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So if nearly all of us are going to put the weight back on again, is there any point in trying to lose it in the first place?

(111 Posts)
Fingalswave Fri 17-Feb-17 20:39:28

Caught brief glimpses of TV progs on this subject recently. Apparently, only 20% of dieters succeed in maintaining their weight loss? If this is true, why are we encouraged by doctors to try and reduce our weight? Does anyone have any links to the science pls?

And as I was going to start trying to lose weight in Lent, is there any point?

Fingalswave Sat 18-Feb-17 08:26:44


NotStoppedAllDay Sat 18-Feb-17 08:49:13

Well stages of life differ I guess

Of course we should keep trying to reduce our weight! Why would anyone not bother? Just because you may put some back on

fizzybootlace Sat 18-Feb-17 08:57:14

Yes, I only lose it to put it back on again ie before Christmas or holiday so can really enjoy it. If I didn't I'd just get fatter and fatter rather than hover around the same weight. Takes me a month to lose a stone and about 2 to put it back on again! Sounds mad but I'm a greedy guys so could easily let it slide if I didn't diet.

Aderyn2016 Sat 18-Feb-17 09:06:23

I watched this programme. It is on catch up (ch4) if anyone wants to see it.
Basically, everytime we lose weight, our bodies fight to put it back on because it fears famine. If I understood correctly, dieting messes up our ghrelin and leptin responses so we feel more hungry. We are struggling against our own dna, which wants us to lay down fat stores - it is not just about lacking willpower. The only way weight seems to stay off is if you are constantly vigilant.

I do think that of all the diets (which all work initially. It is the keeping it off which seems to be the issue) lchf is best because it helps break the sugar addiction and is most likely to keep you full.

absolutelynotfabulous Sat 18-Feb-17 09:18:07

I think I agree with aderyn. That's the impression I got too. Unfortunately I think the programme was a bit lightweight and didn't really explore the issue in enough depth for my liking.

I also got the impression that, in addition to the ghrelin/leptin factor, the people in the programme didn't seem to realise that, as they slim, they will need fewer calories.

The guy who DID keep working at it kept the weight off.

I was left with the impression that, the more weight you lose, the easier it is to put the weight back on. I'd love to see that backed up by science.

Personally, I think keeping weight off (ie maintaining) is difficult for anyone regardless of how much weight they have lost speaks from bitter experience.

superfringe Sat 18-Feb-17 10:07:01

If you use a restricted calorie diet only to lose weight (no exercise), you lose muscle and fat. That means when you get to your goal weight, you need less calories to maintain that weight - there is less of you! If you do some strength training as well as reducing calories, you won't lose the muscle. Muscle needs more energy to be maintained as it has a blood supply, is making energy etc so when you get to your goal weight, if you keep exercising you will maintain your weight more easily.

I think the problem is a lot of people 'diet' and then return to eating too much when they've 'finished' the diet. I try to think of weight like a bank balance - you have to keep an eye on it regularly and make changes if you're spending/eating too much.

It'd easier said than done though, I'm in round two having put back on what I lost last year (and more!) smile

When I was at uni (food science) we did a project on diets. We had to nutritionally analyse the common diet plans. The only common feature of the ones that work is you are reducing calorie intake. There is no magic food group to avoid or increase - eat less energy and you will lose weight.

In my opinion, the diet plans you pay for don't teach people how to carry on after they've lost weight. You follow the plan, lose weight, stop plan, gain weight and repeat. Pretty good business plan...

Fingalswave Sat 18-Feb-17 10:11:54

Thanks for responses.

Yes, I would love to see the proper science about this.

Notstoppedallday the point the programme was making (the bits I saw anyway) was that it was not a question of may it was that 80% of dieters put all the weight back on within a few years. That's a pretty big percentage to ignore.

I get the point about people getting fatter and fatter if they don't try and control their eating to some extent though. That's the problem with weight gain, it creeps on and on.

The 20% who managed to keep it off exercised a lot (at least one hour a day) and something else .. another bit I missed ... anyone know?

I've found this article in The Guardian but it doesn't go in to great detail. Looks like you need to enrol/pay to join the Obesity Society which produces that journal.

I'd just like to know the full facts before starting out. I suppose this subject isn't talked about much because slimming businesses have so many vested interests in not making this known.

