Abs Are Made In the Kitchen, but This is the Key to Long-Term Weight Loss.

Losing weight isn't quite as difficult as keeping it off.  When we need to trim off a few pounds, we know what to do.  We modify our diet and the pounds start coming off.  That's because we're creating a calorie deficit.  Meaning that we consume fewer calories than we burn.  Simple enough, right?

Maybe not.

Because often times, the weight we lost months ago starts to creeps back. I've experienced this personally and most others have too. Why? Because long term weight loss is nearly impossible unless one major puzzle piece exists.
Everyone claims that changing how we eat is the key losing weight.  And they're right.  But they forget to include one important piece of information....that in order to maintain your new weight, you must develop a new, more active lifestyle.

Most people think that overweight people have a slow metabolism.  The truth is, the heavier you are, the more calories you burn.  Your body requires more energy to operate than if you weigh less.  So if you lose 25lbs, your body doesn't require as much daily energy expenditure as when you weighed more.  At the start of a weight loss journey, you might cut out soda, eat more veggies, and quickly drop a few pounds.  That's because your heavier body has a greater calorie requirement.

Once most of the excess weight is reduced your calorie needs decline.  Basically, the slimmer version of yourself needs to eat less than your heavier self to maintain the new weight.  Most of us don't realize that. We assume that the changes we made while heavier will continue to work for ur slimmer selves.   If you lost weight through diet only, you'll have to modify your eating habits once again to match your new (even lower) calorie expenditures.

But, here's the thing, cutting calories as a long term weight loss strategy is a losing battle.  Especially if you aren't carrying around excess body fat.  Once you've lost weight, cutting more calories may trigger your body to go into the dreaded "starvation mode."  This is where your body tries to convert most of what you eat into stored fat.  Also, calorie restriction is hard to sustain long term so when you splurge a little, you immediately put the pounds back on.

So what's the solution?

The answer might be found in a recent study that involved three groups of participates.

  • Group #1:  (WLM) Weight Loss Maintaining.  These individuals lost 30 or more pounds and maintained their new weight for over a year.
  • Group #2:  (NC) No Change.  These individuals are similar in body mass to the weight loss maintaining group but were never overweight. 
  • Group #3: (OC)- Overweight group. They're similar in weight to Group #1 before they lost weight. 
After a 12 hour fast, the eligible participants were instructed to chill in a quiet room for 30 minutes so their resting calorie expenditure could be measured.  They also were required to wear a device that measured their daily activity 24/7.  After a week of monitoring,  researchers determined that the weight loss maintainers engaged in the highest level of physical activity of the 3 groups.   Their daily physical activity equated to about 60-90 minutes of walking or 30-45 minutes of running.  Overall, the weight loss maintainers racked up approx 12,000 steps a day while the No Change group averaged about 8900 steps a day. The overweight group had the fewest daily steps at around 6500. 

Researches observed that, with a  normal body weight, the number of steps you take a day is directly correlated to your overall daily expenditure.  The daily calorie expenditure of overweight individuals has more to do with the extra work it takes to move the higher body weight.

Here's where it gets interesting.  The weight loss maintaining group consumed more calories per day than the NC group.   As a matter of fact, their calorie intake looked more like their overweight counterparts.  By engaging in higher daily activity, they created a calorie deficit that ensured a consistent weight.  Let's be honest, old habits die hard.  It's hard to maintain a caloric restrictive diet long term.  Especially if you burn fewer calories the smaller you get.

The answer to sustained weight loss is to engage in an active lifestyle.  If you're on a weight loss journey, it's important to think long-term.  Most people fail at keeping the weight off because they don't realize that, as their body shrinks, they'll require even fewer calories to maintain their current weight.  

Physical activity is the most powerful tool there is to help us to maintain our hard earned weight loss results. 

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