Every six months or so, another effective dieting strategy emerges from among dozens of variations on watching what we eat and exercising regularly. Dramatic before and after pictures show a male or female with newly-revealed abs and smiles that weren’t there previously. Losing weight, or even attempting to lose weight is not a bad thing.
According to the Center for Disease Control, over 70% of the U.S. population over the age of twenty is overweight, including the 37.9% of people of over age twenty who are considered to be obese. For context, the obesity and being overweight are measured by taking body mass index (BMI) and comparing it to what is considered healthy for a person of a given height. But these numbers are more than just about fitting into jeans or looking good in a swimsuit; with increased weight comes a number of health issues including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, joint pain, and an increased risk of heart attacks.
It should come as no surprise, then, that over 45 million people engage in diets like Nutrisystem for men every year. Some lose weight more effectively as PureHealthLiving reports.
Diet and exercise usually work as they always have, but the challenge has always been keeping off the weight once it is lost. The Endocrine Society, a coalition of doctors, scientists, nurses, and students across the globe, held a 2016 study of almost 180,000 medical records that verified this commonly accepted fact. Their research indicated that 35.9%of patients who experienced moderate weight loss–about 10-15% of body weight–regained this weight within two years. Percentages were five percent higher for those who lost more than 15% of their total body weight. Almost three-fourths of those studied were considered “cyclers”, those who fluctuate after a weight loss but don’t necessarily gain it all back. Two questions remained: Why does this happen, and how does one avoid it?
An August 2017 study held by Dr. Emily H. Feig, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital, may provide answers. Emily and her colleagues took 183 college students and placed them in a year-long weight-loss program, wherein their daily activity and caloric intake was monitored. These were assessed over six months, a year, and then two years later. The result of this study provided an interesting conclusion: “elevated variability early predicted poor long-term outcomes” (paraphrased). What this means is that participants who weren’t consistent with their regiment in the beginning of their plans typically found in more difficult to keep the weight off down the road. Many participants who experienced fluctuation between the 6 and 12 week period faced challenges later at the 1 year and 2 year dates.
Feig’s research was based on a previous study by Dr. Michael Lowe, a psychology professor at Philadelphia’s Drexel University.
He advocates for consistency over the rapid weight loss that attracts many Americas who just want to get to their ideal weight as fast as possible. Lowe advises that the best strategy is to find a plan that you can maintain, even if the losses are less than a pound a week, as this is the most likely path to long-term weight loss.