Health

Are all diets destined to fail?

The age you can give up dieting forever

People who lose weight always put it back on, a new study has claimed — but will it happen to you?

Research in the New England Journal of Medicine followed 50 overweight or obese adults enrolled in a 10 week weight loss program involving a very low energy diet, using low calorie meal replacements.

The aim of the study was to help participants lose weight over a 10 week period and then see if this had an effect on appetite related hormones and whether weight loss was maintainable over a year.

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Participants’ levels of appetite regulating hormones were measured at the start of the study, at the end of the 10 week weight loss program and again one year later.

Results found that after the initial weight loss, levels of these hormones had indeed changed, however, in a way that could be expected to increase appetite and that these changes still remained at the end of one year.

Patients lost an average of 13kg over the 10 week weight loss program, but they regained an average of 5kg after a year.

So what does this mean? With only 50 participants this was a relatively small study, nonetheless, the manner in which weight was lost, with meal replacements, should not be considered as a first choice for the average person.

The idea that our bodies defend against weight loss is not a new one and makes a lot of sense. Only over the last 50 or so years has a large portion of the world’s population begun to find itself, not just with enough food, but with more than it needs.

Before this abundance of calories, days were generally filled with hard, physical work or at least with a good amount of incidental movement, and food was home-cooked and more wholesome than today.

The problem is that we don’t find ourselves in this kind of environment anymore. Quite the opposite, we’re less physically active and food is plentiful, easy to prepare and often calorie-dense.

If we don’t deal with this change are we always destined to fail and if dieting isn’t the answer, what is?

The good news is: we’re not destined to fail. While an increase in appetite after weight loss might seem like our body conspiring against us, we can tip the scales back in our favour by filling our meals with low energy, nutrient dense plant foods.

These can help fill up our stomachs, but not our fat cells. This is just one example of how we may not have the power to change how our body deals with its environment, but we do have the power to change our environment.

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Changing your environment can be simple — for instance, purging your pantry of unhealthy foods so you’re not surrounded by poor choices at home, parking your car further away from work or the shops so it becomes a necessity to walk more each day or leaving other labour-saving devices switched off.

We’re not set up to fail, we’re faced with a challenge which can bring out the best in us. For some great information on rising to this challenge, check out swapit.gov.au.

This information is provided by the Sanitarium Nutrition Service.

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