Fingalswave Sat 18-Feb-17 10:14:37

Should have explained that I can't access catch up Channel 4 where I am.

ggirl Sat 18-Feb-17 10:47:37

I thought it was higher than 80% that gained the weight back

There was something else about how their metabolism was a lot slower that before they lost the weight so they gained weight despite technically eating an appropriate amount of calories .

Fingalswave Sat 18-Feb-17 10:56:27

Oh dear, how depressing ggirl !

I've talked to a friend about this this morning and she was saying that it is better to aim for health not weight, so if you eat the right things and are appropriately active, your body will swing back in to alignment, as it were, as it is imbalances that cause weight gain. She eats a lot of pulses and tofu!

superfringe Sat 18-Feb-17 11:47:08

ggirl (sorry I don't know how to quote!), yes you are right about metabolism - though rather than fast or slow it is easier to understand using high and low I think.

Metabolism (BMR) is essentially how much energy you need to survive. If you weigh 20 stone, you have a high metabolism - everything you do takes more energy; there is more of you to maintain, every step your body is lifting more weight. If you lost 8 stone, your body is lifting less weight / there is less of it to demand food, so your metabolism is lower. Sadly that means you need less calories before you start gaining weight.

Muscle has a high metabolic need - fat mass does not.

The best way to stay slim is to make yourself have a high metabolism despite not weighing much i.e. by having muscle.

That way at rest, you burn more energy so you can have cake still but not gain weight smileq

Muscle needs to be used to stay though so strength training and a good level of activity needs to be continued once you've lost weight...

Gallavich Sat 18-Feb-17 11:53:19

If I don't 'diet' occasionally I steadily put weight on. Because I don't want to be morbidly obese I will diet once or twice a year to try to keep my weight in an area I find acceptable. I am under no illusions that I will 'lose the weight' and be slim but I don't want to be dangerously fat. So for me there is a point, whilst accepting that it's not a long term solution.

absolutelynotfabulous Sat 18-Feb-17 12:47:23

I think the trouble with aiming for weight loss is that, once that has been achieved, many people think that's the end of it, when it isn't.

I got the impression that the people in the programme who put the weight back on went back to the habits that got them overweight in the first place. They seemed surprised that they needed to eat much less, as they needed fewer calories. I don't think they expected to be able to eat so relatively little.

The guy who kept it off was tuned in to his body's needs.

I was a bit annoyed with the programme, really. The message seemed to be "regaining weight is inevitable" when, actually, it isn't. The guy who kept it off was portrayed as an exercise junkie, whilst there was no exploration of why the others had regained, apart from the American guy, who had experimented with different food groups, I think, with some success, although that could also be down to a decreased calorie intake.

I felt quite sorry for the people who regained, in some ways; I wonder how much support they had to maintain their weight having lost it?

Corneliagoescamping Sat 18-Feb-17 12:47:31

I think that slim people/people who are not overweight eat less and exercise more which is why they are slim. If you diet and lose weight you have to maintain a healthy lifestyle and exercise regularly, even if it's just walking more or being more active. To have been overweight in the first place one has to have got into the habit of eating too much and not being active enough, so if you go back to that even part way you will start to put on weight. Unfortunately the only way to be slim is to permanently change how you live, and have occasional times when you eat a lot but mostly have small portions, be active and eat fewer calories on a daily basis. It's probably why people who totally change their lifestyle and take up running or swimming or cycling and lose weight more slowly tend to stay like that unless they stop doing those things. It has to be a permanent change, rather than a diet as such and maybe thinking of that in a positive light, as in you will be healthier and hopefully enjoy being healthy, rather than feeling depressed to be on a 'diet'. You can still eat cake just go for a walk afterwards and don't do it every day. Sorry that sounds really preachy, but I think it's true!

absolutelynotfabulous Sat 18-Feb-17 13:02:44

cornelia that's not preachy, that's how it is!

I have two friends who do SW. Both lose weight easily.Both have put it all back on again. Why? Because they have no clue how to keep it off. They preach at me about how easy it is to lose weight, not realising that I've kept my own weight stable for 38 years through sensible eating and activity. I've put weight on, as we all do, but I've got rid of it and stayed pretty much the same over the years.

I don't think people are up for the slog of it all, and blame the diet instead.

