As we get ready to commit to our a resolutions (that we all know revolve around working out and weight loss) a new study that speaks to how we lose weight, and inevitably gain it back has surfaced and gained some attention.
Joseph Proietto, a physician at the University of Melbourne, has worked with obese patients for 15 years. After continuously seeing the patients slim-down at his weight loss clinic and then struggle when they regain the weight, he began to suspect that there may be something more to it. He spoke with the NY Times about a study he conducted beginning in 2009, with a team of 50 obese men and women.
The participants were all held to an extremely low-calorie diet which consisted of special shakes and low-starch vegetable totaling about 500 to 550 calories a day for eight weeks. The dieters lost an average of 30 pounds each, and then stopped dieting and worked at maintaining that weight loss with the help of nutritionists and regular exercise. After a year though, the patients had already regained about 11 pounds each and said that they were often preoccupied with food and hungrier than they were before they had lost the weight.
The Australian team found that although we’ve known for a long time that the body undergoes significant hormonal changes when you lose weight, these men and women remained in what could be described as a biologically altered state. Their bodies were acting as if they were starving and were working overtime to regain the pounds that were lost. The researchers said that it was as if weight loss had put their bodies into a unique metabolic state, a sort of post-dieting syndrome that set them apart from people who hadn’t tried to lose weight in the first place.
The findings from Proietto’s team are not conclusive and need to be replicated to confirm further details, but obviously will cause more research to be done on weight loss and dieting — and makes you question your willpower, or perhaps forgive yourself for eating that extra cookie. The NY Times put it this way: “This translates into a sobering reality: once we become fat, most of us despite our best efforts, will probably stay fat.”