Why Weight You Lose Comes Back

Have you ever lost weight and had it come back? If so, you’re not alone.

Some dieticians theorize that your body has a “set point” which wants to keep you at a certain weight. If you lose too much weight, your body fights to get you back to the weight it’s used to. Here’s how it works . . .

Let’s say your body has been chugging along burning 2,000 calories per day for years. One day, you eat 2,400 calories. Your body’s metabolism will rise to burn those extra 400 calories and keep you at your current weight. Another day, you eat only 1,700 calories, and your metabolism slows down to keep you at your current weight. This is a theory only, but one that makes common sense to most people.

So, your body reacts to crash dieting in the same way it would if you had no food for days or weeks and were starving. It slows your metabolism down. This is why after you crash diet and lose significant weight, it quickly comes back once you stop dieting or exercising.

Crashing Doesn’t Work

To lose weight and keep it off, you’ll need to change your “set point.” That means, whatever you do to lose weight, you’ll need to do (in some way, shape or form) long term.

If you eat 1,000 calories per day to lose 20 lbs., then go back to eating no more than your previous 2,000 weight-maintenance calories once you lose the 20 lbs., you’ll put the weight back on. If you eat 2,000 calories per day and exercise one hour each day to lose 15 lbs., then stop exercising (but continue to eat 2,000 calories) after you lose the 15 lbs., the weight will likely come back.

That’s why diets or exercise programs you don’t enjoy and that require a great deal of effort don’t work—because you don’t stick with them. You need to find fun ways to exercise and create a diet (complete with snacks) you like.

The Good News?
For most people, excess weight is the result of overeating, which is simply defined as eating food you don’t need. For most people, this happens because you eat too fast, or “clean your plate” even when you’ve had enough. If you only eat what you truly want (which is also only what your body needs), you won’t need to burn many calories each day to lose weight.