Recovering The SelfA Journal of Hope and Healing


Why Is Weight Regain So Common After Dieting?

by Sara Stringer

If you’ve ever experienced the frustration that comes with successfully reaching your dieting goals, only to gain weight back, you’re not alone. Many individuals have a hard time keeping weight off after dieting. It’s time to stop beating yourself up. There are many reasons that contribute to why it’s so difficult to keep weight off.

When we are children and adolescents, we develop the majority of fat cells that we will have for the rest of our lives. In fact, every year, only eight percent of fat cells are replaced during adulthood. Because of this, most of the time when we gain and lose weight, we are not actually gaining more fat cells or losing fat cells. Instead, the volume of our fat cells is changing. This is known as hypertrophic weight gain.

However, there are certain eating behaviors, such as overeating, that contribute to new fat cell creation when we are older. This is called hyperplastic weight gain. When our existing fat cells are “full,” our bodies will create new fat cells in order to store the additional energy. If your body creates new fat cells to adapt to an increase in fat intake, these cells will remain even after weight loss.

Genetic Predisposition to Regaining Weight

Variations in certain genes may be responsible for your tendency to gain weight back after losing it, while a variation in the same genes may protect others from regaining weight. People looking to know whether they have a genetic predisposition to gain weight back after dieting can opt for a genetic test, such as the PathwayFIT®. This test provides your doctor with information regarding your DNA that may explain your body’s tendency to gain weight. If you are predisposed to weight regain, this does not mean that weight loss is hopeless. Understanding that your genes, and not merely your behaviors, are contributing to your weight, can help you and your doctor come up with a weight loss strategy that is best for your needs.

Hormones Change with Time

When we restrict the number of calories we eat and lose body fat, the hormonal balance in the body changes. Research shows that hormones can be affected for at least one year after weight loss. Some of these hormones such as Leptin, Ghrelin, and more fluctuate as a response to the drop in body fat percentage. Leptin, responsible for decreasing your appetite and controlling your ability to feel full, decreases with fat loss. Ghrelin, responsible for increasing your appetite and controlling your ability to feel hungry, rises with fat loss. Insulin, responsible for controlling the amount of glucose in the bloodstream, decreases with weight loss.

Need Help Keeping Weight Off?

If you’re having trouble keeping weight off, talk to your doctor or a registered dietician. These healthcare professionals can work with you to understand why it may be difficult for you to prevent weight gain after weight loss. They can also work with you to help you commit to healthy eating behaviors, such as avoiding emotional or stress eating and meal planning, that may go a long way in keeping weight off.

About the Author

Sara Stringer is freelance writer who enjoys writing about natural health alternatives. In her spare time, she enjoys maintaining an active lifestyle through swimming and practicing yoga.

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Recovering The Self is a forum for people to tell their stories. Individual contributors accept complete responsibility for the veracity, accuracy, and non-infringement of their reporting.
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