I'd much rather see research and information on why slim people are slim, tbh. That'd be much more illuminating than the standard "diets don't work" mantra.

RJnomore1 Sat 18-Feb-17 13:08:57

I think the problem is approaching it to "lose weight" rather than "be healthy"

And yes low cal will lose weight and all the stuff about weight loss being mostly diet not exercise but I'm convinced exercise is the key. Load bearing muscle building exercise coupled with trying to reduce processed food. Aim for DOING something not weighing something if that makes sense.

Fingalswave Sat 18-Feb-17 13:26:18

Not preachy at all Cornelia

absolutelynotfabulous (don't like calling you that - I'm sure you are!)
I thought the (light/mininal) science in the programme backed up the claim that regaining weight was virtually inevitable?

I think we are all agreeing that diets (particularly fast, hard core type) don't work and sustained lifestyle changes do. Agree Cornelia that sensible eating and exercise are key.

Speaking as someone who used to be very thin, and is now about 3 stone overweight, I definitely eat loads more than I used to, and exercise a lot less. Until I met my husband, I couldn't physically eat the portions that I do now! The trouble is that once your stomach becomes used to larger amounts of food, it is very difficult to adjust its expectations!

Going to adopt Gallavich's approach I think!

Fingalswave Sat 18-Feb-17 13:27:43

x post with RJ that makes a lot of sense

ppeatfruit Sat 18-Feb-17 13:54:05

Yes Cornelia is right of course. One thing I noticed about that programme was that the people who had lost weight were really OBESE and had been on horrific bootcamp type diets , one guy was only eating 500 cals a day!!!! shock FGS of course he wouldn't be able to sustain that way of eating, it was stupid. The guy with all that loose skin he had cut away , madness!!!!

If you, like some of the OPs, notice that you're putting on weight, then go on a sensible eating plan , like Paul Mackenna. I have kept off nearly 3 stone this way. I do keep on it most of the time, it educates your body to eat slowly and mindfully and it's brilliant.

pseudonymity Sun 19-Feb-17 01:03:29

What was shocking to me in the programme is that the guy who won the Biggest Loser had ended up with a metabolism so low that he needed something like 800 calories less than another man his size. So it's not just that he needed to eat less calories than before as a pp said, it's less and then some. The effect seemed to be permanent. The body is fighting to get back to its previous state.

ppeatfruit Sun 19-Feb-17 09:45:43

I wonder if it's because the really OW people have been that way for so long their bodies' are in shock after weight loss!

The measly 3 stone I lost wasn't so difficult to lose (and I had only recently put it on IYSWIM) so maybe my body wasn't so used to it grin

ClashCityRocker Sun 19-Feb-17 09:57:55

The makers of the biggest loser should be locked up.

Of course eating 800 cals a day but burning 8,000 calories through exercise is going to result in drastic weight loss. How the shit is that going to be realistic long term? Can't be good for you either.

Tbf the lady who lost it slowly (8stone) over a couple of years was still 5 stone less a few years later, having gone through some quite major life changes such as a divorce. I don't think that's too bad, particularly as she was back on it.

flapinko Sun 19-Feb-17 13:47:04

This is the link to New York Times' article on the Biggest Loser follow-up study New York Times Biggest Loser Article. I didn't see the programme, but it makes for interesting reading. My impression is that it is losing a lot of weight very quickly where there is a real chance you will regain it all (i.e. a Cambridge-style/replacement meal diet, where calories are severely restricted). Not so much a slow & steady 'eat a bit less' and 'exercise a bit more' approach.

Fingalswave Sun 19-Feb-17 15:07:14

Yes, the makers of Biggest Loser were totally irresponsible, although thank heavens for the scientists that did follow the contestants up afterwards.

That's a very interesting article, thank you Flapinko.

Like "Pseudonymity* I was shocked by how low the contestants metabolic rates had fallen. Leptin obviously has a lot to answer for. Let's hope that science finds a solution soon!

In the meantime, small, steady steps is the way to go I think.

Ppeat I'm similar to you in that I've put on three stone in a relatively short space of time. May I please ask which Paul McKenna book or app you used, and how long did it take you to lose the weight/ or what would be a realistic amount of time do you think? I am pretty clueless about this sort of thing when setting goals!

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