Why does weight we lose come back so fast? - FIT Human Performance

Why does weight we lose come back so fast?



 November 11, 2012

Many people reading this article, may have attempted weight loss at some point or another. Some may have also been successful with reaching that goal. Losing weight is not as impressive as keeping the weight off. If you were able to lose your weight and keep it off, congratulations! You are one of the select few who has understood and mastered the weight loss game well.

For those who have been doing the yo-yo-diet, I hope this article will shed some light on why this happens. The traditional or the most popular way to lose weight is to go on a diet. For most people this could mean a variety of things … reducing food consumption, reducing carbs, etc.  A very few might even throw in some spurts of exercise here and there.  For those who do exercise, your success is far greater!

The yo-yo effect of weight loss is attributed to your body’s starvation response. This is your body’s protective mechanism to prevent you from dying of starvation during a famine. When was the last time you experienced famine? Not in this lifetime I am sure. It helped our prehistoric ancestors when food resources were scarce. They experienced ample food at one time and sudden scarcity at another, and nature built the starvation response in our bodies to protect us.  In these current times food is available in abundance. Most adults need approximately 500 calories per meal but a fast food burger meal can easily give you 1000 calories, and at a very decent price. So food scarcity today is virtually non-existent for most developed countries.

With the starvation response, we have an outdated protective mechanism built into our brains that keeps thinking we are dying every time we reduce food consumption.  Our endocrine system takes over and saves/stores and maintains bodyweight for us.  And, this will always be out of your control.  Honest.  God is in charge.

How does the starvation response work? Your brain senses when you reduce your calorie intake or when you go for long periods without a meal. Long periods without a meal is what happens when you skip breakfast. That’s a gap of 12-18 hours between your dinner the previous day and lunch the next day. Never mind that you are dieting and there is ample food around you. There is no way of telling your brain this.

So the first thing your body does is to reduce your metabolic rate. Your metabolic rate in layman terms is the amount of energy you need to survive (to keep your heart pumping, your organs working, temperature, digestion, etc.). The easiest way for the body to reduce the metabolic rate is by eating up your own muscles. Muscles require a lot of energy to exist and when the body wants to reduce energy expenditure, it makes sense to reduce the muscles you carry first.

The dieting stint does not last long. When you get off a diet and go back to your normal eating habits, the weight comes back with a vengeance. Most people would go back to eat the same amount of food as they were eating pre-dieting. Since dieting has reduced the metabolic rate, the body now requires a lower amount of energy for survival. Eating the same amount of food as the pre-dieting phase would result in a large energy surplus. This large energy surplus would result in the excess calories being stored as fat. Thus the weight gain comes back with a vengeance.

The FIT way to lose weight is losing fat while maintaining your muscle mass. Dieting, starving and skipping meals affects your metabolic rate and this usually results in rapid weight regain. Correct weight loss is sustainable while dieting and starving results in weight returning with a vengeance.  So at the end of a diet plan it is best to slowly return to that healthy lifestyle of pizza, chocolate, and red wine.  Some say “physician heal thyself” … ya ya, I know … you have the answers, the decision is yours … get moving.

In good health,


“Health is not simply the absence of sickness.”  ~Hannah Green