Many people ask themselves; Why I can’t lose weight; dieting, starvation and self-control brings discomfort, anxiety and makes us unhappy. Even if we are able to lose weight chances are we will gain it back, studies show that about 70 % of diets fail, people start regaining the weight they lost as soon as 6 months after stating the diet; but why?
Human development has gone through millions years of evolutionary changes, hard-wiring us to survive scarcity. We have compensatory mechanisms that our bodies use to defend against weight loss.
What are these mechanisms and how can we overcome them:
Decrease in Resting Metabolic Rate: it is scientifically confirmed, that with energy (calories we eat) reduction comes decrease in resting metabolic rate (energy we burn to stay alive or energy we use for basic metabolic processes), this is a natural defense mechanism against decrease in the incoming/external energy.
Metabolic adaptations to weight loss: When we start losing weight we start moving less as a behavioral and physiologic adaptation to weight loss. Do not blame yourself for that as well, we do that unconsciously as our body is trying to conserve energy.
Weight lost boost your appetite: most of the dieters who achieve good results in their first 6 months start gaining it back. Because your body naturally ramped up your appetite. It is not your willpower, self-control, discipline that is to blame – it is nature that is responsible to ramping up your appetite; you can manage it to some extent but eventually nature will take control.
What are the solutions: Knowing that weight loss comes with drop in metabolic rate, unconscious decrease in physical activity and increase in appetite we can start looking for solutions:
Here are some excellent suggestions of how to keep your metabolic rate up and continue to lose weight.
- Get enough exercise: the number one way to speed up your metabolism is to increase your physical activity and in particular the high intensity physical activity. If you are not able to achieve high intensity work outs, make sure you start with 30 min of moderate or low intensity per day and make you way up to 30 min of high intensity per day with minimum of 60 min of high intensity 2-3 times per week.
- Drink Coffee: in several studies researches showed that drinking coffee can boost your metabolism by 3-to 11 %. One study in particular showed that drinking coffee can promote weight loss and maintenance. ( 1, 2, 3)
- Get enough sleep: sleep deprivation has negative effect on metabolism and is linked to major increase to the risk of obesity ( 4,5). Inadequate sleep comes with fatigue, slow down of daily physical activity and depression in metabolic rate.
- Stan up more: sitting is not only bad for your health for number of other reason (increased risk of hospitalization, even mortality) but also is demonstrated to slow down you resting metabolic rate. Whereas standing is associated with increased metabolism. (6)
- Drink plenty of water: water should be the beverage of choice for everyone trying to lose weight. Drinking water can induce thermogenesis, a process that in short term speeds your metabolism. Studies have revealed that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 liters) of water increases resting metabolism by 10–30% for about an hour (7, 8). One study of overweight adults found that those who drank half a liter of water before their meals lost 44% more weight than those who didn’t. (9). Note that you should drink water at least half an hour or longer before a meal to get the most benefit of the termogenic effect of water (10)
- Eat more protein: the so called termic effect of food means that food consumption, digestion and absorption takes energy. Protein takes the most energy for digestion and absorption and also gives the most satiety related to carbohydrates and fats.
There are foods that can counter the slowing of our metabolism, suppress our appetite and even eat more foods and still lose weight. We simply have to decrease the calorie density of foods. Sustained weight loss requires calorie deficit of 200-300 kcal / day without reducing the portions sizes. Sustainable weight loss is not about eating less food is about eating better foods and moving more.