In fact, we often have to go back and adjust our testimonials at the request of participants, because they’ve lost even more weight. We have regular photo shoots with past clients, and it’s great to see them keeping the weight off and feeling good about how they look. It’s definitely possible to maintain your weight loss!
So What Does The Recent Research Say About Weight Regain?
In 1999, two doctors studying the results of the National Weight Control Registry found many examples of successful weight loss. They reported that on average, most people maintained a loss of 67 pounds for five years, and significant numbers (12 to 14%) kept off 100 pounds over the long term. In other words, weight regain did NOT happen in “95% of people who had lost significant weight”, as we’re so often told.
We’re Not Talking Fad Diets Here
It’s certainly true that rebound weight gain is common in fad diets where participants starve themselves, or restrict themselves to one food source, or use shakes or bars to replace real food. However, when the weight loss strategy includes lifestyle changes and behavior modification, such learning to eat reasonable quantities of healthy and nutritious real food and stay moderately active, keeping weight off is possible.
Why Do Some People Regain Weight?
Beyond those who mess up their metabolism with fad diets, there are four primary reasons why people regain weight.
- Diet Mindset
- Lack of Sleep
- Medical Condition
A diet mindset is an approach to weight loss that believes that what is needed is a “diet”, for a limited time. “Just a bit of willpower for a few weeks, and then I’ll get back to normal.” Permanent weight loss isn’t about doing what you’ve always done – that’s what created overweight in the first place, so planning to get back to that isn’t going to allow you to maintain any gains you make by “restricting” yourself short term.
True lifestyle change involves finding new foods, drinks and activities that you enjoy which are healthier choices for you, on a permanent basis. In some cases there will be things you’ve enjoyed that you give up, or replace, but you are choosing this because of the greater gains you’ll receive in how you feel.
The hormonal changes that come with a stressful lifestyle can create weight gain. The stress hormone cortisol often triggers cravings for starchy carbs and fatty foods. Emotional eating is also more common when you are stressed. Long term stress can lead to adrenal fatigue, which is one of the medical conditions which can cause you to regain weight (or have difficulty taking it off).
Often, part of your initial weight loss will involve getting stress (and stress eating) under control, and learning to be more mindful. We’ve also discussed how meditation has been proven to aid weight loss. Of course, being under stress also often impacts the quality of your sleep, which is our next reason why people regain weight.
Sleep and stress interact in very negative ways, when it comes to weight loss. If you can’t sleep, your stress goes up. If you’re stressed, it gets harder to get to sleep, stay asleep, and get good quality sleep. Poor sleep habits have been shown to lead to both increased BMI (Body Mass Index) and comfort eating, often because of the stress associated with inadequate sleep.
You may have a medical condition that causes you to regain lost weight, or be put on medication that adds pounds. In fact, a large number of prescription medications have weight gain as a side effect. Some common medical issues that effect weight include hypothyroidism (which is frequently undiagnosed and sometimes not effectively treated), GERD (Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease) and other digestive disorders, or even needing to take an antibiotic which destroys beneficial gut flora. The hormonal changes of menopause or andropause can trigger weight regain. As we already mentioned, adrenal fatigue from chronic stress can be a culprit. Physical injury, such as a fracture, can also lead to weight regain when it forces an inactive lifestyle.
Awareness Helps You Take Action
When you are aware of these four reasons people regain weight, you can often take action and/or get help before weight regain occurs. Every one of these issues is treatable, whether with food choices, meditation, hormone therapy, probiotics or alternative exercises. Don’t let your hard-earned weight loss accomplishments go to waste – if you are in danger of weight regain, or find your weight slipping back up, get the help you need to maintain your weight loss.